Almost a year ago my hiking buddy texted me one of those texts where you knew he had been up all night thinking of something and couldn’t sleep because an idea was haunting him. Last year he and I went hiking with another guy who had brought a chair strapped to the outside of his backpack. Being lightweight purists we scoffed at the idea of carrying an extra two pounds of junk on the outside of your pack… and for comfort?!? Blasphemy!
It was on day one of that trip that trip that I popped a disc in my lower back and thought I might die carrying my 45lb pack. If it weren’t for my new found hiking buddies chair and being able to lean back in a comfortable chair I think I would still be in the middle of Yosemite.
As usual my friend who had been up all night couldn’t just accept the fact that we are getting older and a 2lb chair might not be a bad idea – this is the type of hiking buddy who cuts the end of his toothbrush off to save weight – he has to explore every option and look for the lightest weight solution before just buying something which in the end will be the best solution.
So getting back to the text: Have you ever seen a chair hammock? We should make one. After seeing that I thought: hmmmm, he may be on to something. I did a quick google search and a lot of chair hammocks came up, but most involved steel or wood and were permanent lawn furniture you’d have at your lake house. Nothing really came up for light weight backpacking.
One in particular popped up as a kick starter campaign for backpacking: chammockco.com.
It was everything we wanted, lightweight, small and compact – it wouldn’t be hanging off my pack like a chair. During NOLS it was engrained into me that nothing should hang off the outside of your pack and I still feel it’s true today.
Being the kick starter campaign I ordered two and sent my buddy the link… Happy Birthday.
Well, cut to a year later and we got the product. Recently, we went to the Eastern Sierras and gave them a try. I have to say, they were pretty easy to set up and being able to have a seat at the end of the day was nice, but if you like to recline a little and have your head behind your shoulders then this is not the product for you. I’m 6′ tall and the way the back of the hammock crossed right behind the crown of my head I felt as if I were the hunch back of Notre Dame. I tried playing with the tension on the back strap, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it more comfortable.
At the time I bought them they were $65 and an extra charge for the tree strap. I will play some more with the tension and angle of the attachment points but in the end, this 1lb chair probably isn’t as good as a 2lb camping chair which can be set up anywhere without the aid of trees. I will also probably bite the bullet and attach it to the outside of my pack.