Easy and Valuable Hammock Modifications

I really can’t praise Clark Hammocks enough for the NX-270. This Cadillac of the hammock camping world has kept me dry and comfortable in torrential downpours on the Lone Star Hiking Trail near Houston Texas, kept me warm on some of my favorite Indiana trails during the spring and fall and more recently gave me a much needed reprieve from the bugs on the Knobstone Trail in southern Indiana. It’s roomy with plenty of storage space for gear, and very comfortable to sleep in even for bigger gentlemen like myself. But if you’ve ever spent an entire day walking through the wilderness you know the last thing you want to do when you stop for the day is spend 45 minutes setting up camp. This was one of the many reasons I switched to hammock camping in the first place. But some of the adjustments I’ve made to my hammock setup in the last year might help you save some precious time when you stop for the day to make camp after a long day on the trail.

(Below is my setup BEFORE modification. You can see the closest rope hanging close to the tree. Total setup time here was approximately 35 minutes due to the conditions.)

16114394_396966657308844_4251819964706244659_n

While my Clark NX-270 was pretty incredible right out of the box, I found that it was sometimes taking me upwards of 30 minutes to make camp at the end of the day because of issues with the nylon ropes tangling or my knots coming loose. Additionally, almost everywhere that I went hiking down south required tree straps to be used for anyone that was out hammock camping. So after dealing with tying and untying wet nylon rope in the rain on the Lone Star Trail I decided that I needed to make a change.

I started by getting a nice set of “atlas straps” and researching lightweight / high quality carabiners. Once I had done my research I purchased the gear and “cut the cord” with my Clark’s nylon ropes. By using atlas tree straps that give you a lot of leeway when choosing hammocking trees and sturdy lightweight climbing carabiners with screw locks I was able to cut my camp setup time down from around 30 minutes to about 5 minutes. Meaning that I can stay on the trail longer if I need to without having to plan for such a big window to setup camp before dark. It’s now as easy as looping the straps around a tree and clipping in my hammock. This also lets me make quick adjustments if I need to, without untying, adjusting and retying any rope. The carabiners also serve as drip rings to prevent rain from wetting the hammock during heavy rain storms. So far these modifications have made a world of difference for me, and I hope the idea can help you.

(Below is my setup after modification, very hard to tell at first look. But setup time is reduced significantly without impacting functionality)

21231714_510939495911559_727795619120370030_n

For me, that extra time at the end of the day means getting to eat dinner in the remaining sunlight and, getting a nice fire going if the trail allows it. I’ve provided links below to the basic gear I’ve used for my setup.

Clark NX-270 ($389) – https://junglehammock.com/product/nx-270-tent-hammock-4-season-backpacking/

Domum 25KN Super Lightweight Carabiner Clip ($8.99 each) – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LVY1L1I/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

HangTight Hammock Straps ($16.95) – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YFH8498/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Product reviews

It’s been a fun week for the Free Rangers, if you consider 104 fevers, spinal taps, and lopsided Super Bowl victory after-parties fun. I’ll let Aaron explain more (HIPAA violations anyone?) at his leisure, but…

I will say that the plan for this weekend, this Valentines Day weekend, involves sub-zero hiking, overnight camping, and product reviews.  And mea culpas to the women in our lives for rushing through the whole hearts and flowers scenario on Valentine’s Eve.

My reviews support my goal of paring down what I’ll need on the Appalachian Trail, and honing in on the most versatile and useful items to carry.  I should start with my pack, and the stuff protecting my feet.  I’ll give you the whole scoop in this weekend’s product review video, with maybe-just-maybe a bit of horseplay thrown in for good measure.

Stay tuned.

Esbit CS585HA 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set for Use with Solid Fuel Tablets (Esbit 1300 Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Cubes for Backpacking, Camping and Hobby – 20 Pieces Each 4g) Included as add on through Amazon.com

I want to start this post off by saying that anytime you buy something that you intend to use on a hike, while camping, or anytime you are going to have to rely on the product whatsoever, you need to be sure to test the product before you’re in a situation where you need to use it. In this review I’ll be talking about my experience with

and
Respectively.
I’d like also like to say that the solid fuel used and pictured here came as an add on to the cook set for $4 on Amazon.com and that I did not have very high hopes for this solid fuel as a standalone heat source, for good reason.
The solid fuel tablets are very small, about 1/3 the size of most that are on the market at a comparable price. The packaging states that a single solid fuel tablet will burn for 8-12 minutes and boil water on its own. Unfortunately this claim is not even close to being true. Had I not tested these and been in a situation where I needed to boil water to drink or cook with in the backwoods I would have been very much out of luck. As it was I set this cook set up in my garage to reduce wind but with the door open and an ambient temperature around 30 degrees. The first tablet burned for about 11 minutes and managed to get a small bit of steam off the top of the water, but little more. I decided that maybe because it was so cold I would try more fuel to see if I could truly get the water to boil. So the next go around I used 2 or the tablets, which burned for approximately 10 minutes, but only got the water up to 155 degrees Fahrenheit before burning out. It’s also worth noting that the solid fuel uses some sort of fish oil as a base and will make an area about 10 feet around where you’re cooking smell like you’re processing salmon. Needless to say, I was less than impressed with the solid fuel, but as an add on I wasn’t too upset about the price.
I did go back later with the cook-set, used the solid fuel as a starter and fed small sticks into the opening at the bottom of the cook set and got water from a semi-frozen stream to boil in about 20 minutes on one of my earlier hikes. So, because of the small size of these fuel tablets and the fact that you get 20 of them, they can be useful to get a bigger fire going in pinch. While I absolutely do not recommend them as a standalone fuel source, they might be work keeping around your fire starting kit, since they start easily and will burn even when wet. However, strong wind will put these out so if you’re using any type of solid fuel source be sure to setup a wind screen or dig a hole about twice the size of your cook stove and about 5-6 inches deep, then use the dirt from the hole to heighten the barrier around the cook stove to keep the wind at bay.
Below are the links to the products on Amazon.com