Greetings - this is my 1st post to this forum, though I have been a lurker for about a year as I have had "hammock envy" for quite some time.
Friday: scored my 1st hammock at REI. With the 20% discount had enough dividend to pay for my HH Explorer Ultralight.
Saturday afternoon: set it up in the backyard - picture taken from my dining room window here. As you can see the tarp pitch was not very taut, but I was in a bit of a hurry as the sun was setting.
Setup observations: the stock webbing straps are way too short - with a double wrap I had about a 6 inch gap on the red maples in my backyard. All of the lines supplied with the hammock are shockingly thin - it was hard to believe the main support line was going to take my 230lbs, and the tarp tiedowns looked like dental floss... The Hennessey knot was pretty simple to learn - I pretty much had it down after retieing the lines a few times to get adequate tension and raise my initial pitch higher.
Saturday night: clad in midweight long underwear, fleece pants and pullover, expedition weight wool socks and my windpro hiking gloves I trekked out to my hammock at about 9:30. My wife retired to our bed and cranked up the electric mattress pad another notch and chuckled at my folly. Climbed into my REI 30F Sahara down bag with a fleece liner on top of my Thermarest Prolite-4 (large size). I had read in this forum all about using pad extenders, etc. but I was hopeful the 25-inch width would be adequate, plus the SPE's do not seem to fit the extra-wide pads.
Weather conditions throughout the night can be seen here. I am fortunate to have a NWS headquarters just 2 miles from my house, and they have a nifty webpage that gives continuous readings. As you can see the temperature hovered just above 25 degrees with winds from 5-15 mph. Some observations from the night:
- The prolite-4 pad (slightly underinflated) kept me adequately warm from below with the exception of my low back where I suspect there was a crease from the hammock curvature.
- Pad width was marginal. I had no cold spots when laying on my side, but on my back the outside of my shoulders got chilly unless I crossed my arms.
- My mummy sleeping bag performed admirably. It was 5 degrees colder than the rating, but with the extra clothing and liner I was warm.
- I am typically a "roller" at night, switching from left to right side and my back. This is VERY tough to do in a mummy bag on a pad. The bad news: I was only able to roll a few times and still keep the "porthole" of my bag around my mouth and nose. The good news: I had less need than normal to do so due to the lack of pressure points in the hammock. I found myself wanting to shift, but not needing to. I suspect with enough nights in the hammock I could condition myself to stay quite stationary.
- I found it impossible to stash extra clothing at the head end of the hammock. It kept popping out and sliding down onto my face. How do you keep this stuff in place?
- Pitch level matters. I followed the advice I had seen in this forum and pitched the head end of the hammock higher than the foot. I had problems all night long sliding towards the foot end, which of course was exacerbated by the slippery pad.
Question: anyone used a line level to get a reading on their pitch? Seems like hanging one in the center of the ridgeline would be helpful on setup, as its tough to eyeball level.
Made it through the night with reasonable sleep given the ruckus from the raccoons fighting on my deck, etc. Crawled out of the bag around 6:30AM to enjoy a cup of hot coffee.
Some might think me a fool to attempt my first night in a hammock in such cold conditions, but given that I was only 30 feet from my back door it seemed pretty low risk and had a pretty positive outcome. I am a happy HH customer, and a new hammock fan.
One last note: one of the things I found when I started backpacking a few years ago is that the pleasures I have encountered have not necessarily been what I anticipated. Ex: one of the things I enjoy the most about backpacking is the taste of the filtered water from the various streams and lakes (it varies a lot in northern Minnesota). The unexpected pleasure I got from my 1st hammock experience was not the comfort, but the feeling of openness from the visibility around me. I have been a tent camper up to now, and I suppose those of you who have been tarp campers would see this as nothing new, but it was for me.
Hope to post many new hammock experiences here in the coming years and look forward to your suggestions and ideas.