Category Archives: Hiking

New hammock setup (+ mosquito net)

I’m finally done with the primitive, heavy and inconvenient single rope system. My new hang consists of:

  • A dogbone at each end (approx. 35 cm long).
  • A whoopie sling at each end (50 – 240 cm), fixed eye larksheaded through said dogbone.
  • Nylon straps to wrap around the trees (300 cm)
  • Another whoopie sling (225 – 275 cm), serving as an adjustable structural ridge line
  • A soft shackle (5 cm when closed) to attach the adjustable loop of the ridge line

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The dogbones and whoopie slings were spliced from 2.5 mm dyneema rope. The soft shackle and ridge line are made of 1.5 mm dyneema. The entire splicing took one afternoon. Considering that it was my first time, I’m quite happy. Actually, when I spliced the first dogbone and figured out some tricks, it all went pretty smoothly.

The mosquito net

Ah, I’m a real mosquitophobe and so I was looking forward to having a total protection from those pesky insects. And since I like to switch between sleeping on the ground and in a hammock (and soon also in SE Asian hostels), I wanted my net to be usable in all those conditions, i.e., to have an opening in the bottom wide enough to fit an entire bed or at least a sleeping pad.

Luckily, no suitable product could be found so I got an opportunity for another DIY project. To my surprise, I couldn’t even find suitable fabric, so eventually I decided to buy a Dutch military surplus cot mosquito net just to scavenge the mesh.

Sewing the mosquito net was much more time consuming, for several reasons:

  • it was my first time ever using a sewing machine
  • there was no user manual for the machine and I pretty much had to figure it out on my own (it went much better once I realized you need to lower the presser foot)
  • my first two designs turned out to be bad ideas and I had to test the prototypes in a forest and then start all over again in few iterations.
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My work station

Finally, after two days of work I arrived at my final design:

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  • A two-layered rectangle. 300 cm long, 160 cm high
  • At the bottom edge there is a zipper running for the entire length, with two opposing sliders.
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  • Each of the upper corners has a small hole for the hammock hanging ropes.
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  • Along the upper edge there are three small rings sewn in, in case I want to hang it without the hammock and its ridge line.

Final result

The bag that came with the original net now holds the entire set, except for the straps which are stored separately in case they get dirty from resin and such.

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During test hangs in a nearby forest it seemed  to work great.IMG_20140716_103601

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How it would perform in the field remained to be seen as I was about to start my trip to Balkans in just few days (spoiler alert; it worked great).

Cost

  • The hammock: 20 CAD
  • Nylon straps: 20 PLN
  • Dyneema ropes ( 11m x 2.5mm + 4m x 1.5 mm): 31 PLN + 19 PLN shipping
  • Original mosquito net: 50 PLN + 15 PLN shipping
  • Tarp (not discussed in this post; 3m x 3m): 20 PLN
  • Ropes for the tarp (also not disussed): 20 PLN

In total, my entire system cost 232 PLN or 74 USD, plus three days worth of work.

Weight

  • Hammock with mosquito net and hanging ropes: 650g
  • The straps: 100g
  • The tarp and its ropes: 600g

In total: 1.35kg.

Quite a lot. I guess that’s what I pay for mosquito net versatility and the tarp more comfortable (bigger) than the required minimum (which in my case would be 2m x 3m).

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Broken tent in the backcountry

So my friend and I went recently for a hike in the Bieszczady mountains. It didn’t last long as one of the tent poles broke when setting up for the first night. Trying to fix it made it even worse. Luckily I had my tarp with me. Here’s our camp:

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The broken pole was still quite useful: it secured one of the tarp corners in place.

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And it was replaced with a couple strings.

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Worked really well. Despite rainy night we had a good, dry and mosquito-free sleep :-)

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An ultra-short trip in preparation for the Norwegian Adventure

I’m going to Norway on Wednesday. I’m flying to Rygge, near Oslo, and then I guess I will just stick out my thumb and see what happens.

I’ve made some adjustments in my gear for that trip.

I want to hike a bit, especially in the Arctic – I absolutely love high latitude places. In the past when I went hiking, I would always have a place to leave some of my stuff till I get back to civilization. This time I want to carry all my belongings with me, everywhere I go. Which means I really have to minimize everything. No computers, no e-readers, no spare long pants, etc. I also decided to leave my tent – it’s a good hiking tent, but still – too heavy and too big for my needs. Before I got it, I would use my (Canadian Army) heavy-duty poncho to make a shelter but that solution is also far from perfect – the poncho is too heavy, too small when used as a tarp and wouldn’t work well as a rain gear with my backpack.

So I got myself a nice piece of tarp. I was surprised that no outdoor store in Poland would carry such an important piece of equipment. Then I thought about hardware department stores and found it there. I’ve also bought trekking poles – setting up a tarp can be a real nuisance if there are no suitable trees around and that’s when the poles come in really handy. And they should make this next trip much easier on my knees.

Anyway, I went few days ago to the Kampinos National Park to try out my equipment and some new ideas for camp setup.

First some photos:
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(sorry for the poor quality, I forgot to turn off the macro mode)

Most importantly, I wanted to check out three things:

  • how my sleeping mat would work with my hammock
  • some new knots for tying the hammock and hanging the tarp
  • how easy it was to use the poles for making a shelter

It all worked pretty well, except for one thing. And this, I feel, is the right moment to introduce you a bit more to the Kampinos Park. If I were to do it with just one sentence, I would use this exerpt from the Park’s website: It’s estimated that even half, which means approx. 16 500, of all animal species encountered in Poland are inhabitating this area (…) including 31 species of mosquitos.

And it’s not just some mosquitos, oh no! These were the very first mosquitos to bite through my hiking pants that had remained impenetrable to all kinds of insects I had encountered before. Heck, some of them managed even to get their needle through the hammock, sleeping bag and thick woolen socks combined. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel that this level of skill deserves some credit.

So that’s how I discovered that my mosquito-net jacket did not offer enough protection during sleep. And after a sleepless night, I decided to shorten my trip and got back home. And then I scratched. And scratched. And having scratched some more, I bought a big piece of window curtain that will serve me as a mosquito net in my next camp setup.

As I’ve mentioned before, I might try some street performing when I’m in Norway. Alas, I’m not taking any web-capable device with me, so this blog will probably turn very quiet till late September or early October and then I will hopefully write about how it went.


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