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.]

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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…

(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″)

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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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]

A Quick Spring Swing

  • Last night was lovely and clear here in southern Maine, with the forecasts of dropping into the 40s, so I took the opportunity to put my AMOK Draumr 3.0 hammock up for the first time in 2016.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 8.51.37 AM

    We have our Hammock Home/Burning Men Hang just up the road at ATTroll’s place two Fridays from now, and I wanted to make sure my gear was A-OK. I also wanted to try out a new modular sleeping system I’m working on for May to September camping that will hopefully let me go topless on nice nights. It’s based on a cheapo “waterproof” Chinese synthetic bag and one of the Costco throws… The prototyped/poc version fulfilled all my expectations, so it’s off to my local thread injectoress for a completed version. [I’ll show it off on here once it’s completed]

    The best part of the evening was getting to see the stars again. This is the first time I have had a chance to hang my hammocks since I had the lens replacement surgery done on my eyes last fall. ABSOPOSIVIVALUTELY amazing to see the stars and the constellations sharp and clear without wearing glasses! I even saw two meteorites, and a fireball.

    >> Onward thru the fog…>>

Working on My Sleep System

2014-06-09 12.03.06

Last year I made some small steps in upgrading my sleeping gear.  The first was a purchase of a ALPS Razor “sleeping bag liner”… This is the orange and black item above. It is essentially a super lightweight, fleece sleeping bag, and is perfect for summer night sleeping, whether used open as a quilt or closed as a bag. It came in at just over a pound and a half and stuffs down to the size of a tomato juice can.

The camo piece is a mil-spec, Gore-Tex Bivy bag. It is part of a USDoD tri-system that includes a winter-weight down bag, and a secondary bag/liner. Altogether they make for a military grade, but very heavy, sleeping system. By itself, the bivy is really nice. Waterproof, breathable, tear-resistant… I thought it was a great alternative to actually carrying anything in the way of a tent [especially since my style of camping involves avoiding inclement weather if it all possible].  The final add-in was the blue 5 x 7 tarp from WallyWorld. This is widely regarded as the best $10 tarp you can find. It certainly doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the highend, catenary-cut tarps, but it is coming in at a fraction of the price.

2014-06-20 10.53.22

After I got these units, my forum scanning introduced me to the Ozark Trails 250 32° ultra-lightweight down bag that could sometimes be found down at WallyWorld. Because of that “sometimes”,  it took me a couple of months to actually find one. However, when I did, it was on red tag clearance and only cost me $59. [They now appears to have gone completely out of stock**, but it would never hurt to keep looking… This is a great bag for under a hundred dollars ]. Chinese made, 90% duck down, nice zip, snug hoodie, it gives about 1 1/2 inches of loft, but even in the upgraded 250 version [some contain less fill and were marketed as a 200] the 32° rating is probably grossly overstated… You’re going to be comfortable to something more like 40 to 45° depending on whether you’re a hot or cold sleeper. Still this is also a very nice bag for the price. I’ve used it quite a number of times now, down into 40° weather, and been very comfortable. It comes with an included compression sack and stuffs down even smaller than the ALPs.

The advantage to the system as it let’s me “mix-and-match”. Even the bivy works as a sleeping bag alone in mild weather, it can then be paired with either or both of the actual bags, and each of those can be used alone or together depending on this season, and the situation. For early and late season camping I have two different old-fashioned mummy bags that are rated down to 15° and 25°F.

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Of course, this year, I have found myself drawn into the wonderful world of hammock camping, so the bivy bag and the little 5 x 7 tarp have become somewhat superfluous. Most people use a tarp that is matched to their hammock length for weather protection. Mine came with one that was specially designed to fit ideally. Now… the latest, and greatest thing in hammock camping is top and “under” quilts… TQs and UQs, that replace the need for a sleeping bag. The thought is that with a sleeping bag the down beneath your body is compressed to zero loft and becomes essentially useless. The UQ is strung under the hanging hammock, and snugged up against your bottom fully lofted. The TQ is gathered at one end to create a foot box just like a regular mummy bag, and is otherwise just used as a blanket or regular quilt. Some people have multiple sets of quilts to accommodate seasonal needs. For me this was just too expensive… I have been using the opened-out ALPs and the OT250, and been completely satisfied in my new AMOK Draumr hammock and tarp setup.

The final piece above is more directly related to hammock camping. A couple of weeks ago someone discovered that Costco was marketing a down throw for $19.95, that with a little DIY skill could be converted into a decent quilt of either kind. People have been going crazy grabbing them up and breaking out the thread injectors.

It seemed like too good of a deal to risk missing at that price, so I had an out-of-state friend pick one up for me [there are no Costcos in Maine]. Mine ended up being a dark bronze color they call “Copper”. I just hand-sewed grosgrain loops to the bottom end and ran a piece of micro cord with a cord lock through those to create a second layer TQ that I can use inside the Ozark Trail, or one of my older, standard mummy bags, to grab another 10 or 15°. Best of all, if I pull the cord out, I’m back to having a perfectly nice couch throw.

Patience and creativity has netted me a 5-piece sleep system for a total cost of only $150  [We are going to ignore the exorbitant cost of the AMOK].  This is way less than any decent sleeping bag, and certainly less than any of the TQ/UQ setups available. Plus, I have far more flexibility by pairing things up than I would with any individual, high-priced down bag. My final overnighter of the season is coming up in a couple of weeks, when I go over into the White Mountains of New Hampshire for another hammock hang. As we close in on the date, I will simply pick the setup of bags that seems to be the most efficient for the temperatures forecast.

** I maybe wrong.  it appears to still be available mail order...   10/28/15 “unavailable”