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Price when purchased (February 2015): £32.00
Price now (December 2015): £26.00 - £49.99
Whether you see hammocks as a novelty or an absolute necessity it is hard to argue the levels of comfort gained from a correctly set up hammock. However when I realised people actually sleep in them instead of using bivvis and tents I became intrigued. The Snugpak Jungle Hammock ticked all my requirements at a price I was happy to pay and with my otherwise excellent experience of Snugpak's products, surely I couldn't go too wrong.
Very unlike me this was more of an impulse buy than a thought through purchase, not that I regret having the impulse in the first place. The hammock comes packed into an integral stuff sack and includes an in-built mosquito net attached via a full-length side zip. This is the only difference between the Jungle Hammock and the Tropical Hammock (also Snugpak). If you don't want to use the mosquito net for some reason, then you can simply invert the hammock.
Setting up is quick and simple straight out of the packaging and the set comes with all attachments and guy lines required to set up the hammock and net on "standard sized trees" easily. Personally I have extended the set with a couple of additional items which make setting up easier, faster and less painful. Firstly I invested in some wire rope thimbles which work wonders when tied flush into the supplied paracord attachment system. Without these the initial loading of the hammock will almost certainly cause the cord to fuse onto itself. Not a major issue, but not nice and easily/cheaply avoidable. Secondly I had a couple of Niteize Figure 9s kicking about which make the setting up of the mosquito net using the guy lines much quicker and easier. Finally a few extra meters of paracord allow me to not only attach the hammock to trees further apart, but also ensure I can put the mosquito net up no matter how thick the trees are - Snugpak should really give us an extra 50cm on each guy line here.
Comfort wise the hammock needs to be set up as tight as possible for a really good night sleep. Too slack and the bend in your spine as you sleep will wake you up with a gigantic jolt and cramp in your leg at around 4am. With a bit of practice though the hammock is easily pitched to a comfortable standard. Add to the raw hammock a basha or similar tarpaulin over the top, possibly draped over the mosquito net lines and you are presented with a simple, light weight and comfortable sleeping solution.
As with any hammock the insulation from the bottom is an issue. Not so much on a warm summer night, but certainly towards the colder times of the year. A simple foam rollmat in the bottom of the hammock will alleviate some of the issues, but Snugpak have come up with a better (and more expensive) idea. They now sell a hammock insulation system consisting of a hammock quilt and hammock under blanket. The latter being designed to fit around the outside of your "bed" while you snuggle up in the former. I haven't had a chance to test these yet, but they are on my list. For those using the standard Tropical Hammock, Snugpak have come up with a fully enclosed cocoon - an interesting concept in principle.
The Jungle Hammock provides ample space for one person and can take a maximum weight of 180kg measuring 275x145cm. Attachment lengths vary depending on the tree circumferences, though I've had it up on 250cm gaps - see previous notes on ensuring the hammock is taught - through to almost 5 meters with extra paracord.
My Jungle Hammock is now a firm companion for me. Fitting snugly into one of the many crevasses of my car I am safe in the knowledge I can get a decent kip wherever I go (and find trees, lamp posts, roof racks etc). Personally I haven't had any issues with cold nights, but I am a naturally wam sleeper, rarely needing anything more than a 3 season even in deepest winter. I have been toying with the idea of using a tension system when I use the hammock out of the car to ensure it is as taught as possible, but am not entirely sure whether this would give me the increased comfort I'd be hoping for. In any case the hammock, or indeed any hammock is not suitable for people with previous back problems due to the curve on the spine and the increased pressure on it from "sinking" into the bottom of the hammock.
Quality wise I cannot fault the product in any way. The Hammock itself is a sturdy, simple and functional design. Once again everything in the system has its place and purpose. The stuff sack acts as a small storage pouch during the night while a couple of small pockets in the net can take a headlamp. Small attachments on the ceiling of the net can be used for small and light lights, but care is needed as the net and its components are not meant to carry any weight or tension.
Considering the price of some of the other hammocks with integrated mosquito net on the market this is a very well placed and priced product which will give the user a good and honest introduction into the world of hammock sleeping. Me - I'll be back between the trees on a fair few occasions this year. Not least to show the DofE groups that adventure doesn't have to be confined to a tent in a muddy field.