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Stuff I’ve Liked ~ Part 2

Now we are into the BIG stuff. I hate spending money, but sometimes you have to to get what you need/want. The AMOK Draumr 3.0 Hammock.  [AND…>>>X<<<]

I never did a real review, so here’s some thoughts from my time with mine so far:

I LOVE this damn thing! …it makes me crazy some of the time, but I do love it. Simply put, there is no hammock that is as comfortable for a side-sleeper like me.

To get a decent idea of what the AMOK is you are better off reading a couple of reviews or watching Shug’s great video:

When I first decided to try hammock camping instead of settling for the cold, cold ground, I spent a couple of nights in a mass market hammock that I purchased off of Amazon. Subsequently, I found Hammock Forums, saw the light, heard the Word and sent that one back for a refund. The AMOK is what I bought instead because it seemed like it would give me everything I needed all at once, without “dickin’ around” trying and buying like a crazed Goldilocks. It took no time at all on the forums to realize that that was an all too likely trap to fall into.

After two years of owning it I still love it. It did indeed keep me from having to try everything under the sun [and, fortunately, I can do just that at the group hangs… folks love to show off their own gear and let you try it out]. However, there are some truths to be told.

The Amok Draumr can be fiddly as all get out:

  • it needs to be dead-level side-to-side or you roll one way or the other
  • it ain’t as easy getting in and out as with sling type hammocks… it takes practice not to look like you are flailing in the grasping jaws of an alien
  • in that same vein… with the tarp snugged down, it’s tough getting into it since it hangs front to back under the slope of the tarp… you end up poking against the tarp
  • the only tarp that works with the Draumr is the one that comes with it… no super-sizing for extra room when the weather comes in harsh… no door kit to close off the ends
  • you still have to pump up the inflatable pad that gives it structure and rigidity… just like tenting
  • no matter the pad you choose, they are a pain to fit into the sleeve, and a pain to find the right inflation point
  • it’s all too easy to sit on the integrated bugnet and possibly damage it while you flail your way in, and the bugnet is far less easy to deploy once you are in the hammock
  • it’s not as simple to set up in the dark or rain as “ordinary” hammocks
  • Personally, I find the recliner mode overrated… you are still leaning a good way back, not sitting up
  • it is difficult to impossible to sit in your AMOK and cook… not that would if I could. I prefer a camp chair, even if it is under the tarp in the rain.
  • you have to explain the AMOK Draumr to a lot of people who are curious… even the name

That sounds like a lot of negatives, still, on the positive side:

  • when you camp a lot, you get used to all the fiddly bits, just like you do to everything about camping
  • I really like being able to look directly out at my view or campsite
  • porch mode with a pole works great for ventilation in warm weather
  • You don’t need an under quilt
  •  the “comfy” far outweighs the “fiddly” …for me at least
  • lots of built-in room for your stuff to be handy… like the water bottle holder
  • there is nothing more comfortable if you side-sleep!
  • you get to meet a lot of nice people who are curious

As time went by, I did add some personal mods to my Draumr:

  • There is a head-end bungee pullout to help keep the bugnet up off you. I added enough length and a lift point sewn to the tarp so that it would raise it even higher
  • The ridge of a Draumr is up and outside the bugnet. You can’t hang things on it… like drying your socks overnight once you take them off, or slipping the bow of your glasses over it before you go to sleep to keep them safe. I made an interior “ridgeline” with a hanging organiser that rolls up into the bugnet pocket for storage, but can be deployed to keep stuff handy like my phone [and the little fan seen above]
  • I put two loops on the head and foot so that the whole thing can be folded up in half to get it out of the way in daytime

For me the AMOK Draumr has been a great hammock. If you read and watched some of the reviews I put at the top of the post, you saw how impressed some very experienced folks were with this new design.

This is not the hammock if you are planning long hikes, or thru-hikes like the PCT and AT. This is not the hammock if you are an out-and-out gram weenie regardless of how long your hikes are. Its weight is indeed more than other hammock rigs, but not by much, and it is really not that much more bulk if you take into consideration the hammock/bugnet/tarp/UQ/straps and suspension/etc that all go into making up a full hammocking setup. Nor is it that much more expensive.

It is a great hammock for site or base camping, bicycling, canoeing/kayaking, pulking in in winter, or horseback camping and the like.

My only reservation in all of this is that the second time I went out with my Draumr one of the tubes in my sleeping pad blew out on a seam, and that night was like sleeping with a very large baguette alongside. Uncomfortable at the very least. That single, aberrant occurrence has made me the tiniest bit hinky about trusting the AMOK Draumr entirely. I feel like there is that “just possible” chance of system failure, and even when car camping as I usually do, that’s a PITA. I doubt whether this is of real concern. I have a whole bunch of night of wonderful sleep since then with no consequences. It’s just me being me.

