1/03/2013

The Final Post

Ahhh... the final post. Its been quite the adventure, spending 52 nights sleeping outside. Though it was rather tranquil and boring towards the end of the summer, every Saturday presented new challenges. From numb fingers while setting up in the winter, to angry raccoons, to unexpected changes in the weather, I learned to handle a number of different situations. I had nights where I barley slept, and nights where I overslept an hour or two because I was so comfy.

Some people, actually quite a few, ask me "Why?". Why are you doing this? Well, even after an entire year, I still can't come up with a satisfying answer. "Well... because I want to." I say. And they say, "well do you get anything? Any reward?" "Well... no" "So then why are you doing it?" "...Because." They don't understand I'm doing it... just to do it. I didn't get a reward, I didn't raise money, I didn't get tons of recognition, I just slept.

I suppose you could say I was rewarded in a way though. Not a physical way, rather a mental way. I learned dedication. I learned to finish what you sent out to do. I learned patience, and I learned the importance of taking some time to myself, and let the crazy world around me settle down for a bit.

I also pulled a lot more from this experience with the creation of this blog. To be honest, without all you guys reading and tracking my progress, I don't know if I could have finished this. You gave me the motivation to push through those boring summer nights. When I started, I expected not much more than people from my family looking at it. I didn't expect for anymore than 2 or 3 hundred page views at the end. But now, as i look at my stats, I see nearly 9,500 views.
This averages out to a little more then 180 per week, or 26 per day. I want to thank all of you who took time out of their day to read my posts, comment on them, and give me motivation to keep going.

Now I haven't just conjured up some mental skills, but have also gathered a fair amount of camping skills. I can do my entire set up, from the backpack to sleep-ready, in around 3 minutes. I can do an even quicker ground set up with a tarp, but after sleeping in a hammock for a year, who wants to do that? I've gathered a good arsenal of gear, probably to much, and learned to use it well. I'm considering making another blog that I can focus on each of my individual pieces of gear and do some in-depth reviews.

Overall, I had a great experience. I got some recognition for it, and had some local news stations wanting to do a story on me, but sadly for one reason or another none of them were able to pull through with it. I know in my mind there is more I want to put in this post, bit this is all I can think of for now. I know as soon as I hit the submit button I will think of more, or better ways to word what I have said.

And that concludes this post, this blog for that matter. So until next time fellow hammockers, tenters, tarpers, bushcrafters, under-the-star-ers, and anyone I might have missed. Thanks for reading and happy camping!


You can see a video of pictures from the adventure here: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k9uLlRO6JaY

12/25/2012

Week 52

I got the request to do a quick post on this past Saturday, officially my 52nd night sleeping out. Watch for a big finale post next week- probably Sunday. I'm hoping to get a new camera before the trip, so we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, Saturday was one of the coldest nights out. It was a bitter 5 degrees, with a windchill of about -7. I learned the importance of tightening up the little baffle in the sleeping bag by my the neck, it made a HUGE difference in the way the heat was kept in. I got some new gear for Christmas that I've been testing out and the tarp finally came on Wednesday. Look for pics and some small reviews in next weeks final post.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

12/21/2012

UPDATE- Final Week

So my final Saturday is tomorrow! I can't believe how fast this has gone by so fast. As I said last week, me and my dad were planning to go out for the night to a state forest. However, with Christmas celebrations early on Sunday, we aren't going to make it. Im still going to sleep out tomorrow night, but our trip will be set back a week. I think, just because its more interesting, I will do my final post on the 29th, the Sunday after the trip. Is there any input on this? Would you guys rather see a post this Sunday with me sleeping in the yard again, or next Sunday after the trip?

12/16/2012

Week 51

Weather- Temps in the lower 30's, Winds 10-25 mph, freezing rain through the day and into night, turning into light flurries by morning

Gear: DIY hammock, DIY underquilt, Tarp, Kelty sleeping bag

Comments: After getting 10.5 inches of snow last week, we were hit with an inch or two worth of freezing rain that fell throughout the day and into the night yesterday. We got a small, immeasurable amount of snow in the early morning, and the winds picked up through the night towards 25 mph gusts.

Now that we have snow on the ground, I don't have to pound bent metal stakes into the ground. Instead, I just take a stock about a foot long, lay it in the snow, and cover it, creating an anchor point in the snow. This saves weight as you can leave the stakes at home, and you don't have to pound them into the ground (cuz thats no fun). It seemed to do the trick, and held up to some hefty wind gusts through the night.

I also hung at a little sharper of an angle last night, though its still guesswork because I've been to lazy to get a ridge line on my new diy hammock. Maybe I'll get to that later this week. I also ordered a new tarp from ENO- I got their profly. I'll use it for the summer because its a really nice green olive color, and will go perfectly with my camouflaged hammock material to create a stealth hang set up. Some (many) people seem to complain about ENO. Personally, I love their stuff. Sure its not the most light weight or advanced hammock system out there, but its simple and to the point. The tarps are heavy, but the perfect size. They are very easy to set up, using line locks, so you don't have to get all technical with the knots. It keeps my gear simple and easy to use, and because the hammock, tarp, and bug net are sold separately, you can use them interchangeably and with other product brands (I'll use my diy hammock with their tarp and bugnet).

Next week (my final week!) me and my dad are hoping to get out to a state forest, weather and schedule permitting. I have no clue when my post will come, as I'll be busy with Christmas and such. Look between Sunday morning and Tuesday night, and I should have a post up.

12/09/2012

Week 50

Weather: Temps 25-30 degrees, winds 10-20 mph, 8 inches of snow

Gear: Kelty Noahs 12' tarp, Kelty sleeping bag, DIY hammock, Diy underquilt

Comments: Be careful what you wish for. I had been hoping for a big snowfall before my 52 weeks are up, and it came last night. As much as I love the snow, this could not have come at a worst time. I spent most of yesterday with a raging headache and 100 degree temp, and spending sleeping out was fairly miserable.

To make matters worse, The tarp stretched a lot under the weight of the snow. I had to punch the inside in an attempt to shake it off, but it was too heavy, and eventually the tarp was right in my face. The wind also blew some snow inside the tarp.

I also finished a DIY hammock. Its a little bit shorter than the ENO singlenest, but about a foot wider. It is made out of 1.1 oz. woodland camo ripstop, and is quite comfortable- more so that the parachute fabric the ENO is made out of. Ill add some pictures if I get time.






12/02/2012

Week 49

Weather: temps 25-35 degrees, winds 10-15 mph, heavy misting fog after midnight.

Gear: Kelty Noah's 12' tarp, ENO singlenest, diy underquilt, Kelty sleeping bag

Comments: Had to kick out the tarp last night because there was a warning issued for heavy/ freezing fog. Im glad I took the time to set up the tarp- when I woke up this morning, the fog was heavy and my headlamp only penetrated three or four feet in front of me. It looked like it was snowing and someone had hit the pause button- there were big, frozen pieces of fog just hanging there in the air. It was quite a cool sight actually.

