First Overnight Hang: Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro - What I learned
I decided to take my dad out to the Los Padres National Forest here in CA to try our first overnight hammock backpacking trip. It was a lot of fun packing in 50lbs in those high elevations (totally joking), but the trip was a learning experience. I ended up carrying my tent (which is nearly 10 lbs) just in case we could not rig up the hammocks or whatnot.
With that said, I went with the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro for the fact that it was 10.5 feet long which is great for me (I am 6'4" tall). It was affordable and included bug netting at a great price. First impressions were that the suspension is horrible and could be very dangerous. The knots were coming undone so I had to re-rig everything off of the bat. I replaced the stock carabiners with lighter ones and made some tree straps from ratcheting tie downs (heavy duty ones that hold 1500 lbs). I thought I had everything all planned out for the trip so we made our way out 5 miles into a hike-in campground. The problems started from here.
First, the only trees available for me to hang the hammock in had to be in a designated campsite. I could not legally just go off trail and use some of the abundant pine trees... Go figure. We only had 1 or 2 spots to choose from, and all of the trees were MASSIVE in circumference. So my straps were not long enough on all of the trees. I had to rig up part of the straps by doubling 550 paracord just to make the straps long enough.
Second, the rope that comes with the GT Skeeter Beeter Pro is so stretchy it almost reminds me of bungee cords. Even when doubling it It would still stretch dramatically. Lucky me I brought along 150 feet of 550 paracord. What i ended up having to do was double the 550 cord, along with the stock skeeter beeter cord from each end of the hammock to the tree straps. once I got that all squared away it did not stretch at all so that was great.
Third, the trees I selected all had dead limbs. I had no workaround for this because again - I could not legally camp out of the campsite or campground for that matter. But lucky us again, no wind and no limbs were falling all night anywhere that we could hear.
So the night went on. We both used no tarp, but set up ridgelines just in case so we could throw our tarps over in the event the weather got bad. We both had closed cell foam as an underquilt, and then sleeping bags on top of that. The night got down into the low 40s Fahrenheit, but we were actually quite warm (my dad had a north face down bag and I had a marmot trestles 20 synthetic bag). However, neither of us could get any sleep throughout the night. This may be attributed to the fact that we are typically side or stomach sleepers - and we were zipped up into our sleeping bags. For me, even when I was able to lay on my side, I felt like the hammock sides were putting too much pressure onto my head and feet. So I would revert back to my back and could never get to sleep that way. My dad had some of the same issues himself.
I dont know, maybe we did not have the hammock hang set right... But it was a very discouraging day/night to say the least. A long hike out in the morning with no sleep was not going to be fun. Maybe it would have been comfortable if we both had actual underquilts, and used the sleeping bags as a top quilt. Along with a quality tarp (as opposed to the 2 pound 8X10 walmart ones we hiked in). But that is more money to invest that I do not have.
I may just be a tent camper myself afterall.
But I wanted to give my report of the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro. Be prepared if you buy one to upgrade the straps and suspension. Otherwise, the quality of the hammock itself and the bug netting is awesome.
If anyone wants to see the video/trip report I put together and see how I hung the hammock, I put a video on youtube of the trip. It is listed in my sig. The video is the latest one on my channel called "Overnight Backpacking Trip". Take care