JRB BM Bridge: initial impressions
As some of you may know, I'm a complete newbie to the pleasures of hammock camping. Until a viable option (read: something which would allow me to sleep perfectly flat) came along, I had no interest at all in using hammocks as a backcountry shelter. Due to the JRB BMB, I have now been converted.
Setup is quick (despite still having my issues - how high on the tree should the straps be? how tight should the suspension be?); it's definitely quicker than setting up the tent (and my solo tent was never too bad - but I should also note that I have yet to set up the tarp, which may change my opinion of the setup process), and tear down is even easier. I have my hammock off of the tree, rolled and packed in a fraction of the time it takes to tear down the tent (much less trying to roll that unruly thing back up). I imagine that a BB bag would make that process even faster as well.
The lie is really nice. I definitely understand the concept of shoulder squeeze in the BMB, as have other "non-slender" hammockers (if either of the Jacks are reading this, consider this my suggestion for a wider bridge hammock made for larger people in mind - I would gladly give my money in a heartbeat), but 1) it's not terrible, and 2) I'm generally a side/stomach sleeper, and squeeze only affects me when I'm lying on my back with my arms down to my sides. In short, squeeze shouldn't affect me much at all in real world application. Lying on my side is quite comfortable, but could be improved with a wider hammock because I could bend my arms/legs outwards a bit more.
I HATE THE OMNI-TAPE ON THE BUG NET! I'm don't know how else I can say it, but it's an absolutely terrible design decision for mass market purposes. I have read here on HF that the Jacks are trying to take their product to a wider audience (and I wish them all of the good fortune in the world), but they would do well for themselves if they either made the bug net with zippers, or at least had a zipper as an option. Perhaps they made the decision because of weight, or perhaps because of personal preference, but either way, it is a terrible decision. If anyone has a way to convert the bug net into a zippered net, I would gladly appreciate any help I can get. In fact, I might be willing to send my hammock and net out to get the alterations done so that I can forget all about this omni tape madness. I have seen someone add a zipper to the net, but even that isn't good enough. I don't want the "functionality" of omni tape at all. It's loud, unruly, and generally a frustrating experience. When getting in and out, far more comes off than I would like, and putting it back on isn't always easy (especially when inside of the hammock, and it comes off at the foot end. I want to replace the omni tape, and pretend that I have never even heard of velcro. If the decision was made due to weight, find a lighter zipper, or find something else to cut from your pack, but the straight-forward and proven functionality of a zipper is a must, at least as an option. It's easy, proven, and you won't have those say "no thanks" just because of the missing familiarity of a good ol' fashioned zipper. f the hammock were even slightly less comfortable than it is, I would return it because of the bug net madness alone.
I have yet to try it out for more than an hour or so because I haven't yet set up my tarp (I don't yet have the proper line to tie it down), and both times I threw it on the tree, rain was in the near future. However, I will definitely be keeping it, and will be giving it a full test run soon (once I have my lines and am reasonably confident that it won't be too hot).
Overall, my initial experiences have been very positive (a solid 4 of 5, or thereabouts). The lie is excellent, although a bit wider would help greatly; setup and tear down is a breeze, but the omni tape is about the worst design decision that I have seen on any product in quite some time. When hiking, I don't want to fight with the bug net, I just want to zip/unzip and be done with it. Omni tape doesn't allow me to do that.