….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″)
….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″)
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:
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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”
Old gear may not be the best gear. Times, materials and engineering change. But sometimes it’s just the only gear you’ve got and you simply cannot justify buying anything new, sometimes it’s just got so many memories attached to it you can’t bring yourself to get rid of it. AND sometimes it was just plain great gear when you got it and still is today.
Gerry was one of the early developers in “cutting edge” outdoor gear… the first zippered backpack… one of the first lightweight down jackets  … the first nylon “teardrop” shaped pack… and they supported early expeditions to climb Mount Everest and were long time supporters of the US Olympic efforts. Today it seems that they are best known for kiddie-carriers and car seats. But back when I was starting out buying decent gear, their sleeping bags were some of the highest rated.
This GERRY bag dates to 1971 to the best of my knowledge. That was the period of time that my friend Philip and I were starting to backpack on a regular basis, so it was when we each started accumulating gear. I know for certain that I had been using it for two or three years by the summer of 1974, and I know for certain that the first time I’ve used it was on a climbing expedition over to Seneca Rocks in West Virginia.
I remember that trip so clearly because, not only was it my first rock climbing trip, but we woke up under an unexpected early-October snowfall. My new bag had left me completely oblivious to the fact that it was snowing until the next morning. Shook off the powder, and I was good to go. [as soon as the sun came out, the powdering of snow melted right away and we were still able to go climbing safely].
The bag was good down to about 15°F, had a wide-tooth YKK nylon zipper that was snag-resistant, a drawstring neck and a lightweight, ripstop nylon construction. Additionally it was one of the first bags to feature interior baffles to add loft and to prevent the down from shifting… also those baffles were slanted at 45° so that each down channel overlapped those adjoining it… no sewn-thru through cold spots anymore. And the down fill was probably about 600… 100% Goose Down, too! Hi tech, cutting edge, high price!
I have no idea of what I paid for the bag at that point, but I do know that compared to today’s dollar it is about 4 to 1… $1.00 then = $4.00 today. If I figure that it was about 150 bucks, then a comparable replacement bag would cost about $600 to buy these days. What I do know was that back then it cost an-arm-and-a-leg on a college kid’s income. However, all it took was waking up under the snow just that one time for me to figure out that it was money well spent.
Today they make bags out of much lighter weight materials than that old ripstop. There is sil-nylon and 900+ fill Dri-Down. BUT… I don’t have the money to drop $600 on a new sleeping bag or quilt. I’m lucky I got that decent ultralightweight bag over at Walmart so cheap last summer. [funny… I just checked the blog tags and realized I never posted about buying the bag. You can look for a post on that one pretty soon].
Last spring, when I started reevaluating the camping stuff that I still had, I pulled the old Gerry bag out of a trunk. It was in remarkably good shape despite having been in a stuff sack for most of its existence. A little while out in the fresh sunlight, and both it and a 35-year-old Eddie Bauer down bag fluffed right up. The Bauer was in pretty good shape [and is made of a much softer, silkier, more comfortable, nylon material], however the Gerry probably had not even been washed since around 1980. There was a greenish ring around the neck, and a greasy “Brycream” spot inside the hood where the back of your head rested. It was kind of stiff feeling, had a couple of spark holes leaking down through the nylon on the foot, and I was really afraid that the ripstop material had gotten too fragile over the years.
However that bag was an old friend. It had been on dozens of trips up and down the length of the East Coast. Up in the mountains, down on the beach, out along the rivers, lakes, and swamps. Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, car camping… It’d been along on all of them. It even been on two grand tours across the country to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. I sort of felt I “owed” it to it to give it a second chance on life, but all summer I never got around to doing anything other than hanging it up by it’s foot so the down wouldn’t be crushed anymore.
A couple of months ago I happened to notice a post from the good folks at Nik-Wax. They make a line of down care products specially suited for cleaning and renovating outdoor gear. While they informed me that they have now discontinued the offer, at that time, you could send in one piece of gear for an in-house “Nik-Wax Rehab”. If I would pay the outward bound shipping, they would even send the bag back at their own expense. What was there to lose? …I stitched up the little burn holes where the down was leaking, and sent them the Gerry bag.
THEY DID AN ASTOUNDING JOB!
Based on my experience with what they achieved their products must be first rate. What came back to me it was a bag that was in nearly new condition. The ripstop material is no longer brittle feeling, but rather, soft and supple. It is glossy again and it smells clean! If you just toss the bag out across the floor, the lofting goes right up to 6 inches. You can feel with your fingers that the down is completely separated and evenly distributed. If it weren’t for the fact that the logo tag was a bit faded, you would never know that it was 40+ years old. Even with quality products like theirs, I am not sure I would’ve been able to do as good a job.
Thank you Nik-Wax. You guys saved my old bag from old age and decrepitude. I’m deeply grateful.
I just looked over an old Sierra Designs down vest down cellar that also dates back to the 1970s. Just like with the Gerry line, the old SD stuff back then was made rock solid. [I have already successfully re-waterproofed one of their 40 year old 60/40 Parkas because there was not another thing wrong with it, it just wasn’t as repellent as it had been.] However, I seem to have been a pretty greasy guy when I went camping. The back-neck on the vest is pretty filthy and the pits are… well… pretty pitty… Dirt-wise, the whole vest is pretty “repellent”, but there’s not another thing wrong with it either. Good gear is good gear. It just gets dirty when you never wash it.
Looks like I’ll be sending off some “thank you” money to Nik-Wax to find out if I can do as good a job at home.