I changed the angle of my hang a little too last night, just to experiment a little. I had been hanging at roughly the same angle for the past couple of weeks, and I made it sag a little more last night. The result? An even more comfortable hang! With the combination of the perfect sag angle and the temperature under the tarp (set up in a winter configuration, it was easily 5 to 10 degrees warmer than outside) lead to one of my best nights this year of sleeping outside.

I have plans- they aren't concrete yet- to go get some fabric for a DIY hammock. I will HOPEFULLY have one for next weekend, but no guarantees. Its my first big DIY project (aside from my underquilt, which is really just an old sleeping bag that took all of two hours to transform into an underquilt.) so hopefully all goes well.

I'd also like to send a shoutout to ENO. Someone in their company had run across my blog, and their CEO sent me an email with a good discount on any item of my choice- probably a ProFly tarp for summer, once they get the color I want back in stock.

11/25/2012

Week 48

Weather- Temps in the lower 30's to upper 20's, wind 10 mph; gusts up to 20, very little snow (5 minutes worth of light flurries)

Gear- ENO singlenest hammock, Kelty sleeping bag, DIY underquilt

Comments- well, I think we can finally call it winter here in Minnesota. The temps have plummeted from the 40-50's down to the 20's for the most of this week. We also got about half and inch of snow on Thursday, and its stuck around. It was a little warmer last night, with temps hovering right about 30 degrees, comfortable sleeping weather if you have the right gear. I'm really hoping that we'll get a big snowfall in the next four weeks so I can test my year-old gear in it and see how it holds.

I love camping in the winter. Theres no bugs, the temps are cold, but I think its better than uncomfortable heat. In the winter, you can bundle up and control your temperature, but in the summer, you can only get to a certain point until you lose your climate control and its just downright hot. Also, you can see a lot more in the winter. I remember on some of the trips I was on in the summer, the undergrowth was so bad, we couldn't see much off the trail (and in some places, even the trail had undergrowth up to my neck). In the winter, the trees loose their leaves, and the undergrowth recedes. It opens to a beautiful land scape, and you can see for a long way in any direction, without much view obstruction.

Its also easier to avoid running into animals you might not want to run into. Over the summer, I spent nights above what might have been a game trail, as well as a night near a rocky cliff. Upon hiking out of the cliff site in the morning, we found what appeared to be mountain lion tracks, leading to and from the cliff. We concluded a mountain lion may have called that cliff home, and we may have been two very lucky campers? In the winter, its easier to spot tracks in the snow. That way you can determine whether your hanging over a game trail, or in a lions den.

11/18/2012

Week 47

Weather: Temps 30-35, wind 0-20 mph, no precipitation

Gear: Eno hammock, DIY underquilt, Kelty sleeping bag

Comments: I was hoping to watch the meteor shower going on now, but the sky was clouded over. The winds were strong late on Saturday, but died down to almost nothing by this morning.

It was one of those nights were its just cold enough to get that nice, refreshing deep sleep, but warm enough that your to comfy and cozy to do anything. Heck, the branch of the tree I hung from last night was cracking and swaying in the wind, but even having my life on the line was not enough to get out of bed. Anyway, I woke up fine with fresh air in my lungs and energized for the day.



On a totally off note, Im looking for a new edc knife. Im liking the small multitools such as the Gerber dime or Leatherman Squirt. My previous experience with other (cheap) multitools, however, has not been good. Can any of you persuade me to toss the money in for a multitool or perhaps a different edc blade?


11/12/2012

Week 46

Weather: Temps in the 20s, wind 15-20 mph, gusts to 30 mph, light snow flurries

Gear: Kelty sleeping bag, homemade underquilt, eno hammock

Comments: Sorry for the late post. I quickly packed for my camping trop this weekend, so I forgot straps and a rain tarp. It stormed (in November?) both nights, so I was lucky we had an actualshelter I could sleep in for the weekend. This means that I spent last night out instead of Saturday.

Last night was cold and blustery, with winds gusting to 30 mph and temps in the thirties. I didnt use a tarp, and got snowed on. It was cool though, sleeping with quite literally a blanket of snow, and watching the majestic frozen particles fall from the dark sky. Lucky for me, it stayed cold enough that it didnt melt and soak me inside the sleeping bag. I woke up with a light snow covering on the ground- the first snow this year to have stuck around.

I hope to get in another camping trip before my 52 weeks are up, but Im not sure that will be happening.

11/04/2012

Week 45

Weather: temps in the lower 30s, no wind, small amount of precipitation

Gear: Eno hammock, kelty 0 degree sleeping bag

Comments: What a beautiful night to sleep last night! I was a little scared I was going to get rained on, because their was a few drops of it for about an hour when I first got out, but luckily it stopped so there was no need to set up a tarp. The extra hour of sleep felt nice, and allowed me to wait a bit before falling asleep to look up at the crystal clear sky to see the stars and a large moon. It was actually very cool to see the stars for once, because unless I'm in the woods, its hard to see them with the bright city lights.

I slept good- I find the lower thirties to be perfect sleeping weather, I always wake up refreshed with fresh air in my lungs, and it seems to keep me energized through the day when that happens. I ended up being a little to warm in the sleeping bag so I unzipped it and left it partially open to allow the cool air in.

I'm camping next weekend so my post will be Late Sunday evening probably. The weather looks like it will be mild temps and perhaps our first snowfall of the season- so you can expect a good post  next week.

10/28/2012

Week 44

Weather: Temps 28-30 degrees, wind 5 mph, no precipitation
Gear: Eno hammock, DIY underquilt, kelty 0* sleeping bag

Comments: I had to kick out the cold weather gear last night- the temps were in the upper 20's and the wind was a little cold when it blew by. Its definitely getting closer to winter- dark at six, and cold. The underquilt really helped keep me warm, even though I usually go without it.

I slept really well, knocked out for a solid 5 hours.  I think there's something about cold weather that makes me sleep better.  The moon was full and really bright, but it didn't hinder my sleep and actually made the leaf-less trees look quite beautiful against the dark night sky. I woke up energized and ready to take on the day.

I also got a new piece of gear earlier this week. Its the Princeton Tec fuel headlamp. Cabela's site was down last Tuesday, so they offered ten dollars towards any purchase. Id been wanting a headlamp for a while now, and the Fuel was on sale for 15 bucks. With the discount, It came to 6bucks with tax- and free shipping. It really helps when setting up in the dark- no more putting flashlights in my mouth in order to use both hands to do what I need to.

10/21/2012

Week 43

Weather:temps 45- 50 degrees, winds 10 mph, no precipitation

Gear: Eno hammock. snugpack sleeping bag

Comments: A beautiful fall night last night. The leaves are off the trees and littered on the ground now, making for a nice, clear shot of the night sky. The temps were a refreshing and comfortable 45 degrees, but this was supposed to be the last weekend of nice weather before we start getting cold temps.

