my thoughts on the switchback
this is premature- and i know i'll get jumped on without pics, but my switchback is "in the shop" right now getting some work done across the country. when it gets back, i'll do a full video review.
but for now, i wanted to share my initial impressions after 2 nights in the woods.
-classic switchback 1.9 single layer- woodland brown
-27.7 oz's outfitted with 6 ft. 7/64 amsteel whoopies, 6 ft ahe straps, arrow shaft toggles, 2 tttg stock shockcord hmmk tie outs, 2 tttg stock shockcord and line netting tieouts, tttg stock bishop bag.
well, echoing all that's been said recently regarding the switchback, it really is a great hammock, with a great lay. the dim's seem dead on for what i like: 120" long x 52" wide. i attribute a lot of the comfort to the non-whipped ends. a channel end hammock in my experience has allowed for MINIMAL calf ridge down the hammocks center-line. negating the srl doesn't affect comfort, as users have reported. most of the comfort i attribute to the generally large "feeling" the switchback offers, with its open, symmetrical design. the fabric is a soft 1.9 ripstop, very comfortable, with minimal stretch at my 5'8" 155 lb. frame. at my size, yes i could have gone with the litehiker, but its currently only being offered on the website in a DL, and actually weighs more than the classic 1.9 single. this thing really is well built.
i was skeptical on the additional netting tieouts. the added step sounded like a fiddle factor i wouldn't want to deal with. this was a non-issue for the most part. a tautline hitch in the orange cord creates a permanent adjustable loop that can hook to the same msh & toggle used for the hammock suspension. i've seen some attaching to the tarp ridgeline, and i think that is a great solution, but i don't always hang my tarp. i wanted something that would be consistent, and the tautline to msh works great for me. **the netting tieout shockcord is heavy and thick... i plan on switching it out to a smaller diameter shockcord to trim some grams.
regarding the spreader loops on the netting at the head and foot end...while not 100% necessary, i did find them a nice option in opening up the netting and creating space in the hammock. tttg isn't shipping the spreader bars anymore- but o&b and others have come up with elegant solutions. i used a trail stick.. which worked.. but i'd prefer a more permanent solution. dale at tttg sent me diy build instructions on making the spreader bars.. i may go that route. of course... a disassembled trekking pole would work just the same.
i do like the ability to go 'topless'. zippers along both sides of the hammock is a must for me anymore. maybe its just mental, but i love having easy access out both sides of the hammock to adjust a quilt, or reach items outside the hammock, while still in the bugnetting. with the zippers completely open, it was great to be able to roll the net up and secure with the ribbon ties. they are a little short, but i just tie a double half knot, and that holds well enough. i do carry a small loop of shock cord to secure the rolled net at the center, between the 2 head / foot end ties; this more for aesthetics than necessity.
there is, in fact, no structural ridge line. the design of the hammock doesn't really permit it, unless you wanted to put a hole in the netting, as it's stitched into the channel. tttg does include accessory loops of cord at the head and foot end, also stitched into the channel, but those have been deemed non structural, and a ridge line should not be anchored to them. last i read on an old thread about the switchback, the notion had been posed, but the thread died, and no further action taken. it was my experience that the hammock, as reported, doesn't require the consistent sag a ridgeline affords. i suppose though, when the hammock comes back to me, i'll have a chance to install a ridge line, usable in select, bug-free situations.
the internal, non structural ridgeline attached at the netting tieout points, is nice to for typical glasses, headlamp hanging. also, it is adjustable via slipped loop knots, set stock by tttg. advanced users have yet more control over how the netting is set up, though dale communicated to me adjustment of this line doesn't afford much difference.
*its also been said the hammock can be flipped over, netting facing down, and you have a truly netless hammock. i tried this, and yes.. nothing ripped, and it was nice to have simple top-loading hammock, esp. when stopping for a trail break, and resting above ground with a breeze along a sweaty backside. but----i just didn't feel comfortable, for any unspoken reason, in doing that. the netting is sewn into the end channels, and there is no doubt stress in that configuration. i know, i'm sure it's fine and others report great results... i just prefer not to go down that road. this is being worked out right now, making those quick hangs and totally topless nights a reality.
the hammock also has 4 symmetrical tieouts to pull the hammock open at the shoulders and ankles. the switchback ships with only 2 lengths of shockcord for asymmetrical laying, but dale said they are now going to be including 4 lengths to keep everything symmetrical, a main goal in the switchbacks design. these are interchangeable, though, and simply larkshead to a d-ring. its really adaptable in that one could rig the tie outs in any fashion, adding an adjustability mod if desired... or simply remove them. i personally have never been one to tie any hammock out.. i feel it has ill effects on underquilt fit in some cases, but thats my opinion. it also didn't seem to really "widen" the hammock once i was in, only visually when it was unloaded. what is nice though, is how the tieouts support in pulling the bugnet away from the center of the hammock. i slept one night with the hammock tied out, the other without. there was no perceivable difference in comfort, for me, in either configuration. although, i do plan to test this more thoroughly, as there must be a reason people like using them- and will report back when i get the switchback returned from the shop.
while initially it seemed like "a lot" of hammock, with a lot of options and a lot to think about... i found it quite the opposite. its a simple design, with an easy-to-navigate array of hanging options. there's no magical srl tension to dial in. the head / foot end pockets are decent and hold a good amount typical backpacking goods.
the switchback, while only been given a 2 night trial run and now out of my hands for a few weeks, is en route to becoming my go-to hammock. it's weight-to-comfort ratio matches the other integrated mosquito hammocks in my closet, a wbbb and hh ulbp. i'll never have a permanent hammock fixture that fills my pack- each trip calls for different gear. but i'm really liking the tttg switchback 1.9 single.
at this point, i have very little to complain about. at the end of the day, as xuprising said, hammocks are essentially big pieces of fabric with ropes on both ends. it did take me a full calender year and 4 seasons of backpacking to develop a valid critique of my first hammock, the wbbb, enough so that i sought other options. time will tell on the switchback.
video to come ( along with more detailed pictures of the hammock, mods, in raw form )