EAGLES NEST OUTFITTERS CAMONEST HAMMOCK
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
September 20, 2015
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Steven M. Kidd
5' 9" (1.80 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|ENO CamoNest XL|
Manufacturer: Eagles Nest Outfitters, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com
MSRP: US $94.95
Listed Weight: 19 oz (539 g)
Measured Weight: 19.6oz (556 g)
Listed Dimensions: 9 ft 4 in x 6 ft 2 in (2.8 m x 1.9 m)
Measured Dimensions: 9 ft 4 in x 6 ft 8 in (2.8 m x 2 m)
Maximum Capacity: 400 lb (181 kg)
Color: Forest Camo
MSRP: US $84.95
Listed Weight: 16 oz (454 g)
Listed Dimensions: 9 ft 4 in x 4 ft 7 in (2.84 m x 1.40 m)
Maximum Capacity: 400 lb (181 kg)
*ENO offers the hammock in both CamoNest XL, a wider or up to "two-person" version and CamoNest a narrower version designed for a single occupant. (I will be testing the CamoNest XL)
Atlas Straps: These optional suspension accessories were provided, but must be purchased separately from the hammock
MSRP: US $29.95
Listed Weight: 11 oz (539 g)
Measured Weight: 11.4oz (556 g)
Listed & Verified Dimensions: 9 ft x 1 in (2.7 m x 2.5 cm)
Material: Polyfilament Webbing
The ENO CamoNest XL hammock, hereafter routinely referred to as hammock, is a newly offered product with features similar to the manufacturer's flagship product called the DoubleNest. The ENO website refers to the color as Forest Camo. The camouflage pattern is digital, resembling current United States military patterns known by the acronyms MARPAT or UCP. However, the design is clearly different from either of those in that the hues are more muted than the MARPAT and bring in browns and deeper greens that don't exist in the UCP pattern.
|Hammock & Straps Stowed|
|Atlas Straps with Accompanying Warnings|
The hammock material is nylon. It is made with "the same breathable, quick-drying nylon as its ENO peers", however; this pattern allows the occupant to blend into a natural wooded environment. The hammock has triple stitched seams and has an attached compression stuff sack that is sewn into a side seam. Attached to the cordage at each of the gathered ends of the hammock are aluminum wire gate carabiners for quick connecting to a hammock suspension. The carabiners are stamped with a 400 lb (181 kg) capacity rating as well as clarification that they are not to be used in climbing. A small sticker was attached to each biner showing both the correct and incorrect manners in which to attach it to the suspension.
Every hammock must have a method by which it can be suspended or hung. The manufacturer also provided a set of Atlas Straps with the hammock. Atlas Straps are one of several suspension systems that ENO offers. All are sold separately from their hammocks and are not required for using an ENO hammock. The 9 ft (2.7 m) straps are essentially a webbing material with the final 5 ft (1.5 m) having daisy-chain loops sewn every 4 in (10.2 cm) along the strap. Each strap has 15 loops that allows the carabiner to be quickly attached anywhere along the daisy-chain in order to fine tune the hammock sag between the two trees (or other support) from which it suspends.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & SUMMARY
My first question was what made the CamoNest and CamoNest XL different from the current ENO lines known as the SingleNest and DoubleNest. At first glance they appeared very similar save the color scheme, as the aforementioned are offered in several dozen color combinations with many choices being vibrant and bright! I wondered to myself if the naming choice was simply a marketing technique or there were differences from these other models. After a little research on the website the key differentiator I found was that each of the camouflaged hammocks was listed as weighing 1 oz (28 g) less than the current models and the XL version was 6 in (15 cm) narrower than the DoubleNest. However, my measurements of the XL actually matched the same width the manufacturer uses for the DoubleNest on their website.
