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The Haven tent is an intriguing concept. On the one hand it’s a hammock and on the other it’s, apparently, an incredibly comfortable way to sleep. Could it really be both? Could it be a versatile option for my bikepacking expeditions, giving me a great night’s sleep after a hard day’s cycling? I was excited to find out and so took the Haven for a spin on a solo bike camping trip.
Here’s the short answer to both questions: The Haven tent is good. Very good. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good night’s sleep as when I slept in it. Stick around if you’d like some more details on this game-changing lay-flat hammock.
You’ve heard of ‘oxymorons’, yeah? Look them up in the dictionary and you’ll see examples of these self-contradicting phrases like “friendly fire”, “silent scream” and “controlled chaos”, and maybe even “comfortable hammock”. Because, sure, lounging in a hammock strung between two palm trees on the blindingly white sandy beach of a tropical island with a chilled beer in my hand sounds like quite a fun way to spend a while on an afternoon. But, sleep in one?! Hang on there. Hammocks aren’t for sleeping in. No, an hour of being folded up into a banana shape is about as much as my spine can take before it starts complaining loudly. The thought of actually trying to SLEEP in one has me in a cold sweat and mentally reaching for that relaxing tropical beach dream again…
The key difference between the Haven and all other hammocks is its lay-flat design. That’s incredible but actually there’s a heck of a lot more to the Haven and it’s now become my go-to when there’s even a hint of a suitable hanging spot on a camping trip. Today, we’re going to have a look at what Haven say about their hammock. We’ll then go on to see what I like about the Haven (there’s a lot) and finally we’ll explore a couple of the downsides to the Haven. Ready? Let’s go!
“The Haven tent is good. Very good. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good night’s sleep as when I slept in it”
What do Haven Tents say?
“Make sleep the highlight of camping”
“Sleep on your back, side or stomach”
“Sets up quickly and easily”
“Draws admiring and covetous looks from passers-by as you’re taking photographs”**
**ok, I admit, I made this one up. Haven never said it, but it happened whenever I was taking shots
Vital statistics for the Haven tent
How much does the Haven tent weigh?
Haven tent (incl. standard fly/straps/stakes/poles/bag but not the pad) 4 lbs 14 oz or 2.22kg
Orange pad (incl. bag/compression strap) 2 lbs 3 oz or 1.00kg
PowerPump 5.5 oz or 157g
Whoopie slings (incl. bag) 3.9 oz or 112g
RidgeLight (incl. bag) 3.9 oz or 112g
Flysheet only (incl. stakes + guylines) weighs 1 lb 9 oz or 705g
What size does the Haven tent pack up to?
Haven tent (incl. standard fly/straps/stakes/poles/bag but not the pad) 14.5”x6”x6” or 37x15x15cm
Orange pad (incl. bag/compression strap) 15”x4”x4” or 38x10x10cm and 4”/10cm thick when inflated
PowerPump 3.25”x2.5”x2” or 8.5x6x5cm
What do I like about the Haven tent?
I’ve been testing out the Haven tent in Regular size, with the Forest Camo colorway, orange insulated pad, and Standard weight rainfly. I’m 5’8” and 180 lbs and this size felt roomy, giving me lots of space to turn over from back to side to front sleeping. It didn’t feel claustrophobic like many 1-person/bivvy tents that I’ve slept in over the years. The dark green Forest Camo color was fantastic – blending into the landscape and allowing you to camp under-the-radar – you can see how unobtrusive it is in the photos. If staying low key is less of a concern, then the Haven is also available in standard Forest Green (without the Camo colorway fly) and Sky Blue.
I’d initially planned on testing the XL size hammock as I thought this would give a more spacious feel. Like I’ve said, I find bivvy-style tents to be a little on the tight side (particularly with the usual bikepacking luggage) and generally go for a 2-person tent, even when I’m flying solo. However the guys at Haven suggested that this wasn’t a good option as having too short a person in the XL can lead to the pad folding in on itself lengthwise to a certain extent. I found that, at my height and overall build, the Regular Haven didn’t feel cramped for sleeping in, despite also stashing my gear in the tent pockets at the head and foot ends. For comparison, the floor space of each tent is as follows:
Regular: 24”x78” (60x198cm)
XL: 30”x80” (76x203cm)
Weight limit for you and your gear is the same for both the Regular and XL – 285 lbs (129 kg). When you’re in the tent it feels very sturdy and, in fact, the team at Haven ran an experiment where they stress tested the tent with over a thousand pounds of weightlifting plates, team members, and bags of salt and it held up fine.
Let’s take a detailed look at the features I love about the Haven tent.
