No one has experienced more in an Exped Ergo Hammock Combi than Lukas who just completed the 4286 km long Pacific Coast Trail, that follows the length of the USA from the southern border of Canada down to Mexico. Lukas did it the hard way from North to South. Lukas was a driving force behind the development of the Ergo Hammock. He spent 5 years working on prototypes he tested mainly on hikes here in Switzerland. On his PCT hike he used a custom made ultralight version with smaller tarp, lighter fabrics, shorter zippers etc.
Here an extract from his journal:
While out on the pacific crest trail I’ve camped every night in my hammock, with two exceptions only (see below), and even during a lot of resupply stops. Even though I had set myself the challenge to spend every single night in the hammock I had secretly expected much more difficulties than I’ve actually encountered. Therefore my verdict is that for the most part the pct is very well suited for hammock camping.
The following might give future pct hammock campers a better idea of what to expect and how I’ve been using my hammock (an unofficial ultra light version of the Exped Ergo Hammock that is pretty much the same as the version available, except for lighter fabrics and a smaller fly. It’s weight is about 2 pounds including ropes and fly). I hope there will be an ultra light version of this hammock available soon, so that more hikers might enjoy it’s comfort and the benefits of hammock camping on the pct.
To me one of the most handy features of the Exped Ergo Hammock has been it’s extraordinary flexibility in regard to places where you can suspend it. This is due to the fact that the ropes are fairly slack (that is there’s not too much horizontal tension) and are attached above your head. That means for one thing you can also use thinner trees and branches (such as Joshua Trees or tall Manzanita bushes in SoCal) and for another thing you can also suspend the hammock on a single tree (between two branches or on one overhead horizontal / not significantly upwards pointing branch). Also, there’s a pretty wide range of spacings between attaching points that are suitable. I can honestly count on one hand the places where it’s been challenging to find a camp spot; mainly I’ve just camped right where I was tired in the evening next to the trail or where my tenting buddies found a flat spot.
The Ergo Hammock currently available in stores might be considered too heavy by most aspiring pct thru hikers, but there’s a chance to save weight by not carrying a pad (and possibly a ground cloth). I’ve been using the frame / back padding of my ULA Epic backpack in combination with my down jacket as insulation material inside the pad sleeve of the hammock, and that has worked really well (I’ve stayed reasonably warm at sub freezing temperatures, using a -5C / 23F rated down sleeping bag). Besides, it makes it a lot easier to get out of the sleeping bag on a frosty morning if you can pull out a pre-heated down jacket from underneath! I’ve usually hung the dry bag of the Epic with my gear and food onto one of the hammock ropes (secure from critters, plus the shaking of a bear getting at my food would have woken me up, I guess), while the frame has been in the pad sleeve of the hammock.
I think I’ve enjoyed extraordinary sleeping comfort on the entire journey and a lot of freedom in regard to campsites to choose from. Setting up my camp has usually been just as fast or faster compared to tents, except maybe when I’ve had to use the tarp / rain fly. That one takes a bit of time with unfavorable surroundings, and I haven’t been carrying stakes, thus have had to hammer in pieces of wood in places with a lack of other attaching points (such as roots, surrounding trees and branches). But really, I’ve pitched the fly on maybe 5 or 6 nights in 4.5 months!