Oh yeah, and buy an underquilt.
My best advice would be to listen to what others are doing. Don't go out thinking you can reinvent the wheel. Not saying that new ideas don't come around from time to time. But, there are reasons why certain suspensions, insulations, ridgelines, tarps, ect. are so popular; they work! Those that have come before you have tested and perfected many of these systems so you don't have to. Once you have a fully functional rig that you are comfortable with, then think about experimenting with something new. Who knows maybe you'll build a better mouse trap.
Oh! And just in case no one has mentioned it yet, the Under Quilt is the only way to go, it's like sleeping on a cloud. Though my prefference is synthetic UQ, all other insulation (TQ mainly) should of the magical goosey goodness variety; 800FP or better.
"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato
This thread abounds with the wonders of underquilts. A few years ago the same enthusiasm was shown for ccf pads and pad extenders. There were posts then about the disadvantages of pads, but I think the cost of alternatives slowed things down quite a bit. Today there are plenty of posts about the difficulty of adjusting underquilt suspensions (just not in this thread). Alternatives, such as down air matresses and insulated hammocks have been tried and praised by some. It remains to be seen if they will become the next great thing.
Newbies, pay attention to what works and what doesn't work. That is, use this forum wisely. It's a fantastic resource. Don't be an early adapter (or worse, an inventor - leave that to us idiots who can't help ourselves. )
Wish us all luck. Enjoy the outdoors.
i like having worked through the changes the last 4 1/2 years. i tried everything people thought of good or not so good. i think it gives you a better understanding of the evolution of the hammock.
i started using a hammock so i would not have to sleep on the hard ground. it works and has openned up many adventures i may have not tried.
"Tenting is equivalent to a bum crawling into a cardboard box, hammocking is an art" KK
If you are doing any cold weather camping, get a larger tarp with doors. Will help keep you warmer.
Exercise, eat right, die anyway -- Country Roads bumper sticker
Fall seven times, standup eight. -- Japanese Proverb
When I started off about 3 years ago I was using a catalyst all year round including summer time and it was filled. Now I am using a CDT and have room to spare. If their is anything that I have learned is that nothing is as valuable as trial and error (of course in safe conditions) meaning get out their and try it all, make it to group hangs to see what you like and do not like, read read and read up on this forum and do not get caught up in the newest greatest thing and instead do lots of research and make decision on your own that will fit your hiking style the best. And it's not always about hiking the most miles or having the lightest gear but just getting out. The miles and the weight saving will come with time and experience. Welcome to the world above ground.
Sometimes I like to hike and think, And sometimes I just like to hike.
Hiking is'ent about waiting for the storm to pass its about learning to hike in the rain.