Handy Hammock Stand Review
- Initial Summary
- Product Information
- Product Description
- Initial Impressions
- Setting Up The Stand (illustration)
- Recommended Modifications (illustration)
Handy Hammock has done an amazing job of simplifying “space-age” technology for the masses. Overall, I like this stand, but it has its limitations. It is similar in design to the 3-person hammock tensegrity stand I illustrated in my book, borrowed from Camp Elsewhere’s Burning Man design. It’s simple, sleek, and well-designed. For me, the best feature of the Handy Hammock is that it’s really lightweight, strong, and packable. This stand is useful in places where trees or anchors are not available like parks, beaches, and backyards, but also along trails where tree selection is limited or non-existant (e.g., thru-hikes along the PCT, CDT, or AZT). The major drawback? It’s not free-standing and requires some space to stake down the supporting struts.
- Lightweight, packable stand
- Fairly simple set-up
- The stand can be easily modified and used with other hammocks
- Comfortable hammock
- Large footprint—The stand requires a minimum space to set up, just over 15 ft/4.6 m (64 × 182 in | 163 × 462 cm)
- Not free-standing—Requires ground anchors, which could be problematic in some areas
- Trip wires—The bright, neon yellow guy lines are still a trip hazard.
- Difficult field repairs—The guy lines are easily repairable or replaceable, but if one of the tension lines on the struts gets cut, or frayed, I can’t think of how you could fix this in the field.
Manufacturer: Hammock Limited, UK
Year of Manufacture: 2012, made in the UK
Manufacture Website: http://www.handyhammock.co.uk
Fabric: Parachute polyester
Fabric Dimensions: 56 × 95 in (124.25 × 241.25 cm) (56 × 117 in/124.25 × 297.2 cm total)—the rope nettles adds 22 in (56 cm) (11 in/28 cm on each side) for a total length of 117 in (297 cm)
Measured Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g), which includes rope nettles and steel rings
Listed Capacity: 275 lbs (125 kg)
- 6 ground plates with measured line @ 1.4 oz (40 g) ea.; (0.3 in/8 mm thick, 2.7 in/69 mm diam)
- 2 guy lines (1.25 oz/35 g for both)
- 12 stakes @ 1.1 oz (31 g) ea.; 13.25 in (34 cm) long x 0.25 in (6.5 mm) diameter
- 2 struts; 54.5 in (138.4 cm) tall; 10.05 oz (285 g) ea.
Measured Weight: 38.75 oz (1 kg) (stand: suspension/struts, guy line, stakes)
Listed Weight: (1.53 kg)
TOTAL WEIGHT: 49.25 oz (1.4 kg) (stand + hammock)
- Supports up to 275 lbs (125 kg/20 stones)!
- Struts and anchor pegs made from aircraft-grade, 7075-T6 Aluminium/Zinc alloy
- Unique featherweight folding-struts braced with super-strong Kevlar® cord
- High impact, durable nylon mouldings (reinforced with glass-fibre)
- UK designed and UK manufactured – precision engineered
- Quick to erect and dismantle
- Supplied with weatherproof bag
- Guy-lines made from Dyneema® (595 lbs/270 kg breaking strain)
- Unique “tri-pin” ground anchor system gives secure ground anchorage
The Handy Hammock is currently sold as a combination hammock and lightweight, portable hammock stand. The hammock itself is a simple, gathered-end hammock made from parachute polyester with a weight capacity of 275 lbs (125 kg). The hammock is made from one piece of fabric, hemmed on the edges, with 1 in (2.5 cm) channels on each end. On the end channels, small holes have been melted into the fabric. Threaded through these holes are the nettles, or suspension ropes, that completes the the hammock and gathers each end. The nettles terminate onto a small 1 in (2.5 cm) steel ring—inner diameter measures 3/4 in (2 cm).
Also fastened onto each steel ring is one set of Dyneema guy line. The guy line is a bright, florescent yellow and on each end is a small plastic ball toggle. The guy line and hammock are connected together and are used together to keep the stand upright.