|Caribiner Attached to the Gathered End|
All naming conventions aside, I'm looking forward to trying out this hammock! After weighing and snapping a few shots of the hammock and the accompanying straps I decided to give it a hang. Unfortunately that's a problem in the backyard of my newly acquired home that will soon have to be remedied. I noticed there was one tree in my backyard that stood about 15 ft (4.6 m) from the children's trampoline, so I threaded one Atlas Strap around the tree and the other to the aluminum upright pole that supports the safety netting on my progeny's preferred death trap. Being only 2 in (5 cm) in diameter the aluminum pole wasn't nearly the circumference of an average tree I'd use as support, so most of the strap length fell toward the ground. I then clipped one carabiner to a daisy-chain loop coming off the tree and the other to a loop attached to the pole and stepped back for a quick eyeball test. After a quick glance the biners didn't appear on a parallel plane to the ground so I walked to one strap and quickly readjusted the carabiner to another loop. It was quick and simple, a feature I enjoy after a long day on the trail. I own over a half dozen hammock suspension systems, many do-it-yourself (DIY), and although some may weigh less than the Atlas Straps I can easily say nearly none are as simple to adjust as these.
I figured that little aluminum pole surely wouldn't support my weight load, so I asked my son to hop off the trampoline and into the hammock. He gladly did, only to have his sister bolt out the back door of the house and get in line. The key thing I noticed after loading the hammock with his whopping 40 lb (18 kg) was the straps came to nearly a perfect 30 degree angle. That's an ideal angle for both a comfortable hang and the dynamic weight load distribution on the hammock and straps.
|Notice the Loose Thread|
After he hopped out and my daughter had her opportunity to enjoy the hammock that I have yet to rest in, I noticed that once empty the sag of the hammock wasn't to my liking. Think of the sag as the banana-shaped curve when looking at an empty hammock. A quick fix to ensure ideal hammock sag is to add a ridgeline to the hammock. This is a line attached to each of the gathered ends that is roughly 80% of the overall hammock length, 90 in (2.3 m) in this case. Although ENO offers ridgelines as an accessory that may be purchased separately none of their hammocks are sold with them pre-attached. I've already made a ridgeline from dyneema line to affix to the hammock.
After this quick suspension test I realized I hadn't taken a good look at the hammock to ensure it was a quality made product and most importantly there were no punctures or tears in the material. The smallest hole in a hammock when loaded with the weight of an adult can cause a catastrophic failure to the material and put the occupant on the ground in a hurry. The CamoNest XL appeared well made with nicely stitched seams. There was, however, some loose thread at both ends that caused me to pause for a moment. More than pause! I quickly realized it was likely a quality control miss at the factory and it was something that simply needed pulling off. Notice in the image that created this short-lived concern. That was my one quality concern with the hammock.
The hammock is made with a nylon taffeta material. The material is very soft and one of the more comfortable hammock materials I've felt. Most all of my other hammocks are made with polyester, generally a lighter material but often not as comfortable in my opinion.
|Gratuitous Occupant #2|
Over the last five years my backcountry camping has been almost exclusively in a hammock. In fact, even my children have used hammocks since they were aged of four and five respectively. Hence the battle to hop in the hammock for a gratuitous photograph! In that time I've owned nearly two dozen hammocks, both commercial models and DIY versions, but I've surprisingly never owned or even relaxed in an ENO.
The weight penalty using the hammock in conjunction with the Atlas Straps is more than twice my usual rig. I look forward to using the Atlas Straps to see how easy they allow for setup and adjustment, but I will likely also employ some of my current suspension systems throughout the series to both minimize trail weight and share with the reader both the versatility and variety hammocking offers.
ENO is one of the most well-known commercially available hammock brands and as I'm a serious hammock enthusiast, I am certainly excited to put the CamoNest XL to the test. I look forward logging many miles and hopefully just as many restful nights in the hammock over the next several months. I look forward to reporting on hammock use with varying suspension systems and differing top and under quilts. My only concern was those loose threads, but I believe I've overcome that concern. The entire setup of the hammock and supplied straps is a little heavier than I'm used to carrying, but I was aware of that in advance. I hope to report a smooth and silky comfort experience will overcome that.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
8 - 12 April, 2015; South Cumberland State Park, Savage Gulf and Stone Door Region of the Lower Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee. Some backpacking buddies and I had a trip planned over these dates for the Big South Fork area of Tennessee and Kentucky. Late winter ice storms had the trails in that area in really rough shape, so we had to make an ad hoc decision and this was the next most central location for the six of us. It was five-day/four-night trip that covered both sides of the natural area covering close to 41 mi (66 km). Elevations ranged from around 1800 ft (549 m) on the plateau to just under 1300 ft (396 m) in the gulf. The high temperature for the outing was on the second day of hiking reaching 86 F (30 C). It was around 66 F (19 C) the first two evenings until a front with a storm came through cooling the temperatures over the next several days. Daytime temperatures continued to rise into mid-70s F (mid-20s C), but the low on both Friday and Saturday night dropped to 40 F (4.5 C). Both those nights were so clear and starlit that I didn't even deploy my tarp on the final evening. Terrain varied from level and easy to traverse on the plateau to extremely rocky, slick and slow going on the ascents and descents. The drops into and climbs out of the gulf generally only last 0.25 - 0.5 mi (0.4 - 0.8 km), however, they were steep and intense and we generally found them fairly strenuous.
|CamoNext XL w/ Underquilt & Party Lights at Savage Gulf|
21 - 24 May, 2015; Smith Mountain Lake near Hardy, Virginia. My brother has a lake house about an hour west of Lynchburg, Virginia. My grandmother passed away during this period and several generations traveled to the area for the funeral. I'd originally planned to campout on our family farm in Straightstone, Virginia, but the majority of the family was staying at the lake. Being short on space, I volunteered to hang in the woods near his house. It wasn't the best of circumstances to be testing the hammock, but to be honest hanging in the woods alone recollecting on her nearly 96 years of life each evening was really peaceful. Temperatures dropped to as low at 50 F (10 C) and were never over 60 F (15 C) as I slumbered. The air was so clear and arid I never needed to hang a tarp. There wasn't even a light dew any of the mornings I arose. The elevation was 997 ft (304 m) and I hung my hammock on a slope that was easily a 10% grade as the hillside went straight down toward the lake.
|ENO with Straps & Buckles Setup|
30 - 31 May, 2015; Camp Gnawbone, Gnawbone, Indiana. I've also used the hammock on an overnight trip with my children in southern Indiana. We take two outings a year with a Dad's group that I'm involved with, but no hiking is involved. There was plenty of rain throughout the afternoon and evening and temperatures ranged from 70 - 85 F (21 - 29 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I've enjoyed using this hammock over the last several months. As I mentioned in the Initial Report, I've been an avid hammock camper for nearly half a decade, but this is the first ENO hammock I've ever used. The hammock was much heavier and bulkier in pack volume than most of my other backpacking hammocks, but the width made up for it in comfort. It's also a little shorter than most hammocks I'm accustomed to sleeping in. I generally choose hammocks anywhere between 10 ft - 11 ft (~3.05 - 3.35 m) long, but the CamoNest XL is only 9 ft 4 in (2.84 m) in length. Since I'm only 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) tall and this hammock comes in at 6 ft 8 in (2 m) wide it still works for me. The extensive width allows me to lay completely flat by reclining on a diagonal in the hammock. If the width were narrower I likely wouldn't be able to achieve this "sweet spot" in a hammock of this length.
That stated, the excess width of this hammock did cause me some nuisance. The additional fabric would tend to annoyingly flop in my face as I lay in the hammock. I've overcome this by ensuring the sewn stuff pocket hangs off my left shoulder. I then weigh down the pocket with either a small pistol or a bottle of water and this will pull the fabric taut and keep it from bothering me.
The Atlas Straps are very easy to set up, but I found them a little too heavy for trail use. I've used them in every instance except for the high mileage outing I went on. They are simple to set up and easy to adjust. Each strap is only 9 ft (2.7 m) long, considerably shorter than the 15 ft (4.6 m) straps I use on the trail. This could pose a problem if one of the trees I needed to hang from had a larger circumference.
