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Clark Jungle Hammock Review

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From: Charles & Josh Lindsey, 08/14/99
Type of Gear: Shelter
Name of Gear: Jungle Hammock
Manufacturer: Clark Outdoor Products
Capacity: One person / 285 lbs. max.
Weight: see Weight below
Cost: $199.00
Color: Dark Green
Reviewer's Height/Weight:
Josh, 6'1", 170lbs;
Charles, 5'9", 170lbs

Clark Jungle Hammock
Josh, with the no-see-um screen zipped up.

I've had a lingering curiosity -- if not outright interest -- about the possibility of using hammocks for backpacking. For me, the problem with hammocks has always been their (lack of) stability and capability to withstand inclement weather. Recently, I came across the new Clark Jungle Hammock and decided to give it a test -- from a backpacker's perspective. The following are the results of that test.

Clark Jungle Hammock


INDEX:


WEIGHT & PACKED SIZE:

Stated weight: 4 LBS, 3 OZ
Tested weight (including stuff sack): 4 LBS, 10 OZ

Stated packed size: 7 inches x 15 inches
Tested packed size: 7 inches² x 15 inches

Note: The hammock obviates the need for ground cloth and sleeping mattress(es). So factor those reductions into the overall weight associated with the hammock.


QUALITY & WORKMANSHIP:

Excellent quality. From the materials and hardware to the stitching, it is heavy-duty and very well made. High marks from both Josh and I on the quality. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into the design AND the materials of this particular shelter.

I'll mention a few of the materials and components in the next section, but, in brief, as far as quality goes, the bug mesh, the polypro ropes, the very-well waterproofed nylon materials, the heavy-duty zippers & zipper tracks, in addition to the overall design, are of high quality.


MATERIALS / COMPONENTS:

I won't provide an exhaustive discussion on the components and materials (you can research those at the Clark Jungle Hammock website.  I will, however, mention a few of the outstanding features.

Per the specs, the hammock is constructed of four different types of nylon fabric.

  • The main body (base) is the strongest material -- a heavy nylon weave with a water-repellent coating. The ropes attach to this base material.
  • The inner liner is made of a breathable, water-repellent rip-stop nylon.
  • The rainfly is made of a 1.9 oz ripstop nylon which also has a water-repellent coating.
  • The no-see-um bug mesh is made from nylon which will stretch, meaning that it will better endure the contortions brought upon it by hammock usage.
  • The zippers and zipper tracks are heavy duty. (NOTE: as with any zipper configuration, exercise care. I snagged the no-see-um netting in its zipper on one occasion.

On the bottom of the hammock are six large pouches (three on each side) that provide storage for your gear. We used the pouches for boots, our clothing and other gear. The pouches also provide an additional layer of insulation.

This version of the Clark Jungle Hammock has the zippered inner liner which the original hammock did not have. In addition to the version we tested, they also have a newer version of the hammock which they call the Clark Jungle Hammock II which, among other things, has a removable inner liner.


EASE OF SETUP:

What we didn't do -- look for a relatively level spot, void of rocks n' roots and large enough to accommodate our tent and its various hardware. What we did do -- look for sturdy trees which were 9 to 15 feet apart. (Note: although we thought it theoretically possible to use rocks for anchoring the hammock, we did not, in fact, test this theory).

Once practiced, setup of the hammock is comparable to setting up a free-standing tent. We did find, however, that practice at home was helpful -- especially tying the knot that we used to secure the hammock to the trees. The manufacturer -- Clark Outdoor Products -- recommends that you use the easy-to-learn Bowline Knot, and they include a "how to" illustration in the instructions which come with the hammock. Once learned, the Bowline Knot is quick and easy to tie, and just as important, easy to untie, after bearing your weight overnight.

On one occasion, Josh set up the hammock using two relatively small Cottonwood trees (about 15 inches in diameter) which were about 15 feet apart (per instructions). This was sufficient to hold his weight.

