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Old October 2, 2012, 12:53 AM   #1
Sweet Shooter
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Hammock or ground?

I have four days out in the forest coming up, a few days back, then another four days out... I've never used a hammock before but considering it. Not taking a tent... might take a sleeping bag. Taking a tarp/para-cord.

What are your ideas about sleeping/camping rough for a few nights. Any genius ideas? I'm going to get a poncho for sure. I want to get the edge on others by traveling light and being mobile on foot away from roads and 4x4 trails.

I have only a few more days prepping. My backpack so far is about 30 Lbs.
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:31 AM   #2
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I used to do it all the time when I lived in NV (where it seldom rains). I would lay out a 8'X12'tarp, lay 2 blankets inside it, fold it over, and crawl inside. If it looked like snow, I would lay under my truck bed. Not exactly comfortable. I got over doing that the first year I bought a cot and a tent.
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Old October 2, 2012, 03:54 AM   #3
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I've never liked a hammock. I tend to like to switch sides in my sleep and... oops! *Thud*

That said, at least you're taking a tarp with you and 50' of paracord to make an impromptu tent between trees. (Don't forget the diameter of the tree counts.) A few plastic tent stakes too. This way, if it rains or you injure yourself, you can set up a shelter.

Sleeping on the ground... I've become enamored with the self-inflating pads. Lots better than plain foam or a folded up blanket I might need. Roll 'em up and stuff 'em under the backpack's top straps to carry (like a mini-bedroll).

Other stuff...
In an old M-16 pouch, I've stuffed survival gear. Signal mirror, chapstick, fire starters (dryer lint, shredded paper), flint, matches, mini-compass, a folding knife, 3 signal flares & launcher, a pouch of magnesium powder and LED flashlight. Medicines include 6 aspirin, 2 tylenol, 1 Immodium AD dose, disinfectant, 4 Pepto Bismol tablets, 4 No-Doze and a roll of lifesavers. Always on my belt, always with me, like a canteen and knife.

If you take a light nylon jacket (lined/unlined) you can roll it up for a pillow. Do remember to pack along a hat/ballcap and gloves for warmth at night. And always pack spare cushy socks in a ziplock bag to keep 'em dry.

Be sure to leave info about your route and plans with someone who can notify authorities if you're overdue.
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Old October 2, 2012, 06:16 AM   #4
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I second the self inflating sleeping mat. They are not heavy, but do add some bulk if you have the room. They mat makes the ground a little more comfortable and does insulate you from the ground which is important if temps drop.

As far as tent or tarp, I prefer a compact temp however a tarp, rope and a few stakes will serve you well too.
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Old October 2, 2012, 06:20 AM   #5
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When I go camping I always sleep where I can get to my feet the quickest...don't forget comfort is not going to be found in the woods it has to be made. Have Fun!
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:21 AM   #6
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Forget the hammock idea. They are far from comfortable!
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:16 AM   #7
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I still do the camp out thing, but like Scorch, I try to get off the ground. Even with the best bag you need a good pad to stop the cold from creeping up through the ground. I guess it depends mostly what kind of weather you will be in. Unless you are cocooned in the hammock they can be awful cold too.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:40 AM   #8
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When I was young I used to backpack with a hammock. I’d string a tarp between the same two trees and make a tent roof with the hammock underneath. It kept the rain off and the most of the wind. I never tried it in really cold weather though.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:53 AM   #9
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When I was in Nam we found a lot of the NVA carrying hammocks, these things would fold up to about the size of a pack of smokes.

I've never tried a hammock for sleeping in the woods but I've heard claims that if you ever use one you will never sleep on the ground again.

I always used my old cowboy bedroll and was lucky in the fact that where we stayed nature provided us with some type of insulation from the ground.
However I don't believe a cowboy bedroll would be the thing to use if you are wanting to travel light.

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Old October 2, 2012, 09:05 AM   #10
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Spent a lot of years sleeping on the ground. Now that I'm old(er), if I can't take my camper I ain't goin'. BTW, forget the hammock if you value your spine.

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Old October 2, 2012, 09:11 AM   #11
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I think the hammock might work for a short nap in hot weather. I have one in the yard. It lets air flow around you keeping you cool, and is a good place for an afternoon nap, but I don't think I could spend an entire night in one and wake rested. Especially in cool or cold weather.

I've used a pad of some type in the past and prefer that method. A tip I recently read about, but haven't tried yet, is to use one of the reflective shades that people use on the windshields of cars in hot weather to keep the inside of the car cool. They are quite light, cheap and take up little room in a pack. The reflective coating supposedly helps keep you warmer in cold weather. No promises that it works, but a thought.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:14 PM   #12
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My buddy has a Hennessy hammock and said hell never go back. He says his back feels so much better in it and he just sleeps a ton better. That and he never has to worry about rain and waking up in the middle of a puddle.
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:06 PM   #13
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jmr40's comment reminds me...Your local sporting goods store might have both the "Space blanket" -- a mylar film emergency blanket and the "Space Blanket sleeping bag" which is a similar product with a slightly heavier duty material.

Both work by reflecting body heat back at you to keep you very warm. The mylar does not let wind come through the material so there is no loss there. They're very lightweight and pack down small too. Either/both are a good addition to a small survival kit. On hot days, the reflective silver surface can provide shade from a broiling hot sun too.

Re: Hammocks... In a heavy rain, water can run down the anchoring lines and into the head and foot areas of the hammock. The twisted cord (natural or synthetic) can "wick" water and make sleeping quite uncomfortable. In cold weather, lay a wool blanket into the hammock first to insulate you from the breeze.

I find I still enjoy campfires and the great outdoors, but as I get older, I'm less inclined to leave my comfort behind. Last time we went hunting, we decided to really rough it.

How's that roughing it?
Simple. It took us 20 minutes to set the satellite dish up and two hours later we ran out of salt for the Margaritas!

Oh yeah... there's one other "luxury" I really like having in the woods...

BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
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Old October 3, 2012, 01:42 AM   #14
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All good info. Thanks guys.

I had an idea to stop the rain running down the ropes into the hammock... how about allowing a piece of paracord dangle from under the ropes to give an earlier route to ground? My suspicion is that the water will mainly run on the underside of the rope so lashing a few lengths of paracord should help make it drain before it gets into the hammock?

BillCA yes... running out of salt for margaritas is going to suck. I'll have with me a hip flask of whiskey to be enjoyed neat instead. Nice rig though.

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Old October 3, 2012, 05:55 AM   #15
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Yes. Rope tied to the lines will help quite a bit.
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Old October 3, 2012, 02:58 PM   #16
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I have used one of those light aluminum cots, they work well and are much more comfortable than a Hammock.

A Hammock can be comfortable if you are use to them but most people dont use them enough to get to like them, my self included.
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Old October 4, 2012, 12:50 AM   #17
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hennessee hammock

Bamaboy has been interested in back packing for the past few years and he and some buds hve been notching off slices of the AT. His whole gang swears by a gadget called the Hennessee Hammock. It is similar to the GI jungle hammocks, but lighter and better made. He's not used his in cold weather, but is fond of it for the mild weather he's experienced when out.

Bug proof, and with the rainfly, pretty good in the wet.
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Old October 4, 2012, 12:56 AM   #18
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How about this?

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Old October 4, 2012, 01:02 PM   #19
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Great picture.
If a strong wind comes up in the middle of the night that would make for a heck of a ride.

Best Regards
Bob Hunter
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Old October 4, 2012, 05:30 PM   #20
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I've always used the old Jeremiah Johnson trick to be comfy while hunting and sleeping in a tent. Dig a small fire pit and rake some coals into it and back fill, then pitch the tent over it and stack up a few blankets to sleep on. The heat from the coals makes it mighty nice and I usually sleep in my underwear in the tent or I get too hot.

