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  1. #1
    Member Quake_gl's Avatar
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    Question Back to hammocking , advice needed...

    Hello everyone, thanks for tuning in.
    Summer is coming, preparations for backcountry-worthiness in full gear!

    I am going back to hammocking for my next trip.
    Here is my history:

    I started backpacking solo month long trips with a hammock and tarp about 4 years ago.
    I had an underquilt for bottom insulation. Some nights i had trouble sleeping comfortably. Although the UQ was rated properly for those night's temp (i think it was a 40 F incubator) i felt chilly at times. Especially troublesome were some windy nights.
    Now, in the end of trips, i had got a better understanding of how to cinch and suspend tightly properly the UQ, and it was better a bit. Still felt a bit underwhelmed.

    Now, i think a lot of that might have been that i was a beginner. Since then i have advanced reasonably and i am confident that i can set tarp better and choose better places to camp , so i am confident i will have a better time. But i learned early how important is the loss of heat from wind when hammocking.

    I then went on for the next two years and tried ground sleeping, with bivy and tarp. I wanted to see how it worked and compare, plus it was lighter and a bit cheaper setup to have.
    Now i want to go back to hammocking (at least for the area my next trip will be).
    I have learned well the limitation of the bivy: hard to find camp spots.
    I wasted many hours looking for proper spots. And i do not hike in trail designated areas, but more wild places, so the ground there is untouched rough.
    Finding a place that has proper trees apart for a tarp and then a relatively flat ground for the bivy underneath, is a pain...
    I also have appreciated the fact that with the hammock ground does not matter, plus you are not pinched down in a small bivy.

    The problems i had with hammocking:
    - Too fiddly, i constantly was making adjustments in tree straps, whoopies, UQ slings, tarp tieouts, it was endless... I am a bit of a nerd and try to test whats best... Now i am more skilled at making a camp, so i hope i will not be sweating this as much.
    - Wind issue, i still am worried that in bad weather nights, i might not enjoy much, given i do not have a tarp with doors.
    - Adjusting UQ, suffice to say this is specific to the model of UQ, but i need to be confident that i can hang an UQ and get a proper seal.

    So my question is, now that i will be buying a new UQ to head out there again, what advice you have? Has anything changed in terms of tech in those three years?
    I have not been following the scene. What UQ do you recommend that has good suspension?
    You still recommend down, or Apex is good enough? And Dutch UP insulation? Is it good?
    Any European UQ stores you recommend?

    The area of my next trip is north Europe.

    Thanks a lot for reading!
    Stay sharp.

  2. #2
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    I might recommend an underquilt protector in your situation. It will help retain heat and prevent wind gusts from blowing it out. Its also a ground sheet if you need to go to ground.

    For fiddliness, just get rid of things that are fiddly. Whoopie slings are fiddly, so I got rid of them and went back to just tying a knot onto a loop. Tarp guylines are fiddly, so mine all have elastic loops tied in for automatic tension. Underquilts are fiddly, so i switched mine out for a custom clew suspension and have it sized exactly for the actual hammock i actually use. No UQ adjustments are necessary in the field. Etc.

    I don't have a tarp with doors either, but i've been through wind and rain and seem to do okay without the underquilt protector or a bigger tarp.

    Best wishes on your adventures!

  3. #3
    DocTheo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leiavoia View Post
    I might recommend an underquilt protector in your situation. It will help retain heat and prevent wind gusts from blowing it out. Its also a ground sheet if you need to go to ground.

    For fiddliness, just get rid of things that are fiddly. Whoopie slings are fiddly, so I got rid of them and went back to just tying a knot onto a loop. Tarp guylines are fiddly, so mine all have elastic loops tied in for automatic tension. Underquilts are fiddly, so i switched mine out for a custom clew suspension and have it sized exactly for the actual hammock i actually use. No UQ adjustments are necessary in the field. Etc.

    I don't have a tarp with doors either, but i've been through wind and rain and seem to do okay without the underquilt protector or a bigger tarp.

    Best wishes on your adventures!
    I'll second what Leiavoia said here. When I first got into hammock camping, I got the first rig I could find on my budget, which was an ENO without a bugnet. Admittedly, options were limited as were my finances. I soon after got into the Hennessy hammock and bought the 4 season setup - which didn't really work in 4 seasons, but that's another story entirely. As I progressed on this journey, I really got into the fiddle factor and rather enjoyed the nerdy aspect of it. The more I camped and hiked, the more I began to look at something that was fairly easy, comfortable, and set up the same way every time with minimal tweaking. Some of this is practice with the gear I've bought, and some of this was converting back to basics - knots instead of hardware, shock cord loops instead of tied guy lines on tarps. I use Dutch's ridgeline because it's a hook and a hardware clinch, no tying involved to string the tarp. The less I have to fiddle and tweak, the happier I am at the end of the day.

    Also +1 on the UQP - I've discovered that it adds a fair amount of warmth on windy nights and it also keeps my down dry, which are both Good Things in my opinion. Others do fine without it. (And I do have a tarp with doors, for what that's worth)

    As always, HYOH and figure out what works for you - welcome back to the world of the aerial sleepers!
    Medical professional, semi-professional Scouter, aspiring layabout.
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  4. #4
    cougarmeat's Avatar
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    Tarp with doors issue - unless you are planning for winter camping or live where there are hellacious storms, doors are seldom necessary. I used a basic Hex and tarp with under quilt protector for years. The UQP helps if you are alone and can’t see the fit when you are in the hammock - it makes the setup less critical. If you do get a bit of blowing rain, you can hang your rain gear at the tarp opening toward the weather for blockage.

    UQ fit - if you get an UQ, like Hammock Gear sells, with a differential cut, the bottom will be fuller than the top so you can snug it up to the hammock bottom and not worry about compressing the down. In one of Shug’s videos, he demonstrates how he likes his UQ to be tight enough to lift the hammock a bit when he is not in it.

    Fiddly factor - If you are constantly changing hammock and UQ’s there can be some … adjustment … each time. First, be sure to put a structural ridgeline on your hammock. Once you have that ridgeline, you will always have the same sag (given that you setup with that ridgeline just snug). So no more fiddling to getting the desired sag. Having the same sag allows you to set the tightness of your UQ suspension. Once set -no more fiddling with that. So now all need to do it attach it to trees. Toss out the Whoopie slings and get a set of daisy chain or webbing. With Daisy chain you just wrap around the tree (use a Dutch Clip or EVO loop if desired) and clip in to your best estimate for a loop. Then go to the other side and clip into a loop there so your hammock ridgeline is just snug.

    Now your fiddly-factor has been reduced to wrapping around the tree and clipping in a carabiner. With a little practice, your eyes will “see” the distance you need and pick the right trees. Also, you know for that distance, how high you attach the webbing or daisy chain. The first pass is to just get it up. Then you sit in it and see if you need to raise or lower the straps on the tree.

    I made a small continuous loop that I can put in system when I want to adjust a “half loop” step in the daisy chain.
    In order to see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone. And DO what few have done.

  5. #5
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    It is not uncommon in the hammock learning curve to experiment with options. But finding a system you like and sticking with it will make things easier in the long run as familiarity grows.

    I use an 11' hex tarp with no doors and find that as long as the tarp is pitched right down to the hammock's SRL with side panels angled at 45° that the weather protection is pretty darn good. And of course this also greatly reduces wind robbing heat from the UQ. If wind direction is consistent, I can even pitch in porch mode and still remain fairly dry.

    As far as UQ adjustment, once you find perfect adjustment with the shock cords, it is possible to use some slipped overhand knots to set the position for consistent deployment.

    Very windy, but a calm haven behind the tarp! :::
    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

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  6. #6

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    Too Fiddly:Practice Makes Permanent. Find a system you are reasonably comfortable with and then practice until you find the process boring! My first few times out I was nudging straps one way or another, making micro adjustments etc all for nothing. It's not that complicated, although some of the formulas make it sound like there's a perfect mathematical solution to hanging a hammock. I recently switched to the Beckett hitch. I kept my hammock and suspension in my car: anytime I had the opportunity I got out and practiced setting it up. I used to fiddle with it, now I have to adjust the location of the hitch or straps maybe once. I watched cmoulder set his up in about 45 seconds...but he has a few more years experience than me!

    Tarp/Wind: orient tarp to block the wind. Rig it close to the hammock's ridge line if weather is unpleasant, higher if it's calm and you want more of an open feeling. Again, practice. I can't recall ever pitching a tarp before I got into hammocking and it took maybe 4 trips to the park to practice to get the basics figured out. I'm impatient and not good with knots, so I use Linelocs. I have two tarps, one with doors one without. I can see the benefit of the doors in a storm or in very cold weather. I could take them or leave them for the types of trips I take....not going to purposely head out into stormy weather.

    UQ: I like down and lighter weight fabrics for compressibility. If I lived in a wet/humid environment, I might go synthetic. I'm very happy with my Hammock Gear UQs. The suspension is pretty straightforward, the price seems competitive and the customer service is excellent. If you search "Hammock Gear Underquilt adjustment" Shug has a demonstration of how to adjust. The UQ might be the least fiddly part of my rig: I clip it in, adjust the suspension so it 'lifts' the hammock a bit, make sure the ends are relatively closed down with the cinch cord and go to sleep. There is a little side to side shift during the night as you move around, but I just reach over and adjust it, as I would adjust the sheets on my bed when I roll over. Again, Shug's videos demonstrate this pretty well.

  7. #7
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    I remember reading somewhere the advice to have someone approximately your size lay in the hammock, and then you adjust the underquilt to fit snugly. Supposed to take a lot of the back and forth fiddling out of the equation.

    From others with more experience: any truth to that?

  8. #8
    Member Hang Williams's Avatar
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    I'm pretty much brand new to this so YMMV, but I got a superior insulated hammock (incl. 12' tarp w/ doors) for my wife's main kit and me to take in the winter. It shipped to my parents' house, so besides inspecting contents there was no opportunity to test it out before going backpacking with my wife on her second ever trip. Set it up for the first time in the field as close to straight out of the box as you can get. Setup took about 10 minutes, mostly with me trying to guesstimate 83% for the adjustable ridgeline length before realizing I had a 9'3" fly rod already out. My wife climbed in at night while I watched the fire die and was asleep within an hour and didn't wake up until I had the fire going in the morning. So, again, only my $0.02 without having slept in it yet myself, but my wife was pretty happy with the hammock even commenting how much nicer/easier it was than the tent.

  9. #9
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmveets View Post
    I remember reading somewhere the advice to have someone approximately your size lay in the hammock, and then you adjust the underquilt to fit snugly. Supposed to take a lot of the back and forth fiddling out of the equation.

    From others with more experience: any truth to that?
    Yes, there's some truth to it, but what do you do if you're out for an afternoon playing with setup and don't have someone to assist? If all you're doing is adjusting the quilt ends for drafts it's easy enough to reach the cord locks, maybe without even getting out of the hammock for 'shortie' UQs, and play with various adjustments to see what works. Most times you'll find there's a fairly generous range between crab sphincter tight and completely floppy loose where it'll work reasonably well in most conditions... cold weather will quickly identify any necessary tweaks. For main suspension, tighten it enough to lift hammock+TQ a bit.

    Early on I benefitted greatly from Shug's video on the topic and have never needed any further instruction on the matter. I agree with Bobonli that this (and, I'd add, many other aspects of hammocking) are not nearly as complicated as they might seem.

    And I'll confess it took me a while to figure that out... there's a lot of obsessing over things that aren't all that critical.
    Last edited by cmoulder; 05-14-2021 at 07:25.
    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

    “To equip a pedestrian with shelter, bedding, utensils, food, and other necessities, in a pack so light and small that he can carry it without overstrain, is really a fine art.” ~ Horace Kephart, 1906

  10. #10
    Member Quake_gl's Avatar
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    I will add, i do have a structural ridgeline in my hammock. The adjustment that i do usually are the whoopie slings.
    I have some nice whoopies with dutch hooks, they are light and not sure i want to change.
    My tarp also has full length central ridgeline.
    Suspending on the trees is easy.
    I do not tie any knots.
    The only problem i have sometimes are the ground tie-outs, but i will look into it.
    If i go to a daisy chain or other suspension for hammock how much weight penalty there will be?
    Also, what to do with my leftover whoopies in that case? I can hardly sell them here, nobody uses hammocks, especially the high quality ones.

    I have my eye on SLD Trail Winder UQ.
    I like that it has fabric that hugs the hammock, should make easier to set right.
    Also, it will go well with my SLD trail lair.
    What do you think?
    Stay sharp.

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