Thursday, April 2, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: Xada 302 Nylon Hammock

$30 seemed like a suspiciously good deal on a hammock. Whilst in the grip of cabin fever and fervently scouring the various outdoors/camping/recreation subreddits I prowl, I saw a post on /r/hammocks advertising a sale from a company I'd not heard of, Xada. They were advertising their model 302 hammock, complete with whoopee slings and a set of straps to hang your hammock for only $30. It seemed too good to be true, but I felt that I could gamble with $30 and come out alright whatever the outcome. My interest in a hammock to take camping had been steadily growing, due in part to the antigravity chairs that a number of my friends had begun bringing on car camping trips. My own Bag Chair grows a little tiresome on extended trips and it would be nice to have the option to recline without retreating to my tent. Problem was, those reclining chairs, while comfortable and sturdy were (a) heavy and bulky, a seeming nightmare to transport in an already heavily loaded car, and (b) quite expensive, on the order of $75 a chair when I looked.

So I was rather enticed by the prospect of a $30 hammock. It would get me started. And boy did it. The hammock arrived rather promptly, long before I could make use of it outdoors. Soon as it was warm enough though, I started looking for excuses to go hang in the hammock. I was hooked from the start. Though, it swiftly became evident to me that there were far better hammocks on the market than this one. First off, though Xada bills it as "everything you need" the included straps are far from adequate. On something like my fifth hang, though I only mass 55% of the hammock's 400lb rated weight capacity, I was just beginning to settle in to place when I heard a sound like veclro un-meshing. Before I could determine the source of this sound, my head rapidly plummeted and collided with the ground beneath. Fortuantely, the ground at Plamann Park was somewhat moist with spring runoff and I was not hurt bu the fall, just a little dazed. Unfortuantely, the ground at Plamann Park was somewhat moist, and now, so was I, and so was my hammock. The stitching on the strap holding the head-end of my hammock up had torn out.

Immediately, from my phone I shot an email to the company... really, a single post-college kid who'd started making these hammocks to rent out at school, to see if they had any interest in making it right. And I packed up and headed for home, since I no longer had a setup capable of holding me aloft. I gave him a week to reply, nothing. So I posted to /r/hammocks about my unfortunate experience, and one of the kind redditors there sent me a set of extra ENO Atlas Straps he had around. the community there is awesome and I'm so thankful that I was paid that kindness. My thread must have shamed Xada into a reply, because I finally heard from him... but just the once. He asked a couple questions about what had happened... and it's been about a year with no further word from him.

The whoopie slings included use a... I'm not sure what the right descriptor for this rope is. It's very grabby. It has a tendency to trail on the ground when i'm packing it up, or adjusting the length. It has a habit of picking up various wilderness detritus in the process. dry leaves, bits of moss, dead grass, stuff like that. They work alright, but one of these I'm probably going to go through the process of making my own slings out of Amsteel Blue, which looks like it'll be far less grabby and less prone to some of the bunching up issues the white rope used by xada. But I've got to study a bit before I go and do that.

"everything" you need is also stretching things a bit. Sure, it comes with the straps, the built-in slings, and the nylon hammock big enough to fit two people... But that's not EVERYTHING you could need. I picked up a Closed Cell Foam Pad from wal-mart for $9, to lay upon in the hammock when the wind beneath me was too cold. The airflow really does cool you off, and sometimes that's desirable. Other times, it's not that great. It also doesn't come with any sort of tarp, which you'll need for hammock camping with anything outside of perfect weather. I picked up a cheap tarp from harbor freight for $10. It's a lot noisier and bulkier than what some people use, I've seen a lot of people using materials like tyvek to make lightweight, low-space tarps for their backpacking setups. Using a couple of gear ties I'd had on my pack, I was able to seal the harbor freight tarp around my hammock, creating a tranquil sheltered pocket around me.

In the time since I originally began penning this review, I've found another way by which this hammock has failed me. The carabiner on one end of the rope has begun to deform. I went to set it up at the park, and noticed that one of the gates wouldn't close. It was ever so subtly mis-aligned, and I believe the gate must have worked itsself open. There are few things more enjoyable than a nice rest in a hammock but there are also few things more frustrating than thinking you're going to get a chance to hammock, and having your equipment let you down. I'm going to pick up a couple of wire-gate climbing grade carabiners to replace the cheap included ones. with the $7 apiece replacement 'biners I'm eyeing, this ridiculous $30 thing has required $45 worth of replacement parts to remain operational.

My warning to you is to stay away. Stay FAR away. Do NOT let the price tempt you. You'll wind up spending 150% of the purchase price just to stay hanging. You may as well invest in a better hammock to begin with. Let my suffering serve as an example. Even the entry level ENO hammocks are a better option, and with my additional expenditures, not all that much more expensive. I'm still researching what I would replace it with, if I decided to. Fortunately for me, all the replacement parts I've had to obtain so far will enhance another hammock as much as they serve as repairs for this one.

Hanging in my accommodations at Flint Ridge, near the Klamath River in California:

Laying inside with the tarp closed:

From the outside, tarp closed:

Caught by the wind, High Cliff State Park:

Foot Selfie at Plamann Park, testing the Atlas Straps:

The aforementioned Atlas Straps:

Wrapped up in the hammock itsself:


Ways the hammock has failed me -The Broken Strap:

Carabiner won't close:

Bottom Line? Don't buy Xada. I'm not sure you should even take one for free if they want to give it to you, not unless you're ready to spend $45 to preemptively repair it.

1 comment:

  1. wow nice picture. I love hammocks and outdoor. These are great tips. Thanks very much! read more etc