Setup is simple and fast
With a little practice, you can have your Haven fully erected and ready for sleeping in only 5-6 minutes. Though the first time you try it will probably take longer than this (I took around 30mins the first couple times I put the tent up). That compares favorably with many backpacking tents I’ve used over the years and very favorably indeed to the old canvas ridge tent we used back in my Scouting days! I’ll go through the process now and highlight some of my tips for speeding things up.
1. Site selection – this is really the critical part of the whole process. You’re looking for anchor points that are sturdy and an appropriate distance apart. Strong trees work great but you can use anything that’s capable of holding the combined weight of you and your gear, and isn’t going to get damaged. The tent is around 103” or 260cm between the fixing carabiners. Each fixing strap is 81” or 206cm, so with a narrower diameter tree, more strap will be left after wrapping around the tree and therefore more distance between trees is possible. In practice, I’ve found that a distance between trees of 11-15ft (3.5-4.5m) felt about right. Whoopie Slings, which I’ll cover in Accessories in a moment, are a great help in letting you hang your hammock between wider apart fixing points
2. Fixing straps – once you’ve got your trees picked out it’s time to secure the fixing straps to them. Loop one end around the tree at around 6ft/180cm off the ground, then slot the end with multiple stitched loops through the end with only one loop. Pull the strap snug around the tree to temporarily hold it in place. Repeat for the second tree
3. Unwrap the hammock – find the fixing carabiner at each end of the tent
4. Fly sheet – unwrap the fly and you’ll find two reinforced corners with a pair of slots in each. Fit each tent carabiner through one of these reinforced corners. (This is something that I kept forgetting to do until AFTER I’d hung up the hammock! Meaning that I had to take down the hammock, fit the fly on and re-hang the hammock – aargh!)
5. Hang the hammock – Take the fixing carabiner at each end of the tent and connect this to one of the loops on the fixing strap at each tree. You’re aiming to have your hammock hanging so that there’s a maximum of 2ft/60cm clearance from the ground at the lowest point. Adjust either the fixing straps, or the strap loop you’ve fixed the carabiner to, so that you’ve got the appropriate ground clearance
6. Fit poles – the two poles slot into pairs of pockets on the inside of the tent near the head and foot end to hold out the inside sleeping area
7. Fly sheet pitching – secure the fly at each corner with the guys and stakes. I like to keep the fly close to the tent bug net on the windward side and have it guyed further out (ideally just below horizontal) on the leeward side. This keeps the breeze out but maximizes the views!
8. Insulated pad – unwrap this and locate the inflation valve. You can inflate this using the bag (which doubles as a handy pump) or you can use the awesome PowerPump – more on this in a moment
9. That’s it!
Key points to remember: Tree selection is crucial (not too close and not too far apart), Fit the fly on the tent carabiners BEFORE you hang the tent from the trees, and grab yourself a PowerPump.
Comfortable to sleep in (like, really, REALLY comfortable)
Ok, the Haven looks great. It’s easy and quick to hang it up. But, what is it actually like to sleep in?
In a word, amazing. You know how in a normal ground tent you’ll find all the lumps and bumps in the campground? Not a problem with the Haven. Or, what about in a normal hammock when you can’t get comfy because you’re folded up into a banana shape? Not a problem with the Haven. You can sleep totally flat on your back, no lumps and bumps, just a comfortable 4” of airpad underneath you and a gentle sway.
How about if you don’t like sleeping on your back? What if you like to sleep on your side? Or your front?! In a normal tent, these are tolerable at best. In a standard banana-shaped hammock, they’re impossible. But in the Haven? Well, I’ve tried all three positions out and they’re really great to sleep in. You can even use the ridge line cord to grab onto and help turn over when you’re lying down.
It’s no exaggeration when I tell you that every night in the Haven has been one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever experienced. Try it! You won’t be disappointed.
Not only is the Haven tent actually spacious on the inside, but it feels even more spacious. That’s because, in comparison to say a bivvy, there’s much more head room. The hammock is hanging down and the ridge line is holding up the top of the bug net/fly and that creates a sizeable volume of space inside. Add in the ability to peg out the fly so that it’s held away out from the body of the tent and you can create a lot of ‘indoor’ space. That stops any clammy feeling that you can get in smaller tents and gives it a light and airy feel.
The spacious feeling is helped by the number of internal pockets for stashing your gear tidily away in. You can also hang your backpack or panniers from the ridgeline. This is a really nice feature because it allows you to slide the bag towards you when you need to get access to your stuff…and then slide it away down towards your feet when you don’t need it.
