Derek Hansen is a lightweight backpacker, Scoutmaster, and “hammock enthusiast” who enjoyed his first hammock hang at age 14 at the BSA Beaver High Adventure base in Utah. The hammock he used then was a compact net style that was strung up in an “Ewok Village” constructed from log platforms lashed up high in the pines. Derek rediscovered the wonders hammock camping 16 years later in Virginia, and has been avoiding the ground ever since.
Serendipitously, it was Scouting that brought Derek back to hammock camping. Being asked to be a Scoutmaster while living in Virginia, Derek began buying gear he remembered using as a youth: a five-pound external frame pack, a five-pound two-man tent, a five-pound synthetic-fill sleeping bag, and a thin closed-cell foam sleeping pad. It didn’t take many trips to realize this was a heavy, uncomfortable way to explore the outdoors. Derek’s quest for comfort and lighter gear led him to his first official camping hammock—the Hennessy Expedition Asym. He has since tried nearly all de facto camping hammocks on the market (those with integrated bug netting and tarps), but he most often uses basic, gathered-end hammocks for their simplicity, lighter weight, and modularity.
By using a hammock as part of his shelter, Derek reduced his pack weight and bulk but increased his comfort and enjoyment of the outdoors. He now uses lightweight internal or frameless packs, down-filled sleeping bags, tarp shelters, and hammocks that bring his weekend pack weight (including food and water) to 17 pounds or less.
As a hobby, Derek continues to test hammocks and related backpacking gear from various manufacturers. He is an official tester with Back Diamond Equipment, Inc., and is a gear tester and test manager with BackpackGearTest.org.
Derek was raised among the red rocks and national parks surrounding southern Utah and has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor adventures, thanks to an active Scouting family. His hammock adventures are now based out of Flagstaff, Arizona, where he lives with his wife and children. Ever since Derek was in grade school, he enjoyed drawing and sketching, but he turned his talents toward graphic design and illustration with a visual arts degree from Brigham Young University and finally a Masters of Fine Arts in Arts Administration from Southern Utah University. He currently works as a marketing coordinator at Northern Arizona University.
Over time, Derek became involved with the worldwide hammock community at HammockForums.net. He began to share his experiences and techniques through illustrations posted on the forums. His clear, informative style helped thousands of visitors learn the basics of hammock camping. As more and more forum members were requesting custom illustrations to explain hammock tips and methods, Derek decided to put pen to paper and create a concise illustrated guide to hammock camping. The first edition of The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide To Hammock Camping was published in October 2011. Digital editions of this hammock camping book were released in 2012 for the Kindle, Nook, and iTunes (for iPhone and related Apple devices).
When he’s not out testing outdoor gear, Derek enjoys reading and spending time with his family.