Outside magazine, March 1996
It's the twilight challenge that makes even emphatic backpackers yearn for the mattress back home: Bedtime beckons, but you can't find a level piece of earth to foster sleep. The ground is too steep, too lumpy, too cold, or too wet--and you're too tired to look far.
The Blue Ridge Camping Hammock, however, lets the weary solo trekker rest easy. More a suspended tent than a hammock, the Blue Ridge is a substantial, one-person, three-season shelter that's not dependent on ground conditions. Two aluminum shock-corded poles lift the netting out of your face, creating spacious living quarters with a capacity of 225 pounds. A removable rain fly adds weather protection. When trees aren't available but the ground will do, you can stake out the hammock as a bivy sack with a canopy.
Tree dwelling has some drawbacks. The hammock tends to rock--in high winds, not at all like a cradle. You also have to provide the means of hanging it.
The Blue Ridge stuffs down to 22 inches by six inches and weighs just 4.25 pounds, which is compble to the lightest three-season tents--and comfortable for anyone who prefers not to sleep between a rock and other hard places.
$140. From Newell's Hammock Company, Box 761, Carborro, NC 27510; 919-967-8073.