As a relatively new “hanger”, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the joys of camping in a hammock, but I know that I’ve still got a lot to learn. With only a few trips’ worth of hammocking experience under my belt, I’m not quite ready to dump money into a whole lot of flashy upgrades. However, I have found a few economically priced tweaks that could make my current system more functional and easier to use.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with my set-up, here is a quick list of the major components:
- Hammock: Warbonnet Outdoors Traveler (1.1oz/30D Nylon, Double Layer)
- Tarp: Mountain Laurel Designs UL Asym Hammock Tarp (mine is the discontinued Spinnaker version, not the current Cuben version)
- Underquilt: Warbonnet Outdoors 3-Season Yeti Underquilt
New Tarp Guys and Hardware
In true gram weenie style, I had immediately dismissed the need for any tensioning hardware in my original set-up. I also chucked the “heavy” cord that came with the tarp and replaced it with the much thinner, lighter ZPacks Z-Line cord that I already had at home. I learned a few fancy new knots and figured that I was good to go. I was wrong. Trying to tie knots in skinny cord with cold fingers turned out to be really hard. Things got even more difficult when it was windy and that skinny, light line blew all over the place. I had officially gone “stupid light”.
As I was perusing tons of hammock websites, looking for insulation ideas for the approaching winter, I discovered a simple solution to my problem: The Continuous Ridgeline. Instead of a separate cord at each end of the tarp, the CRL is a single piece of cord that runs between both trees. The tarp is then affixed to that cord via hardware or shorter cords using prusik knots. This setup makes it much simpler to center the tarp over the hammock because you can just slide it along the ridgeline, instead of having to untie/re-tie knots.
Being a generally lazy person, I opted to purchase a CRL kit from DutchWare (which, as it turns out, is located just one county over). The DutchWare Continuous Ridge Line kit is comprised of a 30-foot section of 1.75mm urethane-coated Dyneema cord (DutchWare calls it Lash-It or Zing-It depending on color) with a “Dutch Hook” connector spliced on one end and a “Tarp Wasp” near the other end. Two “Soft Shackles” (made of the same 1.75mm cord) act like prusiks to adjust the position of the tarp on the ridge line. Weighing 0.7oz, this kit is only 0.2oz heavier than my “Version 1.0″ guy lines. That tiny weight penalty is well forth it for all the hassle I’d be saving myself.
New Hammock Suspension
While browsing the DutchWare site, I came across something else interesting to tweak my hang. I currently use the stock whoopie sling suspension on my Warbonnet Traveler. The whoopie slings are girth hitched to the ends of the hammock. You clip the whoopies to the tree straps with carabiners, tension them, and you’re done. This system works well, but in an attempt to perfect my hang, I ordered something new.
DutchWare’s Whoopie Hook Suspension is only subtly different. Their slings come with a small titanium hook spliced onto the adjustable end. After removing the old suspension (just a matter of untying a few girth hitches), you girth hitch small loops of Amsteel to the ends of the hammock and knot the fixed end of the whoopie slings each to one end of a tree hugger strap. You wrap the straps around the trees and then use the Whoopie Hooks to connect the whoopies to the Amsteel loops on the hammock. Tension, and you’re done!
At first glance, I saw two advantages of this system. First, the DutchWare Whoopie Hook is significantly lighter than a carabiner, so this suspension saves me 1.4oz over my old one. Second, the position of the hook creates a “break” in the suspension, where rainwater will drip off instead of running down into your hammock. I had my doubts as to the strength of these little hooks (supposedly rated to 1000lbs), but a huge amount of positive feedback online convinced me to give them a try.
The new components worked very well. The Continuous Ridge Line was a revelation. I can’t believe I didn’t stumble on this earlier. I did make a small mistake using the Dutch Wasp in the field, but it didn’t cause any problems and was cleared up when I got home and looked at the instruction card. The ease of use alone makes the CRL a great upgrade. It only took seconds to center the tarp over the hammock. When I used separate guy lines and tied knots, the process took much longer.
The Whoopie Hook suspension worked as advertised, but that was more a weight savings move than anything. I like it, but it didn’t WOW me. It’s basically the same suspension I had before but laid out backwards and with different hardware.
I should have another hammock post up in a few weeks, as I attempt to transition my hammock kit into colder weather. Keep your eyes peeled to find out if I get a case of Frozen Butt Syndrome!