Hammocks are often considered a summer-only piece of gear. Well, they certainly are great on a warm evening, slowly swinging their occupants to sleep. But hammocks aren't too bad in winter either, under certain circumstances.
Toward the end of last week, the crew here at Exped USA decided to get out of town and spend the night exploring the use of hammocks in winter (Winter Hang 2014). It was great! Now, let's be realistic. We chose stable conditions for our outing - no blowing snow. That is the one situation in which a hammock wouldn't be the best choice. We used Exped Ergo Hammock Combi and Scout Hammock Combi. While both of these hammocks are sold with tarps, which effectively keep falling snow out, their mosquito netting covers don't keep spindrift snow out. But with their integrated mat sleeves, we used our warm sleeping mats and the moderate cold (26F/-3C) was kept at bay.
Mostly, this outing gave us a good feel for the versatility of these hammocks and how they work together with other items of gear. DreamWalker sleeping bags were ideal. We sat around camp, cooking and chatting, until it was time to go to bed. Then it was simply a walk across camp to the waiting hammocks. And, of course, in the middle of the night when nature called (extra cups of soup) the trip out into the snow covered night was nice and warm. In the morning we simply stepped out of the hammock and strolled over to the snow kitchen for breakfast. Easy peezy! And, as mentioned above, sleeping mats worked perfectly in these hammocks. We suggest the long/wide size for maximum coverage and warmth.
We also used a wide assortment of other gear we make. Two of us chose to pull sleds (always fun in tight trees). These guys used the new Glissade packs (25 & 35 liter) because the sleds hauled the bulky and heavy items. The other two in the group used the Lightning 60 and carried everything needed on their backs. We've been big fans of the Lightning since its introduction in early 2013 and this outing reinforced our respect for this pack. It is stunningly lightweight for its hauling capability and stabilizes the load very well while skiing. Lightning is a year-round, multi-discipline pack - mountaineering, skiing, long distance backpacking, light loads, heavy loads. A great piece of gear. But let's be fair - the Glissade users were also happy. Ski specific gear is very well organized and easy to access and the load is very stable while skiing.
Here's a list of the Exped gear we were using:
- DownMat 9
- DownMat UL 7
- Chair Kit (comfy as always)
- MultiMat (excellent in the snow kitchen)
- Schnozzel Pumpbag (very rapid mat inflation)
- DreamWalker 650
- DreamWalker Waterbloc 700
- Waterproof Compression Bag
- Shrink Bag
- Glissade 25/35
- Lightning 60
- Tempest Duffle
- Scout Hammock Combi
- Ergo Hammock Combi
- Trekking Poles
Next up for the hammocks? Maybe a multi-day trip along the Pacific Crest Trail - when the snow melts.