I might have mentioned this before here on SOFREP… for those who haven’t heard it, I’ll be sure to say it again: camping in South Florida can really suck. This part of the country is like the Amazon, Africa, or Australia. A good part of South Florida is double canopy jungle and is the only sub-tropical environment in the continental United States. There are things here that will actually try to kill you. They work hard at it. The ground is always wet. Even the plants can be nasty. The most poisonous snakes in North America, are found in South Florida. Bird-sized mosquitoes that will carry you away. And of course, alligators, crocodiles, and even panthers. Sleeping on the ground is not always the best option. If you are like me, you want to enjoy the outdoors, hike, explore, and camp anyway — regardless of the terrain. For people like us, fortunately, the outdoor industry has provided Haven Tents. Specifically, the hammock tent.
If you want to be outside in Florida, you go east to the ocean, or west to the swamps. It’s one or the other. Any other place with swamps, wet ground, or creepy-crawly things that you don’t want to share a sleeping bag with, are great places to have a hammock tent, as well. That means, pretty much anywhere in the Southeast United States. The point is, it’s not quite like camping in the amazing outdoors in Utah, Colorado, Montana, or Vermont. Of course, they also have things, too, that you don’t want in your tents. Plus, in the snow, the ground is also kinda cold. They have an answer for that, too.
A New Location for a Haven Hammock Tent Evaluation
All joking aside, South Florida has its own natural beauty in its own way. The swamps, pine forest, cedar hammocks, and mangroves, can be pretty, relaxing, and interesting, as well. A hammock tent is perfect for any and all of these kinds of considerations. I have used other hammock tents in the past. In fact, I already own a hammock tent from another brand. For all the same reasons I mentioned above, in the vast majority of cases, sleeping above the ground in this region is preferable. Especially in the warmer months. Which to be accurate, is about three-fourths of the entire year.
Because I am familiar with and understand, and wholeheartedly support the use of hammock tents, I was quite excited when I came across Haven Tents. Given that they are based in Salt Lake City, Utah, which has great applications for their own product, of course, they were also excited for us to test out their tents in a different climate, terrain, and environment.
I was even more excited when the awesome people at Haven Tents decided to send me two of their tents for evaluation. Two evaluations for something as important as a good night’s sleep is certainly better than just one; better than just me all by my lonesome. This past weekend, another U.S. Army Veteran buddy of mine and I, decided to slog it out in the Everglades. We took these tents out to the swamps for a decent hike, spent the night, and then slogged all the way back.
The Harshness of the Everglades Is a Great Field Testing Environment
Why “slogging,” you ask? Because out of the miles of our foot patrol through the swamps, only a few hundred meters of the entire trek was on dry ground. True story. The vast majority of the hike was in knee-deep water the entire way. The entirety of the South Florida swamps, from Big Cypress Swamps down through the Everglades, are covered in water. This year, it’s deeper than normal. We had some spots where it was ankle-deep for small stretches, and also a few spots of nearly waist-deep water. The Everglades alone are more than 1.5 million square acres and get an average of 60 inches of rain every year.
With that said, just about anywhere we would choose to go, would be underwater. Any “dry land,” would be damp, muddy ground. In fact, we adjusted our planned route the day before, once we learned the water level there was even deeper. Right now, areas that are normally dry land under average conditions, are mostly submerged.
Our new target was an “island,” one of the higher points within a very large geographic area. At 13 feet above sea level, believe it or not, it’s one of the higher points in the swamps, and in South Florida. “Hold my beer,” said the water level. Adding to all that water was three days of rain, which ended just the day before the hike. The marker placed by the U.S. Geological Society just about a kilometer from this island, known as “Ivy Camp,” marked the water level at about 11.89 feet.
Once we arrived at Ivy Camp, an old Seminole Native American mound that is only about 50-60 feet in diameter, the measured water levels were pretty accurate. We had about a foot or so of elevation to spare, and the ground was all wet and muddy. Perfect hammock tent conditions. Embrace the suck.
The Haven Hammock Tent
Seeing the Haven Tent online or in person the first time, with any kind of outdoor experience, it’s easy to see the potential for their tents, the concept, and the design. I was quite enthusiastic even just exploring the product on their site, and talking with their team. Once I received the tent, and I took it all out of the packaging to do the inventory, I got even more excited.
The Haven Tent is a hammock tent, but’s it’s not a “flimsy” hammock or a traditional hammock without structure as some hammock tents are. I also should say, I like hammocks, in general. Once upon a time in another life, I even strung up a hammock inside an armored vehicle, so I could sleep above the floor and so my team had more room below. It was as amazing as it sounds. With all that in mind, hammocks can be tricky as you might expect since you’re trying to hang a bed up in the air. If you don’t get the right angle and the right position, it can create a situation as uncomfortable as showing up at a funeral service dressed as a clown for a Halloween, Instead of sleeping soundly through the night, you will be waking up constantly and trying to get in a proper sleeping position.
Haven Tents has fixed that with their very simple, effective design, which allows for laying flat. The spreader bars that go on the inside, plus the inflatable air mattress, allow for more comfort and stability than a normal hammock, and other hammock tents. That’s worth getting excited about.
We deliberately did not set up the tent for the first time, until we got out to Ivy Camp. That might sound crazy, of course. And somewhat risky. It also upped the stakes for us a bit, and the Haven Hammock Tent, itself. A little pressure is always a good thing. We wanted a truly new, objective experience, using it in the field for the very first time.
Haven Hammock Tent setup
As we started to see the Haven Tent come together during the setup process, our optimism and appreciation for their approach and design continued to grow. I also had the added pressure, of hoping it could deliver! Not only did I want a good night’s sleep, but I suckered someone else into slogging out there with me, to test out something new and unknown, as well. I hoped neither of us would be disappointed.
During the setup process, it was a mixed bag. Some parts were easy, others were not. To be clear, it was not the design of the tent itself, but more about the instructions lacking in clarity for a couple of the steps. The directions are simple diagrams with minimal text, and that was part of the issue. Even a slightly better explanation of how to properly attach the main straps to the trees would be helpful. We both did the setup differently. In addition, the step to attach the rainfly to the hammock tent requires that the main straps be removed from the tent to attach them to the carabiner, even though the diagram does not make that clear. The order of this step comes after attaching the tent portion to the trees with the straps in the direction. After you’ve learned these lessons setting it up a few times, you will remember, but I think the setup instructions could benefit novice campers with more specific and comprehensive instructions
As we got the tent set up about two hours before dark, we were so exhausted from the long hike and the difficult task of carrying heavy packs through deep water, we almost just wanted to hop in the tents and try them out immediately. They did look quite inviting.
Haven Hammock Tent: The Important Pros
It might be pretty clear already: there are a lot of things to like about the Haven Hammock Tent. It also might be pretty clear, that I am impressed and overall have a good impression of the tent. As I mentioned, we were quite excited about this product, and its prospects. As outdoor guys, we could see all the potential from the very beginning.
The biggest pro is in the product itself. And then by extension, the design, and their take on a hammock tent. The user is suspended off the ground. Even more, and even better, a significant part of their concept is in the air-filled insulated pad. This pad is easy to inflate and then lays flat on the bottom of the tent portion. The pad offers several advantages over other hammock tents. As part of the design, and with the spreader bars, it allows the tent to present a flat rectangular surface to lay on. By extension, that allows the user to lay flat. It also allows for side sleeping, which is nearly impossible and highly uncomfortable in other similar products. Many people are side sleepers, both of us, included. The tent is rigid enough to allow for that option.
Also, the inflatable, insulated pad, has other important advantages. In cool or cold weather, it helps create a barrier of insulation below the sleeper. Without it, even with a sleeping bag, the bottom of the hammock and the back of the user can get quite cold. In a place like South Florida, mosquitoes can, and will, be able to bite through the hammock tent, and thinner sleeping bags and blankets. This is common since the temperatures are not quite as cold at night. It is a real consideration, that we have all experienced.
This inflatable pad could also be used as a float in a river or lake and if you had to cross a river and wanted to keep your gear dry, you could inflate the pad and use it as a raft.
Haven Hammock Tent: One Consideration Based on Climate
While we really did like the Haven Tent as much as we expected, we did find a few things we would improve with the tents. I am sharing this feedback with the Haven team, as well.
