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  1. #11
    sidneyhornblower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BananaHammock View Post
    I have a luxury bridge from Towns End and have tried JRB, Warbonnet, and REI’s. I would pick Towns End any day of the week, hands down.
    Beat me to the punch, so I'll just bolster BananaHammock's argument in favor of Just Bill's bridge hammocks. Not only does the man make a dandy bridge hammock, there are numerous threads on here where he waxes eloquently on the bridge building process. Use your search function and prepare to take a deep dive.

  2. #12
    cougarmeat's Avatar
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    As with Banjoman, though I might prefer the Bridge, I usually take the GE because I can string it in more places. Yes, if you can find additional trees. the bridge is great. Problem is ... those other people. Like if you are a a formal campground (that allows hammocks), you have a limited choice of trees. But last summer I realized I only needed one tree and I can suspend from the car roof rack to that tree. Even if you are more "in the wild", and you are with others, you probably want to camp somewhere near. That means you can't necessarily roam far and wide to find your trees when everyone else (tents and GE's) are clustered together in a small grove.

    Bridge related, I use a WB full sock. But I optioned to have zippers on both sides - otherwise you'd have to may have to get out on a side that might not be positioned well. I also had small D-rings put on the inside ends of the sock so I can keep the sock on and string up the bug net. That way I can open both zippers for view and circulation, but also keep skeeter's at bay. Why not just take the sock off? Because it's not a slip on/off affair like a GE sock. To remove the RR sock you have to disassemble the suspension somewhat. It's easier to keep it on and just open both zipper doors in the summer. Unless it's a real hot summer and I know I'm going to use it frequently - then I'll take the time to remove the sock.

    I have many different vendor GE hammocks. My RR is asking, "What about MY playmates? You only have one of my type." So maybe another vendor's Bridge will be in the future; if only to make my decision process even more complicated.
    Last edited by cougarmeat; 05-27-2019 at 13:03.
    In order to see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone. And DO what few have done.

  3. #13
    Member goalie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sidneyhornblower View Post
    Beat me to the punch, so I'll just bolster BananaHammock's argument in favor of Just Bill's bridge hammocks. Not only does the man make a dandy bridge hammock, there are numerous threads on here where he waxes eloquently on the bridge building process. Use your search function and prepare to take a deep dive.
    What do you guys do for bug netting?

    I'm thinking that his luxury bridge would be ideal for me to try, but mosquitos are a thing here in MN.

    I'm 6' 185, so a WBRR shouldn't squeeze me too much, and they have the ready made UQ options......

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
    "It turns out that what you have is less important than what you do with it"

  4. #14
    BananaHammock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goalie View Post
    What do you guys do for bug netting?
    He has created a Fronkey style (bottom entry) bugnet that works pretty well for it. I have used it on a few occasions and have not had problems with bugs when in use.
    Get lost in the woods and find yourself again. A vacation,to me, is working with your hands and surviving because of the fruits of your labor. In the business world I teach;in the natural world I learn.

  5. #15
    New Member
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    With my Luxury I'm using a sea to summit pyramid bugnet which I hang from the ridgeline.

  6. #16
    Billmichhiker's Avatar
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    I have a WBRR with built in bug net ... added a spindrift, and use UGQ underquilt. Also have WBBB ...guess I use the WBBB more. Would like the newer model though.

  7. #17
    sidneyhornblower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goalie View Post
    What do you guys do for bug netting?
    I've been testing one of his prototypes that has no bug net, so I just removed my net from my own bridge hammock and temporarily installed it on Bill's prototype. It's just a simple half bug net that drapes from the ridgeline and covers my upper torso. But check with Bill; if you get a hammock from him I'm sure he has bug net ideas and solutions, including his bottom entry style.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Izraelius View Post
    Hey all!

    Let's talks Bridge Hammocks! (if this thread already exists, let me know).


    I've got a bunch of standard gathered end asym hammocks. GT, ENO, DH, and others. They're fine and fun but I want to learn more about bridge's and dive in!

    So: let your knowledge flow! I'm wanting it all: types, brands, ideal materials, sizes, weights, spreader bar options, simplicity, complexity, comfort... all of it!
    (after a while we can post a poll and get an idea of popularity of the options we'll learn in this thread)


    GO!!
    Please don't say 'Go!'

    Much like gathered ends vary so wildly once you get into them a bit... the same can be said for bridge hammocks. From fabric selection to design... each of them are fairly unique.
    Much like any gear.... there is no best. Rather the best approach is to determine if you have any problems that you need to address and see which models address them.
    If your problem is simply that you are a hammock fiend and bridge curious... that's one of the easier problems to solve provided you're willing to simply slap down some cash and scratch your itch.

    Bridges are a very small segment of hammocks overall. Most folks picture what is actually known as a spreader bar hammock when they think of bridges. (The 'I love Lucy' clip Cougar shared being a great example).
    As a result, many folks assume that a bridge hammock will be equally unstable and tippy. A bridge can be those things, but each model addresses that problem in different ways.

    If you are talking commercial bridge hammocks: (of which Hutzelbein posted earlier)
    The simplest way to break them down is into:
    End Bar design: (pretty much all of them) which simply means that the spreader bars are placed outside the bedspace of the bridge.
    Recessed Bar Design: (My stuff at Towns-End and the Chrysalis) which means the spreader bars are located within the bedspace in some fashion.
    Other: There are variants or other ways to skin this cat too. The REI bridge isn't really a bridge for example- but that's pretty nerdy on why.

    There are lots of other bridge nerd things I could add there- but at the end of the day most don't really matter as the differences are design related- if you lay in the the hammock and you like it who really cares about the minutia.

    What do Bridges do?
    Bridges allow you to comfortably sleep 'in line'. So there is no sweet spot to find, magic angle to divine, calf ridge to bust, or surprise bad nights if you can't quite get things dialed perfectly. 'A floating cot' is the simplest way to state it, without any annoying bars in the bedspace. There is a slight learning curve but overall bridges are easier to pitch consistently from night to night and tend to be more forgiving of a bad pitch as well. Much like your mattress at home- they just work. You lay down and it is what it is. You may not be in love with your particular mattress... but spinning 5 degrees or shoving pillows or stuff sacks into spots to wedge your body into position isn't needed.

    Generally speaking- Bridges work much better with sleeping pads. For some trips- a pad may be required. For some budgets- an UQ may not be included. So one reason a happy gathered end user may choose a bridge is if they frequently camp in a place where they need a hybrid system (ground and air).

    A really good bridge can really be something special. But the person who benefits the most is often special as well. For the average user with average issues; a bridge is simply a pretty sweet piece of gear.

    What Bridges don't do?
    For the most part they are heavier and bulkier than a gathered end... though some gathered end rigs are so tricked out that isn't an automatic truth. You have to factor in a larger tarp usually, and you may need to buy new UQ's or other things to 'convert'... so unlike trying an 11' GE in a new fabric or trying a different width; bridges are not cheap nor easy to simply 'play' with. You should look at a bridge only if you have a problem with other options. While much is made about 'packing the **** bars'... really this is a pretty minor issue overall. Especially for those coming from tents or other traditional options used to dealing with some rigid components.

    They will not produce miracles. Your hair won't grow back, your fella won't leap to attention and the pounds won't just melt off on your first night in the bridge. Just like some folks try a hammock and fall in love... some don't. Hammock fans are quite zealous in their praise of their gear maker of choice and often vigorously preach the good word... sometimes to the detriment of the converts they look to acquire among the masses. If you are happy on the ground- a hammock will not make you any more happy. If you are happy in a gathered end- a bridge won't make you any more happy. Backpacking is supposed to be a simple experience. Use the simplest means possible to solve your problems. If you don't have a problem- buying stuff won't solve anything. If you can't sleep on a pad, try a hammock. If you can't use a gathered end, try a bridge. If that doesn't work- shoot me a line.

    If you're simply car camping or base camping where weight isn't a concern... rather than a $400 floating cot you may consider simply buying a $100 cot or portable bed. Hanging is cool, and I do have some customers with some very serious medical and physical issues who sleep in some of my stuff full time at home because it really worked great for them. But at some point you may simply have to admit that other than getting to say you're in a hammock... it gets a bit silly. You could buy a second sleeping pad for less money and stack your ground pads or slap them on a hammock. It's your money... and if spending it and owning a quality piece of gear is what you enjoy buying then that's your business. Swinging gently in the breeze is pretty amazing. However despite diligent effort and aggressive marketing; money still cannot buy happiness... it's just gear.

    The spreader bars are under compression, they are load bearing, and they are loaded. So some caution is required around them. You can upgrade to a Carbon Fiber pole for most models to reduce weight- but you really cannot reduce the size or diameter or you will create a dangerous condition. It is what it is... the bars take a bit of getting used to for most. For a small portion of folks- they are a deal breaker.

    Finally- for the most part Bridges are the least comfortable 'lounging/sitting' option you can get. There are some ways to improve this, but it is what it is. You're looking to sleep comfortably and that's what you care about.


    The Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock was the first... and really I think suffered a bit from coming out prior to hammocks becoming more popular and didn't garner quite as much attention or following. It is a deeper end bar bridge with symmetrical head and foot ends. Some folks really like the depth as it provides stability as well as replicates that 'cocoon feeling' you get in a gathered end when wrapped by your quilt. Some folks call it 'the coffin' as it is like a hanging box with sides and it can be hard to climb out of for some folks as a result. You either like the closed up feeling or you don't, but it is a very flat lay and a very solid system overall. The Jack's created a complete off the shelf system that can be had a great price. An upcoming addition is the UL version which would likely look quite a bit like a Hiker Dad/Bic bridge and both reduce weight as well as lower the sides and is expected to come out soon.

    As mentioned- The Ridgerunner is likely the most popular/well known.
    The Ridgerunner is basically the same hammock with a twist. The two tricks here are using dramatically different spreader bar sizes to create an asymetrical bedspace. A wide bar at the head stretches and flattens the shoulders, while a narrow bar at the foot end adds some depth. This design is a bit less stable and requires a fairly tight pitch and long tree to tree distance. It also creates a bed that is slightly wedge shaped. These features 'pop' you out of the coffin and give you the wider visibility you hear folks talk about when discussing bridges. That higher center of gravity (amplified by a pad) is what causes many who try them to feel they are 'tippy'. While there is some merit to this- proper pitch and time to acclimate resolve most of that feeling. The other real big innovation Brandon brought to market is his saddle bag system and bug net. A bit of a nerd thing but the saddlebags solve many issues with attaching a bug net and happen to make really great storage options as a bonus. As good a job as the Jacks did- Brandon probably has the current gold standard in terms of a truly trail ready (hammock, insulation, bug, rain) system top to bottom at a reasonable price as well. Is this the best bridge you can buy... probably not. But if it works for you then that makes it the best... and it does work for many people. This is a great example of the 'one size fits most' philosophy and even though I technically 'compete' with the RR more than any other bridge- I also tell most people to try one of his first. I probably 'sell' more of Brandon's bridges than mine- but if this bridge does the job for you then I'm happy to have helped you find the gear that works for you.

    Common complaints:
    The BMBH is deep and confining- you cannot really sit up under the net.
    The RR 'bites' you and can be too narrow. (By 'Bites' I simply mean the construction technique used on a rolled webbing bridge can create a very hard edge that can be rough on elbows and knees).
    Again- one size fits most is a great way to look at these products. In my experience (with customers reaching out to me)... someplace around 6' tall, 200 lbs, size XL shirt, or none of those but with broad shoulders is where you will find that you are no longer part of the 'most' these bridges work for. That is not to discourage anyone from trying them out, but to help honestly assess who these will work for best.

    You could argue that Brooks make the best running shoes ever, unless you have narrow feet. You could argue a sweet pair of Altra shoes are the best ever... unless you have narrow feet or heels and they slop around on you. As we all know; some core attributes/design philosophies of a particular brand suit each of us differently. Bridges are no exception. So consider shopping for hammocks based upon who is roughly the same size and shape as yourself to get in the ballpark and go from there.

    Double vs single layer:
    This is a bit tricky actually- though here is the prevailing idea. You get a double layer so you can put a pad in it.
    The tricky bit: If the pad sleeve is not deferentially cut for the pad you are going to use then you are altering the structure and geometry of the bridge by using a pad in it. A thin CFF pad really won't make a difference. A 3.5" inflatable mat makes a huge difference. Both of the main bridges above are vastly improved for many by using a pad in them. Some consider them completely ruined by putting in a pad and only an UQ will do. If you have broader shoulders you can 'stretch' the usable range of one of the hammocks above by shoving a pad in.

    On the plus side- for those coming from a ground dwelling setup or who hike on a mixed use trail like the AT (where shelters are a thing or you may need a pad for a hostel stay)... then a double layer bridge can be a very simple transition and a very versatile gear choice. If you carry a simply polycro ground sheet, bridge, pad, and tarp... you have a full complete air and ground kit for whatever you need. Cowboy camping in a meadow, sleeping on a bald, ducking in a shelter, or swinging in the trees. I got into bridges because they offer this versatility. While an UQ is generally more pleasant- this isn't exactly the do or die scenario some would have you believe. A pad in a bridge is vastly more enjoyable than a pad on the ground. And an UQ on the ground is vastly worse than a pad on the ground. For long distance hiking- this is really a very nice balance.

    Again- there is also a lot to be said for converting from ground use directly to a bridge... rather than a gathered end first. The learning curve is less steep, the specialty terminology limited, and you are ultimately using fairly familiar gear. So if all else fails then it's another night on the pad. At it's heart a gathered end is a huge hunk of fabric. However picking the exact makeup, dimensions, and design of that hunk of fabric is really a fine art that takes quite a bit of sorting out. Fabric is important in a bridge- but not so do or die critical as it can be in a gathered end.

    As fer me-
    I make very specialized stuff. I make the lightest bridges in the world, as well as the highest load occupancy bridges. I am officially a vendor but I only do it part time. So my production is limited, my costs are higher, and my ability to offer a clean 'system' isn't there yet. My website sucks and I talk too much. You can't buy a custom UQ, tarp, and toys to trick things out so beyond the bridge itself you're pretty well on your own. I don't really do custom work, and I have several very strong opinions that influence my designs... such as the bug net thing.
    All that said- I do build some pretty neat things when I get the chance to.

    At the moment- I'm farting along.
    I worked with another cottage vendor for over a year and it looked like I could turn over my core products to them so I could continue to prototype and offer new solutions. I had to cut off that relationship due to quality issues- so I am once more the only seamster. Once again I'm out a few grand on the deal and trying to lay pretty low.

    My inlaws are having some severe health problems as well and that too has cut into things. Yar... family first as always... but if you just want to buy a piece of gear and you can't get it that's annoying.

    As a result looks like some of the more exciting things I was sharing earlier this year are on the backburner for a bit, though there are a good dozen or more prototypes in long term testing as we speak.

    So... I still sell the Big Guy, The Luxury, and the Happy Medium and that's about it.
    The Mountain Hanger (round two) remains on the table.
    I sneak in a prototype or two of my upcoming 'Just a Bridge' design but that is pretty well dead again as the weather has warmed up and folks need bridges.

    A few have asked about kits but I don't plan on doing that anytime soon. I'd love to... but it's simply too hard to protect my investment in these designs.
    On the plus side... after having a handful of cottage hammock vendors try and fail to build these properly... guess it ain't that easy to steal

    There are lots of exciting things to do with bridges and the future is pretty wide open as others enter the market.
    My lightest stuff gets lighter and my biggest stuff gets bigger.

    I have a 'soft edge' design in testing, as well as several hybrid models of my current line up and previously unseen bridges. (hell I got three gathered ends nobody has seen too).
    I'd love to expand my stakeless tarps next as it resolves many of the tarp issues folks have with bridges.
    I'd like to sew an UQ or two again... as they can be really light.

    Eventually I'd like to finish my Harmony System. Pack, Trekking poles, tarp, bridge, UQ, rain cape and all... but that is always an ongoing project.

    Ultimately my goal is to offer my version of a backpacking bridge kit. I can rattle off most of the problems and complaints people have... and have a solution for many of them. I've always believed that a backpacking kit based on a bridge could truly offer the best balance of weight, size, comfort, and practicality if approached as a complete system rather than standalone pieces. I still think that's possible though there is much to be done.

    So...
    Jacks has an updated model coming out worth looking at.
    Brandon at Warbonnet is offering better value everyday and has a solid fabric upgrade that should improve his bridge.
    And if'n those don't work and you really need one- I'll figure out a way to get you one of mine.

    In the meantime I try to get back to those of you who are also tinkering in the MYOG/DIY crowd where all the best bridges on the planet are hiding.
    That's what WV, Grizz, and others did for me.

    Ultimately- If you really want the best bridge on the planet- you probably gotta make it yourself.

  9. #19
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    JustBill:
    We share at least one trait: being long winded. Many have told me that I am. And, I am. However, as a life long chronic reader, I don't mind if a good post is several paragraphs long. For me, big deal.

    However, I just wanted to say that was about the best single post I have read covering the subject of bridge hammocks. For some one that needs to know that info, and the pros ad cons of bridges, it is all there. Great post!
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 05-29-2019 at 12:51.

  10. #20
    Member
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    Just Bill,

    If I ever need another Bridge you are the one Im calling. Great sense of the product!

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