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  1. #21
    Senior Member jhunt87's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
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    Runnemede, NJ
    Hammock
    WBBB DBL 1.7 / HH ULBA / GT Nano 7
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    SWT JRB 8x8/Poncho
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    HG/JRB/Leighs/HHSS
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    What about pads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gravity View Post
    Thanks for the report, well done! (In the quote section above, I summarized the points that I found most useful.) I had written off tarp skins/sleeves, because I found they made the tarp harder to fold and store. But your point about protection from nearby tree branches in windy conditions has made me reconsider. I do use hair loops instead of the mesh, and that may be enough, but I need to test it some more. See image:

    https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/...4&d=1425650660
    I'm sure you'd have similar luck with loops like that. When setting up in high winds I would string the tarp up and then remove the tarp skins one side at a time, so I could stake out the 1st half before opening up the second half of the tarp. Sometimes I had to retension things a little once it was all staked out, or relocate one or two stakes, but that is what worked best for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by dakotaross View Post
    Wonderful write-up! I'd like to post a link to this on Whiteblaze if you haven't posted anything on there already?
    You are welcome to share this on Whiteblaze. I'm a member there as well. Both of these forums provided me with a wealth of information that I am very grateful for.

    And another thing I forgot to cover.

    Did I regret having an UQ instead of a pad on the A.T.?

    No. I only carried a relatively small footpad/sitpad. And whenever I needed something, that was enough.

    What about having the option of staying in shelters?

    Early on in the trip I was drawn to camp at shelters for the social aspect. It was an easy place to meet other thruhikers. A few times I even tried to get to shelters early, if there was bad weather on the way, so I would at least have the option to stay in one. However, I never hit a shelter in GA where there was an overlap of 'room in the shelter' and 'me being done hiking for the day'. It seemed if there was room in the shelter, it was too early to stop. And when I was ready to stop, they were full. Early on in the trip, lots of people were taking short days, and in general, there were lots of people, so the shelters filled up quick anyway. It didn't matter. My hammock was much more comfortable, and I was always able to set it up in relatively close proximity to the shelter, so I didn't lose out on the social aspect of things. Unless you consider waking up from snoring or people shuffling around in the night to pee to be important social functions.

    What about the Smokies?

    I was worried that it would be a problem going through the Smokies, as I understood the rules were along the lines of "if there is room in the shelter, you must sleep in the shelter." This seemed like it was pretty widely disregarded, even in the presence of ridgerunners. Everyday I saw tents and hammocks go up outside the shelters before they were full. And even if you did feel bad about setting up outside, you only needed to wait until 4 or 5pm for the shelters to fill up, and then you could set up outside within the constraints of the rules. Maybe this would be slightly different if you don't go through the Smokies with a large bubble of hikers, but there were easily 50 thruhikers at the Fontana Hilton the night before I entered the Smokies. If you start anywhere near April 1st, this is likely to be the case. And I never saw a ranger in the Smokies. they are kind of a rare breed, as only a handfull of them cover the whole park. I saw 4 ridgerunners and 1 park management employee who was carting around a news reporter doing a story on graffiti in the shelters. The ridgerunners were always polite. I had a permit, but they never even ask to see it. Only asked me if I had it.

    That being said, I did spend one night in a shelter in the Smokies. My friends were staying inside. It was raining outside, and close to freezing. Some other thruhikers had zero'd at the shelter and collected a massive pile of firewood. It was a pretty easy decision. I did happen to find a Klymit X-frame torso length sleeping pad in a hiker box in Franklin, NC. Like the one in the link below. It only weighed a few ounces, and I carried this as my insurance policy through the Smokies. It helped me sleep through the night in the shelter, through I can't personally recommend it for frequent use. If I were to go through again, I wouldn't worry about a mattress.

    https://lightonthetrail.files.wordpr...3/full-pad.jpg

    What about cowboy camping?

    I did cowboy camp on some rocks at Mary's Rock in VA and The Pinnacle in PA. They were two of my favorite nights on the trail. I zipped up my ZPacks sleeping bag and threw on a head net. Whenever I woke up I had beautiful view of the night sky, and I woke up for two splendid sunrises. I mentioned before that I traveled with two other hammockers. Both nights that I slept like this, I borrowed their footpads (it was warm enough that they didn't need them. So with 3 footpads, I made a makeshift CCF pad for myself.

    What about staying in the AMC huts?

    If you stay in an AMC hut, you sleep on the floor or on the wooden benches around their tables(even if there are open beds, thats just the way it goes). If its cold, the benches are surprisingly warmer. I'll admit my first night in an AMC hut, with only my footpad, was one of the worst nights of sleep I got on the trail. I was uncomfortable and there was another thruhiker that got up 3 or 4 times to pee, and decided it would be easier/quieter? to crawl across one of the tables, rather than tiptoeing around the other hikers on the floor. It wasn't lol. So this marks the only night on the trail that I wish I had a more substantial mattress.

    One good tip, and what got me a good night of sleep at the second hut, is to be friendly and courteous with the AMC staff. It is my understanding that all the AMC are staffed and supplied to respond to people in need of wilderness first aid. That means its not uncommon for them to have ccf pads. They use them for insulating victims against the snow and for padding/rigidity for arm/leg splints(They had them at Madison Spring Hut, and I used them in NY when I took a NOLS WFR course). Anyway, shy of responding to an emergency, they just sit in a supply closet. My friends and I were talking with an AMC staff member and we explained that we hammock, and don't carry mattresses, so they let us borrow CCF pads for the night. That is of course with the understanding that we will give them up in the event of a nighttime emergency.
    Last edited by jhunt87; 03-06-2015 at 20:12.
    _______________________________________________
    In reality there is nothing more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.

  2. #22
    Senior Member jhunt87's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Runnemede, NJ
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    WBBB DBL 1.7 / HH ULBA / GT Nano 7
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    Quote Originally Posted by chromedome View Post
    Congrats on your accomplishment, and nice write up.. Do you have any videos?
    I don't have any videos, but my friend Bama that I hiked with has a youtube channel. I haven't gotten around to watching them, but I think I pop up in her videos here and there. You can find her videos at the link below.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRd...bb8Dav21vEtaDA

    I did have a trail journal. Though it was almost never current, and I never wrapped up with the 100 mile wilderness and Katahdin, but here is a link to that. I never shared it with the forum because it was stressful enough disappointing my family and friends with infrequent or late updates, and I didn't want to add you guys to that list lol.

    http://trailjournals.com/jim2014

    Haha. Googling "Iron Cheeks" to find that link is the first time I've ever found myself via a google result. With a name like Jim Hunt, its easy to get lost in the google-shuffle.
    _______________________________________________
    In reality there is nothing more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.

  3. #23
    Senior Member TallPaul's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    WBXLC, WBBB, LiteOwl
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    I appreciate you giving back to this community by sharing your experience.
    I value feedback from those who have done the entire trail & can give the perspective on how the gear held up & what you liked or didn't.

    Speaking of that.. how did your cuben fiber tarp & arc blast hold up? Did you have to do any field repairs?

    And like you.. I consider myself Ultralight** just not the zealous type either (** except my camera, phone, chair and those other luxuries I can't seem to live without).

    p.s. really like how your organized the info in your post.

  4. #24
    Member Sfyre's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    North Idaho
    Hammock
    WBBB 1.1Double layer
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    HG Cuben Camo
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    HG 20* Burr/Incu
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    Straps
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    67
    wow, what an excellent and informative writeup Jim. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge!

  5. #25
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2014
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    Jacksonville Fl
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    I too want to add my thanks. Also, you have put a few questions to rest. I have also decided to hammock in my upcoming thru hike. I have the wbbb too. I was concerned about finding places to hank on the trail and your info has helped. I also have an alcohol stove that I also was not sure was a good choice. For winter though, with food and water I can't seem to get under 30lbs. I think I will be able to carry that comfortably though. Thanks again.

  6. #26
    silentorpheus's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
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    Something Brunswick, NJ
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    DH, WBBB, Dutch, DIY
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    I'm brain dead tonight and will read this thread more thoroughly later, but I wanted to at least say welcome back and congrats! I know you were talking about thru-ing at last year's winter hang, and it's awesome that you went through AND succeeded.

  7. #27
    New Member
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    Jan 2015
    Location
    Louisville , KY
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    Warbonnet blackbird 1.1 dl
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    Warbonnet superfly
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    Whoopie
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhunt87 View Post
    Hey fellow hammockers,

    I completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2014 and I thought I would put together a post covering the hammock related gear I used and how it worked out for me. I tend to be long winded when it comes to hammocks(I prefer to call it thorough), so bear with me.
    Congrats on the thru-hike!! Thank you again for all the information. I hike the AT every year in May but this will be my first yeAr hiking as a hammocker. I haven't moved up to uq's yet so will be ccf padding it n my new wbbb 1.1 dl. Fingers crossed!
    My Hike:

    I started hiking on March 31st and I climbed Katahdin on October 3rd. I turned 27 on the trail. I weighed 172lbs when I started my hike, and 147lbs when I finished it. Between 2008 and when I started my hike I had been on roughly a dozen backpacking trips, the longest being a 7 day trip in 2013 that served as my A.T. shakedown hike. I slept in my hammock every night I was in the woods, except 3. One very cold night in the smokies was spent in a shelter (because someone had collected a big big pile of firewood). Two nights were spent cowboy camping at overlooks, where no trees were available.

    How I "HYOH"

    To put my gear choices in context, I'll touch on my budget and hiking preferences. I consider myself a luxury ultralight hiker. I didn't want to compromise on a comfortable sleep setup or my luxury items (2lbs of camera stuff, ereader, external battery pack, journal, etc). Instead I was willing to spend money to make the rest of my gear as light as possible. I was not on a tight budget, and backpacking is generally hard on my knees, so I figured money spent lightening my pack meant less wear and tear on my body.

    Gear!

    Hammock
    • Warbonnet Blackbird 1.1 SL

    Notes: I've owned a few hammocks including HH ULBA, WBBB 1.1 SL, WBBB 1.0 DL, WBBB 1.7 DL, WB Traveler, GT Nano, JRB BMB and an old jungle army hammock. The HH ULBA was just not as comfortable or spacious as I wanted for sleeping in long term. The double layer WB hammocks had more bulk and weight to them than I wanted. I wanted an integrated bug net so I passed on the Traveler and the Nano. The WBBB 1.1 SL ended up being the best compromise of everything I was looking for. I absolutely loved it. Climbing into my hammock was something I looked forward to everyday. Don't skimp on space inside the hammock, at one point I spent almost 36 consecutive hours in my hammock(except bathroom breaks), waiting for bad weather to pass so we could cross Mt. Washington's summit. It made times like that much more enjoyable. Also I can't begin to explain how pleasant it was to drink hot coffee, eat breakfast, and read in the morning without ever getting out of bed.

    Suspension
    • 6' Dynaglide whoopie sling, green, foot end
    • 6' Dynaglide whoopie sling, orange, head end
    • (2) Dynaglide Nacra-biners
    • (2) Grand Trunk Carabiners
    • (1) 6' Tree Strap
    • (1) 4' Tree Strap

    Notes: I liked having the foot and head end differentiated by color, it just made sorting though things easier and saved me some thinking at the end of the day when I was tired. I left the nacrabiners attached to the whoopie slings permanently. They served the purpose of the beads some people use to prevent the loop of the whoopie sling from getting pulled inside the bury. The nacrabiners also served as a backup in the event I ever lost or broke a carabiner. Having one longer strap gave me enough flexibility in tree selection. The suspension items I used lasted the entire trip.

    Tarp
    • ZPacks Cuben Fiber Tarp w/Doors
    • (2)Dutch's Wasps w/ 10' of Line
    • (8)Micro Line Locks
    • 150lb Spectra Core for Guylines
    • Mesh Tarp Storage Sleeves from Mountain Goat
    • (8) Hammock Forum Aluminum Y Stakes

    Notes: I love love love the ZPacks tarp I used on this trip. I picked it up used on the forum, used it on my thruhike and I'm still using it now. This tarp was some of the best money spent for this trip. The rain/wind coverage was great and the tarp was so light. I hiked with 2 other hammockers that were so jealous they both ended up buying Cuben tarps with doors from Hammock Gear(because they were at Trail Days). The mesh tarp skins were also a huge life saver. They frequently saved me from wrestling with my tarp in the wind. There were also plenty of times I set the tarp up in some tight spots where if I had lost control of it, the wind and tree branches around me would have torn it to shreds. Being able to get my tarp up in a controlled manner was a huge life saver.

    Insulation (cold weather)
    • Speer Top Quilt
    • JRB Greylock 20
    • Triangle Thingies from AHE
    • Foam Footpad

    Notes: The Speer Top Quilt is a considerably thinner cut than any other quilt I've encountered, which makes it very light and compact for a 20 degree quilt. It worked for me, but I realize it helps that I'm pretty small (5'6" and 150lbs). It left me enough fabric to pull over my head or tuck tightly around my shoulders and neck. Your mileage may vary. I absolutely love the JRB quilts. I have 3 of them at this point and I am constantly impressed with the quality. One of my hiking partners liked my Greylock so much that they picked one up at trail days and used it for the rest of the trip. I found the Triangle thingies from AHE to be the best, no-fuss way to eliminate cold spots and keep my UQ from sliding out from under me, they may not have been the lightest UQ suspension option, but they were worth the weight in my book. My coldest nights on the trail got down into the high teens. With my thermals and beanie on, my 20 degree insulation kept me warm enough. I always carried a chemical handwarmer just in case I had a cold spot, and I didn't feel like fiddling with my insulation in the middle of the night, but I only ended up using one over the whole trip, in southern Maine.

    Insulation (summer)
    • Leigh's summer UQ
    • ZPacks 40 Sleeping Bag
    • Triangle Things
    • Foam Footpad

    Notes: This insulation was plenty for the warmer stretch. I've owned Leigh's quilt for several years before this trip, and it kept me warm down into the 30's. The ZPacks sleeping bag was an impulse buy, though it really came in handy for 2 nights where I cowboy camped at some overlooks because with the help of a head net I was able to keep myself pretty well closed off from the creepy crawlies. I got my summer stuff in northern VA, at the end of May, and I got my cold weather gear back in Hanover, NH.

    Gear Weight
    • WBBB 1.1 SL with 2 whoopie slings and 2 nacrabiners - 416g
    • Tree Straps w/ GT Biners - 123g
    • Zpacks Hammock Tarp with Doors w/ mesh snake skins, tieouts, & 2 Biners (original setup, before Dutch Wasps) - 322g
    • Speer - 20 Deg TQ (no stuff sack) - 509g
    • JRB Greylock 20 Deg 3/4 UQ w/triangle thingies (no stuff sack) - 450g
    • CCF Footpad - Blue - 83g
    • ZPacks 40 Deg Sleeping Bag - Short w/ ZPacks Stuff Sack - 346g
    • Sea to Summit Compression Sack - Blue - Large (Hammock, UQ, TQ) - 84g


    Other Notes?

    How did it work for me?
    Flawlessly! I was absolutely thrilled with this setup. The only thing I changed over the course of 6 months was the ridge line tieouts on the tarp. Initially I had some figure 9's and some heaver cord. I didn't need to replace them, but I was having a hard time walking around the vendor area at trail days without buying anything, so I picked up the Wasps from Dutch.

    Did I ever have a hard time finding a place to set up?
    No! I even hiked most of the trail with 2 other hammockers and we found campsites to accommodate all 3 of us every night. Here and there we had to pass nice campsites because they couldn't accommodate 3 hammock setups, but that was rare. Even going through the Whites we made it work every night.

    How did I pack/arrange everything?
    I left my under quilt attached and the top quilt in the hammock and stuffed the hammock, whoopie slings, and quilts into a large sil nylon sea to summit compression sack. Though I never really used the compression aspect, I just stuffed the whole thing into the bottom of my pack. This made for a very easy setup, less things to fiddle with, less stuff sacks. The tree straps, carabiniers, stakes, and tarp went in the mesh pocket on the back of my ZPacks Arcblast. This let the tarp and straps dry a bit, kept the stakes from poking holes in things, and let me set up my tarp without ever opening my pack, so the rest of my gear stayed dry if it was raining.

    Did my down ever get wet?
    A little damp? Yes. Wet? No. I had a couple nights with particularly strong winds where my under quilt caught a light misting, but it was minimal and didn't impact me staying warm. The quilts occasionally got damp from fog/humidity, but never enough to impact my warmth. Doing it all over again I would still use down.

    Trouble with bugs biting through hammock fabric?
    Problems with bugs biting through the hammock were very minimal. When selecting gear, I considered a double layer warbonnet, but ultimately strayed from that for bulk/weight reasons. I'm glad I did. A few times I had to slide my footpad under my legs if I got bit on the calf, but that was rare (and believe me, mosquitoes love me, I serve as an effective bug repellent for all people in a 20' radius because apparently my blood is just that good).

    Ultimately the gear isn't going to make or break your hike, but I know I had questions like this before I started, so I thought I'd throw the information out there in case someone finds it useful.

    Thanks for reading,
    -Iron Cheeks (AT NOBO 2014)

  8. #28
    Senior Member Xtrm tj's Avatar
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    Ohio
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    Great write up, very jealous though. I hope to be able to do the AT some time in the distant future.

    Keep posting pictures.
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  9. #29
    Senior Member jhunt87's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Runnemede, NJ
    Hammock
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    7/64 and 2mm WS
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    Quote Originally Posted by TallPaul View Post
    I appreciate you giving back to this community by sharing your experience.
    I value feedback from those who have done the entire trail & can give the perspective on how the gear held up & what you liked or didn't.

    Speaking of that.. how did your cuben fiber tarp & arc blast hold up? Did you have to do any field repairs?

    And like you.. I consider myself Ultralight** just not the zealous type either (** except my camera, phone, chair and those other luxuries I can't seem to live without).

    p.s. really like how your organized the info in your post.
    Thanks.

    How did the cuben stuff hold up?

    ZPacks Arc Blast

    I really liked this pack. For comparison, I've previously used/owned a Gregory Baltoro, Golite Jam, ULA CDT. Maybe this pack just fit me right, but its by far the most comfortable pack that I've used. I had the following optional pieces: top mesh pockets, hip belt pockets, chest strap pockets, ice axe loops, load lifter straps, and shock cord lashing.

    The only significant problem I had with this pack is that as some point (I think I was in Vermont) I set down my pack to go use the facilities. When I went to pick it back up I notice both of my carbon fiber stays were broken. They weren't snapped-clean-through-broken, I guess because of the fiber nature of the material, but they were kinked and didn't transfer load properly any more. It was at this point that I was very glad I had a footpad, as I put that inside the pack to serve as a frame, though it was still noticeably less comfortable to carry. I'm not sure what exactly caused the failure, at the time I had very little food. I was only carrying maybe 17/18lbs. I did have the straps that put the arc in the stays tensioned a bit, to try create more airflow for my back, but at the time they broke it had been weeks since I had adjusted the tension on them. I contacted ZPacks and they mailed me replacement stays and cuben fiber tape for any repairs I needed to make. They offered that I could mail the pack back to them at the end of my thruhike, and they would "patch it up and take care of it for me". I did have a bit of frustration with getting the new stays, first time they were supposed to mail them to me there was a mix up and all I got was cuben tape, no stays. The second time they mailed them to me, my dumb a$$ broke one of them and cut my hand open. Third time everything worked out, but I went a couple weeks with no frame. All things considered ZPacks would good about getting back to me and getting me replacement gear. I'd definitely buy from them again.

    Minor problems.... The chest strap/water bottle pockets started to fall apart almost immediately. The stitching was stretching/tearing out the back of them. Anywhere that a water bottle touched my chest or a strap, a hole wore through it. My pack was purchased from them in spring of 2013. I've since seen a redesigned water bottle holder that uses the thicker cuben they use for the hip belt/hip belt pockets. I also didn't love the old design of their hip belt pockets that folded over and buckled, but they have redesigned those with zipper pockets that look much nicer.

    General wear and tear/condition at the end of the trip? The cuben definitely took a beating. The cuben on the side of the bag that touches my back seemed practically transparent by the end of the trip. On the inside of the pack it seemed like it was delaminating, with strands of fabric still connected top and bottom, but moving freely in the middle. There were also spots scattered over the pack that had worn to look like the material had cracked, particularly the hip belt. Its hard to describe, and the pack is currently on the other side of the world so I can't take pictures. I used a trash compactor bag to line my bag the entire trip, I felt like that decreased some of the friction between the contents and the cuben.

    In summary? The pack to a beating, but it made it the whole way through the trip, which is what I needed it to do. I can still use it for weekend trips, but I'd say it definitely doesn't have another thruhike in it. The durability is the price I paid for getting a framed pack that weighed just over a pound. That is what I expected going into the trip, and I am in no way disappointed by that. ZPacks seems to be on the cutting edge of using this stuff for packs. I've seen significant improvements since I bought mine in 2013 and I'm sure they will continue. Although it may pan out that if you want the bag to go well beyond a thruhike, you need to go with a slightly heavier fabric, be it heavier cuben or dyneema gridstop. I personally love this packs design, and if I do another long distance trail, I may consider going for the Dyneema version, as that only adds 3 oz. (For comparison the ULA dyneema bags seemed to be in better shape than mine at the end of the trip) **** that turned into a lot of rambling... lol

    ZPacks Cuben Fiber Tarp with Doors
    I have much less to say about this tarp, than I did the pack. It rocked. Before commenting on the problematic aspects, I should preface by saying that I got this used and I'm not sure how extensively the previous owner used it. Also, sometimes I have a problem with over tightening things. So yea, the only problem I had is along some of the stitching at the tieouts, it seemed like the thread was starting to create elongated holes, like it was slowly pulling through the cuben material. It was most pronounced along the ridgeline tieouts. I ended up staking it out one day and sandwiching the stitching with cuben tape, to help prevent further creep of the threads. Since then I haven't noticed it getting any worse. I would absolutely buy one again. Great application of the cuben material.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jake2c View Post
    I too want to add my thanks. Also, you have put a few questions to rest. I have also decided to hammock in my upcoming thru hike. I have the wbbb too. I was concerned about finding places to hank on the trail and your info has helped. I also have an alcohol stove that I also was not sure was a good choice. For winter though, with food and water I can't seem to get under 30lbs. I think I will be able to carry that comfortably though. Thanks again.
    I'd say the alcohol stove is definitely a good choice. I'd say I saw more people switch from canisters stoves to alcohol, than the other way around. Once or twice I hit gas stations or resupply locations that were sold out, I remember the outfitter and gas station being sold out in Gatlinburg. Other than that it was easy to get, and if you need a bit of your buddy's fuel, its easier to share than a fuel canister. I also used a rolled up bit of toilet paper with a little alcohol on it, if I was ever having trouble getting a fire going. Very effective fire starter from materials I already had with me.
    _______________________________________________
    In reality there is nothing more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.

  10. #30
    New Member
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    North Grafton, MA
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    Congrats and what an awesome experience it must of been to hike the AT!

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