REI gives campers another reason to leave the ground for the trees
Hammock tents aren't anything new, but they have attracted plenty of new energy. In the past five years or so, numerous new hammock shelters and suspended tents, some that double as ground tents or even ponchos, have mixed and mingled with older market staples. Now major US outdoor retail co-op and gear designer REI, which already sells a number of hammock tents from other manufacturers, is launching its own, stringing the Quarter Dome Air Hammock to a couple trees near you.
Anytime's a good time to relax in a hammock, but the present is also a pretty good time to be selling hammocks. In September 2015, market analytics firm The NPD Group noted that hammock sales more than doubled in the two years from July 2013 through June 2015.
"In the US, a hammock culture and community has taken shape among younger millennials," the firm's Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst, noted at the time. "This has helped bring 'hammocking' to a whole new level."
NPD cited continued strength in hammocks and other camping-related products in July 2016.
Here at New Atlas, we've witnessed the hammock explosion through the lens of new, intriguing, odd and unlikely hammock products. Since 2013, such products have included hammock boats, hammock hot tubs, dangling, hammock-inspired "cacoons," and, of course, numerous hammock shelters and tree tents. The hammock may be the epitome of relaxation, but an awful lot of energy has been expended on it in recent times.
The Quarter Dome Air Hammock becomes the latest hammock tent, and while it doesn't look revolutionary, it doesn't look exactly like any other hammock tent we've seen, either. It blends some different elements from existing hammock-tent designs to create REI's own vision of ideal suspended living.
When people think of hammocks, they tend to think of the classic drooping banana, but, while quite cozy for short naps and breaks on the beach, dropping your bones in an unsupportive tree sling isn't necessarily the most comfortable way to spend the entire night, especially if you're camping night after night. So some hammock tents, including the Quarter Dome AH, employ a more defined structure, creating a flatter, more comfortable floor.
REI relies on a tensioned structure with integrated shock-corded poles to spread and flatten the Quarter Dome's 81 x 23-in (206 x 58-cm) floor for a more stable night of sleep that still offers the comfort and freedom of suspended lying. The tent's ripstop is a bit more tub-like than other hammock-tent designs, rising up the sides to create a cozy single-person pouch.
Above that tub, the Quarter Dome AH's canopy has a roof with a central ridge that appears to provide a bit more headroom than you'll find on some of the other hammock tents out there. The bug-repellent mesh keeps fluttering, gnawing critters at bay, and when pests aren't a problem and/or open-air relaxation is the goal, the hammock can be flipped, leaving the mesh on the bottom and camper out in the fresh air. If a storm rolls in, the camper can set up the nylon ripstop rainfly, over top the open hammock or mesh canopy, to stay dry.
The Quarter Dome AH has a large side door, interior and exterior pockets sized to fit 32-oz (946-ml) water bottles, and gear loops on the ceiling. With a minimum trail weight just over 3 lb (1.4 kg), it's light enough for many types of activities and REI recommends it for three-season backpacking. It'll hold up to 250 lb (113.4 kg).
The Quarter Dome AH is available from REI now for US$219.