But I do love to sprawl when I sleep…

  • I’ll go 7.5 out of 10 here

Bonus: I never got this posted, but the Draumr got a slight features update last summer

Jonas has put up a new “instructable” on the Draumr 3. Very little has really changed since I got my V 3.0 in 2015… my ridge is a strap, the new versions have Dyneema line/ the footbox is a bit larger, but I never had problems with it anyway.

When you watch the video, you will notice the Jonas mentions”chair mode”. While they call it “chair”, it is far more like being almost fully laid back in a recliner…  It is handy, and a nice difference from other hammocks, but you don’t feel like you are sitting upright.

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Despite my claim against Goldilocksing, I have also picked up several standard sling or “banana” hammocks since I got started down the slippery slope of hammock camping. Premier among them is the Chameleon Hammock from Dutchware.

[the problem with hammock photos is that they mostly look like a bunch of saggy fabric… this one is from HF member Us5Camp and comes from the “Chameleons In the Wild” thread there]

Basically, the Dutchware Chameleon is a standard gathered end hammock with an asymmetrical, “reversible” bugnet that can be attached to allow a diagonal lay for either head-left/feet right or head-right/feet-left. But… it has much, much more on offer as well.

Versatile, well made, tons of options to add on later… you can start with just the basic 11′ x 58″ body for only $125, use what else you already have and buy what you need as you want. It also comes in what I believe is 68″ wide for those “big and tall”. All the zippers and attachment points are standard, but there are about 30 choices spread among colors and fabrics.  The only thing to remember is that you will want a tarp as well, but for that you can choose from any of the vendors. Unlike the Draumr, size, shape and construction features are up to you and your budget.

The best introduction to the Chameleon is to see it the way most of us first did… here’s a link to the Kickstarter offering that launched it last winter. Check it out. The video is nearly the first thing you will come to scrolling down.

Here is what I posted about mine when it first came.

Here is Shug’s quick take.

Below is my own Chameleon with the one-off, custom, seasonal top cover that Dutch made me from our mutual friend Justin’s outrageous “Fallen Leaves” patterned fabric. I can use the cover as dew protection when I don’t want to put up a tarp, or to add some warmth and breeze protection when the weather goes nastier. I also have the bugnet that came with mine originally… I’m set for any season! Mine is in Coyote Brown Hexon 1.6 fabric [body].

In the Chameleon Dutchware manages to combine features that were getting traction among the rest of the hammocking community and enough innovations and original refinements to make it unique. What he achieved is what many people consider to be the best hammock currently available… and it’s darn good lookin’!  The Hexon 1.6 fabric used on mine has enough stretch and give to conform to your body, and a wonderful cotton feel that you don’t find in any of the “parachute” cloth hammocks in the general market. It’s like sleeping on sheets at home.

When I saw the Kickstarter, I really wanted to get one. That is a tough thing to say because I am friends with many of the CV guys now. I know how great the gear that each of them offers really is, and it hard to single out any one as “best”. However, I am as much in love with my Chameleon as I am with the AMOK Draumr. It’s too close to call as to which of even those two choices might be the best. I’m glad I am able to have both.

 

And… that there, my friends, is the Dutchman hisself, in one of his own creations. I am very pleased to call Dutch my friend. I met him two Springs ago when he came up from Pennsylvania for the “Burning Men”/”Hammock Home” hang that ATTroll and I collaborated on. Dutch is truly one of the hammocking communities best ambassadors and spokespersons, one of its most inspired innovators, and owns one of the most successful cottage vendor businesses. These vendors, working out of small shops or their own basements, are what make the hammocking community so vibrant, and are the most compelling reason to abandon the big internet vendors who only sell, who mass-produce overseas, and do not themselves use the products. The CV folks use what they make and their knowledge is poured back into their products. The most wonderful thing about Dutch is that, while he has outstriped any real definition of cottage vendor as his business has grown, he started out as one, and will always be a “cottage vendor” in his own heart and those of his customers.

  • Chameleon gets the 99 & 44/100s out of 10

“Biggest Disappointments”

Sometimes you buy gear thinking it will be just what you need and it turns out not to meet your hopes and expectations.

Like they say, “Sometimes you get the peanuts, sometimes you get the shells”… Here are some of mine from the old reviews…

The 10 point scale for this post is my own usability/suitability…

 

The Emerson/Kershaw CQC-6K knife

This one was one of the bigger disappointments in stuff I have reviewed here at Moosenut Falls.

