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Eight Mistakes To Avoid Your First Time Backpacking

For people who love to hike, or just love to get away and enjoy the outdoors, backpacking is something that many will choose to do at some point. It’s the perfect way to explore more remote areas and relax under the stars at night. There’s nothing worse than being on a beautiful hike, taking in all that nature has to offer, only having to turn around and head back just when the scenery is getting really good. Fortunately, with a little preparation and some quality gear like a hiking hammock from Hennessy Hammock, you can avoid some of the common mistakes that most first-time backpackers tend to make.

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Mistake #1: Not Spending Enough Time Planning

Sometimes you just want to get outside and go wherever the road leads you. Unfortunately, this is a bad idea when it comes to backpacking. You might be able to get away with minimal planning when it comes to a short day hike, but going on an overnight (or multiple night) backpacking trip is an entirely different animal.

Not taking into account the weather, road conditions, terrain, or getting necessary permits can derail your adventure before it even begins. Even if you have no trouble getting to your starting point, not knowing about the upcoming forecasted rainstorm or historical record high temperatures just around the corner will mean that you won’t be able to pack the things you need.

Mistake #2: Packing Too Much

This is by far the number one mistake of novice backpackers and there are two reasons for it. First, you probably already have a bunch of hiking and camping gear that you’re going to use for your backpacking trip. The problem is, it’s probably big, bulky, and heavy, and not intended to be carted across a mountain or forest on your back. You could run out and buy a second set of ultralight hiking and camping gear — but you might have to sell your car to do it. New gear can be expensive, so it’s best to pick and choose the most important pieces.

Your shelter, for example, is probably going to be the heaviest item in your pack — but it doesn’t have to be if you decide to trade out your old heavy tent for a lightweight hiking backpack from Hennessy. The Ultralight Backpacker from Hennessy weighs in at less than a kilogram and packs down to about half the size of a pillow (something you’ll be doing without since you’re backpacking — a rolled up jacket or sweatshirt will do just fine).

Not only is this hiking hammock convenient to carry, the included rainfly will keep you dry and the tightly-woven netting will ensure that you won’t have to lie awake while a mosquito hums in your ear. When you can find gear that is not only high-quality and lightweight but also serves multiple purposes, those are the pieces that you want to invest in.

Mistake #3: Signing Up For Too Many Miles

When planning their first backpacking trip, many people have delusional thoughts of trekking across the country, exploring miles of wilderness with smiles on their faces. However, reality will set in when you strap on that pack for the first time and you realize that 30 pounds feels more like 300 hundred pounds as you’re hiking uphill, over boulders, and crossing streams.

Backpacking is no walk in the park, but it can be incredibly fun and rewarding if done correctly.That means not planning a 100 mile trip the first time you go backpacking — around four to six miles is more like it — especially if you’ve never done it before and you have limited experience carrying a heavy pack. Plan to do a short trip the first time around and you’re more likely to have a great experience. If you want to go further, there’s always next time.

Mistake #4: Not Testing Your Gear In Advance

Many people who are planning their first backpacking trip will invest in a bunch of new gear and then never touch it until they are taking off the tags on the day of their trip. This is a huge mistake! When you’re relying on your gear to protect you from the elements, get you from point A to point B, or cook your food when you’re miles away from civilization, do you really want to trust that it will work perfectly without even testing it out?

If you bought new hiking boots, they should already be worn in and tested for comfort when you head off on your backpacking adventure. Did you buy a compact and fuel-efficient camping stove? Make sure you know how it works so you aren’t trying to light it by the light of the moon when you’re starving after an all-day excursion.

The same goes for your hiking hammock. It only takes a few minutes to unpack it and set it up, but it’s something that you’ll want to have already done at least once before you take it on a trip. Need a little help the first time around? If you bought a Hennessy hammock, you’ll have access to tons of reference guides and step-by-step videos to make sure you’re completely comfortable with setting up your shelter. Check out the set up video now to see just how easy setting up your sleeping quarters will be.

Mistake #5: Not Bringing Enough Food

It can be hard to estimate just how much food you’ll need for your trip. If you pack too much you’ll have added weight that you don’t want to have to carry, but not enough and you’ll be turning back with an empty stomach. Determining how much food you’ll need can be tricky, even for experienced backpackers, but here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Keep It Simple

Now is not the time to plan an elaborate meal that will have to be cooked over the fire for hours. Keeping meals simple and not using a bunch of complicated ingredients is the best way to keep your sanity when it comes to meal time. An all-in one dehydrated meal will be delicious when you’ve hiked all day and you’re exhausted. The only thing better than how it will taste is knowing that it will be ready in just a few minutes using nothing more than some hot water.

Keep It Light (Not in Calories, But in Weight)

As far as figuring out what types of food to bring, it’s always a good idea to try to find lightweight items that are calorie dense. That’s why dried foods like jerky, oatmeal, and dried fruit work so well. If you’re wondering what a typical day would look like for meals, here is one example. Keep in mind that you may need to eat more or less depending on your activity level.

For breakfast, oatmeal is a popular choice because it’s lightweight and easy to make. You can also add other ingredients to it to increase its caloric and nutritional value. You could add nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, or even protein powder to it for a meal that is sure to keep you going until lunch (or almost until lunch...that’s where snacks come in handy).

If you’re covering a lot of miles, or gaining a lot of elevation, you’ll be burning a lot of calories. So, by mid-morning you might be ready for a snack. Protein bars and trail mix are easy, portable snacks that you can munch on without having to drag out your camping stove. For lunch, you might just have more of the same, or try some other backpacking favorites like tuna or chicken packets with crackers or sausage and cheese.

By the time dinner rolls around, you’ll need to replenish your body with a little more sustenance and you’ll no doubt be ready for something a little more satisfying than a piece of beef jerky. You’ll be amazed at how a warm, satisfying bowl of macaroni and cheese will taste like the best thing you’ve ever had after a long day on the trail. Dehydrated meals are also a great option. Although they may not sound very appealing, they’ve come a long way in the last ten years, and you might be surprised at just how good these convenient, all-in-one meals can be.

Mistake #6: Not Drinking Enough Water

Staying properly hydrated is one of the most important things to remember — your health and survival depend on it! When you’re backpacking, you obviously aren’t able to carry all of the water you’ll need with you because it would just be too heavy and take up too much space. That’s why you’ll need to plan your route around places where you can refill your water bottle. If you don’t put the proper time into planning, you may find yourself with a dry bottle and no water in sight — and that’s a very dangerous situation to be in.

Even if you have ample access to water,it’s another thing to remember to drink as much as you need to. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, your body needs a minimum of a half liter every hour — you’ll need more if it’s hot and dry, if you’re sweating a lot, or if you’re doing a particularly strenuous hike.

Mistake #7: Forgetting About the Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Although a good night’s sleep may not be life-threatening (unless you’re so tired that you stumble into danger), it can make all the difference in truly enjoying your trip or having a miserable experience. Sleeping in the wilderness can be difficult, or it can be relaxing — it all depends on your gear. Sleeping on the ground in a tent means you’ll be dealing with a sore back, cold that seeps through the ground and into your bones, and probably a heavier piece of equipment than what you’d like to carry.

A better shelter option is a hiking hammock from Hennessy. More people are trading in their tents as they learn about all of the benefits that a hammock has to offer. Comfortable and roomy, Hennessy’s patented asymmetrical design lets you stretch out and sleep more comfortably. The tightly woven anti-mosquito mesh keeps you safe from all kinds of flying and crawling critters. Plus, the waterproof rainfly means you’ll be dry and warm all night long.

If you tend to get chilly at night, opt for a two-layer bottom hammock that can hold an insulating pad for extra warmth. This, combined with your sleeping bag will keep you much warmer than staying in a tent. Best of all, Hennessy hiking hammocks are lightweight and easy to set up and take down. Are you counting every gram? Then you’ll want one of the ultralight hammocks that weigh in at under a kilo!

Mistake #8: Not Making a List and Checking It Before You Leave

Even experienced backpackers tend to forget things every now and then, but you can usually avoid having to turn back because you forgot your head lamp or hiking hammock if you just do one thing — make a list!Crafting a list of all of your essentials is a good way to not only ensure that you’ll have everything you need, but it will help prevent you from “packing on the fly” and bringing far more than you need.

If you’re new to backpacking, chances are you may forget little things like matches or a spare pair of socks. But those little things can create big problems if your socks get wet or you need to fire up your stove. Even if you’re just heading out for an overnight trip, taking the time to prepare and make a list could make all the difference when it comes to your comfort and safety.

Enjoy Your First (and all) Backpacking Trips With Hennessy Hammock

Everyone makes mistakes the first time you go backpacking, but it only takes that one time where you had to carry 50 pounds or you forgot your rain jacket to learn a valuable lesson that you’ll never forget. To avoid these first-time blunders altogether, the best thing you can do is plan ahead, make a list, and invest in high-quality gear like a Hennessy hiking hammock. It’s the one piece of gear you’ll never want to be without!

Have a question about our hammocks or want to learn more about their features? Visit our hammock features page or check out this handy comparison chart. Ready to find your perfect hiking hammock for an upcoming trip? Shop our popular Ultralite Backpacker Classic or any of our other hammocks and order yours today!

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Adventure in Northern Norway — Hennessy Hammock Gets Tested In Extreme Cold

At Hennessy Hammock, we’re always interested in hearing how people have put our camping hammock to the test. We’ve heard stories about taking them on jungle expeditions, dangerous treks through the desert, and even on a journey that took over two years to complete. Most of these adventures involved hot, humid conditions and torrential downpours — classic summer camping in many parts of the globe. Because our hammocks are built with bug-proof, yet breathable fabric, you might just assume that they’re only good for warm summer nights. On the contrary — our camping hammocks have been put to the test in some of the coldest conditions. Keep reading to learn more.

Designing the perfect hammock has been a lifelong quest for our founder, Tom Hennessy.  Over the years, our hammocks have evolved as we tried to make them better, lighter, more bug-proof, and more comfortable. Although much of the testing involved taking them on adventures in warm climates, we were happy to hear how one camper used our hammock during a trip to the frigid far-northern area of Harstad, Norway. 

Northern Norway: A Polar Bear’s Dream

If you’ve ever made a trip to Harstad, Norway, then you probably already know that it can get cold — bone-chillingly cold. It was there that Ben Reynolds of the Royal Marines’ Commandos decided to put our camping hammocks to the ultimate test. Would it provide enough shelter from the extreme temperature to sleep safely throughout the night?

During Ben’s test, he encountered everything from freezing rain and sleet to several inches of snow. To make matters worse, the temperature dropped to 0℉, which is plenty cold, but when you factor in the wind chill, it dropped the perceived temperature to -54℉. Fortunately, Ben has his Explorer Ultralite Asym including canopy with undercover and foam insulation to help weather the storm. 

We were pleased to hear that Ben’s experiment concluded that the Hennessy camping hammock and insulation system is capable of supporting a person in extreme weather environments where temperatures are well below freezing. Yet another reason why a Hennessy is the only camping hammock you’ll ever need.

Armed With Plenty of Cold-Weather Features

While investing in one of our insulation systems is a must if you’re going to be traveling to any cold-weather environments, our hammocks are designed with several other features to help keep you safe and dry in adverse conditions. 

Windproof Fabric

Sometimes you can get cold even when there’s a lack of precipitation — it’s called wind, and it can make you start shivering in a matter of minutes. Fortunately, our hammocks are designed with high-density fabrics that deflect wind to help you stay warm and cozy inside.

Waterproof Rainfly

The fastest way to get uncomfortably and dangerously cold is to get wet. Even if you’re in a location that typically doesn’t get that cold, if rain seeps into your sleep space, you’re likely to wake up with a chill. That’s why we’ve created a polyurethane-coated or silicone-impregnated waterproof rainflies to keep you, and your hammock, dry. 

We have several different rainflies available. Order an extra-large one to create enough dry space for multiple people. Rainflies can be tilted at any angle, rolled up, or even removed and used away from your hammock.

Double-Layer Bottom

Many of our hammocks come with the option to add an extra layer of fabric to the bottom. This is helpful for keeping out insects when you’re in a particularly bug-infested place, but it also provides an extra layer of insulation. However, the best way to take advantage of a double-layer bottom is to use it for holding your insulating pad. Sure, you don’t have to put it between the two fabric layers, but doing so helps to ensure your insulation stays right where it’s needed the whole night long. 

Not a Fan of Camping In The Cold? Take Your Hennessy With You

You don’t have to be camping in below-freezing temperatures to appreciate the comfort of a Hennessy hammock. Sometimes you just don’t know where the road will take you and that’s why it’s important to always be prepared. For less than the cost of many tents, you can upgrade to a camping hammock that’s been engineered to keep you safe and comfortable no matter where you end up. 

Interested in learning more about our hammocks? Visit our website for tips and tricks on how to do everything from setting up the rainfly to using your hammock as a chair. We also have specifications on all of our hammocks and a detailed comparison chart so you can determine the one that’s right for you. Ready to plan your next adventure? Don’t be limited by your gear — shop Hennessy Hammocks and order your camping hammock today. 

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Hennessy Hammocks Are Engineered To Go Anywhere — Even Cave Diving in Mexico

When it comes to camping equipment, it seems like there is an unlimited number of options to choose from, and some of it works just fine — if you’re car camping at a local park. However, if you’re about to embark on a true adventure far from home where you have to carry everything on your back and sleeping conditions are unknown, you’re wise to take trusted — and tested — survival gear that is engineered for anything you’re about to encounter. 

The Hennessy survival hammock is one such piece of equipment you shouldn’t be without. Its usefulness and durability were tested once again during a cave diving expedition led by an international team of explorers in 2018. The mission was scheduled as a follow up to one that was done 34 years earlier, and the hope was to explore additional sections of the cave known as Cueva de la Peña Colorada in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Armed with state-of-the-art dive gear and their Hennessy hammocks, the team set off to explore the unknown. Unfortunately, they had to cut their adventure short when sudden flooding in the cave cut them off from their camp, only allowing them to escape once the floodwaters had receded. 

Made For Extreme Adventures

You don’t have to be part of a cave diving expedition to see the value of our survival hammocks — but it does go to show that even the bravest explorers trust Hennessy hammocks enough to include them in their gear. Whether you’re exploring a dense forest, high mountains, or deep caves, our hammocks will provide you with the comfort and safety you need, all while being incredibly light and easy to set up. 

Useful Features

When you’re out in the wild, effective shelter is not only a must for getting the restful sleep you need to continue your journey, it can literally be a life-saver. Here are just a few of the important features you’ll appreciate in our hammocks.

High-Density, Bug-Proof Material

The tightly-woven mesh that makes up our hammocks is incredibly durable. But more importantly, it helps keep you from getting eaten alive by pesky mosquitoes and other potentially-dangerous insects. If you’re traveling to an area that’s known for life-threatening disease-carrying pests, we suggest that you order one of our jungle models. Each one is designed with two layers of highly-durable, bug-proof fabric for double the protection.

Designed For Comfort

Even if you’re going on the adventure of a lifetime, that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable doing it. You may be sleeping in tight quarters, but once inside your tent you’ll have plenty of room to spread out and get comfortable. Standard hammocks having you lying with your legs together and your arms pinned tightly to your side.  However, Hennessy hammocks have a patented asymmetrical shape that makes it feel longer and wider. We’re sure you’ll never experience a better night’s sleep in the wild. 

Incredible Portability

Few extreme adventures allow you to bring unlimited gear. On the contrary, you’re usually carrying everything on your back, making it important to eliminate any unnecessary ounces. If you’ve ever carried a tent with you, you know that many of them are quite heavy and just not a good option for a long-distance hike. If you want a shelter that packs tightly and won’t add much weight to your pack, a Hennessy survival hammock is the way to go. In fact, our hyperlight weighs in at just over a pound and a half! 

Equipped For Cold Weather

Although many adventure-seekers do the majority of their excursions during the heat of the summer, depending on where you’re going, nights can get quite chilly. And, if you’re doing your quests all year round, you’ll likely need something to help you stay warm and comfortable at night. Luckily, we’ve thought of that too. We offer optional insulating pads that are designed to fit your hammock perfectly. You can attach it to the hammock under your sleeping bag, or you can put it between the layers of our double-bottomed hammocks.  

Take a Hennessy Survival Hammock On Your Next Adventure

Whether you’re exploring caves in Mexico or just doing a quick overnight trip a short distance from home, our hammock is the only sleeping gear you’ll ever need. Available in a wide range of sizes and materials, plus plenty of optional features, we encourage you to compare our products and then order the one that’s right for you.

Not sure of the best way to set up a hammock? Visit our website for an abundance of videos and reference material that will help ensure you enjoy every minute with your Hennessy hammock. You can start by referring to our “What to know before you go” page.    

Life is too short to just sit at home. Order your new survival hammock from Hennessy Hammocks and start planning your adventure today!

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