Hang Time Hook has been produced!

I am really excited to announce that my friend Eric Johnson’s Hang Time Hook has come out of development, through production and is now in distribution to vendors.

Eric was 3-D printing the prototypes of this in his basement, and everyone I know who saw them got one.

They are a niche product for those who use a hammock. However, if you hang in a gathered end hammock this is the balls.

The HTH allows you to hang your phone [or anything else you want] from the large clip, which then can be swiveled to whatever angle you need. [I mostly just use mine to keep my phone up and out from under me, and so I can conveniently touch it to check the time n the dark. It also works great with my GoalZero USB fan for hot nights!] Earbuds and glasses can hang off the tabs, and the large hole at the top will accept anything with a button sewn on. The whole clip can be slid along the ridgeline of the hammock and then “fixed” in place with a cordlock, but can still easily be moved as need dictates.

I suspect everyone who is going to the group hammock hang this coming weekend will be looking to pick up a finished product… I’m just hoping he brings enough in black.

 

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A Month’s Worth of Trail Bars

Thanks mainly to the generosity of several vendors, I have assembled a wide variety of meal replacement/ snack bars to try out [until they’re gone].

Leslie Hupp from HuppyBar, Carrie Forbes from Gutsey Bars, and Elizabeth Hooks of Kate’s Real Food were quite kind to take me [and the Moosenut Falls blog] seriously enough to send out selections of each of the flavors in their full line of offerings. All of these are non-GMO, organic and, basically “responsible” eating alternatives to some of the more widely available trail food bars. I will be doing a feature on each of the lines down the road. As well, these ones at least, will be going with me to a large, group hammock hang down outside Boston next weekend… we are going to have a Trail Bar Sampling Buffet! …and that is in addition to the traditionally enormous quantities of other food we will be cooking and consuming. My man Snagglepuss will once again be bringing his full, double-door gas smoker, so the food should be truly outrageous! 

The rest of the stash shown above came from REI’s outdoor goodies rack, and the snack and breakfast bar section down at my big-box grocery. I wanted to sample some of the varieties that I have seen or heard mentioned but haven’t tried out yet, so I actually let some of the moths escape my wallet and spent money. Just for fun I am also tossing in a “HooAh” bar from my MREs and the [similar] Mocha snack bar out of an USDoD First Strike package in to the review process.

The result is that I have enough snacks to nibble one every day for nearly a month. Out of consideration for the donations from the vendors, I will be hitting up [ie: wolfing down!] their offerings ASAP, and then doing the others in a more hit-and-miss style.

Right now my real job is to keep my hands off these until I get to the hang!

[Additionally, through the willingness and generosity of some other outdoors vendors, I will also be able to contribute a “Bug Juice Buffet” to try out insect repellant offerings, and a Food-Coma-Recovery Area of “day hangers” featuring some smaller hammocks than those the majority of us use for our actual sleeping. More to come… if I survive.]

The Return of the “Mystery Lake Paddle-In and Hang” ~trip report

Obligatory Flash’s Feetz Photo…

 

I was lucky enough to be able to go up to Flagstaff Lake early and get out across to the site on Thursday afternoon, so I got to enjoy some “quiet” time before the rest of the crowd arrived on Friday. This photo was taken up by the fire pit out on the cliff and much closer to the water…  we didn’t use that one last year because of the heavy winds. This year it was the perfect site.

 

I was able to set up in a nice spot… back from the edge, but with a great view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and then got my little “day-hanger” set up out closer to the lake for chillin’out with a view.

 

We ended up with an even dozen folks coming out this year. It was split quite evenly between the gang who came last year and the new-to-the-lake guys. Of course, people hung in the usual wide variety of hammocks. I can’t tell you what each one is right off, but we had Dutchware Chameleons, a couple of Warbonnets, some ones from Papa Smurf at Dream Hammocks, and probably a couple that I didn’t catch.

One of the greatest parts of a group hang is that you can see and try out all of the rigs that other people have brought long. It is the easiest way to keep from having any kind of buyers regret.

Primo though were the two DIY jobbies from our lady “FizzBee”. She was rockin’ a purple top quilt in the Dragon Scales fabric from Ripstop By the Roll  and a mosquito net made from a mesh with gold lamé llamas on it… and her hammock had built-in edge lighting LEDs!

Also worth mention is that the two dogs along were each housed in their own “puppy tents”.

 

Our flotilla consisted of my two Wilderness Experience PUNGOs [the green ones], three sea-kayaks, my old aluminum Grumman canoe, and another much nicer canoe with wooden thwarts and woven seats.

Despite this, we again faced the problem of those “boatless refugees” who needed to get across at widely different, and needless to say, inconvenient times [up to 10pm and well into most of our crowd’s Caipirinha hour].

 

In this however, we got really lucky. Our new friend Brenden had a power boat, and made a couple of mercy runs across and back between beers to fetch in the late-comers.

He actually cleared out of the site up on top to make room for us to use the tree-pairs up there.

This is his wonderful family and friends who made us so welcome… Brenden being the one in the plaid with the big grin!

THANKS, big guy!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard not to enjoy a setting like this… some folks went for a paddle up the lake, some folks broke out their Kindles for a read, and listened to the loon calls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This group are all pretty experienced campers, and we all keep a pretty clean site, but I have never seen anyone successfully keep up with the chow table!

