Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Busy times, Hammock discoveries and fungus

Been very busy with climbing, work, business and hammock testing, worked a few things out with the hammock as well.

Right When sleeping in the dd hammock you have a tendency to slide slowly down until you centre of Gravity is at the bottom of the dip, hence your feet end up dangling over the edge of the hammock. To solve this you can either set it so the foot end is slightly higher than head end, or you can always get inside the hammock. I haven't tried to sleep inside it yet but it was very warm on the occasion I did try lying inside of it. Also played with some tape as well, round tree instead of using the rope.

Inside the hammock

Tape round a Birch tree (note: new hammock)

Also ordered a new Hammock from the Bushcraftuk Forum in a Group buy. It arrived and I played with it on a lunch time, it is much wider than my dd one, but does not come with straps nor is it double layered. Needs a proper test though. It certainly is very wide, I can lay width wise on it!!

Fungus and fire craft:
Managed to get some Horsehoof fungus or Fomes Fomentarius the other weekend off an old birch tree.

I wanted to see if I could use it as I had heard many people say it can make good tinder for catching a spark from firesteal. Took a little researching to find out how to use it, turns out its the outer layer just below the hard exterior called the Amadou which you need to separate from the rest, this you scrape to get a little fine downy pile which you can then drop sparks onto. I did this and got a nice glowing stable ember, just needed to get that into a flame, I did get chance to test this out one night with a tinder bundle (My first ever) but didn't manage to blow it into a flame, am guessing my bundle wasn't good enough as it was made mostly out of dried grass so was very fine. I shall try again later with tinder bundles and let you know how I get on.

Busy Studying as usual a little a day, though I do think I need to step it up a little if I'm going to reach any of my expected goals and bag the exam in a couple of months time. Work is the usual boring place, with not a lot of interesting things happening really. But they say it is what you make of it. It is busy just boring and not very challenging at all, feel like I'm wasting myself there. But that will change soon, so I just need to be patient.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Hammock Camping (Kit Review Part 2)

Hammock Review Part 2

Carrying on from the first review (hammock-camping-kit-review-part-1) I was itching to get out and test the hammock...

An opportunity to test the hammock came up and I jumped at the chance to give it ago. The area we were heading was heavily wooded with Pine (useful) so just needed to find a nice place to pitch the tarp and Hammock. Luckily I found a nice place, and promptly had my tarp up and tied the hammock to underneaths two handy tree's the right distance apart (in my case 3 and a half double paces) I tried another new knot which was just round the tree once and finished with a standard bow knot like you'd do laces on your shoes up with. The Hammock started at bum height and I tentatively sat on it, whilst very carefully keep a suspicious eye on the knots. Last thing I really wanted was to be dumped on my ass... though to people I came with would find it bloody funny I expect!

The knots held so I had a lay down on it, it was bliss, nice to get the weight off my feet, I couldn't wait to sleep tonight. The sleeping Mat (thermorest ¾ ) and bag came out and was put on top. Now the hammock itself has an option to actually climb in it and cocoon yourself inside, but I opted to just sleep on top this time round, will need to try inside later on. The only real modification I made was to attach 4 drip cords to the ropes so water would run off in the event of heavy rain. With a little more faffing with my tarp as it didn't shield me from the wind properly I was ready.

The beauty of the hammock is that I didn't need to check the ground for a flat area's or move any stones or avoid roots or potential flood area's. I could just hang the hammock anywhere I pleased so I was spoiled for locations. I was with a few other people and I noted they were prep'ping their area's clearing bits of wood, rocks and doing the usual checks. The time taken to get a tarp and hammock up was very quick, I think with more practice the time could be halved easily, giving more time to simply enjoy the surrounding and get on with any other important jobs such as gathering firewood.

After half a day Bushcrafting I retired to my bed ... er hammock. Getting in a sleeping bag easy, I unzipped my bag sat in and swung my legs round, then zipped up. Felt good inside, I noted straight away there wasn't the usual hard floor beneath me or any rocks or roots I may of missed. As i looked up at my tarp I thought about when the weather gets better and I can do without it completely, can fall asleep looking up at the sky, which is pretty much the same about bivvying I guess. Just not as comfy ;-)

My nights sleep was very restful, woke up the odd time as my bag wasn't my usual one so not as warm. But a few adjustments of the shoulder baffles I was happy again and drifted back off to the sound of the woods.

Altogether a very good nights sleep. Woke up just fine, and was pleased I could just swing out and not have to pick myself off the floor if I was sleeping low. The one thing I did notice was that the lines had stretched slightly seen as it was new. So I was slightly closer to the ground. But I think that was a one off and don't expect it to happen next time.

Summary: I'd highly recommend a Hammock to anyone who wants to sleep out, its comfortable and easily less hassle when choosing a place to stay, you are protected from insects marching across your face, any stinging plants, small rodents and flood too. It also doesn't leave a impact on local vegetation, it leaves you time to do other things such as enjoy yourself in the surrounding.

Some Random Hammock shots:Hammock with bag nicely rolled up, note the drip cords already attached. You can just see the zip down one side.

Shown with a 30 cm ruler to show scale, the bag itself is not tightly packed at all and could fit into a much smaller bag. This version is actually the bag for the Travel Hammock.

Gets my approval!