The Following is an episode of utter catastrophe. If you were expecting a detailed review of a cool new hammock tent concept, well thought and constructed, rich with images and detailed explanation .... then read no further.
4 months. 4 whole months of my time and devotion. I talked about it. I sketched it. I even made not 1 ... but 8 miniature scale models in paper.
I explored 3 full size models using scraps of my enormous blue tarp and ate up countless hours fiddling with different pitching angles and how and where I would place tie outs.
It began with a grossly huge blue poly tarp I bought in a yard sale. I used it several times this summer for my multi-hammock family hang setup. But all of this .... all of this was but a predecessor to the much bigger and more grand idea.
I scored a last minute Ebay deal and was able to pick up a Kelty Noah tarp 16ftx16ft for under 50 bucks with shipping. As I waited weeks for it to make its way to me via Canada's archaic, *******ized postal system, my wheels were in full motion for how I would modify this tarp to suit my needs. Here I had a huge square tarp, cat-cut on four sides. When it arrived I moved out everything in my garage and began the transformation. Marking, pinning, trimming, a tie-out here, a new seam there, 2 velcro doors ...installing the fireproof stove jack... etc etc.
Long story short, I swindled and whined for all I was worth and sent the whole rig to my sister to get professionally sewn seams that would be strong and straight ... unlike my own DIY skills. More weeks of waiting. And then it was ready. In all its glory.
I had transformed a Kelty Noah tarp into what I hoped would become my winter basecamp shelter + hammock barracks for 2 people. It was beautiful. Okay so I am biased here.... it wasn't gorgeous, but it was the nicest piece of DIY gear I ever made, and certainly the biggest.
70-some square feet of fully enclosed living space. 5ft 6" high at the ridge. This thing was a beast. The goal of this project was to create a shelter
large enough to house and entertain a large group of hikers during nasty winter weather. In my limited testing the space was easily heated to beyond habitable hell-like inferno temperatures by my Ti-goat Lrg stove. I wanted the shelter to perform double duty by allowing 1 or 2 people to use it as sleeping quarters. There was so much space, this shelter could have easily housed several more ground dwellers. This would be perfect if someone was testing a winter rig, or had gear failure and needed somewhere warm as a backup option. All said and done, Including enough tie-outs and stakes to survive the worst winds that canadian winters could throw at her (so I thought).... the whole rig weighed in at 4 lbs 7oz.
So where are all the pics Turk? Let us see the progression of this project. Me, looking for maximum dramatic effect, hoarded away all my pics during the 4 months of production. Not a word did I whisper on any of the forums I frequent. I thought to make a grand appeal to the masses by waiting and constructing in secret... and unveiling only when I could show quality field test results in conditions that would unquestionably show proof of concept.
Well that little streak of vanity sure cost me....
Last weekend I was fieldtesting the rig on the north shore of Superior. A bad storm blew in Friday night. Winds gusted in excess of 55 mph. Temps were around 38-39 deg F. I don't know what that feels like when you factor in wind chill. But cold enough I can promise.
Thunder boomed overhead, big rains. inland lakes flooded. A couple of beaver dams let go and the trans canada highway was washed out in 3 places behind me. No travel on the highway for almost a day. My hammock tent survived .. but barely. I had discovered several major flaws that I was a bit moody over. Namely, I had not thought of separate guy-outs for my stove chimney. Being cautious with DIY gear, I dismantled my stove during the storm after the chimney tore itself loose from the stove. Luckily I didn't burn anything. But that also meant no heat that night. I spent most of the night searching in the dark for heavy objects to put on top of my stakes as they kept working loose in the soft sandy soil. Not a fun time. Got some great pics inside the tent though. My other beef was with my velcro door closures. In heavy winds they were just not strong enough to stay closed. I should have trusted my gut instinct and went with velcro AND ties.
My choice of location was very poor. I was on an exposed bluff hanging
from two groves of tightly packed birch trees, the only ones in a wide area.
This put my hammock tent at full broadside to the storm coming in off of
On the second morning I spent several hours moving my whole camp to an
only slightly better location. I was about 20 degrees less broadside to the
wind, and the soil was perfect for holding my new DIY UBER-long 14" snow stakes I was testing for the first time. The rains had died off, but the wind was relentless. Setting up in that gale took a loooong time. I finally got everyting battened down and bomb-proof, getting ready for my second night. This time I would have company. I was testing out my Panda hammock and also brought my ENO single for my brother to use. That night the winds picked up again. Again, I dismantled the stove to prevent any accidents. With two hammock in the shelter I was a bit apprehensive with how close one hammock was to the hot stove pipe. Again I got some great pictures.
That night the winds ripped through my hammock tent and shredded it like
it was tissue paper. All my stakes held fast. All my tie-outs stayed drum taunt. Even my sewn seams weathered the battering without so much as a loose stitch. But when the fabric failed it shredded right down the middle. In the blink of an eye one whole wall got airborne and basically inflated my whole shelter like a balloon. This lasted maybe a minute before it let go in several more places and made one long jagged ribbon of the whole thing.
The remainder of that night shall remain forever buried in memory. I won't even speak of how terrible it was. My stove was damaged and parts were eventually found hundreds of yards away. My brand new camera, the same one containing every picture I had taken since day 1 of this project somehow got stepped on in the chaos of the tent ripping itself to pieces. It was partially crushed and soaked with dew when found in the morning. Several pieces of expensive clothing were never found. Some small items were lost or broken.
And what did I have to show for it ....... nada .... zip .... zilch.
A ruined hammock tent, damaged and lost gear .... and not a single picture
to share with anyone. My one consolation prize .... a single gritty picture my brother snapped on a disposable camera on the second night just to finish the roll. So here it is ..... enjoy
I will be starting over ....... not for awhile. I am still to mad about it.
But I have new ideas..... things I wish I had done on the first one. Things I could have done better...
So it wasn't all for nothing I guess. I will try again. Maybe in a month or two.
In the mean time ... JRB had a surprise for me .. one that will fully occupy my free time.
thanks for letting me vent.