Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hammock Camping (Kit review part 1)

Model: Camping hammock
Colour: Green
Cost: £24
Weight: 700g
Dimensions: 2.4m x 1.3 flat, 30cm x 8cm (stuff sack)
Limits: 150KG - 6'5"

Right having heard about all the good things about a hammock on various forums and being an impressionable young man, not to mention a gear freak, I decided on trying a hammock out for myself. A lot of people recommending the ddhammocks site as being A)Very good B)Light and most important of all cheap too :-)

I ordered on Thursday afternoon, was posted Friday morning and an email was sent to my order address confirming it was posted. Very efficient. So a good start, was impressed.

The parcel arrived Monday morning much to my excitement and I eagerly ripped into the packaging. First thing I noticed was that the bag had the wrong details printer, being mostly in Thai so I read the note enclosed which said that the bag indeed was incorrect and that they were hoping to change at some point in the future, just waiting for next shipment.

The Hammock itself is dark green in colour and large enough to house a sleeping bag on it as well as in it. Its construction is double layer nylon weave with a zip up one side so you can actually enclose yourself fully inside of it in your very own cocoon. Both ends have rope threaded through it that bunches up to give the hammock its proper shape. The rope itself is nylon green weave a little frayed at the ends, but easily sealed with a little heat so not a problem. (I always seem to be modifying kit in some way or another.) The ropes which turn end up double ended on each end can then be tied to the nearest vertical object such as a tree or in my test case the racking in the warehouse. Weight is 700g with ropes (which is pretty good I'm lead to believe) size being 2.4m by 1.3. It does seem big at first but once you set it up it seems OK.

Now for the set up. Having wondered my way into the ware house in search of a nice section of Racking strong enough to carry my modest weight (yer yer) I tied both ends on to a suitable section using a mooring hitch at first only to ditch it in favour of a better (IMHO) set-up, of which I have no idea what its called. I made sure the height was roughly bottom height from the floor at first and proceeded to carefully, sit back on the hammock until the ropes were taught and settled. This turned out to leave me approx 1 inch from the floor... useful. SO up I got and redid one side so the hammock was at a good height again. Then I sat down again into it.

First impressions..... very comfy, I swung my legs round and laid back. Very comfy. Shoes were off and put on a convenient shelf near me and I settled in. I noticed the sides were quite high so I could get a sleeping bag on it and not be worried about rolling off one side.

I must admit I dozed off a few times during this stressful, intense test session!

Summary: A very simple comfy set up, though I will need to try actually sleeping on it for a night with sleeping bag and roll mat. Also I may modify the strapping to I can have just the one rope tying off instead of the double one. Should be easy to achieve using a Krab on either end. Also drip lines would need to be added so when it rains water does not run down the ropes soaking the hammock.

Can't wait to try it out.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Stove experiment

Been quite a while since my last post, have been very busy not had too much chance to play really, managed a couple of climbing session but nothing serious. Recently I got a chance to have a go at making a wood burning stove from basically a cutlery holder. The idea being I can use this where is may not be quite as safe or convenient to have a open fire whilst still giving me the option of getting a brew going if needed.

The cutlery holder was a bog standard one bought from a crappy but famous Swedish furniture store. I simply cut a square flap in the front which would allow me to feed wood into it and added two steel tent pegs to hold anything that may slip down the inside rim. As you can see the stove is made of Stainless steel and has plenty of hole in it for air. Just needed to test it now.

And the weekend after I managed to get into the Peak district and do some climbing, so I grabbed the chance to test it. Armed with my crusader cup and a brew kit I had a play. I used the standard method of starting a fire with birch bark and a firesteel then put some pre-cut wood in it. (Used my Axe before hand to do that as it was a nice excuse to chop something up :-) ) As you can see I managed to get two cups of hot water out of it, making a coffee and hot chocolate as well. It even managed to roost a few Marsh Mellows with the remaining heat. Fantastic!

Am pretty pleased with it in all, simple and elegant way to make a brew without any of the dangers of an open fire. If I change it slightly I'd like it to of been slightly shorter so the cup or pot would be closer to the embers. But as it is it does a nice job at funneling the heat up anyway.