To the two trees we attached (1) the main hammock rope (which is secured directly to the heavy-duty hammock base material and (2) the bungie-corded string which raises up and holds in place the tent covering. Also, if you want to tie the two tent doors into awning mode, you will need trees or strong bushes or rocks on which to secure the tent door corners. All total, you may have eight (8) tie-off points, although only four (4) are required. I can envision using a combination of parachute cord, titanium stakes and hiking poles to secure the doors in awning style, in lieu of trees, bushes or rocks.

When setting it up, make sure the hammock is not so high that you can't enter, nor so low that it hits the ground when you get in. Follow the instructions provided and you'll be okay. It may require a couple of times to get the hang of it -- that's why it's good to set it up a couple of times at home, first.


STABILITY:

One of the main concerns that folks have about hammocks is their stability. How easy is it to get into and out of ? If you roll over in your sleep will it tip and dump you out ?

Our conclusion:

After getting in, getting out, spending the night rolling over and tossing and turning, we never encountered problems and came away pleased with its stability.

Its main body, which also stretches out in width when needed, will keep you cradled-in, while the support ropes attached on either end, provide stability. You could still tip over if you really wanted to, but for the most part, it is very unlikely to happen during normal usage.

Having "attempted" to use other hammocks, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to enter into the Jungle Hammock. I just sat in it, took off my boots, swung my legs around, nestled in and enjoyed the swaying movement.

Again, it was easy to get in and just as easy to move around and ultimately get back out. I found this experience to be quite unlike that of other hammocks.


WEATHER RESISTANCE:

The coated nylon used to make the hammock is very water repellent. The main body, the rainfly and the inner liner all tested water repellent. The rainfly, when stretched out, keeps the hammock and the ground under both sides of the hammock reasonably dry. This proved to be a very nice feature for use in the Pacific Northwest -- drizzly days where a modicum of rain protection is needed but not enough to lower the rainfly awning. You can even use the hammock as a chair under the protective cover of the awning and eat your meals, read a book or whatever.

The protective rainfly (as an awning) provides the option of having only the mosquito netting zipped up, providing a view on both sides of the hammock and excellent ventilation (see picture at top of page). If the wind is blowing and you need a little more protection you can lower and/or close the inner liner (one or both sides). Finally, for more extreme weather conditions, such as in high winds and/or very hard-driving rains, the rainfly awning can be lowered to cover the sides of the hammock and can be velcroed down with one side of the fly attaching to the other, creating a weather-protective cocoon.

We didn't encounter conditions where we had to batten down the hatches, nor did we use it in freezing temps, so we can't be sure about condensation. However, insofar as we tested it, in moderate weather conditions, with the bug netting and the inner liner zipped shut, we experienced good ventilation and no perceptable condensation. As we acquire more experience, we will update this part of the review.


COMFORT:

The jungle hammock has plenty of room to move around and change positions as you sleep. The hammock also has capacity to expand in width (for example if you want to lay on your side with your knees curled. Josh at 6'1" can fully extend himself or easily curl up on his side with his knees sticking out and not be pinched for space, nor lose stability. With nothing but air below, the hammock is very comfortable to sleep in, but similar to sleeping on the ground, you can get stiff if you don't change positions occasionally.


COMPARED to TENT:

As long as there are trees, you will have a greater flexibility of where you can setup your campsite, with the jungle hammock. The ground beneath you is not a serious concern, as long as you can get in and out of the hammock. Of course, if there are no trees the hammock won't be much good, and a tent is the logical choice. Two obvious areas where a tent has an advantage are that it gives more space and more ease of movement for the camper. It is roomier in a tent and easier to sit and eat a meal than it would be inside the hammock.


RECOMMENDATION:

A very comfortable, quality solo tent. If you subtract weight for sleeping pad(s) and ground sheet (if you use one) the jungle hammock is a relatively lightweight one-person shelter. If you are in an area with trees, this is a viable alternative to life in a tent or bivy. If you live in an area with trees and crawly creatures (snakes, slugs, spiders, etc.) then the Clark Jungle Hammock is a serious contender for one's primary three-season shelter.

 
Website: Clark Outdoor Products
Email: info@junglehammock.com

 

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