During the spring backpacking trip, after using the Atlas Straps on the first night in base camp, I decided to use Cinch Buckles attached to dyneema continuous loops and polyester webbing to suspend the hammock. Even at 15 ft (4.6 m) per strap they weighed less than half the supplied product. In normal situations I would merely lark's head a continuous loop around the gathered end of the hammock and attach the loop and buckle to the strap. A lark's head (or cow hitch) is a hitch in which the rope of the continuous loop is passed around an object, the hammock body in this case and then back through itself for a snug fit. Think of how a luggage tag with an elastic band is looped around a handle and back through itself. The ENO hammock has carabiners attached to the ends, so I decided to simply clip the loop directly into the biner and attach it this way. In all honesty, if I weren't in the middle of this test series I'd likely remove the carabiners to save weight and use only the just mentioned larks head setup on the hammock, but I'm obligated not to alter that product during testing. Take a look at the image of the buckle and strap setup above.
|CamoNest XL Before Quilts & Tarp at Hobbs Cabin|
I also mentioned in my opening report that I made a structural ridgeline to allow for a consistent sag when suspending the hammock. Take notice of pictures in this field report, particularly the Hobbs Cabin shot, to see how the DIY line accomplishes this feat. I also use the ridgeline as a way of attaching my underquilt to the hammock. I have prusik knot at both the head and foot end of the line and attach the quilt with shock cord and mitten hooks. Just as a ground dweller needs some sort of insulation between he or she and the ground, a hammock camper does as well...if not more so. There is always 360 degrees of air circulation when sleeping in a hammock and even at temperatures as high as 70 F (21 C) I can chill at night. Using a down underquilt that attaches snugly beneath the hammock, but still lofts since there is nothing to compress the insulation, I can keep warm and snug as a bug all night when I use it in conjunction with a second topquilt inside the hammock itself.
To date I've also used the hammock with several tarps. In the non-backpacking instances I've slept underneath an ENO FlexFly. I reported on that product in the past, so feel free to check that series! When on the trail I used a lighter fly made with cuben fiber material. With the short length of this hammock I have no concerns having adequate coverage when using any of the five tarps I own. I also loved the having a chance to sleep out several nights without having to use a tarp at all. I find lying on my back and looking up at the stars as I drift off to sleep a very peaceful way to end the day!
|CamoNest XL w/ an ENO FlexFly|
Sleeping in any hammock is much more comfortable than spending a night on the ground for me. I arise refreshed and with a bounce in my step ready to hit the trail. No aches or pains for my aging bones when I wake up! The CamoNest XL has certainly been satisfactory in continuing to allow me to wake up "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" as my grandfather used to say.
The hammock is very wide which easily allows for a flat horizontal recline. On the downside there is so much additional fabric that it will annoyingly flop in my face, but I've overcome this by weighing down the attached stuff pocket. It's not ideal in my opinion, but it works for me. The hammock is a little heavy for my preference in the backcountry, but I do find it very comfortable.
In the two instances I didn't have to haul it in my pack on the high mileage days I'm accustomed to doing, I found it a great slumbering option. It's comfortable, blends into the environment and is a very soft and enjoyable fabric. The Atlas Strap system is simple and easy to use and I find them ideal for use in backyard or car camping situations. I find them a little heavy for trail use even with their simplicity.
I'm excited to continue to test the CamoNest XL over the next several months.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
|Hammock, Home, Clothes Line, Gear Hang...|
18 - 19 July, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. My 6 1/2 year old son and I took this overnight trip to the local national forest and met up with another gear tester that I recently learned lives just miles away from me. We hiked a little over 3 mi (5 km) each day in hot and dry conditions. Heat indexes were around 105 F (41 C) during the day and I believe the overnight low was still above 75 F (24 C). My little one was a trooper in these miserable conditions and the trail we followed also happened to be open to horses. Intense and record setting rain in the area over the previous three weeks in conjunction with horse traffic created a soupy mess on the trail! We bushwhacked straight downhill the final 0.25 mi (0.40 km) so we could camp directly on the reservoir. That made for a tough start to our exit on the following morning, specifically since I carried two packs back up to the trail.
