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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Jan 2019
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    Contingency Plan for Deep Backcountry Cold-Weather Hammocking

    I'm curious to know what folks do on deep backcountry cold-weather trips for a contingency plan should the hammock tear wide open, or suspension fail. If you had to sleep on the ground with just your UQ, layers, pack, leaves/needles for bottom insulation, it could get dangerous pretty quick if it were cold enough.

    I'm a long time backpacker, but fairly new to hammocking (18 months). I spent enough time in the cold with my current setup(s) to feel pretty dialed in, but I haven't ventured to where I was more than a day's walk from the car. This winter I'm planning a couple trips where I'd like to hammock, but we will be 2-3 days from help/the vehicle at times. I'd like to hear what some of your all's strategies for dealing with potential gear failure (or loss) during these types of scenarios. If you are using a UQ, do you carry a backup CCF pad? Do you carry a barebones lightweight backup hammock and/or suspension? Likewise, do you carry a backup tarp or a bivy? In a group the risk is obviously much lower. Do you fend for yourself, or does the group have a backup plan that would work for everyone and allow the burden to be distributed?

    Thanks in advance for your insights!

  2. #2
    Peppy's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
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    Calamine, Arkansas
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    A pad can be a useful tool, as it can be used on the ground with your insulation on top in an emergency. I don't carry a backup tarp. I also don't usually take super UL gear which is fragile. My winter gear is usually a bit more bomb proof to try and avoid this problem.
    Lots of testing, good sight selection, and being aware of what's going on around you can go a long way.
    I'm looking forward to reading other responses here.
    Hammock Tourist / Hammock Fiend / Hammock Therapist

  3. #3
    Senior Member Strung out's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
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    Forest Lake, MN
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    DIY insulated
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    DIY Cuben hex
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    Amsteel
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    283
    I carry a ccf pad big enough to fill my pulk.
    Backup plan is to make a bed of pine boughs under pulk, ccf pad inside pulk, make a bed in there with UQ/tq and stay as comfortable as I can.
    Then just survive the night and get to safety the next day if possible.

    I also always carry enough extra cordage to replace any suspension that might fail in the field.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2017
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    Michigan
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    101
    Great thread!!! Learned a lot already. I have only extreme colded in the back yard or close to the truck. This is a good reminder that it is a different game if you are remote.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by vsiddhartha View Post
    I'm curious to know what folks do on deep backcountry cold-weather trips for a contingency plan should the hammock tear wide open, or suspension fail.
    If it's just a suspension failure or loss, I carry a 3 ounce bag that includes enough bits and pieces to make up a spare suspension.

    Otherwise, assuming the hammock itself totally failed and wasn't somehow salvageable and the repair stuff I carry won't suffice, I'd be in for an uncomfortable night but here's what I'd do:

    Best case, just bug out back to the car or at least back to a road where I can get picked up.

    If I can't and have to stay the night, then I'll look for a soft surface like leaves or pine needles. Over that will go my piece of tyvek as a ground cloth. I'll use the pad off my Mariposa somewhere underneath me and probably the pack as well, maybe under my legs. Any spare clothing I'm not wearing goes under me as well for insulation from the ground (along with those leaves and pinestraw). I'd also pull out the trash compactor bag and lie on that as well, maybe fill it with leaves or pinestraw. I might lie on my underquilt, probably would have to, but the tyvek and trash compactor bag are going to be under it and I'll have to hope I don't tear a hole in the quilt.

    Top quilt goes over me and the tarp is set low and tight as well.

    The next morning, I bug out back to the car or road as the case may be. It's not a perfect plan, but given what I normally carry, that's the best I can do to give myself a waterproof floor and some bit of insulation underneath.

    Interesting scenario that I hope never happens.

  6. #6
    cmoulder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Ossining, NY
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    DH Darien #6235, #7111
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    Why is risk lower in a group?

    Seems to me it depends on the skills, experience, fitness and preparation of each individual in the group, but even then more people can equate to more exposure to risk. Two times I've been in situations in the woods where people nearly got killed, one from hypothermia and one a fall, and both times it was directly related to one of those.

    Regards to gear failure, I'm pretty much with sidneyhornblower's contingency options, but the best thing is to carry quality gear that is in good working order and a repair kit, and be careful with your gear. Another option is to just pack up and start walking.

    All that said, I've done quite a few multi-day winter trips over the years, a fair number of them solo, and have never encountered the scenario in your opening post.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

    Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Leo Babauta

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Minnesota
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    SLD Trail Lair
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    DIY UCR-LoopDLoop
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    A backup netless hammock is small and light enough to be an option, in my opinion and experience. Backup or make-shift suspension can also be pretty straight-forward.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Brooklyn, NYC
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    Chameleon
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    Being realistic, should the unlikely happen, I'd just hike out. Again, realistically, I'm not 30+ miles in the absolute middle of nowhere and you most likely aren't either unless you happen to be deep in Alaska.

  9. #9
    In cold weather, I set up a top down fire before turning in. In case something goes wrong, you can light the fire and wait for daybreak in order to hike out. If nothing goes wrong, you can get up start the fire and then return to your hammock.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Savannah, Ga
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    11' SLD Lair
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    I always have an apex insulation piece, tyvek, dyneema poncho and a small sit pad of some kind.
    My plan was always to just use the tools I have and follow "Sydneyhornblower's" general
    plan. My planning has resolved around a maybe overnight and a max hike out of 7 or 8 hours
    after daylight. I am solo fly fishing blue lines so "wet and cold" bother me more than
    no hammock for the night. I switched from down to Apex insulation for my emergency setup after
    an almost overnighter in a creek bed wet and cold and egress point from creek bed was to far
    to wade after dark.

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