It was really easy to fall asleep last night, because the wind was blowing around 10 mph, constantly shuffling around the leaves, which made a surprisingly soothing sound (or maybe I'm just weird). I also picked up a new piece of gear yesterday that I tested on a short hike earlier this morning with my family. It is a Coleman revel hydration pack. I got it at Target for 30 bucks (I had a bunch of gift cards to spend), and it is surprisingly made of fairly decent quality, beyond what I've come to expect from Coleman over the years. It has three pockets, the main reservoir (2 liter) pocket, a large pocket for stashing gear, and a smaller, padded pocket for electronics like phones or cameras. It also has some elastic webing on the back to lash on a jacket or something

10/14/2012

week 42

Weather: Winds calm, 5-15 mph, temps 28-55 (highs and lows for the entire weekend), no precipitation, but frost and dew.

Gear: Eno hammock, Kelty tarp, Snugpak sleeping bag

 Comments: What a beautiful weekend for a camping trip! Rain was in the forecast for Saturday, but missed us to the south. The first night was the best off the two. Temps were in the 40's, and there was a light, refreshing wind. The problem was I had a ten foot hammock hanging between trees about eight feet apart. I was VERY uncomfortable, but still managed to get some rest.
I moved my set up in the morning, and realized just how important it was to make sure the trees you hang on are sturdy. I was debating between a birch tree and an oak tree for a second anchor, but finally chose the oak. I used the birch tree as a guy-out point for my tarp. as soon as i tightened the tarp, the tree snapped in two- it had been rotting from the inside out.
The second night, I got a taste of true Minnesota weather. As soon as the sun was down, the temps had plummeted to below freezing, 28 degrees by about 9:30. At about 1 A.M in the morning, the temps crept back up into the 40's. This meant that the frost that had formed UNDER all the tarps and rainflys turned into dew. It was like I was getting rained on, and my tarp was the cloud. It was cold, wet, and miserable by morning. Luckily, I remembered to pack gloves- putting away a wet tarp when its 40 degrees out is not fun.

10/07/2012

Week 41

Weather: Temps 28- 35 degrees, winds calm 5- 10 moh, no precipitation

Gear: Eno hammock, snugpak sleeping bag

 Comments: First, I wanna appologize for last weeks no-post. I just got so busy that I completley forgot about it. Thanks to those of you who are still reading everyweek.
I realized last night I only have eleven weeks of this left! The year gas gone by alot faster than I had imagined.
Last night was beautiful. When I went to bed there was that crisp, cool fall feeling. Mist of the leaves had fallen off of the trees, so I had a clear view of huge white clouds as they drifted across the night sky. It was the perfect sleeping weather, and that us why I love fall so much. Ill be camping at Birch bend next weekend, so you can look for a good lengthy podt next Sunday night.
I also got myself a new piece if gear this past week- a Buff. I love this thing! For those of you who dont know what it is, its basically a tube of fabric that can be worn around the head or neck in tons of configurations. I used it as a beenie at my cross cointry meet yesterday morning, and as a head band to keep my ears warm last night. I suggest you check them out at http://www.buffusa.com/sports/
There are also videos of how to wear them on youtube.

9/27/2012

UPDATE

Due to a JROTC encampment this weekend, I will not be able to sleep outside on saturday night (were stuck in barracks). I will spend sunday night out instead. I should be able to get a post up on monday morning, but it may be late monday night otherwise.

9/23/2012

Week 39

Weather: temps 35-40, wind calm 0-5 mph, no precipitation

Gear: Kelty Noahs tarp, Snugpak sleeping bag, thermarest sleeping pad

 Comments: Finally- the weather I've been waiting for. It was a cold and frosty night last night spent on the ground, because I stayed at my Grandpas for the weekend and he has no good hanging trees near him. But it felt good to go back to what I did before hammocking- tossing up a tarp and putting a sleeping bag under it. People think I'm crazy- not using a tent when its below freezing, let alone using a sleeping bag thats rated for about 45 degrees. Instead of lugging around a winter sleeping bag that takes up twice the space as a summer one, I prefer to add extra layers of clothes to keep warm. Its simple logic- you can have a really warm sleeping bag in which you strip down to your underwear at night to be comfortable in, and than wake up in the morning and have to add layers of clothes on; or you can have a sleeping bag for warmer weather, and sleep in the clothes you brought for during the morning when its cold. (Does that make sense?)

Anyway, it was a great night last night, and I had a little blast to the past staring up at the starry night sky from under my little lean to shelter, allowing the cold air to knock me out into a deep sleep. It was easily one of the best nights of sleep I have had in the past 39 weeks.

9/17/2012

Week 38

Weather: Temps in the low 60's, winds calm 5-10 mph, no precipitation

 Gear: ENO Hammock, snugpack sleeping bag.

 Comments: So sorry guys! Another late post- I've just been so busy now that I've started high school, so its harder to get my posts up.

Anyway, Saturday night was a beauty... its been a while since we've had a good storm :(. I can defiantly feel fall in the air now, its crisp and clean and puts me to sleep real fast. I went tarpless last night, starring at the stars and just watching how beautiful the sky looks. The down side to that is that I woke up to a bed of leaves. There was a good armful of them that had collected in the hammock by morning.

I also set up the hammock at WAY to sharp of an angle. I didn't notice it at first, but by morning my side was all cramped up and pretty painful.

Sometime early in October I should be getting back out in the woods again and out of my backyard (finally... Its been quite a while since my last camping trip.) So you can look forward to a pretty extensive post on that coming up in the next few weeks.

Again, thanks to those of you sticking with me here with my busy schedule and still taking time to read my blog. I'll do my best to get something up early Sunday morning from now on, but no guarantees.

9/09/2012

Week 37

Weather: temps 50-60 degrees, winds 20-30 mph, no precipitation

 Gear: Eno hammock, eno guardian bugnet, tarp prototype

 Comments: Well, fall is in the air now. The air is crisp and fresh, the temps cool and winds blowing. It actually feels really great. fall is definitely my favorite season- there's no sweat, no bugs, few leaves on trees so I can see further, and the leaves that are still up are pretty colors. Let alone how crisp and refreshing the air is.

I got myself a new piece of gear too! Its the ENO Guardian Bugnet, and its pretty sweet. Though its a little late to use it, its benefits reach far beyond keeping bugs out. As it is made of finely knitted, dark mesh, it keeps it a tad bit darker inside the hammock (think those sunblocks that people put on windows in cars) It also keeps it a little warmer,, air having a little harder time passing through it.

The one interesting thing I found was that it fell short about three inches at one end of the hammock, but I'm sure it will stretch out in time. The other think is that the stuff sack is a heavier-almost waterproof- fabric then the stuff sack of the hammock. (personally, I would want a waterproof bag around my hammock rather than my bugnet)

9/03/2012

Week 36

Weather: Temps in the 70s, winds calm, no rain

Gear: Tarp prototype, Eno singlenest, Snugpak travelpak extreme

Comments: Sorry guys! I was on the road most of the day yesterday doing some exploring and didnt have a chance to get my post in. But now I can.

It was another boring, nothing-happened summer nights on saturday. I set up... climbed in... slept... woke up... and took down. If anything interesting happened, My allergies became really aggrivated through the night. It was also really hot and muggy, so I spent alot of time slapping mosquitoes because I wasnt completely in my sleeping bag and the permethrin is starting to where off. Winter... no bugs, no allergies, and exciting things that happen during the night. Maybe it will be here soon...

Anyway, I wanted to thank all you guys for taking time to read my blog- to be honest, I wasnt expecting much more than 200 views by the end of my time, but 3/4 of the way through, im sitting at more than 6,000! So thanks for reading and keeping me going!

8/26/2012

Week 35

Weather: Temps 60-70 degrees, humid, drizzling rain

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, Tarp prototype, snugpak sleeping bag

Comments: It was hot and muggy last night.  The temps started at about 60 degrees, and crept up towards the 70 throughout the night. It also drizzled for a few hours after about 11:00. Luckily, I had no more critter issues like I did last week, aside from a cicada that was buzzing away somewhere off to my left. I hoping for winter weather to get here soon- I've said it before and I'll say it again- summer weather is just kinda blah.

Realizing I haven't talked to much about my tarp, I can fill you in on that now. Basically I was looking for the simplest way to put up a tarp, because as easy as hammocks are to set up, tarps can be a pain. My solution? Elastic ridgelines. Because i use whoopie slings, I have to use toggles. So I took advantage of them. Instead of tieing a ridgeline to a tree, It is a loop of shock cord at both ends of the tarp. That way, i just stretch it out and put it over the toggles, just like I wold with my whoopie slings. The elastic allows it to stay at least mostly taught when i get in the hammock, as the weight pulls the toggles closer together, but the cords cancel it out because they were stretched to begin with. Then, all I have to do is tie the corners to stakes, and its set up. The only downside would be setting up in the rain- because its almost impossible to set up unless the hammock is already strung between the toggles. Next week i can post some pictures, and maybe it will be more clear what is happening.

8/19/2012

Week 34

Weather: Temps 70-75 degrees, wind calm 5-10 mph, small shower early in the night

Gear: ENO Hammock, tarp prototype, Snugpak Travelpak Extreme sleeping bag

Comments: I had to pull the plug a little early last night due to some semi-aggressive wildlife, but we'll get to that in a bit.

It started out as a beautiful night last night. The winds were calm, the temps warm, and there was a little rain at about 10:30. It was kind of the vice versa of last week- this week I put up a tarp, but didn't expect it to rain, while last week I set it up, fully expecting it to rain even though it didn't. So anyway, it paid off last night.

After spending this past week at cross country practice, it felt really good to sit in the hammock and relax my muscles. I was asleep almost as soon as i laid down.

I was however, awaken twice during the night. Once was during the rain. The second time I couldn't quite figure out why I was up. It was about 12:30, and I knew something was really wrong, but I couldn't register what it was. About five seconds after waking up, I realized that something was growling at me. And I don't mean like a little grr, I mean it was a loud, deep, defensive 'I don't like you here' type of grr. I immediately sat up and looked around, fully expecting to see a big dog or something. I couldn't see much though because I was under the tarp- and then I looked down. There, in the corner of my tarp, was a raccoon the size of a small dog, close enough that I could have stuck a finger in its mouth. I yelled at it, and scared it away. Only it didn't run away, instead treed itself. After about ten minutes of searching for it, I (and my dad who I had woken up and given quite a scare- his son was outside, in the city, in the dark, and screaming) Went back to bed, only to hear it coming back down the tree again. We found it, scared it off, waited, and heard it yet again. We finally decided it was a good idea for me  to go in, because this thing wasn't scared of us, and a raccoon that size could ruin someones night pretty quickly.

8/12/2012

Week 33

Weather: Temps 60 degrees, winds 1-5 mph, no rain

Gear: Eno Hammock, Snugpak sleeping bag, tarp

Comments: Week 33... and yet another beautiful night. I was really hoping to watch the Perseid Meteor shower, but it was really cloudy and with a good chance of rain, I was forced to put up a tarp. The tarp was of no use as it turned out it didn't actually rain, but it wouldn't of mattered any way because the sky was overcast through the night.

The temperature stayed a constant 60 degrees with a very light wind, which made for a wonderful night of sleep. However, I think I'll only have maybe a month of this nice weather left before we started getting towards the winter season- and a Minnesota winter season at that. Hopefully winter will make things a little more interesting, because as nice as nice weather is, it gets quite boring after a while. So I hope winter will be a better test of my gear and challenge me a little bit more.

Anyway, I decided to time how fast I could set up, because I've gotten pretty good at it. Turns out that just the hammock takes 1 minute 13 seconds, and adding the tarp brought me to a total of 6:43.

8/05/2012

Week 32

Weather: Temps 55-60 degrees, Wind 20-30 mph, No precipitation


Gear: ENO Hammock, Snugpak sleeping bag


Comments: Last night was crazy. The forecast showed no chances of rain, so I went tarpless. When I went to bed, it was a beautiful, clear night. The crickets were louder than ever, the wind was very calm, and theair was cool. I fell asleep almost instantly. It would not stay like this though.


I woke up around 11:00 as the wind went from 2 mph to 20 mph. Its definatley not the most comforting thing to see the tree you are (and have been for 31 weeks) sleeping from whip its branches around and shake its trunk like some giant was trying to uproot it.  The clear night quickly turned into an overcast night as I watched the huge cloud roll in from the west. It was actually quite interesting to watch under the nearly full moon as the cloud covered me, quickly advancing towards the east. It had basically turned into a full blown storm without the rain, thunder or lightning.


After about 12:15, the winds died down and the cloud had moved on. The fun was over, and conditions returned to like what it was when I first got out.

7/29/2012

Week 31

Weather: Temps 70-85, winds calm, 1-5 mph, Spotty showers throughout night, Heavy rain starting at 4 a.m.

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, Snugpak sleeping bag, tarp prototype

Comments:  Last night started really warm, but cooled down due to rain that started as  on and off sprinkles through out the night, then turned to a heavy continuous downpour.  I was able to test out the tarp I was talking about last week, and it worked really well. The only problem with it is that its one of those heavy, bulky poly tarps. I hope to get some material to make a better tarp out of it soon, but until then I am stuck with a poly tarp.

Ive also taken off the ridgeline on my hammock. As much as I love the organization it offers, being able to have all the stuff I need in the morning hanging in a bag just above me while I sleep, I just wasn't able to get comfortable with the sag, even if I did lay diagonally. So for now, I just hang a bag off my whoopie slings at the head end of the hammock and throw everything in there.

Its been 7 weeks since I treated the hammock with permetherin, and its still going strong. It was only supposed to last 5 weeks, but I have yet to have any problems with the bugs. I'm hoping now that all I need to do is treat it at the beginning of each summer, and forget about it.

7/22/2012

Week 30

Weather: Wind 5-10 mph, temps mid 70s, very humid

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, home made suspension, tarp- a prototype of a new design 

Comments:  Alright guys, first a want to apologize about these last couple of crazy weeks. I left last Saturday for a week long camping trip and was unable to post on Sunday. I should be back on schedule now though, the crazy part of my summer is over and I'll be able to post every week again.

Anyway, last night was a great day to sleep. It was hot and humid, but it was very comfortable to just sit on top of my bag and fall into a deep sleep. It didn't rain as I had expected, so I didn't really need the tarp because it just made it hat much hotter to the point where it was almost uncomfortable, but it was still a nice night.

I have also been brewing up a new tarp design... its currently in the very early prototype stage, but it will be awesome when its finished. As much as I love my Kelty Noah's 12 tarp, It can be a pain in the butt to set up and take down due to its massive size. What I was looking for was a small tarp that is personalized to my specific gear use. It is so personalized, I am certain it will be only applicable to my hammock, but you could also apply the idea to you own, and make the measurements the way you need them.

Essentially, this tarp does no have a tree to tree ridge line, but rather a strap to strap suspension (like hennesy stock tarps) This attachment will be made with a little bit of shock cord that will strap around the toggles on my marlins spice hitch, just like my whoopie slings would. The corners of the tarp will also have shock corded tie out points. The idea behind the shock cord is that when you sit in you hammock, the tarp will not sag as it would with non-stretchy lines, but rather re tighten itself, just like self tension guyouts. I will also add velcro around the whole perimeter of the tarp so I can close it off where and when needed.

7/08/2012

Week 28

Weather: Temps 70-76 degrees, winds 1 mph, no precipitation

Gear: ENO Singlenest Hammock, DIY Suspension

Comments: Well, after three weeks I'm finally back at it. I did actually get a few chances to sleep in the hammock during the time I was at camp, So really I didn't miss anything.

Last night was wonderful. You'll notice that I didn't put a sleeping bag in with my gear... thats because the humidity level was hovering in the 70s, and a long sleeve shirt and pants worked just fine.  It was actually fairly uncomfortable to sleep when its that humid and there isn't any wind, but the air flow around the hammock helped alot for keeping me cool.

I think I mentioned before that I treated my hammock with permetherin, and I am happy to say it works like a charm. It repels the mosquitos and kills the ticks. I found two dead ticks on it one day at camp, and had no mosquito bites while I was in it.  I would highly suggest using this if you don't all ready and are having problems with bugs.

6/10/2012

Week 24

***IMPORTANT UPDATE*** Over the next three weeks, I am going to do a little stint as a "camp counselor in training". Therefore, I will not be able to post on the dates of 6/17, 6/24, and 7/1. Thanks for your understanding!


Weather: Temps 75-85 degrees, Winds 5-10 mph, no precipitation
Gear: ENO SingleNest Hammock, Snugpak Travelpak Extreme sleeping bag
Comments: Again, another beautiful summer night. The temps put me to sleep almost immediately, and I woke up without feeling the slightest bit cold, as I have in other weeks. Also, I treated the hammock with a good dose of permtherin. I love this stuff now! I could hear tons of those pesky little mosquitoes flying around last night, but awoke in the morning to only one bite.
The only problem I had was with my sleeping bag. Being from Minnesota, I've geared most of my gear-buying (no pun intended) towards winter things. However, I finally got it into my head last night that we live in a temperate climate, where even though a 30 degree sleeping bag will work in the winter, it is not for 80 degree weather. I think for the summer months I will have to find a sleeping bag liner to use on the hot nights.


-Backpacking trip Tuesday- Thursday-
As I mentioned last week, me and my dad did a little backpacking trip earlier this week down at the Richard J Dorer memorial Hardwood Forest. The bugs came in swarms of hundreds and the undergrowth made it difficult to see, but we still enjoyed it. The first night we attached to some trees just off the trail and spent the night. We heard some coyotes, perhaps two different (and large) packs down in the valley below us.
The second night, we ended up finding our campsite much before intended (It was maybe 10:00 in the morning!) It was this beautiful old quarry that still had some rock, on one side was our camp site; the other was a heavily wooded cliff leading down to the Mighty Mississippi. Because it was so early, we continued on and did some more hiking around the area to take up time.

Overall, we had a great time. The hammocks worked well, it would have been a hard trip to make with tents. Here are some pictures-
Little baby deer- we were maybe 2 feet from it

Sun setting over quarry
                                        
                                       
2nd night camp

2nd night camp

Over the other side of the quarry

The trail- It was like this, but occasionally the grass got to about waist height

1st night camp, my set up left, my dads right

6/03/2012

Week 23

Weather: Temps 58-65 degrees, winds 0-5 mph, no precipitation.

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, DIY Suspension, Snugpak Travelpack Extreme sleeping bag.

Comments:  Its summer now, and the weather is just getting nicer. Last night was the perfect night to be sleeping outside- the temps were cool and the wind was non-existent. The only problem with summer is that the bugs are now out full-force. There were TONS of mosquitoes flying around last night, and it was really hard to sleep with them buzzing in my ear, let alone biting me no matter how wrapped up I got in my sleeping bag. Along with the bugs, the little critters like squirrels and chipmunks are also out now.

Because there was no chance of rain, I skipped the tarp. In the morning, however, I wished I hadn't. The squirrels were running around on the tree branches knocking little berries off that got caught in the hammock. I woke up and found 20 or 30 of these little things all over the place.

Also, the sun no longer wakes up at 7:30 in the morning like it did in the winter. It was bright as day at about 5:15 this morning, and it was hard to sleep. I think I'm going to try tying a bandanna around my eyes and see how that works for keeping it darker.

Tuesday I will be doing a little three day backpacking trip to celebrate my middle school graduation. I guess we can say it is the final test of my gear. I will take pictures and maybe a video to share with you on next weeks post.

5/27/2012

Week 22

Weather: Temps 60-65 degrees, winds calm at around 5 mph, No rain overnight.

Gear: Kelty Noah's 12 Tarp, ENO SingleNest hammock, Snugpak Travelpak Extreme.

Comments:  Last night was a beautiful night to be sleeping outside, and I did it with my new Kelty Noah's 12 Tarp. This tarp is so huge, I feel like instead of having a tarp for my hammock, I have a hammock for my tarp. The tarp came in the mail Thursday, and after getting some braided masons line, I set it up on Friday and kept it up through this morning. Though it didn't rain last night, there was some rain on Friday night, and it poured yesterday morning. The tarp, contrary to some reviews that it "leaked like a sieve" Didn't leak a drop. I set it up as a rectangle, and this allowed for two side tie outs on both sides to give some more space. I could easily get my hammock, two folding chairs, and two or three sets of gear under it. Check out my full review for more info and pictures.

Other than the new tarp, I don't have much to talk about. My dad decided he would try his rig out last night in preparation for a trip we have planned for next Tuesday, but ended up bailing about 1:30 due to inexperience. He had some cold spots and a few other minor "new hanger syndromes". Over all though, he said he liked it, and hes working on educating himself with Shug's youtube videos

5/20/2012

Week 21

Weather: temps 45-70 degrees, wind varrying in strength, gusts of 35 mph, Heavy, prolonged rain showers with occasional thunder and lightning.

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, ENO Dryfly, Snugpak Travelpak Extreme.

Comments: I got out camping this weekened and two words will describe the entire weekend- miserably fun. I got a good test of my gear- heavy rain, strong wind, and bugs. The Snugpak sleeping bag has a bugnet built into the mumoe hood that zips up when your in it, fully enclosing your body. Sleeping with a baseball cap to keep the netting off my face, I kept everything off me.
Ive learned that just because highs are in the 80s doesnt mean I should only pack shorts- the temps dropped into the 40s during the rain, and my legs were eaten by mosquitoes no matter where I went.
I had my hammock set up right next to a beautiful, clear, smooth lake. Words cant explain the amazing sight of waking up to an orange sun peaking over picturesque pine trees, turning the clouds shades of red and purple. We arrived friday night in the rain, and left sunday morning in the rain. This meant that after about ten minutes of getting a natural shower while setting my gear up, I was swingly comfortably in my hammock, smiling as my friends attempted to set up 6-person basecamp style tents, Fighting over the drier ground. This (sunday) morning, I woke up, ate my breakfast and help clean up around camp before going for a little snooze as my buddies packed their tents away in the rain. I think Ive made a fair share of hammock-converts this weekend :).
The only problem I had was bugs. Its not the most convient thing to slip into a sleeping bag and zip yourself up just to sit in your hammock. Im going today to get some permethrin to apply to my stuff before my next outing. (If I apply now to my hammock, do you think it will last a summer where I will spend maybe 20-30 nights in it? or will I need to re-apply halfway through?)

5/13/2012

Week 20

Weather: Temps 50-60 degrees, wind 1 mph, no percipitation

Gear: ENO singlenest hammock, Snugpak travelpak extreme.

Comments:  Yup, just a hammock and a sleeping bag.
Last night was a beautiful night to sleep out. The winds were barley existent at 1 mph and with no chance of rain, I was able to fall asleep looking at stars instead of fabric for a change. (quick update- the tarp I want will have to wait a little bit because I have quote "better things to spend my money on".) So anyway, it was so nice out yesterday I couldnt resist souping up the ole hammock. I decided to add a ridgeline to jt, a task that had for some reason daunted me since I started hanging. The I sewed myself a little pocket and attached it to the line via prussics. I added a few nite-ize figure 9 biners and wala, I have a fully functional ridgeline.
Now I can see why people have an issue with the singlenest hammock though. Ive always been fine with it, but thats because I stretch it too tight I guess. Now that I have it hanging at the proper angles, I am very uncomfortable laying bannana style like I used to... and the hammock is quite narrow. So well see how it all works out. Im considering possibly putting in a little footbox but thats a bit beyond my sewing skills.
I dont want this post to go on too long so I am just quickly going to add that I succesfully took my two layers of clothing and 30 (50 on my count) degree bag down to 47 degrees with no underquilt

Here are pictures of my ridgeline mods..

 the ridgeline with diy organizer
a few s biners for ataching various things

5/06/2012

Week 19

Weather: Temps 55-60, winds 40 mph, gusting to 55, severe thunderstorms and constant heavy rain.

Gear: ENO singlenest hammock, dryfly, snugpak extreme travelpak sleeping bag.

Comments: It rained last night- and when I say rain, I mean there were puddles 2-3 inches deep all over the place. It rained most of the day saturday, quit for a little in the afternoon, and started up again around 10:00. The severe stuff rolled in around 2:00 and lasted about an hour. I will post the video I shot later if I remember.
I learned two things last night. First was that when it comes to nights where winds are gusting to almost 60 mph and there is an almost constant downpour of heavy rain, the dryfly tarp is not going to make the cut. Its perfect for light summer sprinkles, but it wont do in spring storms. I will be upgrading my tarp to a Chinook 12x9.5, which I hope to have in my hands for next week.
I also learned the importance of using a garbage bag to prevent rain from soaking your gear. Though I was off the ground, my stuff was sitting in puddles on the ground last night, and it isn't fun to pit shoes with an inch of water in them on in the morning. I will carry a garbage bag in my pack from now on to toss everything i want dry into at night.

4/29/2012

Week 18

Weather: Temps 35-45, wind 10 mph, rain during day but not at night

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, DIY Suspension, snugpak travelpak extreme

Comments: It rained all day yesterday, but, lucky for me, it stopped around 6:00. I didn't really need to set up my tarp because there was no overnight forecast of rain, so I decided to just sleep under the stars for a change
I got a chance to listen to one a presentation on "gear and skills" by none other than the world renown backpacker Andrew Skurka (so this post is more geared towards that because not much happened last night). Though his presentation was geared toward his shelter of choice- the tarp tent, I learned some valuable things as a hammocker. Most relevant to what I'm doing now, he talked about how to take your sleeping bag colder than it is rated. Basically, instead of adding weight and bulk to your pack with a low rated sleeping bag, you just sleep in the clothes that you wore hiking (all layers from the wick to the shells) and that way you save valuable space and weight in your pack. Last night I went out with a pair of wool socks, two pairs of pants, a shirt, and a softshell jacket. I decided against using the underquilt, just to  see what I could do. I found that even with temps dropping to the mid 30s, I was warm in a 50* (I rate it at fifty because i generally sleep better if the bag is rated +10 of the manufacturer's rating) sleeping bag. Had I actually been backpacking, I probably would have changed my shirt but otherwise packed up and hike out the way I was dressed. This whole technique will save me time, space, and pack weight.
One last thing worth sharing but not really relevant to what I'm doing: For every pound of footwear you are wearing, it is the equivalent of 6 pounds in your back. This is because of the motion of your foot, swinging back and forth. So basically, a two pound set of hiking boots is the equivalent of the base weight of a lightweight backpacker. So maybe instead of investing hundreds of dollars in new gear to shave ounces of your previous gear, just spend 2-300 and get yourself a good pair of lightweight hiking boots that will equate to more of a weight savings then that $2,000 worth of gear you could have bought.

4/22/2012

Week 17

Weather: Temps 40-50 degrees, winds light, consnstant drizzleing

Gear: ALPS 4 tent, snugpak sleeping bag, thermarest heat reflective pad.

Comments:  Week 17, and finally out of my backyard and into the good ole piney woods for the first time this time season. (no pictures, sorry, its against the "electronics policy") My Boyscout troop goes camping usualy about once a month, and this weekend was the first time for us  this year. It was a great time, but I was slightly disappointed to find that there were no trees in the entire area soutible for hanging. The only two that were the right distance and didn't have 3 feet of brush under them were across a trail. So, I was stuck in a tent on the uncomfortable ground.
It was constantly drizzling and occasionaly a small downpour the whole time. All my stuff stayed dry, but i learned that a rain jacket that actualy fits me would be nice to have in the rain (I was using one 2 or 3 sizes to big for me). I also found that its not a good idea to forget your water bottle, because I was stuck the whole time drinking out of a 1/2 cup measuring cup I scavenged from the troop's over-abundant cooking supply.
I woke up a little cold this morning but throwing on a second shirt warmed me up pretty fast. Another trick I've found to getting a good nights sleep in is to put new socks on before you go to bed at night instead of in the morning. I don't know why, but it just feels amazing.

4/15/2012

Week 16

Weather: Temps in the upper 50s, winds 10-15 mph, heavy rain.

Gear: ENO hammock, ENO DryFly rain tarp, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag.

Comments: Well, last night we got rain again. Unlike last week though, it downpoured from about 12:30 am through 7:00. What started out as a beautiful sunny day quickly turned to a cloudy rainy night. I got a picture of the radar that I will put at the bottom of the post so you can see what I was up against.

I only had one problem through the night. At one point during the rain, I woke up andfound the foot side of my hammock had lowered a good 4 inches. Im not sure what caused it... my guess is that a drop of water found its way down the burry of my whoopie sling and made it slip a bit.

There was one thing that surprised me last night... and it was how well the tarp worked. Again, like I have said time and time again, this tarp has will not live down to its negative reviews. It kept me perfectly dry through 6 hours of heavy downpour, not once loosing its tension.

Overall, I think last night might have been me best sleep yet. I woke up once at about 1:00 when it started to rain, checked the radar, and fell back a sleep. Slept right through the majority of the rain, nice and cozy. I woke up in the morning to have little streams of water running under me (which soaked my shoes) and was happy to not have to sleep right on top of those in a tent.

Radar image from 1:19 last night

4/08/2012

Week 15

Weather: Temps hovered right around 40 degrees the whole night, Winds 10 mph, and... RAIN :)

Gear: Eno Hammock, ENO Dryfly, DIY Suspension, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag, Ridgeline/ various attachments, DIY Underquilt 

Comments: I've been waiting for some rain to roll around so I could practice my set up and give my gear the final test. It's now been tested in wind, snow, and rain, and I am quite pleased with it. There was a bit of a learning curve to setting up in the rain ( I got soaking wet, and so did the gear I just tossed on the ground when setting up the tarp) but I'd rather learn it in my backyard than out in the woods. In my opinion, the DryFly is a fine tarp despite the negatives of its steep cat cuts. I found that the only problem I had with it was that it was just long enough to cover the ends of my hammock, and not go the recommended 6-8 inches over each end. I have been looking at my options for other tarps though, and playing around with the idea of using a tent footprint... bigger and cheaper, but will it work?
After the downpour, the tarp was dry in about 30 minutes, which impressed me because I've sat entire mornings in camp waiting for my tent to dry off (not fun!).

As requested here are some pictures from my trip to the badlands-




3/31/2012

Week 14

Weather: Temps ranging 30-35 degrees, winds between 8-12 mph, no precipitation

Gear:  Eno Hammock, ENO Dryfly, DIY Suspension, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag, Ridgeline/ various attachments, DIY Underquilt

Comments: Yes, I am a day early on my post. I had to sleep out last night instead of tonight because we are leaving very early in the morning tomorrow for a trip to South Dakota. It's spring break, and we're doing a 4 day three night trip to SD. We'll be hiking the Badlands (yes, my hammock is coming along) and visiting Mount Rushmore.
So anyways, about last night. Again, I'm short on what to talk about. I've found my tarp is getting loose in when its windy, and therefore i wake up to it flapping around. Any suggestions? Also, I'm finding that my legs are getting cold even though my underquilt is full length. Otherwise, It was a beautiful night out.
Like I said last week, I am going to start reviewing some of my gear for you all. I have my channel up-
http://www.youtube.com/user/TrekHammocks?feature=mhee and hope to do my first review later this evening. Stay tuned!

3/25/2012

Week 13

Weather: Temps 50-60 degrees, winds around 10 mph, no precipitation

Gear: ENO Hammock, ENO DryFly Tarp, Snugpak travelpak sleeping bag, DIY Suspension

Comments: Well, like last week, I'm kind of stuck on what to talk about. Now that I've had some experience, I've pretty much perfected my hang style. I guess I owe a shout-out to Les Rust of hammockforums.net for the Whoopie slings I'm now using, they are working really well. If anyone reading my blog doesn't use a hammock, but is interested in trying one, you will find every thing you need and more at www.hammockforums.net
I guess one thing that i learned last night was to not setup your hammock to tight. I hung from some different trees (yes, still stuck in my backyard) and accidentally set it up way to tight. I was to lazy to get up and adjust it though, so I just had a uncomfortable night with lots of pressure on my head.
Now that I've spent 13 weeks testing my gear, I'm planning to do some YouTube reviews. I will update you guys as soon as I get some reviews on my channel.

3/18/2012

Week 12

Weather: temps 60-65 degrees, winds around 10 mph, no percipitation.

Gear: Eno Hammock, ENO Dryfly, DIY Suspension, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag, Ridgeline/ various attachments.

Comments:  I am now back on my normal saturday night schedule, and it was very nice last night. it was almost a miror image of Friday night, so I don't have much to talk about.

The problem with the warm temperatures is bugs. They came out early yesterday morning, tiny little baby mosquitos. I recently bought a coleman bugnet to use while I'm at summer camp this summer ( I'll be spending three weeks up at Tomahawk Scout reservation as a camp counselor in training, and an additional week with my troop). The net its a little to short too work with my hammock right now... I see a DIY project coming soon :). For the time being, I used the bugnet that is integrated into my Snugpak sleeping bag. It zips fully around my head, and pulls away when you don't need it (which I never did till last night). As long as i tucked my self down a little and pulled it far off my face, it actually did a very good job of keeping the bugs off.

3/17/2012

Week 11- Make-up Day

Weather: temps 60-65*, winds calm 0-5 mph, slight chance of storms
Gear: Eno Hammock, ENO Dryfly, DIY Suspension, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag, Ridgeline/ various attachments.

Comments: First and foremost,  I am back and feeling 100% after a week and a half of sickness. Now to the fun stuff. Last night was beautiful. Beautiful beautiful BEAUTIFUL!!! Spring has made an early arrival here in Minnesota, and boy does it feel nice! The snow, ice, and frost are gone. I was finally able to get stakes in without using a hammer!
Now that its so nice, the hammock has really come through and shown its level of comfort. In the cold of winter, it was more of a set-up-as-quick-as-possible-and-take-down-before-hands-freeze-off sort of deal. Now, I can take my time liesurley setting it up just the way I want it. I've also gotten about two or three naps in yesterday afternoon through today. I've put away the uq untill next winter because the insulation under me from the sleeping bag is doing just fine keeping me warm.
Check back tomorrow for my now back on schedule write ups.

