24h trip with the Exped Scout Hammock Combo

by Christian

Exped and DD Hammocks

Returning from a nice spring 24h hang this weekend, I’d like to give you my impressions of the Exped Scout Hammock Combo. As we were also bringing a DD Frontline hammock and tarp, we were able to compare the two.

There is not too much information available on the Exped hammocks. I found a few videos and an unboxing thread, but that was about it. It seams that this field is clearly dominated by Hennessy and Warbonnet in the States, DD Hammocks from the UK and perhaps a few other smaller players. But as you can tell from the pictures within  this post, the offering from Exped certainly is up to par with the competition.

Exped Scout Hammock

Exped’s attention to detail

IMG 1000000765Let me start by saying the quality of the materials of the Exped hammock and tarp are top notch. I love the little details on the hammock and tarp that sets it apart from the competition. For example, the tarp already has the guylines attached, which are rolled up in little stuff sacks at each tie point on the underside of the tarp. This keeps everything tidy and makes it a breeze to handle the tarp. Another great detail is the flexible ridgeline to keep the moskito netting out of your face and at the same time to secure the tarp. This attention to detail is a trend with all Exped products. Very good stuff.

Exped Scout Hammock: notice the ridge line

Hammock features

Reading up on hammocks there seem to be two big topics:

  • hammock suspension
  • bottom insulation

The one thing everybody uses for suspension apparently is the Whoopie Sling. Now, I’d love to use a Whoopie Sling myself  one day, the cute name alone makes me want to purchase, but I have to admit I haven’t quite understood the concept yet. The whole hammock topic can get rather complex fast if you start reading the forums and sites.. If you enjoy tinkering around with things, though, hammock camping might just be something for you.

If you want to know more about hammocks and hammock camping I suggest checking out the Hammock Forums and especially Shug’s videos for beginners (very funny and informative).

The Exped hammock has a rather nifty suspension system as it is self-arresting. Exped calls them slit cords. You just sling the cords around the tree and then feed it through a couple of the slits and end with a figure  8 knot to secure it from slipping through. Very easy to setup and take down again. (I believe one of the benefits of using Whoopie Slings is that you can adjust the tension of your hammock without having to remove and re-tie the endpoints again. That, of course, is quite handy).

Regarding the bottom insulation–and you do need something under your butt or you will get rather cold very fast–the way professional hangers do, is use an underquilt. This is a quilt which is tied to your suspension systems and hangs underneath your hammock. This will provide warmth however you move around in your hammock.

However, if you don’t have an underquilt–I don’t–you can also just use any old sleeping pad, like an evazote mat or an inflatable Therm-a-Rest. Both the DD Frontline and the Exped Scout hammock have a double floor where you can put a sleeping mat which which will then stay in place – mostly.

Double floor

Both hammocks have little pockets inside to hold your glasses or torch during the night, although the Exped Scout has large mesh panels which I find easier to use. Again both hammocks feature a nice moskito mesh netting that can be tied to the tarp’s ridge line to hold it of your face (the Exped Scout Hammock comes with a ridge line, the DD Frontline you have to set up yourself). Additionally you can put poles or branches through fabric sleeves to keep the net from your body. The Frontline hammock has zippers on each side, the Exped Scout hammock only on one side. If there are no mosquitos you can flip the hammock over and lay on the other side (same with the DD Frontline).

The tarp

The measurements of the tarp seem a bit small or oddly shaped, both on paper and when you have a look at the product pictures. It’s longer than is wide at 3,50m length and 1,50m width. I believe the size of the tarp is adequate but it will probably come down to personal preference. The coverage is good, I stayed dry during a rain spell without changing my tarp configuration from what you can see in the pictures. You can also lock the tarp down in storm mode by lowering the ridgeline a bit and then peg the sides of the tarp close to the ground. This way you are pretty cocooned and should be protected even during windy conditions and side-driven rain.

View of the tarp

The tarp

Of course, the DD tarp with it’s 3x3m coverage area is a palace in comparison and will provide more living space underneath and around the hammock.

DD Frontline Hammock and Tarp

The Exped Scout Hammock Combo weighs about 1.7Kg and retails for €120. Overall I really like this combo. While my partner prefers the larger tarp of the DD Frontline hammock, I like the details Exped put into it’s product.

