Featuring integrated spreader bars and both relax and sleep modes, the ENO Skyloft Hammock promises a flatter, more comfortable sleeping platform than a traditional hammock, but at what cost? This is my review:
Unlike a traditional hammock, the Eno Skyloft features two DAC aluminium alloy spreader bars, one at each end of the hammock. These spreader bars, as the name suggests, spreads the head and foot of the hammock out into a flatter shape, preventing the rolling or “burrito effect” that traditional hammocks are prone to. It is constructed mostly from New Wave Nylon, with breezy mesh panels at the head and foot. The hammock features a cloth stuff sack that doubles as a pillow (after being stuffed with clothing), clips to keep the pillow in place, and two small stretchy pockets, one on each side of the sleeping surface to stash small pieces of gear. It pitches to roughly 7′ x 3′, packs down to about 18″ x 5″, it holds 250 lbs, weighs 46 oz, and retails for $129.95. Straps are not included.
What I liked
One of the least pleasant aspects of hammocking, for me, has always been the fact that no matter what you do, there is always going to be a rolling and folding effect. Due to the restricted connection points of the hammock being narrow and tight, the hammock will either roll the shoulders up, wrap over and around you, or simply refused to sit reasonably flat with anything less than a perfectly tensioned pitch. They’re comfortable, but less than ideal and the issues are intrinsic to their design. The Skyloft system, however, basically fixes this issue thanks to the cleverly cut and shaped body and the inclusion of spreader bars at each end. The body is actually multiple panels, with the bottom panel being an hourglass shape. This distributes the tension of the body differently. When paired with the spreader bars, the hammock more or less sits completely flat, without rolling or folding in on itself. Instead, the fabric is pulled flat and tensioned just so in a way that creates more of a bed, and less of wrap. This also eliminates excess fabric, so there is no overhead flapping around or hanging down.
Due to the above improvements, the hammock comes across far more comfortable and relaxing than a traditional hammock. Generally, I find myself somewhat tense in a hammock and never truly in a natural sleeping position. While laying on my back, my neck is being arched forward, my spine is bent, my shoulders slump together, and finding a way to get my head above my feet, or even level with them, isn’t always easy. With the Skyloft, I find myself on a flat, bed like platform free of any of these issues. While the platform isn’t entire level, it’s close enough that I don’t even notice otherwise. I can relax my back, neck and shoulders (problem areas for me), and I have far more freedom in sleeping position. I can sprawl, spread out my legs or arms, and even roll over onto my side without having a wall of fabric in my face. It’s really comfortable, eliminates the strain on my back, and rest comes far more naturally.
The hammock has a clever feature that allows it to switch between “sleep” and “relax” modes. Basically, the head of the hammock can be adjusted from being the low and relaxed, or taut and inclined. This works by collapsing the mesh panel in on itself, drawing that section of the hammock in taut and snug. This is done by pulling two strings, one at each end of the spreader bar, and slipping them into a locking notch of the hammocks rope. It’s very easy and changes how the hammock feels in a fairly dramatic way. Personally, I like to keep it in the “relaxed” mode, which I find to provide more support for my shoulders, but the sleep mode feels a little lower, softer, and more stable. So, each setup has its own advantage. Each mode is completely personal preference as one could easily sleep in the relax mode, and vise versa, but sleep mode is probably a safe bet when you’re unconscious, just for the stability. It is a unique feature, clever, and is certainly a helpful inclusion that allows users to adjust how they want the hammock to sit and feel, which I really liked
Despite the flat platform, the hammock does not suffer any stability issues. Traditional flat/bar hammocks are very tipsy and can even flip over under a gust of wind, but that’s not a problem here. The fabric was cut in a way that sinks the user below the bars themselves, lowering the center of gravity beneath the pivot point, essentially preventing it from flipping under normal conditions. This not only makes the hammock easier to get into and out of (very easy) but also makes it feel entirely safe to use, unlike some others that I’ve tried. To me, this is a very important point of differentiation and a game changer when talking about any hammock with a spreader bar.
Setting up the hammock is exceptionally easy. The bars pop together effortlessly, and then the hammock simply clips into whatever mounting system you want to use (a separate purchase). Everything is permanently connected together, so nothing can be lost or misplaced. The tension can be adjusted by simply moving the locking carabiner up and down the loops in the tree straps (I used Atlas straps for this review) , and it packs down just as easy as it goes up.
Build quality here is excellent. The aluminium bars are thick, burly, and feel like they could hold up to decades of use, and the fabrics are pretty durable as well. The nylon is ripstop, reinforced at most seams and stress areas, and holds my weight with no issues at all. Assuming the system is kept off the ground and away from sharp branches and sticks, I foresee no issues here.
What I didn’t like
The inclusion of thick aluminum bars does have the obvious drawback of weight and packability. For general use, it’s not a concern. For hiking, car camping, lounging around home or around campus, it’s plenty light enough and small enough to throw into a small pack. The included carry pouch makes toting it by hand rather pain free as well. For backpacking, it’s a little harder to justify as the poles add several pounds, but still not a deal breaker to anyone who cares more about comfort than weight.
The inclusion of spreader bars requires a larger tarp than a tradition ENO hammock to prevent rain from getting in, so the weight of a rain cover goes up along with the hammock. This is thankfully a minor issue, but the lightest tarps like ENO’s own Fastfly won’t provide coverage here. Other Eno tarps seem like they will work, but I haven’t personally confirmed this just yet. So, make sure to measure and test before heading out in the rain!
It’s hard to not like a hammock. Even a bad hammock is still at least somewhat comfortable. The Sklyloft though, this is a different beast. After spending some time with it, it’s going to be hard to use anything else. Sure, it is a bit bulkier and heavier than some of the lighter hammocks I’ve used, but it’s also extremely comfortable, far less finicky to set up, I love the ability to just lay flat inside it. Given the weight, I will likely leave it behind on long, challenging backpacking trips, but for short overnights or simply lounging around, this is my new go to hammock.
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