Trip report/gear review
This is going to be the short version, because I'm not back home yet. My river trip with my parents and brother ended up happening despite the high water on the Buffalo River. I took a WB BB 1.1 double, mambajamba tarp (w/ panel pulls added), and yeti UQ on the trip. My parents and brother stayed in a tent.
After all I'd read on the site, I expected the UQ to be far superior to a pad, but I found that a pad seemed to make the hammock more comfortable to me. Without it, I ended up with a ridge under my calves where the weight-bearing part of the hammock met the foot box. The pad seemed to keep it better spread out. This may be because I'm doing something wrong... I'll have to do more fiddling to figure out what I like best.
We spent three nights on the river. The first was uneventful, except for the fact that I slept much better than usual when camping. This is my first camping experience with a hammock, and while it was not as comfortable as my bed (as some claim), it was much better than any ground setup I've used.
The second night saw winds that we later learned were roughly 55mph. We were camped on a sand bar, and I had to go halfway up an embankment to find two trees to use. It took a lot of scrambling and climbing just to get the suspension lines and tarp lines tied up. The tarp was too long on the uphill side (hammock was hung perpendicular to the slope), so I used the panel pulls as tie outs and rolled the bottom edge up. This worked well. The winds collapsed my parents' tent more than once because it pulled the stakes out of the sand. It rained most of the night, and while it turned into a mudslide underneath the hammock I stayed dry.
The second night I had only one place to hang the hammock, and the points were far apart (almost used up all the suspension line) and probably not high enough. I'm pretty sure the ridgeline ended up tighter than it should have been, but I didn't have any other options. The wind picked up that night to what we later learned was over 60mph.
My tarp was pitched so that the wind blew through it. It rained VERY hard that night, and the wind ripped off my parents' rain fly. All of their gear got soaked, and they spent the night cold and wet. For about 20 minutes, rain was blowing clean through my tarp from one end to the other without touching the ground, but I had clipped my dry bag over the suspension line at the head end, so it kept me fairly dry. The UQ got wet, but not too badly. During one of the strongest gusts, one of my corner stakes pulled out. I was able to reach out from inside the hammock and hold that corner against the ground until the wind let up a bit. When I got out to stake the corner back down (from underneath), I realized I was getting wet. The panel pulls leak in a heavy rain, so for any of you ordering this tarp, you need to seam seal them. They were dripping on my back.
While I was staking the corner, I had my back and head pushed up against the underside of the tarp. For a second, I thought someone was throwing rocks at me until quarter-sized hailstones started rolling under the edge of the tarp. It hailed like this for about 8 minutes. I was pretty sure the tarp wouldn't withstand that kind of abuse and spent the whole time waiting for it to fail. Fortunately, the hail finally let up and the wind died down some. I slept the rest of the night with no problems.
In all, I'm very impressed by the Warbonnet gear. I slept well all three nights, which I never did before when camping (on the ground). The panel pulls are absolutely necessary on a tarp as big as the mambajamba. Brandon told me this, but it's not on the website. I'm very glad I ordered them, but be warned... they leak and need to be seam sealed. The tarp itself pulled through some VERY nasty weather which I fully expected to destroy it.
One final thought... I ordered 100' of dyneema line from Brandon and cut the lengths that he recommended on his site. I found that if you want to make a "porch", 5' of line is really not enough. I did, however, put inline tensioners on those lines, so they ended up being shorter than 5'.
* I'm not a warbonnet owner
Do you have to watch the sag with a warbonnet? (ie, did you crank it too tight?)
Some people prefer the pad, some the UQ, I guess it's personal preference. I know I spent ages in my back yard messing with how my hammock went up the first time I had it out.
glad you slept well though!
Ah Ha, the infamous left calf pain! So, it happens to folks other than me! Only the JRB BMBH, in my experience, completely avoids this draw back to ALL gathered end hammocks, without the need for either pads or- better yet- something supportive under the knees, like a jacket in a stuff sack. For me this is a major enough problem that it MUST be dealt with. OTOH, dealing with it is pretty simple.
Originally Posted by east_stingray
So, with the Yeti, did you always have a pad under your legs? If so, that apparently did not adequately solve the problem? I find it makes things OK, but the stuff sack under the knees or thigh/knee junction 100% solves the problem. Thus allowing me to fully enjoy all the other comfort and function benefits of the BB, and a torso UQ, with or without the leg pad.
What a testimony to the weather capabilities of this equip. I don't think I have ever read of a more severe first test.
Originally Posted by east_stingray
I used a full length pad AND the yeti for two nights. I know that's not necessary, but I wanted the "spread factor" of the pad and didn't want to leave the quilt stuffed, so I put it on too. The last night (with the hail) I used only the Yeti and no pad. It really wasn't very cold out there... maybe 50 degrees, and I was fine with no leg pad.
I tried three different pads... my ThermaRest explorer, a thin wal-mart CCF, and the half egg crate wal-mart CCF. I'd say the thermarest was the most comfortable, but it also moved out from under me while the other two did not.
I think i understand what you mean... I liked that too from using the pad.
Originally Posted by east_stingray
Congrats on that very impressive successful first hammocking experience, exciting to read... I hope you keep hanging!
I think your picking the Blackbird was good fortune, that evil ridge is much more pronounced in other gathered end hammocks. I hated it in the HH. The BB has that footbox to let you escape it for the most part.
Very dramatic first hang - you did pretty darn well. Congrats on the success! are the 'rents ordering their own setups? :D
a short pad for the legs should deal with the leg ridge as well as a full length pad.
like BB said, stuffing something soft under the knees solves the problem as well and is worth doing even if the problem is already dealt with by using a pad or leg pad. i find elevating the knees a little actually improves comfort regardless when sleeping on my back.
folks also report that less tension on the ridgeline lessens the knee ridge as well
Thanks for the tips, Brandon. I thought you might crap yourself when you read what I put that new tarp through :D Very impressive how it held up, but with winds that high I did have trouble keeping it tight. I probably needed something a bit smaller for weather as severe as what we saw.
It sounds like you and family may not ever forget this trip. When we talked earlier I didn’t think you would be going. I know several Lakes in Ark are flooded and they closed most campgrounds. Glad to here the Warbonnet Equipment held up.