A Tale of Two Hammocks

My son and I each have a mostly new hammock. He has had his for about four months now, and I have had mine for about two weeks. This was our first multi-day camp-out with either of these hammocks. Being summer and very moderate weather we thought it would be a good time to try a tent free trek. I must tell you, if you can leave the tent behind – DO IT. Hiking ten or more miles each day made me very thankful I didn’t have my tent strapped to my backpack, adding that extra weight may have brought me to my knees.

eno_hammockFor any who want to cut to the chase, the side by side is at the end of this article.

My hammock is made by Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO).

I choose the purple/forest green color combination.

This hammock without any of the add-ons has the following specifications:

  • Weight: 18 oz.
  • Dimensions: 4ft 7in by 9ft 10in
  • Material: Woven Nylon
  • Capacity: 400 lbs

The self contained stuff sack includes two carabiners and the mounted shock cord. To hang the hammock you will need rope. I used 6mm climbing rope to tie off each end of the hammock.

The self contained feature is common with most high adventure hammocks, this makes packing or clipping to your gear simple and effortless. I placed my 18 oz. ball of nylon inside my backpack, for no other reason than I had the room for it.

Setting up the hammock after a hard day of hiking the Appalachian Trail from Elisabeth’s Furnace – over Signal Knob – and down the Massanutten trail to Mudhole Gap I am very happy I did not have to find a flat soft place to set up a tent, and then spend the time rigging poles and such to make a place to rest.

I found two small trees next to the creek, in fact growing right on the bank of Little Passage Creek, about six inches in diameter. I made sure they were strong rooted and would not bend under my weight.

I lashed a bowline around each tree, hooked the carabiners from my hammock into my fancy bowline knots, and laid back into my ENO single nest hammock for a wonderful relaxing moment near the creek. Total set up time for my bed 4 minutes. It might take a bit longer if you don’t know how to tie proper knots (grin).

If you have never slept in a hammock, I would recommend setting up your hammock at home before you take to the forest for the first use. there are a few things you should understand about how you and your hammock interact.

  • Always sit into your hammock carefully to make sure your knots are fixed and your weight will be supported.
  • Have an easy in/out location and height
  • Do not elevate your hammock above dangerous terrain
  • Hang your hammock right side up (if applicable)

Most people try to lay in the hammock from end to end. This is not the “best” way to lay in a nylon camping hammock, unless you like being folded in half while you sleep. I prefer to sleep at a diagonal or in the “Brazilian” fashion. Sleeping diagonal allows your body to lay more flat across the hammock, providing more comfort and longer periods of sleep. (more on this when we talk about my sons hammock)

The down side of hammock sleeping is position. Nylon camping hammocks do not allow much wiggle room, if you toss and turn throughout the night, if you cannot sleep in a single position for hours on end, then hammock sleeping may not be best for you. I am a back sleeper and I rarely change position, thus the hammock is ideal for my sleep style. Stomach sleepers will likely find the hammock very uncomfortable, and side sleepers may or may not like the fit and form of the hammock depending on the amount of repositioning you enjoy while you sleep.

In my experience most folks who will go into the woods for days at a time, or who need a lightweight, compact solution to include in a bug out kit won’t have a problem figuring a way to sleep comfortably and peacefully in the ENO nylon camping hammock.

The Strapping Boy’s Hammock

My son packed the Moskito Traveler Hammock made by Byer of Maine.

byer_moskitoThe good news – it only comes in spruce green thus color selection was easy as pie!

Here are the “out of the pouch” specifications for the Moskito:

  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Dimensions: 4ft 6in by 6ft 6in
  • Material: Woven Nylon
  • Capacity: 240 lbs

This hammock also features a self contained stuff sack for easy packing. No carabiners are included, but my son didn’t need them, he simply passed the rope through the loops on each end, tied his fancy knot and was hanging in no time. (I do recommend a clip/carabiner to reduce wear and friction on the eyelets.)

He chose a location closer to the camp fire, not for warmth as much as for social interaction. Sitting in his hammock he was able to enjoy the company of the other campers, and keep the fire going long into the night.

The one thing that makes the Moskito Traveler superior to my ENO hammock is straight forward. Remember the ‘diagonal’ position I recommended for laying in a hammock? The Moskito is designed for this diagonal laying position!

Rather than being bunched up into shock cord at each end, the ends are fasted with eight cords on each side, spread out enough to expand the hammock across the laying surface. This design reduces the weight bearing ability of the hammock, yet it creates a far superior sleeping surface.

Now for the icing on the cake or should I say the net on the hammock, thats right, this hammock as its name implies has an integral mosquito net sewn on with a double zipper allowing easy access. Shock cord is provided to raise the net up off the sleeping surface, and it has pockets sewn in the net to store your glasses!

Just in case you haven’t figured it out by reading this review, I prefer my sons hammock. I gave them each a fair shake and looked at the pros and cons, price, construction, features,ease of use, and the result is – the Moskito Traveler by Byer is the best hammock for the high adventure backpacker or the conscientious prepper.

Below is the side by side comparison (as objective as I can be:-))

Eagles Nest Outfitter – Single Nest Byer of Maine Moskito Traveler
PRICE (REI.com) 54.95 USD 39.99 USD
Weight 18 oz. 16 oz.
Size 55″ x 118″ 54″ x 78″
Material Woven Nylon Woven Nylon
Capacity 400 lbs 240 lbs
Carabiners Yes No
Mosquito Net NoAvailable for 54.00 USD YesBuilt in – zippered
Rain-fly NoAvailable for 80.00 USD(could use any fly/tarp) NoNot Offered(could use any fly/tarp)
Sleep Comfort 6 of 10 8 of 10

There you have it. I must add this foot note – I just sold my ENO hammock for a loss, and I plan to go buy a Byer Moskito Traveler before my next camping trip. Yes, that is how different they are.

UPDATE: September 2010. I took my Byer Moskito Traveler to Niagara over the summer, and experienced a torrential downpour followed by 30 hours of rain.  I rigged my rain poncho over my hammock and enjoyed a dry sleep for two nights.  Since buying the Byer I have been overnighting and multi-nighting several times over the past two years.  This is by far the best camping purchase I have made in the last 10 years.  My recommendation for the Byer Hammock is stronger today than it was when I first wrote this article.  Still an amazing buy.

Comments are always welcome