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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Eagles Nest Outfitters CAMONEST XL > Test Report by Kerri Larkin
ENO CamoNest XL Hammock
TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN
INITIAL REPORT - 12 May 2015
FIELD REPORT - 14 July 2015
LONG TERM REPORT - 15 September 2015
Image from ENO website
Wow! What a small package the CamoNest XL comes in. I'm used to a big double-layer camping hammock with integrated bug netting so was really surprised to open the box this hammock came in and find not only the Eagles Nest Outfitters Inc (ENO) CamoNest XL hammock, but also the optional extra Atlas strap suspension system. The hammock comes in a camouflage-coloured stuff sack with an integrated compression strap but this is, in fact, a part of the hammock that forms a pocket when the hammock is in use. ENO generously included a set of the Atlas Strap suspension straps for testing purposes although these are usually purchased separately.
Initial impressions are that the workmanship is of a high quality with no loose or pulled threads although there are a few thread ends left and that this is a well thought out and executed design. Although I'm not really a camouflage aficionado, this hammock looks kinda cool!
The webbing compression strap is sewn on the outside of the stuff sack so it won't get lost, and attaches with a sturdy plastic buckle embossed with the ENO logo. The strong webbing belt loops around the sack to provide the compression and further reduce the already small size of this unit.
Releasing the compression strap reveals a cinch-corded aperture at the top of the sack. There's a most unusual cord lock which operates almost like a guillotine to effectively hold the cord in place. There's also a small webbing grab-strap on the cord lock, but I think I'd need three hands to use that when unlocking the cord. The top of the sack opens plenty wide enough to make it easy to unpack or stuff the hammock.
Pulling the hammock out transforms the sack in to a pocket which is attached about half-way down the hammock. This would be very handy for storing torches, water bottles, spectacles or anything else that needs to be kept close.
The CamoNest XL is a gathered-end hammock meaning all the material is gathered to a single point at each end. The ends of the material are turned over and triple stitched to form a pocket that a rope is passed through. This rope is what the suspension system attaches to. I'm not enough of a knot expert to name the knot fixing the end of the hammock but it looks pretty sturdy. Attached to the end of the rope is a carabiner rated to 400 lbs (181 kg). The carabiner also has a tag showing the correct way to use it safely.
Opening the CamoNest XL reveals it to be, well, extra large! Although it's marketed as an XL rather than a double hammock, it's very similar in size to ENO's double hammocks. Being an XL myself, I'm keen to see if this will prove to give me more shoulder room than a standard sized hammock. Being a single-layer hammock means it's very light and can easily become a bit of a sail when setting it up in a breeze, as I experienced (see photo below). Once filled with air it shows just how big this hammock is.
As mentioned above, the Atlas suspension straps are usually purchased separately but because the kind people at ENO included a set for this test, I'll be using them exclusively. I've used a few different sorts of suspension but this is the first time I've seen this style of strap and, I have to say, it looks to be a winner! Instead of having to carry extra tree protectors (wider straps that stop any potential damage to the tree bark) plus a suspension line of some kind, it's all built in to the Atlas Strap. Put simply, the Atlas is a long length of 25 mm (1") webbing which is 2.77 m (9'1") long. One end contains a single loop and a logo patch. The clever thing is that this strap is made from a single length of webbing folded back on itself to form daisy chain loops every 100 mm (4") up to about 1240 mm from the single loop end for a total of fifteen loops. The loops are triple stitched and look very strong. The idea is to pass the single loop end around the tree or pole being used to hang the hammock from, pass the other end of the strap through the single loop and pull tight. The carabiners can then be clipped in to any of the daisy chain loops, depending on the required hammock lay. The back of the strap has three warnings about using the straps, the inherent risks of using a hammock and the maximum rated weight of the straps (200 lb or 90.5 kg per strap).
The instructions for both the hammock and the Atlas straps were included on the hang tag and are very simple and clear. I'm not sure the hammock instructions would be sufficient for a first time user, but there is more information about hanging a hammock on the ENO website, and plenty of other internet sources of info. The information for the use of the Atlas straps are very simple pictographs with accompanying text and gave me enough knowledge to try them out.
Finally, a round tag was attached to my hammock detailing an ongoing ENO photo contest. The back of this tag is a simple graphic and peels off to be used as a sticker on something.
My home town has been hit by flooding rains for the last couple of weeks making it impossible to get out and enjoy a camp. Fortunately, the day before this report was due to be written, the clouds gave way to perfect blue skies and glorious sunshine. It was an opportunity too good to miss so I headed to a local park to hang my CamoNest for the first time.
Attaching the Atlas straps to the trees was so very simple it made me realise just how complicated my other suspension systems are. This was child's play by comparison and look only a matter of seconds. Next, I pulled one of the carabiners out of the hammock stuff sack and attached it to a daisy loop on the strap. I simply grabbed the other carabiner and walked towards the other tree while the hammock unfurled from the sack. I attached the carabiner to the strap and I was done. How simple! Being a perfectionist with my hammock hangs I wanted to adjust the suspension to ensure I achieved the 30 degree angle that hammocks are meant to be hung at. Again, this was as simple as clipping the carabiner into a different loop on the strap. What a joy! I really, really love these straps and can't wait to get to know them better.
After getting the hang right it was time for my first lay in the hammock. That's a fairly simple matter too: grab the closest edge back towards the hammock and sit down. Then simply pivot one's legs up and into the hammock. Laying in the CamoNest was where I noticed how different this is to my usual hammock. I'm used to having an integrated bug net which I have to get under and zip up. That's not the case with the CamoNest - there's no supplied bug net but one is available as an optional extra - so there's nothing to obscure my view of the trees above, or the stars at night.
I'm also used to a hammock with a dedicated head and foot end, whereas I can lay in either direction with the CamoNest. It's nice to not have to be remembering which end is which when tired and wanting to hang the hammock.
Another difference is that I'm used to a dedicated foot box, which helps me achieve a flat lay by having the material of the hammock arranged in a way that it's really easy to lay diagonally. There's no foot box in the CamoNest, but it's big enough that this didn't feel like an issue. I was still able to lay diagonally (which is the correct way to lay in a hammock) without feeling there was no room for my feet.
I must confess, it took a little while to find a spot that felt really comfortable, but I'm guessing that will be much easier with practice in this type of hammock. One of the issues I've found with most hammocks is that they can put pressure on my feet and knees which can be uncomfortable after a few hours so it will be interesting to see if this extra large hammock helps reduce that.
Perhaps the thing I noticed most was that there seemed to be a heap of material left over. Some of this was flopping in my face and some of it was flopping around on the other edge so it will be interesting to really get to know this hammock and find the most effective and efficient way to lay in it.
Being a single layer hammock, I immediately noticed the cool air against my back when laying down. My usual hammock has two layers of nylon between me and the air, where the CamoNest only has a single layer of material. This is excellent for cooling in summer but as it's now coming in to winter here, I'll need to ensure I've got plenty of insulation under and over me. Fortunately winter also means far fewer bugs so I'm happy to use the hammock without a bug net for the next few months. Winter also means heavy dews, fogs, and condensation so I will most likely be using the hammock with my fly sheet.
Perhaps because of the way I'd set the hammock up this first time, I did notice it was very hard to get out of it! The edges seemed a bit too taut to comfortably sit on and swing out. I'm guessing that's a user error rather than a design flaw but I'll be interested to see how the ENO performs once I'm more used to it.
Although I wasn't initially keen on a camouflage-patterned hammock, I'm finding I really like the colouring of it. I'm also surprised at just how big this hammock is and how small it packs down. This is gonna be a fun hammock to test!
June 10-12: Two nights - Stealth Camp, Bruxner Park area near Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia.
Base Camp with short day walks. Partly cloudy. Maximum temps around 23 C (74 F) and minimums around 8 C (46 F). Elevation approximately 100 m (320 ft). Terrain was wet sclerophyl and subtropical rainforest.
