Hammock comparo: Hennessy Explorer Deluxe A-sym Zip

4
209
Camping in Greenspond, NL. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Hennessy hammocks are well-known amongst the adventure riding set; there are many threads on ADVrider and other forums with discussion of the Canadian company's offerings. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Hennessy hammocks are well-known amongst the adventure riding set; there are many threads on ADVrider and other forums with discussion of the Canadian company’s offerings. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Yesterday, we gave you the intro to the hammock comparo series, and told you about the Lawson Blue Ridge. Today, we review another one.

Hennesy Deluxe Explorer A-Sym Zip

And now, for something completely different – this product is made in Canada. Well, sort of. Some of the company’s hammocks are stitched together in China, but the company itself saw its origins on the west coast of Canada, where Tom Hennessy still runs the company from.

ADVERTISEMENT
 

The Explorer is a gathered-end hammock; there’s no frame to fold or pack away, like the Blue Ridge. You’re cocooned when you lie in it, and it’s a very relaxing feeling. If you’re the sort of person who can’t sleep in a mummy sleeping bag, it might not work, but I found it very comfortable.

By the way, the reason for the weird name is the hammock puts you in an asymmetrical sleeping position – you’re on an angle to the centre line, which makes for a more comfortable position. And, you enter this hammock from a zippered side opening, not a Velcro opening in the bottom, like some of their other lineup.

The Explorer (Hennessy has several other models available as well) packs quite easily into a stuff sack, or into the Snake Skins that are included with your online purchase.

Basically, the Snake Skins are a pair of long, skinny stuff sacks that let you hang your hammock from the trees without having to drag it on the ground, getting it dirty and risking a tear. They’re pretty slick.

Hennessy sells a bubble pad that reflects your body's heat, and a four-season shelter system that lets you use your hammock year round.
Hennessy sells a bubble pad that reflects your body’s heat, and a four-season shelter system that lets you use your hammock year round.

There are a few other accessories available for the Explorer that also help make life easier, including a thermal pad that’s designed to loosely clip into the bottom of your hammock. This heat-reflective pad looks suspiciously similar to something you’d place in your car windshield to reflect the sun; it does a decent job of cutting wind and keeping you warmer, but it doesn’t pack as compactly as the rest of the Hennesy stuff. It costs around $30.

Hennessy's Snake Skins let you hang your hammock without letting it touch the ground, by functioning as a sort of elongated stuff sack with openings at the ends. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Hennessy’s Snake Skins let you hang your hammock without letting it touch the ground, by functioning as a sort of elongated stuff sack with openings at the ends. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Another accessory that many users spring for is an upgraded rainfly. This hexagonal tarp is larger than the one that comes with the hammock; users say it does a better job of blocking wind and rain. Hennessy sent me a hex fly, and it’s the one I used.

Some models already include an upgraded rainfly, but for those that don’t, you can expect to shell out around $80 or more for an upgrade.

I found the Hennessy system was enjoyable to use, although not as easy to set up as the Lawson hammock, or the one from Warbonnet. It helps if you know a few knots, as you can use the rigging system much more effectively if you can tie knots that not only support the load properly, but are adjustable.

It gets significantly easier to set this hammock up after you’ve used it a few times, though, and once you’ve got the rigging figured out, the Hennessy provides a fantastic sleep.

Here, you can see the Snake Skins in action; they stay in place when the hammock is hung. When it's time to go home, you simply stuff the center of the hammock into the Snake Skin on each end to re-pack it. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Here, you can see the Snake Skins in action; they stay in place when the hammock is hung. When it’s time to go home, you simply stuff the center of the hammock into the Snake Skin on each end to re-pack it. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

If you must, you can jury-rig the Hennnessy as a ground tent, but I’d prefer not to.

Note the guy lines coming off the Hennessy's tarp; when you're setting it up, you've got to tie those off, so it helps to have a few extra trees around. In some spots, I simply tied them to tent pegs or rocks on the ground.
Note the guy lines coming off the Hennessy’s tarp; when you’re setting it up, you’ve got to tie those off, so it helps to have a few extra trees around. In some spots, I simply tied them to tent pegs or rocks on the ground.

The Explorer Deluxe A-Sym has a 210D Oxford nylon hammock, with 70D PU-coated ripstop polyester rainfly. It weighs a little over 3 lbs, and has a 300-lb capacity. It packs to five inches by eight inches by 12 inches in the included stuffsack, and fits users all the way to seven feet tall.

At around $220, the Hennessy is pricier than the Lawson, but cheaper than some of the competition.

You can quickly raise the price tag a lot if you start adding accessories; however, if those accessories help you avoid paying for motels on the road, they may prove to be bargains.

If you want, you can actually build a customized hammock with the accessories you want on Hennessy’s website, which is a neat option.

Tomorrow: The Warbonnet Blackbird, and the conclusion.


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I forgot to mention, I have used the JRB underquilt as an additional underquilt to my 3 season Wooki on my Warbonnet Blackbird xlc, only to find that I was way to warm while camping on the Broken Group islands on the West coast in May. It would however work just fine with the Blackbird xlc if the temperature did drop, like during winter camping.

    • Obviously you’ve got lots of experience here. I couldn’t be fussed to buy underquilts because they’re only usable in the hammock. Spent my money on a Big Agnes Hog Park 20 instead, with a massive insulated Thermarest underneath. This more than does the job in the hammock, but also works in a tent, or a hotel room floor if I’m traveling with a bunch of dudes and we rent a room without enough beds. The trouble is that the bag/pad combo is enormous, and I really have a hard time justifying hauling all that bulk … until I remember I’m too cheap to pay for a room, and I hate being cold at night, and it’s by far the most comfortable way to sleep in the woods.

      I really appreciate all these hammocks for what they offered, but the Warbonnet was the best all-round set-up, much less faffing about to hang it. But I think they’re out of business now, and I just use the Hennesy out of habit now. It’s a good hammock, just not quite as good, but I have not had any reason to complain about it yet.

      The Lawson’s benefits are not just the bivy capability, but also its simple setup. It’s a bit more hassle to hang, but very easily figured out.

      • Good for you to think out of the box with the Big Agness Hog Pak 20. Now you don’t have to worry about undequilts, pads etc., you can sleep on the ground if there is no place to hang a hammock and just somehow use the hammock tarp for cover, and humidity doesn’t affect it as much as down. Your hammock and the Big Agness make you very very versatile; and without all the other accoutements, just as light and way less complicated.
        My little amount of experience was hard earned, haha, lol. I froze my butt, and back, in the middle of August on my first night in a hammock on some little islands in Desolation Sound. Then I tried using a pad on another trip, but that didn’t work since my hammock was still a bottom entry at that time. I went to the underquilts, never thought of an entire sleeping unit. Good way to go for comfort and versatility.

  2. Good reviews. I have a Hennessy expedition: the bottom velcro entry kind. I sent it to 2QZQ, a company that specializes in repairs and upgrades for hiking shelters, in the USA (I live in BC) and had them install two zippers alonside the rainfly where it attaches to the hammock and a pocket to stow the rainfly in when I don’t need it. They did an awsome job. The zippers are sturdy, they work 2 ways and it made my hammock a whole lot better. I also prchased 2 underquilts and and underquilt protector from JRB, otherwise known as Jacks R Better. Another USA based cottage company with excellent products. One underquilt for winter use and one for 3 season use. These underquilts can, if you ask for it, have a velcroed slit at the foot end so that you can bottom enter your Hennessy expedition hammock. I believe the Hennessy explorer might be a bit longer than the expedition but don’t quote me on that. I say that becase at 5ft 10-11inches I never completely got uncramped in the Hennessy expedition; so I plunged and bought the Warbonnet Blackbird xlc, along with its winter topcover and wooki underquilt and underquilt protector and a Warbonnet superfly. In other words, I invested in a whole new hammock setup. The Blackbird xlc has me jaded and spoiled. It is a cadillac. I sleep really well in it.
    Once I had the bug net zippers installed I did like the Hennessy for it simplicity. I kept the small rainfly it came with and added another tarp overtop for added double security protection. I spent 2 days and 2 nights, stalled in a continuous downpour during a canoe trip and stayed completely dry and warm with that system. I find that the little tarp the Expedition originaly comes with also makes a good winter topcover, as it ventilates, as it is not zippered to the hammock. It also reflects heat at the same time as repel any water that might leak through my additional overtop tarp. I like a large tarp and a small one in case the large one gets a hole during a trip, the small one is my second line of defense against a soaking. Additionaly, the small tarp is attached to the guy lines of the hammock by prussick knots, which keep the tarp close to the hammock as it moves, which helps with heat reflection. For comfort and roominess, I prefer the Warbonnet Blackbird xlc; but keep in mind I have only the Expedition Hennessy hammock to compare it to. I wish the Blackbird’s winter top cover was more like the Hennessy small rainfly. The top cover is meshed at the foot end for ventilation, and that prevents it for serving as a rainfly -very important on the Wet Coast.
    Your review has got me interested in looking at the Lawson hammock for its versatility as a bivy bag. I mostly kayak and canoe trip and sometimes, I might want to sleep on a beach or a gravel bar. I just have to see how comfortable it would be to hang in.

Join the conversation!