I had the pleasure of being able to do a quick sub 24 hour jaunt into Delaware Water Gap/Sunfish Pond last weekend. I went with the hope that I would get some good rain if not a little snow. I have been building and tweaking a lot of my equipment and really wanted to test it out. I tagged along with a scout troop that I used to be the scout master for and had a bunch of great guys to hang out with and laugh at my crazy 'banana hammock' (as the scouts so loving refer to my hammocks). Unfortunately we didn't get any snow or rain, but we got pounded all night long with wind gusts. The weather reports that show that we had 30-40 mph wind gusts and a temperature low of about 27 degrees. I have hung in the wind in the past, but for some reason the wind on this trip really made life miserable. I think this may have been one of the first times hanging where I actually didn't sleep well, being too worried about how my gear was going to hold up. Some of it failed, the rest worked perfectly. As I lay there throughout the night I put together a list of things that I need to fix and others I was really happy with.
1. Braided mason line really works well. I use it on my tarp guy lines and was really nervous when I realized how much wind I had to deal with. The mason line stayed tight and did not break, nor did it show any signs of being abraded from the amount of punishment it received. I had purchased a large quantity of glo-cord to replace my guy lines with but never got around to doing it before the trip. I may not do it now, considering how well the mason line held. The only thing I am not happy with about the Mason line was how it really bites hard when tied into a prussic and is under a lot of tension. I have been using a tarp ridgeline setup similar to what Paul at Arrowhead Equipment is selling. The prussic on the glo-cord worked awesome and setup was really quick. However the next day I noticed that the mason line prussic had started to fuse into the glo-cord due to the stress the line received over the night. It was bad enough that I think I will need to replace the glo-cord line.
2. Y shaped stakes are great, however in that amount of wind and the soft soil that I had to deal with, they failed miserably. I couldn't get them to stay in the soil. In the end I went and found four large rocks and placed them directly on top of them. This saved me from having them tear out during the night which was a great relief. In the future, I am going to purchase the longer version of these stakes. I found some that are 8 inches long versus the six inch ones I have. The extra weight will be worth it if I can get them to hold better then the shorter ones.
3. Grizz's Beaks work really well. I had been playing with doors for my OES Deluxe Spin for some time now, and never found anything that worked for me. After seeing Grizz's post about his beak earlier this year I built my own and played with the dimensions. I made them out of some extra 1.1 sil-nylon scrap I had left over and built them to just see if it was a workable solution for me. Needless to say, they saved my bacon last night. The wind was coming at me from all directions and if it wasn't for those doors I would have been slammed by a wall of icy wind every couple of seconds. Mine clip on within a matter of seconds and seal relatively well to the tarp. I did have an 'aha' moment at three in the morning and I came up with an idea on how to make them better for me. I plan on building and testing a beak that is all one piece instead of a two panel design.
4. Even with the Spinn tarp pulled as tight as I could get it, the tarp was extremely loud. It was louder than even the blue poly tarp that my buddy had pitched over his hammock next to me. I could not have got my tarp any tighter, but it still sounded like a kite ripping through the air. I donít know if there is really anything I can do about this, I do have to say the tarp worked very well and handled the wind with no issue other than the sound. It has however got me seriously thinking about going back to a silnylon tarp, even with the weight penalty.
5. I built a new 2/3 under quilt a couple of days before this trip. I used 1.1 DWR and a piece of 5oz Climashield XP. I built it with shock cord channels on all four sides and it could not have been simpler to deploy. The only thing I did wrong was I cinched the ends to tight and I found that when I got of the hammock at 3 am for a bio-break the quilt slipped off my right shoulder and it took me a few minutes to figure out why butt/back was freezing. I am going to add a tie out on the quilt that hooks to the Black Birds shelf lines to help keep it in position in the future. All in all I am really happy with the quilt. I built it large enough that I will use it as my top quilt for the summer and my fall/winter/spring under quilt. It has a slight differential cut and works really well with the Black Bird. It packs smaller than a football, probably smaller if I used a compression sack. This was a very easy/cheap project. I built this quilt for under $40 and I expect it will get me down into the 20ís.
6. I picked up a JRB Weathershield 2 from HappyCamper. I was curious to see how well it worked and if I really needed it. I can say that it was obvious when I had it on versus when it was off. It really worked well to cut the wind. I did notice a slight amount of condensation in the bottom of in the morning, but my quilt was dry. All in all this is one of the KISS pieces of gear that really works.
I know it was a long winded post, but I had a lot of time to think about stuff while I was hanging there throughout the night hoping the morning would come.