21 - 23 August, 2015; Brown County, Indiana. This was a solo weekend outing covering a 15 mi (24 km) loop. Weather was around 80 F (27 C) during the day and dropped to around 70 F (21 C) in the evening. Conditions were dry and hot, but it was nice to get into the woods alone.
12 - 13 September, 2015; Camp Gnawbone, Gnawbone, Indiana. This is the outing that embarks the fall season with the Dad's group that I'm involved with, again no serious hiking. It rained in the afternoon just enough to be annoying and get the tarp damp. Temperatures had been considerably warming in the previous weeks, but the high this day was 67 F (19 C) and it dropped to 48 F (9 C) that night. The weather was much cooler than the summer-like temperatures everyone had been accustomed to so jackets were and long pants were very common.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I used the hammock on three more outings during the final phase of the review. I continue to be a fan of the hammock's comfort, but it does have a few drawbacks that haven't changed much since the last field report.
|My rarely used Bug Net and the Yellow Kevlar Webbing|
The hammock material is comfortable and it is very roomy in the width area. My primary complaints concerning the hammock involve both the length and the width. It is a very wide hammock and that causes some of the material to flap freely about the face if it isn't addressed. I weighed down the attached pocket and that generally takes care of the nuisance, but not completely. After the test series is complete I'll consider adding a DIY project known as a "Knotty Mod". This modification adds a length of shock cord through a portion of the hem of the hammock that can be tightened to snug the fabric up. This modification would easily eliminate the issue for me. The other complaint can't be corrected. The CamoNest XL is shorter than I prefer. I prefer a hammock that is between 10 and 10 1/2 ft (3 and 3.2 m).
The hammock is also certainly heavier than those I generally use when backpacking, but I find it comfortable and enjoyable to use. On the trip to Hoosier National Forest this summer I deployed a bug net with the hammock for the first time when using it. In fact it was the first time I'd used a net in close to two years with any hammock! I generally treat my hammocks with permethrin, an insect deterrent that generally keeps the majority of ticks and other biting insects away. I never ended up treating the ENO, but the season had been mild and I had no issues with bugs until I was down on Lake Monroe in the forest. The mosquitoes were eating me up from both above and below (through the hammock fabric). I hopped out of bed around midnight using a headlamp and had to add the net. In doing so I had to briefly remove my suspension as it feeds through my homemade netting. It wasn't too much of an issue, save I was tired and it was the middle of the night. This wasn't an issue with the hammock, merely a miscue on my part.
Although the Atlas Straps are very easy to use I didn't use them on any other backpacking trips in an effort to cut weight. In fact I didn't even use the polyester webbing any longer, I used an even lighter weight webbing made from Kevlar material. I did use the Atlas Straps while on the trip to Gnawbone because they are so simple to work with.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
|Camping on the Lake with my Shadow|
Even with my minimal complaints I have enjoyed using the hammock and can easily say I'm impressed with ENO and its products. They are well designed and performed well in my opinion.
Both the hammock and the straps are heavier products than I prefer for the style of backpacking I enjoy, so I likely will not use them on backcountry outings in the future. However, they are great for hanging in the backyard, at the beach or even car or base camping. I will definitely keep the hammock and straps in my gear stash. Between the carabiners on the hammock and the loops on the straps I can have the hammock set up in seconds. I find it a very simple operation. This coming weekend I'm going on a church camping trip to a local state park with the entire family and I can assure the reader the CamoNest XL will be used.
I'd like to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Eagles Nest Outfitters for allowing me to test the CamoNest XL hammock.
Read more reviews of Eagles Nest Outfitters gear
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd