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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Grand Trunk AT Hybrid Hammock > Test Report by Derek Hansen
Grand Trunk All Terrain Hybrid Travel Hammock
Test Series by Derek Hansen
14 Mar 2008
The Grand Trunk All Terrain Hybrid Travel Hammock (hereafter just “hammock” or “hybrid”) can be simply described as a lightweight 6 × 10 (1.8 × 3 m) tarp with eight tie-outs around the perimeter. On the short sides, the material has been looped and hemmed to allow the material to be “gathered” creating a sleeve for the hammock suspension system. With the tie-outs and hammock loops, the hybrid can be set up and used in a myriad of ways, primarily as some type of shelter or even as a hammock.
The hybrid stuff sack with a Lego figure for size comparison.
The hybrid has a stuff sack that is sewn directly onto the long edge of the fabric. Alternate shelter designs are printed on the stuff sack. The stuff sack has a cord lock and draw cord for closure. The stuff sack, flat, measures approximately 8 × 10 in (20.3 × 25.4 cm). The stuff sack also has a Grand Trunk patch sewn on the side opposite the silk-screened instructions.
The eight tie-outs are made of black webbing and are sewn on each corner and in-between each corner on the long and short sides. Each tie-out has been sewn to create two loops.
The tie-outs are sewn creating two loops. The triple-stitched interior seams are taped.
The hybrid has been created using three separate pieces of material: one large center piece and two smaller pieces sewn on either side of the large piece. The smaller pieces are 10 ft × 8.25 in (3 m × 21.6 cm). All of the pieces are triple stitched together. All of the edges are hemmed with triple stitches. The long seams connecting the side smaller sections of material are sealed with tape. One side of the fabric (the one opposite to the taped side) appears like it has been treated and has a dull appearance. The taped side is shiny.
The hybrid comes standard with the tarp and two metal “S” hooks and two short strands of looped rope (that connect to the “S” hooks) to make attach points for the hammock. The hybrid hang tag has a “rope guide” showing how to use Grand Trunk’s pre-knotted suspension rope (two 10 ft [3 m] pieces of 4.5 mm [0.18 in] accessory rope, sold separately) with the “S” hook and loop rope. Grand Trunk included the pre-knotted suspension ropes for this test, but without the rope, the suspension system and other material for pitching the hybrid in other shelter configurations (e.g., tie lines, stakes, etc.) is left as an exercise for the user (namely, me).
The Hammock Suspension System
Hammocks are great for Leave No Trace, but as with any type of shelter remember “campsites are found, not made.” A hammock opens up all kinds of terrain for sleeping, but care must be given when attaching to any tree. I have been using a hammock as part of my shelter system for some time and I recommend using a wide webbing strap around the tree trunk, instead of tying a rope directly around the bark. These “tree hugging” straps help protect the bark from the “biting” of the rope. Flat nylon webbing at least 1.5 to 2 in (~51 mm) works well.
My suspension system consists of two oval wiregate carabiners, two 1.5 in (38 mm) wide × 56 in (142 cm) long webbing straps, two 7.5 ft (2.3 m) lengths of 6 mm (0.24 in) climbing rope, and one 9 ft (2.74 m) length of 3 mm (0.12 in) accessory rope, all purchased at a local outdoor store. I tied one figure-eight-on-a-bite knot on each length of the 6 mm (0.24 in) climbing rope pieces and on each end of the 3 mm (0.12 in) accessory rope. Any knots tied into these load-bearing ropes become very difficult to untie once the hammock is suspended and I lay inside. I consider the knots permanent.
Hanging A Hammock
The hybrid is meant to be a modular shelter system, so the hammock suspension cannot be permanently attached to the fabric. To achieve this—and to make the hammock easy to create and hang—I am using stiff 6 mm (0.24 in) climbing rope to feed through the hybrid’s hemmed sleeves. This rope feeds very quickly and easily through the fabric. I then feed the rope through itself via the figure-eight-on-a-bite loop that is tied to one end.
I am using the 9 ft (2.74 m) length of 3 mm (0.12 in) accessory rope (with the figure-eight loop knots on both ends) as a center ridgeline. Each 6 mm (0.24 in) climbing rope is fed through the figure-eight loop on each end of the ridgeline. The ridgeline takes the guesswork out of hanging the hammock and prohibits me from pitching the hammock too tight and gives me a guide so the hammock is not too slack. As long as the ridgeline is taut, the hammock is perfectly hung.
I wrap the wide nylon webbing around a tree and attach the carabiner through the loops I sewed into the webbing. I then tie the climbing rope to the carabiner using a slippery lark’s head or girth hitch knot. This system allows me to quickly adjust the hammock without tying complicated lashings or impossible-to-untie knots. I’ve tied the rope directly to the webbing before, but I’ve found that this wears the webbing down and is more time-consuming. The carabiner method I use is quick and works well for me, even in heavy rain. I’ve also used drip lines on the rope to help keep rain from collecting on the rope and pooling in my hammock.
Accessories For Setting Up The Shelter
I purchased a spool of neon yellow braided string at a hardware store and cut several lengths for the tie-outs. I also have six needle stakes I will use for the other shelter configurations.
For the hammock, I also needed a rain fly or tarp.
The Grand Trunk website has some useful video clips that demonstrate how to set up the hybrid in a couple of ways. There are a few notable differences between the hybrid shown in the video demonstrations and the actual product. Most notable is that the hybrid does not have center tie-outs sewn to the middle of the fabric. There are only eight (8) tie-outs around the perimeter.
Grand Trunk sells some accessories that work with the hybrid, namely the accessory rope for the hammock suspension and some tape for repairing rips and holes.
After unstuffing the hybrid and taking my first measurements, I found it a little difficult to get the material into the stuff sack again. In fact, I found the material a little stiff and unforgiving. The stuff sack seemed somewhat small, but I was able to get it packed again after a few attempts. The stuff sack is sewn in the center of one long edge and I found that a combination of pseudo-folding and stuffing worked well. I folded one half and packed it into the bottom of the pouch and stuffed the rest on top.
My first attempt at hanging the hammock in my backyard proved that the material is vulnerable to tears, despite how stiff and tough it feels to the touch. After securing one side of the hammock, a gust of wind pulled the hybrid from my hands and dashed it to the ground. After setting up the hammock completely, I noticed a small tear. I purchased a box of Tear-Aid, recommended by Grand Trunk, to fix the small tear. I placed the patch on the non-taped side. The Tear-Aid seems to work well as a flexible, self-healing patch.
Later, I took my two oldest sons out for a day hike in the Coconino National Forest to set up the hybrid in a few configurations. With my trekking poles, I was able to set up the A-frame and lean-to versions. Using two trees, I set up the asymmetric tarp, and then later I set up the hammock again. My only hesitation with the tarp/tent versions is that the attached stuff sack remains open to the elements. I worry that this will be a great rain collector. Cinching up the draw string closes the hole a little, but I am not fond of the location of the bag.
I can set up the hybrid in an A-frame length-wise or width-wise. The length-wise A-frame provides the most head-to-toe protection, but has a very restrictive head space. The width-wise A-frame is only 6 ft (1.8 m), which is really, really tight for my height. I would have to sleep diagonally for any real rain protection.
The asymmetric tarp also provides marginal protection, but I have used an asymmetric tarp with a hammock before, as long as I sleep in the same direction as the tarp. This version, however, would make a great dining fly for quick set-up along the trail, and I think I’ll use it like this in my field testing.
The hammock went up easily, using my modified suspension system. I am very comfortable and accustomed to this system, and with only a few modifications, I think this will work well to keep the hybrid a modular shelter. My only concern with the hammock will be if the sleeve will endure the stress from the suspension system.