Not to be too harsh on it, it gets really sharp, and holds a decent edge. Even the styling and finish are pretty nice, but it is just not anything I want to carry day-to-day. Too heavy, too bulky.

I hated the quick opening “Wave” hook feature so much that I ground it off within the first month. I always felt like it was going to accidentally schwing open on the way out of my pocket and slash my blue jeans [and leg]. I don’t even like the little disk that helps you open the blade, but the bloody knife doesn’t have a fingernail groove as a fall back so you can’t just take that off as well.

I was a bit surprised with the CQC-6K, because it had gotten good reviews. Maybe I am just not a tactical knife kind of guy… I mean, I know enough to bring a handgun to a knife fight anyway. If I want a larger blade knife for camping chores, I am just going to end up carrying a fixed blade instead of a folder. Around the house and for EDC, I’ll stick with the much smaller, easier to carry CRKT H.U.G. clipper and my Leatherman P4 Squirt. Anyway, the Emerson/Kershaw rides around on the shoulder strap to my range bag, and gets next to no use. At $30 it doesn’t even have enough value to bother EBaying it.

  • 2.5 out of 10 since it does hold an edge

 

Leatherman “JUICE” Clone

 

The theme here seems to be “too heavy”. The JUICE clone is just that.

Incredible selection of tools, but this too is a “ride along”. It lives in the side pouch on the daypack. Even then, it frequently gets left behind to save weight.

 

  • 5 of 10… SUPER for what it is at the price I paid

 

Gerber MultiTool

 

Like the CQC-6K, this was a let-down. I am still glad to have gotten the replacement, because it still is fine addition in my car tool kit as shown.

It’s a great tool… if you want/need/or use something this heavy duty on a daily basis. I don’t need to.

I think that all the years with the little P4 Squirt in my pocket, weighing next-to-nothing, and doing most everything I throw at it have spoiled me for larger multi-tools.

 

 

  • 3 of 10 [if you need it]

 

R.I.P. OneCoolBackpack

The one just plain makes me sad. My friend,Bill, the developer, was never able to get the whole thing to come together and reach the level of the Kickstarter project.

I think the unit featured in this link review was the best he achieved. There were some other developments, and changes of material, but this particular version “worked”… at least for me.

I still believe that this was a really great, and revolutionary idea with a whole variety of applications. It’s ability to carry literally anything was a game changer.

The good news is that the two orange, waterproof compression bags I bought to use with the frame are the perfect things for kayak camping. And the best news is that I do have, and can use one of the only working prototypes of the OneCoolBackpack.

 

Alocs Aluminum Kettle and Cup, Titanium Long Spoon and the “Tree Table”

One photo and four disappointments.

They are all decent enough, but they all fail to be include most of the time. I have other things that do the things these things do.

The kettle and cup aren’t as multi-tasking as one of my larger cups I can boil/cook in, as well as eat from.

The long spoon’s bowl isn’t very deep, so stuff drips off.

And the table works fine, but is just one more thing that seldom comes out of the tote box even if it goes along for the ride.

 

The windscreen I made out of aluminum flashing is great through. It goes with me every time.

 

“CAMPTON AX”

I finally received the small axe that I had ordered off AliBaba in the 11/11 sale. As I had already concluded, it was not a Chinese POC [piece-of-crap] It was a Russian POC. After playing with both a Cyrillic keyboard and a Russian to English translator site, I managed to figure out that they had branded the blade “Campton Ax”… do you suppose they were trying for “camping”?

FullSizeRender (15)

I am not even going to go into detail about it until I have messed with the axe some, but after having “bashed” it a bit in my previous post, I wanted to go into some digressive info on just why I had gone ahead and bought one. For now you can check it out in the post from a week ago was about “Chinese Inscrutable Advertising“.

The site description on this axe was a wonderful example of the difficulty in translating/ transliterating between languages, and the misuse and overuse of catchwords. It was described it as “Damask” steel at one point, 440 Stainless at another, and high-carbon steel in a third. I guess the first instance is a misunderstanding of the word Damascus, which is used to describe both a type of  highly-figured and layered steel, and a historic manufacturing process. The other two phrases are frequently used in the descriptions on forums discussing high-quality knives… I guess they just seem catchy. Not accurate, but catchy.

In fact, the little axe I got is 65X13 steel. This is the Russian made equivalent of AUS8… not a bad steel for this use at all. On other sites offering the same axe I had been able to see the branding on the shank, so I was pretty sure what it was actually made of. This elevated it just out of the POC range and made me think it was good for a shot as a “project piece” to see if I could bring it all the way up to worthwhile.

