January Sunrise.

By Hammocker.

It can often be a daunting thing, the idea of camping out during the cold winter months, but that didn’t stop Skelly, Opie the Dog and I from packing up our kit late on Sunday afternoon ready to venture out into the woods. Our chosen spot was near a beautiful reservoir which often boasts fantastic morning views, it also seems to sit above most of the bad weather down in the Calder Valley.


The walk in to this spot is about a kilometre long and just runs straight along a track next to the reservoir. But, being Winter, it was already pitch black by the time we set off which gave me a perfect opportunity to test my new head torch from Alpkit, which I plan on reviewing at a later date.  Opie the dog has been enjoying some ‘off lead’ walking recently, which really gets my heart beating, but his training is paying off and he happily strolled along next to Skelly and I until we arrived at our camp site. 

It didn’t take us long to get set up and tinker with our under quilts until they were perfect, the night ahead was going to get to minus 2 degrees! After the essential test hang, which can last for ages if you’re sleepy and comfy, we started to gather some wood for a fire. I used some fat wood shavings to get it lit and roaring nicely. Skelly had provided the beer and I had provided burgers for dinner. There’s nothing better than hot food, cooked on a roaring fire, in the cold winter woods.


We relaxed by the fire and enjoyed some ale and put the world to rights. As per usual, campfire conversations are my favourite! There’s always something magical about sitting in the woods with friends, and having a dog to cuddle makes it even better!
When it was bedtime I took Opie for a little walk around camp and then we hopped into our hammock. Opie is very good at hammock camping, he wiggles around a bit and then find a comfy spot and settles in for the night. It takes me a bit longer to get to sleep, especially when it’s minus two! But once I was asleep, I slept very well, all the way through until morning. And as we woke up we were greeted by a wonderful sun rise over the reservoir.


We enjoyed a morning coffee made with my new Aerobie Aeropress and some wonderful TentMeals porridge, which went down a treat. We were all quite happy sat in the woods relaxing in the sunshine, bit after an hour or so we decided to take the lovely stroll back to the car and head home!

This adventure was well needed, and really helped to fight off the January blues! I can highly recommend a bit of woodland therapy to all! 

Happy Hammocking!

Camping Recipe No.2

Following from last months Bannock Bread Recipe, I would like to share an ingenious idea for your culinary satisfaction. I can’t claim any glory for this idea, it was thought up by two colleagues during a canoe trip on Loch Shiel earlier this year.

Outdoor Cheesecake.

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Now the notion of creating a proper cheesecake whilst out in the sticks is a funny one, and this recipe does need a some pre-packaged goods. But the setting method is brilliant.

You will need,

A container for holding the Cheesecake.

Digestive Biscuits ( amount dependant on the size of your container)

Butter for base.

Cheesecake topping mix (from any big supermarket)

Dry bag big enough for your container.

A stirring implement.

Method.

Crush your biscuits and mix in some melted butter, until you have biscuit crumbs that stick together. Crushing biscuits in a ziplock bag works well.

Evenly place a base of the biscuit mix into your container.

And then add the mixed cheesecake topping.

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Now comes the clever bit. Place your container inside your dry bag and submerge it in a Loch or any other body of water that is cool enough. A river or stream would work too. use some heavy rocks to keep your dry bag from floating away. After a few hours, Voila! You have yourself a fully fledged cheesecake in the wilderness.

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Genius right?! All credit to Nadams and Frenchy for this fantastic idea!

Happy Hammocking!

 

Camping Recipe No.1

As you all know food is very close to my heart, and I am a firm believer that a good hearty meal or snack is an essential part of a successful hammocking trip. So this new feature is designed to help you all enjoy some tasty camping treats that I have tried on my adventures.

This weeks addition is Bannock Bread. I like to use two pots to bake my Bannock, but many people flatten it out and fry it in a pan. However you cook it, this is my favourite recipe.

You will need;

1 1/2 cups of plain flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 cup oil

1 1/2 cold water

1 cup choc chips or anything else extra you want to include. Savoury or sweet.

Mix the dry ingredients together and slowly add the water and oil, while mixing to create a dough. Knead the dough on a surface about five time (this could just be inside a mug if outdoors). Cook however you prefer but I prefer to use a dry oven as documented in a previous post about Bannock Bread. 

Share your photos and happy Bannock memories! And we are also very keen to hear your recipe ideas, we may even feature them on one of our recipe posts.

Happy Hammocking!

The Dog And The Hammock.

I was sat at home on Saturday morning and a sudden urge came over me to have an adventure of some kind. I Got in touch with Skelly who said he needed an adventure too. Then I looked down at Opie the dog, and wondered if it was time for his first overnight trip. The thought of taking a four month old puppy into the woods for a night filled me with a mixture of excitement and nerves.

And also considering taking a dog changes your packing somewhat, I needed to pack all of my own things but then the dogs stuff too. Towels, food, water bowl and an extra jacket to act as his duvet. I also wanted a way to see him easily in the dark in case he wandered off, so I invented the puppy illumination system, which is really just a glow stick attached to his harness. I have to say it worked a treat and I could always see where he was.

 

After Skelly and I had visited the shop to stock up on steak and beer, we headed into some local woodland. I chose a spot close to home in case I needed to evacuate an unhappy dog in the middle of the night. It only took us about ten minutes to walk into camp, and Opie watched and sniffed around while we setup our hammocks. I had chosen the Hennessy Jungle Explorer because of its built in bug net to help prevent midnight dog escapes!


Opie was slightly restless at first, trying to get to know the area and having a good sniff around, but as soon as the fire was going he settled very quickly. he calmed down so much that I regularly let go of his lead so he could wander and get closer to the fire. When we discovered him sniffing around the uncooked ‘Adventure Steaks’ we remembered it was time to eat! Opie loved the smell of the cooking steak but sensibly stayed away until it was time for him to have his share. It’s safe to say he loved his very first taste of steak!


Skelly, Opie and I sat around the fire after dinner. The grown ups had a few beers and chatted whilst the puppy played down by the fire and gave us both a cuddle to keep us (or himself) warm. He eventually drifted off on my lap and we decided it was time to hit the hammocks. This was the bit I was concerned about, would Opie settle down away from his own bed. Well, the answer was definitely yes!


With his lead clipped the the hammock ridgeline I climbed in and got myself sorted. Then Opie hopped in and found a comfy spot on my lap. I had him outside my sleeping bag with a jacket over him because he would’ve been too hot inside the bag with me, I am little bit like a radiator when I sleep! It didn’t take us long to fall asleep. I woke up twice in the night, once when Opie wriggled and then again for my standard 3am wee break. Funnily enough Opie needed a 3am wee break too. After that we slept through until morning, when Skelly hopped out of his hammock and woke us up for breakfast. We all enjoyed some pastries for breakfast and then packed away ready for home.


After all of the concerns I had about Opie’s first trip I was blown away by how well he dealt with it all. He was calm and slept fantastically, and I will definitely be taking him on all of my future one night adventures! I also think I would feel better about solo hammock trips with my guard dog around!

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Happy Hammocking!

Scorching Scotland Part 3: Attack of the ticks

Catch up with part two here!

We pick up the story on day 3; the first full day of paddling.

I started off my morning with a quick dip to wake myself up (and I do mean quick as it was warm outside but not in the Loch!) Some other people started their morning with the realisation that they had acquired a few ticks. This was something I knew you had to be aware of in Scotland and I was a bit nervous because I had never had one before and I was worried that I wouldn’t recognise a tick if I did have one on me.

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I had to get over that pretty quickly as a quick check found a few straight away, including one right on my bottom. I had to call in the cavalry to remove it for me which was a highly amusing and humbling experience.

Breakfast had and ticks removed, we paddled our way to a beautiful, ancient burial site. It was another amazingly sunny day but we  were warned to cover up before exploring the site as it was notorious for being tick infested. A few of us braved it and had a look around, counting the number of McDonald headstones we could see. I can’t remember the tally but it was a lot.

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The wind proved favourable enough for us to rig our boats together and sail our way to a nearby town for some lunch. We split into two groups and as my boat was in the front of one set up I took on the essential role of being the figurehead for our boat.