The hybrid has potential, and I feel confident I can pitch the shelter in multiple ways. The hammock is roomy and comfortable and I can’t wait to take it on my first trek. I am concerned about the stuff sack being a little small, especially for repacking, and how it dangles on the outside of the shelter when pitched as an A-frame, etc. I’m tempted to remove the sack, but I’ll see how it holds up if I encounter any heavy rainfall.
Finally, I am disappointed that Grand Trunk doesn’t supply webbing straps (to protect the trees) as part or their hammock suspension system—either included with the hybrid or as an optional add-on.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in about two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for more information.
25 May 2009
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
March 27–28 — Arizona Trail, Coconino National Forest. I took my daughter on a short 4-mile (6 km) hike on the Arizona Trail. I was anticipating a cold night, so we pitched a modified lean-to using the Hybrid and we both fit underneath. That night we experienced a low of 19 F (-7.2 C) and a high of 50 F (10 C) the next day.
April 17–18 — Arizona Trail, Coconino National Forest. My desire whetted after hiking the Arizona Trail with my daughter, I wanted to hike a longer section solo. With just a short overnight allowed, I completed a 12-mile (19 km) section that took me past Walnut Canyon and into the Flagstaff Lake country. For this trip, I used the Hybrid as a hammock. The overnight low was 34 F (1.1 C), and the high the next day was sunny and 70 F (21.1 C).
April 24–25 — T-Six Mountain, Coconino National Forest. Having taken my daughter hiking, I had to take my son next (to be fair). For this trip, we chose to go explore some Forest Service roads near Sedona, Arizona. We hiked a short distance and made our camp in a sheltered ponderosa pine enclave. The low was 38 F (3.3 C) with a high of 58 F (14.4 C). I used the Hybrid as a ground cloth for this trip and pitched a floorless tent for shelter.
May 15–16 — Upper Pumphouse Wash, Coconino National Forest. I took my oldest sons (6-year-old and 3-year-old) on a Father and Sons outing with some friends. Although the event was in the national forest, we were able to literally “car camp” by driving on forest roads very near where we wanted to camp. I thought it would be fun to all sleep in hammocks, so I pitched three hammocks, including the Hybrid, on top of one another. The overnight low was 36 F (2.2 C), and the high the next day was 78 F (25.5 C). We did some day hiking in the canyon on Saturday.
May 22–23 — Marshall Lake, Coconino National Forest. It had been raining for a few days in Flagstaff and I was jumping at the chance to go backpacking. When the weekend finally came, I could only convince my 6-year-old son to join me, so we sloshed through mud and rain to reach one of my new favorite places near Flagstaff: Marshall Lake. We set up our hammocks and enjoyed the beautiful, refreshing rain. The low was 45 F (7 C) and the high was 58 F (14 C). We hiked around Anderson Mesa the next day.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I absolutely love camping in a hammock, but it has been great to have the Hybrid, especially at times when it was very cold at night and I wanted to have more flexibility in my shelter. Such was the case in March when I went backpacking with my daughter (see photo inset “A”). I knew it was going to be a cold night and we would be warmer sleeping on pads on the ground. I pitched a 3-sided shelter and we hunkered down for the night. I used my ridgeline rope, five stakes, and a trekking pole to help pitch this shelter configuration. The Hybrid held up nicely throughout the night. There was some frozen condensation on the inside of the tent in the morning.
I used the Hybrid as a footprint when I went camping with my son in the National Forest (see photo inset “B”). I brought a floorless tent for that night and used the Hybrid underneath us. I was more than a little worried that the Hybrid would get multiple punctures through the night with all the prickly pine needles, rocks, and twigs underneath us. However, I was happy to find the Hybrid was fine after this abuse. The Hybrid provided ample space for the two of us with the extra material tucked underneath.
For the rest of my adventures during this period, I used the Hybrid as a hammock (see photo inset “C,” “D,” and “E”). When I took my sons camping with me, I tried something new: stacking hammocks (see photo inset “E”). This configuration worked great because I remained close to my boys and could get away with one tarp! During our Father and Sons adventure, my youngest son had a midnight bathroom emergency and I was able to stay snug in my hammock while helping him take care of business. He then complained he was too cold so I took him in the Hybrid with me (see photo inset “F”). I was surprised to find how comfortable I was for the rest of the night (I was worried I would be cramped). In the morning, my other son awoke in his hammock and decided to join us. While it was short-lived, I found that all three of us could fit comfortably in the Hybrid.
For dinner, my son and I used the hybrid as lounger, which was infinitely more comfortable than the ground (plus, it was raining, and the tarp was helpful too).
When visiting Marshall Lake, I had a chance to use the Hybrid as a lounger/chair. When we arrived in camp, it was still raining and sprinkling. I quickly set up my tarp and stacked our hammocks, putting the Hybrid low (see photo inset “C”). As it was raining, we set up our kitchen under the tarp and cooked dinner while seated in the hammock. It was a perfect set-up, and so later my son and I enjoyed a comfortable seated meal in the Hybrid.
My only complaint during this period is the stuff sack. After my section hike on the Arizona Trail, I noticed I ripped a small hole near the seam where the stuff sack was attached to the hammock. I was not especially forceful, but I heard a “pop” when I was packing the hammock in the morning and worried I had pulled a seam. The stuffing finally took its toll. At home, I decided to unpick the seam and remove the stuff sack from the hammock to preserve the hammock from further damage. Ever since removing the stuff sack, I’ve noticed it is easier to stuff the material into the sack. I haven’t decided how to best fix the hole I ripped in the hammock, but I am considering using the Tear-Aid or sewing the seam over the hole.
It is my experience that for temperatures below 60 F (16 C), I need some insulation barrier in addition to my sleeping bag to keep my back from getting too cold while in the hammock. I normally use a torso-length closed-cell foam pad, which works great for me down to 40 F (4 C). Below 40 F (4 C), I’ll either bring a second closed-cell foam pad, or a full-length self-inflating pad. With these precautions, I’ve slept comfortably in the Hybrid so far. I am looking forward to the warmer temperatures so I can sleep in the hammock without extra insulation.
FIELD USE SUMMARY
I’ve had a lot of great use out of the Hybrid and I am very happy so far.
PRO—I love the large size of the hammock and the extra tie-outs to make other shelter configurations. The Hybrid is very comfortable to sleep in as a hammock. I am also very comfortable using the hammock as a tarp in different configurations. And although I didn’t notice any damage after using the Hybrid as a footprint, I am still worried this method might have the most risk for damage to the fabric.
CON—I like the idea of an attached, easy-to-use and accessible stuff sack, but I’ve already ripped through the seams trying to cram the material into the sack. I think the sack is large enough, but the stiff material doesn’t fit smoothly in and pulls on the seams.
LONG TERM REPORT
22 Jul 2009
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
19-20 June — Anderson Mesa, Arizona Trail, Flagstaff, Arizona. High: 66 F (19 C) Low: 39 F (4 C). Overnight rain. Pack weight: 28.3 lb (13 kg). I included my bear canister inside again, along with a 12 × 12 ft (3.6 × 3.6 m) tarp and two sleeping bags.
3-4 July — Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii. Pack weight: 10 lb (5 kg). Average temperature was 73 F (22 C). My wife joined me for an amazing backpacking trip on the famed Kalalau Trial on Kauai. We both packed light since we didn’t need sleeping bags, a bear canister, extra clothing, or lots of water.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I took my three oldest on an overnight backpacking trip on the Anderson Mesa and we had a blast cooking and setting up camp. I packed three hammocks for this trip for the four of us on the hike. I planned on sharing the hybrid with my three-year-old son since it seemed to work back in May. I was very, very happy that we had hammocks on this trip because the top of Anderson Mesa is littered with large and small lava rocks, making tent camping an impossibility. Putting up the hammocks was a bit of a trick too, since the trees were somewhat sparse. We did find a good spot, finally, and set all three hammocks together under one 12 × 12 ft (3.6 × 3.6 m) tarp.
