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  1. #1
    New Member NolanH's Avatar
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    Apr 2018
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    Tandem Hang in the BWCA - Sawbill 2018

    Well, after my most excellent Memorial Weekend solo trip, I convinced my wife to try out my hammock during a backyard camp out with my kids. She was immediately convinced, so we bought another Chameleon for her.

    This trip, I decided to take 3 complete newbies to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in northern MN. I have been several times, but my closest friends and my wife have never tried it, mostly they said because it was intimidating. We chose to outfit canoes from Sawbill Outfitters and launch right onto Sawbill Lake. The very flexible plan was to get out there and go as far west as everyone was comfortable going and make a vacation out of the rest. Nothing too tricky, nothing too grueling, several contingency plans should something go wrong. That was enough to convince them to trust me.

    We set out from the Twin Cities at 4AM on Thursday, ate a delightful breakfast in Duluth at The Duluth Grill, and arrived at Sawbill somewhere around 10:30 AM. Quick tutorial from the outfitters/Rangers and we were on the water. The friends were a bit rusty with the paddles and wound up canoeing maybe twice as far as my boat haha. Whatever gets you there. We took the southwest portage (short, easy) from Sawbill into Alton Lake and campsite hopped southward looking for a place to set up. This is a pretty busy area and all but the southern-most site were occupied. No matter, the site we landed at has its own bay, great shelter from the wind, excellent fire area, decent swimming, and a very pretty sunset view.

    IMG_4911.jpgIMG_4965.jpg

    Here's the two Dutchware Chameleons in tandem mode (test hang), with 32" spreader bar. Tarp is a Jacks 'R' Better 12' Universal.

    IMG_4919.jpg

    Having no idea what I was doing with the setup, we actually managed to have the best night's sleep ever in all of our years camping. My wife and I discussed it several times during the trip, how great these hammocks are.

    Next day we had a proper lollygag morning, packed up and hit the lake by about 11:30 AM. Friends did not sleep as well on the ground and were kinda stiff, so we went with an easy contingency option and decided to just stay on Alton Lake, skipping the westward lakes. Heading northward on Alton, on the east bank, we saw several pretty sites that were occupied, and a couple sites on the west bank also occupied. We did discover a hard-to-locate landing on the west shore that turned out to be another really great site. We stayed there 2 nights.

    IMG_4943.jpg20180721_190601.jpg20180721_190947.jpg

    This second night, I messed up the setup. It turns out (probably obvious to you all) that you need to be fairly careful with the alignment of the two hammocks to be parallel between the trees. I just eyeballed it, shrugged and accepted what it was. The result of misalignment was that I slept very close to, and mostly underneath my wife. She slept great. I was fine, but there was less luxury this way even though I really like her. Third night I discovered the misalignment issue, took better care, and had a 5-Star sleep afterward.

    (Below) There are only sleeping bags in these. No idea what I was thinking letting that go...

    20180721_161440.jpg

    All in all, this was the best camping trip ever with my wife (12 years camping together) and that is entirely due to the excellent sleeping.

    Rig:
    (2) Chameleon by Dutchware, (2) asym bug net, (4) dyneema straps+beetle buckles+Dutch Clips, 32" spreader bar
    Jacks 'R' Better 12' Universal Tarp + (2) pole mod, (4) Hookworm guy outs, Continuous Ridgeline with Wasp (Dutchware)

    Warmth: (wife) 10* 70" Habanero UC by Loco Libre + 25* Kelty down mummy bag; (me) just a 25* synth mummy bag from REI

    Food: Packit Gourmet and Camp Chow brands from re-hydrated meals, this and that for all the rest. You all should try Packit Gourmet, man are they good.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    homewood, al
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    Sounds like a fabulous adventure! It was sleeping on the ground on my BWCA trip that made me a hanger. Maybe you’ll convert your friends.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  3. #3
    Big Flounder's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    Stuck in the Hoosier State
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    Great report, thanks for sharing! I did my first trip to the BWCA last month. Love it up there.
    -Jameson
    Proud Member of the North Country Trail Association-Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter
    http://www.northcountrytrail.org/

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Sounds like a great trip. I have been a couple times by myself, and am planning on my first family trip next year. Just got the notice that my Dutch spreader bar is out for delivery today. Seems like we had exactly the same idea, lol. I am glad it worked out for you. Can't wait to try it myself.
    Homer: Sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks.

    Hank Scorpio: Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn't I think of that? Hammocks!

  5. #5
    New Member NolanH's Avatar
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    Apr 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by xMagnolia View Post
    Sounds like a fabulous adventure! It was sleeping on the ground on my BWCA trip that made me a hanger. Maybe you’ll convert your friends.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures.
    It was fabulous! Glad you enjoyed the photos!

  6. #6
    New Member NolanH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Flounder View Post
    Great report, thanks for sharing! I did my first trip to the BWCA last month. Love it up there.
    It's a magical place. I feel incredibly lucky to be so close to it.

  7. #7
    New Member NolanH's Avatar
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    Apr 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by weaver2469 View Post
    Sounds like a great trip. I have been a couple times by myself, and am planning on my first family trip next year. Just got the notice that my Dutch spreader bar is out for delivery today. Seems like we had exactly the same idea, lol. I am glad it worked out for you. Can't wait to try it myself.
    Not that I have a ton of experience or anything, but I think the trick is to fully set up one hammock, with a good test lay, before you even start on the second hammock. The bar is the last thing to attach, after a test lay in the 2nd hammock. I found that I kept having to adjust my hammock (2nd) and the other tree straps were in the way. So then, we'd have to fully disassemble the first hammock to free the straps... One of those things you'd think you'd pick up on after the first time, but we didn't really think of it until the drive home.

    I hope it goes well for you! Do you have an idea of where you're going to go in?

  8. #8

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by NolanH View Post
    Not that I have a ton of experience or anything, but I think the trick is to fully set up one hammock, with a good test lay, before you even start on the second hammock. The bar is the last thing to attach, after a test lay in the 2nd hammock. I found that I kept having to adjust my hammock (2nd) and the other tree straps were in the way. So then, we'd have to fully disassemble the first hammock to free the straps... One of those things you'd think you'd pick up on after the first time, but we didn't really think of it until the drive home.

    I hope it goes well for you! Do you have an idea of where you're going to go in?
    Thanks for the tip about setup. I will make sure to play around setting it up a bunch before I take it on a trip. As far as route, I have always gone Ely side. I think we will get boats from Piragis or Williams and Hall. Thinking about a loop up Nina Moose (EP16, I think) , to Crooked and back down through Oyster? Not sure yet, but I love that far west side. Not as much traffic and no real burn damage. Plenty of good hanging spots.
    Homer: Sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks.

    Hank Scorpio: Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn't I think of that? Hammocks!

  9. #9
    alifeoutdoors's Avatar
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    That's awesome, first camp site I ever hung a hammock in back in 2002 was that same southern most site. Same issue lol Alton is indeed a popular lake.
    Once you're lost in twilight's blue, you don't find your way, the way finds you.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2013
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    Went to the BWCA on my first family trip when I was 3. Most of my camping memories growing up are of being soaked on portages and drying out at camp listening to my dad read to us. I've been lucky enough to go almost every year since with the exception of a dry spell going on 4 years now (tried for this year but a new baby complicated things). Photos look awesome, tandem hang looks awesome. I'll have to check out Packit Gourmet.

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