Insulated pad is thick, comfy, and…well, insulated
I’ve often found that I’ve got a chilly back when I’m sleeping in a standard hammock. Even with a great sleeping bag, the filling gets compressed underneath you and you can end up with a very slim layer between your skin and the outside air. So, having a 4”/10cm thick sleeping pad is fantastic. This kept the chill at bay all night (whether I was using the Haven as a hammock or ground tent), even with temperatures down in the high 30’s.
The pad corners slot into pockets at each internal corner of the Haven base and this helps to push out the corners of the tent, giving extra ‘living space’. It is a great product, though not without its downsides, which I’ll talk more on in a moment.
It’s a hammock AND a ground tent
This was kind of mind-blowing for me and took the Haven from being a now-and-again camping option to something that I found myself using a lot more than expected. Essentially, you can swap the pair of trees for a couple makeshift tent poles and turn this into a 1-person ground tent.
The ‘poles’ can be anything of around 3ft/90cm tall: I’ve used my bike saddle, sturdy sticks, and walking poles. Hook on the tent carabiners and stake out the poles with the guylines and, hey ho, you’ve got a tent!
The beauty of this is that you’ll find yourself opting to take the Haven on trips where there’s even a hint of hammock fixings, or even when there’s no fixings at all. That way, if you DO find suitable trees, you can hang your hammock up, and otherwise pitch it on the ground and have a great night’s sleep anyway. Hammock vs tent? With the Haven, there’s now no need to choose. Love it.
Very useful accessories
As well as the tent, I’ve also been testing out three accessories from Haven’s range: the RidgeLight, Whoopie Slings, and PowerPump.
The RidgeLight is a compact LED lighting system that has a string of lights and fixings to secure it to the ridgeline of your Haven. It gives a warm white light that isn’t overpowering but is great for reading etc. It’s USB-powered and you can either use a powerpack (like you’d get for your cell phone) or a waaay better option is to use the PowerPump below.
The PowerPump is an awesome little tool. Its tiny size hides great power! Its main benefit is that it can inflate your sleeping pad in seconds (and it has plenty of juice to do this multiple times between charges). However it can also be used to power other USB devices, such as your cell phone….and the RidgeLights. For something that fits in your palm, the PowerPump packs a mean punch.
The Whoopie Slings are an extension device that fit between the tent carabiners and the tree straps. You can use them to extend the distance between your fixing points, allowing you potentially more places to hang your hammock. Whilst they look delicate, they’re actually incredibly strong (with a breaking strength of 1800 lbs / 850 kgs) and use the same clever locking mechanism as you find on Chinese finger traps.
What don’t I like about the Haven tent?
Like all great superheroes, the Haven hammock is incredibly strong, has (apparently) mystical powers…and yet, is flawed. Though, as we’ll discuss in a moment, these flaws just make this a superhero, sorry, tent that’s even more lovable.
Heavy to carry
With a combined weight for the tent, fixings, fly and pad of 7 lbs 1 oz / 3.22 kg the Haven is not the lightest of sleeping options for any kind of adventure, whether it’s on the bike or by foot. Do I care? Well, no, I don’t because it’s so good. And anyway there are plenty of ways of cutting down the weight.
First up, when you buy a Haven tent you’ll notice that there are options for both the pad and fly. Choosing an Ultralight pad over the standard Insulated pad will strip out 6.5oz or 181g. Swapping the standard Fly for the lightweight Fly will cut another 7.1oz/201g. On a summer’s night you might decide to leave the fly at home altogether (saving 1lb 9oz or 705g). I’ve also tried swapping the Haven pad for my own ultralight sleep mat (from Trekology). This doesn’t fit as neatly into the Haven and is only 2” thick not 4”, but will save an additional 1lb 4oz over using the Orange Haven pad.
Bulky when packed
The Haven is also not the smallest of tents and that’s particularly due to the pad (at around 15”x4”x4” or 38x10x10cm). The Haven itself is around 14.5”x6”x6” or 37x15x15cm.
Swapping out the pad for a smaller non-Haven one (such as the Trekology) will help with the packing. I’ve found that the best way to stash it is to break it down into components (the pad bag and the tent/everything else bag). I’ve then strapped the tent bag to the handlebars and the pad bag inside the diamond of my hardtail bike frame. This has kept the weight well-distributed and as low down as possible on the bike frame.
The Haven tent is awesome. Sure, it has its faults. It could do with losing a couple pounds and a few inches. But, couldn’t we all? For me, the downsides are far outweighed by the upsides of this most comfortable camping hammock.
I’ve always wanted to go on bikepacking and camping trips with a hammock, but then I’ve also wanted to sleep well on those trips. Those two aims have always seemed incompatible. Not any more. Put it this way, if you want a great night’s sleep on a bikepacking or backpacking trip, and you think there’s a possible chance of finding a pair of not-too-far-apart trees, pack the Haven tent. You won’t regret it.