Flying Squirrel Outfitters Hammock Prototypes
The Flying Squirrel Outfitters hammocks are another entrant into a very popular category of parachute nylon hammocks and come in two sizes: Ultralight and Double. They will be opening a Kickstarter campaign in August to officially launch their products. At first glance, the Flying Squirrel hammocks are your average open recreational hammocks with gathered ends, three panels of fabric, and triple stitched throughout. However, there are a few things that make these hammocks stand out in the crowd, the first being the construction. If, like me, you prefer quality over mass production, you will appreciate the craftsmanship. The second stand-out is the double-sided stuff sack they are using not only for packing but also for adjusting the size and usage of the hammock.
The double hammock also came with some solid steel oval wire gate carabiners that are far and away superior to the common steel S-carabiners often packaged with this style of hammock.
Overall Impressions and Updates
The first thing I noticed on these hammocks was the stitching. Usually, companies use a thick thread with an interlocking stitch that stiffens the seams and makes them thick uncomfortable to lay on. In contrast, the Flying Squirrel hammocks have smooth seams, triple stitched with a lighter thread that is hardly noticeable. Mass-produced hammocks typically “hide” unfinished stitching at the gathered end (often with loose threads throughout), but the Flying Squirrel hammocks have neatly trimmed edges reinforced with a bar tack stitch.
The company recommends a unique way to use the stuff sack to tighten up the hammock’s sides to shape it for different applications. For example, you could fold the hammock in thirds toward the center and pull the sleeve/stuff sack down to create a seat/lounger. Pulling the sleeve down the hammock effectively shortens the hammock, which can be helpful for creating a foot pocket or for shorter hangers (e.g, kids).
The company claims the sleeve can be used to eliminate floppy fabric from getting into your face, but in my testing I couldn’t really see that work the way it was described. I find that hanging the hammock correctly and laying diagonally is the most effective way to eliminate floppy fabric. Shortening the hammock by pulling the sleeve down while I was laying in the hammock only constricted the hammock more and in most cases made it less enjoyable to lay in (more constriction in the shoulders). I liked using the sleeve to make modified chairs and loungers, but when I wanted to lay down, I pulled the sleeve off the hammock completely.
As far as comfort goes, the hammock has a similar lay to any number of gathered end hammocks on the market. The flatter, smoother stitching on the seams of the double was less annoying and more enjoyable, but in practice, I find myself laying mostly on the large center panel of fabric as it stretches into place.
I was surprised to see that the Ultralight model had a lower weight rating (working load limit) than the Double, as they use the same fabric and construction. The only difference is the rope loop, where the Ultralight uses a smaller diameter loop. Upgrading the loops to a high-tensile strength Dyneema cord can strengthen this weak link.
Recommendations and Review
If you are in the market for a quality gathered-end hammock, the Flying Squirrel makes a good one. Plus, they focus on smaller cottage construction techniques rather than mass market factory made, which the company is hoping helps local skilled seamstresses. It’s a feel-good message that many companies today are gravitating towards: brand stewardship through corporate philanthropy and social consciousness.
|Ultralite: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Double: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
|The prototypes I reviewed may still have some final tweaks before launch, but the rope loops on the ultralight was thinner than expected and were in the common way. I would have liked to have seen a sewn webbing loop or maybe stronger Dyneema cordage. The steel, wiregate carabiners on the double were much nicer than on the ultralight and were something I would actually use vs. the common S-hooks that end up in my junk drawer. Unfortunately, the company did not have their webbing straps available at the time of this review.
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
|Most parachute nylon hammocks I’ve reviewed all have the same “factory made” feel with thick, interlocking stitching. In contrast, the Flying Squirrel hammocks have smooth, flat seams and an expertly-finished edging with reinforcements along the channel. All stitching is even and straight with no loose strands.
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
|Open hammocks are the backbone of any modular hammock system, plus, the pouch “constriction” is a novel use of a double-sided stuff sack that can help transform the hammock.
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
|The review models I had feature an olive drab green that are perfect for stealth camping. The other available color combinations will add some appeal, but it is a very common approach and nothing extraordinary.
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
|Both the Ultralight and Double come with webbing straps, according to the manufacturer, however, the prices are comparable to buying them separately.
- Manufacturer: Flying Squirrel Outfitters, made in Thailand
- MSRP: US$65 (Ultralight) US$85 (Double), includes webbing straps and steel S-hook or carabiner and free shipping.
- Hand-made, cottage-style sewing
- Parachute nylon fabric with triple-stitched seams
- Double-sided stuff sack with clutch carry handle
- 14 color combinations for the Double, and 12 for the Ultralite
- Ultralight: 100 × 59 in (253 × 150 cm)
- Double: 118 × 78 in (300 × 198 cm)
- Weight Capacity Ultralight: 250 lbs (113 kg)
- Weight Capacity Double: 450 lbs (204 kg)
- Ultralight: 11.5 oz (326 g)
- Double: 24 oz (680 g)
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear.