Week 5

Weather: Temperatures 10-25 degrees, winds 20 mph, gusting 30-40 mph. 1/2 inch of snowfall throughout the night.

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, DIY Suspension, -20 Sleeping bag, Thermarest heat-reflecting sleeping pad, ridge line w/ various attachments.

Comments: It was a cold, wet night last night. I got home late after being gone all day yesterday so I did not set up the tarp, just the hammock because I wanted to get it done fast. I probably should have payed more attention to the weather forecasting a 40% chance of snow between 9-11, but I just kind of over looked that. Sure enough, I woke up under a blanket of snow, and my shoes, which I thought were under the hammock more, were also dusted with snow. No big deal though, it was just about a half an inch, and a couple of quick shakes of the sleeping bag got rid of the snow. One thing I haven't noticed many people pointing out is just how easy hammocks are to clean. With a swift jerk at one end, and snow and dirt that accumulated on it was knocked off.

The wind really picked up in the early morning, almost like in the first week. I ended up spending most of the night burrowed into the sleeping bag. The tree in my front yard, which already had a cut going 8 inches into it was popping and creaking really loud with every gust of wind, and I was a little worried it my split in half and come crashing down on me. Luckily, it didn't. The wind was a little hard to deal with without a tarp breaking it, but as I mentioned before, snuggling into the sleeping bag had the same effect.


Week 4

Weather: Temperatures 5-20 degrees, wind gusting 15-20 mph, freezing rain in the morning

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, DIY Suspension, -20 Sleeping bag, ENO Dryfly Tarp, Thermarest heat-reflecting sleeping pad, ridge line w/ various attachments.

Comments: Winter has finally hit Minnesota. We have snow on the ground, and the temperatures have plummeted over the past week. My set up was pretty cozy last night though. I had the tarp pitched pretty steep to keep the wind off, and it worked very well. I added a ridgeline of paracord to my set up, and I was able to hang all the stuff sacks, a bag with and extra shirt/ pants if I got cold, and a flashlight that conveniently hung right above my head. I also received some polyester straps in the mail, and FINALLY I was not lowered to the ground with stretchy nylon ones by morning!!!! I dint have time to do any sewing on them, so I just did some simple knots to attach them to my tree and hammock. I also still need a set of D rings for each end because the suspension was just tied off to the carabiners that come with the hammock. The only problem that I have yet to solve, and I don't think I've mentioned this before, is that the stuff sack for the rain tarp is VERY small. I think though that I can steal an old mesh bag off one of my old mess kits to replace it.


Week 3

Weather: Temperatures 15-25 degrees, winds 5-10 mph, traces of snow

Gear: Kelty -20 degree sleeping bag, ENO Singlenest Hammock, ENO Slapstrap, Thermarest heat reflecting pad, Coleman rechargeable lantern, Mountainsmith Buzz 2 lumbar pack.

Comments: It was a beautiful night last night. I spent most of the day at my grandpa's farm, and it was late when I got home. I decided to skip setting up the tarp to save some time. Learning my lessons from previous weeks, I set the slap straps about 5 feet up the tree. I woke up about a foot lower than when I went to bed, but I was still a good two feet off the ground. I'm hoping to have some straps made for next week so I can say good-bye to the 7 feet of stretchy nylon webbing. I decided to take out the Kelty sleeping bag I used in the first week because it was about ten degrees colder than the temperature my Snugpak bag could take. I slept well all night, and only my nose was the least bit cold. Usually being outside wakes me up at about 5 in the morning, but with the insane comfort of staying off the ground all night in the hammock and not being stretched to rest on the ground, I was woken up around 7 by my dad so we could get to church on time.  The only problem with not setting up my tarp was that my sleeping bag got frosty, but a couple shakes to care of this. I also decided to test the lumbar pack I got for Christmas. It's the Mountainsmith Buzz 2 pack, and it's very comfortable. I put my hammock in the main pocket, took one of the included water bottles out of its holder and replaced it with my slapstraps, and put a flash light into one of the three convenient side pockets. Had I been on a day hike, I would have filled one of the other pockets with a granola bar or two, and the other one with a little first-aid/ survival kit.  The last thing is that I kinda forgot about picture taking I was so tired last night and comfy this morning... so Ill see if I can put the lumbar pack on but I dont have any of the hammock... sorry.


