Swing Into Spring

It was a year ago yesterday that I got the Reverend elfLiza off the ground for the first time. This was over at Kings Mountain Park in NC in my 11′ Dutchware Hexon 2.0. [Note that she figured out the diagonal lay for comfort right off]. Since then she has gotten in two nights at the New England Hammock Hangers Assoc. Lobster and Lighthouses Hang, won some gear in the raffle, and is excited that I just sold her Hennessy and a complete ENO setup for enough moolah to grab a new Dutchware “Chameleon” when he starts taking retail orders in June.

 

I took off to another hang with the NEHHA gang down at Ashby, MA over last April weekend. I think the total number was 43 folks. Wonderful to see what are now old friends and make a bunch of new ones. Group hangs are simply the best way to find out what you need to know to make your hammocking experience what it ought to be.

Here we all are on Saturday evening after consuming far more food than anyone should be allowed.[I’m dead-center in the back row with my full belly hanging out of the brown plaid] Five kinds of stew [including venison], a dutch oven full of chili, Penne Putannesca, about three other tubs of pasta casseroles, a couple of veggie things, fire-baked potatoes in their skins, a rump roast cooked right on the coals, bacon wrapped chicken hearts, breaded cod loins…. and we never got to the four pounds of burgers. Don’t start me up on the breakfasts, I’ll give out the hint that fresh made doughnuts featured heavily… and BACON.

We had tree-climbing rigs set up, a slack-line 35′ up in the air, map and compass training, I did an “instuctable” on making the Flaming Dragon T#rds fire starters, and we did a show-and-tell walk to see all the different hammock setups folks had brought.

I also got to use my Loco Libre Gear “Ghost Pepper” 30° top-quilt for the first time out in the wild.Worth every penny. The chevron baffling that they use to keep the down from shifting is just incredible. One of the best things about the 30° top quilt is that I can match it up with one of my Costco down throws and easily get down to 20° or below… likely to be a rare occurrence, but the option is nice to have.

 

 

A stream running behind the grove was our sound track for falling asleep.

 

 

 

photo by BranMayo

 

 

And then my friend Iuri [aka BrazilianGuy] did this highly professional video about “why” and “what”… check it out!  >> VIDEO <<

The NEW Dutchware “Chameleon” Hammock

I would be less than a friend if I didn’t give my buddy Dutch a pump up on his new hammock. Originally asking for only $22,000, this Kickstarter portion of the project has now concluded with something over $200,000 in sales. All of those hammocks are currently being shipped out, and Dutch hopes to have the retail Chameleons available for order by sometime in mid June.

I had a chance to see one of the early-bird KS versions last weekend at the group hang down in Massachusetts. I was tremendously impressed. Quality construction, flexibility of use, a really nice new suspension system…. Dutchware has really nailed it on this one. They did a great job on both the hammock as well as on the on the video below. You should get a fairly good idea of exactly what’s on offer.

You will still need both a tarp and an under quilt to complete your set up, [and of course a top quilt or sleeping bag]. However, with a Chameleon as your base, you should be able to bring your entire sleeping system in at somewhere right around 4-5 pounds for three-season use.

 

[I received no consideration for this post. I simply want to recognize what I believe to be an astoundingly good product.]

 

 

(just) 17oz. Of Toasty Goodness …Rollin’ Nawth To BigGuy !!

   

My new LocoLibre  30° Ghost Pepper TQ on the layout table…. regular/wide w/2oz. overstuff. Ripstop By the Rolls “Fallen Leaves” camo with a titanium interior.

….now shipped !

Muchos Thanchos to George [@LL], hk2001 [for the FL design], and Kyle [@RSBtR]

(be sure to check out the “Original-full yard” click-thru at RSBtR… hk2001 created a camo pattern that only repeats 36″ x 60″)

“What’s that noise…?”

You have to learn to expect all kinds of foolish things from the crowd over at Hammock Forums.

