With hammock camping having come of age, many people prefer it to tent camping. You can sleep elevated from the ground, without the need to bring along a bulky camping cot. However, to sleep just right when camping with a hammock, you need to bring along some important components. One of them is the hammock – obviously, a rain tarp, an underquilt ant topquilt or a pod system.
In this post however, we are going to look at the hammock pod system alone.
- What is it?
- What are its features and benefits?
Keep on reading…
A hammock pod system is a “mummy sleeping bag” that has been designed in such a way that it can be mated to a hammock to make a complete hammock sleeping system.
From the onset, it looks like a regular sleeping bag, but there are some differences because this pod has been designed to be used with a hammock.
The name pod actually comes from the shape of this system. When the hammock is weaved in, it looks like a bean or pea pod. However, besides the looks, there are many exciting features to look forward to.
If you have tried to use a regular sleeping bag on your hammock, then you know it does not work very well. Because of the pod shape of the hammock when installed between two trees, the sleeping bag is likely to crumple up and give you a very uncomfortable night.
One other challenge is the cold butt syndrome if you do not bring a quilt with you. Thankfully, the pod system will put an end to all those challenges. Once mounted correctly to the hammock, you can enjoy sound sleep throughout the night.
Hammock pod system features
The design: Most of the times there are two sizes of the same product, made to accommodate people of different sizes.
The regular pod has been designed with a length should be about 75 inches, which is slightly more than 6 feet. This is a good sleeping pod even for the tall outdoor enthusiasts out here. The shoulder girth is also wide enough to accommodate users comfortably, at 66 inches. Weighing just 2 pounds and 14 ounces, this is so easy to carry along on your outdoor rendezvous.
The Long and wide design is extra long, at 81 inches, which is best for the extra tall people who love the outdoors. With a shoulder width of 70 inches, you can see that this pod system has been designed for the bigger camping enthusiasts. People choose this option because there is more space inside the hammock. Resulting in a better diagonal lay.
Zippered and draw-stringed footbox: One of the most notable features is the footbox, which has been designed to work on the hammock just as well as it would work when using this pod as a regular sleeping bag on the ground. You can remove the footbox cover when passing the hammock through the pod system. Designed with a zipper and a drawstring, you can pull it tight when you have passed the hammock through it. This leaves no risk of cold air entering the pod.
Insulation: Pods have down or synthetic insulation just like a sleeping bag or quilt. Synthetic insulation will be bulkier but cheaper.
If need be you can go to ground (if there are no trees) and still use the pod system as a regular sleeping bag. You should bring a waterproof tarp with you in order to keep the pod dry. Under the tarp you can stuff leaves or spruce branches to get you off the ground because the insulation will be compressed leaving you with no insulation from the ground.
Compresses and packs very small: The bigger pod system weights around 3 pounds depending on it’s temperature rating.
The hammock compartment: The pod system has a run-through compartment at the bottom, where you will feed the hammock from one side, and out through the versatile footbox. When you are done weaving your hammock in, you can then pull the drawstrings to keep the pod closed around the hammock. That way, cold air does not find its way inside and so there is no risk of being exposed to the cold butt syndrome.
Suspension system: The hammock pod comes with its suspension system. That way, even after the hammock has been weaved through; you are still assured of your security because you can secure both the hammock and the pod to the tree. You will not tumble off your suspended bunk.
Benefits of using a hammock pod system
Minimal weight makes it easy to carry for all of your outdoor adventures. Whether hiking backpacking, camping or trekking the PCT, you can bring along your pod system with little hassle. It fits into a small compression pack for easier carrying. As you have seen from the weight, between 2 and 3 pounds, that is enough to carry along, even with all of your accompanying backpacking gear. For a list of pod systems you can check it out here.
It is amazing that such a delicate looking but obviously very strong piece of outdoor gear can be covered by a limited lifetime warranty. This is a guarantee against any defects in the workmanship. Thus, when you order your hammock sleeping pod online, make sure it is covered by a reasonable warranty. You should enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are covered against manufacturing defects.
It is easy to pack
One main benefit of the hammock pod system is that it is so easy to pack. We know that sleeping bags with down insulation pack much lighter and are easier to compress into the sack. However, the Stormlight insulation that Outdoor Vitals uses is comparable to down insulation.
One of the challenges that outdoor enthusiasts face with traditional outdoor gear is that one item can only be used for a certain role. However, the hammock pod system can be used both with a hammock, and without it on the ground. Let me reiterate again that you just have to zip up the exclusive footbox and get inside your sleeper. It has been made in a mummy design, thus it fits snugly around your body.
Many mummy shaped sleeping bags, and indeed even the rectangular sleeping bags come with zips at the side. However, the mummy pod comes with a full length zipper that is positioned in the center. This has its advantages, as you will see when you start using it. It will be easier to get into and out of the pod once it has been mated to the hammock.
Issues to be wary about when buying the pod system
Everything good has a downside or two and the hammock pod systems are no different. Buyer beware!
Here are a couple of issues that I feel I should raise in this post:
It is not waterproof
I love that the manufacturers do not claim that the pod system is waterproof. Thus, it is your mandate to find a way to stay dry when hammock camping in gloomy weather. Buying a rain tarp will help a great deal. Nothing could be worse than waking up soaked from an overnight shower.
The hood may not help with the hammock on
Although the pod system comes with a hood, when you are using it with the hammock, the hood is usually under the hammock. It is impossible to weave the hammock in and have the hood over it. Thus, you will not be able to completely cover your head. There is a drawstring though to pull around your neck to prevent the entry of cold air.
I mentioned this earlier in the article. Your movement is limited and so is your diagonal lay which might compromise you comfort.
Most camping hammock nowadays come with integrated bugnets. Integrated bugnets and pod systems don’t fit together very well. You might need to buy another hammock without the bugnet built in. In winter it’s not a problem not having a bugnet, but in the other season that might become a problem.
Conclusion: To use or not to use the hammock pod system
I’m quite skeptical because it limits your movement in the hammock and you feel kind of trapped. I prefer the underquilt or pad and the topquilt. It gives me more freedom of movement, and that’s why i chose a hammock. I like the idea but it’s more suited for cold winter camping trips.