View Full Version : learning curve

04-07-2005, 22:34
Hello all,

Well, i ordered my hammock last week and I have a trip coming up next weekend (15th-18th). I was hoping that it would arrive before this weekend as I have an overnight hike on Sat and had planned on playing with the hammock to determine if I could use it for my 4 day trip next weekend. The overnight is close to home and I could always hike out if it didn't pan out.

Well, it doesn't look like it will be here in time for this weekend, so i have to make a decision. Normally, I would never take a new item (at least one of my big three) out for a multi-day trip without testing it but I am really excited about the hammock and can't wait to use it. How is the learning curve with the Hennessey's? Will setting it up at home a couple times be enough experience with the hammock before taking it out for 4 days?

Thanks for your help,

04-08-2005, 00:11
I think setting it up at home a couple times will be fine. I would also sleep in it at home for a night or two also.

SGT Rock
04-08-2005, 00:29
I agree. Just practice setting it up a few times. Also, you should get in it after you do so to see how the sag may affect how the pitch end up after your weight is applied.

04-08-2005, 08:15
A couple of weeks ago while at Gooch Mountain Shelter during a rain storm a girl was sleeping in her hammock when one end of it collapsed. Kind of put a damper on her night. She ended up sleeping under the shelter with her dog.

Also, a couple nights later at Tray Mountain shelter, all but one of the folks sleeping in hammocks, and some of the folks in tents, all got very wet during a rain storm that night.

I am sure that as these people get more experience with their hammocks that they will work those problems out, but a good familiarity with them before hand would go a long way toward a more enjoyable experience.

04-08-2005, 08:57
Thanks for all the replies. Hopefully the hammock will come in early next week. If it shows up on Thursday, which is the day I am leaving, I guess I will have to wait to use it.

At least there is rain forecasted next week, if it does show up in time I should be able to spend a night in the hammock in the rain

Anyone going to be in the Walker Gap area of South West VA next weekend? ;)


SGT Rock
04-08-2005, 09:17
You don't have to wait to use it unless you want to. You can still play with it on the trail as long as you take some extra time in camp to do so. Heck, if you don't mind a couple of extra pounds this trip, carry the shelter you have been using and the hammock, that way you can play with it, and if something goes wrong, you can have the tent ready to bail out to.

04-08-2005, 09:23
Mankind generally excells at the things it commits too....Similiarly love grows and is fostered in truely committed relationships.....I know it is just a hammock to some but to others, and in my mind, ones hammock becomes an extention of oneself and our personality and you it....

Throw off the weight of carring your house/tent....

Lighten your pack and your pace....

Get off the hard shelter floor....and, leave it to the mice....

Get off the wet ground... be dry and aired out....freshness is refreshing...

Camp in the beautiful spots: on mountain tops...in the draws where the game abound.... on the hillside close enough to hear the rush of the waterfall...

Stop when you are tired... hammock trees are virtually everywhere...they will call out to you, "Here is a great place. Stop and hangout... be comfortable and be refreshed"...

Wrap yourself in support and warmth of a friend....

Escape the ridgeline thunder storms with the freedom to bail out virtually any where over the side, quickly descend to a safe level...hang your hammock in minutes and restfully enjoy the light show or simply take a nap....

Your in the home of a friend...if the storm lingers or darkness descends...listen and accept the invitation when your friend says, "stay the night, there is room, your safe here"...

My hammock is my liberator....freedom is my way of life in the woods.

__________________________________________________ _______________

Recommend you get to know your new hammock ASAP and take it on your trip....
Comfortable supportive freedom is wonderful...
Fly soar and hang out in heaven, or as close as one can get to heaven on earth.

Just my .02.....Enjoy!

SGT Rock
04-08-2005, 09:24
Now Peter Pan is writing an "Ode to his Hammock" :D

04-08-2005, 09:51
Wow! Peter Pan's writing brought tears to my eyes:o ! Such talent...such creativity...such a good soul! I just don't understand why Wendy dumped him!


p.s. Seriously, that was nice. I wish I could write like that.

04-08-2005, 10:55
I think hammocks take more expertise than other shelters and I'm not saying that as a bad thing. A lot of the options that we have with hammocks make camping more enjoyable... but with options come know how, learning, expertise or whatever you want to call it. With most novice backpackers, you could probably stick a tent, a sleeping pad and a sleeping blanket in their backpack tell them to look for a flat spot and send them on their way.

Not so with hammocks, they haven't gotten to that level. I recently, on different trips, let hiking buddies use a spare hammock setup of mine. It worked out fine, but there are a lot of things to do that aren't necessarily intuitively obvious like it is with tents. Those of us that have hammock camped for a while forget about some of these things as they are second nature to us.

