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Ok I did a second trip . . . this time camping out - hammock questions.

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Ok I did a second trip . . . this time camping out - hammock questions.

Old 03-24-11, 02:07 PM
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episodic
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Ok I did a second trip . . . this time camping out - hammock questions.

I bought a 'cheap' bivey bag. I hated it, and will probably return it soon. How do you guys take the 'comforts' with you on bike? I didn't bring 'padding' as it was very bulky. I foolishly assumed I could pile up some leaves. I slept maybe 4 hours.

I've got to have a pillow of some sort - doesn't seem very condusive to strapping on the bike though?

What about a hammock, mosquito netting, and a rain fly? Anyone do that? Any good sources for a low cost, lightweight tarp for making a rain fly? The tarps they sell around here are the 'heavy' ones you use to cover motorcycles, etc.
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Old 03-24-11, 02:25 PM
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Lots of folks like hennessy hammocks and tarptents for lightweight and packable shelters. I haven't tried either one.
I use an REI 1/4 Dome 2-man tent. Googling either term will give you more than you need to read.

For a sleeping mat, I use a Thermarest NeoAir and an Exped Air Pillow. I can put my 30 degree down bag, silk bag liner, mat and pillow into a compression sack the size of two canatloupes side by side, weighing around 3 lbs.
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Old 03-24-11, 02:29 PM
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I've got a kelty noah's tarp I use for backpacking. Works pretty well, not too expensive, lightweight.

Also, I bought a cheap 10" x 10" (dimensions approximate) throw pillow from a walmart type store for $5. It gets stuffed into my stuff sack with my sleeping bag, or sometimes just stuffed in a rear pannier. The pillow is quite luxurious for camping. The idea came from another BF member.
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Old 03-24-11, 02:50 PM
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I couldn't sleep in a hammock, I was willing to give it a further try. Unfortunately for me, I screwed up my neck sleeping in a regular bed with a very saggy mattress. The chiropractor's explanation left me feeling I would be stupid to keep trying the hammock.

I think ultralite camping is a good idea, but if you take it too far, even if you gut it out, it isn't going to make your touring more efficient, which at least for me is the point. The sweet spot for me is a really light bag that is sufficient for the situation. I mostly tour in warmish weather, because 20 MPH isn't comfortable when it is cold. So while a 3 season bag is the best alternative for all around use in my climate, for cycling I use a summer bag and would prefer a Jardine quilt. I use a 3/4 length foam mat. I use a lot of different shelters, but I think a tent is the best overall. For solo tours I think a small 2 person is the best bet. It is costing at most 2-3 pounds, and I don't suffer by making it my only luxury. The bike is carrying the weight. Net for not having more bag or mat than I need, I am up even less since the tent is a little heavy, while the other stuff is light. This gear means I will be really comfortable. Throw bugs, rain, midnight exits, etc... And I will remain comfortable. Other than that, I am a cut toothbrushes kind of guy. i don't carry chairs and expresso makers. I don't carry a stove and pots. But sleeping is 8 hours of important posture, and I need to be able to make the most of it. Not having coffee, or hot food is probably a heath uptick, so again, it improves my overall efficiency.
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Old 03-24-11, 03:09 PM
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After going through the process of sleeping on the cold, hard ground ... and then using a thin foam mattress ... I've now settled on a 3/4 thermarest mattress which works quite well. It also packs down small so it isn't too bulky to carry.

As far as the pillow goes, I use small inflatable pillows. I carry several of them with me and use a couple under my head, one under my knees when I lie on my back, etc. My inflatable pillows fold down almost to nothing.
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Old 03-24-11, 03:28 PM
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You can get way too much good hammock information at http://www.hammockforums.net/. A lot of the hammock campers there seem to be backpackers, too, so they don't take a single ounce they don't need.

For my part, I got a good deal on a Hennessy Hammock last spring, probably something like 33% off, so under $100 for the cheapest model. You can find cheaper options, and you can find DIY options, but I love my Hennessy. My first night in the hammock, I climbed in, got settled, and thought, "This is cozy, but I wonder if I can really sleep in---zzzzzz." It was the best night's sleep I had ever had camping. Hennessy Hammocks are made so that your feet go off center in one direction and your head in another, so you're lying more flat then on the curve of the hammock.

Mind you I only have half a dozen night's experience in my hammock, but I was converted after the first night.

Pros
  • No ground sheet needed
  • No ground pad
  • With the fly adjusted right, you cannot wake up wet
  • No poles
  • Comfortable
  • Packs small
  • Lite (at least compared to any other tent I've carried)

Cons
  • If you can't tie it up (no trees, for instance), and you didn't bring any ground-specific alternatives, you may have a rough night.
  • You get chilly quicker with airflow above and below. There are many ways to deal with this, but all of them add bulk.
  • One person per tent. I've heard of some heavy duty, two-person hammocks, but most people find them uncomfortable for sleeping even if they can take two people's weight.
  • Cannot take your gear into your tent with you (at least not much of it).

Like I said, I don't have tons of experience, but after my first night I was convinced that I never wanted to sleep on the ground again.

Lots of pillow options. Some folks just have a small pillowcase or other sack that they stuff some spare clothes into for minimum added bulk. There are also small, camping pillows, some that inflate, so they don't take up much space when you're not using them. For hammock camping, there are even camping pillows that hook to the end of your hammock, so that they don't drift down to the lowest point of the hammock while you sleep. My default had been a wadded up sweater, but I'll probably get a real camping pillow soon. I still like something under my head, but in a hammock, your head is often already a little higher then your midsection, so it doesn't seem as important.

Tarps: I know I was preparing to drop some money on a decent tarp for my hammock, but I really didn't want to, so when I saw this on the hammock forums, I jumped on it. Haven't tried it yet. Might be larger then what you need, and therefore heavier then what you want, but you also might be able to cut it down smaller. Hennessy hammocks come with a rain fly, but I worry that won't keep rain out if it gets really windy. Plus a bigger tarp might be large enough to cover my bike and other gear. And this tarp seems like it might be a good, general-purpose tarp, no matter what your tent situation. Also it's white, so not a great stealth option, but if you're looking to cut costs, it looks promising.
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Old 03-24-11, 04:41 PM
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The thing to remember about hammocks, well, it's not actually about hammocks, it's about sleeping pads. Sleeping pads aren't there to make you comfy, they are there to keep you warm. The insulation underneath you in your sleeping pad is compressed to uselessness, so you need something to keep the ground from sucking the warmth out of you. In a hammock, it's exactly the same, except it's just air, not ground. Either way, you still need something beneath you to keep you warm.

You can buy a Grand Trunk Hammock for about 20 dollars, and a 10X10 piece of tyvek for about 20 dollars as well. As long as you have some ingenuity, you can rig up a pretty simple hammock set up from that. Just remember, that's for shelter, you still need a sleeping bag and pad for warmth.
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Old 03-24-11, 05:26 PM
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How hard is it to rig mosquito netting with this (we live down south). . .?

Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
The thing to remember about hammocks, well, it's not actually about hammocks, it's about sleeping pads. Sleeping pads aren't there to make you comfy, they are there to keep you warm. The insulation underneath you in your sleeping pad is compressed to uselessness, so you need something to keep the ground from sucking the warmth out of you. In a hammock, it's exactly the same, except it's just air, not ground. Either way, you still need something beneath you to keep you warm.

You can buy a Grand Trunk Hammock for about 20 dollars, and a 10X10 piece of tyvek for about 20 dollars as well. As long as you have some ingenuity, you can rig up a pretty simple hammock set up from that. Just remember, that's for shelter, you still need a sleeping bag and pad for warmth.
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Old 03-25-11, 07:08 AM
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A very good 3 season backpacking tent with a full rainfly solves a lot of problems. It keeps you warmer, you need less of a sleeping bag, and you wake up dryer. Closed cell foam pads are the most practical padding, although thin self-inflated mattresses work. Hammocks are cold and dangerous to sleep in overnight.

