I have to tell you about my new favorite camping tent that’s not actually a tent. I just returned from a weeklong kayaking trip in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin. It’s the largest swamp in North America — a really wild place with tons of huge cypress trees and water everywhere, but not much dryland for camping. There are plenty of alligators there too, so I was extra keen to get up off the ground at night. My best option for camping was a hammock. I chose the Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) OneLink Hammock Shelter System ($200; www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com).
Basically it’s a hammock with a slip-on bug net and tarp to keep the rain and dew off while you sleep. The hammock is super easy to set up. Just find two trees about eight feet apart and slip a SlapStrap on each. No need to tie fancy knots. The straps have built in webbing loops so you simply snap each of the hammock’s carabiner clips in place at the preferred height and you’re ready to go. The tarp is easy to attach as well so after a couple nights I was able to pitch the whole thing in less than five minutes. Weighing in at just 4 pounds 4 ounces, the ENO is also lightweight enough for backpacking and you can even chose one pre-treated with InsectShield bug repellant for $10 bucks extra.
Now keep in mind that hammocks are best for warm-weather camping since you don’t have the insulation of the ground to keep you warm during cold nights. However on my trip the weather did get down to near freezing one night, but I just dumped all my clothes into the bottom of the hammock and slept on top of them for added insulation and I was fine.
This was the first time I’d spent multiple nights in a hammock, and I’m here to say it has to be the most comfortable way to camp. No rolling off your sleeping pad. No rocks and sticks poking you from below. No pinched nerves and dead arms. Just a gentle rocking motion lulling you to sleep like a baby.