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Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

On Saturday the 27th my older brother and I decided to do a little suburban hiking.  We had been working together near the creek and small section of woods still left in Haddon Heights and we got to talking about it.  He used to play back in the area as a child and was curious to see how it changed.   I was game for doing some hiking so I said lets do it.  I made up a small day pack in a surplus Army assault pack and we meet up around noon on Saturday to set out for the darkest deepest forest in suburbia.   I whipped up at quick Google map of our trail.

Here are some pics from the hike along the south bound side of Rte. 295

this was just above where we crossed the creek

Looks like the local kiddies do or did some bmx riding back here.

rock wall along the creek bed

sink hole along the trail the kids have carved while riding bmx back here

some ducks a log jam and some trash 😦

self portrait

I walked half threw the tunnel but dicided to stop and turn back.

these were cool because they were made in the silt below the water.

this is the Haddon Heights trail lean to

This is the only picture from the north bound side of the trail, as my camera battery died.

north bound side of tunnel. there were some fish down in the water but they spooked as we walked up.

After walking back over the old dump and to the north bound side of the creek tunnel we hiked back to the tennis courts.  From there we entered the Little Timber Creek Nature Trail, if my memory serves me this trail was the Eagle Scout project of a guy I went to high school with.  My brother told me the area was the old boro concrete and tree dump.  We walked the trail and followed the creek behind the swim club and back up along the highway wall.  It was a nice relaxing hike.

The really good news is my brother started asking me about hiking packs and hammocks.  He said he is thinking about coming along with me on my goal of a fall Batona Trail Hike.

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I would like to start with a little back story before I begin my review.  On March 12th and 13th I took my girlfriend’s cousin’s husband camping.  He is originally from North Carolina and did a lot of camping in his youth so a night in the Jersey Pine Barrens should be no problem right?  Our spirits were high and we were both looking forward to a break from civilization and I had a bunch of new gear that needed testing.  I always like testing new gear when conditions are favorable that way in case things don’t work out you are not going to suffer to badly.  Well the forecast for Friday into Saturday was rain and high winds, we debated canceling but we both really wanted to spend some time in the woods.  I packed the truck, picked him up, and off we went.

It rained the entire time we drove down to the ranger station to check in and pick up our permit.  I checked the weather one last time before we headed to the campsite, rain with an anticipated accumulation of three to four inches and winds overnight steady at twenty mph with gusts up to thirty to thirty-five mph.  We arrived at the Batona Campground and got ready to set up in the rain.  I am not sure if it is the fact that he is a Methodist minister or it was, Fortes fortuna adiuvat (fortune favors the bold) but as soon as we opened the doors of the truck to set up we got a break in the rain.  We set up camp and I got to test some of my new gear, including my Backwoods Daydreamer Winter Dream V.2 tarp.

Now onto the meat and potatoes of the review.  I was looking for a new hammock tarp, one that was bigger than the stock Hennessy Hammock tarp.  I poured over tarp after tarp, looking at designs, styles, pictures, and reviews.  I wanted a tarp that would be a solid all weather tarp, and during really bad weather totally encapsulate my hammock.  I choose a Backwoods Daydreamer Winter Dream V. 2.

Backwoods Daydreamer is a small cottage business specializing in tarps for camping primarily geared towards hammock campers.  The tarps are lightweight and well built.  The Winter Dream V.2 weighs in at 21 oz. and is made of 1.1 oz silicone impregnated ripstop nylon.  It has an eleven foot ridge line with sides that are thirteen feet at the longest points.  It has a catenary cut design,  with all tie out points  being reinforced.

A design picture taken from Backwoods Daydreamer

I purchased my Backwoods Daydreamer Winter Dream V.2 from a  member of Hammock Forums who had it posted in the for sale section. This tarp appeared in the for sale section of the forum at a great price for a tarp that was seem sealed and only used twice.  So at this point I have picked up this tarp second hand, and Backwoods Daydreamer owner Scott sends me a message regarding the tarp.  He wanted to let me know that if I had and questions about the tarp to let him know.  I have to say this impressed me.  He had seen that I bought one of his tarps,  he didn’t make any money on this sale, and he reached out to me.  I am a small business owner myself, and this kind of customer care is what I try to provide and the kind of care that when I receive it is really appreciated.

Well the weather man go it right that night.  It poured, it rained on us that night like Forest Gump in Vietnam.  The winds were howling driving the rain sideways at times, I could hear the winds reeking havoc on the blue poly tarp we set up to use as shelter for cooking and sitting by the camp fire.

My Winter Dream, was just that.  All my gear stayed dry, and was sheltered from the wind.  This tarp held up to everything that was thrown at it.  I secured two of the flaps/doors in the “closed” position as can be seen in the above picture.   The other set of flaps/doors was secured together by the mitten clips so that I could get in and out easily.  I had some serious concerns setting this tarp up for the first time when I knew the weather was going to be outright hostile and miserable.  Short of getting some hail and snow I don’t know what else could have been thrown at this tarp.  It performed as advertised, and I know that come any weather conditions in the future that my gear and myself will be dry and sheltered from the elements under my Winter Dream V.2

This is not the greatest picture of looking into the tarp, but it is still roomy inside.  I would like to send it back to Scott to have side tie-outs installed.   This is a service that he offers, and it helps to make the tarp roomier inside as well as help brace the sides against strong winds.  Now I do not have them currently and at no point did I find the sides getting buffeted into my hammock from the near forty mph gusts.

I recently talked to Scott and he brought me up to speed on the future of the Winter Dream.  He told me that V.3 will be featuring metal D-rings for the ridge line as these D-rings receive the most stress.  He said that he had one fail and that was one to many.  I really admire the pride and passion he takes towards his products.  He also said he is moving away from the mitten clip closures, to a be a half inch strip of gross grain sewn into the hem along the door edge.  This will reinforce the seem and firm it up so that five Industrial Polyacetal Snaps can be attached.  Scott said that this will be easier for both closing and opening.  He also went on to say that this will only add about thirty grams to the trap so about one ounce to the V.2 weight.  That would bring the V.3 in at 22 oz.

A picture of the Winter Dream V3, from Backwood Daydreamer, photo by turtlelady

I can say two things with confidence after that trip.  First my Backwoods Daydreamer Winter Dream V.2 performed excellently in the kind of conditions it was designed to be exposed to.  Secondly I see another Backwoods Daydreamer tarp in my future.

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Well I decided to redo the stock suspension on Hennessy Hammock to make hanging it a little faster and easier.  I researched a lot of types of suspensions rings/webbing, cinch buckles/webbing, whoopie slings and few other variations of those.  I decided I was going to go with a cinch buckle/webbing style suspension.  Now I chose to use a chain link ,which is a continuous loop of Amsteel with a keeper stitch sewn in to lock it, to attach the hammock to either a carabiner or the cinch buckle.  I chose to get my chain links and cinch buckles from AHE (Arrowhead Equipment) because I liked the design of the cinch buckle and that AHE has a 20” chain link. I knew that securing the chain link to the end of the Hennessy Hammock would consume much of the length of the chain link.   My only regret was the week after the buckles arrived, AHE got black cinch buckles in stock.  Oh well I will have to pick them up for the next project.   Now for my webbing I went with a some 1” tubular webbing from REI.

This was also my first sewing project, yep you heard that right.  My first sewing project would be responsible for keeping my ass from crashing to the ground in the middle of the night while I slept.  I decided to sew a box pattern with an “X” in the middle.  I have seen it on similar setups, other webbing project and I figured it would be easy enough for me to do.  Each strap ended up being about 12’6” long.

Now my plan was to attach the hammock to the cinch buckle via a carabiner with the webbing drawn through the sewn loop.  I got some feedback that I should secure the cinch buckle via a girth hitch to the chain link than use the carabiner to attach the loop to the webbing at the tree.  On my last hammock hang I used both techniques one on each end of the hammock.

Stitching pattern

loops and ends

chain link installed

suspension attachment

Suspension mock-up

Well after my first hang with my DIY suspension I have to say I am happy with it.  I learned that I must pick my hanging distance and angles carefully.  I set up between two trees 24′ apart and I ended up with the suspension “stretching” and my butt on the ground.  I think that having the bulk of the webbing  between the cinch buckle and the tree it allowed the webbing to stretch a bit, thus allowing my hammock to sag.  I put keeper knotse in the webbing  behind the cinch buckles and there was no sign that the knots had given way and the webbing slipped through the cinch buckle.  This is what lead me to believe it was that the webbing had stretched.  So Saturday morning I rehung my hammock between to trees 14′ apart.  This resulted in less webbing being used between the buckle and the tree.  Saturday night’s sleep was great no sag in the suspension, the only problem I had was a sock feel off in my sleeping bag and having to get up at 3a.m. to relieve myself in 7*F weather.

All things being said I am really happy with all components of my suspension, I just have to learn to pick a better spot to hang.

My setup for Saturday night of the winter campout.

Thanks to Bster13 from hammockforums for the picture.

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