GRAND TRUNK ULTRALIGHT TRAVEL HAMMOCK
BY STEVEN M KIDD
April 10, 2012
Steven M Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
220 lb (99.80 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (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 try to keep my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
|Courtesy Grand Trunk Goods|
Manufacturer: Grand Trunk Goods
Year of Manufacture:
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.grandtrunkgoods.com
MSRP: US $19.99
Listed Weight: 12.0 oz (340 g)
Measured Weight: 11.59 oz (329 g)
Dimensions: 9.5 x 4.5 ft (2.9 x 1.4 m)
Fabric: Polyester taffeta
The Grand Trunk Ultralight Travel Hammock is the company's second lightest hammock. The 12 oz (340 g) product actually folds up and stows in its own attached stuff sack, When stowed it is a little larger than a softball. The hammock is rated to safely hold a 250 lb (113 kg) person. It is available in Royal Blue and Forrest Green. Grand Trunk Goods also produces two other hammocks that are identical in specifications, but go by different names. They are the Grand Trunk Ultralight Camo Hammock (in camouflage) and the Grand Trunk Ultralight Hawaiian Hammock (in Blue Floral and Red Floral).
I gleaned from the website that the hammock comes standard with "S-shaped hanging hooks" as the primary suspension method. It is made of mildew resistant polyester taffeta with triple-stitched seams. The product may be cleaned using a washing machine.
I have used the Grand Trunk Ultralight throughout this winter season for a minimum of 8 nights in the backcountry. Temperatures have ranged from 20 - 60 F (-7 - 15.5 C) with both dry and rainy conditions. Because wind conditions can adversely affect the hammock camping comfort, I will mention that at times there was absolutely no wind and at others there were gusts as high as 20 mph (32 km/h).
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
|Modified Grand Trunk Ultralight|
As mentioned in the Product Information section earlier, the hammock is sold with a metal S-hook attached to each end. The Grand Trunk Ultralight is a gathered-end style hammock. Basically, if I were to remove the suspension (S-hooks) and lay it out flat, I would have a 9.5 x 4.5 ft (2.9 x 1.4 m) rectangular piece of polyester material. This is exactly what I did! Upon receiving the hammock, I immediately removed the S-hooks and modified it by adding a suspension system known in the hammock or nautical world as "whoopie slings". These are made from 7/64 in (2.5 mm) twelve-strand single braid Dyneema nautical line. Whoopie slings are lighter than the S-hooks and allow me to adjust the hammock's tension or 'hang' more easily. I also added a structural ridgeline, another feature that allows for a more consistent 'hang' with the hammock. This was made with a 1/16 in (1.75 mm) Dyneema braid. Many of the modifications I've done to the hammock have been addressed in the book, "The Ultimate Hang" by Derek Hansen. This book happens to be another product I've reviewed on this website. Feel free to peruse that report.
The end result in these modifications resulted in a hammock that was purchased at a list weight of 12.0 oz (340 g) and was ready for field use weighing 10.5 oz (298 g) and in my opinion is more flexible in adjusting for a comfortable sleep.
Gathered-end hammocks are a relatively simple contraption, and in fact many Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hammock campers make their own. I first started hammock camping to save weight over tent use. In doing so I purchased a netted hammock that weighed nearly two pounds. As last winter was approaching I felt the Grand Trunk would be an excellent opportunity to cut even more weight from my pack and still receive the comfortable sleep I'd never experienced when I was a 'ground dweller'. Bugs aren't a problem for winter camping in Tennessee, so this net-free hammock shaved precious weight and still allowed for a comfortable experience.
|Grand Trunk with Under Quilt Attached|
In the winter I still have to stay warm, and hammocking adds another set of factors to the situation. In a hammock I have not only the air temperatures around me, but also the air flow that goes underneath my sleeping environment. A traditional down or synthetic sleeping bag compresses underneath my weight in a hammock and without preventative measures I would experience a phenomenon known in the hammocking world as "Cold Butt Syndrome". There are several ways to address this, and the method I prefer to use is attaching an Under Quilt beneath the hammock. It is basically a modified product similar to the bottom half of a sleeping bag that attaches below the hammock with shock cord and carabiners. The insulation below me is now able to loft and keep me warm. I use a down quilt with my hammocks.
One thing that immediately impressed me about the Grand Trunk Ultralight was the freedom to adjust or 'dial-in' my under quilt. When using a netted hammock I had to either become familiar with the best way to attach the quilt, get out and adjust it or have a fellow backpacker move it for me while I was lying inside. Not so with this one! I simply slid the quilt up or down the hammock as needed and adjusted the shock cord tension to cut the quilt around my body! I was very impressed. I still need warmth above me when inside the hammock, and I could either cover up in an unzipped sleeping bag, or as I prefer use a Top Quilt. This is basically a bottomless sleeping bag with no zippers.
Hammock campers also need protection from the elements, and there are a myriad of tarps available to protect me from foul weather. I personally have several tarps. Differing weather predictions typically warrant the tarp I carry with me in the backcountry. Throughout much of this most recent winter I used a Hennessy Monsoon, as seen in the image below. Feel free to peruse my reveiw on that product as well.
I truly enjoyed using the Grand Trunk as my primary shelter throughout the winter season, and I'm a little bummed about the ensuing spring and return of the buggy season. I will soon have to return to using a netted hammock. I could purchase a bug net to use over the Grand Trunk, but I probably will keep it in the gear closet until fall returns. However, through the winter months I stayed comfortable, dry and warm on every outing
I have mostly positive things to review on the hammock. When lying in a hammock I can achieve flatness by lying in a diagonal across the hammock. Basically, I don't have to lie in a banana shape! The 9.5 ft (2.9 m) length did allow me to do this comfortably, but that may be a function of the user's height. I did experience some stretch or squeeze with the hammock cupping around my body, but not enough to cause discomfort or a willingness to discontinue use. I have another gathered-end hammock with 10 x 6 ft (3 x 1.8 m) dimensions with which I don't quite notice this effect. Again, neither of those two factors are things I consider true about the hammock, but merely minor thorns is an otherwise rose-filled product.
Below are a few more images showing a typical tarp for shelter and up-close of the structural ridge line and whoopie sling suspension.
|Hammock under the Hennessy Monsoon Tarp|
|Ridge Line and Suspension Close-up|
I found the Grand Trunk Ultralight hammock to be a cost-effective and lightweight option for winter shelter in the Southeast!
Read more reviews of Grand Trunk gear
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd