Greetings to all from Clovis, California, gateway to the Sierras as the sign says. This is a reply I posted on another thread last week. My apologies for the prattling nature of it and I hope I don't put too many asleep.
I have read many threads on this forum for a couple of years and a few days ago decided to register. Like others, I am an Assistant Scoutmaster in a local BSA troop (354, Sequoia Council) and love the outdoors.
My trail to this site started a few years ago when our troop was planning a sectional trek of the JMT. We broke it down into a section each year for three summers and the first year had a project to build our own lightweight gear. I did a ton of research and found enormous inspriation from Ray Jardine, Mark Jurey and others. I contacted some suppliers and some were fantastic about saving us money, with some even donating product for our project. We made several silnylon tarps and quilts inspired by Ray Jardine. Thanks to Mark Jurey, we found inspiration to make our own wood stoves and alcohol stoves which are incredible. I have used the same penny alcohol stove for 4 years now and it has out performed all others. We also found ways to dry our food instead of using the freeze dried stuff at sporting goods stores and by actually cooking the food it is fantastic. I always bring a little more than I can eat to share with others and believe me if you like meat in your dinner drying your own food will make your taste buds do a dance. We have also fashioned an oven from foil and baked birthday cakes on the trail. There is something special about baking a chocolate cake with raspberry glaze 5 days into a hike. Most of the area we hike in California requires (or at least strongly encourages) using a bear cannister, so we are blessed with an additional 2 lbs. 9 oz. of bear protection that if padded makes a decent campfire seat. Even with the bear cannister, I am able to get everything I need (less water) for a nine day trek under 27 pounds.
All the lightweight stuff in the world didn't make my back, knees or hips feel any better and there is only so much brandy I am willing to haul. Anybody who has ever got into making their own gear knows it becomes somewhat of an addiction... ok, no meetings, but an avid interest? Right after our troop had an overnighter on the USS Hornet I took a gander at hammocks. True, the ones on a WWII carrier are not going to be found in today's world, but that thought of "man, that was the best 3 hours of sleep I have had in a long time" thought kept ringing in my mind. I had a 5am watch as part of the ship's program. I sifted through many, many of the threads you folks put together and built my own hammock which was fantastic. It was navy blue 1.9 ripstop with bright yellow nylon rope as the suspension. The yellow rope was used because a) I already had a couple 50' runs of it and b) it fit into the color scheme (my son is a Sea Bee). I sewed in the side tie outs and popped the lines out a few times before using a thick rubber band to give it some stretch. I whipped the rope so that the whipping was also the suspension, all one piece. True to form the rope stretched a lot, making it real tough to set, but that aside the comfort was worth it. I have since gone to straps from a Harbor Freight ratchet system and the stretch problem vanished as did the tough to remove knots. My beloved blue & gold bit the dust after the last section of the JMT where I incorporated the ends of the hammock into my homemade pack, using them as shoulder straps. This old scouter sweats a lot and I really think the constant sweat combined with the strain contributed to it biting the dust. I found one on e-Bay for $13 (a supplier out of Hong Kong and he still has them at super low prices, shipping costs reduced for multiple purchases). I have a hard time finding the material for that price so I bought 3 of them. They hold me quite well but I am going to sew in the side tie outs to help with the lie flat thing. I am also looking at more progressive suspension systems but since there are times that I hike in areas above tree line and no large boulders to tie to I (ugh!) need to have the flexibility to go on the ground. I am fortunate not to have the massive bug situation many forum members deal with. I have yet to be in an area where the mosquito net over me head will not do.
If anybody has suggestions for a suspension system lighter than 40 grams per end I would appreciate hearing from you. I am not an extreme gram weenie, but I appreciate the merits of it to a point. Being a scouter, we are always budget aware and if it can be made at home or from another item I am all for it.
Cripes!! Did I blab like a teenage girl on a sleepover or what? Sorry to those who had to endure that.
Thanks for all the useful information and maybe someday I can pay it forward.
ps- No photos, gallery or in depth information... well, because I am just not that sharp... blessings to all