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Hammock Camping?

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Hammock Camping?
« on: May 12, 2008, 10:16:54 AM »
As I mentioned in another thread, I'm seriously considering taking a hammock-based shelter/sleeping system to Yosemite in July. I've been through six different sleeping pads and pretty much gotten miserable nights' sleep on all of them. During my last trip to the Chisos, my sleeping pad slid out from under me during a tossing and turning fit and it took me awhile to figure out it had gone missing. Then I did nothing about it. My latest sleeping pad acquisition actually weighs more than my sleeping bag.  :icon_eek:

So, after some web research (links at the bottom of this post), I've started warming to the idea of hammock camping. In Big Bend, I assume the only logical places for using a hammock are in the Chisos. In a place like Yosemite, it stands to reason that the hammock camping opportunities are endless. All I need is two trees 12-20' apart. It doesn't matter if the ground is clear, level, drains well, or anything else. I picture myself in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, picking my way up a slope about 100 feet above the river and one of its waterfalls, and setting up camp on the steep slope, far away from the trail and everyone else, rocking gently to sleep to the sound of the waterfall.

Anyway, I think I've seen some of you benders post pics of your hammocks (and I did search for hammock and read those posts). What do you like about your hammock? How much of an adjustment is it sleeping in one? What kind do you have? What feature(s) do you wish it had?

As promised, hammock links:

Sgt. Rock's Hammock Camping 101
Just Jeff's (no relation) Hiking Page and specifically hammock camping page
Hammock Forums
Yahoo! Hammock Camping group
Why use a Hammock?
Backpack Gear Test - hammock reviews
Hennessy - hammock maker (not the distilled spirits maker - that's here)
Clark - hammock maker
Speer - hammock maker
Mosquito hammock maker
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Jim

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2008, 10:48:07 AM »
I slept overnight in a hammock at Bastrop about 30 years ago.  It was comfortable and cool, but there was the slight constant swaying all night long.  For the next 24 hours, I would have sworn the world was tilting back and forth at slight, but nauseatingly perceptible angles.  It wasn't until the following day that the world settled down and acted the way it was supposed to.  And I wasn't even drinking!

I guess the message is to try and stabilize the hammock if you are at all sensitive to motion sickness.

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2008, 11:16:25 AM »
Never used a hammock before for camping... do they damage trees?  I would think the NPS would have a problem if it damaged any trees.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2008, 12:02:33 PM »
Never used a hammock before for camping... do they damage trees?  I would think the NPS would have a problem if it damaged any trees.

 Nope Dkerr24...i don't think hammocks damage trees. It takes alot more pressure than a human boday can dish to harm a tree. Just as an example, we sometimes use trees as anchors when we are winching ourselves out of a situation, of course, we use trees huggers for this applications and they do nothing to the bark of those living things. Trust me, a hammock will only hurt your back, if you don't tie it well and then you take a plunge straight for the ground.

 Jeff, i have not had the preasure of sleeping on a hammock when i go out to the Boonies. I do however have been curious as to how they sleep on them,since i began reading it here. I have read some good comments on them.

  One quick and maybe dumb question: If you were to sleep at Yosemite...have you given some thought  to being exposed to Grizzly bears , where you plan to camp?.In this case Hammock camp?.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2008, 12:16:27 PM »
Never used a hammock before for camping... do they damage trees?  I would think the NPS would have a problem if it damaged any trees.
If hung improperly, hammocks can certainly damage trees.  Not much different from improperly pitching tents (e.g. digging trenches, etc). in that regard.  Most of the modern hammocks have webbing/straps designed to reduce damage to tree bark, unlike what we used to jury-rig with nylon ropes back in my Boy Scout days.  However, if you use a tree that's not strong enough, permanent damage can definitely occur even with the better straps.  As always, judgement on the part of the user is paramount.

I still have a vivid memory of one particular Boy Scout campout at Pedernales Falls State Park.  We were in the drive-in camping area and picked a site next to some woods with a very steep slope.  The scoutmaster was the only one sleeping on the ground up at the official tent pad.  The 15 or so scouts all dispersed into the woods to sleep in our hammocks above the rock-strewn ground.  One of the guys who was into rock climbing rigged up what passed for a hammock out of a climbing rope, three web straps (one under his head/shoulders, one mid-torso, and one for his feet), and some carabiners.  He actually slept (or at least stayed) in it all night.  The kicker?  He rigged it up about 15 feet off the ground.

  One quick and maybe dumb question: If you were to sleep at Yosemite...have you given some thought  to being exposed to Grizzly bears , where you plan to camp?.In this case Hammock camp?.
Yeah, better make sure your hammock profile doesn't resemble the traditional bear bag.   :icon_eek:
« Last Edit: May 12, 2008, 12:18:41 PM by RichardM »

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2008, 12:53:17 PM »
Never used a hammock before for camping... do they damage trees?

As RichardM said, if you choose a weak tree, you can do permanent damage -- both to the tree and yourself -- but most trees with more than 4 inches in diameter can support the weight. As he also said, straps can be used to better distribute the weight over a greater area of the tree, which should prevent any damage to the bark.

Quote from: homero
have you given some thought  to being exposed to Grizzly bears , where you plan to camp?.In this case Hammock camp?

The way I figure it, I'm no more or less exposed than if I was in my tent. Or under a tarp. Or lying under the stars for that matter. My safeguards would be the same -- keep a clean camp, absolutely no food-smelling things in the hammock/tent, don't cook near the campsite, and use a bear cannister stowed about 100 yards away. In a way, a hammock might get me out of the way of bears. They will be checking out the typical campsites, because they know the folks who occupy them have food. If I'm in an undisturbed area, up the hillside in some trees for example, then perhaps they would be less inclined to notice me or want to see what that funny looking cocoon has in it?

Quote from: RichardM
One of the guys who was into rock climbing rigged up what passed for a hammock out of a climbing rope, three web straps (one under his head/shoulders, one mid-torso, and one for his feet), and some carabiners.

Sounds marginally less uncomfortable than my sleeping pad collection.

Quote from: Jim
For the next 24 hours, I would have sworn the world was tilting back and forth at slight, but nauseatingly perceptible angles.

My research has turned up descriptions of "feeling out to sea" -- trick appears to be to use natural windbreaks to lessen the rock-a-bye-baby effect.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline sleepy

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2008, 01:04:04 PM »
I have a Hennessey Hammock and it bought it after listening to a sales clerk at Whole Earth Provision talk about her Appalachian Trail trip.  She used it the whole way and loved it.  Because I desert camp mostly, or with my wife, I don't use it much.  I have found it to be comfortable and easy to enter/exit.  There is certainly no room for gear, except a headlamp and some water.  Because you are up off the ground, it can get  chilly.  I've heard some users put a thermal barrier underneath their bag, like a windshield reflector.   You can't beat the weight.  In the Sierras, you should have plenty of places to tie off, unless you are fond of the alpine meadow thing or are above tree line. 

Jeff, if you would like to borrow mine for a test drive, you are most welcome.


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Offline presidio

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2008, 01:37:34 PM »
Never used a hammock before for camping... do they damage trees?  I would think the NPS would have a problem if it damaged any trees.

Or, even if it didn't. After all, trees aren't intended for tying things to them. Damage is a secondary consideration to 'no!'. :willynilly:
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Offline presidio

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2008, 01:55:02 PM »
There's a right way and wrong way to use a hammock. Most folks do it the wrong way and most hammock designs give them no choice in the matter.

Hammocks that traditionally are used with the occupant laying longitudinally with the rigging are unstable and prone to more apparent motion than one used correctly, which is to lay perpendicular to the rigging. For that you need a real hammock...one that is large enough to accommodate such usage.

Cotton Mayan hammocks, commonly known as 'matrimonial hammocks' have long been used in Central America. Now, while you don't want a cotton one for camping, they are quite colorful and durable. I've had one for over 30 years, but I don't camp with it. It hangs on a porch when needed.

These hammocks are quite wide, on the order of 6-8 feet. However, 'matrimonial' is a misnomer; they are not really designed for more than one person. By laying crosswise you change the apparent rolling sway that can be disorienting to a sway very much like a rocking chair. It is easier to get in and out of these because you are not fighting the natural tendency for a hammock to wrap up as you try to get in aligned with the tie-downs. Plus, you eliminate the sag that is unavoidable when laying longitudinally. Laying across the hammock results in a more nearly flat surface compared to the large sag when aligned with the rigging.

Except in the most mild of conditions, you will want some insulating material under you as it will be breezy even when the wind isn't blowing.

Here's a photo of how one looks and is used. Much different from the image most folks have about hammocks.
http://www.serenityhealth.com/matrimonial_mayan_hammock-p-36.html
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
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--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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oldfatman

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2008, 02:39:07 PM »
The first time I tried a "crossways" hammock, I knew that the parallel to the rigging style is not the best, even though they can be good enough for a nice nap.  Thanks for the link.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2008, 02:48:32 PM »
We have had Mayan Hammocks all of our lives here. We have taken naps like the link states, for ever. I have never slept the whole night on one though. I am surprised that you are taking in consideration such a hammock.

  I was under the impression , you were interested on a Jungle Military Hammock type...like the Hennessy Expedition Hammock .

  Jeff, you should take up on Sleepy's proporsal, and sleep on his hammock...better try before you buy.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline LandCruisers4Life

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2008, 09:57:30 PM »
I had one of the infamous vietnam era 'Jungle Hammocks" for years. Used it a lot when I was younger. I still have it but don't know where I put it. Nice thing about the old Jungle Hammock was you are protected from mosquitos and flies etc.



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Offline bdhawk133

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2008, 10:57:10 PM »
I have a Hennesey Hammock that has now been on several backpacking trips. It is lightweight, comfortable, and very durable. Hennessey even makes straps called "tree huggers" that do not damage the trees, and funnel attachments for collecting rain water for drinking. Since it converts from an enclosed tent to a hammock-chair, and even a lounger, it cannot be beaten for its comfort level. After years of sleeping on the ground, this hammock has converted me fully! Although designed for hanging, it is built so well as to even have the option of setting up as a tent if you are in an area absent of some sort of anchors. Having spent hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars on the newest, greatest, lightweight tents, I will never again use any other shelter!!!! Take it from me... this thing ROCKS!
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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2008, 08:13:46 AM »
I have a Hennesey Hammock that has now been on several backpacking trips. It is lightweight, comfortable, and very durable. Hennessey even makes straps called "tree huggers" that do not damage the trees, and funnel attachments for collecting rain water for drinking. Since it converts from an enclosed tent to a hammock-chair, and even a lounger, it cannot be beaten for its comfort level. After years of sleeping on the ground, this hammock has converted me fully! Although designed for hanging, it is built so well as to even have the option of setting up as a tent if you are in an area absent of some sort of anchors. Having spent hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars on the newest, greatest, lightweight tents, I will never again use any other shelter!!!! Take it from me... this thing ROCKS!

 What brand of Hammock do you use?
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline bdann

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Re: Hammock Camping?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2008, 09:39:48 AM »
I have a Hennesey Hammock that has now been on several backpacking trips. It is lightweight, comfortable, and very durable. Hennessey even makes straps called "tree huggers" that do not damage the trees, and funnel attachments for collecting rain water for drinking. Since it converts from an enclosed tent to a hammock-chair, and even a lounger, it cannot be beaten for its comfort level. After years of sleeping on the ground, this hammock has converted me fully! Although designed for hanging, it is built so well as to even have the option of setting up as a tent if you are in an area absent of some sort of anchors. Having spent hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars on the newest, greatest, lightweight tents, I will never again use any other shelter!!!! Take it from me... this thing ROCKS!

 What brand of Hammock do you use?

he said Hennessey Hammock.  http://www.hennessyhammock.com/
WATER, It does a body good.

 


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