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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Hennessy Jungle Explorer and Expedition > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Hennessy Jungle Explorer Zip Hammock with Accessories

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - May 3, 2016

Field Report - August 23, 2016

Long Term Report - October 11, 2016

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have mostly been a combination of Minnesota, where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona where I moved to about six years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  I have been an avid hammock camper and own three others including one Hennessy which was my first hammock purchased in 2008.

Initial Report

In this test report I will review the following elements as supplied by Hennessy for this test:
  1. The Jungle Explorer Zip hammock.  Included with the hammock is a tarp for rain protection and webbing straps for tree attachment.
  2. The Radiant Bubble pad, insulation for underneath the hammock.
  3. Snakeskins that slide over the hammock when breaking camp to minimize packed size.
  4. Funnel water collectors that attach to the tarp and channel rain water into screw-top bottles.

The primary focus of the test will be on the hammock, but we will take a look at all the accessories as well.

Product Information

HH01
Photo of the Explorer Jungle from the Hennessy Hammock website

All Hennessy hammocks include a gathered-end design silnylon hammock, integral mesh bugnet and tarp rainfly.  This model as shown in the above photo includes an asymmetric diamond-shaped tarp (parallelogram) with catenary cuts, a zipper on the bugnet for ingress/egress, and a double bottom layer to hold an insulating pad in place and prevent insect bites.  The Explorer model is designed for Big Guys like me, up to 300 lbs (136 kg) and 7 ft (213 cm) in height.  The tieout locations on the hammock sides are not symmetric, so the user is constrained to one off-axis diagonal lay.  The hammock includes a fixed ridgeline which creates a fixed amount of sag in the hammock regardless of suspension tension.  The suspension is attached to the supplied webbing straps with a figure-8 style hitch.  The tarp attaches directly to the same trees the hammock is suspended from, not attached to the hammock ridgeline as it is in some Hennessy models.

hh02
Photo of the Radiant Bubble Pad XL size from the Hennessy Hammock website

The Radiant Bubble pad as shown in the photo above is the supplied Hennessy under-hammock insulation layer.  Sleeping in a hammock differs from laying on the ground as convective, conductive and radiant cooling all team up to make the backside cold.  The Radiant Bubble pad is similar in construction to windshield reflectors used in automobiles.  It contains air gaps (bubbles) to slow conductive cooling, a silverized coating to reflect infrared radiation, and is windproof to minimize convective heat loss.  It differs from the SuperShelter I've been using with my older Hennessy hammock primarily in that the reflector is integrated into the design instead of requiring the user purchase, carry and setup a Space Blanket on top of the pad.

Snakeskins are fundamentally very long and thin stuff sacks.  They are kept on the hammock suspension when not in use.  When breaking camp, the hammock is rolled up and the snakeskins are pulled over the hammock.  This keeps the hammock from getting dirty, and compresses it into a smaller volume.  The snakeskins have a secondary function of reducing rainwater from running down the suspension under the tarp and into the hammock.

The water collectors funnel rain water from the tarp into bottles.  They attach to the tip of the tarp, and have a secondary function of tensioning the tarp as they fill with water.

Manufacturer: Hennessy Hammock
Manufacturer website: http://hennessyhammock.com/
Model:
Hennessy Jungle Explorer Zip Hammock
Radiant Double Bubble Pad XL
Snakeskins XL
HH2O Automagic Water Collector & Rainfly Tensioning System
Year of manufacture: 2016
Country of origin:
China

MSRP:
$279.95 USD
$34.95 USD
$19.95 USD
$9.95 USD
Color tested:
Bark (Greyish, Brownish Green), no other colors available
Silverized, no other colors available Coyote brown, no other colors available
Clear, no other colors available
Weight:
Includes: hammock, tarp, webbing, supplied stuff sack

Manufacturer website (does not include straps): 3 lbs 8 oz (1.59 kg)
Manufacturer package label: 4 lbs 7 oz (2.01 kg)
Measured 3 lbs 10.7 oz (1.66 kg)
Includes supplied stuff sack

Manufacturer website: 13.9 oz (394 g)
Measured: 13.2 oz (374 g)
Manufacturer website: 2.3 oz (65 g)

Manufacturer packaging: 3.28 oz (93 g)
Measured: 3.5 oz (99 g)
Manufacturer website: 0.85 oz/pair (24 g)

Measured: 0.8 oz (23 g)
Warranty:
Guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship for one year
Material:
Hammock: 40D nylon
Mesh: 30D no-see-um
Rainfly: 70D polyurethane coated rip-stop polyester
Not specified, but appears to be "bubble wrap" packaging material with a Mylar coating.
30 D silnylon
Not specified
Dimensions:
Manufacturer website:
Bottom Fabric: 132 x 59 in (386 x 150 cm)
Rainfly: long diagonal 140 in (356 cm)

Measured rainfly diagonal: 135 in
(343 cm)

Hang tag: opens to 6 x 11 ft (183 x 335 cm)
Manufacturer website:
72 in (183 cm) long by 35 in (89 cm) wide at the shoulders, 18 in (46 cm) at the foot

Measured: 77 in (196 cm) long x 35 in (89 cm) x 18 in (46 cm)
Manufacturer website:
82 - 84 in (208 - 213 cm) long

Measured: 82 in (208 cm)
Manufacturer website: 2.5 in x 2.5 in Per Piece (64 x 64 mm)

Measured: 2.75 x 2.25 in
(70 x 57 mm)

Sorting out the discrepancies between the hammock packaging, the website and my measured weights is confusing.  I recommend that the manufacturer clarify what is included in the weights and be consistent between the packaging and the site.  Backpackers are notorious for wanting to be exact with the weight they are carrying.  There was also a substantial difference between the bubble pad length spec and what I measured (about 4 in (10 cm) longer than the spec).  The difference in specified rainfly ridgeline length (long diagonal) and my measured dimension could be accounted for by fabric stretch with use.

The features listed by the manufacturer include:
  • The hammock is rated to hold a 300 lb (136 kg) individual up to 7 ft (213 cm) in height, plenty big enough for me.
  • Side entrance zipper closure with strong #10 zipper and two double sliders.
  • Mosquito-proof double bottom.
  • Includes attached mosquito netting, detachable rain fly, support ropes, stuff sack with set up instructions on back, and 42 in (107 cm) long "Tree Hugger" webbing straps to protect tree bark.  Hennessy is one of the few hammock manufacturers that supplies all components needed by the camper.  Many manufacturers do not package tarps with hammocks, leaving it to the confused buyer to sort out what works with what, tarps commonly do not include tieouts, hammocks often do not include webbing straps, etc.
  • 40 F (4 C) low temperature rating on the pad "if you are using a good quality 40-degree sleeping bag".
  • Elastic "Hold Open" for bugnet mesh fabric.
  • Extra large mesh pocket which hangs from the ridgeline.  I use these to store glasses, iPhone, headlamp, etc. while sleeping.
  • Asymmetric hammock shape.  Though the hammock is cut from a rectangular piece of fabric, the asymmetric tieout locations create a parallelogram shape to make it easier to lie on the diagonal.
  • Though not mentioned on the website, the rainfly seams are all tape sealed.

One of the "features" of the Hennessy systems is the use of a hitch to attach the hammock suspension lines to the webbing.  I am quite accustomed to doing these hitches, but many hammock owners prefer buckles or other gadgets that avoid remembering how to tie them and execute it under potentially trying conditions (cold, dark, rain, etc.)

Initial Inspection

After removal from the packaging I visually inspected the unit for manufacturing defects and found none.  All the stitching was clean, no components were missing or damaged.  The seam taping on the rainfly was complete and cleanly applied.

Summary

I am looking forward to getting the Hennessy system into the backcountry and seeing how it performs under field conditions.

Things I Like So Far:

  • This is a complete system for hammock camping.  I do not need to use any of my other gear to make it work.
  • The underpad insulation system looks to be much easier to set up than my other configurations.
  • The catenary cuts on the rainfly should help prevent the tarp from flapping in the wind.  My old Hennessy system had straight cuts and was susceptible to even a light breeze.

Things That Concern Me Upfront:

  • The hammock is quite heavy compared to my other systems.
  • I have both a 32 F (0 C) sleeping bag and a 20 F (-7 C) quilt to keep me warm at night.  I am a little leery of how warm the bubble pad will be, but I am looking forward to finding out!
  • The rainfly is quite small for a hammock of this size.  With my older Hennessy system I used the waterproof undercover to keep side-driven rain from wetting the hammock.  This system seems a little more vulnerable, but experience will tell.

