Adventures with the Thread Injector

In the world of camping DIY, a sewing machine is referred to as a thread injector… the process is called fabric welding. This sounds a little less wimpy than telling people you have been sewing.

To encourage myself to buckle down and actually git’er’done on the pile of fabric and parts that had been sitting on the end of the dining room table for the better part of three weeks, the other day I started a thread on Hammock Forums called “Thread Injector Log~~ Stardate:____”.

I did the ritual 15 minutes to thread the needle/accidentally pull it out the thread/rethread the needle…, but after the first hour I had gotten some stuff done.

  • L&L patch on bag
  • Patched tear in sq. bag
  • Fixed jellyfish bag
  • Made mesh pouches bag

One rat-nest on jellyfish bag

Another hour:

 

  • Really coffee-d up!
  • Reworked two BlingBags
  • Patched and adapted old yard chair bag to hold ALite chair

 

 

 

By lunch:

$5 kids 6′ hammock from FiveBelow°, repurposed to gear-mock.

 

 

 

  • “knotty-mod on both sides
  • 2 and 3 mesh pocket organizers… one sewn-on/ one prussic-ed on ridge
  • 58″ Zing-It ridge~ tied into channels w/ 8″ to 4′ whoopies on each end
  • 2- $$Tree 4′ dog leashes for straps w/ toggles

 

By dinner time: made a gear-mock tarp~ 64″x 56″ /rock pockets on all four corners/ it will get kam-snaps about 6″ down the sides below the suspension, and tieout tapes on all four corners [in case of really blowy weather]

Don’t stand too close and it don’t look too bad.

Next day:

“Bedding day’:

  • 60″x 70″ Costco Down Throw converted to UQ. Trimmed 3 sq of width, which gave massive, doubled draft collars at each end/1 1/2″ grosgrain tape and ripstop for channels/ standard UGQ~HG suspension…
  • Gathered end “hot-nights” sheet from Chinese terminal sleeping bag *. …Single layer, pongee cotton-poly/ trimmed off hood/ stripped zips and re-hemmed all around/ gathered, drawstring footbox
  • Couple of small repairs and adaptations on  other junk

 

I want to try the UQ out a couple of times before I commit to ripping thread between squares to make continuous down channels. May be fine like it is.

*[these are what the folks take incase of delays/layovers on the long, crowded trips back home over the Chinese winter holiday. They are basically just a 1/2 zip sleeping bag made of heavy sheeting material with a hood to stuff a coat into as a pillow. Really cheap [$7US], easy to wash or even toss, but are quite soft and comfortable… perfect for this use.]

Pillow Talk

Stuff: new 9.7oz down jacket [faux GhostWhisperer… seen/reviewed in post below…scroll down] and an old [very soft/ single side-seam/ round bottom] OT250* compression sack … use scissors… 40 seconds.
Yield: 12″x 5″dia/ 10.3oz downy-soft pillow… basically free.
[I]I left one strap long pending inspiration/determination of attachment for hammock.[/I]
It will stuff down further into the jacket’s own stuff sack…. just bigger than a soda can, and I’d carry the jacket anyway.

 

* Ozark Trail 250 [fill weight] down sleeping bag. Retailed at $89 at WallyWorld a few years ago. Mine was on “red-tag” since someone had pulled the cardboard info sleeve off… $59, I think. An incredible value. Anyone who was able to pick one up at that point, got an amazing deal. Wally hit it outta the park on this one! Super soft, down-proof fabric/ 700+ duck down/ very light/ stuffed down small/ claimed temp range was 32°… more like 40°. Perfect 3-season bag, and very easy to turn into a TQ for hammock camping. You can find my original review under “sleeping bags” in the nav sidebar…

Some Things Just Don’t Get Old

Point of post~~  a twenty year old “flashlight”.

I got this EverReady “neon tube” light when my late wife and I got our Toyota RV camper in 1996.

  • Works off four AA’s.
  • Two light levels.
  • No idea if the tubes are really neon or not, but it’s a darn nice light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

I don’t think I have had to change batteries more than two or three times. Zero battery drain over time. This is a light you can count on. It sits in the bathroom in case the power fails.

The “HangTime Hook”

For the last couple of months I have been following a project that is been under development over on the Facebook pages. It is initially intended for, and is currently only of real interest to, those who hammock hang. This is the “HangTime Hook”.

I was asked by Eric, the developer, and if I would like to try one out for review. He provided this black unit with the red grips. I have now had the opportunity to take it out several times when I’ve had my hammock up, and I’m very pleased with it.

It is a unit that slides on the ridge line of a hammock and allows you to clamp your cell phone in a viewing position out in front of you. Down the road, it may have other iterations that will allow it to be of use to other folks like tent campers. It is now available for sale, although in a prototype version. Each unit is individually made on a 3-D printer.