Last September, at our Lighthouses and Lobsters hang, I was waiting for my lobster dinner to be served when I heard this humming noise behind me…. So, I turned around.

Yeah… SemperFiGuy was checking out my haircut with his new drone… from about two feet away!

And yeah, he took it up about 1500 feet… well into the FAA no fly zone, buzzed some guy who was trout fishing on the pond a half a mile away, inspected a bunch of elderly folks having their cocktails over in the RV part of the camp, frightened a dog, and landed safely. And then he entered the witless protection program. He’s planning on wearing a disguise to this year’s hang.

 

The ENO OneLink Hammock System

Eagles Nest Outfitters offers this complete hammock system for around $225 [depending on the vendors]. Mine came from REI; they currently show it priced at either $209 for $219* [this does not include the two down throws shown at the top of the photo]. The price difference being between an ordinary rain fly, and the “ProFly” which is catenary cut… see below. My unit includes the “Pro Fly”. While at 4.8 lbs it is not the lightest system available, it is an excellent entry level for folks to want to try “getting up off the ground”.

[*~~I have been an REI member since the early 1970s, so I was able to apply my membership discount. Members get approximately 10% back on all purchases over the year as a credit that they can then use for further purchases. Together with the credit remaining from a returned item and a sale discount, grabbing this was a whim purchase. I had planned to give it as a gift to a friend, however, they purchased a cottage vendor hammock on their own. Since I already own several other hammocks with varying types, this leaves me with a bit of redundancy which explains why the tags are still on the components… I may end up selling this before I ever hang it up! ]

The basic OneLink system includes:

  • an ENO DoubleNest hammock~~ this is supposedly wide enough for two people, but you have to be crazy to try to sleep to people in a single hammock. A cuddle-up is fine for a day hang nap, but you’re not going to get much real rest smushed up on each other. The DN is tripartite, in that the width is achieved by adding two, different colored, fabric strips along edge. Mine is in navy blue and black.
  • an “Atlas” strap suspension~~ a pair of straps with sewn-in link-loops [called a “daisy-chain] to attach the actual hammock to the suspension wrapped around the trees.
  • the cat-cut ProFly tarp~~ a catenary-cut means that the edges have a parabolic curve that will help the sides pull more taut and flat when stretched and pegged down. This equates to less flapping in the wind, and a greater ability to easily shed rain and snow. The rectangular tarp also offered is perfectly fine… It makes the package a bit cheaper, and a preference of one over the other it’s really up to the individual. The tarp hangs from its own secondary suspension, and can be raised and lowered over the hammock depending on weather conditions.
  • the “Guardian” bug net~~ this hangs down from the hammock suspension itself, is gathered underneath, and has a side entry zipper opening.
  • [4] Y-stakes for guying out the tarp corners
  • Each component has its own dedicated drawstring bag [I believe that the DL bag is actually sewn on to the edge of the unit so that it can be used for small items when the hammock is deployed]. The whole rig can be contained in a very nice larger drawstring bag… It also has room leftover… probably enough for a summer weight under quilt
  • [ the system is also available with the single width Nest and the rectangular tarp have a slight savings. To my knowledge, the rest of the system is the same]

Two down throws that are shown in the photo are what I intend to use for a top and bottom quilt to go with this set up. Again, if you’re new to hammocking, a top quilt is virtually identical to a mummy-style sleeping bag with the zipper removed. The shape of the hammock helps contain the quilt over your body while you sleep. The silver Costco Down Throw [or CDT to the knowledgable] has already been retrofitted for a top quilt foot box by the simple expediency of  1/2″ loops sewn along the foot-end every 6 inches and gathered with a drawstring, but can still be used as a standard throw on very hot nights just by releasing the drawstring.  The CDT is 70 inches long and 60 inches wide. This is fine for someone like me who is under 5’10”. If you’re taller, you may have to find something else. An under quilt actually hangs below you, barely touching the hammock body. This allows the down to fully loft without crushing, and provides your insulation underneath to prevent the dreaded “cold butt syndrome”. The blue throw is from Eddie Bauer and is only 60 inches long by 50 inches wide. This should make for a perfectly acceptable shoulders-to-calf, summer weight, under quilt. I plan to add a full width strip of 1 foot wide ripstop nylon at the head and foot ends, with a channel for a bungee cord gather at either end. The sides will simply be turned over at the edge and sewn down. This will let me run cord for the actual suspension out to the gathered ends of the hammock.

ENO is a brand with the pretty loyal following.  My first hammock was an ENO. I was able to resell it almost immediately when I decided to move on to my AMOK. My daughter told me that around many universities going out to hang in your hammock is known as “eno-ing”.

The OneLink seems to be a nearly ideal solution for people who would like to try hammocking as an alternative without spending an arm and a leg. While top and bottom quilts are great, they are by no means necessary. You can leave the zipper open on any style bag you already havefor on top and I’m certain that for summer situations you can get by with a $15 closed-cell foam “Bluey” insulation pad from WallyWorld, or even one of the mylar windshield reflectors from the DollarTree used underneath you right in the hammock itself. The OneLink provides you with everything else you really need. Toss everything into a black garbage bag together with a bottle of water, and a can of beanie-weenies and you’re good to go hang!

As I mentioned above the total weight for the rig it is right at 4.8 pounds. ENOs come with what I consider to be a very clunky, heavyweight suspension** on the hammock itself. This is in the form of 3/8 inch polyester rope bulkily knotted through the end channels and designed to be attached to the straps with heavy stainless steel carabiners like you would see restraining the lumber racks at Home Depot. If weight is of consideration, you can quickly shave 12oz or more just by replacing the suspension with a pair of continuous loops and a stick toggle to go through the Atlas daisychain. More weight can be trimmed by replacing the”Atlas” straps with single layer polyester ones. Then even more can be lost just by discarding the individual stuff sacks and putting everything into one larger bag. You could even do away with that [as many people do] and shove everything into a layer down in your pack.

**Now, if you are unfamiliar with hammocking as yet, this a good point to stress how vitally important it is to use actual straps, and not ropes, around the trees you hang from. Your weight in a hammock will put a great deal of force on the suspension where it wraps around the back of a tree. As you jump in and out, and wriggle around swinging gaily from side to side, those forces can chafe and cause irreparable damage to the cambium layer of the tree’s bark. This is the layer that allows liquid nutrients to move from the roots to the leaves. Especially in a park, or other public place where many people might hang from the same pair of trees, over time, the tree’s ability to sustain itself could actually be compromised. Even when limited to one side of the tree, this can cause its death over time. The potential for harm has caused many public spaces, including a lot of universities, to ban hammock hanging altogether. Most straps are one inch wide, so this will spread the force much more evenly against the tree bark than would rope. In a very practical move, the State of Florida now requires the use of 2 inch wide straps in state parks and public spaces.

If I elect to keep this rig, I will certainly be swapping out my own suspension system. It is my hope that I will have a perfectly usable and complete “loaner” sleeping system that weighs in at under 5 pounds. Given that I used to tote 4 pound sleeping bags, this seems like a pretty good deal.

 

If you find yourself truly interested in hammocking, I would encourage you to read Derek Hanson’s great book, The Ultimate Hang. It covers all of the basics, and will take you well into the realm of fine tuning your gear to provide you with the best experience. From shaving a few ounces off your total weight no matter what hammock you are using, too how best to use your gear in safety and comfort, most of your questions will be answered. It will certainly make it easier to understand some of the esoterica I mention what I’m talking about my own hammock experiences.

 

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rei-9-hammocking-rules

As is probably quite apparent from my posts over the last year or 18 months, I have now moved entirely away from ground dwelling in favor of hammock hanging. A lighter total weight for my gear, quicker set up [especially in bad weather], and far, far more comfort are just a few of the reasons I made the change.

I came across this earlier today [obviously from the REI co-op], and thought I would share it here. Curiously, there are really only four but actually applied to hammock hanging. The rest are just good advice for general camping.

But it is a really nice little graphic.

In the spirit of HYOH [hang-yer-own-hang] I have to say I take a little bit of exception to their suggestion that you not exceed 18 inches. My first reaction was, “WTF… My hammock straps have to go over 6 feet above the ground or I am going to be dragging”. On reflection, I assume they are suggesting that the bottom of your hammock not exceed 18 inches. However, what works for one person is not always right for everyone. Are they talking about your hammock when you first hang it up?… or loaded up for the night with you and your gear?  Also, at that height, in really wet weather when you are using an underquilt you’re quite likely going to find that the splash-up has soaked your UQ and removed all of its insulation value.

The other one that I had to take a second thought about was taking down your hammock if you leave for camp for any period of time. Then that I realized that if large wildlife like deer or moose stumbled through it they could get tangled up and hurt… And you could lose your rig out there in the williwacks a hundred miles from nowhere.

If you haven’t yet tried hammock hanging as an alternative to tents and ground tarps, I would hardily recommend that should give it a shot. You can get some entry-level gear for as little as $100 if you keep your eyes open for sales.

[if you have any questions, just pop a message up here on the site… I’ll be happy to steer you as best I can]

DIY Combo Summerweight Quilts

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I paired up a $20 Cosco down throw with a $21 lightweight Chinese bag made with “imitation silk” insulation and a “waterproof” outer covering. The silver throw fits inside the orange bag to give me a combo sleep system that should take me well down into the 40°s range. Either piece can also be used individually, or in conjunction with one of my other bags to grab a few more degrees.

You can never tell what you’re going to get with the Chinese stuff, but the “imitation silk” seems to be almost the same thing as the products marketed stateside as ClimaShield… a continuous/single filament insulation that comes on a roll, and cuts and sews just like cloth. I am not going to bet on fully waterproof, but the exterior of the orange bag does bead up water enough that it rolls right off. This should be sufficient, since I’m really mostly interested in it keeping the dew off of my down bag when I don’t want to put a tarp up over my hammock.

I used the Infamous Thread Injector to sew a drawstring channel along the full width of the bottom of each bag. About 2 inches on the silver bag, and about five on the orange one.  That way the foot box space on the orange bag is larger and won’t compress the down in the silver foot box. The two drawstrings can just be tied with an overhand knot to hold the footboxes together. [I also cut out the perimeter zipper on the Chinese bag]

The Costco throw came quilted into six-inch squares. I went ahead and pulled out all of the vertical stitching. This allows some of the down that was caught in the original sewing job to add to the loft. You can also now fluff the down toward the center/top of the bag so that more down will be over your body. I added vertical sewn-thru quilting to the orange bag… mostly as a “just in case” to prevent the insulation from tearing and shifting. And having the channels in the two bags at 90° opposition to each other should help keep down any cold spots.

I still have to put on a couple of snaps on each long edge to hold the pair together. Of course, in the way of all things, these are exactly what I forgot to pick up when I was at the Wallyworld down Babylon today. However, last night I just used safety pins, and then took the comboed pair out in the hammock and down into the low 50°s for a couple of hours to watch the stars come out. Worked a charm.

Specs:   38oz  …78″ x 30″  … approx 2 1/2″ loft in the pair. Together, the two pack down to about the size of a gallon of milk.

A little heavier than I would really like, but the CDT only goes 15oz on its own, and I will probably be using it by itself as my go-to TQ for most of my fair weather camping. So, at a cost of under $45, and just a couple of hours work, it’s a combo that seems awfully hard to beat.

[Jus’ sayin’~~ If you have a Costco warehouse near you, and can pick up one of these throws for $19.99,  you’re foolish to pass it up]