Summertime is made for lounging outdoors, which is exactly what I did for much of a recent weekend. Specifically, I chilled in a hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters Inc., a company from Asheville, N.C., that makes hammocks for backpackers, bike touring groups, canoeists and the like.
What makes Eagles Nest Outfitters unique? For starters, the hammocks are lightweight and packable. The SingleNest model, which sells for $49.95, packs into a softball-size stuff sack and weighs about 1 pound, making it a justifiable luxury on a backpacking or canoe trip.
All Eagles Nest Outfitters hammocks (www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com) are made with a ply of thin nylon fabric, not knotted cord. The fabric is light and adequately breathable. On a recent 80-degree day, after a half-hour of lounging, the SingleNest model remained comfortable for me in the shade.
Setup is easy: Find two trees about 15 feet apart, secure line and clip in the included carabiners on an Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock. The fabric swath hangs slight and thin alone, but with the SingleNest it's about 5 feet wide and 10 feet long, providing ample room for one person lying down, or two people sitting. Weight limit is 400 pounds.
Add the $19.95 SlapStrap system--essentially two pieces of daisy-chained nylon webbing--for a quicker setup. With these hammock-specific straps, you girth-hitch a tree and clip the carabiner from the hammock into the appropriate daisy-chain webbing loop, with little adjustment required.
I put up the SingleNest with the SlapStrap system in my backyard one night, and the process took a whole 12 seconds or so.
Eagles Nest Outfitters makes several hammock iterations, including double-wide models, rain-ready tarp setups, and hammock shelter systems draped with bug netting for deep-woods and jungle environs. Prices range from $59.95 to $199.50.
Beyond simple relaxation, the company's hammocks can be employed as your primary backwoods sleep system, even replacing a tent in some circumstances.
As a lightweight and packable solution, Eagles Nest Outfitters' swinging sleeper will undoubtedly find its way into my backpack this summer on the trail.
Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.