My second reason, and the real basis of this post, is that I have always wanted an “Ulu”.

    

These are two examples. The ulu is the traditional knife of the Inuit peoples of the North American Arctic. Before the white man and his supplies of metal, they had knapped a similar shape in stone, and beaten them out of copper ores. It was their butchery tool for whale blubber and sealife.

    

The ulu is generally made of moderately thick sheet metal with a handle above the blade as you seen in the above photos. They cut smoothly, and are surprisingly maneuverable. I know a guy who regularly dresses out his deer with one.

Newer designs are moving toward a more modern esthetic, upgraded materials, and a truly ergonomic styling. They also are making the blades heavier and profiled more like a traditional hunting knife. Benchmade is producing a version they have named “Nestucca” that retails for $150US.

The beautiful units from Bliss [shown in first photo above] are made to order, and start from $130 depending on handle material. Those kind of prices put them way out of my reach, but the little Russian jobbie is as close to an ulu as the “Nestucca”, and was only about $11 on sale/shipped. That fits with my whole 90% utility for 50% of the price deal.

I’m hoping to end up with a fireside beater for wood prep and an alternative blade for use in the camp kitchen. I’ll let ya’ll know how the progress goes, and what the verdict might be some time soon.

Sharpening Tips and Tricks from Moosenut Falls

  • Using a black “Sharpie” marker, draw a band of color along the very edge of the blade about an 1/8th” wide. Then when you run the blade over your stone you can see if you are taking material from the true edge or whether you are too far up on the shoulder/body of the knife. You want to be working the micro-bevel, not further back.
  • [This also works if you want to remove material from behind the micro-bevel when re-edging a blade… just make the Sharpie band wider, and attempt to leave the color on the edge itself]
  • You do not have to use much pressure. A little is better than a lot. Let the stone do the cutting and removal.
  • Use some oil to help float the blade on the stone, and keep cleaning the surface of your stone or hone as you work. the minute steel particles that are being stripped off the blade will clog the pores/grit of your stone. Eventually, you are just working on the build-up without any cutting action from the now buried stone surface. I use a drop of WD-40 wiped off with a paper towel. It will lift the debris right up and off… re-oil the surface and continue. [Diamond hone “stones” usually recommend water for lubrication, but the WD-40 trick works for cleaning]
  • Oh, yeah… that business about shaving hair off your forearm to “test” sharpness…? Don’t. You just end up looking patchy, and might cut yourself. Instead, just touch the blade edge to your thumbnail at the angle you would cut a steak. If it catches, you are getting sharp… if it slips, keep working.
  • Get a cheap magnifying glass or loop. Looking at the edge close-up is a full education as to what you are accomplishing and what you still need to do. [Plus a magnifying glass is still just as cool as when you used one as a kid… take it camping, it’s worth the weight for the fun.]
  • The consensus jury is way, way out on the issue of whether it is better to sharpen into the edge or away from the edge. Whatever you like. My personal take is that it is easier to accidentally steepen the angle and shove the blade into the stone, dulling it, if you are working into the stone. I move the blade back from its edge. I think this also allows the burr to pull away from the edge instead of being forced back under or up.*
  • Likewise there is no real consensus on whether you should work toward yourself or away on the stone surface, regardless of how you draw the knife across it.
  • Pressure, direction, angle, orientation… Find which works best for your own comfort. Your results, and the speed with which you achieve them will tell you what is right for you.
  • Also, remember that you can over-sharpen a blade. Going ultra-sharp on a chore knife just means it will dull faster because the edge is “too” delicate. If your knife performs the chore as needed, it is sharp enough.
  • Finally… an oldie-but-goodie. You can get a quick-fix sharpening done by using the rough, unglazed ring on the bottom of your favorite ceramic coffee mug.

My last suggestion is to find some old knives , and try out your sharpening licks on them. You might be really pleased to discover that you have rescued what would otherwise be a POS, and, at the very least, you won’t be wrecking a good knife on your learning curve. [Check out a Goodwill… old carbon steel kitchen knives show up in the bins there all the time. Give ’em a couple of surface licks with some steel-wool before you hit up working on the edges]

 

*with the new Lansky System I am using the only real way to use it is gliding the stones into the blade, up and across… exactly opposite to what I ordinarily do, but the results speak for themselves.

Knife Sharpening~ Tips/ Techniques/ Tutorials Links

Note that some of these sites want to sell you stuff, but the info is good. These are not any kind of endorsements, just a collection of facts….

In no particular order: