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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Hennessy Hammock Cat Cape > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Hennessy Hammock Cat Cape


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Nov 3rd, 2009

Field Report: Jan 11, 2010

Long Term Report: Mar 23, 2010


Image of Cat Cape



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 0.5 L of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Hennessy Hammock
Website: http://www.hennessyhammock.com/
MSRP: $89 USD
Weight: (stated) 9 oz (255 g)
Weight: (actual) 10 oz (284 g)
Size: regular (people up to 6 ft/183 cm in height) and long (people up to 7 ft/213 cm in height)
Material: Silnylon



Initial Report:
October 16th, 2009

The Hennessy Hammock Cat Cape is a multifunctional piece of gear that works as a rain cape, a hammock fly and a pack cover. The Cat Cape is designed to work with several asymmetrical designed Hennessy Hammock's which are listed on their site. In order to avoid compromising the fly with a big hole in the middle, the "opening" is along the side. A zipper runs up along one edge leaving space for the neck. Due to the asymmetrical nature of the hammock fly, one end is much longer then the other necessitating that the end must be tucked up and out of the way. The zipper has a pull tab on both sides of the Cape allowing for easy inside and outside access. The silnylon itself has a matt finish on the interior and a gloss finish on the exterior. Each corner has a plastic o-ring and a small plastic clip. Two of the corners have small reinforced pockets that contain thin guylines to stake out as a fly. All corners are reinforced and the edges are finished with a darker silnylon edging. As the Cape is so generously cut, it is easy to accommodate a pack underneath. The plastic o-rings allow easy attachment to the clips already supplied with the hammock.

Detail of the pocket in reinforced corner
Detail of the pocket in the reinforced corner with o-ring and clip

I wasn't initially sure how to wear the Cat Cape. As there was no opening and I didn't immediately notice the zipper, I was wondering how to wear the cape. When I searched on the Hennessy Hammock website for more information I had difficulty finding any on the fly, I later found out that the fly details can be accessed through the model comparisons page, there is a link at the top for the rain fly section. I instead turned to the enclosed letter which gave me more of an idea of how to wear the cape. The cape was easy to drape around my shoulders and the zipper was fairly easy to work. I was especially glad to see that the zipper had a pull tab on both sides as zipping up from the outside would have be awkward.

Once I had the cape zipped up, I was more then a little disappointed that the cape had no hood. I guess the definition of cape doesn't include hood. So while I can keep myself, my pack and later my hammock dry, I can't keep my head dry. I will be carrying a hat when using this out in the rain as well as playing around with various configurations of wearing the cape. I also wonder at how well the cape will be at keeping water from dripping down through the neck opening. The opening isn't extremely generous but since there isn't even a collar, there may be a possibility of rain entering from the neck opening.

Detail of the neck and zipper
Detail of the neck with the zipper

Wearing the cape a little, I noticed that the left side trails on the ground. This is due to the asymmetrical cut of the cape to work as a fly. I tucked it up under my belt but it leaves me wondering how well this slippery material will stay under my hip belt when hiking. I will be keeping an eye on this and try various ways to keep the end from trailing on the ground. When I folded the cape up to store it, I noticed that when I folded it roughly in half, it is almost rectangular. Makes for easy folding.



The Cat Cape as worn
Attempt to show the whole Cat Cape, doesn't really do it justice

I currently own two hammocks by Hennessy (a small hybrid model and the regular asym model) so I should have no issues convincing the Cat Cape to attach to the hammock attachment points. The hammocks are different sizes and I will be curious to see how well the fly works with each hammock. I will also be curious to see how well the cape will work as both cape and shelter cover when it is raining out.

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the Cat Cape on all my outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking trips. My trips will be mostly in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park.



Field Report:
January 11th, 2010

I have so far used this cape on two overnight trips as well as carrying it on one day hike.

Trips:

The first trip was out in the Shenandoah National Park and I was expecting rain during the night and into the next day. Temperatures were in the low 60's F (17 C). The trip in was about 1 mi (1.6 km). The rain set in around midnight as a constant drizzle and hadn't let up by morning. I wore the cape around camp as a wind shell during the evening. The following morning, I wore the cape both to break down camp and to hike out. Due to the voluminous nature of the cape, it was difficult to bend down and pull stakes out of the ground. Every time I bent down, the cape ballooned out around me making it difficult to see anything on the ground. The backpack did fit very nicely under the cape giving full rain protection. The a-sym nature of the cape does leave one end to be tucked up. I have taken to clipping the corner clip onto the side of the zipper pull to keep it out of the way. I wasn't too happy with not having a hood. The cape just doesn't give adequate face protection when pulled up.

I took the Cat Cape with me on a day hike as the weather was looking rather iffy. Temperatures were in the 50's F (12 C) range in the Shenandoah National Park. The day started off with dark threatening clouds which I thought would give me perfect testing weather but alas, the rain never arrived. The day remained dark and threatening during the 3 mi (4.8 km) hike and it didn't rain until I was in the car and back down the mountain. The Cat Cape lived in my day pack for the duration of the hike. It takes up very little space in my pack and stuffs down easily given how slippery the material is.

