Hennessy Hammock Supershelter Review
Hennessy Hammock SuperShelter
The Hennessy Hammock SuperShelter includes a waterproof UnderCover, a 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick open-cell-foam insulating pad, a mylar “emergency” or “space” blanket, and attachment clips. The system is designed to pair up with Hennessy-brand hammocks. The entire kit comes packaged in a double-sided stuff sack.
For clarity, the “#1” size match with their regular-sized Expedition, Backpacker, and Hyperlite models while the “#2” size is for the larger Explorer and Safari models.
The UnderCover is made from ripstop silnylon and creates a waterproof barrier under the hammock. It is designed to wrap around the edges of the hammock to seal and trap the air flow as well as provide wind and moisture protection, typical of most hammock weather covers. The UnderCover has small slits at asymmetric pull-out points that match up with the Hennessy Hammock model. Elastic toggles and clips on the ends attach the cover to the hammock end points and help to seal the ends around the hammock.
The insulating UnderPad is convoluted on one side, which is also helpful to trap warm air. The open-cell foam helps insoluble moisture to pass through, thus preventing excessive condensation build-up. Elastic shock cord attachments also match up with the Hennessy asymmetric pull-put points and longer shock cord loops are designed to clip to the ends of the hammock.
Hennessy also adds an emergency mylar blanket that can be added in colder temperatures to boost warmth by creating additional reflective heat and a moisture barrier.
Overall Impressions and Updates
Hennessy doesn’t provide a temperature rating, r-value, or scale as you might expect from an insulating piece of gear. This is somewhat difficult because it is marketed as a “four-season insulation system,” which for me means anything from summer to winter camping, e.g., overnight temperatures ranging 0° to 70°F (-18° to 20°C). The SuperShelter’s modular design certainly allows for a lot of variability. Hennessy even states on the packaging:
“One of the advantages of this system is the ability to add lighter items such as clothing, towel, socks, hat, etc., above the UnderPad. Heavier items like your coat should be placed under the UnderPad. When even more insulation is needed, layers of dry moss, grass or leaves can be spread under the UnderPad in a plastic bag.”
Tom Hennessy is known to be a lightweight camper, and this sort of DIY insulation system is appealing for those looking to shave a little weight an opt for multi-use modular options. The challenge, however, is that you lose some weight advantage when temperatures get colder, e.g., below 40°F (4°C) at night if you have to add more insulation to stay warm. I would also argue that the best place for your coat and extra clothing when it is cold is to wear them all to bed. I’ve read of folks using leaf litter, cattails, and other natural materials as insulation with mixed results. Your mileage may vary.
In my own experience, I would recommend using some type of insulation when overnight temperatures drop below 75°F (24°C), regardless of hammock type. Even the trapped air space provided by the UnderCover can be enough on a warm night. As it gets colder, adding different layers to this system boosts the warmth. I would use the system as follows:
- UnderCover = Good down to 65°F (18°C)
- UnderCover + UnderPad = Good down to 40°F (4°C)
- UnderCover + UnderPad + Mylar blanket = Good down to 32°F (0°C)
These recommendations are variable and will depend on whether you are a warm or cold sleeper, the warmth of your sleeping bag/top quilt, and how you dress/layer.
One advantage of the SuperShelter is that it isn’t affected by getting wet as other insulation types can be. The open-cell foam pad can be easily rung out and the UnderCover is waterproof and helps protect against precipitation attacks.
The UnderCover acts as a sort of double layer on a hammock, providing a space where any type of pad can be sandwiched between, but with the added benefit of wind and water protection.
Recommendations and Review
I was a little skeptical about the SuperShelter at the beginning of my review because I’ve heard all kinds of hype surrounding it. I wanted to give this a thorough testing to see how well it performs in a variety of conditions and I’m pleased to report that it works better than I imagined. Ounce-for-ounce it isn’t as warm as a down-filled under quilt for colder temperatures, but as a modular insulation system, it has advantages that beat out a quilt in a variety of conditions. As temperatures warm, the system provides a better weight savings over other insulation.
I made to modifications to the set-up that differ from what Hennessy describes. First, instead of using the zip ties to attach the mitten hook to the suspension, I just put the mitten hooks directly onto the UnderCover. Not only was this faster and easier to set up, it still works to clip on the UnderPad, so I count that as a win.
The other mod I made was to use mitten hooks on the UnderPad asymmetric elastic loops. This allowed me to clip the pad into place without needing to detach the hammock and UnderCover. I simply clipped the pad in place. Simple!
It is really difficult to stuff the pad back inside the double-sided stuff sack. I managed to do it by folding the pad in thirds and then rolling it as tight as possible, but it was still hard. Interestingly, Hennessy doesn’t recommend stuffing the pad back into the sack. In their own words:
“When not in use, store the pad uncompressed”
“Once installed, keep the UnderCover and UnderPad on your hammock. To save time and to protect your UnderPad, stuff the system carefully into the top of your pack.”
I also do not recommend stuffing the pad, but rather roll it loosely inside a pack as a liner. The soft, open-cell pad can easily get snagged and damaged if placed on the outside of a pack.
As a side benefit, the double-sided stuff sack is a great way to pack up a hammock and can be a great alternative to SnakeSkins or the default stuff sack that comes with each Hennessy model.
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||As with pretty much everything I’ve seen from Hennessy, the build is top of the line, even considering the overseas manufacturing. The attachments are well-thought out and work seamlessly.|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||The SuperShelter is designed to be modular: add or subtract insulation as needed or remove completely when not needed.|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||I really like how the Under Cover has a lip that encloses the hammock and helps seal in the edges.|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||The Under Cover not only has a complex build, but uses the more expensive silnyon fabric.|
- Manufacturer: Hennessy Hammock, made in China
- MSRP: US$140
- Modular hammock insulation system
- UnderCover can be installed or removed without taking down the hammock
- Contoured ultralite open cell foam pad matches the shape of the occupant and attaches between the layers
- Pad: 8.7 oz (248 g)
- Under Cover: 8.5 oz (240 g)
- Mylar Sheet: 2.1 oz (60 g)
- Stuff Sack: 0.8 oz (23 g)
- TOTAL: 20 oz (571 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.