But you Hennessy Hammock users, think about what you would tell Granger to do with his hammock if he was backpacking with you... then think about what you would tell him to do if he was backpacking but not with you. He has a lot of stuff to learn. Best advise is to be patient, learn to pack it and unpack it, try it out in good weather first and to not tie any knots that you don't know how to untie. It's real embarrassing to not be able to get your crap unattached from the trees... and you'll be calling it crap or something of that nature if that happens. :datz


04-08-2005, 13:04
" Get to know your new hammock ASAP and take it on your trip" Was meant to set it up and practice in the yard then pack it it up and go on the trip....

Youngblood is correct that all things about hammocks are not immediately clear....But then all things about my wonderful supportive loving wife of 37 years were not clear when we married at 21 and 18....sure glad that I didn't wait 'till I had her all figured out....I'd still be waiting.

My post was really a short piece on how such a simple item as a hammock opens the outdoors in new ways and how those ways when learned and experienced are comforting and liberating and enabling.

PS. On average there are probably as many bad "first experiences" for ground dwellers as hammockers...An arguement could be made that most hammockers probably have some hiking/camping experience...Therefore their transition to hammocking should be easier than for the initial tenter.


04-08-2005, 13:59
Well, the trip is cancelled.

I read your response to my pregnant wife and she does not feel comfortable with me spending 4 days alone in the woods with with my hammock. She is worried that the intimate relationship that I will form with "The hammock" will come between us.

Seriously, thank you all for your help, I guess i will see how familar (no pun intended) I am able to become with my hammock before my trip.


04-08-2005, 15:40
Youngblood, about knots...
I have never cursed the speer knot (flyfisher improved version)

Granger, have fun.


04-08-2005, 16:20

Congrats to your wife and you. There are hammocks big enough for two... but, then eventually your house would be too small.

Ah, The life and comfort of the mothers womb.....the beauty of birth....

This is what I frequently think of, as I climb into the warm, flexible womb of my Nested Hennessy hammock....

Nothing like waking in the morning to nearby baby robins in their nest chirping for their mother to bring them a fresh worm....It make me think how nice it would be for someone to bring me a hot cup of coffee....Chirp as I may, it never works....Rising to the day is like a rebirth ( although breach)...refreshed and renew by a great rest....

So, a great day ends...and, the joyous new day begins....Thanks be to God!


04-08-2005, 16:43
What you need to do is go out to the Hennessey site and watch them
tie the knot a few times.Go out in the yard and tie on to a tree a few times
to get the hang of the "lashing".Your weight will keep it from "untying" and
if you just do a half hitch like they advise it will untie real easy the next
morning provided you did not have freezing rain the night before.If you did have freezing rain the night before-chances are you are now frozen and won't have to bother getting up the next day to untie the knot anyway.:D
The oversize fly is a real nice(and expensive) option and doubles as a nifty
tarp to use separately in case you have a drizzling rain to work around when you want to stop and fix a meal.I have taken to using a separate ridge line (like speers use) so that the hammock can be taken down independently of the tarp the next morning for cooking and packing in the event of rain.A lightweight piece of hose makes a great tree protector as there is little weight or pressure on the tree from supporting just the fly anyway.
I had taken to sleeping in the yard in the Hennessey for quite sometime
but gave it up to prevent "hurt feelings":DAs soon as my lower back is repaired the HH and I will hit the bigtime for real.Oh yeah.

04-08-2005, 18:59
Yes that is good advice. Learn the way to tie the knot correctly first. I made the mistake and tied it wrong the first tiem I set mine up and sat in the hammock and then when I went to untie it I had a hell of a time. I will never make that mistake again.

04-08-2005, 23:55
1. is it Winter or Summer, Spring or Fall
a. most likely in Winter sight selection will be critical- choose a site
well protected from the wind, look for the lee side of hills,knolls,or
travel a bit further to find a thicket of pines that can for a micro
climate while you sleep
b. Summer? think of what weather might find you while you sleep. If
you are sure of good weather then think of using the hammock as
a viewing platform for a vista or stars later on.
Hot? then get high off the ground, orient the head or feet toward
the prevailing wind assuming you will deploy the tarp at one point
or another during the night.
Got plenty of water? I've seen an HH mesh get sprayed from a spray
bottle with water, not enough to leak in but enough to cool the whole
rig when it evaporates.
c. Spring and Fall are the same as above but maybe more variablity in
what types of weather may find you while you're sleeping.
d. cold air still drops and warm air still rises, chose a location when
possible that takes this into account,,after your added it all up
you will probably be in the middle of the mountain unless an awesome
view tempts you that way.

Remember the beauty of a hammock on the AT (and many other trails and places near water) is the sheer number of places you can camp due to the thousands of trees.

e. Regardless of season or view potential acknowledge the beetles that have
decimated the pines in the southeast and realize that the number of Widow-
Makers is on the rise. Examine your selected site for potenial blowdowns-
and that includes limbs not just trees- while you are sleeping.
f. Never setup on dead trees...I've done it and realized the mistake only to
setup again. Last Summer in Yellowstone there was no choice near the lake
but those trees have stood dead for many years, you be the judge but
err on the side of caution and choose living trees when possible.
g. Look for game trails, it is the animals home and they often travel by a
highway system that may take them directly through your hammock...
so dont setup in game trails

2. Gauranteed to rain? sleet? snow? Setting up in the rain?
a. site selection is even more critical
1. get lower to the ground (you can even setup so low to the ground
that you can pile leaves under the hammock, harder in an HH
but easy in the Speer)
2. look for a site that combines the lee side of a mountain with
a natural windbreak....if you have time in camp you can augment
the windbreak by dragging brush,limbs etc. to blow major blows
around your hammock
b. Use the FULL advantage of your tarp
1. orient 90 degrees to the prevailing wind and hope the wind doesnt
change in the middle of the night. If you can get low enough and if your
tarp is long enough you can bury the windward edge with dirt,rocks,etc
to form a tight seal between the tarp and the ground
2. pull the tarp as snug to the hammock as possible but try to leave a small
gap between the tarp and the hammock material (mesh in the case of an
c. If setting up in the Rain think out your steps before plunging in and you
will have a dry hammock and sleeping bag.
1. use Pythons or Snakeskins to keep your hammock/underquilt dry and
speed up the setup...with either your setup should be under a minute
2. keep your fly separate from the Hammock, this way you can setup the
tarp before you get the hammock/underquilt/sleeping bag/top quilt,etc
out of their dry storage
3. depending on the size of your tarp think about where your other gear
will spend the night
a. inside the hammock: good if you have a hammock big enough
b. hung on the hammock line: good if porcupines are around
c. under the hammock: if so then consider a small 2'x2' piece of tyvek
to place things on, a 2'x4' piece allows a sit pad for you to cook/eat on
d. remember that if you are using a Taco/SuperShelter or WeatherShield
you can place almost all the contents of your pack, even the pack
itself between the taco and the hammock creating more dead air spaces
for insulation

3. Warmth in a hammock
1. Sleeping bags inside the hammock
a. are OK but quilts are better having no zippers to open/close or snag
and are easier to get under versus get into
b. You've probably already got one so give it a try while you are
seeing if you'll like hammocking
a. even a slight wind is magnified under a hammock, you might swear
you are lying flat especially in an assymentrical Hennessey but there
is still a curve, if a curve then a venturi effect will occur thus speeding
the wind flow around the bottom survace of the hammock further
stealing warm
b. adding insulation to the bottom of the hammock
1. inside the hammock: pads,thermarest,open cell, closed cell: all
are effective if wide enough and thick enough but most sold commercially
are not wide enough to prevent 'shoulder-wrap' and cold spots unless
you happen to be of slight build
a. pads often move around, to the point of being a pain and causing
cold spots when they slip out from under you
b. pads are cost effective considering a blue pad from Walmart can
be had for less than 10-12$
c. pads do double duty offering not only under hammock insulation
but also a sit pad for lunch at a viewspot
d. pads often can offer triple duty when using an internal frame back-
pack by offering frame support
e. pads are bulky though and take up much space inside or outside
the pack
c. Underquilts: can be fashioned from an old sleeping bag or purchased..
The beauty of an underquilt (especially if made of down or Primaloft)
is the fact that it can be compressed and kept inside the pack. They
also offer tremendous warmth for the weight carried, and in the case
of the Jacks-R-Better Nest do triple duty being also a down vest and
a down quilt
1. the con of underquilts is that they have to be kept dry from splatter
rain, they cost more, and often you have to 'fiddle' with them to
get the optimum coverage. Again the commercial Nest has taken
much out of the guess work in the 'fiddling' department
2. Underquilts in a word are wonderful additions to the HH, if you have
the Speer type hammock then consider the POD which completely
envelopes the hammock, though not thick enough for seriously cold
temps the POD readily accepts additional insulation
d. Dont forget the same things tentors or shelter folk do to stay warm:
1. high energy snack before bedtime: olive oil, nuts,hot chocolate,etc
2. cover the head- if using a quilt dont forget a tobogan or down hood
3. jumping jacks
4. down mits, down socks

3. TACOs: also called SuperShelters or WEatherShields, but all are generally
a lightweight piece of nylon that blocks heat robbing wind from the
underquilt and protect it from horizontal or splatter rain. Some have slits
that line up with the entrance slit of the HH style hammock, others simply
have bungies that allow entrance and then the TACO springs back under
after you've gotten into the hammock.
a. advantages of TACOs: listed above, could also provide emergency shelter
to another person
b. disadvantages: cost and weight...but you can fashion one easily with
simple materials, just remember to consider whether you want the material
to breath or not. I've purchased both commercial models and recommend
the WeatherShied because it is simple, functional, and cost effective. I've
also constructed three different underquilts, one with an integral TACO out
of Tyvek...this is rudimentary sewing.

4. Choosing a hammock:
a. try before you buy, what works for me might not work for you,,,I've got
HH hammocks and Speer and Speer type hammocks and like them all
compared to sleeping on the ground in a shelter, but they DO sleep
b. make your own
c. borrow for a night or two
BUT whatever you do def. try hammocking

5. Pillows in a hammock:
a. i use the water-wings found in WallyWorld cut in half, simple
long lasting, and not an ounce
b. look at Luxurylite's pillow reviews here on WB,,,,,very large for
very little weight, only drawback, it makes a crinkling sound when
you move your head
c. either is much much better than a stuff sack with clothes in it

II. Hanging the Hammock
1. to repeat use live trees when possible
2. look for trees between 10 and 12 feet apart
3. look for trees that are of 4-6inch girth this will
a. increase the odds of using the tree saver strap more effectively
b. ease the breakdown the next day because it allows an 'easier'
figure 8 or modified figure 8 knot. go here for a video of the knot:

c. practice this knot to the point you can do it with your eyes closed
4. hang the head lower than the feet, this will help your legs drain lymph
that has pooled all day long while hiking, but dont lower the head too
much or you'll get the throbbing later on. How much? I shoot for 2-3
inches. How to tell? you can get a line level for around $1 at Lowes
and you can affix it to the line inside your hammock.
a. mark your hammock with paint/ink/string or whatever so you can tell
the head end from the foot end before removing from the Python or
snake skin
b. position the hammock while still in the Python or Snakeskin midways
between the trees you've chosen after considering wind, natural wind-
breaks, patterns of use (nature trails,human trails,etc) and deadfall
potentials.....you can also and easily drape a Snakeskinned or Pythoned
hammock over your head and 'feed' it from tree to tree--kinda uncoiling
it as you walk, that way it doesnt get on the ground (important for me
because when I was using the Python my underquilt was also in it)
c. is your tarp already up? it should be, and this is a judgement call. You
have to weigh the odds of inclement weather against a view or
temperature when setting up the tarp, but of course if it is dry/not raining
when you setup then you can do the hammock first and then decide
how close to arrange the tarp to the hammock body.
1. fly position: some hammocks like HH's have the fly/tarp attached
to the same line as the hammock drastically easily setup and usually
requiring only 2 groundpoints but the down is that they can sag
when you climb into the hammock consider:
2. attaching fly to trees/supports separately, this way the hammock can
go down a bit with your body weight yet the fly remains taught
and flap free (especially if catenary cut)
d. PULL with all your might but before pulling decide how high you want
the hammock off the ground
5. HOW HIGH? a very important question...I setup at shoulder height because
a. it makes getting in and out easier (assuming HH)
b. gives me more clearance for cooking
c. lets me relax in a camp chair (thermarest,trail-sling,etc) more easily
d. remember your hammock is a chair too, reference this excellent site for
many more insights on hammocking and the use of a hammock for a


e. remember to setup low when its cold using the tarp to block
the venturi under your hammock body, also remember to use
whatever nature has on hand to insulate or augment your
own insulation

6. Hammock is now strung, tarp is overhead, now what? Well of course
pull the Pythons/Snakeskins away from the middle letting the
hammock and underquilt (yep the Pythons allow you to stuff the
hammock and underquilt inside)...pull out the hammock extensions
and stake them (i dont do this, no need with the HH Light Racer)
a. get in hammock and put full body weight inside, this will stretch
the support lines
b. get back out and retighten the lines....PULL with all your might, well
this may be an exaggeration but its what I do.
c. attach Underquilt
a. if using the excellent JRB Nest then this is a 15 second job but
only if you've been using it and have it's bungies already set up for
your hammocking use,,,,,,trial and error to a minor degree on 2-3
nights of use will get you close.
b. remember with a down underquilt you can shake and shift down
according to the anticipated temperatures, protect the kidneys!
d. attach TACO/SuperShelter/Weathershield.....honestly I went a year
without using one, survived major horizontal rain in one without
and had only one corner damp and that was with an OEM HH fly...
but for the weight and variability I will always carry one now.
Which is better? JRB's Weathershield is hard to beat for the money.
The HH SuperShelter is a closer fit to the HH model hammocks but
not 50-60$ more...you decide. Also the VERY thin almost filmlike pad
that comes with the SuperShelter is embarassing and only good for
temps from 50F up....do you need insulation in a hammock at 50F and
up? remember bridges freeze before roads.

7. Getting in: a natural thing you will remember from childhood,just remember
its a good idea to position things in the hammock before you enter.
a. push the quilt (preferred) or the sleeping bag (will do) to the head end.
This way you can enter,sit, pull up legs, lay back, then pull the top
quilt (quilt that is in the hammock with you, underquilt is suspended
below the hammock so your body weight doesnt squash the insulation
rendering it moot) over you.
b. clip your watch, headlamp on the overhead line maybe next to the line
level you installed

III. What type of tarp, how big?
A. Rectangular--
1. 6 points to tie off, 4 on the ground
2. generally bigger but by their nature unstable in wind unless:
a. catenery cut: like the MacCAt but expect to pay for the 'cut'
B. diamond--
only 4 points to tie off, 2 on the ground
less coverage but usually more aerodynamic
C. OEM HH fly....i personally never had problems getting wet with this
one but switched to a Golite Cave2 for more coverage that ultimately
was never used, then switched to a MacCAt still used today
IV. Stakes/Stuff bag: titanium of course so you can curse loudly when you
loose one of the pricey devils,,,,,8 of 10 times I'm tying off to a rock or
log but I carry them anyway. ... .. For Stuff bags look at JRB's, one of
the coolest designs out there.

V. . Other Tidbits
1. Hammocks make excellent bivies when you suddenly find yourself
without trees
2. Hammocks can go-to-ground when suddenly the temps are far colder
than your expected or your underquilt can handle
3. Underquilts can be doubled up, tripled up, adjoined by leaves,grass
packs,clothes, and so on.
4. Drip lines attached between the tree and the fly body divert water
from running down and possibly into your hammock
5. Seam Seal your tarp if it has a seem well before need
6. that line above you head can hold more than your watch, your
headlamp, your line level...it can also hold a water bottle, a
urinal, a book split down the middle, well you get the idea.
7. For some people its hard pulling the support lines tight enough even
if using a tree-hugger....look for a friend who windsurfs, they use
a gizmo you can get your hand around but the line is wound internally
to hold it while you tug and it weights less than an ounce.
8. Share the love of hammocking. I've never forget the first time I put
my oldest daughter in one, she had been on a church camp and a week
of slab sleeping in a shelter, once in the hammock she had permagrin.
9. sex in a hammock? be creative and in those scenarios think of the HH
or Speer type as a sex swing in the woods, just dont put both (or more)
body weights on the hammock at the same time, or go beyond its
recommended weight rating
10. Food in a hammock....like in a tent/shelter, dont eat where you sleep on
the trail, but do rig your bladder so you can get a drink in the middle of
the night.
11. Other uses:
a. gigantic gear loft for everything is you decide to slack to a peak
b. help in improvising a stretcher
c. others?
12. Hammock length/width....bigger is better but you still have to carry it.
The surprise in the hammock world is the Light Racer by Hennessey.
This hammock is longer and wider than the stock Backpacker A-sym
yet lighter but you give up lifespan (not yours, the hammocks).
Generally, the longer the hammock the more you will feel like you are
sleeping flat and avoid the banana effect, the wider it is allows you to
stretch out, cross your legs, speaking of-a hammock is a nice place to
sit inside too!
13. materials? dont even ask about a cotton or canvas hammock for
14. Lightening? well you're off the ground and in theory electrons could
travel down the tree and down (or across/over) the support line and
then to your hammock, but lightening is fairly smart for a string of
electrons, it instantly knows that it will have to go through your
hammock and across the other support line and then down the other
tree which is a longer route. Since it prefers the shortest route
it should go down the tree it started on.
15. Animals? They are curious and like to learn new things so it is
very possible that a deer might nuzzle you in the middle of the night,
just remember no food in the hammock, even best not to snack there
too and can you picture your MSR whisperlight simmering inside?

VI. My opinions on comfort:
Nothing beats the HH Lite Racer. It is huge and LIGHT but you have to
listen to the caveats when ordering one, they will tell you it is only meant
for racing and will not survive the rigors of thru-hiking....i'm not a thru-
hiker and cant answer the question , but as a section hiker i can tell you
it will last several, 3-4 seasons with reasonable care. The Speer
Hammock and Speer Type hammocks sleep differently, cradling much more
snugly---not bad in my estimation just different. The HUGE advantage
of the Speer hammock is the PeaPod which should be strongly considered
when you are even thinking about hammocking below 15F, the PeaPod is
that demonstrable when it comes to holding in heat (and condensation
but that is another writing)...the Speer also allows you to leave the bug
netting home when you know the wing creatures that suck blood are gone
for the winter.

