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  1. #1
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    hammock camping - newbie needs help!

    Hello all

    Ive been looking into hammocks for my camping adventures and have been doing exuastive research on the subject trying to get the best product for me. Ive been doing a lot of reading online, and although ive never camped with a hammock, i have not read a single comment from anyone indicating that they would prefer ground dwelling after trying a hammock! Long story short, it sounds awesome and it also seems to me the Clark North American has what im looking for (versatility, relatively insulated from elements). but i have a few concerns and questions and i hope people here who have experience with this product and hammock camping in general could help me out

    basically im looking for a light, compact shelter that can comfortably handle most conditions. i do most of my camping in central/west Texas, and in New Mexico, covering pretty much every climate and environment imaginable minus swampland/jungle. Desert, scrubland, forest, hill country, and alpine regions in night time temperature ranges from below freezing up into the 80s F. also, i am in the military and will be changing station soon and i could end up anywhere in the world, so hopefully i can take my next new shelter with me no matter where i end up. what im saying is versatility is key for me.

    from what ive read, im not too worried about getting cold in the North American (which is a plus!) in the aforementioned temperature range with the equipment i already have, however i am worried about getting hot! especially in the more humid areas, where overnight temps can stay in the 80s in the springtime. and in the summertime forget it, ill stick with the mountains for camping! is getting hot or sweating a lot in the Clark NA an issue for anyone who has one? that can ruin a nights sleep for me almost as easily as the chills.

    also, I very much enjoy desert hiking and often make the trip out to the Big Bend National Park area to get my fix, although up to now i have limited myself to car camping and day hiking. ive been wanting to branch out to primitive camping in the desert (which would give me access to areas of the park i havent been able to experience on day hikes), but if i were to spend $$$ hundreds of bucks on a hammock, i would want it to be my exclusive shelter. i wouldnt want to have to buy that, and then a costly backpacking tent in addition. this is a possible issue, as you all well know trees are very rare in the desert! ive seen pictures and read blurbs about people using sticks and/or treking poles to rig their hammock into a sort of bivy shelter. is this posible or even worthwhile with the NA, or should i not even consider bringing a hammock of any kind with me to the desert or in any other instance where 'going to ground' is likely?

    i see the NX-200 version is a slightly bigger, slightly heavier, and more expensive version and i have read some criticism that the NA is a little narrow for many. i am about 6'1" with a slenderish 170 lbs frame, would i be comfortable on the standard NA or should i splurge for the extra head/shoulder room of the NX-200? i like to pack light, but im not an ultralighter and with something as important as a shelter i certainly dont mind packing a few extras ounces for a solid night of rest. at the same time id like to avoid uneccessarily spending more money than i have to.

    also, the only knot i know how to tie is that little bunny ears one i use with my sneakers, which actually has a lot of other practical applications... is it difficult to learn how to suspend the hammock?
    and along those lines, are the tree straps important or necessary? or is that an extra 6$ i can put towards gas money?
    and is the standard rain fly sufficient? again i wouldnt mind springing for the XL if it provides significantly better protection from the elements. few things suck worse than a wet down sleeping bag!
    and on that subject, do the drip rings work as advertised and keep water from running down the ropes into my shelter? ive also heard mixed messages on whether the drip rings come standard or not; ive heard you may have to request them upon ordering (which i guess would require purchasing over the phone?). which is the case?

    alright. sorry for the ridiculously long post. i just want to be as informed as possible before taking the plunge and joining you tree swingers!
    thanks in advance for any helpful info/tips!
    Last edited by tarsier; 03-15-2009 at 01:37.

  2. #2
    MacEntyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    ...i am worried about getting hot!
    A hammock is better than being on the ground if it's hot. Can't say if the Clark is hotter than any other hammock.
    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    ...or should i not even consider bringing a hammock of any kind with me to the desert or in any other instance where 'going to ground' is likely?
    You can figure out how to skin that cat! I'm working on a method using a travois, which can be converted to hammock support poles.
    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    ...the only knot i know how to tie is that little bunny ears one i use with my sneakers
    Are you in the air force?
    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    ...is it difficult to learn how to suspend the hammock?
    No.
    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    and along those lines, are the tree straps important or necessary?
    Yes! Don't put anything but straps on a tree, or you will damage the bark.
    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    ...do the drip rings work as advertised and keep water from running down the ropes into my shelter?
    Yes.

