Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I've never used a hammock and so I'm going to display huge ignorance here. But that's what I always do here anyway. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
What confuses me about hammocks is how you can be comfortable with your lower back bowed. This is a FAQ at the Hennessy Hammock website but I don't understand their answer.
"The secret is your ability to rest 10 to 20 degrees diagonalyl to the centerline, just like in the Mayan and Central American hammocks. This allows you to rest comfortably on your back, on your side, in a fetal position and a few others you will invent for yourself."
What are they talking about and how does that help? So for instance how would you sleep on your side in a hammock? Wouldn't your ankles and shoulders be higher than your hips? That hurts just to think about.
"The secret is your ability to rest 10 to 20 degrees diagonally to the centerline, just like in the Mayan and Central American hammocks. This allows you to rest comfortably on your back, on your side, in a fetal position and a few others you will invent for yourself."
What are they talking about and how does that help?
Well, pretty much what it says. Instead of sleeping in line with the ends of the hammock (the centerline), you sleep with your feet off to one side of center and your head off to the other. That gives you an almost flat area to lay. It helps to have the right amount of sag in the hammock to achieve the flattest lay; if you don't have a structural ridgeline, like a Hennessey hammock provides, you might have to experiment a little to find the right sag.
I suggest, if you're this much a hammock novice, you get Ed Speer's hammock camping book. Or you could go somewhere like the hammock forums and do a lot of reading and digesting. There's a learning curve. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Ah, that makes a certain amount of sense. Although I had pictured the sides of the hammock as rising up also so the sleeper would be like the banana inside a banana peel (which is how it looks from the outside in the pictures I've seen). I couldn't understand how shifting slightly sideways would help. I suppose you are saying that the sides don't constrain you that way.
Yeah, what the others have said. By sleeping diagonally, it allows you to sleep almost flat. I'm able to sleep on my stomach in my Hennesy, though I understand that I'm in the minority on that. Can't do it all the time, but every once in a while it feels really good.
I also have a homemade hammock that I've spent a lot of time tweeking. I have no problem sleeping on my side but I have a tendency to toss and turn throughout the night. But in my opinion, it's better than sleeping on the ground anyday. Just in case I have no trees or rocks etc. to hang it from, I can set it up on the ground with the fly as a tarp and suspend the bug net to a ridgeline with a couple of mini bungee cords. My son got in it for a few minutes and loved it. We are planning an outing in a couple of weeks and I think he's gonna buy a new Clark hammock with the camo option. I might have to trade him for a night.
I have the HH backpacker asym and spent my first night in it last week. I use (at the moment) a CCF pad and Ray Way quilt. My feet and head seem to naturally go asym across the centerline and it does flatten almost like magic - I slept on my side most of the time and I toss and turn. It didn't feel like a hammock, and no problems with the butt dragging; I was only a foot and a half off the ground, as I didn't trust my knots and didn't want to fall further than that <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> but had no issues at all with falling or being curved into a banana.
The trick to the HH is to get the foot end hung higher than the head end - this seems wrong, but it works. I woke at one point curled into a fetal position over the slit because I had slooooowly slid down. I thought I'd fastened the foot end higher, but I guess it needed to be higher still. But it was nothing to straighten out and readjust. The hammock is SO much better on my hips and knees than the tent. I got up the next morning feeling none of the stiffness I would have felt had I slept on the ground.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki