|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – June 2008
These versatile sanctuaries do more than just keep you dry. ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: See our video review of the latest bivys and hammocks.
[Best of Both Worlds]
LAWSON BLUE RIDGE CAMPING HAMMOCK
We tried more than a dozen different hammocks over the past eight months. Verdict: Testers either love or hate these things. Only one model satisfied everyone: the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock. Two reasons: 1) Collapsible "spreader bars" keep the hammock wider and flatter than with other models, eliminating the awkward banana curve common to the category. "Off the ground, there are no pressure points, so it's literally like you're sleeping on air," raved one tester; and 2) It can be pitched as a solo tent with integrated rainfly, so you'll never be caught hiking into the night looking for trees. In tent mode, it holds its own with other solo models, though it needed to be restaked to prevent the roof from sagging. Rigging is easy in both configurations. Downside: It's heavier than most solo backpacking tents. $190; 4 lbs. 7 oz. (800) 421-1223; lawsonhammock.com.
THE TRAVEL HAMMOCK ALL TERRAIN HYBRID
Amazingly, the All Terrain is the both the lightest and most versatile shelter we tested. It's an all-purpose tent footprint, a lean-to or A-frame tarp, and, yes, a hammock, too. The 10-by-6-foot swath of ripstop polyester holds up to 400 pounds in hammock mode (it's big enough for a pair of loungers), and comes with two eight-foot sections of 4.5mm cord to sling around tree trunks. (If you plan to sleep in the hammock in rain, carry an extra tarp to string overhead.) The All Terrain has eight guy-out points for rigging as a standard tarp. Tip: Set-up takes practice, and for some tarp configurations you'll need about 20 feet of parachute cord and six stakes. $70; 1 lb. 4 oz. (877) 365-2965; thetravelhammock.com.
Take a swing with associate editor Shannon Davis in this hammock tutorial.