Lastly, thanks to HammockHanger and Sgt. Rock for their expertise and prompting that got me into my first hanger. Also to Irisk for his contributions to the hammock you build yourself and pushing the cold envelope when hammocking, to Ed Speer for the revolutionary PeaPod, and to Tom Hennessey for giving us the abily to sleep in the clouds.

04-09-2005, 07:48
MM... that is a good start, thanks. You talked about the tarp but you haven't gotten to hanging the hammock (Don't forget to raise the footend!).

You almost need a book on the common stuff and then something like a chapter or manual for each different type of hammock because you do some things differently... particularly some of the knots. My point in post number 10 was that those of us that have hammocked for a number of years sometimes forget about the learning curve we went through. It dawned on me earlier this year when I let hiking buddies use my extra hammock setup. They had backpacked for hundreds of miles with me and watched me use my hammock so they had some pretty good general ideas about what to do... it was the how to do that was somewhat difficult to just try to tell them verbally. I resorted to letting them watch me as I explained what I was doing in detail and why as I setup the hammock and tarp for them and then showed them how I prefer to take it down in the morning so that it unpacked easily the next day.


04-09-2005, 13:03
An instructional DVD would be awesome ;-)

04-09-2005, 21:37
I was trying to get something into the articles section!!!
I will add to tonight when i get caught up, and you're so right about forgetting what we've learned!

04-10-2005, 00:01
Thanx Medicine Man for that. Well written - Even those of us who have been using a hammock for a while need the re-inforcing because now most of it comes natural.

Tim Rich
04-10-2005, 00:49
Wow! Peter Pan's writing brought tears to my eyes:o ! Such talent...such creativity...such a good soul! I just don't understand why Wendy dumped him!


p.s. Seriously, that was nice. I wish I could write like that.

Well, because he wouldn't grow up, of course! :D

04-10-2005, 01:32
I am not a hammock user, yet. However, thanks to practicing at home, I can literally set up my: tents (all 5 of them, including the 8 person car camping one), Tarps, stove, etc. in the dark without a flashlight. The Nomad tent I carry backpacking I can also set up PROPERLY while blindfolded.

I once made the mistake of taking a new stove in the field without even testing it, let alone getting proficient with it. Turned a planned 10 day trip into a 4 day trip.

So, based on my experience, set up your stuff (tent, tarp, hammock, stove, etc) at least 5 times AT HOME. The more complex the "thingy" the more times you should (I do) set it up. Even set it up: in the dark, during a rainstorm (or have a friend hose you down while practicing) even blindfolded. Trust us, it will make a big difference out there on the trail.

04-10-2005, 02:08
Sgt Rock, let me know if I make it to the articles section, if so I'll drink a beer to celebrate next week when i get out of my cage.

04-10-2005, 08:28
We will all, with luck and the good Lords blessing, grow old.....Growing up is optional....Anon.

The difference between men and boys is often the size or amount of toys...." Viva La Differance" (sp?), and happy the boy in the man with the time, support and encouragement to play with his toys...

I agree with the post to practice with the toys in a safe environment until proficiency is second nature....I also open presents on Christmas day and begin to play with them immediately....

Great post MM.


04-10-2005, 20:55
Thank you all for the advice. I agree that learning about a peice of equipment before going out in the field is the smart thing to do. If the hammock shows up early this week I should have enough time to determine if I can take it on my trip.

The weather for this trip looks like this (as reported by weather.com, so not totally trusted ;) )

Fri April 15th Showers 54/35
Sat April 16th Partly Cloudy 56/42
Sun April 17th Mostly Sunny 64/44
Mon APril 18th Partly Cloudy 64/44

I plan on using the same sleeping gear that I use for my tent (as opposed to investing in hammock specific gear) until I determine if hanging is the life for me. I have a big agnes horse thief 35 degree bag and a big agnes insulated air core sleeping pad. Am I going to be warm enough? If not, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for everyones help


04-10-2005, 21:22

You will be fine with the gear you mentioned at that forcast....Make sure your fly is centered...tie to the trees to eliminate the sag....or take a bigger tarp to ensure that you stay dry....getting the fly right is the hardest part besides the knot...Enjoy.