We had a bit of a race and sang the Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune relentlessly until we could pull up for lunch.

We all took the opportunity to have a meal that we didn’t have to clean up after, stock up on water and use the facilities. It was at this point that I discovered my second lot of ticks. Needless to say, I removed these ones myself.

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After lunch we paddled on and found ourselves an irresistible swimming hole before pulling up to a lovely castle where we stopped to have a look around.

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Camp that night was on what seemed like our own private island where we created a bit of a hammock village. We enjoyed stunning views with our dinner and campfire waffles to finish off a spectacular day. I even got to spend the night with my tarp off. Ace!

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Tune in soon for part four of this great adventure!

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The Adventure Dog

By Hammocker.

I am very happy to introduce you all to my new adventure companion, Opie. Before you ask, he is named after a character from a TV show and it’s pronounced ‘Opee’ not ‘OhPie’. He is A Jack Russell cross Border Terrier and he is currently thirteen weeks old.

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He has been at his new home for nearly a month and he is settling in very well. His daily walks are quite small at the moment but when the weekend arrives, we take him on some lovely adventures. And as you may have guessed, our most recent adventure, definitely involved a hammock and dog trial run!

We headed up to a wonderful spot by a little reservoir to let him have a proper run around and explore. But before he could get too muddy, I setup Old Tango, my Rogue Hammock, for him to sit in with me.

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I was dubious at first, as he looked a bit restless, but after a minute or two he soon settled down and even had a little nap. After a little relax, he went off to splash in the bogs and have a good run around. He even pretended to be ‘king of the hill’!

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Opie and I will hopefully be heading out on our first hammock adventure soon. But we will probably wait until after winter for his first attempt at an overnighter. I have plans afoot to make him a doggy hammock, that sits above mine on the ridgeline so he doesn’t overheat in my down sleeping bag.

I would be incredibly interested in hearing about your hammock/canine adventures, and to know what worked for you and what didn’t. Because we all know that sometimes it’s funnier when things don’t quite go to plan.

Heres to many Opie and Hammocker adventures!

Happy Hammocking!

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Scorching Scotland Part 2

By Kiwi.

Get up to speed with part one here.

We pick up the tale on the first day of paddling.

After the necessary car shuttle and packing of the boats, we waved goodbye to the rail bridge, that the Hogwarts Express can be seen zooming over in Harry Potter. With the scenery that followed, it wasn’t hard to understand why the area would appeal as a filming location. The brilliant blue sky and the rolling, green hills made for a magnificent backdrop.

We had the wind at our backs making for a leisurely paddle. Spirits were high as comparisons were made to last years trip, as we surpassed the first days distance with ease.  We even managed to stop and throw up our spare hammock for a mid afternoon chill.

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We had to take it a bit easy because due to a last minute dropout, SKelly was paddling solo. For the last few kilometres he made a sail out of our blue hammock with some degree of success and joined up with another boat. At the very least they enjoyed themselves, belting out the Pirates of the Caribbean  theme song at full volume.

We had our pick of campsite spot for the evening as we had made such good time. We decided on a beachy spot with enough grass and trees for the whole group. I took myself off towards a little stream that was away from everyone else but was absolutely stunning.

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We made pizza nachos for tea so I could get rid of them from my barrel.  It basically involved melting some cheese and chorizo over some corn chips. Anything with melted cheese on, is a win in my book.

Our guide took most of us a for an evening paddle into a little inlet. I always feel like Pocahontas when there’s reeds and small channels to paddle through.  It was very serene but extremely midgey at this point, and we paddled hard back to our spot to stop them from eating us.

We finished off our evening with some cheesecake prepared at camp and set in the loch. It was quite a sight to behold, with Nadams elbow deep in butter and a crumbly base mixture, and Sheep vigorously whisking the cheese mix with a fork. Using a dry bag to set it in the cool water was pretty genius and they even presented it with a plastic bag apron and dry bag chef’s hat! We all agreed that it was an impressive feat and tasted amazing. Who knew that camping cheesecake could be a thing?

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As it came time for bed, I rectified my mistake of the previous night and cinched my midge-net as tight as I could and settled down for a wonderful sleep in preparation for a full day of paddling ahead.

