The Thermarest Slacker House Hammock is an entire sleep system rolled up into one ready for camp package. Each component has been intricately designed to work together for maximum efficiency, but can an all in one package hold its own? This is my review.
The Slacker House system includes a hammock with integrated nylon bug net, 75 denier polyester ripstop hammock/fly, 4 aluminum tent stakes, two climbing grade aluminum carabiners, nylon hanging straps, and an integrated stuff sack with internal organization pockets for loose items. The hammock connects to two trees with simple nylon straps, tossed around the tree and secured with carabiners. Tensioning is handled by metal buckles, simply by pulling on one side of the strap. The rain fly and bug net both connect via secondary smaller straps that also loop around the same trees. There are two internal pockets, connections for extra guy lines, and the stuff sack is included, along with instructions. The hammock comes in a 112″ long, with the rain fly extending just a few inches beyond that, and a peak of of about 40″ or so, depending on the pitch. The final packed weight comes in at 4 lbs. 4 oz, and the system retails for $199.95 as a package. What I liked
The Slacker House Hammock system is one of best designed systems I’ve ever used. Every component seems to have been created with a firm emphasis placed on how they will work together, making it not only incredibly easy to setup, but also highly adjustable. The setup is as easy as looping two straps around two trees, then clipping the two carabiners on the hammock itself to the straps. Two tensioners, one on each tree strap, can be pulled to tighten up the pitch, making it completely painless to adjust, while also providing a huge range of tautness for fine tuning the tautness of the hammock. The rain fly pitches basically the same way, with another two, smaller, loops for the trees and two small metal clips that connect the fly to the straps. The bug net simply pops into these straps via bungee laden clips which are also adjustable. From there, 4 tent stakes finish the fly, while light weight tensioners allow it to be pulled taut. There is no guess work here, with it being color coded and each component using a distinct connection style, and the entire system can be pitched in about 5 minutes. I never once had to glance at the manual (a testament to it’s logical setup) but it’s there in case it’s needed. Upon first glace, it may seem a bit bewildering, as it’s really not constructed quite like anything else out there, but once you see the connections, it’s it’s fast, easy, and breaks down just as quickly. It’s brilliance has to be seen to be understood, and puts it in a league of its own.
Build quality here is fantastic. Every strap is burly nylon, while all the clips are either climbing grade aluminum, steel or high grade plastic when appropriate. The fly and body are both polyester, which prevents stretching and sagging when conditions get wet or humid, and they provide excellent tear strength to resist strong winds, or campers who like to trip over your guy lines. The stitching is good, although I did find some light fraying (cosmetic) around some stitch work. Luckily, it’s all reinforced in high tension areas with multiple redundancy stitches on the straps, just in case. Even the tent stakes, lines and tensioners are of great quality, with no plastics to be found. The zippers are burly too, with strong teeth and pulls that have yet to snag any fabric. Nothing here is thin, reduced, or otherwise debatable in it’s quality. Basically, this thing is built to last and it pays off. It’s the most confident I’ve felt in a hammock system in a long time.
When it comes to livability, the Slacker system is pretty good. There is ample room to sit up inside, although the mesh did rub against my head a bit, and there are two well sized internal pockets, one at the head and one at the foot. Each large enough to hold a camera, phone, keys, and a few other small items. I found that I always had several inches of extra space above and below me, providing plenty of space to stuff sleeping bags and jackets out of the way, and the rain fly provides adequate protection to stash the rest of my gear underneath the hammock itself (although I still recommend a pack cover for redunancy. The bug net can be rolled open for easy entry and egress, or rolled back completely to essentially turn it into a standard, net free hammock. The zipper pulls are luxuriously long on the inside, making reaching them much simpler while in the confines of sleeping bag, and they’re easy to work with in gloves. They long enough that they can even be pulled with a foot, which comes in especially handy as the zipper can be undone the entire length of the hammock for easier coming and going.
The rainfly coverage here is great, extending far beyond the edges of the hammock itself. It helps that the positioning of the fly is easy to adjust also, allowing it to slide back and forth along it’s own line in just a matter of seconds. Together, this ensures a safe, dry night’s sleep even during the worst of downpours. I found it does a good job of blocking wind, while also providing excellent ventilation. The stakes do a great job of holding into the ground too, while a couple of extra connection points allow extra guy lines to be attached for an added bit of reinforcement, if you pick up some extra line and stakes. So far, I’ve not found that to be necessary, but the wide, high surface area tarp does catch some wind, so perhaps those extra lines could be handy for keeping buffeting to a minimum for quieter windy nights.
It’s a hammock, so it’s of course comfortable. The materials are smooth, but not slippery, and there are no bothersome tension points or harsh seams to speak of. It’s entirely possible to lay at an angle for a flatter sleep surface, and with the proper setup the bug net stays off the face. It’s quite enjoyable inside.
I like that the stuff sack is part of the mounting system. It allows the hammock to be put away without getting muddy as you can just roll it into itself as your taking it down, and there is no chance of the stuff sack blowing away in the wind or getting lost inside the hammock itself. It also has sub-organizational pockets inside the main stuff sack, allowing muddy stakes and wet lines to be stashed separately but within the stuff sack itself.
The value here is fantastic. $199 for a complete setup alone is a bargain, but factoring the exceptional build quality, it’s a great deal.
The straps are kind to trees and so far have caused no damaged even to those with fragile barks. This is a basically a necessity in my book.
What I didn’t like
While the package is an exceptional value, it does come with a slight bulk and weight penalty. At just over 4 lbs, it’s not going to break any backs and is entirely within appreciable backpacking spec, but it’s also a little heavier than many setups. It comes in at about the size/weight of a light weight backpacking tent, which is fine, but some will certainly be looking for something that packs down lighter and smaller, especially from a hammock perspective. I’d love to see an ultra-light version later down the line. It’s acceptable, but there is room for improvement.
Sometimes simplicity is king. Choosing the components of the perfect hammocking system can take some research and often times, the components don’t work well with each other, if at all. Thankfully, the Slacker Hammock system is pretty close to perfect already, and it comes packed up and ready to be strung up between a couple of friendly trees. The way the system is designed to work together shows impressive forethought and testing, with the rain fly, bug net, and hammock all connecting effortlessly, and seamlessly, while still providing a wider range of flexibility than most kits provide. There is no need to know any fancy knots, and the included adjustments make the perfect pitch just a tug or two away. It’s comfortable, reliable, provides great weather protection, and it’s built to survive for many seasons. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a great value either. In the end, it’s one of the best systems systems I’ve tested, and without a doubt the simplest to setup.
For more information on Thermarest and their wide range of gear, check out their website, https://www.thermarest.com/
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I want to extend a huge thanks to Thermarest/Cascade Designs for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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