04-10-2005, 22:57
I certainly agree, that was an excellent post. I just received my HH backpacker ultralite hammock this weekend. Hung it in the backyard and spent the night in it on Friday. I found that there is indeed more of a learning curve than with ground camping. I found the hammock to be comfortable even when sleeping on my side. But I did have a few questions.
First question is about the tarp. Do most of you keep the tarp and hammock in the same snakeskin or in seperate ones? If seperate, do you still leave it atached to the hammock ridgeline or do you add a seperate ridgeline specifically for the tarp?
Second question is about the pad. I was using the Walgreens windshield covers someone here mentioned. As I frequently toss and turn in my sleep, I found that this pad would quickly slip out of position. Any ideas on how to prevent this? My normal pad for ground sleeping is a Thermorest which weighs about two pounds. I really don't want to carry that much extra weight.
And thirdly, being a hammock newbie, I had some difficulty deciding how tight to stretch the hammock. The result was that my weight (185#) caused my tarp to lose some of it's tautness during the night. I was thinking back to question one about rigging the tarp on its own line might solve this problem.
Thanks in advance to any who might reply to this post and I look forward to reading your article.


04-11-2005, 00:48
"First question is about the tarp. Do most of you keep the tarp and hammock in the same snakeskin or in seperate ones? If seperate, do you still leave it atached to the hammock ridgeline or do you add a seperate ridgeline specifically for the tarp?"

Answer: tarp and hammock are kept in the same Python/Shakeskin
most of use use a separate ridgeline for both tarp and hammock
and here is why: if they share a common ridgeline when you get in
the hammock the fly will sag and then flap in the wind, hanging
them separately negates this but does add time to setup

"Second question is about the pad. I was using the Walgreens windshield covers someone here mentioned. As I frequently toss and turn in my sleep, I found that this pad would quickly slip out of position. Any ideas on how to prevent this? My normal pad for ground sleeping is a Thermorest which weighs about two pounds. I really don't want to carry that much extra weight."

Answer: loose the pad and go with an underquilt: http://jacksrbetter.com/
if you have to go with a pad find you'll probably be better off with one
that is at least 24inches wide and one you can cut down to size length
wise....like a blue pad from WallyWorld
2 pound ThermaRest? wow!

"And thirdly, being a hammock newbie, I had some difficulty deciding how tight to stretch the hammock. The result was that my weight (185#) caused my tarp to lose some of it's tautness during the night. I was thinking back to question one about rigging the tarp on its own line might solve this problem.
Thanks in advance to any who might reply to this post and I look forward to reading your article."

Answer: yep, you're right about 2 separate lines,,,and on pulling it tight, I
try to get it as tight as possible the first time and still will sit in it to stretch
and then retighten

04-11-2005, 09:43
From the first night when I started hammock hangin' last year I used a pad from Oware which measures 40X60X1/4 (7oz). With that width and the cupping of the hammock, slipping off the pad has never been a problem. Further, I believe the foam itself grips more than the standard blue foam pads and it stays in place pretty well.

At 1/4" thick, the pad may be thin for some. Clipping a thin fleece throw (Campmor,13oz) to the pad has kept me comfortable down to the high 20sF (dressed in insulated clothing, no bag or quilt) and seems to prevent the sticky, wetness that condenses under the shouders of some. But in the low 20s I felt coolness leaking through. For those lower temps I now have a piece of blue foam which slips into the pocket formed by the throw and the Oware pad which I think will make the setup good way down to temps I don't anticipate trying out in a hammock for a while yet. The 'envelope' formed by the Oware pad and the throw keeps the piece of blue foam in place.

While there may be more elegant solutions there's not too many that are cheaper for sub-20s comfort. This system can be matched to expected temperature ranges and its weight runs from 7 to 25oz.

While I almost always slipped off pads in a tent, I've never slipped off my pad in the Hennessey.:)


04-12-2005, 12:35
New weather report due to the cold front moving in:

Bland, VA
Thursday: Partly Cloudy 56/37 (Walker Gap) We are driving down Thursday night so we are either going to stay at our start point, Walker Gap, or get a hotel and start out hiking Friday morning.

Friday: Mostly Cloudy 56/32 (Jenkins Shelter)
Sat: Partly Cloudy 59/36 (Helvey's Mill Shelter)
Sun: Mostly Sunny 64/42 (Driving Home)

Current Gear:
Big Agnes Horse Thief 35 degree
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core 15 degree

With the drop in temp, should I reconsider hammocking?

The Hammock just came today, I am planning on sleeping in it tonight assuming that I can set it up in my backyard. I don't have any trees, just a 5' tall fence. I am planning on setting it up on one of the corners, but I am not sure the 5' post will be high enough. The temps today are reported to be54/35.

04-12-2005, 13:32
...The Hammock just came today, I am planning on sleeping in it tonight assuming that I can set it up in my backyard. I don't have any trees, just a 5' tall fence. I am planning on setting it up on one of the corners, but I am not sure the 5' post will be high enough...Be careful with your fence, a few weeks ago someone posted about pulling down an interior door in their house when they tried to use it for a hammock support. I've seen a few photos were folks have successfully used a fence post to hang their hammocks and don't recall anyone posting that they pulled down a fence, but be aware that the pull on each hammock support rope can easily exceed the actual weight you put in the hammock... maybe hammocks should come with a chart showing this?


