Outdoors

REI gives campers another reason to leave the ground for the trees

REI gives campers another reas...
REI becomes the latest to try to get you camping up off the ground
REI becomes the latest to try to get you camping up off the ground
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Quarter Dome Air Hammock with mesh and rainfly up
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Quarter Dome Air Hammock with mesh and rainfly up
Quarter Dome Air Hammock with rainfly over upside down, open-air hammock
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Quarter Dome Air Hammock with rainfly over upside down, open-air hammock
Flip REI's Quarter Dome Air Hammock and you have an open bridge hammock to lounge in
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Flip REI's Quarter Dome Air Hammock and you have an open bridge hammock to lounge in
REI's new hammock tent has a bug-repellent mesh canopy
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REI's new hammock tent has a bug-repellent mesh canopy
REI becomes the latest to try to get you camping up off the ground
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REI becomes the latest to try to get you camping up off the ground
View from above
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View from above
REI Quarter Dome Air Hammock
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REI Quarter Dome Air Hammock
View gallery - 7 images

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.

REI Quarter Dome Air Hammock
REI Quarter Dome Air Hammock

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.

View from above
View from above

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.

Source: REI, The NPD Group

View gallery - 7 images
6 comments
argalite
Some California State Parks will not allow tying up to some trees, such as redwoods
chase
interesting comment argalite. i wasn't aware of that. As for the Half Dome... it's peaked my interest somewhat. It definitely looks like a more viable option than I've seen in the past with the banana style, which are uncomfortable to sleep in. I prefer Brazilian hammocks to Banana style, even just to lay in. Because you can do just that, lay flat in them. This semi bucket style might prove worth looking into. Depending on price point which hopefully isn't in up in the trees and overpriced. I'll check one out for sure. Thanks for the write up. I enjoyed it.
SaysMe
What happens if you only have one tree around or trees too far apart?
nehopsa
SaysMe, I was thinking about this situation too. Obviously, you will need another invention. Some sort of single point suspension that would branch out into two points overhead. Spaced out with a pole. From those two points any standard hammock would be suspended. It would always add to the weight to carry, in particular if you need a sturdy structure. Additional anchoring points would be vital for stability even if not for load carrying. If you had something workable I am describing above you could camp literally ANYWHERE there is only one tree.
BendBrad
If you never slept in a hammock, be aware that air will circulate all around you. This might be fine on warm nights, but as experience has taught me, you can suffer from a very cold backside if you don't have an insulating layer between you and the hammock. A sleeping bag may not do the trick, depending on the temperatures. I also found this out with a large air mattress. The air in the mattress (approx. 8" thick) became as cold (or it seemed) as the ground and or air temperature. Again, an extra insulating layer can prevent a cold and lousy semi-sleepless night. Personally, I prefer the air mattress as it is easier to get up to relieve oneself during the night. I use a thick throw rug as insulation between the mattress and sleeping bag, or in my case, sheets and blankets (just like home but outside), obviously, I'm not backpacking! (I forgo tents if at all possible as they are not the easiest things to get in and out of in the middle of the night (I don't camp at official campgrounds so privacy is not an issue). Pleasant dreams!
chinamike
I bought a hammock-style tent over 30 years ago at an army surplus store in Colorado. Nothing new to see here. Move along.