The Exped Ergo Combi aims to give you the protection of a tent within the comfortable, 'zero gravity' confines of a roomy hammock. It looks like it could offer one of the best nights of sleep you've ever had outdoors.
You can buy various forms of sheltered hammocks from manufacturers like Clark, Hennessy Hammock and Grand Trunk. Some are completely open, leaving you to sleep under the stars. Some have mosquito netting to protect you from pests. Some have waterproof protection for use in foul weather. Some have added insulation on the underside to keep you warm in winter or cooler spring weather.
The Exped Ergo Combi has it all. It packs every type of protection that you could possibly want in the outdoors - save maybe for carnivore repellant - into a package in which you'll never have to worry about hard, cold dirt or poking sticks and rocks.
As you can see in the picture, the Ergo Combi begins with a horizontal sleeping system. Most hammocks have the ropes at the tips, but the Ergo puts them on the sides and uses a diagonal suspension system to support the hammock body. We don't know for sure without actually lying in it, but that picture makes it look about as snug and free of pressure points as a womb. Exped says that it developed the horizontal orientation over the course of six years.
With proper sleeping quarters taken care of, Exped throws an array of accompanying features and equipment into the Ergo. It has a waterproof tarp to protect you from rain and provide shade from the sun. The tarp is even oversized so that you can use it as a sun and weather shade for cooking, eating and lounging around camp. Since the tarp isn't attached to the hammock fabric, a separate mesh fly is used to keep bugs from devouring your flesh. An integrated sleeping-pad sleeve fits most of Exped's pads (and we'd assume similarly sized pads from other manufacturers), giving you some extra insulation from the cold air underneath. Exped says that the pad system gives the Ergo winter-camping capabilities, though that would certainly depend on the pad you're using.
The hammock with suspension kit weighs 34 oz (963 g) and the tarp adds another 23 oz (652 g). Depending upon your usage, 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg) may be a little heavy (you could get a number of two-person tents under that weight). However, because it includes separate pieces, it gives you some versatility. You can use just the hammock or just the tarp depending on your comfort level and the weather. It's still not necessarily ultralight, but it does look to provide a solid combination of low weight and sleeping comfort.
The Ergo Combi debuted this year. We don't see a suggested retail price on Exped's site, but the hammock is listed for US$340 at REI and $240 at Backcountry.com. The video below is part one of a three part series that gives you a tour of the design and set-up of the Ergo Combi. Be forewarned: it's not a quick, glamorous promo, but a slow-going instructional video.