To my layman’s understanding, this means that they are possibly not as sturdy as they may be when they are actually cast or molded for full production. I did not find them “flimsy” at all. I actually found it quite sturdy. Not evident in the photo, you can see from the structure up close that there are indeed places where the 3-D layering as it is built up could conceivably cause it to fracture.

      

It comes in two separate pieces… the slider unit for the ridge line, and the screw-on clamp itself. Installation is a piece of cake. You simply unscrew the collar on the clamp, slip the ball into the socket, and screw the collar back down.  The red liners in the jaws give a soft, but firm grip to the phone. No worries about it slipping out and falling free. To mount it, you allow the ridge line to slot into the diagonal groove in the center of the top bar. A quick twist right and left allows the line to then slip up slots into the tube. Once on the line, it can slide easily back-and-forth, but the weight of a phone in the clamp causes it to tilt enough to create a friction belay. [You can also use of rubber band or a ponytail tie as a prussic to keep it from sliding. I heard somebody suggest just using a toothpick stuck into the hole along the line, but that seems like a good way to find a sharp, poke-ey stick lost down under you amid your expensive fabric].

 

The clamp jaws open up enough to accommodate even a full-size cell phone like my iPhone 6+.

Hung inside the cover on my Chameleon

The first night I tried it out by watching 30 minutes of a movie. The “Hook” did everything it was supposed to, and was very viewable. Because the clamp swivels completely, it is just as easy to point the speaker end of your phone right back at yourself to enjoy music as well. It is also easy to adjust the angle both up-and-down as well as side-to-side to match up with your lay and the size of your phone. The only criticism I can really level at it is that weight of the phone means that it does tend to sway back and forth if you move about at all. Once you’re comfortable and lying still, it’s no problem. [It is also no big deal to reach up with one hand and stop the motion].

One nice side benefit I found is that I no longer have to put my phone in a “ridgeline organiser” when I’m ready to go to sleep. It can just stay right in the clamp where it is available for a quick time-check in the middle of the night.

I also found that by turning the HangTime Hook’s clamp 90°, to a vertical orientation, it would accommodate the power bank for my fan just as easily. I had just been using a couple of Velcro straps right on the ridge line itself, however this lets the fan hang much lower, and further away from the hammock sides or netting. Very nice to keep the air moving on a hot summer night.

 

I have to admit that this is a niche product. Not everyone is going to feel the need for one, however, I think that there will be enough people interested to create a market. Personally, I’m not somebody who is likely to spend a lot of time watching movies in my hammock. Music, that’s another story. I can also see it being nice to be able to put on a slideshow of the photos you’ve taken that day for review. Using it for things like the fan, or as a clock, that were not originally intended is also a nice side discovery. It does what it’s supposed to do pretty darn well, and all in all, I can’t find any real things to complain about other than the side sway… That’s pretty minimal criticism.

Prior to Eric’s offer of a unit of my own, I had already seen the HangTime Hook in use at other hangs. The people who had bought one seemed to be fairly well impressed with their units as well. They are starting to be seen and talked about other than on FB. It will be interesting to see how many I notice at the next hang in a couple of weeks down outside Boston.

 

DISCLAIMER: the unit shown and reviewed was received by the author for that specific purpose. When the review unit offer was made I was already at the point of purchasing one, on my own, for my own use, for full price. Eric knew that I had a blog and occasionally reviewed items, and his only request was that I would commit to reviewing the unit. No opinions expressed in this review would have been any different if I had purchased the item instead of receiving it.

 

More info at:

 

It Ain’t the Ghost Whisperer!

However, at $17.28 including shipping from ShamSuiPo, I, for one, am not going to be arguing. The GW goes for $319.

When I was at a hang this Spring with my friend Iuri, I admired the jacket he had on assuming it to be a Ghost Whisperer… he’s a hip, young, upwardly mobile kind of guy who has the money for that type of thing. He said, “no, China”. So, when we were getting blown around by the lake winds up at the kayak hang recently, and I really wished I had some kind of a lightweight, but warm coat, I thought enviously of Iuri’s. When I got back, I looked ’em up on ALiBaba and ordered one. I don’t think I could’ve been happier even if I had the opportunity to actually try it on. For my needs, and at my kind of the price, it’s perfect… light, comfortable, warm, sufficiently wind-proof. I love the color, too. [much more a darker, blue-black than the photo shows] It’s the perfect thing to toss on just after dawn and before the day warms up, or once the evening shadows creep in and the temps drop.

Now… in fairness to the GW it reputedly has more down, and of a kind that is specially treated for loft and water repellency. But it also is only “stitch-thru” construction. $319 is a whole lot of money for a coat that isn’t even baffle-channeled. True, it is designed for layering, with an “active fit” for “climbing in the alpine, long-haul backpacking trips, and peak-bagging bids, where packing light and moving fast is key to reaching your objective”…. I have tried one on and found the fit restrictive on my less-than-fit, sixty-seven year-old body.

