THERE'S SOMETHING INNATELY attractive about hammocks – perhaps that rock-a-bye baby sensation awakens your inner child, or maybe swinging from trees taps into our inner ape. Either way, it was with a kind of childish excitement that I first set up the OneLink Hammock Shelter System from Eagle Nest Outfitters (ENO).
ENO was established in 1999 by two brothers who quit their office jobs to travel the US east coast selling their hammocks at music festivals – however, the product they sell today is a far cry from the woven-rope concoction you might associate with hippy gatherings.
The OneLink system comes with a ‘DoubleNest’ hammock, ‘ProFly’ rain tarp, ‘Atlas’ Suspension System, ‘Guardian’ bug-net plus a set of carabiners and pegs. With all that combined, you have about 2.2kg of gear – which is competitive with an upper-spec two-man tent, but remember that’s without the tent poles.
But that’s where an important point comes to play – early on, I concluded that ENO’s hammocks shouldn’t be reviewed in direct comparison with hiking tents. There may be similarities, including the colours and materials across the range – but this is a new and somewhat quirky camping sleep system that fills its own niche, and which I’ll therefore try to judge in isolation.
As mentioned, straight away it seemed unlikely this system would realistically work for anyone but a single camper for more than one night of compromise. Being cocooned with your bed-buddy might seem romantic at first, but it starts to feel claustrophobic pretty fast. For singles, however, it could work – as mentioned, there’s something about being cradled by a hammock that makes it impossible not to want a snooze.
There were pluses and minuses to the overall design. First the positives: ENO’s patented, tree-friendly Atlas Suspension System is really clever. Made from tough webbing, it has a series of loops through which you simply thread one end around the tree, adjustable to allow for the fact that the distance between two trees is hardly predictable. This system was quick, easy and felt strong and secure. I also liked the bug-net, which slung over a ridgeline (read: a guy rope tied to the two trees above your hammock) and fit over the hammock like a sleeve, pulling tight at the ends. The rain tarp was simple enough – sitting over the same ridgeline rope, it’s held in place by six guy ropes, one tied to the suspension system on each tree, and four pegged to the ground.
Now for the negative: the guy ropes are just that, plain old ropes with no runners or adjusters, relying on your knowledge of knots to make it all come together. That felt at odds with the speed and convenience offered by the Atlas straps, and probably unsuited to the market I imagine this product would suit best – families or groups on car camping trips at their favourite campsite (where they know there are suitable trees), with a few older kids who want something a bit different from a boring-old dome or A-frame.
The hammock was fun, cosy and certainly has potential – if you’re the type of person who has a strong urge to introduce a hammock to your camping kit. If all aspects of the design were as resolved as the Atlas Suspension System, I reckon ENO could be onto a big winner. But time will tell whether this young brand transcends the risk of being seen as a gimmick to becoming a serious competitor for your camping gear budget.
RRP $390 (OneLink Hammock Shelter System - DoubleNest)