That’s what happens when you like to cook and to eat as much as we do.

 

Pancakes, bacon and ham, steak tips, potato/zucc/asparagus/sausage foil paks on the coals, smoked salmon and crackers, MREs [mine, of course], a wide selection of freeze-driedz, and much, much more crossed the table and into our mouths.

BTTLHangChow

We had incredibly great weather with highs pushing 80° and lows in the 50°s… nearly perfect hammocking weather. Bright sunlight, nice sunsets over the lake and the distant mountains, a crescent moon, great star-viewing nights, kingfishers, loon song, the honk of the Canadian geese, and an eagle sighting. The only real sad part was that on Sunday it was headed for 90° and would’ve been the first “sunburn day” in Maine this year… and we were packing to get off and away.

We’ll be going back again next year fer sure….

Back To the Lake Hang 2018

By this time next week some of us will be on our second night hammocking back up at Flagstaff Lake above Rangley, Maine, and we’ll be sitting around the fire waiting for the late-comers who couldn’t get Friday off to call from the landing on the opposite shore so we can hang a light out to steer by [Relax!… the landing is off to the right of this view and is only about a half-mile paddle].

This was my friend, Brian’s setup right down by the waters edge last year. The weather forecast is looking really fine for us to have a wonderful pre-Solstice hang. There are 12-15 friends planning to be there… and I’ve never had a bad time out with this crowd. Way too much food and fun with others who love being out in the woods as much as you do is a fine recipe.

This time I will try to take photos instead of just hanging around forgetting about you visitors passing through Moosenut Falls.

[here’s a link back to my post from a few weeks ago>> https://moosenutfalls.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/flagstaff-lake-hammocking-trips/ ]

Flagstaff Lake Hammocking Trip[s]

Several years ago I posted about a kayak paddle & camp that my bud Ed, and I did out to an island in Flagstaff Lake just above Eustis, Maine and Ed’s cabin that we call Upptacamp.

I am not sure that I mentioned it at that time, but we also discovered a much nicer site over on the mainland, and we have been back out across the lake to it several times since then.

Maintained by the local community development corporation, it is situated up on a bluff about 20 feet above lake level, and adjacent to a nice sandy beach. About an acre of piney woodland has been cleared, and the trees limbed to 20 feet above ground level… It’s as good as if someone had decided they wanted to set up a dedicated hammocking site. It even has a kludgy… but you have to bring yer own TP.

Last June, I sponsored the first “Mystery” Paddle In and Hang. No one was told the destination until a few days beforehand, just that they would drive about three hours after they passed the Maine-New Hampshire border. Only about a dozen people came, but everyone there agreed it was possibly the best hang they’d ever been on.

For our “group hangs”, we most often get together in state parks, or commercial campgrounds [just for convenience and space] and they simply can’t hold a candle to camping in the wild. At the Savage Farm site, as it is called, we were able to spread out, and be so scattered that no one felt like they were being crowded or really camping with a group.

 

We hung up, hung out, ate well, and found an absolute trove of “fatwood” that we harvested for firestarters.

We took a group paddle up the lakeshore on Saturday, people went bushwhacking, two people who had never been out in a canoe or kayak before developed their skills to the point that when the weather blew in nasty just as we were getting geared up to leave, that they were the ones who made a double trip across to the landing to get everyone out. We both “sat out” some occasional crappy weather and reveled in some that was really great… including the fabulous Saturday evening sunset. It is hard to beat camping right around the Solstice. The bugs even weren’t bad.

Our 2017 “Mystery” Paddle and Hang was such a huge success that I wanted to get something up about it before we go back to the Savage Farm site in mid-June for “Return To The Lake”… After everyone talked about it at every other hang the rest of the ’17 season… telling everyone how wonderful it had been and how much they had missed out by not embracing the “mystery”, the interest was up and, so, we have another one planned.

You can follow the thread over on HammockForums.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hangtime Hook Update

My friend Eric Johnson’s HangTime Hook is getting closer to full availability. These are final samples for the injection molding process… up to now he has been slowly making each one separately on a 3D printer in his cellar. These are now much smoother, and should be considerably more rugged as well.

The final development change was the addition of the groove and hump up front to slip over a mini-cordlock permanently installed on your hammock ridgeline. This more easily keeps the “hook” where you need it to be without slippage… I am proud to say that this was my own contribution to the design process!

The HangTime Hook not only will hold your phone or iPod, but you can clamp most anything you need in the clip… fans, lights, your glasses, etc. [My own glasses just get hung for the night by one temple thru the “buttonhole” behind the clip].  Now, I don’t particularly care about watching videos when I’m out camping, but I do love having my [expensive] phone up there safe/ high-and-dry/ and accessible, and so easy to reach up and touch to check the time or weather.

Using a little imagination and the various holes and tabs, you can attach all kind of stuff. Note the “buttonhole” feature that lets you add anything you can sew a button onto.

I really think that Eric’s HangTime Hook is one of the most useful things you can add to your hammock. I’ve been using mine now for over a year, and I know almost no-one who has gotten one who doesn’t love it.

Look for them to be available from some of the hammock distributors and makers by this Fall.

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.

*******************************

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