Specs~~ GW vs. “Joobox” branded:

  • 7D x 10D ripstop nylon / Polyester
  • claimed garment weight 7 oz / weighed @9.7 oz w/sack
  • down~ Q.Shield 800 fill-down / 90% white duck [no fill rating… seems like 650/700]
  • fill weight~2.6 oz / 2.5 oz
  • no hood on compared models
  • GW is designed to self-stuff into a pocket / Joobox came with a stuff sack
  • Joobox has two zippered slash hand pockets at the side-seams and two large interior, flat, “bag” pockets / GW~unspecified, but does have an adjustable, drawstring hem that the Joobox lacks

These don’t seem like a lot of differences to account for the $300 price differential. However, I don’t own a Ghost Whisperer jacket so I can’t pretend to do any real, considered, comparison here. There might very well be other differences that I am not aware of. That said, the Joobox jacket is my 90%/50% kind of deal [actually for only 5% in this case].

While it is simply specified to be a generic polyester material, I really like the “hand” to the fabric used on the Joobox. Nice and soft to the touch, easy to slide on the sleeves, soft around the neck and under the chin. Maybe it will prove to wear quickly or something. Due to the very large variations between Chinese and Western size charts, I ordered an XXL… while I have never bought anything in XXL before in my life, this was a perfect fit. [It is what I would expect in a men’s “Large” from someplace like Cabelas or L.L. Bean]. It is also roomy enough not to bind, and to allow for layering.

The Joobox’s one odd feature is that it came with the front zipper reversed… I expect to hold the pull in my right hand, and feed the little tang into it with my left. I am not certain, but I believe that women’s fashions may have the zipper reversed like this. This one was listed under “Men’s Wear”, was most definitely shown on a bearded male model, and is definitely not cut for a woman’s figure… Again, at this price I am not complaining. Oh, and in the stuff sack, it goes down to the size of a 12oz soda. I’ll give the bag a silicon/hydrophobic treatment with Atsko spray and be good to go. I also plan on spraying the entire jacket [exterior] with the Permethrin semi-permanent insect repellent to help keep the lil’ buggers at bay.

>> Good Deal / Highly Recommended <<

I Am Bald !

….Really, really bald. I claim it is just a solar panel for a sex-machine.

Most days I wear a cap. When I sleep out in the wild, my head tends to get chilly, so I mostly wear a toque.I have a couple, including a sweet down version from UGQ that pulls way down over your face and eyes for the really cold nights. Last weekend I didn’t take one, and I ended up with a tee pulled over my head and tucked into the neck of my shirt when it got windy and wet. I looked even more dorky than usual.

 

When I got home, I found a deal on “buffs” from Amazon. Rather pretentiously, they call them “Outdoor Multifunctional Sports Magic Scarfs”…. Great color selection though [35 different sets of nine patterned buffs each], and way cheap… $7.99 up the bunch. I got the “Totem2” set. Buy a set, get a free buff, so I ended up with 10 total. [As a note: The center left one in the photo wasn’t in  the set… I got some light green one that I don’t like as much] Anyway I’ll be taking a few extras to the next hang and up my karma by giving them away to the others.

If you don’t know what a buff is… look it up on the net. In short, it is a sleeve of stretch fabric that you can “wear” a whole bunch of different ways. Neck gaiter, dust mask, balaclava, headband, beanie, Foreign Legion neck cover… etc. Since it is a super lightweight poly-microfiber, you can also wet it down and use it for evaporative cooling when it gets hot. As well, one of them weighs next-to-nothing. Perfect in the pack.

I turned mine inside out, twisted the center part and pulled both halves back over my head to make a beanie. Perfect for summer night when there is a bit of a breeze, and I can pull it down over my eyes for a daytime snooze.

I really like these, especially at the price. Soft, light, colorful… just loud enough to make a statement [“This guy has NO taste!”].

They come nicely flatpacked, so it is easy to toss one or two into a pocket or in your clothes bag just to have on hand.

 

 

 

At the same time, and from the same maker [Kingree], I picked up one of the Shemaghs that the troops have adopted over in the Middle East to keep themselves both warm and cool. [Again… look it up for more detail].

My buddy Iuri (@brazilianguy) and his lady, Fey (@chinesegirl), both love theirs and bring ,and wear, them at every campout. Last weekend I thought longingly about what a difference having one would have been making to my comfort.

 

I have to work out the stylistic details of tying/wearing one without looking like an even more complete dork, but a lot of the others also have them and vaunt their usefulness. Again, multi-use, in that they can be used in a number of ways.  A bit heavy, since they are all cotton, however, that means you can also wet these down and get the cooling effects, or use them as a camp towel.

[$14… be sure to get one that is “heavy weight”. The light ones are like tissue, and fall apart quickly. Some also reportedly smell like chemical solvents and aren’t colorfast… read them-thar’ reviews first, folks]