    You should attend one of the group hangs, so you can inspect and try different hammocks.
    "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin
    www.MollyMacGear.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member GOLFER's Avatar
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    no matter what hammock you decide on your still going to need some type of insulation beneath you. Be it pads or an underquilt.

    Being a newborn hammocker myself, I've made my first one and slept in the cellar with the temperature at about 60 degrees. My back was rediculously cold all night. I purchased a wally world blue pad and bang that helped at least at that temp.

    I've purchased the blackbird hammock buy warbonnet guy, (his name is brandon), as did a lot of other members here did. Brandon installs extra material to the area of the feet and calls it the footbox. This feature is to allow you you lay flatter than most hammocks.
    Depending on how you sleep he can install the footbox on either side of the hammock. if you were to purchase the blackbird and were not totally satisfied I can assure it would sell on this forum faster than it takes you to write the post it's for sale. anyway check it out.

    Thanks for serving this country in the compacity of which you do. Never being in the military myself due to I don't take orders very well and would just end up in the brigg. But I'm in a big military family and they've all served in the marines. Have an uncle now who's 56 and volunteered to go to Iraq and train people to be cops. So he retired as a cop here and went there. From what I understand he spends most of his time with military though. We all know he's in his element, it's what he likes to do.. So with that said I'll just get off the soapbox and say Thank you.


    TY
    Last edited by GOLFER; 03-15-2009 at 06:44.

  4. #4
    New Member gilla's Avatar
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    ,The Clark NA will keep you warm, and if you're in hot weather you can turn yourself around and lay down so your legs are over the pockets thus helping you regulate your temperature.

    I believe you can set up the Clark on the ground (atop a tarp) with a couple of supports for the fly to keep out the crawlys. If that's not a concern I may just use the tarp. I've also seen pics of any hammock hung between boulders.

    The NA is sized for people up to 6'5" and 250lbs, I believe. I'm right at the line and I'm comfortable in the NA, I did however opt for the larger (xl) fly, however I haven't been out in the rain with mine yet.

    Tree straps are earth friendly, if you can sew, you can grab tow webbing or even hit a junkyard and pirate some old seatbelt webbing and make them yourself. All The Clarks have instructions on tying the boline, and the square not is a mild variation on your 'tennis shoe knot.' Both of those are worth knowing for everyday use.

    Lastly, the driprings were sent with my hammock.

    Good luck.
    I sleep in the trees.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Roadtorque's Avatar
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    Keep your eye out and you can find quit a few places in the dessert to hang from. Just be creative. Fence post, large boulders, rock faces are a few examples. Even with a creative mind you will have to go to the ground at some point. Although I have not done this myself I think a little prior planning would make it no more inconvenient than setting up a tent. The part you need to think about is this. Tents come with poles to keep it up. You will need to create something to keep the hammock top from laying directly over you. Basically any number of things will do. Hiking poles at each end of your hammock to tying rope from the top of your hammock to nearby shrubs. Anyway it will work and be no less comfortable than a backpackers tent.

  6. #6
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    oh wow, thanks for all the rapid replys!

    mac -
    Are you in the air force?
    LOL yeah... and they unfortunately dont teach us antiquated, yet useful skills like tying knots.
    and solely because of your enthusiasm about straps, i will plan on getting some.

    golfer -
    i have read about the foam pads being huge as far as insulation. ive got one of those walley world mats and just planned on using that, its good to hear it does the trick, at least in your experience
    and ive heard of the BB hammock, but im pretty sold on the NA due to the features it has.
    and thank you for your support although i have not yet deployed, our boys and girls overseas certainly appreciate the affirmation of our countrymen (largely regardless of political views unlike in previous conflicts, which is awesome) to help them thru the tribulations they face.

    gilla -
    if your right on the line at 6'5", 250lbs, and have no problems with the NA then i certainly wont have problems with it haha

    roadtorque -
    i have seen pics of hammocks set up on the ground, so i know it can be done, i was just more curious about how difficult it would be especially for a newb like myself. but when i was a kid i built some pretty killer forts out of no more than a sheet, surrounding furniture, and some couch cushions, so im sure if push came to shove i could figure it out especially if i came prepared with some collapsible poles and stakes or something.

    and if i reeeeeally had to, desert weather is usually quite dry (sorry for stating the obvious) and i could probably get away with just sleeping on a tarp or even the rain fly, under the stars. id have to be weary of the critters tho...

    well im pretty much sold at this point unless anyone can give me a really good reason to get a backpacking tent intstead
    Last edited by tarsier; 03-15-2009 at 13:43.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cavediver2's Avatar
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    Tarsier

    Welcome to the forum all of your questions seemed well thought out and were very good questions. I think as far as the size and weight issue you should be fine with the NA.

    As for Putting it on the ground yes you can and like you said there are picture's out there of this it is not recommended to do all the time but as long as you use some kind of footprint to lay it on It will do fine.

    As others have said you can be real creative when it comes to finding places to hang a hammock from. Fence post work fine as long as you can find something that can be tied between two of them with enough space in between.

    I have hung mine from rock faces with cam's that are used for rock climbing and they work wonderfully for that purpose.

    As far as getting hot I am a very hot sleeper and my first night out was tough because of being so hot. I learned that there are way's to combat this. I live in a place where the humidity does not fall below 50% at any time. Most of the time it's around 70-100 % so I have to think of where I am going to hang early on in the hike. Things like just at the outer edge of tree line in the mountains outer edge of woods were you can get more are flow. On the edge or close to the edge of cliff's to capture more air when hanging on rock faces the rocks tend to hold the day sun temps on them almost all night so I have to pick my spot carefully. Often hanging around running water or streams can keep you cooler at night but then you have the bug issue to deal with which with the NA it's not hard to do. These are just some of the things you have to think about as you hike where could or can you find these places so you can stay cooler in the summer months or when temp and humidity get out of range.

    most here will say pad suck but then again everyone has an opinion and they are good about giving them. Pad's do move around and do take some getting use to but I have found with my own experience's with the pad and the NA that they work pretty good my NX-200 is a different story it is so big and long that the pad has allot of places it can go while sleeping I move around allot and sleep on my side allot and find that the pad does sneak up behind me in the 200 but I manage. in the summer time I use a light fleece blanket to sleep with which most of the time i have kicked off of me at some point only to wake up chilled and have to pull it back on me.

    Someone had mentioned that turning around work and that is so very true you see you find stuff out all the time trying this or that. I would test allot of stuff in back yard first or you local park so that if something didn't work you could jump in vehicle and go home and study it again.

    As for rain fly's or tarps everyone has there favorite I have both the XL and the none XL and they both work fine there again you just have to think of how your going to pitch it for the night. But on windy nights I pitch mine so that it captures all the air it can or sometimes set up the hammock so that the air funnels down the hammock so that you get more convection which in turn will keep you cooler on those nights that it's oh my god hot out.
    But unless you get one of these super tarps that are sold here you will not find a better tarp to give you and the hammock the coverage you need in blowing snow or driving rains.

    Again those where great question and I hope that I have answered some of those for you.

    Remember I said everyone had opinions well I just gave you mine
    but do you homework and test test test before you go out and expect this or that to work because as my signature say it always happens just after you needed them.

    good luck and you cant go wrong with what you looking at you will be happy with and if not return it before 30 day's are up. and Spencer is real easy to work with.

    OH darnit I forgot straps as some have mentioned yes by all means get straps or take it a couple step further and look into a ring/and buckle some thing like that there are ton's of stuff on that subject alone and I sure am happy i converted every hammock I own to it and did away with the rope and knot thing makes setting up hammock a breeze and can be done with one hand don't ask how I know but it can be done easily.

    again welcome to the Forum and enjoy

    enough said

  8. #8
    Senior Member cavediver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarsier View Post
    backpacking tent intstead

    TENT WHAT IS THAT

  9. #9
    New Member gilla's Avatar
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    You will hear no good reasons to purchase a *shudder* tent from us. *Goes off to the shower.*
    I sleep in the trees.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the welcome all the great info cavediver, ill keep those tips in mind when i most certainly end up in a warm humid environment.

    hah, hopefully soon ill never have to look back on.... tents... again. i went ahead and dropped the bomb on the NA with an XL rain fly. ill be super busy for the forseeable future, but hopefully itll come in the mail soon and ill be able to take it to some nearby shade trees one of these weekends and just try it out. im sure ill have tons of questions in the near future, so i know where to come for friendly advice
    thanks again to everyone

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