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By now you’ve probably seen about a million Instagram photos of hammocks (some of which are set up in insane places) and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about: Are they actually that comfortable? When are they actually useful? Which one should I buy?
I’ve owned the Therm-a-Rest Slacker Double Hammock and Suspender hanging straps for about 8 months now and used it countless times, so I think it’s time for a review! I won’t review a product unless I’ve used it for a whole season as I think using something once or twice isn’t enough to write a review.
I had thought about buying a lightweight hammock for a while. I already own a beautiful Canadian-made rope hammock that I keep in my yard, and my husband owns a tent-like Hennessy Hammock, but I wanted something a bit more versatile for hanging out in campsites both on backpacking and car camping trips. When the Therm-a-Rest Slacker Hammock came out last spring I decided to go for it since it was something I could purchase locally (instead of having to order online from the US) and it was made by a company I was familiar with and whose products I trust to be high quality.
The Slacker is made of polyester fabric in a seamless construction. It seems pretty strong yet soft even though the fabric is really lightweight and I like that there are no seams to dig into my skin. The stitched edges on mine have a few fly-away threads but since the fabric is ripstop and the seams are finished well nothing is unravelling and I don’t expect it to. The webbing loops at the ends seem really bomber as well.
The hammock packs up into an integrated stuff sack that doubles as a pocket when the hammock is deployed. You can cinch down the stuff sack with the attached webbing strap and buckle. My only complaint is that either the pocket is too big or there should be a second strap for compression as I’d like to be able to pack the hammock down even smaller. It still packs down fairly small (probably about 2L packed volume?) but that’s still a fair amount of real estate in my backpack. The hammock isn’t the lightest at around 650 grams, but it is on par with other lightweight backpacking hammocks.
The hammock comes with a pair of carabiners but doesn’t come with hanging straps so I bought Therm-a-Rest’s Suspenders hanging kit. It comes with strong but narrow webbing straps with loops in the ends and some sliding hardware for adjustment. I’ve used a few different sets of hammock straps before and the Suspenders are some of the easiest to use. It takes a minute to figure out which end goes through which loop, then which part goes around the tree, but there is a good diagram printed right on an insert in the strap stuff sack that explains it, and after putting up the hammock a couple of times I get it and no longer have to refer to it. The straps and their bag weigh about 220 grams which is not bad – but I do wish the stuff sack was a bit smaller.
Adjusting the straps on the go is super easy as you just cinch up either end until you get it where you want it – you don’t have to take it off the tree or wrap it around more times or tie knots. The only thing I don’t like about the straps is that they aren’t good for tight tree situations as you can’t snug up the sides of the hammock right to a tree – you need about 18” or more of hanging space between the tree and the hammock on each side. Even with that drawback, I would still recommend these straps for their ease of use.
I chose to buy the double hammock because the single was sold out when I bought mine, but I’m really glad I did. Even though the extra fabric of the double can be a bit of a pain when lying in it alone as it kind of creates a tunnel, it’s easy enough to tuck some of it under your head or body so you can see out. The double is rated to hold up to about 400 pounds so you can get two adults in it no problem. It’s not that comfortable for both adults to lie down unless you really want to cuddle. However, where the double hammock shines is as a couch. That’s right, a couch! It’s wide enough to support both your butt and your back and long enough that two or even three people can sit side by side. I actually prefer hanging out in this hammock in couch mode instead of lying down.
I’ve used my Slacker hammock on quite a few trips. I’ve taken it backpacking a few times (including backpacking the Wildside Trail last May), used it at countless car camping sites on my road trip to the Yukon and Alaska and even taken it to local parks. I think the real reason to buy a hammock is not for sleeping in (at least not this kind of hammock) but instead as an alternative to a camp chair for car camping or backpacking trips where you aren’t worried about weight – especially when you use the hammock in couch mode to seat more than one person. It weighs more than a basic foam bum pad (which is what I often take backpacking) but less than the lightest collapsible backpacking chairs, and is infinitely more comfortable and versatile. Plus since it seats two or even three light people, it is actually half the weight of 2 camp chairs! And of course, it can’t be denied – it looks great in Instagram photos!
Pros: Super comfy, especially in “couch mode”, very easy to hang, relatively light, seems very durable
Cons: Not compact enough, straps are confusing the first couple times and don’t work in tightly spaced tree configurations
Where to Buy:
Disclaimer: I got an industry “pro-deal” on these products and did not pay retail price for them. However, there was no expectation that I would provide a review in exchange for a discount and all opinions in this post are my own.
Do you own a lightweight hammock or a Slacker? What do you think about them – trend or fun luxury item? Tell me in the comments.
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