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  1. #1
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    Family Backpacking Trip - Advice wanted

    Hi all... long time lurker, first time poster... be kind. I have done a ton of searches and research... some of the answers to the questions I'm about to ask have probably been answered and I just haven't found them yet. If so, just direct me to the right posts and I'll try not to annoy anyone further. Otherwise, I welcome any feedback.

    Some background info: I live at the base of the Pintlers and this summer for the first time ever, my wife and I intend to take all four kids and our two dogs on a relatively easy (3-4 mile) backpacking trip. We'll be out for 3 days, two nights, although we'll still be very much in the (charted) wilderness, we'll actually only about 15 miles from home. Our kids are 15f, 13m, 10f, & 8f and have tons of hiking experience, some car camping experience, but little to no actual backpacking experience. They are all capable of doing this hike and...so long as we plan wisely... I have no doubt of their ability to do this hike with properly loaded packs. Given how close and relatively easy the hike is, I may even hike in a supply cache to our campsite earlier in the week just so that we can have a few more amenities and treats but can still keep things light when we are all hiking in together. Now... while I've developed a little experience w/ hammock camping this last year, I'm still novice enough that I'd like some advice on a couple specific things and any general advice you might have on backpacking and hammock camping on the trail, with kids.

    Moving on....each kid has their own hammock, and per the advice in Derek Hansen's book we are keeping some things very simple with chain web suspensions and sleeping bags for top insulation. Before anyone gets that nagging concern about the potential for too much weight with a full hammock rig and sleeping bag, please note the comment above about me taking a cache of some supplies in early and let me also provide little additional info about the insulation situation for the kids.

    First, the 15 and 13 year old are both using 3.6 oz Apex under quilts that I made last season (thanks to the easy to assemble RBTR kits). They will be using their sleeping bags, as well, which are appx. 3lbs bags. Obviously these are not what I'd call UL, but they are both good quality MH syntheitc bags rated at approx 20*. The Apex UQ quilts are appx. 1lbs, and with the web suspension I suspect that altogether their entire hammock/sleep rig comes probably be about 6-7 lbs. I am not generally concerned about the rigs or insulation for these two. It's a relatively short hike and they are young, strong, healthy and quite capable of carrying their gear, even if it does end up a bit on the heavy side.

    Obviously, though, the 8 and 10 year old cause me a bit more concern. They are both capable hikers but the added weight will be a new test of endurance. To minimize that burden they are both carrying MH Bozeman youth bags rated at 20* and weighing in at approx. 2.3lbs. BUT... I've not entirely settled on what path to take for their bottom insulation. I've debated between sewing in a sleeve for a ridge rest pad, vs. making a couple new UQs vs. modifying their hammocks to add integrated insulation. Based on Derek's advice in my Ultimate hammocker's bible, I'm leaning towards integrated insulation using some 1.1 ripstop and APEX. This way there's no mussing or fiddling around with UQ suspension is they toss and turn at night. So, now we come to my three specific questions:

    1. How much insulation is a good balance (think 3-season) so that it's not too hot to just lounge in, but also so that with the sleeping bag it's sufficient for a 35 degree night? Are we talking 2.5oz. 3.5oz. 5oz.? I'm currently leaning towards 3.5 oz, because it worked well for me in my own suspended UQ last year in September. Plus these are still relatively small kids so, while their sleeping bag insulation beneath them is compressed, its not entirely ineffectual and should contribute to their comfort.

    2. I know I'll be using Apex and not down, however, would a calendared nylon increase wind resistance and cut the cold by any appreciable amount? Or does using calendared nylon as the outside panel decrease breathability and risk damaging the insulation by trapping moisture?

    3. If I add integrated insulation....rather than sewing the panel shut, I'm considering a gusseted pocket with some side cinches that could be tightened or loosened out so that I could remove or slip-in additional panels of insulation as the seasons demand. My thought is that I would quilt a panel of 2.5 oz (or 3.5oz) and a panel of 5.0 with some UL scrim on each side that would allow me to keep various insulation panels as individual modules that I could easily store and keep in-tact when not using them in the hammock. Other than potential overcomplicating things needlessly, Is there any good reason not to take this approach? Or, conversely, are there better approaches? (when considering these questions, keep in mind that with four kids who are all still growing, involved in different hiking and camping activities at different times places and seasons, The modular approach is one that is critical to keeping costs down, and it allowing for sharing and incremental accumulation of gear rather than huge capital outlays all at once. As most of you well appreciate, "modular" equals flexible and our family often relies on maximum flexibility to make things work within our budget.)

    A final couple of notes... I have no hesitations about making, modifying and customizing my own gear. I have a part-time upholstery business and ample amount of sewing (erm, thread injecting) experience with both heavy and lightweight materials, as well as a collection of equipment with which to work. My primary handicap as a DIYer is simply finding enough time to work on my own projects.

    Finally... if you have any of you out there have any general advice on family backpacking and cutting weight... bring it on!

    Thanks all!


    p.s. You can also rest assured, we'll be doing test runs in the backyard and at the park in town with much of this gear before we just venture out cluelessly. My bigger concern right now is simply avoiding inadequate or unnecessary cash investment into outfitting everyone.
    Last edited by DHClark76; 05-01-2019 at 15:55.

  2. #2
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    I would skip the integrated insulation idea and stick with underquilts or pads. If you want to experiment with that, experiment on yourself and not the kids.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  3. #3
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    35* I would go with 5.0. I've had mine to the upper 20s and that seemed about the limit for me.


    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    SilvrSurfr, thank you for responding but I think I may have put too much info out there and confused the question.

    First, just to assure anyone who may have got the wrong impression, I would never be so reckless as to experiment with my kids system on the trail.
    and I noted at the end of my post that we will be doing some back yard tests before we go out. What I didn't detail is that I have 3-mos. to dial this in.

    Second... I've already ruled out suspended UQs for the two youngest. The remaining question for me wasn't really whether to go with integrated insulation or another option but whether to permanently affix it or not.

    Third, permanently affixed or not... I'm curious if there's a consensus on what the minimum insulation amount should be.

    Finally... experimentation concerns aside (because that's not gonna happen) are there any reasons that a modular system would be a bad idea.

  5. #5
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    daneaustin3... That's the weight I've been going back and forth on. 3.6oz. vs 5.oz. I think my kids are all colder sleeper than I am so your preference is probably safer than mine. We'll have to test in out in the back yard. But before I commit to any purchases... are there any others out there who have thoughts on the minimum amount I should account for? Does anyone have an opinion on whether or not 5oz. would make the hammock uncomfortable and too warm for casual lounging during the day?

  6. #6
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHClark76 View Post
    Second... I've already ruled out suspended UQs for the two youngest. The remaining question for me wasn't really whether to go with integrated insulation or another option but whether to permanently affix it or not.

    Third, permanently affixed or not... I'm curious if there's a consensus on what the minimum insulation amount should be.
    I''m just saying that you shouldn't consider "permanently affixed" insulation. There's only one vendor that makes "permanently affixed" insulation - Sheltowee.

    https://shellhammocks.com/

    I would say they're not very popular, because the idea of "permanently affixed" insulation (I don't know how that is different from integrated insulation, but maybe you do), is a niche concept at best. You'll be going into an area where there's not a lot of guidance because people don't DIY "permanently affixed" or integrated insulation. I think the main reasons they don't do it are a)the insulation one requires will vary - you probably don't want to take 0* insulation for a 60* trip; and b) it is difficult to sew a pocket or whatever to hold that insulation that won't weaken the integrity of the hammock, and even more difficult to make a pocket that could hold varying amounts of insulation (i.e., making a pocket where you could put interchangeable quilts). There is no vendor that makes anything like that because it is too hard to do. If you made the pocket big enough for a 0* quilt, it would be too big for a 40* quilt, etc.

    Hence, I'd say you're better off sticking with a basic underquilt. I started with a 20* UQ & TQ, and when I was familiar with that, I then got a 0* TQ & UQ, and later a 40* TQ & UQ. I think you're better off going with a pad to start, but then get the younger kids a suspended underquilt, because the alternatives are not pleasant. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel - people have been using pads, then moving to underquilts, for years.

    My first two years I used a $10 5/8" ccf pad, and a synthetic 0* sleeping bag (4.5. lbs.). The pad caused condensation, but it didn't really get on my nerves until about 22* F. While I slept warm, everything was soaked in the morning, and there was an actual pool of condensation (or sweat) on the pad. That was the last night I ever slept on a pad - an UQ is much better!
    Last edited by SilvrSurfr; 05-01-2019 at 21:00.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. #7
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    And by the way, my kids also used ccf pads down to 22* F, but they were so happy when they got their down underquilts!
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  8. #8
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    Iíll chew on that for a while. Iím not against a suspended UQ in the long run, but Iím not convinced theyíre quite ready to handle it yet. I watched my son fiddle around with his first few trips out and Iím concerned it may be a bit much for the two younger. They can both be pretty heavy sleepers but they do tend to twist and turn a bit. My concern is that they would end up skewing the UQ out from under them but not actually wake up to adjust it until they were already freezing. And as we all know, itís hard to get warm again once you've reached that stage.

    Initially I was thinking that if I just sewed a panel of APEX to the hammock that couldnít move, it would eliminate that concern. But as I thought about that I wondered it I could just create a sleeve to slide the insulation into rather than permanently affixing the insulation.

    That said, based on what youíre saying maybe Iíll just sew a second layer of fabric to the hammock to slip a pad between and try that. I do already have a couple extra Ridgerest pads laying around, so that would save me some scratch.
    Last edited by DHClark76; 05-01-2019 at 22:14.

  9. #9
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    I will admit to a brief flirtation with double-layer hammocks. They definitely managed the pad better than trying to keep the pad in place in a single-layer hammock. I even experimented with placing a light (very light) sleeping bag over the pad inside the pocket. The only thing I can say about that experiment is: the sleeping bag soaked up most of the condensation, which I didn't really consider a plus.

    If you're going to go with the idea of a double-layer hammock to manage the pad - do just that. Don't try to sew a piece of fabric onto the hammock just to manage the pad. I have several DL hammocks from that brief period of experimentation. I use them as loaners to people who have no UQ, or take them car camping. Check out the cheap tablecloth hammocks at TableclothsFactory.com.

    https://tableclothsfactory.com/colle...lar-tablecloth

    The tablecloths are already hemmed, so all you have to do is sew two tablecloths together and you have a double-layer hammock. I sewed the tablecloths together (leaving an opening for pad insertion), then made a triple-stitched sewn end-channel for the hammock. Run an Amsteel 7/64 continuous loop though the end channel, cinch it up, and you're done!

    Note: polyester tablecloths are not light - I seem to recall they're about 2.6 oz. per square yard, though it might be 2.2 (website says 200 grams per square meter, but it's too late to do math and convert). Polyester is a much stiffer sleep (minimal stretch) than nylon, which I actually prefer. Almost all my hammocks are polyester, though I do have a Dutch Chameleon that is 1.6 Hexon, which is nylon ripstop.
    Last edited by SilvrSurfr; 05-01-2019 at 22:23.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Also, there have been a few complaints about the durability of polyester tablecloth hammocks. I've personally had no problems, and if my kids could have found a way to wreck them, they would have. Polyester is probably prone to ripping more than nylon, but again, I've had no issues. A polyester tablecloth hammock probably is capable of supporting 400 lbs., and a double-layer tablecloth hammock even more.

    I tried hammocks with integrated bugnets and zippers for my kids, but they always found a way to wreck them. However, with a polyester tablecloth hammock and a Fronkey bugnet, they just couldn't figure out a way to tear them up. Maybe it's the lack of zippers that make it easier for kids to manage them.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

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