It’s the morning after the night before (and the one before that and the one before that etc) I’ve just jumped out of my hammock and I feel… nothing. No aches, no pains, no discomfort in my crumbling dysplastic hips and none of the searing back spasms that so often follow a nights sleep in my bed at home.
I’ve just spent a fortnight holidaying at my folks place in Italy and rather than sleep indoors, I decided to take advantage of the good weather and sling my DD Superlight Jungle hammock up in the garden for a total of 13 nights (12 in a row with one night indoors feeling rough post travel).
The superlight is a light(er) weight version of DD’s modular jungle hammock – double layered hammock, removable mosquito net and lightweight waterproof fly sheet/tarp. The whole thing including suspension (whoopie slings) weighs 1500 grams, not ultra light compared to some shelters but not bad for a one stop shop.
Due to flying with only hand luggage, I was unable to bring the poles which are used to shape the mosquito net and also provide structure to set up the tarp, so was just hanging in the hammock with the mossie net tied up to keep it off my face. Fortunately Italy, unlike the UK, actually has a proper summer so didn’t need the tarp.
Having only previously used the hammock with it’s full compliment of poles, I was intrigued to see how it would hang without them in place.
The general consensus to getting a comfortable nights sleep in a hammock is to aim for a 30 degree hang (plenty of sag) and to sleep on the diagonal, avoiding such issues as leg hyperextension and pressure points around the ankles.
When using the DD with it’s poles and net/tarp in place, I’ve found that too much sag affects the structure of the hammock resulting in a tarp that is baggy, thus creating folds of material for rainwater to pool in. I therefore tend to set the hammock up with anchor points a little below head height and set the whoopie sling suspension relatively taught, creating a flatter hammock and smoother tarp. As well as provide structure for the net and tarp, the poles help to spread the hammock out creating enough width to be able to sleep on a shallow diagonal.
Initially I struggled to get comfortable, without the poles acting to spread the hammock it felt somewhat coffin like. The sides of the hammock would pull up taught making the whole hammock very narrow and difficult to get much of a diagonal lay.
I spent much of the next week tweaking the suspension until I’d ended up with a “hang” that was reasonably comfortable. The DD is not a particularly wide hammock and so achieving a full diagonal lay wasn’t really going to be possible but despite this I was still able to get a mild diagonal which allowed me enough space at the head end without feeling enclosed and enough support for knees, legs and ankles that I didn’t wake up aching.
Certainly compared to ground sleeping whether in a tent or bivvying, the jungle hammock is far superior in terms of comfort and even against my bed at home provides a degree of support and comfort that just seems to lend itself to a good nights sleep.
Without the poles though, I found myself yearning for a little more space to achieve the ultimate diagonal lay and have bitten the bullet and ordered a Warbonnet Blackbird xlc which is a wider hammock and by all accounts one of the comfiest and best equipped hammocks around.
One minor gripe was the placement of the integrated kit pockets. The hammock has four pockets which easily take a phone, head torch or other smallish bits of camping kit. The only problem being that (for me at least) the placement of the pockets was inconvenient. Having achieved a comfortable lay I found the pockets at the head end were exactly that, located right where I wanted to lay my head. At the foot end they were just too far away to be able to reach easily. This meant I was only able to effectively use on pocket at the head end opposite to where my head was resting.
The Hammock does come with a ridge line and a kit organiser attached to this which for this trip I didn’t use but in the past I’ve found useless for all but the lightest of items, otherwise the ridge line and organiser would sag too low. Minor gripes and I’m sure I could make better use of the foot end pockets but for me they just don’t work.
That’s not to say I’ll be getting rid of the DD though. It’s modular “all in one” approach lends itself well to my bikepacking wildcamps, being simple to set up and take down for quick stealth camps. It’s also adaptable and can be used as a ground shelter/bivvy should you not be able to find suitable trees, it really is an extremely versatile sleep system.
It’s built well, looks the business and I was impressed with how it handled a very windy last night in Italy. A thunderstorm blew up with high winds (thankfully no rain) which ended up giving the suspension a real test as the hammock bucked not only sideways but also up and down! Despite this I was snug as a bug and the hammock kept me hanging until the first drops of rain in the early morning.
Despite having ordered the Blackbird I would still recommend buying the DD jungle, particularly the superlight version. It might not be the absolute best or comfiest hang on the market (it’ll be interesting to compare when the Blackbird arrives) but for the money, convenience and weight it’s certainly a serious bit of kit that’s not only very comfortable but very adaptable, suitable for beginners looking for a no fuss solution to hammocking as well as serious hangers looking for a multi function solution to all their camping needs.