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Like Father Like Son.

I am Hammocker’s Dad, sometimes known around these parts as Mr Bikepacker. I am often found riding bikes long distances and camping wild during the course of the trips. My usual camp arrangements consist of a 3/4 size self-inflating sleeping mat, sleeping bag, bivvi bag and a tarp rigged using my bike as the “poles”.

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Hammocker gave me a DD Superlight hammock for my birthday last year and has since sought to teach me the art of hanging. Up until now, he has always been with me when I have used a hammock, and he is keen for me to use my hammock on my rides instead of ground dwelling.

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This weekend I was away with some friends competing in a national off road comp safari racing championship. In simple terms, this involves driving a specifically designed and prepared vehicle over a pre-defined course as quickly as you can. You have a set number of timed runs around the course during the meeting and once all of your times are added up, the team with the shortest accumulated time, wins.

Anyway, I digress. Usual accommodation is in our kitted out team van, which has three fixed bunks. Two of these run along the side of the van, and one across the width. Despite Hammocker being about 17 feet tall, I am very short. Regardless, even I struggle to fit and sleep comfortably in this bunk. So I decided before the weekend to take my outdoor sleeping gear, and find somewhere to use my hammock. Having competed at this site before, I knew there was a large woodland that would surely provide a decent place to sleep, so whilst driver and co-driver went to sign on and register to race, I ventured into the woods to find suitable trees. It didn’t take long! Within 10 minutes I had picked out a pair and even left a pile of broken branches at the foot of one so I would be able to find it again later that night in darkness.

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So, shortly after dinner, beers, a movie and lots of idle chatter, at about 11pm, I walked the short distance from the bottom of the field where our team was based and on up into the woods. I am glad I marked out the trees, as they certainly all looked very similar at night with nothing but my head torch to illuminate proceedings. Experience tells me that having your gear packed in the order that you will need it is a good idea, so I hung my bag on a convenient nearby branch and set about deploying my hammock. Bearing in mind I have never rigged a hammock unsupervised before, I had it rigged in under 5 minutes. In with the sleeping mat, bivvi bag and sleeping bag and I was already to hit the sack.

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The weather was clement, and I was surprised not to have to wear my down jacket. In fact, I was on the verge of being too hot most of the night, which is a novel experience! I have been known to wake up with a bivvi bag covered in ice before now…

I slept straight through until 4.45am, which enabled me to see dawn breaking through the trees, which was very nice. I was glad I used my bivvi bag, as they there was a hint of drizzle in the air. I dropped back off and woke again at 6.30am, at which point the rain was a little more insistent, so I struck camp. Once again, this was a very quick process, so nothing got wet.

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So my first solo hammock was a resounding success. Also, for the first time ever, I managed to pick trees that were a suitable distance apart. Normally I choose trees that are slightly too close to each other, which means I have to tighten up the loops at each end of the hammock up to their maximum to try to straighten the hammock out. This normally results in the hammock being too “droopy” in shape, which in turn leads to an uncomfortable night spent bunched up in the centre of the hammock.

To improve things next time I may be tempted to follow Hammocker’s tradition and include Adventure Steak(TM) in proceedings! I shall certainly be tempted to use my hammock on my bike trips in the future, now I know I can manage the hammock equipment easily.

Thank you son…

Hobo Hammocks Double Hammock- Review

Today I would like to bring you our review of the Double Camping Hammock. Made by the very lovely folks over at Hobo Hammocks. But before we talk about the hammock itself, lets talk a little bit about the company and why they are called Hobo Hammocks.

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It’s very simple really. Every time someone buys one of their hammocks, they provide a meal to a homeless person. They work with organisations who already tend to the homeless and have helped many, many people have a hot meal whilst living on the streets. Now isn’t that lovely! I also have to add that Hobo Hammocks were a pleasure to deal with and incredibly friendly to talk to.

