Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip Review
Cons: More complicated set up, small rain fly, bug net is not removable
Manufacturer: Hennessy Hammock
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Hennessy has been offering its unique hammock shelter systems since the '90s and seems to have been the forerunner of the popular and comfortable asymmetric design that allows for a flatter lay. The Expedition stands apart from other shelter systems in our review with the way every component is integrated; the suspension ropes appear seamlessly out of the hammock fabric, the rainfly attaches to and is held taught by the suspension, and each piece works together to create a comfortable haven that keeps you protected from with weather and bugs. Read on to see why we appreciated both the design and the price of this model.
The Hennessey Expedition Asym has extreme comfort potential, due to its asymmetrical design. It lacks the foot box of the Warbonnet Blackbird but does have guylines to stake the sides of the hammock out, which helps provide extra shoulder and foot space. The hammock body is narrower and shorter than the models we ranked higher for comfort and, while the sweet spot is definitely there, it's a bit harder to find. Finding a comfortable hang took a bit of experimentation for a new hammocker. The stuff sack has what appears to be a novel printed on it detailing exactly how to successfully hang your Hennessy. Trust us, read it, try it, and you'll be glad you did. The comfort is greatly improved when using the right tension and hanging the foot end a bit above the head end.
Like other models with a ridgeline and bug net, we found that this was not an ideal hammock for sitting up, though it is possible, and you can watch helpful videos online to learn more about this. The ridgeline also comes with a mesh organizer, a great upgrade that some users found very helpful for storing a headlamp, book, or other small items that can be difficult to stash otherwise. The heavier fabric is less comfortable than thinner, silkier materials in other models we tested but this is a problem that goes away once you crawl into a sleeping bag and the added durability means you are less likely to puncture your hammock and cause an unfortunate midnight blowout.
We tested the Expedition model with a side entry zipper, but Hennessy also offers a velcro bottom entry option that| we tested with the Ultralight version. We liked the body positioning of entering the bottom because you are able to stand more upright since you are entering where the tarp is the highest but the velcro drove us crazy and roughed up the pants of our testers wearing leggings or baselayers. Overall, we recommend the zippered side entry.
Great features and durability tend to come at a weight cost, and the Hennessey Expedition Asym is no exception.
When comparing apples to apples, the Expedition ranks similarly with most of the full shelter systems we tested.
We aren't sure what the magic is with weighing 42 ounces but we found so many models to come in at this weight. The only option that offers significant weight savings is the Hennessy Ultralight that uses a lighter rain fly material than the Expedition and thinner rope for the suspension that reduces the weight capacity of the hammock to 200 lbs.
Some of these models include larger rain flys for better coverage, some have smaller hammocks to cut weight but overall, each makes its sacrifices and keeps some luxuries to weigh in about the same. The Expedition's sacrifices for weight savings are the more time-consuming suspension system, the heavier material on both the hammock body and rain fly, and the pretty minimal coverage diamond-shaped rain fly. It keeps the luxuries of the heavier material being durable and the spacious asymmetric hammock body for a high degree of comfort.
Ease of Set Up
The Hennessey Expedition is one of the most difficult models to pitch of all we tested. While it takes some learning and is more time consuming to hang, the basic rope system is lighter weight than other suspension systems besides the whoopie sling style and helps keep the overall cost of the hammock low.
There is nothing built in to allow easy tension adjustments while the hammock is hanging and stakes are needed for the elastic guy lines on the sides but are not included. Thorough, wordy instructions are printed on the bag and excellent videos are available online that helped us immensely so we recommend investing some time learning and practicing the lashing system before heading out on your first trip. Once we got the lashing system down, it was easy to accomplish, but adjusting it still takes more time than most of the other hammock suspensions we tested.
The tree straps that come with the hammock are only 42 inches long, so if you're surrounded by trees more than about 12" in diameter, you may have a problem. However, if you order directly from Hennessy, you can upgrade to longer straps for free, or you can bring extra webbing of your own and easily attach it to this hammock.
Contributing to some confusion during set up, the fly has an asymmetrical shape that needs to match the shape of the hammock, but there are no markings or color-coding to tell you what corner lines up with what. You can just lay it on the ground and look at the shape in the daylight but is a pain when it's dark outside or wet on the ground, so we recommend marking the tarp in some way. We do really like how the Hennessy Expedition rain fly ties directly into the hammock suspension. The small clip and friction knot of the Hennessey models are surprisingly strong and make micro-adjustments fast and simple. When needing more or less tension on the rainfly, the user needs only to slide the knot further up the polycord, closer to the tree or anchor.
Durability and Protection
While any hammock can be upgraded to have a fly, the rainfly on the Expedition is designed to fit the shape of the hammock perfectly and integrates easily into the suspension system meaning you won't pitch the fly incorrectly.
The diamond shape of the rainfly, however, doesn't offer the most protection in windy, rainy conditions. Hennessy includes clips at the corners of the tarp to allow you to attach a weight to pull the corners further down for added protection, but you still won't get as much coverage from a blowing rain as with a larger rectangular tarp. If buying your hammock directly from Hennessy, for an extra charge, you can customize your system and change the tarp to a larger tarp, a lighter material, and a different shape.
The Expedition has fairly durable fabric: 70D oxford nylon with double-stitched seams. Most shelter system models we tested use a lighter weight body fabric to save ounces, which also decreases durability. If taken proper care of, this hammock will be around for many years and can be relied on for extended trips when trust in gear is paramount.
While the Expedition is a great choice for camping, it lacks versatility. The bug net is permanently attached, making it less than optimal for sitting, and the time-consuming nature of the suspension means this isn't a hammock you are likely to bring along to quickly hang up for casual day-use.
The attached bug netting doesn't zip back far enough to be tucked out of the way. It can be rolled and clipped to the ridgeline to open up one side, but you still won't be able to sit all that easily in this hammock. Its relatively low weight rating at 250 pounds further limits most folks to using the hammock alone.
Campers who are looking for a hammock that they can use to chill in their backyard with friends as well as to shelter them on backpacking excursions should look elsewhere, but for those who purely want a well-designed hammock shelter, the Expedition is a great choice.
The Expedition Asym Zip falls at the bottom end of the price range for all-inclusive backcountry models we tested. Considering its high level of comfort with the asymmetric design and the added durability of heavier fabrics than most models in our review, we think this is a great value. It does have a bit of a learning curve to set up, adjust.
Overall, the Hennessy Expedition offers immense value with its low price and high-end comfort. The asymmetric design and spacious fabric give it the comfort that rates close to the top performers in our review. There are lighter options out there, and there are models that offer better protection from rain, but none that can offer as much bang for your buck.
Other Versions and Accessories
Also reviewed is the Ultralight model that uses a lighter material for the tarp and thinner rope to save 10 ounces. It also has a lower weight capacity at 200 pounds.
The Jungle series hammocks from Hennessy all come equipped with a double layer bottom to create a sleeve for a sleeping pad so you can be better insulated on cold nights and at altitude.
The Scout hammock is meant for those 5'8" and under and comes with a rain fly. Great for kiddos that want to hammock camp along with you.
Hennessy also offers many options for larger tarps and straps, top and bottom insulation, and SnakeSkins to help you set up and tear down without ever touching the ground.
Videos from Hennessy
We found the video of how to tie the lashing extremely helpful.
And the instructions for hanging the hammock gave some excellent tips for getting the most comfort and protection.
— Elizabeth Paashaus