July 7-8: One night - Bruxner Park area, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. Quick overnight camp. Cloudy and light showers. Maximum temp 14 C (57 F) and minimum 2 C (35 F). Elevation around 300 m (925 ft). Terrain, rocky watercourse surrounded by rainforest.
Because I'm carrying some injuries at present, I've been car-based camping so far. However, I have carried my gear in a backpack to approximate loading and pack weights. Fortunately, the ENO Camonest is so light it's probably the lightest part of my equipment.
I own four other hammocks but I have to say that the CamoNest is the one I find hardest to get along with. Not because of its weight or setup, but simply because I find this hammock so difficult to get out of. Okay, I'm no spring chicken, overweight and not terribly supple but I truly find the CamoNest difficult to get out of. I think the reason for that is that this is such a large hammock. After laying in it I find the sides are pulled quite tight and it's really hard to get my legs over the edge to get my feet on the ground. Yes, I find all hammocks a bit difficult to get out of but this one is really hard! I've tried a few different tensions on the suspension to see if that would help but it doesn't see to make a lot of difference.
It's ironic I guess: I thought this hammock had the potential to be super comfy as it would be big enough to hold a barn dance inside, but it's precisely because of that larger size I'm struggling. I've found the least difficult way is to hang the hammock a lot lower than I normally do so I have more chance of getting my feet to touch the ground as soon as I swing them over the side.
The other bug I have is that when laying in the hammock there always seems to be a flap of material hanging across my face (see picture in the Initial Report). Again, I've tried lots of different positions in the hammock but it still seems to happen. While it's not a deal-breaker, it is annoying.
As mentioned above, while this is an XL hammock, it feels as though the main 'benefit' of the extra room is that it simply turns out to be a deeper hammock once laying in it. I've found I haven't been able to get much of a more diagonal lay which I was kind of expecting with a bigger hammock. In reality, it seems like there's just more material gathering on the sides. That's not to suggest that this hammock is uncomfortable in any way. Far from it! It's a very comfortable lay once I find the 'sweet spot'.
A common issue with every hammock I've tried is that the material seems to pull towards the suspension right about where my knees and ankles lay. This means I generally wake with a pain in the back of my knee because that area is a little unsupported. I'm pleased to say that although that effect is still present in the CamoNest, it is far less obvious than with some of my other hammocks.
To me, though, the real star of this test has been the Atlas Strap suspension system. It's just so ridiculously easy to use and adjust: no arcane knot lore required, no special rituals or sacrifices to the Gods required, simply wrap them around the chosen trees and clip the hammock to them. I have the distinct impression I'll be swapping out all the various suspension systems on my other hammocks to a carabiner to use with these straps. My feeling is that this is a system so simple it could convert the most ardent tent-dweller.
With winter being well and truly here now, I've had to use some insulation to stay warm enough over night. This has also been somewhat of a challenge as I don't have a purpose-built underquilt and normally just rig an old sleeping bag with shock-cord. This has always worked pretty well for me in the past, but my other hammocks all have a ridge line, while the CamoNest doesn't. It's just meant a bit of a re-think of how I attach the underquilt but it's quite do-able. The other side effect of having such a large hammock is that my underquilt doesn't seem to cover as well, leaving me with some cold spots at times.
Because I most commonly use a double-layer hammock I'm also used to adding another insulation layer between the two layers of the hammock. Being a single-layer hammock, it's not possible to do this, however it just needs an adjustment of my thinking to find ways to make it work.
Fortunately, being so cold has meant there are very few mosquitoes or other bitey critters around so the absence of a bug net hasn't really been an issue for me. I also have to say, it's been kind of nice to not be quite so cocooned. It feels closer to nature. Sleeping without a tarp would really accentuate that too but the weather hasn't been kind enough to let me risk that yet.