During our night out, we were able to sleep relatively well. Just as advertised and as we hoped. However, the tent does get kind of warm inside. This is a pro, and a con, of course. It’s a pro, because even something as thin as a tent, should keep the user warm. That is a huge advantage when camping in cooler or cold environments. Although the temperature dropped that South Florida fall evening to a slightly cooler-than-average 55 degrees, we were a bit warmer in the tent than we expected. We were prepared for that cooler temperature with our gear, so the tent being a bit warmer, was unexpected.
We know exactly why we were warmer than expected: it’s the rain fly. Haven offers the user the option to user to buy the tent with our without the rain fly. It is an imperative piece of any tent. The only reason to not buy it, I suppose, is if someone has their own option for that. In Florida, a rain fly is imperative. It rains a lot, of course, but not only that, the morning dew is no joke. Without a rain fly, a majority of the time the dew is significant enough that it will settle on the tent itself — any tent — and the user, as well. It will make the inhabitant quite wet. If it’s early enough in the morning, it can ruin any chance of sleeping well or create a chill. It’s just an overall terrible experience.
This is an easy fix, fortunately. Since the rain fly is attached directly to the tent itself, it’s not high enough above the tent in a warmer climate. The rain fly needs to be higher than the tent to allow the airflow to pass through the upper portion of the tent, which is the mosquito netting portion. Even as we adjusted and raised the lower edges of the rainfly, it’s hard to create enough of an opening on both sides to allow for enough air to pass through. With the way the cords are designed to connect the rain fly to the ground, we would need another way to connect them to trees, or much more length to go to the ground, in addition to the small stakes that are provided.
This is something that will we will fix in the future, by not attaching the rain fly to the top of the tent. We will bring separate ropes or straps, extra carabiners, and then attach the rainfly a foot or so above the tent, rather than attaching it directly to the tent, as designed. This is also something easy for Haven to consider and adjust, as well. It is a good thing that the design allows the user to modify the way the rain fly is used though.
A Few Smaller Cons
None of these things are deal-breakers. At this point, they are small improvements that would simply make the product better. The rain fly is something to simply keep in mind, and it is situation and climate or location dependent.
A few small observations we have, are just that – small. The biggest of these is just that: the weight. The Haven Hammock Tent is a bit on the heavy side. Some of that comes from the weight of the insulated pad, which is worth it. Like many other things in this space, it’s about trade-offs. Is this trade-off worth it? Yes, it is. With that in mind, both the user and Haven can shave off a few ounces here and there.
For example. The two carabiners each weigh about two ounces. The weight can be cut in half without sacrificing strength. I have other carabiners that weigh one ounce, and are just as strong or stronger. Shaving a few ounces here and there from the tent itself will be tricky, but even something like the carabiners is something. Perhaps also, the small bag for the accessories and the bag for the pad, as well. And as the saying goes: ounces become pounds.
The four tent stakes that are included are very light. That is a good thing, of course. One recommendation would be to keep the stakes just as light, and also a slightly different design, or longer, for certain ground conditions. Stakes that are shaped like a “+” are better than those with a smooth design since strength and grip are added with that shape. That would also be useful for soft ground or situations where depth and resistance in the ground are necessary. This is also an easy fix.
Without a doubt, I highly recommend the Haven Hammock-Tent as a piece of camping gear Regardless of whether camping in the cold, the mountains, the plains, the swamps, or the most perfect environment in the world, sleeping on the ground is not always the most comfortable or easy thing for most people. Sleeping off the ground, basically in the air and on-air with the pad, is a great option and alternative.
The Haven Hammock Tent is well made, well designed, and it shows they put time and attention into the development and use for the tent. Even the inside is lined with small pockets, for example, for stashing gear and small items inside the tent. Things like that offer small little nuggets of goodness that we found quite useful and pleasing. Solid construction and quality, combined with all these other aspects, make the Haven Tent a great option for anyone to add to their outdoor loadout.
If you love the outdoors or are looking for a truly useful and somewhat unique product for the outdoorsman in your life, Haven Tents are a great option. A good night’s sleep, in or out of the house, just makes everything a bit better.
You can check out the Haven Hammock Tents here.