Go ultralight

Exped also sells a UL version that nets little more than 1kg and sells for €180. While €180 is nothing to sneeze at, a weight of 1kg for this hammock and tarp combo is certainly an attractive alternative to an ultralight shelter.

Philip at Sectionhiker.com has an excellent article called Hennessy Hammocks: A Beginner’s Guide. He concludes that hammocks can be fun in a variety of conditions (uneven ground, difficult terrain, stealth camping, low impact camps). I agree and that’s part of the fun with hammocks. You can set up your shelter almost everywhere, just find two trees that are a couple of meters apart and you are ready to go. You don’t have to worry about finding a flat surface, bugs or little rocks and stuff that can puncture your mattress or floor. Kinda neat!

Plenty of room inside

Note the ridge line again

IMG 1000000771

  • Thomas W. Gauperaa

    I have a down underquilt for sale if you decide to get one :). http://www.fjellforum.net/viewtopic.php?t=25223.

    • Anonymous

      How tempting! But I’ll have to budget for that first :)
      How come you’re selling?

      • Thomas W. Gauperaa

        I found out that I wanted a full length one that could be used in all 4 seasons. Ended up buying the “Winter Incubator” from http://www.hammockgear.com. It’s a monster and overkill during the summer months, but I hike up until winter so I think it will come in handy. The underquilt I’m selling is a lot lighter, but not so warm (3 season only) and you’ll need to use a short pad under the lower part of your legs.

        • Anonymous

          Glad to hear your still ‘hanging. Was afraid you decided it’s not for you. Will think about it, I can certainly see the comforts of having an underquilt.

  • http://sectionhiker.com/ Philip Werner

    That’s a pretty nice looking hammock. You are right about Exped gear – it is bomber. Nice post.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Philip. Always enjoy your posts, too.

      Looking forward to using the hammock gain come spring – I don’t have a warm enough setup to hang in the cold.
      Looking to try out one of the new inflatable exped mats next. They seem to be holding up well compared with the Neo Airs.
      Ever tried one of them?

      • http://sectionhiker.com/ Philip Werner

        The newer ones look pretty nice..I’ve owned 2 Exped 7 downmats, mainly for winter. It depends on the hammock, but using a sleeping pad can be quite awkward in a hammock because they slip around and won’t stay under you. I’ve also owned a down underquilt and Thomas is correct – they work a lot better. I like the ones from Jacks ‘R’ Better, but there are lots to choose from and synthetic ones as well. One thing to try if you haven’t is a top quilt – if you have the money – to save on gear weight and reduce your pack volume. It’s also a little bit more convenient inside the hammock for moving around.

        • Anonymous

          Touché – these mats are quite a challenge while using them with a hammock.
          I’ve used the Exped hammock quite extensively in the tropics last year. No insulation needed.

          I’m interested in the SynMat 7 UL but mainly for ground use. I sleep rather cold and this one looks quite warm for the pack weight and comfort (hopefully).

  • Derek Hansen

    Thanks for the great review! I’ve always wanted to see one of these in action. I’ve got some illustrations on handling Whoopie slings in my new book, The Ultimate Hang. Let me know if you’d like to review a copy on your blog and I’ll swing one your way. http://theultimatehang.com

  • Dennis Barrett

    When necessary (and not often) I use an Exped 9 DLX in my Warbonnet Blackbird with my summer weight sleeping bag underquilt and that gets me down to some chilly temps.  Snow?  Cold rain?  No problem.  While a DAM is not as comfortable as an underquilt when it really gets cold it really doesn’t matter and by chance a piece of me slides off the pad I know it pretty quickly! I’m confident that I can go much lover than my +12F personal record with 8 inches of snow.  A full tarp in these conditions really helps out! 

    • Anonymous

      Hehe, good point, you do notice it rather quickly if you slide off the pad, right? But you do recommend a full tarp to cocoon yourself from wind and such?

      The Exped tarp that comes with the Scout hammock is not really that wide. It gives adequate shelter from rain (or sun if it’s hot), but if you’d tie it down really low to protect yourself from wind/spindrift, you will probably have almost no living space around the hammock. Guess a bigger tarp might be beneficial under these circumstances.

      Thanks for posting your experiences with the Exped 9 DLX.

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