So far, I'm very much enjoying the ENO CamoNest XL hammock despite finding it really difficult to get out of. It's simple, does exactly what it's supposed to and is very light. The Atlas Strap suspension is, perhaps, the best system I've tried. While this is a very 'basic' hammock, it does exactly what it's supposed to: provide a comfortable night's sleep.
August 15-16 One night - Station Creek, Yuragir National Park, New South Wales, Australia. Near sea level. Sunny and warm. Maximum 27 C (81 F) and minimum 8 C (46 F). Coastal heath and dry sclerophyl forest. This is quite a shady area which is home to an enormous population of mosquitoes in summer. There were a few around this time but not enough to make it unpleasant.
August 29-30 Two nights - Red Rock, Yuragir National Park, New South Wales Australia. Near sea level. Overcast but no rain. Maximum 22 C (72 F) and minimum 10 C (50 F). Former sand mining area now rehabilitated to coastal heath. The camping area is quite open but there's a small area of banksia trees which allow a place to hang a hammock and protect from the winds.
There's not much more to report with this hammock that I haven't already covered but I think it certainly bears a recap. This is certainly a generously sized hammock which is perfect for someone as generously proportioned as me. There's absolutely no feeling of being squashed in or like I'm sleeping on the edges and any movement may tip me out. In fact, for first-timers this may help instill a feeling of confidence in the whole sleeping-in-hammocks transition. That said, the issues I've had with this hammock have not been resolved with further use: I still find it very hard to get in and out of and the material still flaps over my face when lying on the diagonal.
The sudden arrival of spring and warmer weather has made me realise that it would be a matter of some urgency to purchase a bug net to continue usage into summer. Yes, I know I'm a wus - I should just toughen up and ignore the bitey critters trying to chew my face off, but that kinda takes a lot of the fun out of camping for me. There's nothing worse than that annoying whine of a mosquito making dive bombing runs while I'm trying to work out which part of my head I need to slap. Also, having suffered a couple of mosquito-borne diseases, I'm doubly alert: to me, a bug net is not optional. I have, however, been really happy using a hammock without a net over the colder months, as it's given a lovely expansive sense of being in the environment rather than trying to hide from it. This was magnified for my second-last camp which had glorious weather that allowed me to ditch the fly-sheet in favour of a starry canopy.
I'm still in love with the Atlas Strap suspension system and find it an absolute joy to use. It's proven to work with a huge variety of tree trunk sizes and makes hanging my hammock so very, very simple. Having used a few different suspension systems, I can honestly say this is the simplest and best I've encountered so far. I will definitely be converting my other hammocks to work with the Atlas Straps. Thank you ENO!
Over the past couple of camps I've found myself being even more comfortable with the lay of the hammock as I've got to know it better. It really is a comfortable lay with minimal ankle and knee stress. I've also tried the CamoNest with a partially inflated sleeping pad to give me a bit more insulation and found it works just fine and makes the lay even more comfortable.
As for wear, there's no sign of it! No loose threads, no pulls around the gathered end, no fraying. Nice.
The ENO CamoNest XL is a very comfortable hammock to lie in. It's very light, incredibly simple to hang and is generously sized. The only difficulty I encountered was in trying to get out of the hammock but, in mitigation of this, I'm pretty large, unfit, carrying injuries and not very supple. The stuff sack doubles as a pocket to put a torch, book and water bottle in at night, which is a really nice feature. The material appears durable and I've even come to enjoy the camouflage colouring - it harmonises with its environment rather than screaming "Look at me!" like a brightly coloured hammock does. The CamoNest is a more basic hammock than I'm used to using and that basic nature has been a real winner. I've felt more in tune with my environment than I have with most other camping I've done in recent years. Simple, immediate and real experiences are to be treasured and that's exactly what the CamoNest XL delivers. So will I keep using this hammock? I believe I will. Certainly in the bug-free times of year and as a way of connecting back with nature. The Atlas Strap system will be my go-to suspension system now.
That concludes my Long Term Report on the ENO CamoNest XL hammock. I'd sincerely like to thank both Eagles Nest Outfitters and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to be a part of this test.
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