I've slept in hammocks in the back yard before and I they're ok for lounging around but I couldn't get a good nights rest in one. That's bad when you have a hard day the next day to hunt. No hammocks for me.
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Old October 4, 2012, 09:44 PM   #21
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I spent two years in SE Asia, sleeping in the jungle at night, a hammock is your friend. I used a jungle hammock with mosquito netting. Never woke up with a snake curled up in my fart sack...
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Old October 7, 2012, 07:59 AM   #22
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A hammock is nearly the only way to go - for me. I sleep in one AT HOME, you can say that I am used to them. Lots of advantages to a hammock, but in cold weather, they can be a challenge. Still, I've camped in one in heavy snow and cold temps....and I still preferred that to sleeping on the ground.

Like others, I create a shelter with a line stretched between two trees, about as high as I can reach (7' or so) , then a tarp over that, stretched tight and staked (though I have used guy lines instead of stakes, or even rocks - it depends on the terrain). Then, I hang my hammock under - with the straps (around the trees) at about 4' off the ground. The hammock should be fairly tight - you do NOT want a large sag when you are in the hammock - that WILL be uncomfortable (and is a common newbee mistake).

I hang the hammock higher (closer to the "roof") in cold weather, which creates a better wind break. I also stake the bottom edges of the tarp shelter closer together in the cold, making a narrower, steeper-roofed shelter, to fight the wind. In hot weather, I often do just the opposite - guy line the bottom edges a couple feet up neighboring trees, to create a very shallow roof and such that the bottom edges do not touch the ground. This allows breezes to pass through easily. Since your butt is up, off the ground, even a light breeze will have a nice cooling effect.

Of course, bedding materials will vary based on the season. In winter, a GOOD sleeping bag is a MUST. In summer, sometimes I use nothing at all.

I would say, go with that to which you are accustomed. If you want to use a hammock in the woods, try one at home first. Then, you can intelligently decide if they are for you. You said that you only have a few more days before your trip. That might be enough time to test a hammock - or might not. Obviously, your call.

"If a strong wind comes up in the middle of the night that would make for a heck of a ride."

I realize that you were probably kidding.....but actually, not really. Such a setup will actually only lightly sway, even in a 25 knot wind. In heavier winds, yes (quite a ride). But, in the average night time breeze in most places, it's not a problem.

Last edited by wpsdlrg; October 7, 2012 at 08:10 AM.
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Old October 7, 2012, 08:33 AM   #23
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A hammock all the way!!!! Those of you who say its uncomfortable are doing it wrong. A hammock, tarp, and some rope are all you need and it all packs up very small. I frequently take hiking trips for 3-5 days at a time with less than a 50lb loadout. I dont think I could accomplish this with a tent and besides, who wants to sleep on the ground anway? Check out this site Lots of good information on how to correctly set up a hammock and what other gear you should check into.
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Old October 7, 2012, 10:34 AM   #24
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Better to make a Lean to Shelter and sleep in a good bag than a hammock any night. Best way if your wanting to travel light. I've done it a couple of times in my life. Never regretted doing so. Just make sure your opening faces down wind if possible. Reason: Don't want the wind or a surprise rain blowing in on you and again if you choose to make a Fire after dark to help offer some radiant heat.

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Old October 7, 2012, 05:14 PM   #25
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There are hammocks and then there are hammocks. I use a modified Hennessey that I added a zipper to the bug-netting and a different, easier to set up suspension system to.

It is much more comfortable for me than it is to sleep on the ground.

The setup weighs about the same as a one-man tent of good quality. It is easier to set up "dry" and take down "dry" in the rain, as you simply put up the tarp/fly first, then set up your hammock under it, out of the rain. Reverse the order to take it down when raining.

Taking down a tent in drizzling rain and packing it away, otoh, sucks.

Anyhow, comparing a moder hammock with an asymmetrical lie to the "regular" ones where you are bent up like a banana is like comparing a Lexus to a Yugo. Sure, they both have 4 wheels and are technically a car.....
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