Marc
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Old 03-25-11, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
Hammocks are cold and dangerous to sleep in overnight.
I agree that airflow above and below can make them colder then a tent, although, depending on when and where you are camping, that can be a blessing, but why do you find them more dangerous?
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Old 03-25-11, 11:58 AM
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Dangerous?

Whatever you say bub. Some of us can tie knots.

Hammocks are great, sometimes: Like in the warm summer months most places, and longer in the south or southwest.


I never sleep as well in my tent on a thermarest as I do in a hennessy hammock. I only wish I could use mine all year here in Colorado like I did in S. Arizona.
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Old 03-25-11, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by episodic View Post
I bought a 'cheap' bivey bag. I hated it, and will probably return it soon. How do you guys take the 'comforts' with you on bike? I didn't bring 'padding' as it was very bulky. I foolishly assumed I could pile up some leaves. I slept maybe 4 hours.
.......
So you bought an item and used it, and now want your money back?? And you admit it wascheap. You want something "good but cheap"? Huh? Only in America!!

Sounds like you want a retailer to MAKE you happy at your convenience and at their expense.! If I am not mistaken, there is No indication that the bovy was defective or .. So WHY are you retuning it (with the implication that you will get your money back).

Am I missing something here about consumer behaviour in the USA? It sounds like the case of the lady spilling HOT coffee on herself while driving (after taking the lid off the coffee cup) and successfully suing the vendor for getting scalded/burned. Sounds like you don't want to take responsibility for your actions...

That said, maybe you should forget about camping and bicycling and stay home in your nice warm bed - and suing the bed maker because you found the bed too soft or too lumpy, or..

Sheesh! After reading such opinions I am happy to be out bicycling in places away from the USA. Seriously!

Don't get me wrong, because I have spent a bunch of time in the USA and have wonderful experiences there, but attitudes like yours remind me that I should be away from folks and attitudes like yours. Africa and Australia remind me of such "away from" places that are pleasant, safe, and enjoyable - and where folks take responsibility for their own actions.

Take responsibility for YOUR actions and beliefs. Rant mode off
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Old 03-25-11, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by tmac100 View Post
Sheesh! After reading such opinions I am happy to be out bicycling in places away from the USA. Seriously!
I'm happy that you stay away from the USA too, seriously.
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Old 03-25-11, 02:00 PM
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A good pad and sleeping bag are a huge plus for camping Most people can't sleep on the ground. I have the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir inflatable pad, it provides excellent isolation and it's comfortable. It's narrow though, I bought the REG size, it's 20" wide, too narrow. I'm selling it on eBay and getting the LRG one which is 25" wide. For the sleeping bag I have a REI 2-season down bag, plus a thin thermal "insert" layer that adds like 10 degrees in cold weather.

I also have to have a pillow and experimented a bit and eventually made my own small pillow. I just took a regular pillow and made it like 1/4. The pillow, the bag, the liner and the extra thermal blanket plus sleeping clothes fit in one medium Sea To Summit compression sack and the sleeping pad is very small too. This is the kind of stuff a backpacker would use. Not as compact as some folks here use but I had to balance the size and cost.

Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
I've got a kelty noah's tarp I use for backpacking. Works pretty well, not too expensive, lightweight.
Is it waterproof? I was looking at it several times, but I seem to remember some people complaining that it's very thin and doesn't offer much protection from rain and strong sun. What's your experience?

I'd like to combine it with my tent to add some sheltered area on rainy or very sunny days so I don't have to sit inside the tent.

Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
I'm happy that you stay away from the USA too, seriously.
Yeah, a bit of an overreacting fella, huh?

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Old 03-25-11, 02:16 PM
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Tmac, consider that some of us choose where we buy our gear based at least in part on that company's "return policy". Places like REI, Backwoods, et cetera use it as part of their marketing. We usually pay a little more for the goods, precisely so that we retain the option of returning the item if it's unsatisfactory. That premium price seems to cover the store's cost for dealing with the returns.

