Everyday Traveler Essentials: Hiking With the Ultralight Hammock in Hawaii
Featured blog post by 2018 Brand Ambassador Alice Kao
I loved having a lightweight, packable, and breathable hammock for all of my day hikes on my recent trip to Hawaii. I always try to pack light for shorter trips like these, and I love how Sea to Summit’s Ultralight Hammock is compact enough for me throw into my suitcase.
One of my favorite adventures from the trip was hiking down to the bottom of Waipio Valley, a lush and scenic gorge on the northwest corner of the Big Island of Hawaii.
The journey down to the bottom of Waipio Valley is not for the faint of heart, as it is the steepest road of its length in the United States! If driving, you’ll need to have a 4x4 vehicle with high clearance and a capable set of brakes to handle the challenging road.
Instead of driving, we decided to hike on foot down the road, and I wanted to be sure my pack was as light as possible as the trail up and down is at an average grade of 25%, with some portions as steep as 40%! We certainly worked up quite a sweat and my legs were on fire by the time we reached the bottom.
As soon as the road leveled out, we found ourselves immersed in a lush wonderland. We really got to experience the diversity in Hawaii’s flora as we spotted mossy trees, enormous leafy plants, and trees with blooming red flowers all the way to the beach. The residents that lived at the bottom of the valley all smiled and greeted us warmly, welcoming us to the valley as we passed by.
We first headed up into the valley, and as we rounded the corner, we spotted the jaw-dropping Hi’ilawe Falls in the distance - the tallest falls on the island of Hawaii. At the time there were actually two different cascades and from a distance the water looked almost like silk as it cascaded 1,450 feet down to the base of the valley.
We then turned around and headed towards the black sand beach that lies at the mouth of the valley. As we stepped onto the beach, we spotted several waterfalls cascading off the sides of the sheer valley walls into the water. I absolutely love the look of sheer cliffs right on the edge of the ocean, impressive views like these are always humbling and make me truly appreciate the grandeur of mother nature.
Continuing east along the coastline and rock hopping on the black boulders lining the shore, we stumbled upon a smaller set of falls tucked into a ravine on the side of the cliff. Unexpectedly finding little gems like these were some of my favorite moments on these hikes.
Once making our way back to the main beach area, there were no shortage of trees right along the shore to pick from to set up our hammock. After slinging the Tree Protectors and Ultralight Suspension Straps around two trees, undoing the mini compression straps around the hammock body, and lining up then linking the two aluminum buckles together, we had our relaxation station ready in seconds.
The Nylon mono-filament fabric of the Ultralight Hammock is comfortable against the skin, very lightweight, and incredibly breathable - perfect for allowing our sweaty selves to cool off even in the sticky Hawaiian humidity. For how light and sheer the material appears, I still feel secure and stable when laying in it, even when slightly swaying back and forth, which is my favorite way to enjoy a hammock.
Being a photographer, I also love how the golden yellow really pops in landscape photos! After eating lunch, we relaxed here for a good chunk of the afternoon, soaking in the coastal view before us.
As it was time to start hiking out, we stuffed the hammock back into its sack, rolled up the Tree Protectors and Ultralight Suspension Straps, and threw it all into our daypack as we started the slow and steady climb up the steep road. I was thankful for a light pack, as going up was even slower than coming down, and we had to take many breaks to reach the top.
I normally wouldn’t think to pack a hammock in my backpack for a casual day hike like this, since I’d typically want the lightest possible weight for such a steep hike. I also tend to carry a lot of camera gear with me and don’t often have room for items like a bulky hammock that would take up a significant portion of my pack. However, with Sea to Summit’s Ultralight (and ultra-compact) Hammock, I can easily justify adding an extra eight ounces to my pack in order to enjoy kicking my feet up and soaking in the view at the end of the hike. The Ultralight Hammock has become a pack essential not just for my backpacking trips where weight is a priority, but for my everyday travel as well.