Three hammocks together, including the hybrid, on the Anderson Mesa.
The idea of sharing the hybrid with my son seemed perfect until I tried to get in the hammock. After I put the kids to bed in their hammocks, I cleaned up around camp, etc., and finally got ready to settle in. The last time I tried sharing the hybrid, I was already in the hammock. This time, I had to slide in with my son already fast asleep. As you can imagine, this didn’t work out too well. I spent a rather sleepless night with my son squirming all over me. My older son also decided to join us late in the night, so all three of us crammed into the hybrid. I’ve discovered that sharing the hammock is a fun idea, but trying to get any sleep with this configuration is a mistake.
The hammock held up well with our combined weight (well under the limit).
In the night (to add to my already sleepless misery), it began to rain. Since I had set up my tarp to favor one side more than the other, rain began to drizzle and hit us in the hammock. To deflect the rain, I used the hammock as a sort of bivy, draping the excess material over the exposed edge. The water did not soak through the material and it acted as a good shield. Eventually, I had to get out of the hammock to adjust the tarp because holding the hammock for too long was only contributing to my restless sleep. I was very grateful the hammock’s material was coated, which protected us from the rain for about 40 minutes while I used it as a make-shift bivy. The wide hammock provided enough extra material to work out well.
I was also glad to have the hybrid on my backpacking adventure on Hawaii, where my wife and I set out to backpack a portion of the Kalalau Trail on Kauai. Arriving on the coast, we found a perfect spot above the beach on a boulder-strewn embankment. The tropical trees provided several hang points, so I was able to set up a “V” arrangement with our two hammocks. I love how many more areas become available when I use a hammock! Another couple later joined us on the coast, but since they had a tent, they had to camp on the beach. When the tide came in, this couple got flooded out and had to relocate—I can only imagine their terror and surprise when the waves began to fill up their bathtub floor. In the morning, we noticed their wet equipment piled up in a new area away from their first spot.
I set up the hybrid next to my wife's hammock in a "V", sharing one tree as an anchor for both hammocks. Note the large boulders everywhere—perfect for hammocks; terrible for tents!
I again used the large 12 × 12 ft (3.6 × 3.6 m) tarp to shelter us both, although we didn’t need it on this trip. The hammock worked beautifully, both in comfort and convenience. Both my wife and I enjoyed using it as a chair, or to lay down and relax in. It was much easier to lounge in than the other hammock we brought, which had a built-in bug net. Thankfully, there were no flying bugs to speak of during our Hawaii hike.
The All-Terrain Hybrid Hammock is wonderful. Although it is a little heavier than other hammocks I have used, its larger size and versatility may edge out the ounces I am saving with lighter hammocks. The hybrid fits nicely under my favorite tarp, a MacCat Standard, but is equally at ease with other tarps. Using the hybrid in other shelter configurations has worked well too, although my preference is to avoid using it as a ground cloth. With a pair of trekking poles, I was easily able to set up the hammock as a tarp or other ground shelter.
The material is rugged, and I found the attached stuff sack difficult to use. I eventually unpicked the sack after ripping the seam during a stuffing session. With the sack detached, it is much, much easier to pack, and quicker too. I can easily fit the hammock and my suspension system (webbing straps, suspension rope, ridgeline, carabiners, and six needle stakes) into the sack.
PRO—Very comfortable hammock that is easy to pitch as a ground shelter when necessary. The size is great for a hammock. Weatherproofing works great. So many more camping spots are available with a hammock, especially the hybrid, which can convert to a tent or bivy when no trees are available.
CON—The attached sack is convenient, but the heavy material put too much stress on the seams. The hammock is heavy; I’d love a version with lighter fabric—maybe a heavier silicon-impregnated nylon version?
I would like to thank Grand Trunk and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.
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