Field Report

Usage data

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Altitude
Weather
May 9-11, 2016
Chiricahua Wilderness in Southern Arizona
Saulsbury
20 miles
(32 km)
6100-9500 ft
(2000-3120 m)
32-70 F
(0-21 C)
sunny, windy
May 26-27, 2016
Chiricahua Wilderness in Southern Arizona Mormon Ridge
11 miles
(18 km)
6100-9500 ft
(2000-3120 m)
30-70 F
(-1-21 C) sunny
June 2-3, 2016
Chiricahua Wilderness in Southern Arizona Morse Canyon
14 miles
(23 km)
6100-9500 ft
(2000-3120 m)
45-80 F
(7-27 C) sunny
June 10-12, 2016
Chiricahua Wilderness in Southern Arizona Mormon Ridge reprise
12 miles
(19 km)
6100-9600 ft
(2000-3150 m)
50-78 F
(10-26 C) thunderstorms
June 26 - July 1, 2016
Yosemite National Park in California
Tuolumne Meadows to Cloud's Rest
40 miles
(64 km)
7000-9900 ft
(2300-3250 m)
40-80 F
(4-27 C)
Mostly sunny
August 6-12, 2016
High Uintas mountains in northern Utah
Highline
30 miles
(48 km)
10,500-12,600 ft
(3445-4130 m)
28-70 F
(-2-21 C)
Sunny mornings,
rain, snow, sleet and hail in the afternoons
August 13-20, 2016
Snowmass Wilderness in the Colorado Rockies near Aspen
Four Pass Loop
35 miles
(56 km)
10,000-12,800 ft
(3280-4200 m)
30-70 F
(-1-21 C)
Some sun in the mornings, otherwise cloudy and wet

Saulsbury Trail

This was the first of four hikes that were done as conditioning and altitude acclimatization exercises in preparation for a trip to Yosemite (Cloud's Rest).  My secondary agenda was to familiarize myself with the Turkey Creek trailhead area where all four of these hikes began.  The Saulsbury trail seemed to be used more by equestrians, but I successfully navigated it up to the Chiricahua Peak area.  I spent the night at Anita Park, just North of Chiricahua Peak.

I had no difficulty pitching the hammock due to my many years of experience with a Hennessy Hammock.  I chose to attach the tarp to the suspension and not tie it out to the trees, as this is my preferred configuration for Hennessy tarps.  It may not be apparent from the photo below, but most of the trees in the area had a diameter too large to accommodate the tree straps supplied with the hammock.  I normally use straps twice the length of those supplied.  After a little searching, I was able to find two trees at suitable distances apart, yet small enough to fit the straps.  Note that this is unlikely to be an issue for most hammock hangers -- the Ponderosa Pine forests of Arizona simply grow some monster trees!

hh03
Jungle Explorer in the evening light at Anita Park

Use of the Bubble Pad was new for me.  Installation was very straightforward, though getting it properly positioned between the two layers required a bit of fussing.  The temperature got down to the freezing point that night, well below the 40F (5 C) rating.  I was using a 32F (0 C) mummy sleeping bag, and I was nice and toasty all night long.  The conventional wisdom is that sleeping bags are a waste in a hammock due to the down compression beneath the body, but I find my bag to be much warmer than an equivalently rated quilt.

I slept like a rock that night, much better than normal for my first night on the trail.  I attribute it to the spaciousness of this hammock -- this is a very roomy shelter, and very comfortable.  Overall, I was quite pleased with my first experience with the kit.

Mormon Ridge

The Mormon Ridge trail is the most direct route to Chiricahua Peak, but also one of the steepest.  I spent the night at an informal campsite just below Chiricahua Peak, so I was at about the highest elevation one can camp at in this mountain range.  It got a little colder that night, about 30F (-1 C), but I was still nice and toasty at night.  So far the Bubble Pad has impressed me with its warmth.

Mormon Ridge reprise

hh04I spent two nights out, the first night at the campgrounds at Turkey Creek, the second up near the peak again.  The first night I attached the rain collectors for the first time as there was a chance of rain as shown in the photo at left, but sadly none occurred.

The second night there was an even greater chance of rain, in fact the thunder was rumbling as I gathered water from Headquarters Spring.  When I set up camp later I considered attaching the rain collectors, but unfortunately all my water bottles were full.  About an hour later the rain came down in buckets, and I could see the water flowing off the tarp tips -- it would have gone right into the funnels.

This scenario illustrates the dilemma I have with using the rain collectors.  I live in a desert where rain is a scarce commodity.  Refilling water containers along the trail can be sketchy, and one often has to take all you can when it is found.  We are entering into "wet summer", or monsoon season in Arizona, so I am hopeful of having future opportunities to try out the rain collectors.

