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[at-l] Hammocks

> What sort of hammock is this? 

I've got something called a "marina" hammock from Walmart @ $17. It's
nylon.  On sale you can find 'em for $13 or so near the end of the season.
I think Ozark or some other cheap out-door company sells them. The same
hammock gets sold in military surplus stores for twice that.

> I have one of the South American type ....

I've looked at catalogues for those. The Mayan looks like an interesting
hammock to me. The price puts me off, though, and I've not ordered one yet.

> ....which
> is very wide (if you can get it to stay spread) but I don't 'sink' into
> like they show in the ads. The thing wants to stay in a clump 4-6 inches
> wide.

My sister in law has the same problem another "marina" hammock, and I have
a second hammock that does the same thing. The one I use most often,
though, has "broken in" quite well. I suspect, also, that a small
modification I made to it helped to break it in sooner. What I did was run
a length of parachute cord from one ring, in and out through the hammock on
one edge to the other ring; same thing on the other side. This rope does
not stretch as much as the hammock itself, and thereby keeps the two sides
higher than the rest of the hammock into which I sink very comfortably.

> I tie the ropes about 6 feet off the ground with the center at a
> sitting height (18-20 inches off the ground). When I lie on (note I
> say "in") it my weight tends to pull the sides in under rather than
> me. It's really easy to roll out of.

When breaking-in a hammock, I use those light-weight, aluminium 'beeners,
two or three, to bring the edges together above me when lying in the
hammock. This helps to "train" the hammock by streching the inner sections
more than the edges and improves with time. Or, you can use the method I
suggested above. Be careful  using the method with a new cord, though, so
you don't put so much tension on the edges that the edges support all your
weight. You'll wind up breaking the new cord and probably part of the
hammock. That happened to me at the Plum Orchard Shelter below Bly Gap.
Quite a surprise, let me tell you. But it was easy to fix with a few knots
and spare cord, though I didn't do it right the first time.  In repairing
it I put too little tension on one side. Later, while sleeping on the north
side of Albert Mtn, the hammock slowly, slowly twisted toward the looser
side. In the morning it dumped me on the ground. Those are the only two
"mishaps" I've enjoyed with my hammock.

Also, I try not to hang the hammock too loosely. I'm about 5' 7" and tie
off the hammock at either end at shoulder height, pulling the hammock tight
enough that it stays almost straight, without putting too much tension on
the hammock. I test it by sitting in it. It usually stretches to sitting
height, and springs back a few inches when lying in it.

I've never measured it, but I think my hammock is about 8ft in length from
ring to ring. I've slept between trees where the ring was next to the tree
(about 8 ft apart) to where I needed to tie a separate piece of webbing
around one of the trees and clip on the separate piece tied around the
tree: about 25-30 ft apart.

> The one I use to camp with is a military style 'jungle hammock'. The top
> it is inadequate in a heavy rain though and doesn't make enough covered
> area for gear/cooking etc. I've thought about removing the top, replacing
> it with more bug mesh and using it under a tarp which was hung

I have for winter camping a Clarke Jungle Hammock. You can buy it on the
internet. I think Trailplace has a link to it. It's rather expensive at
$200+, but weighs in at around 5 or 6 lbs. It's built-in tarp cannot be
removed without ruining the whole contraption. It comes with pockets below
the sleeping area that you can reach while lying in the hammock. You can
store all your gear in the six pockets which also provide insulation and
shelter from the wind. It holds up very well in heavy down-pours, but you
need to seam seal it before you use it and remember, don't let your kids
play on it, 'cause they'll create a problem with the attachement between
the insect netting and the tarp. 

I slept through a night in the teens on the Coosa Back Country Trail in
Vogel State Park on Blood Mountain's north side, using the Clarke Jungle
Hammock, closed/open celled egg carton sleeping pad, and a 35 degree
sleeping bag, while wearing light weight long johns. Slept warm and toasty,
even in the wind. I had some condensation inside the hammock in the
morning, though, which I didn't like to see, but the condensation caused
absolutely no problem and dried away rather quickly. 

> This would also give me flexibility to camp where there weren't
> appropriately spaced trees.

I've modified all my hammocks with webbing. Marine nylon rope seems a
little tough on trees to me. The webbing, lying flat against the bark,
doesn't leave a mark, and gives you substantially more flexibility. I've
got a small 'beener tied to the end of each 12 ft. length. I find it best
to wrap the webbing around the tree once and bring the 'beener back to clip
on the ring. (For smaller trunks, you can just wrap it around as many times
as is necessary before clipping it off on the ring or the webbing.) But if
the trees don't cooperate (the tree trunk is too big, or the trees are too
far apart) you can simply clip it on the webbing, creating a "slip" knot
that stays tight around the tree, or simply bring the beener back to the
ring and clip it off without wrapping it around the tree. The one inch
webbing provides sufficient friction against the tree that it won't slip
while you're sleeping. The 'beeners come from Home Depot's rope section and
are rated to more than 200 lbs and cost less than $2.00 each. They come
with all kinds of warnings about how human's shouldn't trust them, but I've
not had a problem with them. I think I could survive a fall from a hammock
to the ground in most situations, but I wouldn't rely on them for rock
climbing. The beeners save a lot of time and effort untying knots.

I use an 8x10 poly tarp with grommets. It goes over an apex line, usually.
I tie it as close to the ground on the windward side as possible, leaving
the leeward side open. I don't like putting either end into the wind, but
sometimes that can't be helped.

Sloped ground works great. You can stand under the tarp and change on the
lower slope, while using the higher slope on the other side of the hammock
to cook on and keep your gear.

Hope this helps.

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