A First Look At The Naturehike Shelter Camping Canopy Hammock

I’ve been struggling to get a good night’s sleep under the stars for a while now.

I actually made a post about it here, and on the back of a discussion with our community, concluded that I needed to try hammock camping.

Luckily for me, the lovely folks at Naturehike offered to provide me with their new lightweight backpacking hammock to try out.

I’m no novice to hammock camping, having done it for a few extended periods abroad, including sleeping in a Costa Rica jungle in a hammock, safely raised off the floor and away from the swathes of insects out to bite me.

I’ve also had the joy of hammock camping by the sea a few times, and know too well the relaxing swaying, and cradling a hammock gives you when you’re trying to sleep. It’s like nothing else.

My Naturehike hammock didn’t take long to arrive. Impressive, given it came from overseas. It was well packaged, and fit into a small drawstring sports bag – similar to what you get at JD Sports or Sports Direct. I’ve since transferred it to a stuff sack as I find it better for use outside and trekking.

I’ve since had a chance to test it out in the woods local to me, and I plan to use it on a few multi-day hikes this Autumn and into next year.

Honestly, if I can get away with it, I will use this over a tent. Why? it’s lighter, easier to pitch, and way more comfortable.

Product Specs

Size: Tent fly – 189x186cm, Hammock – 300x316cm
Tent fly fabric: 40D Nylon coated silicon plaid fabric
Hammock fabric: 75d pongee, B3 fine poly mesh
Packed Size: 26x40x12 (but can squeeze smaller in testing)
Weight:
1kg

Build Quality

I extensively checked the seams, and stitch quality of the hammock and fly and was impressed with the sewing quality, and overall feel of durability across the piece despite its relatively low weight and affordable price point.

What I really liked was the metal rings sewn into the ends of the tarp reinforcing the attachment points and making it easy to rig mini-pulls to pull the cords taught.

Moreover, the fabric coverings that wrap around the top of the hammock were a nice feature to keep the bunched up fabric dry in heavy rain, which stops the soak slowly working its way down the hammock towards you.

The fabric for the fly is also an excellent choice – being durable enough but also feeling relatively lightweight.

Suitability For Long Distance Hiking

If you want to switch up your camping setup away from tents, and towards hammocks then this isn’t a bad place to start.

Let’s assume you already use a Vango Banshee 200, at 2.4kg and a pack size of 47×18, and a setup time of 7 minutes.

Now compare this to our hammock at around 1kg, and a pack size of 40×26 uncompressed and a setup time of around 5 minutes. Yes it’s marginal gains, but losing 1.4kg of weight is never a bad thing.

Suddenly you have a compelling alternative, which in all honestly is more comfortable than a tent. Better still, if you are using this in warmer summer months to wild camp you don’t even need a camping pad (but you do need one in colder conditions for insulation) saving further grams.

Yes, I agree that a hammock is not as versatile – it cant be pitched anywhere. However it can be pitched in most places as you will find trees everywhere from the edge of playing fields to small coppices of woodland or forests on route.

With enough research, you can be sure to find a number of potential hammock camping spots along most routes.

Overall I feel hammocks are well suited to long distance hiking on certain trails and make a nice alternative to sleeping under canvas.

The bad

I really didn’t like the bag it came in. For a product designed for outdoor use, I personally would have used a different bag. A compressing lightweight stuff sack, made from the same fabric as the tarp would be more fitting for the product.

The good

Initially, I was unsure whether I liked the colours. Shouldn’t a hammock be bushcraft green?? After use, I realized I love the colours. They are not discreet, so for silent camping, you may need to hide a bit further into the woods, but otherwise, the colour choice really works for me.

I’m also a big fan of the tarp and its overall size. It’s not so massive that it’s extra weight, but big enough to drop the sides down to keep you dry in sideways rain and to give you some privacy within the hammock setup.

I am a big fan of the ‘No Zipper Design’. Here’s a fact. Zips fail, always. Whether it’s a year from purchase, or 5, your zip will always fail. And on a product like a hammock where tension is put on variable parts of a hammock the zip will fail quicker.

Fortunately, Naturehike has put a ‘No Zipper Design’ entry point into the hammock which closes with gravity and can then be velcroed together.

I wasn’t sure of the velcro opening at first, but now I love it. It’s also really easy to get into as you enter the hammock centrally instead of trying to roll in over the side, which can cause you to roll out the other side.

I also really like how Naturehike offers aftersales support and replies to their emails. Many overseas companies don’t, yet Naturehike offer original products and stands behind them with good customer support.

Overall thoughts On The Naturehike Shelter Camping Canopy Hammock

I’m really impressed with the product and will be using it over my tent going forwards If I am sure that I can get away with pitching it on routes for the duration of a trip. Honestly, we have enough coppices of woodland remaining to get away with using a hammock in the UK on most long-distance trails – particularly on lower routes such as the Yorkshire Wold Way for example.

The build quality is reassuring, and although it’s not the lightest hammock on the market it’s priced very generously for what it offers.

Summary

Naturehike Shelter Camping Hammock

Reviewed by Matthew Usherwood, Editor at DistanceHiker.com

PRICE / VALUE
92%
DURABILITY
89%
WEIGHT
70%
COMFORT
99%
PACKED SIZE
60%
WEATHER RESISTANCE
100%

Last Thoughts

An excellent hammock at a great price. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of weight, or pack size as honestly, it’s lighter than even the lightest tents but it is heavier than some competitor hammocks.

If you want a hammock to start your hammock camping journey then this is an excellent place to start.

85%

How to become a hiking guidebook author

Back in October, I had the pleasure of talking with Andrew McCloy, guidebook author, and self-confessed ‘ Jobbing Writer’ for major outdoor publications including TGO.

