Is a hammock right for you?

I receive lots of fan mail from my ham radio friends that have read Three Hundred Zeroes. I received a very nice letter recently from Tom, WA8WPI. He wanted to know more about hammocks and long distance hiking. Here is my reply to him:

Thanks for the nice words. The book's getting a great reception, and I've even had a few people tell me they got their ham license because of it. Thanks for spreading the word, as an unknown author, that is the best help I can receive. If you're an Amazon customer you can leave a review there about the book, that actually helps the books ranking.

As for hammocks, you either love 'em or hate 'em. I love 'em. 

On the plus side:

  • They're light.
  • They can hang almost anywhere, and even though it never happened, you can even use it on the ground, like a tent.
  • They're off the ground, so flooding is not an issue.
  • One can sit under it in rainy weather. I cooked several breakfasts this way. One can use the hammock as a seat, sitting in the opening.
  • A sleeping pad is not needed (unless some stays are in a shelter. In my shelter stays, I just piled gear under me as a mattress.)
  • The slit never opens. The hiker's weight forces it closed and the Velcro seal does a good job of staying together. In fact, it is sometimes a nuisance to keep it open, it wants to close.
  • No bugs, unlike tarp camping.
  • The occupant can see in almost every direction, unlike a tent. 
On the minus side:
  • Only one person can sleep in it.
  • It takes some getting used to. With practice you can even sleep on your belly (trick: sleep diagonally to the hanging axis.)
  • Changing clothes is easiest if one puts legs on ground and uses opening as a seat.
  • The backpack has to stay outside. I would "bear hang" mine and cover it with the rain poncho and never had a problem.
  • There is no "flat" floor to put things on. However, the rope along the top ridge is fabulous for hanging things on, such as damp clothes, lamps, etc. Mine also had some pockets up there to put stuff in.
I guess that pretty much sums it up. I would encourage you to borrow a hammock and try it out. If you were not so far away, I'd offer mine. Like I said, you'll either like it, or hate it.

Maybe you have other comments on hammocks? Please do leave a comment, we bloggers love comments. Enjoy your hikes and stay safe out there.

Dennis, "K1"
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  • 10/28/2012 12:33 PM Paul wrote:
    Great article Dennis, my sons and grandsons swear by their hammocks. I am a short fat guy, I bought one and felt WAY to confined. I gave it to my son and now my grand daughter claims it... I will stick to my tent. Hi hi de Paul N0NBD
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  • 1/8/2013 12:46 PM Rick Barnich wrote:
    As I recall, you desiged your HAM rig. Any thoughts of publishing the design?
    QRP is more popular than ever.
    Love to know what's in that box.

    Rick KA8BMA
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    1. 1/14/2013 11:21 PM Dennis wrote:
      Rick: I did design it, but after using what Steve Weber, KD1JV, sent me to finish the hike with, I'd never go back. Mine weighed about three pounds, compared to his seven ounces. Mine was only two bands and about 1.25 watts, his is four bands and as much as five watts (depends on battery source).

      The receiver section of mine was inspired by the W7EL, in the Optimized QRP Transceiver article in QST years ago. It is still one of the best out there. The transmitter section is just a Colpitts design that DeMaw used often, followed by some buffers, a doubler for 40 meters and a final. The VFO operates on 80 meters. I do use it every now and then, as well as my Heathkit HW-9 and some other homebrewed things. 

      The schematic of the rig that I took on the hike is hand drawn, I just sketched them as I went along, and it is a mess. I would have to sit down and redraw the whole thing, just to have it make sense. The Optimized rig is much cleaner and if I were doing it again, I would just follow that design. My goal of having two bands, 80 and 40 wasn't really all that well conceived. If I were doing it again, I would opt for 40/30, or 40/20. On my walk across Spain last autumn, I found I used mostly 40/30 and never lacked for contacts. I did have one nice active day on 20 meters, but as a rule, when hiking, one gets in late and 20 is dead, or dying. 40/30 are just coming to life.

      Thanks for asking Rick.


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