Yosemite NP (Tuolumne Meadows)

This was a 6-day, 5-night backpack done in conjunction with the Tucson Backpacking Meetup group.  We had great weather pretty much all week, a few light sprinkles on afternoon was all the precipitation we had.  Unfortunately we were plagued with mosquitoes, so I was very grateful for the Explorer Zip bug net.  At night I could sometimes hear them buzzing about my head trying to get to me, but frustrated by the netting.

I had no difficulties find two trees the right distance apart except for a night of car camping on the drive out near Lone Pine.  I had spotted a scorpion near our camp and so didn't want to "cowboy camp", so I rigged up the hammock as a bug bivy:

hh05

I brought my foam Thermarest pad with me just in case of such a situation.  It is visible on the inside floor of the hammock.  I had one tree to tie the head end to, and the foot end was secured under a rock.  This worked out remarkably well - no scorpion stings, and the bug net stayed away from my face nicely.  It was also remarkably easy to get in and out of the hammock due to the side zipper opening.

On our last night of the route at Cathedral Lakes I took a little snooze in the late afternoon in the hammock.  The other hikers in the group were envious that I had a nice comfy hammock, and they had to nap on the hard ground.  The mosquitoes hadn't emerged yet, so I tied back the bug net with the supplied elastic cord:

hh06

This provided great ventilation and comfort.  I could stick my bare feet out the side of the hammock and still doze.  Also visible in the photo above is my headlamp safely stored in the ridgeline pocket.  I make extensive use of this accessory.  I like it because it is the right size, not too big or too little, and slides along the ridgeline if pulled, but will not slide on its own power.

Overall this was a very successful trip with the Explorer Zip hammock - I slept great in it!

Highline Trail

This was an exploratory trip to a new area for me, so I was not aggressive with the mileage.  Also, this was a high-altitude Alpine hike with a high pass I had to cross twice, so I huffed and puffed a lot.  Despite the altitude, I camped below treeline every night and had no problems finding spots to hang my hammock.  As shown in the photos below, the supplied straps are really too short for trees in this part of the country.  I was able to make it work, but I'd prefer longer straps (which are available from Hennessy).
hh07

I was a little chillier at night, especially beneath me on this trip.  I think the dampness transmits the cold better, and my sleeping bag was getting a bit damp.  I had enough layers to make it tolerable when the temperatures dropped below freezing, but I wouldn't say I was comfortable.

We had some precipitation accompanied by high winds on this trip.  I did see some rain/sleet hit the bottom of the hammock briefly, but I and my gear never got wet as a result.

Four Pass Loop

hh08After a one-day break from the Highline I headed up into the Rockies for a week-long trip around the Maroon Bells.  Altitude was about the same as the Highline, but we camped below treeline and many of the campsites had areas that were clearly prepped for hammock hangers.  It was wet enough that I was actually able to use the rain collectors somewhat successfully.  As shown in the photo at left I was able to fill a bottle about 15% full, and drank the fresh water at breakfast the next morning with great gusto.

Since I had no time to dry my gear, and since this trip was even more wet than the prior week, I continued to shiver a bit at night.  Temperatures dropped to about the freezing point most nights, and I think my sleeping bag was getting quite damp.  Also, on several occasions when I removed the bubble pad in the morning it seemed to have folded over by itself during the night when I was tossing and turning.  It seems that once the pad has taken a "set" by being folded for an extended period of time, it wants to fold there again.  I found I had to double-check before going to bed to make sure the pad was in the right place.

I did have a "zipper incident" on this trip.  I had the head-side zipper open almost all the way to the end of the hammock, and the foot-size zipper closed to about the middle.  I swung my feet out putting my full weight on the edge of the hammock.  Realizing my error, I tried to open the foot-side zipper and it "slipped", with almost a foot of bugnet offset between the top and bottom.  Unfortunately I did not have the presence of mind to take a photo. I was able to partially repair it by pulling laterally on the zipper, and then repaired it the rest of the way by opening the foot side past the offset point.  Bottom line: zippers are not invulnerable, and one needs to use them with some care.



Summary

I have spent many comfortable nights in the Hennessy Jungle Explorer Zip during the last two months:

Good things:

  • Great comfort for big people.  I am not a small guy, but I never felt cramped in this hammock.
  • Sturdy construction.  The suspension ropes are designed to hold a lot of weight, as is the body of the hammock.  I never felt like it was going to rip or tear anywhere.  The only reliability issue I experienced was with the zipper, but I attribute that to my own carelessness.
  • The Bubble Pad is lightweight, durable and moisture-resistant.  It is very easy and quick to install in the hammock.  With sufficient warm clothing I was able to take it down to freezing temperatures, though I would not say I was "toasty".
  • The mosquitoes were horrible at Yosemite, and just "bad" on the Highline and Maroon Bells, but I never had a mosquito in the hammock and never got bit while inside.
  • The snakeskins made it very easy to deploy and pack up the hammock.  I was able to set up camp much quicker than my tenting companions.  I love having only two stakeouts for the tarp, and leaving it attached to the hammock.
  • The tarp supplied adequate protection from wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail.

