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  1. #1
    Scoutmaster Troop 615
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    First real hammock camping experience...not quite there

    I had my first real hammock camping experience this past weekend. I'd used a hammock previously for four nights, but had tent backup on those outings just in case. This past weekends Scout outing, I went with just the hammock and tarp. Things didn't go as expected.

    The weather for the weekend was supposed to be PERFECT! Sunny during the day with highs in the upper 60's to low 70's, evenings into the low 40's. we were car camping, so I wasn't worried about weight or volume of gear. Get to camp, get things set up, put down a tent foot print under the hammock and tarp just to have a place to rest my stuff so it didn't get wet from the ground. I was in a hurry and just pulled out the foot print and staked it out. Tarp was already set up as was hammock. While we were eating dinner, we heard thunder in the distance. Looked up to see nothing but blue sky. Mmmmm...that's odd. Heard another rumble of thunder. Just as I was reaching for my phone to check the weather, my wife calls. She says there was a tornado that touched down near our house (she's fine...wasn't that close to us), and it appears that the storm is headed our way. Another rumble of thunder growls in the distance.

    We get the boys to batten down the hatches. I look at my shoddily rigged tarp and decide I better take down the hammock and put it into a plastic bin. If the tarp goes, I don't want my bed getting wet! About 10 mins later, the camp site siren blows to shelter in place. Our site has a cabin, so we round up the boys and some nearby campers and get them inside. About 10 mins later, the skies open up and just DUMP rain. The really heavy stuff arrives in waves as the storm cells move quickly on their path. Storm lasts around 2.5 hours. We never get the flying monkey-type weather, but we end up with several inches of rain in a short period of time. Needless to say, the camp grounds are soaked...some sections are under water.

    I go to check my stuff after the main rains have passed. The tarp held! Unfortunately, I've made a really stupid mistake. I wasn't careful setting up the footprint. It extended out beyond the tarp edge...so, water flowed from the tarp, down onto the foot print and pooled under where I was sleeping. GGGRREEAATT!!!!

    By the time I get the Scouts situated and camp put back together, it's close to 1am. I re set my hammock and crawl into it. Seems I didn't have the angle adjusted properly. Dang it! Get out, re-position, and it's better, but not quite right. End up saying, screw it, I'll be fine. I don't feel like messing around with it anymore. I'm beat and just want to go to sleep. Turns out, it wasn't fine. I ended up tossing and turning for the next four hours until it was time to get up. Not a good night. Had the foot section a bit too high, so I couldn't get a flat or comfortable position.

    Lessons learned:
    More practice in the back yard. I was nervous about my setup and didn't trust that the tarp would hold. That trust will come with practice (and maybe some Dutch-ware )

    Don't bother with a footprint.

    Get a ridge line.

    Need to figure out where to put my stuff so that it's covered by the tarp and protected from big rain.

    Also need to figure out how to get changed around Scouts without a tent.

    Bruce
    Last edited by bdaabat; 10-23-2012 at 22:06.

  2. #2
    miyanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdaabat View Post
    I had my first real hammock camping experience this past weekend. I'd used a hammock previously for four nights, but had tent backup on those outings just in case. This past weekends Scout outing, I went with just the hammock and tarp. Things didn't go as expected.

    The weather for the weekend was supposed to be PERFECT! Sunny during the day with highs in the upper 60's to low 70's, evenings into the low 40's. we were car camping, so I wasn't worried about weight or volume of gear. Get to camp, get things set up, put down a tent foot print under the hammock and tarp just to have a place to rest my stuff so it didn't get wet from the ground. I was in a hurry and just pulled out the foot print and staked it out. Tarp was already set up as was hammock. While we were eating dinner, we heard thunder in the distance. Looked up to see nothing but blue sky. Mmmmm...that's odd. Heard another rumble of thunder. Just as I was reaching for my phone to check the weather, my wife calls. She says there was a tornado that touched down near our house (she's fine...wasn't that close to us), and it appears that the storm is headed our way. Another rumble of thunder growls in the distance.

    We get the boys to batten down the hatches. I look at my shoddily rigged tarp and decide I better take down the hammock and put it into a plastic bin. If the tarp goes, I don't want my bed getting wet! About 10 mins later, the camp site siren blows to shelter in place. Our site has a cabin, so we round up the boys and some nearby campers and get them inside. About 10 mins later, the skies open up and just DUMP rain. The really heavy stuff arrives in waves as the storm cells move quickly on their path. Storm lasts around 2.5 hours. We never get the flying monkey-type weather, but we end up with several inches of rain in a short period of time. Needless to say, the camp grounds are soaked...some sections are under water.

    I go to check my stuff after the main rains have passed. The tarp held! Unfortunately, I've made a really stupid mistake. I wasn't careful setting up the footprint. It extended out beyond the tarp edge...so, water flowed from the tarp, down onto the foot print and pooled under where I was sleeping. GGGRREEAATT!!!!

    By the time I get the Scouts situated and camp put back together, it's close to 1am. I re set my hammock and crawl into it. Seems I didn't have the angle adjusted properly. Dang it! Get out, re-position, and it's better, but not quite right. End up saying, screw it, I'll be fine. I don't feel like messing around with it anymore. I'm beat and just want to go to sleep. Turns out, it wasn't fine. I ended up tossing and turning for the next four hours until it was time to get up. Not a good night. Had the foot section a bit too high, so I couldn't get a flat or comfortable position.

    Lessons learned:
    More practice in the back yard. I was nervous about my setup and didn't trust that the tarp would hold. That trust will come with practice (and maybe some Dutch-ware )

    Don't bother with a footprint.

    Get a ridge line.

    Need to figure out where to put my stuff so that it's covered by the tarp and protected from big rain.

    Also need to figure out how to get changed around Scouts without a tent.

    Bruce
    sounds like one of my scout trips. Its also the best way to learn. The other day somebody asked me what I thought about them doing something stupid and I said we all do stupid things the important part is not to repeat it. Either way I say good times.
    A special thanks to Dream Hammocks, Dutchware. BIAS and Hammockforums.net for donating to our Secret Santa.

    Uwharrie hang in March https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/...ad.php?t=83029

  3. #3
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Yeah, lose the footprint - it's a relic of tent camping. Due to some pesky, thieving red squirrels in the Adirondacks, I've started hanging everything from my hammock ridgeline - nothing on the ground. If it's raining hard I can put my pack cover over the pack and it stops blowing rain from coming inside.

  4. #4
    JaxHiker's Avatar
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    Live and learn. I carry a small piece of Tyvek. Even if your gear is hanging it's nice to be able to have someplace to put your feet if you're lounging or something to stand on while dressing before you have your shoes on.
    JaxHiker aka Kudzu - WFA
    Florida Trail Association: NE FL Trail Coordinator (Gold Head to Stephen Foster)
    Trail Issues? Please let me know.
    Blazing Trails with Kudzu @ www.idratherbehiking.com
    Follow me @idratherbhiking

  5. #5
    Scoutmaster Troop 615
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    I believe i also really need to get my gear quantity down. That is going to be challenging! I got used to packing in all sorts of stuff for ground camping (e.g., full size pillow, lots of extra clothes, extra sleeping bag, back ups of back ups )

    Yes, on this hammock only outing, I really did bring along a dustpan and brush...was left in my camping kit.

    Bruce

  6. #6
    JaxHiker's Avatar
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    You need an intervention.

    Give us a gear list. I bet we can whittle it down.
    JaxHiker aka Kudzu - WFA
    Florida Trail Association: NE FL Trail Coordinator (Gold Head to Stephen Foster)
    Trail Issues? Please let me know.
    Blazing Trails with Kudzu @ www.idratherbehiking.com
    Follow me @idratherbhiking

  7. #7
    New Member TooManyProjects's Avatar
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    Different State, Similiar boat

    Bruce - That sounds like the same line of storms that woke us up at 4:30am on Saturday. It gave us some grief as well. Glad to hear everyone there got a decent amount of warning and could prep.

    I was on my first true backpacking trip in Northeast PA, and had hung my pack from a tree and covered it. Our hammocks held up really well (we both have HH Safaris), but the pack cover let me down and my pack was soaked. I had been relying way too much on the weather forecast from that morning (no cell reception where we were so no updates), and had ignored one of the old rules I learned in the scouts: put your clothes in a garbage bag. Luckily everything in and under my hammock was dry, so I was still able to enjoy the weekend.

    I did numerous test hangs in my basement, and had two trips earlier in the summer as a warmup for this (car camping with just my fully geared up pack and day hikes), and I still missed/realized a ton of things that I should change. I also realized my Safari is awesome, but I need a way lighter/less cumbersome rig for the trail.

    I've only been at this for one camping season, but I'm coming to the conclusion that I'll forever be tweaking/changing/fixing. I think that's part of the fun. My pack for the 25 mile/2.5 day/2 night trip was 40lbs on the dot with food and water. My new goal is 30lbs or less.

    It sounds like you're well on your way. The ridge line helps a ton for getting the hang right, and the rest will come from controlled trial and error. I highly recommend car camping trips where you pack/behave like a backpacker. It really opened my eyes to what's important and what's not. When I unpacked after my first trip I put everything into two piles: stuff I used, and stuff I didn't use. Everything I didn't use got cut from the next trip. It also forces you to be more creative and resourceful with what you have.

    Best of luck and remember: a bad hang is probably still way better than sleeping on the ground.

    -Dave

  8. #8
    Stormstaff's Avatar
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    Bruce,

    PM sent
    Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

    Asst Scoutmaster of Troop 319, St George, IL

    Proud Supporter of Turley Custom Knives & ESEE Knives
    Proud Supporter of Dream Hammocks

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    It sounds like you've had some good advice on here. It's always nice to see another scouter convert over to hammocks.

    I tried a small ground cover a couple of times, but it always seemed to blow around. Noo much hastle. I carry a small square (about 18 inches) of a closed cell pad for a place to put my feet when I get up. My shoes go on it at night.

    I've been through some pretty good rain storms and I just button up my pack and put it underneith. It keeps it pretty dry (or I'll hang it on my ridgeline).

    Like you, one of my biggest concerns when I began sleeping in a hammock when on scout trips was where to change with the boys around. I just drop one side of the tarp down low. All that is visible from the outside is the mid-calf down. That seems to work for me.

  10. #10
    Scoutmaster Troop 615
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    Thanks folks! I appreciate all of the feedback!

    @Dave: Glad you ended up being safe and doing OK. Yes, I'd forgotten the garbage bag as well. Since I was car camping, I had a waterproof bag though. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good system to keep the Scout neckerchief in place... sometime during the night, it fell into a mud puddle. Grrr...

    BTW: Excellent idea, sorting stuff into piles of used vs. not. Agreed that the tweaking of setup will likely become a life long process. In fact, I've been doing major tweaking already... I've dropped the tent and the cot!

    So, what hammock are you going to switch to?

    @Stormstaff: thanks for the message! I will definitely be looking into lighter weight stuff from the links you provided!

    @BillnGA: so, how do you deal with the ends of the tarp being open? I'm the Scoutmaster, so am always set up near the boys. The way the trees were at the campsite this past weekend, my tarp was set up broad side to the boys tents. However, it was also right near where the trailer got parked. The result? There were boys going into the trailer at 5A getting charcoal unloaded for the fire (we cooked a whole hog among other things). They walked back and forth past my rig many times as I was getting up and ready for the day. If I had gotten changed then, they probably would have seen more than anyone (except Mrs. BDAABAT) would want!

    Bruce

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