3/11/2012

Week 11- postponed

Sorry guys, but I was struck with a nasty case of the flu begining of last week. I tried to get the night in, as I was feeling a little better saturday, but only made it about two and a half hours. I woke up with an extremely dry throat and was shivering in my sleeping bag like crazy. I came in to discover I had a raging temp of 101.6. I will hopefully get out sometime this week (looking at friday because than i can leave the stuff setup for saturday)

3/05/2012

Week 10

Weather: Temps 15-20 degrees, wind 15-25 degrees, traces of snow

Gear: -20 degree sleeping bag, therma rest reflective foam pad, eureka apex 2 tent

Comments: Sorry about the late post, I was really busy/ not feeling so good yesterday. So... Saturday night was not a fun one. For starters, I need to use a... wait for it.... tent. I was headed down to my grandpas for my little sister’s birthday, and my grandpa has absolutely zero trees around him. Before we left, I tried to convince my dad to take my camping that night, but it turns out that old sleeping bag I repurposed for my underquilt was his one and only sleeping bag... oops. So, I was stuck in m y grandpa’s backyard... in a tent. The ground was frozen, and the wind was gusting frequently to around 30 mph. It was not fun trying to set up a tent without stakes in high winds. Once I finally got it set up, I was able to throw my sleeping gear inside to weight it down. This worked fine, it was just a little uncomfortable.

I woke up in the morning with a thick layer of condensation on the rainfly of the tent, because it was so close to my head without being sake out. It took about 20 minutes to put away, and I never want to take it out of its bag again.

So, now that I’ve slept in a tent after hanging for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that the advantage of the hammock over a tent is ease of use and comfort. I found I liked the organization of the tent better, with gear lofts and pockets built in, but for the pain it is to set up and take down, I can deal with the not so wonderful organization of hammocks.

(I forgot pictures in the pain of putting the thing away... sorry)

2/26/2012

Week 9

Weather: Temps 5- 15 degrees, winds 15-25 mph, no precip
Gear: ENO hammock, ENO tarp, Kelty -20 sleeping bag, diy suspension, diy underquilt, ridgeline w/ various attachments.

Comments: Week 9, and I've finally discovered true hammock bliss. After 8 weeks of slight tweaks and different gear, I have finally dialed in my set up to a point where I've found the true comfort of a hammock. Using an underquilt (uq) instead of a pad has greatly improved the comfort. Like I said last week, any newbie hammock campers Should LOOK INTO AN UQ!! They are hundreds of thousands of billions of times more comfortable than a pad. I don't think I'll be moving to a top quilt any time soon because the sleeping bag is still working out for me.

Last night, the wind had really picked up. I took out the tarp for the first time in three weeks, but the stakes would simply not go into the cement solid ground. Lucky for me, there was enough snow for me to tie the lines out to sticks and anchor the sticks under the snow. I let the lines a little slack so they would have some wiggle room and not pull my anchors up in the 25 mph wind, and it did the trick.

2/19/2012

Week 8

Weather: Temperatures 20-30 degrees, winds calm 0-5 mph, no precipitation.
Gear: DIY Underquilt, DIY Suspension, ENO Hammock, Ridgeline, Snugpak Travelpak Xtreme.

Comments:  Last night was by far my most comfortable night yet. It was a touch warmer than the other nights, and I said my final goodbyes to my pad on Friday after finishing my DIY underquilt. The sleeping bag I used in week 6 was trimmed to size, and then I sewed channels in the end. I have 8 feet of paracord going through the quilt on both sides, and its hooked onto the hammock with bungees. And boy, an underquilt beats a pad in sleeping comfort by a thousand miles. Any of you hammock forumers out there reading this who still use pads, make yourself an underquilt.

  I would have slept well into the morning, but my underquilt ended up falling off my hammock at about 6 o'clock. I thought it had snapped and that I would need to repair it when it got lighter out. I decided to call it a night, as I slept pretty long, and I didn't want to risk hypothermia staying out in the 20 degree weather with a 30 degree sleeping bag and no bottom insulation. Turns out in the morning that the paracord just got disconnected from the hammock, and I felt really stupid for calling it so early without checking out what happened.

2/12/2012

Week 7

Weather: Temperatures: -2 - 5 degrees, winds 10-20 mph, no precipitation.

Gear: Eno hammock Eno raintarp, Thermarest pad, Kelty -20 bag, diy suspension, hot water bottles, Msr pocket rocket stove

Comments: Last night was the coldest one I experienced. Had I not had my tarp set up as a wind break, I probably would not have made it through because without the wind, it was-2, and with winds around 15 mph, the wind chill was around -10. I was having some trouble with getting my pad under me properly, so I stuffed it down the sleeping bag. This worked pretty well, but I think with that uncomfortable experience I'm going to try out an under quilt.
I decided to throw a hot water bottle in the bottom of the bag last night because I knew it would get cold. Wrapped in a sock, it was still reasonably warm in the morning. I also tested out my new pocket rocket stove for some breakfast from the hammock. The stove had semi-frozen water boiling in less than five minutes. It was easy to light, with no priming or pumping, even at -2 degrees. Its small size will make it my second best friend (next to my hammock) this summer when I get out backpacking.

2/05/2012

Week 6

Weather: temperature 20-30 degrees, winds calm 5 mph.

Gear:  Rectanguler sleeping bag repurposed into a top quilt, heat reflecting therma rest pad, ENO hammock, DIY suspension, ENO DRyfly raintarp, ridge line with various attachments.

Comments: It was a little warmer than most nights, so i decided to make a top quilt out of a sleeping bag that had the foot end ripped out. It was rectangular, and i just draped it over the hammock. Even though it was a 15 degree bag, it was almost just as warm as the 20 below bag I've been using. It pulled the hammock tight up on me, and the pad reflected the heat better as i was laying directly on it.  The bag also draped down and came very close to touching the ground, which created a warm air pocket under me, and kept the wind from stealing the heat from my back side. The only part of me that was a little cold was my top side because it didnt have a whole lot of insulation. The cold was bearable though, and it turned out to be a great night. As i mentioned in one of my other posts, i replaced the tarp stuff sack with a mesh one. This morning, i made a black bishop bag out of the old tarp stuff sack and it now houses my hammock. It taked just seconds to set it up, and i love it.
Any tenters out there who are reading this blog should take a look at the pictures from last night, because i was suspended over about 2 inches of ice. You tenters would not have had a very comfortable night laying on that...

1/29/2012

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.

1/22/2012

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.

1/15/2012

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.


1/08/2012

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.

1/01/2012

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.