Hammocks are a strange affair if you’re not used to them. I think our dog put it best when he decided that it needed a jolly good barking at when it was first put up. He didn’t trust it, and didn’t see the point when he could sleep soundly on the floor underneath it. But then he got in, and like so many other people who’ve tried it out this year, he started to love it. The gentle swinging which soothes you to sleep. The feeling of being cocooned and safe from bugs. And the snug enveloping feeling you get when the sides pull in towards you – pleasantly reassuring. The dog ended up spending quite a few hours in there this Summer as it provided a perfect place to swing and watch the world go by. And bark at it.
Humans, however, have proven a little more useful in drawing together this review, so we’ll continue with their thoughts…
The Frontline Hammock from UK company DD Hammocks is a light-weight and mosquito-proof living space which separates you from bugs, wet ground and sharp things on the floor. It’s the non-waterproof version of this hammock, which is designed to offer cosiness in warm weather and tropical climes, but to be adaptable enough to suit colder locations too.
The system weighs about 860g – which is about the same as a foam mattress – and an additional couple of hundred grams for the webbing system that you can use to secure it around trees.
For that weight, you get a double layer of material underneath you which is very strong, breathable and is designed like a giant pocket so you can slip your camping mattress in there to provide cold-weather insulation. You also get 4 very, very handy pockets to store your belongings inside whilst you snooze.
The top is a zip-on mosquito net which keeps the interior completely bug free, but because it has zips both sides you get the option to get in/out either way, or tie the whole thing up and leave yourself open to the elements. The mosquito net part is cleverly designed with 2 poles and a pair of guy-lines so that it never droops down on to your face or feels claustrophobic. In fact, I have plenty of room to sit up and read, sort my clothes or get my kit together without my head even brushing the top. (I’m 5ft9).
Getting used to being in the hammock comes quickly. It’s easy to adjust your position and raise/lower your legs a bit to get comfy, and you can shuffle back and forth to let the material give you support where you want it. And if you’re sat up and want to read at night, there’re little hanging loops for your light. I got used to it after an hour or so of playing and I’ve fallen asleep in it many a time now – some intentionally! The swinging cocoon feeling just makes me nod off!
Our review hammock was supplied with the optional ‘Whoopee Suspension System’, which is one of the cleverest things I’ve seen in ages. It comprises of a pair of thin paracord lines (so thin you think they’ll snap, but hey… they hold parachutists up!) which are adjustable in length via feeding back in to themselves. It’s really hard to describe, so imagine a snake eating its own tail but when you try to pull its tail out of its mouth it bites down. The Whoopee lines do the same thing with friction… you think they’ll stretch and slide so you end up on the floor, but they don’t. Amazing! The system also comes with a pair of DMM carabiners to attach them to the tree-slings.
The hammock packs down in to a small storage bag easily, and if it does get wet it dries out nice and quickly in a mild breeze or sunshine.
The Frontline hammock we tested is £49, and the extra Whoopee suspension system is £28 (it will, of course, work with just the basic suspension system). You can also get accessories to make the hammock a 3 (or even 4) season sleeping experience, including tarps (for rain covering), insulating blankets and underblankets.
Once you’ve added up all those accessories, prices start to climb, so it’s worth remembering that this will be replacing a tent and not just the bed inside it.
More: DD Hammocks