04-12-2005, 14:07
but be aware that the pull on each hammock support rope can easily exceed the actual weight you put in the hammock I have seen this claim before, but if I remember my university physics correctly (and I very well may not!) this just isn't possible.

If I exert, say, a 100 lb force straight down on the hammock, the horizontal component acting on the fence post can't possible be more than 100 lbs.

Now if you drop a 100 lb weight into the hammock, you certainly can create a force greater than 100 lbs. But a stationary weight in the hammock will produce a downward force equivalent to it's weight.

Now there is a second force at work as well, caused by the tension on the ridge line. If I recall correctly Hennessey recomends a force of about 30 lbs when putting up the hammock, so this force isn't too significant.

The moral of the story? Get in gently and don't bounce.


ps. Like I said, the physics courses were long ago, so if there is something I overlooked, I would be interested to hear it. Perhaps someone can provide actual equations for calculating the force on the fence post.

SGT Rock
04-12-2005, 14:11
There is a chart at my site (donated by Youngblood) that shows the weight and how this applies, apparently you can get more weight than your body weight on the line according to the experts...


04-12-2005, 15:47

You sound like me when I first started using a hammock... I didn't believe it either. But you can generate quite a bit of force with ropes that are attached between two supports (that's the part we sometimes overlook at first glance), much more than the original force (or weight). The cavers are the ones that published the references I found. I don't know if they still have it on line but I saved the pdf file when I found it. If you like, send me your email address and I will send you a copy of it. (Shoot, I even did a little experiment with ropes, weights and a compass... like a high school physics lab?)


04-12-2005, 22:28
physica lab at home?
we should now call you professor youngblood :)

04-13-2005, 07:22
Well, the fence still stands. :-) I managed to stay in the hammock till about 3:30 in the morning, at that point there were a couple of cold spots underneath me and these cold areas made it too tough to fall back to sleep. Temp at 3:30am was 35 degrees.

04-13-2005, 09:00
Medicine Man: Yeah, it was neat. The set up I had allowed me the see the angle that X1, X2, X3 and X4 reached an equilibrium... you would have liked it. If would be a great demo or physics lab experiment for school kids showing practical examples of basic physics.

Granger: Glad that you and your fence survived. You did the smart thing, checking out your setup in your backyard. Now you know that is good to about 40F. At this point, I think there is a particular characteristic of these new blow up pads that have insulation in the top half of them that you need to be aware of... and that is the bottom, uninsulated portion, will kind of screw you over if you just stick a piece of closed cell foam (CCF) under it. I say it will screw you over because you won't get the additive insulation of the CCF because of the large convection currents in the uninsulated portion of the pad. However, all is not lost... you can avoid that by just placing the CCF pad on top. A 20"x42" (or so) piece of CCF pad on top of the blow up pad should work wonders to what you already have. It doesn't have to be very thick, my rule of thumb is 20F of added insulation for a 3/8" thick piece of CCF. The good news is that the sleeve in your Horse Thief bag should make this a piece of cake to impliment. Of course I am assuming that everything else went well; particularly that you were satisfied with the width of everything, that your shoulders or hips didn't get cold, and you were warm enough on top with your bag?


04-13-2005, 09:11
Thanks for the tip on the CCF, I'll stop and pick some up tonight.

Everything went well aside from the cold spots. (mostly my butt and small of my back) I was actually very warm aside from that. I had to shed the thermal bottoms I was wearing after an hour and I was almost to the point of sweating around my chest, arms and legs.

I still feel like there was too much of an arch in my back, but that may have to do with how tight I was able to get the support ropes. After an hour or so, I got out, retightened and that helped a little. Hopefully this will better itself the more I get used to the hammock

Thanks for everything, everyone!


04-13-2005, 10:37
...I still feel like there was too much of an arch in my back, but that may have to do with how tight I was able to get the support ropes. After an hour or so, I got out, retightened and that helped a little. Hopefully this will better itself the more I get used to the hammock...The Hennessy Hammocks have an intergral ridgeline that sets the sag of the hammock. This is the ridgeline under the bugnet that the little glove clips and storage pocket attach to... if this ridgeline is taut (it's suppose to be) you can't change the sag of the hammock by retightening the support lines. A couple of things you can do that will affect the 'lay of the hammock' is to raise the footend some relative to the headend of the hammock or to change the position you lay in the hammock (more of a diagonal to the center line of the hammock for example).


04-13-2005, 22:39
think about loosening a nut or a bolt. If its tough to turn with a short wrench you can get a longer wench and it will turn much easier. The torque created by the 100 lb weight is increased the further away from its hinge point (tree/post/etc) you place the weight