Thoughts from a Experienced Hiker

The comments below were shared with me by email from experienced hiker Jim Sykes;

I met the owner of R&R Hammocks, Richard Grissom at the Hangcon 2020 hammock convention. He was a vendor there and I was looking for a new tarp to use with my existing hammock system. The tarp that originally came with that hammock left a lot to be desired. I looked at several options from the many vendors that were there but Richard couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. He got me setup with a new barn door style silpoly tarp and I was really impressed by the versatility of the multiple setup options it was capable of. With the barn doors open it can be configured several different ways as a conventional tarp and in several variations of “porch mode” as well. With the barn doors closed it becomes a virtual tent around the hammock providing excellent wind and rain protection as well as 360 degree privacy inside. I love the snake skins that are provided with it. They make setup and repacking incredibly quick and simple.

I am a photographer/videographer by trade and I had an assignment shortly after acquiring the R&R tarp to document a 5 day, 4 night backpacking challenge event hosted by the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. I realized the first night that I camped during the event that I had made a sound choice with the R&R tarp. Temperatures dropped to 34 degrees overnight with 25 mph wind gusts and rain. Even with the rain blowing sideways my hammock stayed completely dry within the tarp and the cold wind was kept out. Some of the other people hammocking there that night were not as fortunate with their tarps and they woke up wet. A few people in tents had rain intrusion that night as well. I was very happy in the morning to be able to pack up without any hassles and hit the trail with a dry hammock in my pack. I’ve used the tarp on many outings since then and have been happy with it on every occasion. 

With a 5 day backpacking trip planned in the foothills of the Smokies I decided to retire my old hammock of another brand that I purchased many years ago. I had never been really satisfied with it for several reasons so I upgraded to the R&R Hammocks Thru Hiker system complete with a new Dyneema composite fabric barn door tarp. Richard requested my body measurements and began constructing the system to the temperature rating that I specified. I received the system a few days before I left for the trip and now that I have returned I am writing this review based on my experience with the system over the duration of the trip.

The Dyneema composite fabric makes the tarp incredibly light. It’s also semi-transparent. This turned out to be a really cool attribute. While in my hammock at night I could still look up through the tarp and discern the silhouettes of the trees above and the sky between them. It was a really nice sensation of being halfway between enclosed and in the open. I think for anyone that’s claustrophobic to any extent the dyneema tarp would be a great option for keeping the elements at bay without feeling totally closed in.

The system’s top quilt has a unique flexible stitched foot box that can also be snapped/unsnapped. Temperatures on my trip were mild enough that I didn’t need to take it along. I did take the underquilt and used it on all but the first half of my last night on the trail. I discovered on the last night of my trip that the R&R system has a nice benefit in comparison to my old system. My old system had a bug net that was integral to the hammock itself, actually zipped to the hammock on one side and permanently stitched to the hammock on the other. With my old system if I wanted to connect or disconnect an underquilt it would require me to unzip the bug net and get out of the hammock to attach or detach it. With the 360 degree bug net on the R&R system being separate from the hammock I found that even while within the bug net I could simply reach over either side of the hammock and pull the underquilt away for cooler sleeping and then reach over again and pull it back underneath me to get warm again without getting up at all. Speaking of the bug net, the zipper pulls have large glow-in-the-dark beads that make them really easy to find in the dark. Nice touch.

As for the hammock itself I found the suspension straps and slings that are provided make it really fast and easy to hang and get the tension adjusted. It was so much easier to get into and so much more comfortable to sleep in that I wished I could have had this hammock all along rather than my old one. I’m very happy that I have this system now though and really looking forward to my next adventure with the R&R Thru Hiker system.

Jim Sykes

aka "Lightning Rod"

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