Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: South Africa
Does it get better with experience?
Does it get better with experience?
On Monday I took my first hammock camping trip, my bike was packed and we headed off to Dullstroom, small town in Mpumalanga South Africa. The ride there on the bikes was awesome. That night at the camp site I've noticed that I have a flat rear tire and decided to leave that and first hang my hammock.......finding the right trees in a place full of trees wasn't that easy and I had to settle for 2 big trees in the wind not far enough apart.
That was problem #1
Problem #2 My tree huggers was to short for these big pine trees
Problem #3 It was gold and windy
Luckily the wind calmed down and it was time to hit the sack
Problem #4 had a DIY bottom quilt made from cheap sleeping bag and thin fleece blanket for the top.... I was so cold!!!
Problem #5 after waking up every now and then I had a big need to turn on my side...tried it and it did not work.
All and all this wasn't a bad experience and not my last
My mosquito net worked awesome, could see the buggers trying to get in with out "suck"seeding
Next time I'll try a sleeping pad and sleeping bag to sleep in.
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: East Sussex, UK
I'm so glad it's not just me! Are you sure the ends of the UQ were tight enough to stop drafts?
I've just bought a new sleep system - slept out in it the other night at -1°C and was snug - a blanket alone wouldn't do it for me
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Reading, U.K.
Hammock: HH Expedition + ukhammocks Woodsman
Tarp: HH Hex Tarp
Insulation: CCF Mat
Suspension: HH Exp. stock
I think if you hang in an area with larger than average trees you learnt to take bigger straps pretty quickly. In my short hanging career I've not needed to do this but I can see it can limit your hanging sites if you don't. Re. the cold, you almost certainly need to tweak your sleeping system or replace it with a more efficient UQ and perhaps a regular bag on top. As you're on a bike, chucking a mat in your kit shouldn't be too much of a problem I guess.
Practice, Practice,,and experiment,,till you get it the way your comfy warm. You will find, before your done with buying gear, you will have more than one setup for the climate and weather your in. If you go with alittle too heavy UQ for example, you can always vent to cool down.
It's obvious that at least one thing is working very well; and that's your attitude! Bravo!
Yes, things will improve rather rapidly. What you experienced shows the need to practice in your backyard (or City park in my case) before straying far from home.
You need to use tree straps of a length appropriate for where you hang. That can vary widely from one environment to another.
Underquilts can take a bit of trial and error to get them right. It's probably a good idea to take more insulation than you think you will need, until you get good at this.
The fact is, some hammocks are better for side sleepers than others. I'm a side sleeper. After trying different hammocks, I found the Switchback to be the most friendly to side sleepers.
"Life is a Project!"
Prefers life at 12 MPH.
Yes, yes it does...
There's a learning curve with hammocking; it's a little steeper than with tent or tarp camping because of the differences in how you have to think of things. However, it doesn't take long to figure out how to overcome the issues associated with hammocking.
Let's look at the issues you faced this time.
Site Selection: This is paramount, above all else. Proper site selection covereth a multitude of sins. Small tarps, bad weather, substandard insulation, etc. The only real help here is practice. However, there is a wonderful article by our very own Peter Pan on this that covers most of the basics.
Tree Huggers: Thank you for using these, especially on your first trip! Perception can be everything, and--unfortunately--hammocking is not mainstream enough for the general public (including park rangers and their superiors) to realize just how LNT it can be. That being said, getting or making longer huggers isn't hard. We have pines like the ones in your photos down here in FL, and my minimum hugger length is 6' (a little less than 2 m). Easy enough to fix.
Wind and Cold: Well, here you run into hammocking's Achilles' heel. Because we're suspended above the ground, we're much more vulnerable to convection effects (wind) stealing our heat. You had an underquilt. Great! On the other hand, you had a very minimalist tarp. Which doesn't do much to block wind. There are a number of things you can do in the future to help with this. Let's take them in order: site selection, larger tarp, and underquilt protector/overcover/hammock sock.
Site selection is free and weightless. If you're having wind problems, it's worth hanging on the lee side of a hill, perpendicular to the wind, just under the crest if possible. The hill will cut most of the wind, while your tarp, staked as low as possible on the wind side, will also help to cut the wind.
A larger tarp can help with wind blocking. As a matter of fact, that's why winter tarps are called "winter tarps"; they've got doors at either end to seal up the airspace inside as much as possible. Also, a poncho or Grizz Beak can be draped over one end of the tarp to cut wind significantly. The drawback here is cost and weight/bulk.
An underquilt protector combined with an overcover can perform the same function as a hammock sock, which is to create a microclimate inside and cut the wind. Because you're limiting the amount of space that your body has to heat, you'll stay warmer through the night. Again, here you run into cost and weight/bulk concerns, though less than with a larger tarp. Conversely, this usually won't protect you from liquid precipitation any better than a small tarp, while a larger tarp will.
As far as the actual temperature goes, a heavier topquilt will help, as will ensuring that any gaps between the underquilt and the hammock are minimized. From your photos, it looks like your underquilt is hanging fairly low. I find that I get the best seal with my PLUQ when the quilt is cranked tightly enough to raise the body of the hammock between three and six inches. The end channels also need to be moderately tightly pulled, though over-tightening here can also cause drafts. It takes a little while to get used to using an underquilt; I recommend practicing close to home as much as possible.
Side Sleeping: This is one of those areas where it comes down to personal preference. However, most folks find that pillows between the knees and under the head (about the only time you'll need one in the hammock) help immensely with finding comfort on your side. I can't really help you too much here from experience; I sleep on my back primarily at home and almost exclusively in the hammock. Sorry.
As far as the sleeping bag and the pad go, you'll want to make sure that the pad covers out past your shoulders and hips. Otherwise, since the hammock wraps you, you'll find cold spots in those areas. A cheap and easy solution for this is the Speer Pad Extender. It's, unfortunately, no longer made commercially, but JustJeff has a wonderful DIY tutorial located here.
I hope that all of this helps, and that you keep at it. I've found hammocks to be the most comfortable way to sleep outdoors yet, and--while they're not for everyone--most folks can learn to use them fairly quickly. Best of luck!
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Berks county Pa
Hammock: Crinkle Custom
Suspension: Whoopies, Straps
Every time I hang my experience gets better and better. I learn something new every single time.
"What one Man can do, another can do!"
Join Date: Sep 2009
Hammock: DIY Pertex
Tarp: DIY with doors on
Insulation: Down and synthetic
Suspension: Whoopies & hooks
+1 on all of that. Its great advice.
It gets better and better and better IME.
My first trips out, I admit I didn't even know how to tie the **** things up properly!
I used to sleep on my side and front, but as the years in the hammock go on, I don't usually move at all now and wake up on my back all the time.
It gets better. Some folks have super great first hangs some (like me) get really really bad first nights. Keep at it and it will all work itself out.
Yosemite Sam: Are you trying to make me look a fool?
Bugs: You don't need me to make you look like a fool.
Yosemite Sam: Yer deerrrnnn right I don't!
Once you get everything dialed in properly you will be glad that you stuck with it.
Big trees can be a problem, that's why I always carry some extra cordage just in case.
Was your sleeping bag UQ up tight against your backside, with no gaps to let the cold air in?
If the wind is causing you problems you can always try hanging your tarp a little lower to block more of the wind from under you. You will have less room under the hammock to stand up under but you will have more coverage from the wind under you.
Do you have a ridgeline attached to give the hammock a constant sag/angle? This will allow you to get the hammock adjusted just like you want it and have it at the same lay no matter how far apart the trees are. And if you have one already you might try adjusting it until you are comfortable sleeping on your side.
If you are traveling around on your bike I would suggest a down UQ, because they pack up very small and are extremely warm.
I hope this information helps.