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  1. #1
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Most GE problems may now be solved, shout out to leiavoia for reminding me of old trick

    Well, guys, this old timer is feeling a little foolish. Foolish because I have just come to realize something that I actually have known for over 10 years. But, only recently has it dawned on me that this is a total solution to a major problem and that I should stop fighting this obvious solution and spending endless hours trying to find out some other way to accomplish this simple task, and/or buying other hammocks that are reputed to not have calf ridge problems..

    Some of you might know or remember that I am a bridge hammock man, at least most of the time, ever since I was two or three years into this game. The number one reason for that is that it was a 100% cure for knee pain, calf ridge pain, and even side torque/Twist. Also, I have for the most part found them exceptionally easy to insulate, assuming an UQ that fit the hammock fairly closely, and was not too long. Not a bad list of accomplishments.

    But of course, just like the gathered hammocks, the bridge hammocks have their own set of negatives. Not necessarily for me, but for many people a lack of shoulder room or squeeze is a major issue. I was never actually uncomfortable, but even I can appreciate a looser fit in the shoulders. But far more important than that is the spreader bars and their tendency to contact a tarp, requiring a wider fit and/or a larger tarp. Particularly if desiring to close the ends of the tarp to block wind. And the bars are of course more weight to carry and more things to keep up with. I might also worry about them breaking when I'm deep in the wilderness, not that I've ever had such a thing happen or even come close to happening. But it is a step away from simplicity. Also, one of my bridges requires several more feet of distance between the trees than all of my other hammocks of any design. It is amazing how often this could be an inconvenience or keep me from hanging exactly where I wanted to.

    Also, I used to love my Peapod wrapped around my Claytor no net hammock. I also retained a fondness for my much-maligned Hennessey hammock super shelter(HHSS) which was really only usable on my Hennessey hammock, which was pretty good but not always my favorite gathered end. So on some of my past week long trips where I would hike deep into the Wyoming wilderness many, many miles from the nearest trailhead and car, more than once my bridge hammocks got left behind for one of those others. And on at least one night of each of those trips I ended up regretting that decision due to some knee or calf ridge related problem that messed up my sleep. Most nights I was just fine, but on a couple I found myself thinking" why the heck didn't I just bring my bridge hammock".(Strangely, I don't ever really remember a problem with calf pressure during my first couple of years using almost totally the Hennessey. But sometime after that, for unknown reasons, it became a consistent problem–a little or a lot, occasionally or always with some hammocks)

    Anyway, I ended up mostly switching to bridges, but I also entered into about 10 years worth of experimenting with how to solve the lower leg related problems in a gathered hammock. More sag, less sag, longer or shorter RL, more or less diagonal, higher foot end, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Lots of things helped, but nothing consistently solved the problem, although almost with some hammocks usually, and almost never what other hammocks.

    Now I always knew about the knee pillow trick. I had even used it once or twice, although probably with just a narrow stuff sack version. I also clearly remember eight or 10 years ago, one of the common threads where someone was having calf ridge problems, in that case with a war bonnet blackbird, and all of these different suggestions were being given in attempt to help, but just could not be done. Finally War Bonnet Guy said something like: When I am getting too much calf ridge, I usually just put a stuff sack under my knees which also gives me some insulation boost".

    So I have always known about this, but for some reason have never committed to really trying it out consistently. Instead, I devoted untold hours trying multiple tricks, and bought a whole bunch of hammocks of various types, just trying to solve mainly the calf pressure problem, and to a lessor degree the knee extension or side torque problem. So did a bunch of other people here.

    Then for some reason, reading Leiavoia's thread on this subject finally made the light bulb go off in my head. And I have recently been experimenting with larger stuff sacks of various sizes in various hammocks, or dry bags and of course it works like a charm.(One caveat: I have not yet tried it for sleeping overnight, that will be the acid test). Now every hammock I have is perfectly comfortable in any position I am likely to sleep in. I don't need an 11 or 12 foot hammock. Or, a really wide hammock. They all feel pretty much the same now, which is to say, very comfortable. Last night I pulled out my old Claytor no net. Now admittedly, it's one of my gathered hammocks that has little or no calf ridge problems, but it is also the one that gave me fits in leg discomfort on 1 night of 2 different week long trips. Only short tests so far, but mega comfy in all areas.

    Next I pulled out my ancient HH Explrer UL from 2006, my 1st hammock. I have had more serious and more consistent calf pressure problems with this one over the years, though side sleeping solves that. But with a nice fat stuff sack under my legs, I have never been in a more comfy hammock. This trick also seems to improve side comfort by placing the pillow between my legs. I was even comfy laying with zero diagonal.

    So maybe I no longer need a bridge hammock? Won't know for sure until I do some over night testing. But for now it seems this old trick means I can use pretty much any hammock, and leg comfort will just not be an issue. Thanks Leiavoia for helping me remember this. Now as well as my Speer, I need to pull out my Blackbird and give it another try!
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 07-28-2018 at 19:04.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Here are some pics;
    My ancient HH Explorer UL from 2006, that I long ago cut the net off of to convert to side entry(wish I had not done that)


    Total comfort with legs straight:


    Legs slightly frog legged, still total comfort

    Last edited by BillyBob58; 07-26-2018 at 22:38.

  3. #3

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    I liked your sort of evolution story of a hanger. And I have slept many times exactly like your pictures show in my Clark NX-250. I usually use a klymit mattress lightly blown up and folded into thirds to form a "sack" the same size as yours. It deflates and weighs a pound but it works great.
    One problem though in the winter.....see the area between your knees and butt? Well, in cold weather I have had a nightmare of a time sealing it up so cold air doesn't come in and freeze my thighs and butt. Frankly, I haven't had any luck sealing it up with a top quilt. But a mummy bag would solve this problem. Anyway, congrats on solving a major, perrenial problem that pops up constantly on these boards!

  4. #4
    Otter1's Avatar
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    Yep. The knee pillow is a game changer.

    And "too big" isn't too big at all for me. I've been very pleased with the various solutions I've tried.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by outdoorsguy View Post
    I liked your sort of evolution story of a hanger. And I have slept many times exactly like your pictures show in my Clark NX-250. I usually use a klymit mattress lightly blown up and folded into thirds to form a "sack" the same size as yours. It deflates and weighs a pound but it works great.
    One problem though in the winter.....see the area between your knees and butt? Well, in cold weather I have had a nightmare of a time sealing it up so cold air doesn't come in and freeze my thighs and butt. Frankly, I haven't had any luck sealing it up with a top quilt. But a mummy bag would solve this problem. Anyway, congrats on solving a major, perrenial problem that pops up constantly on these boards!
    Believe it or not, I was thinking about that potential winter related problem while hanging in the heat this afternoon! Athough, I was thinking more about the under gap between between my knees and feet, under my calf. But I figured- or hoped- that my UQ would be able to drop down and cover that area ell enough. But, I can see that area between butt and knees, above the quilts foot box, would be more of a problem. I hate to hear that you have not been able to cover it with your TQ, dang it! Always something! But, as you say, a sleeping bag would do it, but I hate to go back that way. Or a TQ with a foot box closed up higher than usual, say to my butt rather than knees? But none of my TQs do that, though.

    I wonder if the pillow was not so wide, maybe barely wider than my 2 knees, and just thick enough to keep me from feeling the center ridge and not a bit thicker? That way the TQ could maybe even be tucked under the pillow, or, if remaining on top of the pillow, the under gap to be filled would be less- if the pillow was not too thick. I suppose you have already looked into that? You might be able to tell that I have already been thinking about this!

    Finally, if I get another Pea Pod, that might work better against this problem. I usually often only take care of the top gap caused by my hammock lifting the top layer of the pod with filling it with clothes either worn or just layered on top. But a TQ opened up would be wide enough to cover every thing, and doable as there is no where near as much concern with side drfts if you are sealed up in a pea pod.

    Lastly, what about an unworn jacket stuffed into that gap between butt and knees? Of course, you need an extra jacket available. No problem car camping, might be a problem on the trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Otter1 View Post
    Yep. The knee pillow is a game changer.

    And "too big" isn't too big at all for me. I've been very pleased with the various solutions I've tried.
    Yep. But instead of going this route 10 years ago, I thought I would spend a few hundred hours trying to solve the problems by trying different RL tensions, positions in the hammock left/right/up/down, different foot heights, and buying lots of different hammocks both GE and bridge. That is my way to solving simple problems. At least the bridge actually solved the issues, but by bringing a few more of it's own.
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 07-26-2018 at 22:42.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for posting this. It really gives me some ideas on how to make my HH classic more comfortable. Now off to the basement to give it a try
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  7. #7
    TallPaul's Avatar
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    Now you have me thinking as well.
    I run across this problem occasionally when hanging and would like a solution when adjusting my suspension doesn’t resolve it.

    Being a backpacker, I’d want to reuse something I’m already carrying, and typically wouldn’t have a lot of spare clothes to put in a stuff sack.
    My first thought was to use my trash compactor bag - that may still work but I’d need to come up with a way to tie it off so it wouldn’t lose air. It’s also a bit crinkly when you move around
    Second thought was the 4L platypus bag I carry as part of my water purification system. Inflating it may work but I’m thinking better option may be to just stuff my rain coat in there.
    Third thought is to combine my rain coat with my sit pad and put them in a stuff sack. Course then I lose the sit pad as insulation for my legs but in summer that doesn’t really matter.

    May have to test these.

    4L bag inflated


    4L bag with rain coat inside



    Rain coat and sit pad in stuff sack

  8. #8
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkurfiss View Post
    Thanks for posting this. It really gives me some ideas on how to make my HH classic more comfortable. Now off to the basement to give it a try
    You're very welcome! Just as I thank Leiavoia for reminding me of this hammock basic, an idea we have known about for years. But for some reason I just didn't investigate it very much. But though I always knew this, I think the additional and important detail I picked up from her was regarding the size of the pillow. I think I might not have previously had as much success as I should have because the knee pillow was not quite as thick as it needed to be.

    It sure as heck made my 12-year-old Hennessey ultralight at least as comfortable as any hammock I've been in. Course it was always comfortable for me, except for the occasional , and sometimes severe, center Ridge related problems. Here's hoping one of us can come up with a workaround for that potential insulation problem related to top quilt fit. If not, I might still end up requiring bridge hammocks.

    https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/...ee-Pillow-Hack

  9. #9
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TallPaul View Post
    Now you have me thinking as well.
    I run across this problem occasionally when hanging and would like a solution when adjusting my suspension doesn’t resolve it.

    Being a backpacker, I’d want to reuse something I’m already carrying, and typically wouldn’t have a lot of spare clothes to put in a stuff sack.
    My first thought was to use my trash compactor bag - that may still work but I’d need to come up with a way to tie it off so it wouldn’t lose air. It’s also a bit crinkly when you move around
    Second thought was the 4L platypus bag I carry as part of my water purification system. Inflating it may work but I’m thinking better option may be to just stuff my rain coat in there.
    Third thought is to combine my rain coat with my sit pad and put them in a stuff sack. Course then I lose the sit pad as insulation for my legs but in summer that doesn’t really matter.

    May have to test these.

    4L bag inflated


    4L bag with rain coat inside



    Rain coat and sit pad in stuff sack
    Interesting options. I'm thinking the size of the pillow might make a difference as to how difficult it is to keep warm under a top quilt. We may have to find a fine line between extra thick and extra wide and super comfortable versus just wide enough and thick enough to overcome all hints of calf Ridge and knee extension, and still not interfere with quilt fit. No way I can test that right now as hot as it is.

  10. #10
    Senior Member hutzelbein's Avatar
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    Wow, I can't believe that it took you so long to try a knee pillow! I think I started using one about 1 year into my hanging career. And I think it makes an already comfortable hammock even more comfortable. Not just because it eases pressure on the heels, or solves knee over-extension, but also because it puts my legs in a super comfortable, relaxed position. There's nothing better to ease the pain after a day of hiking.

    I use an old, big but fairly thin feather pillow at home. On the trail I use whatever spare clothes I have left in a stuff sack. I have recently started to think about an inflatable pillow or a fairly air proof roll-top bag, though.

    As cold as I sleep, I haven't had a problem with an air gap so far. However, I cannot use a top quilt (or rather a sleeping bag in top quilt mode) once temps drop below ~50° - knee pillow or no knee pillow. I usually zip up completely. So this might explain it. If you're fine with a top quilt at any temperature, maybe try one that's a bit wider.

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