Dutch Buckles and Elephant Trunks
OK guys, I had the chance to put some hang time in on both these products, and I'm really excited to show you both here and tell you a little about them.
This isnt a "which do you prefer" kinda review, as both are superb products. As I said above, they're 2 distinctly different ways to pull of the same function, and as such can be adapted with your personal tastes and gear needs.
Both of these items are going to replace toggles and give you a little more of a safety factor when setting up your suspension. They both take the guess work and worry of the Marlin Spike Hitch knot.
First up, Elephant Trunks from http://smartoutdoors.webs.com/
These are nice, thick chunks designed to take so punishment. You'll see these are a bit thicker, and therefore heavier than Dutch Buckles, but thats because the Elephant Trunk itself is what is holding the weight. It is justifiably thicker in that respect, and you'll notice the "eye" of the Elephant which I think is there for weight reduction. The function is simple: thread the strap thru like a normal buckle, then back thru itself. Bloomgorge suggests that you use a Slippery Half Hitch as a backup knot, and while I believe you can get away without it, I suggest you use it as a fail-safe. Afterwards, you can slip your Whoopie-Sling right in the "trunk" portion and adjust both the strap and the Whoopie as needed.
Also suggested is to not use the eye as an attachment point (and to add, it is NOT a weight bearing portion of the product). Bloomgorge had said that some lightweight items may be hung off of the "eye" when the hammock wasn't under load, and in my experience you could hang your pack on one end (with a small "S" biner) and a jacket on the other with no obvious issues. Also, I noticed that you could potentially use the "eye" as an attachment point for an Under Quilt.
The Dutch Buckle http://www.outdoortrailgear.com/cott...ies/dutchware/
This design had me smacking my forehead. Seriously.
These are THIN, and at first glance I was worried because I'm a big boy. But after seeing BigTurtle using these on his setup, I was a little more confident since neither of us are shy of food. BOTH of the Dutch Buckles stacked are as thick as one Elephant Trunk I dubbed these Dutch Ninja Stars after the look of them, and in the pics at the bottom youll see why.
Setup is as simple as the Elephant Trunks, just run the strap thru as you would a normal buckle and then back thru the open end. Dutch says you don't need a Slippery Half Hitch, and I used one with and one without to see what would happen, and no difference. Then you just toss your Whoopie-Sling right over, and the loop of the buckle simulates a knot in a Marlin Spike Hitch and bears the weight of the hanger, not the actual buckle.
Now, there are no alternate attachment points on the Dutch Buckle but I believe if you had the appropriate Under Quilt suspension you could loop it right over it, as I did with mine. There is plenty of "meat" there to pull that off. You could potentially run the strap thru the grab handle on a pack and let it rest against the buckle, but I did not try it and am only speculating, so try it at your own risk.
Both are very easy to use, and are identical in respect to overall function, and you can adapt them for other uses as you see fit onsite. Neither showed any signs of give or as if they would let go, and the Whoopie-Sling never seemed like it would slip out of the holding mechanism.
There is 1 minor flaw with both, and I'll point it out since it's the only thing I've found to nitpick.
The Elephant Trunks opening where you slip the Whoopie-Sling in can be a little snug, making immediate removal or insertion a little more of a hassle, however it's not enough to mark the score down since it also serves to really keep the Sling in there.
The Dutch Buckles have just the slightest issue as well. When you hook the straps thru you'll see the buckle tend to flop one direction, but once its under load it wont (and from what I see, can't) let go or shift. It's just something you'll notice and may concern you at first, but is not an issue, so no dings there either.
*AS OF THIS POSTING*: Dutch has let me know that he has a new set of revised Buckles and they just hit the website. My review is for the ORIGINAL version, so there may be some slight variances. YMMV.
Overall, BOTH are wonderful and work the same. BOTH come from great vendors that excel at customer service and satisfaction.
Either way you go, you can add a measure of safety and peace of mind to your gear setup and have a nice piece of kit to boot.
Pics of mine below. I apologize for not being able to show these in action on straps at this time, but if you zoom in on the pics of my setup you can see them both in action, albeit not clearly!