Sunday, October 23, 2011

Setting Up a Hennessy Hammock as a Tent


I love my Hennessey Hammock Ultralite Backpacker (Asym Zip).  When strung up between two trees it makes a very comfortable place to sleep and it sets up quickly and easily. 
However, when trees are not present (think: mountain bald, beach, desert, above the treeline) the hammock can still be erected on the ground.  In this blog, I show you how.



[Note you will not be sleeping in the hammock suspended above the ground! Rather, the hammock will lie flat on the ground -- the hiking poles will just keep the rainfly and mosquito netting off your face.]


Although heavier than the small rainfly that is bundled with the hammock, I prefer to use their large Hex Rainfly (30D Sylnylon) to cover my hammock. My reasons are numerous.   Primarially, the Hex Fly provides large coverage for myself and all my gear underneath.  And because the Hex Fly can be hung up independently from the hammock, we can erect the system on the ground like a small tent using my Black Diamond hiking poles and six lightweight MSR tent stakes.

Below, you may follow my step-by-step method. Or if you prefer, you can view the video tutorial below:



  1. Extend the Black Diamond hiking poles to a height of 130cm. (Click on images below to enlarge them.)
  2. I have removed the wrist straps from my hiking poles by pushing out the little metal pin holding the strap, but have kept the little metal pins that held the straps in place.  I'm not sure if other manufacturers' poles will work with my method, but it seems likely.
    Keeping the Hex Fly in its Snakeskin sleeve, thread the two loose cable ends (that you'd normally tie to a tree) around the little metal pins inside the handle of the Black Diamond hiking poles.  (If you have poles of a different manufacturer, or prefer to keep your wrist straps in place, thread the line through the wrist straps or secure the line to the pole with a clove hitch or similar knot.) 
  3. The pole should be positioned such that its handle is about 6-8 inches from the edge of the fly. Lay the poles flat on the ground; we'll stand them up in a moment.
  4. With the rainfly stretched out like a long snake, drive a tent stake in the ground about 5 feet from one end of the fly.  Secure the cable to the tent stake with a Prussik Knot (or similar "slip knot"), but leave quite a bit of slack in the line.  Repeat for the opposite end of the fly.

  5. Remove the Hex Fly from its Snakeskins in the usual way by sliding them off. Then stretch the fly out along the ground like a bear rug by pulling on and extending the four tie-down lines.    Drive four tent stakes into the ground about five feet from each corner and along the guylines.  Using Prussik Knots, secure the guylines to the tent stakes.  You can make these fairly taunt, but still leave a little slack in the line.
  6. Now comes the difficult part.  Lift one of the hiking poles into place and tighten the Prussik Knots on each of the three lines on that end of the fly.  This is easy to do if you can jab the pole into the ground so it is free-standing or have someone who can hold the hiking pole for you.  Repeat for the opposite end of the tarp.  Make sure all lines are tight and both poles are vertical.  The rain fly should be very stable at this point.
  7. You are now ready to "hang" the hammock.  This is the easy part.  Keeping the hammock in its Snakeskin, suspend each end of the hammock from the rainfly's ridge line using the little dongle hooks on the hammock's ridge line. 
  8. Adjust the tension on the hammock's ridge line so the hammock is suspended above the ground.  This will make it easier to remove the Snakeskins.  Slide the Snakeskins off now.
  9. Readjust the tension so the hammock lies flat on the ground.  (Recall that you will not sleep in the hammock while it suspended above the ground.   Rather, the ground will fully support the occupant!)  Spread out the sides of the hammock by clipping the elastic cords onto the stays of the Hex Fly, just as you would if the hammock were suspended between two trees.  You want the extreme ends of the hammock to be elevated off the ground a small amount, otherwise the mosquito netting will drape over your face when you climb in.  However, you must ensure that 100% of your body will be supported by the ground, not by the hiking poles!  Also, protect the hamock fabric by ensuring the ground under the hammock is free of rocks, sticks, and other debris!
  10. If you encounter high winds or a horizontal rain storm, it is easy to stay protected. Simply lower the hiking poles and re-tighten the guy-wires. This will mean you'll be required to duck down low, but it is a small price to pay for staying dry!

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When packing up the following morning, I find it best to once again suspend the empty hammock from the hiking poles, which makes it easy to slide the Snakeskins over rolled up the hammock.

When taking down the rainfly, lay the two hiking poles on the ground and remove the four lines on the sides of the fly.  If find it useful to tighten up the ridge lines so the rainfly can be easily rolled up and the Snakeskins slid into place.

Thanks for reading; I hope this helps!