Thank you, SlowMo! You have no idea how you changed my life.
If it weren’t for you, I’d still be sleeping uncomfortably on the ground.
I’m certain you’ll never see this, but hopefully just putting it out there in the world you’ll come to know how much I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge of hammocking.
I’ve loved camping and backpacking ever since I was a wee boy. The smell of a campfire, the scary stories about “hoodoos” (told to us by grownups who wanted us to stay in our sleeping bags) and the brisk morning air – what’s not to love, right?
OK, there is that; sleeping on the hard, lumpy ground. That’s not to love.
Not to worry, I thought to myself. A lot has changed in gear technology since I was a kid. All the light weight materials and new designs looked very promising to me, but there was still a little nagging feeling in the back of my mind.
Although backpacking and camping equipment has improved in comfort, the ground is still as hard as ever.
Coming up with a new and improved sleep system (tent/bag/pad) after all these years became overwhelming. My gear list was getting heavier and, with all the choices available, my frustration and confusion was increasing. I needed help.
And that’s when SlowMo appeared on the trail, like a wise old sage in a folk tale.
Walk The Talk
It was on a fine spring day a couple of years ago. I was out for a day hike on the Appalachian Trail with my youngest son. We were heading up the “Jump Up” out of the Nantahala Outdoor Center when we came upon a solo hiker. It was SlowMo.
He was four weeks out from Springer Mountain and he was walking very slowly, hence the trail name, SlowMo.
He was happy for the company, having fallen behind his faster buddies nearly two weeks earlier. We got to talking and, as things generally go with hikers, our conversation eventually turned to gear.
I brought up the subject of tents. At the time I was considering either the Hubba from MSR or one of Henry Shire’s Tarp Tents – both of which hikers seem to love. I was eager to know what SlowMo was using and how he liked it.
Was I in for a surprise!
He didn’t use a tent in the traditional sense of the word. For the next mile or so, SlowMo told me about his sleeping hammock. I don’t remember the exact words, but this is what I came away with and it completely revolutionized my idea of backpacking forever:
- Best night’s sleep ever – Seriously! Every hammocker I’ve met has told me this
- Quick and easy set up and breakdown (even in the wind and rain)
- No fuss campsite selection – No need for level, smooth ground
- Lightweight – No poles, no stakes makes for a lighter load
- Leave no trace camping – You don’t have to worry about destroying the fragile ecosystem of the forest floor.
- Multi-use – It doubles as a chair, making a nice place to sit when you’re done hiking.
- Bottom stays dry when it rains – Even with the best campsites, heavy rains can cause water to collect in the bottom of a tent.
- Fly can be adjusted to maximize warmth, ventilation, shade and privacy
You Sold Me!
I went home and immediately started researching hammocks. The more I learned, the more excited I got. I couldn’t wait to get one. And, fortunately, there are many great brands of hammocks to choose from today; like ENO, Hennessy Hammocks, Warbonnet and JacksRBetter to name a few.
Like any hiking gear, they all have their advantages – and they’ve all attracted thousands of devotees. Hikers LOVE their hammocks – including this happy hammocker!
No more ground dwelling for me. I sleep in the trees now.
I suggest you investigate hammocks yourself. Check out several brands, talk to fellow hikers who use hammocks and, if you can, try out a few to see what works best for you and your hiking style and sleeping comfort.
A great place to start is to read “The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping” by Derek Hansen.
And, if you see SlowMo out on the trail – chances are he’s still walking…slowly – be sure to tell him I said thank you.
Already have a hammock? What brand do you have and what do you like about it? Let us know in the comments below.
See ya’ on the trail,