Week 2

Weather: Temperatures ranging 20-30 degrees. Winds calm, 0-5 mph.

Gear: Snugpak Travelpak sleeping bag, ENO Singlenest Hammock, ENO Slapstrap suspension system, ENO Dryfly raintarp, Thermarest heat reflecting ccf sleeping pad.

Comments: Last night was a LOT nicer than last week. The winds were very calm, and the temperatures were just under freezing. It was a pretty comfortable night, other than the fact that I set up the hammock really badly and ended up almost sliding off one end of it during the middle of the night because I wasn't paying very close attention to the fact that one slap strap was about 3 feet higher than the other. Also, I was wearing wool socks that were very loose and ended up loosing feeling in my right foot by morning... had to come back inside about two hours earlier than i expected. the foot quickly recovered though, after some rubbing and setting it in a blanket.
I received a new sleeping bag in the mail on Thursday, and was very excited to test it out. It was the Snugpak Travelpak sleeping bag. The bag is rated at 30 degrees, and I was very warm in it other than the fact it was so thin the small amount of wind stole heat away from my foot as mentioned above. It cost about $75, and was a steal. It comes with an integrated mosquito net and a small pocket to store valuables. The mosquito netting is barley useful though, as it rests on your face when lying in the bag so bugs can just bite right through. If anything, it will prevent bugs from crawling into the bag during the day. My favorite part about this sleeping bag is its pack size. It packs down to around 1 foot long uncompressed, and you can easily compress it to about 8 or so inches, and squeeze it to about 6 inches. This is a very nice bag, and I was really happy with it.
On Friday I received another new piece of gear, my Kelty Lakota 65 Backpack. It's kind of hard to test that right now as I am only able to be in my backyard, but I will review it next time I go backpacking. I quickly tested its capacity, and was able to stuff my sleeping bag into its compartment, my full hammocking system in to the top lid, 4 shirts and one pair of socks into the front pocket, and three full sized blankets in to the main compartment. This will be plenty of space, and I am happy with the features of the pack so far. It cost me $115.


Week 1

Weather: Temperatures ranging 10-30 degrees. Strong winds, sustained 10-25 mph, 50+ mph gusts. 1.5 inches of wet snow fell over the course of about three hours.

Gear: ENO Singlenest Hammock, ENO Slapstrap suspension system, ENO Dryfly Raintarp, Thermarest heat reflecting foam sleeping pad, Minstral -20 degree sleeping bag, Coleman rechargeable lantern.

Comments: This was my first night out of 52, and it was probably one of the hardest ones on my gear. I went out at about 11:00, and came back in about 8:00 the next morning. The gear was all set up from the night before, and the weight of the initial snow fall really weighed down the tarp.  The tarp however, stood up to the weight, and I brushed the snow off and re-tightened the guy lines a little before climbing into the hammock. The snow stopped about an hour and a half after I had gotten in to my hammock. At this time, the wind had really picked up, at speeds of around 23 mph.  The tarp still yet stood up to the constant barrage of snow falling from the trees above. Regardless of the wind gusts reaching around 50 mph, the tarp held its ground and its taughtness. I got about 5-6 hours of very comfortable sleep, regardless of the crazy weather conditions. I have yet to find something to dislike about the hammock, but the slap straps stretch quite a bit. I would highly suggest opting for some whoopie slings instead of the slap straps. The tarp stood up to consistent abuse throughout the night, and the guylines did not loosen the least bit. Contrary to all the people writing about the cuts on the tarp being to deep, I found that now snow was on the ground under the tarp in the morning.  The sleeping pad and sleeping bag worked like a charm, keeping me warm through out the night. Over all, i had a great night despite the unforgiving Minnesota winter weather.