The next trip out was another overnight trip. The chances of rain were slim but I carried the cape anyway. I did use the cape more as a wind shell again just before going to bed. The cape doesn't really work well as a wind shell as it is quite voluminous and the wind blows it around. Once I was seated, the cape tended to stay in place better. As there was no rain, I didn't pull the cape up over my head. Temperatures for the trip were down around 30 F (-2 C). This was a trip out to Zion National Park in Utah.

Impressions and Comments:
So far I don't really care for the cape. The fact that there is no hood is annoying to say the least when wearing it in the rain. I haven't had any problems with rain leaking through the cape. I have had an issue with the a-sym nature of the cut. Since there is one long edge to deal with, there is a chance of tripping. I did as suggested and tucked the loose end up under my hip belt. It stayed there for about 5 steps before starting to slip out. The sil-nylon material is too slippery for that to work well with me. In the end I took the hook on the corner and clipped it onto the edge of the cape near the zipper. This keeps it off the ground and secure. I didn't have my camera with me on that trip so will try to document this again on another trip. I have also had some difficulties with the billowy nature of the cape, which was to be expected. It billows up around me when I bend or squat down. It is more annoying when breaking down camp and trying to track down small things on the ground.

Wrap-up
Pros so far: rain resistant.

Cons so far: billowy, no hood.



Long Term Report:
March 23, 2010

I have managed to use the Cat Cape on several more day hikes and an overnight trip. I have outlined a few of the trips below to give an idea of further use.

The first trip out was an overnight trip so I could see how well the Cat Cape would work with my Hennessy Hammock. This was a trip out to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It was a quick 2 mi (3.2 km) hike in to the camping spot and not much elevation gain, but I was up at about 3000 ft (814 m). The temperatures were down in the 40's F (6 C) overnight and cloudy with a chance of rain. I expected the Cat Cape to work very well given that they are made by the same company and for each other. I wasn't disappointed. The Cat Cape worked well with the Asyn Ultralight model that I was using. I did find that the Cat Cape doesn't give much overhang. I generally use a rectangular fly and get much more coverage, so I did find I had to be careful where I placed my gear underneath the hammock to ensure there was no potential for it getting wet should it rain. There was no rain that night.

Cat Cape used at a fly over a Hennessy Hammock
Cat Cape used as a fly over a Hennessy Hammock

The next trip was a day hike in some light drizzle. Temperatures were up around 45 F (7 C) and I was wearing a couple of layers underneath to keep warm. This was about a 3 mi (4.8 km) hike on the Front Range in the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. As this was a day hike, my day pack was small. With the Cat Cape, I never have to worry about my shell layer not fitting over a growing number of thermal layers. The Cat Cape did a good job of keeping my body and pack dry but I had to wear a hat to keep my face dry. I wore a hat with a somewhat wide brim to prevent drips from working their way down the back of my neck.

Detail of the fly attachment
Detail of the fly attached to the hammock

The last trip out was a snowshoeing trip in some falling snow in Big Cottonwood Canyon. What better way to go. This trip was about 2 mi (3.2 km) with little elevation gain. Temperatures were at the freezing point and the day had started off with some light rain before the snow actually hit. The Cat Cape did a great job with the snow, which was the wet sticky variety. The slippery silnylon did a great job shedding the snow.

Final Impressions and Comments:
I still don't really care for the cape. While the concept of having a multi-use item is great, I felt that in this case, it didn't work for me. I didn't care for the lack of a hood. I really don't think it would be hard to tack a hood onto the side seam for extra coverage and weather protection. I didn't like the long trailing edge, but that is the nature of the Hennessy fly. I think a small o-ring placed right beside the zipper would be a great addition as I found hooking the corner hook onto the zipper pull worked great to keep the extra length from sliding out from under my hip belt and tripping me up. Bending and squatting is still problematic given the billowy nature of a cape.

The Cat Cape did work well in rainy and snowy conditions (when I was wearing a hat to keep my face dry). The Cat Cape shed the water very well and gave me and my pack excellent coverage from the elements. While I didn't expect otherwise, the Cat Cape worked well with a hammock as well, hooking into the existing clips and staking out nicely. For the most part, I tend to just keep the tie outs rolled up and stored in the small corner pockets.

Wrap-up
Pros:

    - rain resistant
    - works well with Hennessy Asym Hammock

Cons:

    - billowy, no hood
    - long edge is difficult to keep up


This concludes my report series on the Hennessy Hammock Cat Cape. I hope you have enjoyed reading this series and found the information contained inside useful. I wish to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Hennessy Hammocks for allowing me to test this Cat Cape.


Read more reviews of Hennessy gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > Hennessy Hammock Cat Cape > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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