While the one piece, o.9 ounce Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Sleeve isn’t that revolutionary, I think it’s a clever improvement over two piece hammock snakeskins. It also compliments large cuben fiber tarps which are hard to stuff into a stuff sack and are better folded or rolled.
If you’re not familiar with snakeskins,(first popularized by Hennessey Hammocks), they’re two fabric sleeves that slide over a tarp when you pack it up and join in the middle, kind of like a special stuff sack for tarps. You keep the sleeves permanently to attached the tarp’s ridgeline and slide them down the tarp as you roll it up, including all of the attached guy lines, which keeps them from getting all tangled up. This creates a long tarp “snake” suspended between two trees that you can roll up or stuff into your pack.
When you go to set up your tarp, you attach the ends of the tarp ridgeline to two trees and then pull the snakeskins off, unfurling the tarp and its guy lines line which are ready to stake out before you hang your hammock underneath. With snakeskins, you never have to fumble with your tarp trying to figure out what side is on the inside or the outside (in the dark or rain) because it always unfurls in the correct position with the outside out.
Most snakeskins have two sleeves, one for each end of your tarp, which you pull toward the center when you pack up your tarp. This always results in a big ball of fabric and guy lines that bunches in the middle and which you need to stuff into the sleeves before you can pack up. It’s kind of annoying (see below)
Some snakeskins are large enough that you can roll your tarp and hammock together into them making it easy to pack your entire hammock sleep system up at once, but I like keeping the tarp and hammock separate since my tarp is often wet in the morning. I store my hammock in a bishop bag instead, which is a stuff sack with two open ends that lets you keep your wet tree hugger straps separate from the dry hammock body.
The Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Sleeve is different from snakeskins because it’s a one piece sleeve, shaped like a very tall and skinny ice cream cone with one wide end and one narrow end. When you’re ready to deploy it, you simply pull it from one end of the tarp to the other, rolling up the tarp and its guy lines, and you pull the sleeve over them. There’s no fabric bunching in the middle at all. When you take down the sleeve, it’s also easier to roll up into a tight coil since there’s no bulge in the middle.
What if Your Tarp is Wet?
While the Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Sleeve is waterproof, it’s not going to keep water from draining out of the sleeve if you pack a wet tarp. It’s also not going to let it dry until you unfurl the tarp again. Some people argue that mesh snakeskins let a wet tarp dry even when it’s been rolled up, but that’s never been the case for me.
My 2 Cents
At $29, the 0.9 ounce Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Sleeve is a great way to compress large cuben fiber hammock tarps and keep the guylines from getting tangled up in a huge mess. While switching from dual snakeskins to a single piece sleeve is a modest design improvement, it makes it easier to get roll up and compress my tarp when there’s not a huge bulge in the middle. Pack space is always at a premium when I carry a hammock camping system on backpacking trips, especially in cooler weather. If you haven’t invested in snakeskins yet, I’d take a look at the Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Tarp Sleeve (available in 11′ and 12′ lengths). I also use it with my silnylon Warbonnet Supershelter Tarp and it works great.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds.