Eagles Nest Outfitters Gear
Disclaimer: Eagles Nest Outfitters has contributed to our travels through offering us a discounted price on their gear. This has in no way affected the opinions expressed below. I aim to keep my reviews unbiased and truthful, and remember – they are OPINIONS, I do not claim to be an expert
Peter and Paul Pinholster used to travel the US living in their vehicle as neo-nomads, much like ourselves. The biggest difference is that they were starting an amazing hammock-manufacturing company and chose to settle in Asheville, which is coincidentally where we escaped from. Their company Eagles Nest Outfitters has been supplying the outdoor community with great American-made hammocks since 1999 or so. We plan on providing you with our review of their relaxing systems.
I have owned the same hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters since 2007. I purchased the hammock before attending a music festival in college and used it to camp in the woods at said festival. From here I learned the versatility and comfort that such a simple sheet of nylon could provide. Since day one I have professed the joy and utility of their hammocks. ENO sells a multitude of hammocks and hammocking gear – hammocks for one, for two, straps, tarps, djembe cases, backpacks, lights, and too many other things to review all in one go. I am only giving my opinion on their SingleNest, DoubleNest, SlapStraps, ProFly and FastFly.
Setting up a hammock with ENO’s system couldn’t be easier. I won’t even take the time to go into how it’s done because it’s seriously that easy – go to their website if you want technical information like this. In the heat the hammock can’t be beat – in the cold however you will find yourself wanting more insulation. The problem arises from being suspended off the ground with air above and below you – your sleeping bag’s material will be compressed and therefore will not have the capability to insulate you effectively. ENO sells “under quilts” which help negate this effect, but I can not attest to their effectiveness, though they look functional if not a bit bulky. Tarps (except for the FastFly I mention below) are a breeze to set up and provide ample protection. I have camped in some amazing spots that would have been impossible in a tent due to soft mushy ground, roots or rocks. I have also had amazing nights nearly ruined by the aforementioned cooling action of having air above and below you, and found myself sleeping on the ground under my hammock in order to gain warmth.
LONG TERM USE
Like I mention above – I’ve had a SingleNest since ’07 and it’s consistently served me well. The compression strap has torn off the bag and there are a few small holes on the non-load-bearing alternate colored strips on the sides, but other than that it’s all good. I have camped in this hammock, used it at festivals, during college, at friend’s houses, parties, just about everywhere. If there are two well placedand secure structures I can attach my hammock to I can and will set up to relax.
The SingleNest provides just the right amount of room to stretch out, sit upright, or even seat two. ENO’s hammocks and SlapStraps are rated to 400lbs, so even though the SingleNest is not marketed as having room for two, it’s more than capable as long as you’re comfortable with whoever is in there with you. The DoubleNest has too much fabric in both Beth’s and my opinions. Beth can’t stand how much excess fabric she has with her DoubleNest and constantly finds herself wishing for a SingleNest. She isn’t able to see out of the hammock when laying down (I can in my SingleNest) or feel cool when it’s hot (the excess fabric blocks breezes surprisingly well for nylon). Others may not have this issue with the larger hammock, but she (and I) sure do.
I have only had a few qualms with ENO gear – twice I have had my SlapStraps break on me. The first time a friend was swinging my back and forth, but without considerable force. I know this probably wasn’t a great idea, but I didn’t feel the need for concern at the time. Apparently, however, the increased strain caused the stitching on one of the SlapStraps to give and I found myself toppling to the ground with quite some force. This was roughly a year after purchasing the straps and I considered it a fluke in operation of both my good sense as well as the stitching of the strap. I then purchased the “pro” version of SlapStraps (now discontinued – they are “Atlas Suspension System” now) which have lasted me the past 5 or so years until just a few days ago when Beth laid in my hammock and had the strap completely give out at the stitching. This caused her to fall the foot or so to the ground, severely bruising her tailbone enough that she passed out from the pain – it has been three weeks and she’s still barely able to sit. I have no idea if this break on the SlapStrap was from age, extended use, UV damage or again just a fluke, but I will not be purchasing SlapStraps again. Instead I will either use 1” flat tubular webbing or climbing rope and use tension knots to adjust my hammock’s sag and distance from the ground, or I may give ENO’s Helios Suspension System a go – I simply don’t trust the stitching any more for extended use. Since this unfortunate recent accident, neither of us have used the hammocks out of concern for our safety until we get new straps, and until then the hammocks will sadly sit unused.
The FastFly tarp I first bought is a laughable joke. I’m sorry ENO, I absolutely love y’all and everything else you make, but I hate this tarp with a passion. Try as I might for the past 8 years and I have never been able to gain full tension along any two points in order to help repel water. Please – if I’m doing something wrong let me know, maybe it’s all my fault. The main seam is cut at a bais angle to how the tarp is deployed (unlike every other square or catenary tarp I’ve ever used) and even if I could get the tarp taught, it barely covers my hammock when raining – I know this from first-hand camping experiences which quickly turned from damp to soggy. The taped seams have leaked from day one and I can see how the material has warped and shrunk over the years from exposure to sun and heat. I don’t know if this design has been improved (photos on the website lead me to believe they haven’t, but I may be wrong as I have not seen any in person), but this original cut and design was terrible in my opinion. I honestly don’t know why I have held onto this tarp for so long and can’t wait to replace it with one of their newer tarps.
Beth’s ProFly is fantastic and I’m incredibly envious of her purchase – I will be purchasing one as soon as we have a substantial paycheck that can afford me such a luxury. My only complaint is that the plastic buckles that provide the tension along the main seam at the middle are too weak – this fly has been used only a handful of times and is less than a year old. Admittedly it has been deployed every day for the past three weeks or so, but it has been primarily in shade and not had the stress of being retightened or re-deployed day after day. On a calm clear day without warning, one tensioning buckle broke and upon inspection we noticed the opposing buckle is showing signs of stress and will probably go soon as well. The four plastic tensioners on the corners do not show such signs of stress and work AMAZINGLY for re-tensioning the side-stays. It seems however that the main two buckles should have a different design, be made of metal, or not be there at all. A figure eight knot and trucker’s hitch saved the day for us on our main tensioning line.
I stand behind ENO’s products with a reverent passion – I love that their products are made in the USA by folks in Asheville NC – a place special to Beth and I (even though I never want to go back…unless I can land a better job than managing a kitchen, again). There are a few minor qualms here and there, but nothing serious enough to warrant not paying the premium for a USA-made product, not to mention that ENO stands behind what they build with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty and as far as I know will repair any minor damages that you incur. If you desire a light-weight alternative to bivvy camping, tent camping or nekkid camping – this very well may be the system for you and we all give a thumbs up. Well, Alfredo gives a paws up anyway.