First real hammock camping experience...not quite there
I had my first real hammock camping experience this past weekend. I'd used a hammock previously for four nights, but had tent backup on those outings just in case. This past weekends Scout outing, I went with just the hammock and tarp. Things didn't go as expected.
The weather for the weekend was supposed to be PERFECT! Sunny during the day with highs in the upper 60's to low 70's, evenings into the low 40's. we were car camping, so I wasn't worried about weight or volume of gear. Get to camp, get things set up, put down a tent foot print under the hammock and tarp just to have a place to rest my stuff so it didn't get wet from the ground. I was in a hurry and just pulled out the foot print and staked it out. Tarp was already set up as was hammock. While we were eating dinner, we heard thunder in the distance. Looked up to see nothing but blue sky. Mmmmm...that's odd. Heard another rumble of thunder. Just as I was reaching for my phone to check the weather, my wife calls. She says there was a tornado that touched down near our house (she's fine...wasn't that close to us), and it appears that the storm is headed our way. Another rumble of thunder growls in the distance.
We get the boys to batten down the hatches. I look at my shoddily rigged tarp and decide I better take down the hammock and put it into a plastic bin. If the tarp goes, I don't want my bed getting wet! About 10 mins later, the camp site siren blows to shelter in place. Our site has a cabin, so we round up the boys and some nearby campers and get them inside. About 10 mins later, the skies open up and just DUMP rain. The really heavy stuff arrives in waves as the storm cells move quickly on their path. Storm lasts around 2.5 hours. We never get the flying monkey-type weather, but we end up with several inches of rain in a short period of time. Needless to say, the camp grounds are soaked...some sections are under water.
I go to check my stuff after the main rains have passed. The tarp held! Unfortunately, I've made a really stupid mistake. I wasn't careful setting up the footprint. It extended out beyond the tarp edge...so, water flowed from the tarp, down onto the foot print and pooled under where I was sleeping. GGGRREEAATT!!!!
By the time I get the Scouts situated and camp put back together, it's close to 1am. I re set my hammock and crawl into it. Seems I didn't have the angle adjusted properly. Dang it! Get out, re-position, and it's better, but not quite right. End up saying, screw it, I'll be fine. I don't feel like messing around with it anymore. I'm beat and just want to go to sleep. Turns out, it wasn't fine. I ended up tossing and turning for the next four hours until it was time to get up. Not a good night. Had the foot section a bit too high, so I couldn't get a flat or comfortable position.
More practice in the back yard. I was nervous about my setup and didn't trust that the tarp would hold. That trust will come with practice (and maybe some Dutch-ware :lol:)
Don't bother with a footprint. :D
Get a ridge line.
Need to figure out where to put my stuff so that it's covered by the tarp and protected from big rain.
Also need to figure out how to get changed around Scouts without a tent.
Different State, Similiar boat
Bruce - That sounds like the same line of storms that woke us up at 4:30am on Saturday. It gave us some grief as well. Glad to hear everyone there got a decent amount of warning and could prep.
I was on my first true backpacking trip in Northeast PA, and had hung my pack from a tree and covered it. Our hammocks held up really well (we both have HH Safaris), but the pack cover let me down and my pack was soaked. I had been relying way too much on the weather forecast from that morning (no cell reception where we were so no updates), and had ignored one of the old rules I learned in the scouts: put your clothes in a garbage bag. Luckily everything in and under my hammock was dry, so I was still able to enjoy the weekend.
I did numerous test hangs in my basement, and had two trips earlier in the summer as a warmup for this (car camping with just my fully geared up pack and day hikes), and I still missed/realized a ton of things that I should change. I also realized my Safari is awesome, but I need a way lighter/less cumbersome rig for the trail.
I've only been at this for one camping season, but I'm coming to the conclusion that I'll forever be tweaking/changing/fixing. I think that's part of the fun. My pack for the 25 mile/2.5 day/2 night trip was 40lbs on the dot with food and water. My new goal is 30lbs or less.
It sounds like you're well on your way. The ridge line helps a ton for getting the hang right, and the rest will come from controlled trial and error. I highly recommend car camping trips where you pack/behave like a backpacker. It really opened my eyes to what's important and what's not. When I unpacked after my first trip I put everything into two piles: stuff I used, and stuff I didn't use. Everything I didn't use got cut from the next trip. It also forces you to be more creative and resourceful with what you have.
Best of luck and remember: a bad hang is probably still way better than sleeping on the ground.