The stand is very minimal. The two, two-piece aluminum “struts” are held together with some shock cord but also with an ingenious tensioners. The tensioners slide and then “pop” into place making the struts very rigid. These two struts are held in place with the guy lines that are staked to the ground.
The 12 stakes are stored on the struts, which helps make the stand a very compact and portable package.
To make set-up easier, there are six (6) base plates, separated into three sets of two plates. The pair of base plates are connected with a length of string. Each base plate has three small holes where the stakes are fitted, and a large central hole where the ball toggle can be threaded for the guy line.
The hammock prevents the struts from falling backward and the guy lines help direct the weight in the hammock into compressive forces down the struts and into the ground, using the principle of tensegrity.
When I first saw the Handy Hammock I was simply struck with awe. The stand looked impossible: lightweight aluminum struts and thin line holding up hundreds of pounds off the ground? The manufacturer makes the whole system look like child’s play, yet the forces at work are hinging on rocket science. I was elated when Handy Hammock offered to send me a review sample.
The whole kit, hammock and stand, comes in a carrying bag with an adjustable shoulder sling. The first thing that worried me was that the hammock was wrapped around the struts and line. Perhaps a pet-peeve of mine, but I prefer to keep my hammocks packed separate from gear that has potential for getting dirty, as the stand will be. The other thing I noticed was that the hammock and the guy lines were connected. This means that in order to set up the stand, the hammock must be laid on the ground, another pet-peeve of mine. One of my first resolutions was to find out if I could pitch the stand while keeping the hammock separate.
The hammock is very basic but perfectly viable. It reminds me of the Grand Trunk Goods Ultralight hammock. They share similar fabric but the Handy Hammock dimensions are a little bigger.
One thing I noticed about the stand is its high-level engineering. Each component was well-thought out and designed using simple, interchangeable parts. For example, almost each component uses similar “ball toggles.” These red, plastic knobs are rounded on one side and have indentations on the opposite side. Each stake uses a ball on the head. The guy lines each have two balls that are used as toggles. Each hinge on the strut uses multiple balls as joints, etc.
One advantage of this stand is that everything is pre-set and pre-measured. This means, like a tent, you can consistently set it up without worrying too much about varying trunk diameters, distances between trees, and suspension angles.
Why This Stand? Where To Use It?
Handy Hammock is marketing this stand to the layman with little or no hammock experience, which is one reason they have focused so much attention on trying to simplify the set-up process. I think the manufacturer envisions this hammock being used in residential backyards, beaches, parks, and open fields.
However, when I saw this stand I immediately thought of its application with outdoor activities such as backpacking and camping. Not only are there some places (e.g., various campgrounds) where attaching anything to a tree is prohibited, some hiking trails have sections where trees are sparse or nonexistent. For thru-hikers along the PCT, JMT, CDT, or AZT, this stand could be taken on sections where trees are not present and sleeping on the ground is not desirable.
The hammock kit comes with a set of instructions that clearly identify the steps for erecting the stand. I also watched a few set-up videos from other users. Before going out for my first attempt, I felt I had a pretty good grasp of how to set it up. However, my first attempt was a bit of a failure (watch my video to see some clips). Part of the reason is my own fault: I disassembled the guy lines from the hammock in an attempt to keep the hammock from touching the ground. In the end, the hammock fell on the ground anyway, so I had to re-think my process.
In very basic terms, these are the steps to erect the stand:
- Stake down the ground plates, using the guy line and ground plate line to determine the correct distances.
- Assemble the struts and connect the middle pair of ground plates.
- Use the hammock to connect the two struts and keep them from falling over.
- 1 in (2.5 cm) stainless steel O-rings
- Zing-It 1.75 mm Dyneema Cord by the yard (guyline to attach to bottom strut)
- Shock Cord by the foot (for a flexible ridgeline tensioner between strut tops)
Disclaimer: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample of the Handy Hammock from the manufacturer upon request for testing and evaluation purposes.