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The hammock in question today is the Double Hammock. Its wider than your standard hammock and measures in at 10ft by 6.5ft, which is massive! It is made out of parachute Nylon and weighs in at just over 700g according to my scales, but that does include the two 10ft straps, steel carabiners for suspension and  an attached stuff sack. The Hobo Hammock retails at $59, which is a very reasonable price for an all-inclusive setup. The Hammock has been weight tested up to a massive 540lbs too!

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I have spent many hours in the garden relaxing in the hammock, and spent the night in it recently on an adventure to the beautiful reservoir spot. The first thing I’ll mention is the material. It is incredibly comfy on the skin and feels very sturdy, with not as much stretch as some other materials that I’ve tested. The straps are plenty long enough for every normal hammocking spot, and seem incredibly well stitched and manufactured. I used two half hitches onto the carabiner to suspend it.

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I found the hammock incredibly comfortable to sleep in, but of course that may be different for you. But to give you an idea, I am 6ft4 and rather wide, and it fitted me like a dream. Because it’s extra wide it does have two extra panels of material stitched to either side. I was worried this stitching would be uncomfortable to lay on during the night, but I didn’t even notice it. The join is also triple stitched with high strength thread and does not look like it will go anywhere anytime soon. And if the hammock does break, not to worry as Hobo Hammocks provide a lifetime guarantee on their hammocks.

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In conclusion the Hobo Hammock is a great bit of kit. I love the fact that one purchase can get you hanging and off the ground. And when you purchase you know you’re helping out a homeless person by providing a hot meal! An all round great product, within a good price range. We recommend the Hobo Hammock to anyone who intends to camp away from bugs!

Happy Hammocking!

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 The equipment featured in this review has been sent to Hammocker Ltd in exchange for this post. The review contains the honest and truthful opinions of the Hammocker team at the time the post was written. Hammocker Ltd is not affiliated with Hobo Hammocks in any official capacity.

Scorching Scotland Part 1

By Kiwi.

The company that Mr Hammocker and I work for gives us the opportunity to sign up for an expedition adventure once a year.  This time I opted for the same canoe trip that was chronicled on here  this time last year: a journey around Scotland beginning at Loch Shiel.

All great adventures begin with an early start and a long journey. This particular trip offered up a 7:30am start and a 7 hour drive up to Fort William. We took it pretty easy, with many food and rest stops. It was a beautiful day, so it was a shame to have to spend it in a car. I was worried we were missing the best weather we were going to get. I needn’t have worried.

We knew we’d made it to Scotland when one of our party introduced us to Iron Bru  ice-cream. After a few last-minute items were picked up, we made our way to our campsite in Fort William.

Three of us set up our hammocks in the woods at the back of the campsite. All of us were in Rogue Hammocks which meant we got to put a lot of kit through its paces. We were glad to have finished our midge net design, because we sure needed them!

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We soaked up the rest of the evening sun and prepared our evening meals. Myself and Skelly were determined to not the be the victims of food envy, so started off with a good old adventure steak. We treated ourselves to a loaf of tiger bread and some avocado because we would be eating them on the first night, so we didn’t have to carry them far. I packed us a few small Tupperware pots of sauces and things that make camping meals feel a little more luxurious. That and our new cast iron pan gave us the most tasty steak I can remember eating.

My already happy tummy was then treated to some sticky toffee pudding. We had been given the task in our boat pairs of coming up with a dessert to feed half of the group. As it turned out we all over-catered and one dessert tended to be more than enough for everyone.

Once the sun finally set, it was time to escape the midges and head for our hammocks. We were trialling our new removal midge nets and I found getting in without letting any midges in to be a little bit of a challenge. Once in though, I had a marvellous sleep until about 6:30 in the morning, when I woke up to midges having breakfast on my face. I realised when I was packing down that I had foolishly underestimated the determination of the Scottish midge. It turned out that one of the ends could have been cinched a little bit more as it left a tiny gap big enough to let a few families worth through. I can assure you I didn’t make that mistake again!

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Pack down in the morning was super slick thanks to our new snakeskins. We made them big enough to hold our tarps, midge nets, hammocks and underquilts. This makes them pretty heavy but it still speeds set up and take down hugely. This left us with enough time for a leisurely breakfast, ready for a day of paddling!

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Tune in soon for part two!

Happy Hammocking!

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