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  1. #1
    mountain_man_mike's Avatar
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    Hanging with a smile in CA

    Greetings to all from Clovis, California, gateway to the Sierras as the sign says. This is a reply I posted on another thread last week. My apologies for the prattling nature of it and I hope I don't put too many asleep.

    I have read many threads on this forum for a couple of years and a few days ago decided to register. Like others, I am an Assistant Scoutmaster in a local BSA troop (354, Sequoia Council) and love the outdoors.

    My trail to this site started a few years ago when our troop was planning a sectional trek of the JMT. We broke it down into a section each year for three summers and the first year had a project to build our own lightweight gear. I did a ton of research and found enormous inspriation from Ray Jardine, Mark Jurey and others. I contacted some suppliers and some were fantastic about saving us money, with some even donating product for our project. We made several silnylon tarps and quilts inspired by Ray Jardine. Thanks to Mark Jurey, we found inspiration to make our own wood stoves and alcohol stoves which are incredible. I have used the same penny alcohol stove for 4 years now and it has out performed all others. We also found ways to dry our food instead of using the freeze dried stuff at sporting goods stores and by actually cooking the food it is fantastic. I always bring a little more than I can eat to share with others and believe me if you like meat in your dinner drying your own food will make your taste buds do a dance. We have also fashioned an oven from foil and baked birthday cakes on the trail. There is something special about baking a chocolate cake with raspberry glaze 5 days into a hike. Most of the area we hike in California requires (or at least strongly encourages) using a bear cannister, so we are blessed with an additional 2 lbs. 9 oz. of bear protection that if padded makes a decent campfire seat. Even with the bear cannister, I am able to get everything I need (less water) for a nine day trek under 27 pounds.

    All the lightweight stuff in the world didn't make my back, knees or hips feel any better and there is only so much brandy I am willing to haul. Anybody who has ever got into making their own gear knows it becomes somewhat of an addiction... ok, no meetings, but an avid interest? Right after our troop had an overnighter on the USS Hornet I took a gander at hammocks. True, the ones on a WWII carrier are not going to be found in today's world, but that thought of "man, that was the best 3 hours of sleep I have had in a long time" thought kept ringing in my mind. I had a 5am watch as part of the ship's program. I sifted through many, many of the threads you folks put together and built my own hammock which was fantastic. It was navy blue 1.9 ripstop with bright yellow nylon rope as the suspension. The yellow rope was used because a) I already had a couple 50' runs of it and b) it fit into the color scheme (my son is a Sea Bee). I sewed in the side tie outs and popped the lines out a few times before using a thick rubber band to give it some stretch. I whipped the rope so that the whipping was also the suspension, all one piece. True to form the rope stretched a lot, making it real tough to set, but that aside the comfort was worth it. I have since gone to straps from a Harbor Freight ratchet system and the stretch problem vanished as did the tough to remove knots. My beloved blue & gold bit the dust after the last section of the JMT where I incorporated the ends of the hammock into my homemade pack, using them as shoulder straps. This old scouter sweats a lot and I really think the constant sweat combined with the strain contributed to it biting the dust. I found one on e-Bay for $13 (a supplier out of Hong Kong and he still has them at super low prices, shipping costs reduced for multiple purchases). I have a hard time finding the material for that price so I bought 3 of them. They hold me quite well but I am going to sew in the side tie outs to help with the lie flat thing. I am also looking at more progressive suspension systems but since there are times that I hike in areas above tree line and no large boulders to tie to I (ugh!) need to have the flexibility to go on the ground. I am fortunate not to have the massive bug situation many forum members deal with. I have yet to be in an area where the mosquito net over me head will not do.

    If anybody has suggestions for a suspension system lighter than 40 grams per end I would appreciate hearing from you. I am not an extreme gram weenie, but I appreciate the merits of it to a point. Being a scouter, we are always budget aware and if it can be made at home or from another item I am all for it.

    Cripes!! Did I blab like a teenage girl on a sleepover or what? Sorry to those who had to endure that.

    Thanks for all the useful information and maybe someday I can pay it forward.

    Mike


    ps- No photos, gallery or in depth information... well, because I am just not that sharp... blessings to all

  2. #2
    Senior Member VegaMike's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard, Mike! Neat that the USS Hornet sleeping accommodations inspired you make your own hammock!
    ..Mike the Weed Warrior bio // Think globally, act locally: Remove an invasive plant

  3. #3
    mountain_man_mike's Avatar
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    to VegaMike:

    Quote Originally Posted by VegaMike View Post
    Welcome aboard, Mike! Neat that the USS Hornet sleeping accommodations inspired you make your own hammock!

    There was a DEFCON 5 fear of getting squashed by the scoutmaster and another parent sleeping directly above me. They tipped in at about #650 combined.

    The hammock is the only way I want to camp and this forum has so many incredibly bright and sharing folks as members.

  4. #4

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    Welcome aboard - it sounds as if you're off to a great start!

    Did you see the thread recently from a member who visited HMS Victory and admired the different hammocks there?

  5. #5
    mountain_man_mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayS View Post
    Welcome aboard - it sounds as if you're off to a great start!

    Did you see the thread recently from a member who visited HMS Victory and admired the different hammocks there?
    Thanks for mentioning that one. The crew hammocks are closer to what I use. I hadn't noticed it until you mentioned it. Navigating my way around a website is a lot tougher than navigating through the outdoors, but I am making progress (baby steps).

    That's a real "what are the odds" sort of thing. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Howdy neighbor. (I can't decide if I'm Clovis or Sanger, sort of in between.)

    I have been doing sections of the JMT and having fun with the ground and tree versatility - I have pretty much accepted that to sleep well I will need certain items in the list for good, whether they are the lightest out there or not. I manage a fairly consistent pack weight of about 25 lbs. for three season hikes. (bear can too, if I need it.)

    Planning more hikes all the time... let me know if you're interested in anything out toward Dinkey/Courtright, I am so wanting to head over Hell for Sure into Goddard but that may have to wait til next year.... Sounds like snowshoeing is about to start!

    Good on you for the effort you put into your kit and getting the kids out in the wilderness. Our SAR team sometimes has compass classes for Scouts.

  7. #7
    mountain_man_mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lori View Post
    Howdy neighbor. (I can't decide if I'm Clovis or Sanger, sort of in between.)

    I have been doing sections of the JMT and having fun with the ground and tree versatility - I have pretty much accepted that to sleep well I will need certain items in the list for good, whether they are the lightest out there or not. I manage a fairly consistent pack weight of about 25 lbs. for three season hikes. (bear can too, if I need it.)

    Planning more hikes all the time... let me know if you're interested in anything out toward Dinkey/Courtright, I am so wanting to head over Hell for Sure into Goddard but that may have to wait til next year.... Sounds like snowshoeing is about to start!

    Good on you for the effort you put into your kit and getting the kids out in the wilderness. Our SAR team sometimes has compass classes for Scouts.

    Hey Lori!

    Our troop has a family from Sanger in it. It sounds like you are in the Clovis Lakes area. Hell for sure is an awesome pass and from what I am told easier from the Courtright side than Goddard canyon side. The bugs are thick at Fleming usually though. We did a weekender out of Wishon, looping to Spanish Lake about a year ago. The trail was tough to follow with all the snowfall, but is was really scenic. A couple of us also did a little snowshoe trip from Badger to Dewey Point last February and that was fun.

    That pack of yours at 25 pounds including food and bear can is awesome! I haven't been able to get the total pack weight to less than 26 lbs. for an extended hike and figured 27 for a full load of 9 days was pretty good.

    I might want to coordinate a compass class for our troop. We got a bunch of enthusiastic young boys a few months ago and by spring they will be ready to learn orienteering.

  8. #8
    Poppabear's Avatar
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    Welcome to HF this is the best place there is to learn about lightweight hammock gear.
    Terry

  9. #9
    lizzie's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums from So Cal - There are quite a few folks on here in your neck of the woods; you've come aboard with a splash having made a lot of gear already

  10. #10
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    So good to see more West Coast entries now. Welcome to the HF. Many of the advances in hammock construction have happened and been shared by HF members with DIY efforts. I also like that most of the hammock sellers are small independent companies that build in the USA. Happy to see you are working with young campers.

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