I have been wanting a new hammock kit for quite a while, it had been two years since I was last in the trees and, after two ground level trips earlier this year, I just had to get something for this fall and winter. I decided to give Wilderness Logics a try as I could get everything I needed from one manufacturer and I liked the sizing of his hammocks. It was also clear, from many on this forum, that his quaility and customer service is top notch.
On Monday October 8th, I finalized and placed my order for a hammock, tarp, overstuffed top and bottom quilts, and "lazy slugs" for the hammock. I was shocked when I received and email that Wednesday with a tracking number and, come Monday the 15th, I had everything in my hands. I wasted no time heading off to the woods the following day with all my new gear. The following is a report of the adventure.
My friend Greg (beekeeper here on the forum) has some nice woods, roughly 14 acres, on his farm in the lakes region of New Hampshire. I can go up there and camp whenever I want and it's only a 1/4 to 1/2-mile walk to my preferred camping spot on his property. It makes it a very convenient place to gear test, regardless of season, or to just escape city life.
It had been raining all weekend and a new weather front was moving through, the day just started to clear but the new weather pattern meant I had to deal with wind gusts of up to 40mph. I drive a lifted Jeep Wrangler on big tires and, at highway speeds, let's just it's easy to get blown around. There were a couple white knuckle spots on the drive north. However, by 10am, I had boots on Greg's farmland, making my way through his meadows to the wooded area. To get to my campsite, I have to cross a small brook but the brook was running very high this day and I still have not constructed a simple bridge yet in all the times I've been coming here. End of story, I had to get wet but this is why we pack extra socks.. right people?
I spent the next hour rigging lines and setting up camp. I packed the new gear from Wilderness Logics just as I received it and had simply thrown together a rigging bag consisting of random lengths of 2.2 and 1.75mm Zing-It and various Dutch Hardware along with two 0.70oz Camp Nano carabiners. By noon my camp was established and I had the new OldMan Winter tarp hanging proud in porch mode.
I spent the afternoon processing fire wood so I could have a nice campfire at night. "Tobit," you say "isn't that a bit irresponsible considering the windy conditions". Yes, it would be, however I had been monitoring the weather front and knew the wind would die down. Sure enough, by 5pm, mother nature had turned off her wind generator and at 6pm I made my small fire. I brewed some coffee using my brand new MicroRocket stove, another new piece of gear I tested today, and ate some homemade beef jerky for dinner.
I kept the fire going until roughly 11:30pm when I decided I was tired enough to lay down in the new hammock and see how she felt. I fell asleep fast but, for some reason, I woke three times to go water the flowers; 2am, 3:30am, and 5:30am but I managed to fall back asleep easily each time. At 8:45 in the morning, I slid out of the Night Owl and began my day.
I lazily brewed coffee, ate a freeze dried meal, and made a small fire to help dry out the camp from morning dew that blanketed the area while I slowly packed up camp. The morning was mostly uneventful and I was back home by 1pm.
Temperatures fell to 34F degrees. I was very comfortable at this temperature although I had a slight chill in the small of my back. I suspect I was hanging too low to the ground and, with my fat butt, was sagging just enough to compress the down in this area. I need to hang slightly higher next time, which will also make it easier for me to get out.
I loved the Night Owl hammock, I think 11' hammocks are perfect for me at 6' 2" tall and 280 lbs. It was very comfy and I almost got a perfectly flat lay. However, I think a little bit wider may be needed for me personally before I find perfection. I need to play with the hangs angle to the dangle a bit more but I just could not get my head and feet completely into their respective pseudo-pockets. Side sleeping was also a problem for me. I still need to experiment with it a bit more so, if you are a tall person, don't hold this against the hammock if you are considering buying one. I know people taller than I who are very comfortable in them and I was as well but I still need to play some more. Even with waking three times, I feel I had a very restful sleep.
No issues at all with the quilts, the XXL top quilt was almost perfect. It could have been a little bit longer, maybe one more baffle section, for me but this is only because I like to pull the quilt up over my head sometimes. It reached to my forehead in it's current configuration.
The OldMan Winter tarp is beautiful and I love the pole mod. However, I should have had him add some type of loop in the middle center of the tarp to keep the pole from sliding from side to side. It wasn't much of an issue though when pitched properly.
I am not certain I am sold on the do-it-all "Lazy Slug" approach to the Bishop Bag.. that is snaking the hammock and both quilts into a bag. Granted, this is my first time doing this, but it is a very bulky snake skin to try and cram into the bottom of my pack and them pile the rest of my gear onto it. Not to mention, once home, what do I do with this long bloated slug? I don't want to leave it in the pack, I have never been a fan of storing down quilts compressed. I need to do some more thinking here. It was nice packing everything up all at once but was it faster or easier? meh, I'm not so sure.
In general, I need to re-evaluate my gear in relation to bulk. My current winter backpack is almost 5500 cubes yet it didn't seem that big and I really wasn't carrying a lot of gear. Case in point, I loved the MicroRocket stove compared to what I normally carry, a minimalist alcohol stove. It boiled water much faster but the bulk of the fuel canister was awkward to how I normally pack. I also carried a Heineken can to use as a big coffee mug. I'd much rather sip on a big 24 oz. coffee rather than pack a small 8 or 12 oz. cup and brew two cups. I think what I will be doing instead, on this front, is finding a pot that will nest a 4 oz. canister and the stove, and switch to drinking tea instead of coffee. I only drink coffee when camping anyway.
If you read this far, I give you extra credit. Thanks for reading. Now on to what you really came here for, photos...