In 2016, the two things that people want for their outdoor adventures are the ability to explore farther, while remaining comfortable. This perspective has been brought about by two things as well: the increased number of people that are interested and have access to the wilderness spaces of the world, and decades of innovation in outdoor products. Today, the days of wearing wool socks with a liner are long gone, along with heavy backpacks, heavy sleeping bags and heavy tents. The modern day outdoors-person, whether they are a novice or an expert now expects, and is accustomed to lightweight durable products that fit multiple roles.
Over the last years, the role of the hammock has been examined by a number of brands, and start-up companies as an alternative for backpackers and campers who don’t wish to carry a tent, bivy sack, or minimal portable shelter. Like many products that have been improved, these hammocks are not the heavy, cumbersome difficult products of old, nor the purview of pirates. Backpacking and camping hammocks are now designed to reduce weight, while providing a comfortable shelter/resting point at the mid-or endpoint of a day’s travel. Recently, I was asked by Serac, a new but well-regarded brand on the market to field test their Classic Camping Hammock.
Although I am old-school in my approach to gear generally, and usually carry a tent or a bivy sack, over the last couple of years, I have been using more hammocks on my backpacking trips, and on long distance hikes. While I’m not quite ready to call myself a “backpacking hammock expert”, I now have a fairly good idea what works – and what doesn’t. In this case, I tested out the Classic Camping Hammock on a number of mid-range backpacks through the Laguna Mountains in Southern California, the Sierra Nevadas at the close of spring, and on a few thirty mile day hikes. Overall, on all these trips, the weather was fairly good, and on most occasions, did not dip below freezing. Similarly, I did not really experience much in the way of precipitation on my test runs; although in my opinion, being a backpacking hammock expert means not being in a hammock in a raging storm.
The first and main thing that stood out to me about the Classic Camping Hammock was the most important thing when using a hammock: ease of assembly. While hammocks don’t require assembly like a tent, they do need to be affixed to trees. Over the years, a number of brands have used a number of methods for the assembly process. Serac, however, has gone with a polyester strap that loops around the tree, and is affixed to the hammock by a locking carabiner. What this means in practical terms is that assuming one has two companion trees; the hammock is up in a matter of seconds. Hands down, this is the fastest assembly I’ve ever seen for a hammock.
If that wasn’t enough, the Classic Camping Hammock also is lightweight, weighing in at a total of 14 ounces – substantially less than any shelter, sack, or tent. The material of the hammock is also top-notch, and is parachute grade nylon, which is very durable. On one occasion, I tested out the load limit by having my wife, myself, and my toddler lie in the hammock – and both the straps and the hammock held the weight with no problem, despite all of the squirming that an anxious three year old provides. On separate occasions, I balanced my pack with me in the hammock, and also had plenty of room, even though the hammock is only nine feet in length. Finally, the Classic Camping Hammock also has a neat feature in that the stuff sack for the hammock is physically attached to the hammock, so there is no danger of it getting lost or misplaced.
All of the features of the Classic Camping Hammock left me impressed, but the main feature that I already referenced was one that led me to utilize the hammock on many of my long distance hikes: ease of assembly. As I noted at the beginning, today, everyone likes to go farther, including myself. On a couple of my longer hikes, whether it was for lunch, or just because I could, I threw up the Classic Camping Hammock to relax. I found that this was a great way to further utilize the hammock, and a great way to enjoy day trips even further. As a result, I am absolutely forced to give this hammock a great recommendation for both day-and-overnight use, and would highly recommend it for anyone – novice to expert that either wants to go farther in an ultralight fashion over a period of days, or wants to use it casually around the campfire.
Disclaimer: I was contacted by Serac who inquired whether I would review their product, the Classic Camping Hammock. In conjunction with this, they provided me with a free sample of the product, which I then tested. While I was not compensated for this review other than being provided with the free product, readers should be aware of the underlying arrangement that exists, and know that the opinions provided herein regarding this product are based solely on my own experience with the product.