Festivals are memorable affairs, and while I really appreciate all of the experiences I have had at Pickathon, especially the one that just passed (for most of us working stiffs at least, though I know there are still people sleeping it off on the grounds of Pendarvis Farm as I type this), these things are also kind of a trial. Simple tasks become 30-minute journeys, like getting a glass of water, finding a port-o-potty with toilet paper (harder than it sounds after midnight), grabbing a hoodie out of your car, etc. So it's nice when you figure out little hacks that make life at a festival a tiny bit easier, cleaner, more comfortable, and convenient, and oh boy did one experiment this year come out a winner: the hammock tent.

As I've often griped before, camping isn't my first choice of lodging, but a few years ago I was camping with friends on the coast and one of them had what can only be described as a hammock tent—literally a hammock made out of normal vinyl tent material, with a mesh top so its occupant can see and breathe. Like a little banana shaped cocoon, basically*.

I don't really have a gauge of how commonplace these are, but everyone I mentioned it to at the festival was curious about it, and if you have ever known the pain of trying to find a good spot to pitch a tent among the camping crowds of Pickathon, you should seriously consider getting one of these bad boys for next year. I didn't arrive at Pendarvis until Saturday, and because I had been out of town earlier that week I missed my chance to set up early with the rest of the Mercury crew. Ordinarily I'd just be fucked. There's no way I would have been able to pitch even a small tent on anything resembling flat earth next to them. But with the hammock tent I borrowed from aforementioned friend, I was able to lash up my shit in a small, very-not-flat gulley just adjacent to their tents, a pole-free process that took me—who sucks at pitching tents, who doesn't know about tying fancy knots—all of about three painless minutes.

Amazingly, my bullshit knots didn't threaten to shimmy my hammock down the trunks of the two small trees I chose, nor did I sag down to have my ass poked by the various shrubberies that made the spot so ill-suited to normal tented camping. I was inobtrusive and compact, with the one arguable downside being that sleeping and storage were the same place, which meant snuggling with my purse, duffle bag, and boots. Not a big deal, really. Also, getting in and out of the little Velcro hole that was the entrance was not a graceful process. Have you ever seen livestock give birth standing up? It looked a lot like me plopping out headfirst on Sunday morning into a fern. Still, even if I have the option next year of early setup, I'd rather just get a hammock tent again. My back wasn't full of the painful kinks that sleeping on the ground inflicts, even with an air mattress (actual mattress: air), it's way more compact than a tent/mattress/poles set-up, and if you are feeling lazy you can just untie the ends and use it as a sack to haul all your belongings out to the parking lot. Lesson: learned.

  • rei.com

*Now that I've seen images of the particular model I used online, I can tell that I didn't set it up at all the way you're supposed to (the mesh wing on top?), but fuck it. Worked for me.