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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…