Listen to the full episode here

I’ve long wanted to get a guidebook author on the show, mainly because it selfishly interests me as an artistic exercise, but also because guidebook authors are in my opinion unsung heroes of the hiking community. It’s the inquisitive spirit behind a good guidebook that embellishes a trail with interest beyond a series of simple ‘cross the field, and turn left at the next stye’ style of instructions.

Well-written guidebooks bring the trail and its history to life in ways that most of us can be bothered to do so. Yet having a book we can pick up for a tenner, which has the back story, history and valuable inside information on a trail is a luxury. Hiking apps just don’t currently compare, and I hope that people like Andrew continue to write excellent guides.

But what does it take to become a guidebook Author?

Well, I asked Andrew, to find out what the job description entailed.

As with any profession which is not a route to riches (although I’m sure the founders of Lonely Planet disagree) enjoyment of the craft is key. But what attracts Andrew to writing guides is what he calls the ‘art form’ of writing. He explains that the attraction is in the fluent and artistic narrative, supported by “meticulous planning“. He enjoys the buzz when planning a new guidebook for a long-distance trail and enjoys the long ‘nights doing logistics’.

Essentially what underpins Andrews’s method of writing guidebook’s is not the finished result, (although I’m sure that’s wonderful) but the process itself. It’s the process that makes this profession exciting for Andrew.

If you have ever considered writing a hiking guidebook, the insights below may help you get started.

What’s the process of putting together a guidebook?

What I found interesting was the insight that guidebooks are not written in full the first time around. Instead, they are written in parts and walked in bits. Andrews’s first book, Lands End to John o Groats was put together over a number of trips, including weekends and holidays. He threaded the route together with long-distance paths, and filled the bits in between…

How does this turn into a full time career?

Ah, the 9-5 question. How do you leave your dull day job, and spend the rest of your days walking the hills while getting paid?

With enough savvy and a bit of healthy hustle most creative pursuits can be turned into a career. Andrew chucked as he shared his realisation that he could ‘scrape a living’ if he came up with enough ideas. Yet he was mindful that he always needs to be a step ahead, thinking of different slants on existing guidebooks.

He acknowledged that the Lake District for example probably is at full capacity for guidebooks, so thinking of something totally different is a must. Andrew laughed as he said, “I challenge everyone to find a new slant on a book on the Lake District“.

Opportunities for writing guidebooks exist in new and emerging gaps in the market (think how many ‘slow travel’ guides came out a few years ago), places people are talking about, or books that are going out of print.

Ultimately though Andrew shares that you should ‘not be afraid to ask people to take a chance on you’.

How do you get the detail to make it interesting?

Theres a big distinction between a boring guidebook and an interesting one. I’ve seen both.

Andrew keeps his guidebooks interesting by remaining curious and picking up clues from those he speaks with on the trail. For example, he will often stop at YHA’s and pubs to pick up parish newsletters and learn of local history groups, who are a source of valuable information.

When writing his Pennine Way book Andrew was particularly interested in Thomas Stephenson who originally walked the route. He made a point of going down to London to the archives at the London University to look for research and a deeper level of history on Thomas. This level of commitment gave life to the book.

Andrew says, “you have to put in the legwork and check the facts“. But he confessed, “When you are not sure you have to own up to it, and just tell the story anyway if it’s good”. A bit of creative bending of a story never goes too far wrong if done honestly.

What’s your view on walking apps?

I was curious to hear Andrews’s views on walking apps. After all apps and digital mediums have been seen as a threat to writing and physical mediums. Although books and records seem to have bucked that trend.

Andrew mentioned he does occasionally pick up apps and follow it, particularly for new places as it gives him confidence about where to go. However, he does come away feeling he can do better and provide better directions and clarity on the route.

How many guides have you written to date?

I’m keen to point out that Andrews’s success within his profession was not an overnight one. Success rarely is.

Andrew has written or contributed to just under 20 guides of various types. His more recent ones were a social history of the pubs in the Peak District, and of course, the book we talked about on the Podcast, Great Walks on the England Coast Path.

Kinder beer barrel challenge story

Any career highlights?

In 2015 Andrew celebrated his 50th Birthday. This nicely coincided with the Pennine Way also having its 50th anniversary that year. Andrew had “long harbored the desire to walk it all in one go“. Naturally, he wanted to follow this up with a publication – one that was personal to him.

He chose to focus on a different angle on the Pennine Way. After all, there are already a number of guides for this popular long-distance trail.

Andrews’s focus was to look at the social history, access, the history of the YHA on the route, footpath erosion, and of course his personal motivations for walking the path – using the way as a test against yourself.

Next steps

If writing a guidebook is of interest to you, my recommendation is this. Get out and write it.

Choose a suitable area. Perhaps somewhere less walked (how many walking guides exist for the Lincolnshire Wold’s for example?), or as Andrew says, find a different slant.

To help you on your way to guidebook writing glory, and a space next to Andrew and Alfred Wainwright here are some free ideas to get you going.

  • A guidebook linking up pubs from lands end to John o Groats – making the UK’s biggest pub crawl.
  • Modern pushchair hiking guides. Some exist but they are very aged now
  • Long distance trails that can be walked in a weekend
  • Themed guidebooks. For example, routes around the UK that tell a historic story of places involved in the English Civil War
  • Premium walking guides for those who want to stay in fancy hotels, and eat fancy meals. Think the Thames Path for the top 1%
  • Trail running guides – long distance walking guidebooks but designed for trail runners

You get the point. There are lots of angles for guidebooks that don’t involve writing yet another guidebook on the Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Hopefully you found this article helpful. Let us know what you think in the comments 👇