Areas for improvement:

  • I managed to bungle up the zipper, though I was able to do a field repair.  Maybe some labeling/warnings to prevent this would be helpful.
  • The pad could be better secured, i.e. at four points instead of two.  It folded itself over several times with some cold spots as a result.
  • The tree straps were definitely too short for the conditions I encountered.  We just don't have trees that small out West.
  • The whole setup was a little heavier than I'd like.  I probably could do with one of the smaller/lighter models as this one is designed for someone 25% heavier than me.
  • The rain collectors seem to require very particular conditions to be used successfully.  I would never leave my water treatment at home and rely on getting rain every night to supply my drinking water, therefore they are something I'd leave at home due to the bulk and weight.

Long Term Report

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Altitude
Weather
August 29-30, 2016
Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington State
Goat Rocks Loop
14 miles
(23 km)
4500-6670 ft
(1480-2190 m)
50-70 F
(10-21 C)
sunny, windy
October 4-6, 2016
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Aravaipa Canyon
21 miles
(34 km)
2550-3400 ft
(840-1115 m)
43-80 F
(6-27 C)
sunny

Goat Rocks Loop

This is a hike I've had my eye on for several years, and since I had my Jeep with me during my August trip to Portland, Oregon I headed out to the trail for an overnight camp.  I had a little difficulty finding the trailhead, but still managed to get a reasonably early start.

I did the loop clockwise, and camped a few miles after visiting Goat Lake.  It was a beautiful campsite with good trees for hanging the hammock.  I spent a restful evening reading in the hammock after dinner.  One nice thing about sleeping in hammocks is they prop your head up enough that with a few clothes bunched up for a pillow, I find I can read very comfortably.  The night was a little warmer than I had experienced recently due to the lower altitude, and I was plenty warm all night long.  As always, the hammock packed up quickly and easily the next morning, and I had an enjoyable hike out to my Jeep.

I did notice on this outing that the elastic cord and mitten hook for attaching the foot end of the pad to the hammock had gone missing.  I'd had to retie it several times, but this time I must have lost it for good.  The pad stayed in place without it reasonably well, but clearly a more secure attachment is called for.  I was able to improvise when I returned home and made a replacement part from a short piece of cordage and a small S-biner.

Aravaipa Canyon

This two-night trip was my first in Arizona in several months.  It is along a perennial creek, and as I expected the bugs (flies mostly) were pretty bad.  Though trees are abundant along the trail, I had to search around a bit to find two that were the right distance apart, and not too big in diameter to hang the hammock.  Some of the cottonwoods along the creek are huge, and the ridgeline rope simply was not long enough to attach to both ends of the tree straps, but I eventually found a spot each night to camp.   The photo below shows my campsite on night two, with the creek in the background:

hh09

This campsite photo shows one of the advantages of hammock camping - no way could I pitch a tent at this scenic spot!

I was nice and toasty at night on this trip, in fact I used my sleeping bag as a quilt on both nights, not zipping it up at all.  The temperatures weren't that different from the Goat Rocks loop, but the humidity is much lower in Arizona.

I finished up my hiking in mid-afternoon on the first two days, which gave me some time for lounging and reading in the hammock.  It was really nice to be able to tie back the bug net and drape my legs over the edge, though I did pay for it with a few mosquito bites.

Comparison with Hennessy Supershelter

As an adjunct to this report, I produced a video comparing and contrasting the bubble pad that came with this hammock with the "traditional" Hennessy Supershelter, which I have used for the better part of a decade.  To see the video, click on the following link: click here for the Supershelter comparison.

Summary

The main thing I can add from my Field Report is the loss of the tie cord and mitten hook for the foot end. I think the bubble pad could be better secured.  I'd also like to reiterate that the supplied straps are simply too short. I confirmed this in use across five states!

Overall I am very happy with this hammock, especially with the comfort and ease-of-use.  This model is perhaps a bit heavier than I would normally carry, so in the future I will use it mostly for car camping trips.


Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Hennessy Hammocks for the opportunity to contribute to this test.



Read more reviews of Hennessy gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

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