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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Jacks R Better Bear Mtn Bridge Hammock > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

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Photo courtesy Jacks "R" Better

Jacks "R" Better — Bear Mountain Bridge Deluxe Hammock

Owner Review by Derek Hansen

TESTER INFORMATION

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NameDerek Hansen
Age37
GenderMale
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight170 lb (77 kg)
Email Address pix-obfuscated
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), which includes food and water. Because I pack less than 20 lb (9 kg), I prefer lightweight trail-running shoes. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer Jacks "R" Better LLC, Virginia, USA
Year of Manufacture 2011, made in USA
Manufacturer’s Website www.jacksrbetter.com
MSRP $189.95 USD
Listed Features
  • A true lay flat, sleep straight hammock, utilizing a suspension bridge technique.
  • Polypropylene webbing strap suspension
  • Integrated bug netting
  • Gear pockets
  • Pad sleeve
  • Corner clips for under quilt insulation
  • Bonus inflatable pillow included
Manufacturer Recommendations

It will accommodate individuals up to 6 ft 3 in (191 cm) tall and up to 250 lbs (113 kg).

Measurements
Specifications What They Say What I Say
Weight (packet) Hammock (body + bug net): 26.7 oz (757 g); Suspension: 4.3 oz (122 g); Spreader bars: 8 oz (227 g); Total: 39 oz (1.1 kg) Hammock (body + bug net): 25 oz (707 g); Suspension: 4.3 oz (122 g); Spreader bars: 8.5 oz (242 g); Total: 38 oz (1.07 kg)
Dimensions Hammock not listed
Pad sleeve 26 x 72 in (66 x 183 cm)
Hammock: 132 x 52 in (335 x 132 cm)
Pad sleeve 26 x 72 in (66 x 183 cm)
Material 70D ripstop nylon, polypropylene webbing straps, aluminum spreader bars, metal hardware


OWNER REVIEW

16 APR 2013

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Jacks "R" Better (JRB) Bear Mountain Bridge Deluxe Hammock is a bridge-style hammock. It differs from traditional gathered-end hammocks by adding a spreader bar to each end, yet allowing the middle to drop, creating a "trough-like" bed. The side walls are also cut with a catenary curve for stress and mechanical loading. The effect is a hammock that looks somewhat like a suspension bridge, hence the name and the design.

Instead of trying to "flatten" the hammock like some back yard net hammocks do, the spreader bars are used to separate the sides of the hammock at the head and foot ends to create a "pocket" where the body lays. In this way, the bridge hammock allows the user to sleep end to end and achieves a remarkably "flat" lay head to foot. The spreader bars disconnect from the hammock and separate into two 17 in (43 cm) pieces for easy packing.

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The Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock with an under quilt attached around the outside.

Most gathered-end hammocks, even when you sleep on the diagonal, maintain a slightly elevated head and foot end. Some people don't like having either foot or head elevated at all, even if it is an ergonomic lay. The bridge hammock, in contrast, flattens out the head and foot area completely. The lay in a bridge hammock is still ergonomic, so the pressure points along the body are reduced or eliminated.

The Bear Mountain hammock features a zippered bug net that can be rolled up and secured when not in use. Inside the hammock are four storage pockets for gear such as flashlights, cell phones, or cameras.

The Deluxe version features a pad sleeve that is accessible on the outside of the hammock. The pocket has an opening on one end that features a small hook-and-loop tab to close and secure the pocket. The pad sleeve is wide enough to accommodate most camping pads up to 26 in (66 cm) wide.

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The included suspension is a single yet long webbing strap that connects to a metal o-ring. To hang the hammock, the webbing wraps around the anchor point (e.g., a tree) and then back to the hammock. The webbing threads back through a JRB metal tri-glide to secure and adjust the suspension.

Enter the hammock by sitting down in the center and then bring the feet into the hammock and lay down.

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Users should not pull on the spreader bars from the center. The poles are designed to accept compressive forces but not bending forces. Only pull on the sides of the fabric to slide up and down inside the hammock.

FIELD USE CONDITIONS

I've been using the Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock for about a year now on a variety of trips for a total of 8 backpacking trips. I've used this hammock many more nights at home. Here are some highlighted trips:

Nov 11-12, 2011: Pumphouse Wash, Flagstaff, Arizona. I joined a group of crazy hammock buddies in the winter for a hang. Patchy snow was on the ground. Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,130 m).

May 15-19, 2012: Damascus, Virginia. I participated in the Appalachian Trail Days and backpacked and camped along the Appalachian Trail every night (I only hiked about 2 miles (3 km) each day to return to town). I enjoyed the refreshing humidity and rain showers. Elevation was 2,400 ft (732 m).

Aug 24-25, 2012: Sycamore Canyon, near Williams, Arizona. The elevation was 6,500 ft (2,000 m). During the night, the temperature dropped into the mid-50s°F (10°C).

Mar 29-30, Apr 4-6, 2013: Flagstaff, Arizona. Elevation about 7,000 ft (2,130 m). Springtime temperatures ranged from 65°F (18°C) to 45°F (7°C) at night.

FIELD USE RESULTS

The first time I laid in the hammock was during a group hammock event in Arizona in November, 2011. I had read a lot about bridge hammocks but had never seen one in person. I knew the hammock claimed to have a really flat lay, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

Getting in the hammock was a little wobbly; something I wasn't expecting.

The easiest, safest way to get into this hammock is to sit first, then swing my legs in. One thing to note is that this hammock is a little tippy compared with gathered-end hammocks. It's not violently tippy like an American spreader bar hammock, but it's something to be aware of. The head-to-toe lay is very flat. In fact, I really wanted to have a pillow to raise my head a little. Once I laid down, the hammock didn't feel tippy at all, and moving back and forth or turning to my side didn't make the hammock tip at all. Most of the rocking motion comes when I enter and exit the hammock.

The Bear Mountain has a distinct barrel look when empty. The bed is set deep. Besides the flat head-to-foot lay, I did feel more squeeze in my shoulders than I expected. This was moderately uncomfortable, but not horrible. I've had some shoulder squeeze with many hammocks, and it is often eliminated by shifting the lay. However, in a bridge hammock, I wasn't able to change my lay very much.

After spending many nights in the Bear Mountain, I found that I shifted a little in the bed, sleeping a little off-center with one shoulder laying more on the side walls than in the bed. I noticed less shoulder stain this way, but I didn't do it consciously. I noticed too that the hammock leans in this direction when empty, so I'm not sure if it is a balance issue with the hammock or if my sleeping patterns stretched the hammock. After several nights sleeping with this hammock, I didn't notice any shoulder strain problems, presumably I adjusted to the caress.

Insulation

One thing I really like with the hammock is the pad sleeve. I can fit a full-length inflatable pad in the hammock with room to spare both side-to-side and head-to-foot. The pad offers a little more structure to the bed, lessening the shoulder squeeze a little, but also gives a very consistent insulating layer underneath.

I can also fit any of my hammock under quilts under the hammock; no need to purchase any custom quilt for a bridge hammock. One things that I should note is that it is much easier to secure and seal an under quilt on a bridge hammock verses a gathered end hammock because the shape is more consistent and the quilt conforms much easier. No gaps means a warmer sleep without fiddling with insulation. I love it.

Bug Net

The only real trouble I found with this hammock was the bug net. When laying down, the bug net offers good clearance and I don't feel overly claustrophobic, but the netting is sewn with an opening only on one side. The zipper runs on three sides: head, side, and foot. The remaining side is sewn to the hammock body. When I lay in the hammock, I can feel how tight the netting is once it is stretched, even when the netting is unzipped and tied off.

With the strain on the bug net, it is not advisable to enter or exit the hammock on the sewn side. I found this out the hard way when my son borrowed the hammock one night and exited the hammock on the side where the bug net was tied off. The netting ripped instantly. The tear is repairable, but it is unfortunate.

One recommendation I would have would be to allow the bug net to zip off on both sides and roll up to the foot or head end, or allow some extra fabric on the sides so that the netting can stretch over the catenary curve the hammock makes.

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Besides ripping the bug netting, the only real wear I've seen is on the ends of the poles. It looks like the tips were dipped into a rubber substance. Over time and use this rubber is wearing off slightly. This wear does not effect the performance of the poles in any way; it's purely cosmetic.

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The hammock fits comfortably under my larger hex tarps. Smaller diamond or asym tarps just don't provide enough coverage over the "boxy" shape of the bridge hammock. The Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock isn't any longer than gathered-end hammocks, so my standard tarps worked just fine. The suspension points all fit under the hammock providing great storm coverage.

One thing I like about the design of the suspension system is that I can easily replace the stock webbing suspension with other systems to my liking. The rings provide an easy attach point that works with most alternative suspension systems.

SUMMARY

The Jacks "R" Better Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock provides a comfortable, flat lay head-to-foot with a slight squeeze in the shoulders. I wasn't particularly fond of the shoulder squeeze at first, but I did get accustomed to it over the time spent in the hammock and it didn't bother me.

PRO—Flat head to foot. Comfortable sleep. Easy assembly.

CON—Stress on the bug net is a weakness in the design.



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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Jacks R Better Bear Mtn Bridge Hammock > Owner Review by Derek Hansen



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