This is all the result of an agreement with the retailer in the form of THE RETAILER'S stated policy. Lots of stores won't take back a used item. It's just a different business model than theirs.

It would be wrong to return an item based on deception on the buyer's part, but there's no indication that he's planning to do that.

There's plenty to dislike about Americans if you're really inclined to do that, but in this case you're off-base.
Incidentally, the most prolific used item-returner I know of is an Italian living in Texas.

I now return you to your regularly-scheduled gear thread.
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Old 03-25-11, 04:23 PM
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The item is satisfactory. The item might not need the expectations episodic had in mind when he bought the item, but that was his buying decision and his alone. I know in retail that there are all sorts of problems with people using stuff and then wanting to return it with the expectation of getting their money back.

I have to agree with tmac's perspective, although it might have been couched in more sedate terms. It was the one thing that really stood out in episodic's first post on this thread. I have bought many, many items over my cycling years, and some of them have not met my expectations and have languished in my cupboard, sometimes never to see the light of day, but others have been retrieved because I have a new use or appreciation for them. I have, in all those cases, accepted that I originally made the error of judgment.

I also know there are some companies in the US that allow returns... Wallingford with Brooks saddles being the most outstanding example. But with camping equipment, what does a company do? Take a major hit on the loss it sustains because it cannot sell an item as brand new like a bivvy that has been occupied by a sweaty person, on the ground?

There is a caveat, of course, to this opinion. If episodic set up the bivvy on the floor at home, climbed into it and immediately felt calustrophobic in it, cllimbed out, and folded it back up, put it back into its original packaging and has the original receipt, then by all means, I don't see a particular issue in returning it. It essentially is unused compared with the other scenario... much like a display tent or bivvy would be.

Anyway, my original thought was to give some props to episodic for actually taking the general advice of a few Touring Forum members who suggest going on short "practice" trips and finding out what they like and dislike, and then asking follow-up questions based on his experiences.

For mine, I've always tented. Setting up hammocks in campgrounds can be difficult because of the the way sites are arranged around trees.

Most of the tents I have are made with mesh inners, which are specifically for erecting without the fly so the air can circulate through. I tend to agree with Peterpan1 that comfort is a siginificant factor, and that lighter weight often can mean a reduction in that factor.

I think if episodic does a search on hammocks with the member's name stokell, he will come up with a number of threads from someone who pioneered on these forums the concept for free-camping with hammocks.

The issue of insulation versus comfort with inflatable mattresses is not just one or the other -- it really is a combination of the two. Yes, they provide insulation between the person and ground or air, but on the ground, they also provide a level of comfort -- anyone who has tried to sleep on an underinflated or overinflated mattress will tell you that, and especially those whose hips need a little care and attention.

I have never been comfortable with stuffing clothes into a bag and using it as a pillow. I've tried many times, but now I will top anything like that with a self-inflating pillow, or even one from a camping store that is filled with foam, but can compress down to almost nothing.

With the clothes-in-bag concept, the clothes compress rapidly to become rock-like, and unless you are particularly careful in packing them in, you will have buttons, zips, velcro hooks and/or creases to contend with. A pillow slip for babies' pillows, or one made of polarfleece to suit the size of an inflatable pillow is my idea of comfort.

There definitely is a break-even point between weight, volume and comfort, and the only way to find that is to continue experimenting. In my view, just don't make the retailers carry the cost of your experiments unless they specifically recommend something that patently is unsuitable.

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Old 03-25-11, 04:28 PM
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So, mega chains have driven out the variety and ability for me and many Americans, especially those not located in a thriving metropolis to have a large variety and choice in the goods that we purchase. Usually we are limited to 1 - 2 big box retailers within a reasonable drive or we must buy sight unseen from internet merchants. The choices locally are small and limited, and the money that we spend over the course of a year at such retailers is often substantial as they are the only place locally to buy goods and services. One of the 'selling' points of these mega chains is that they usually have a liberal return policy by which they abide. It is not necessary to have a problem other than your satisfaction is not sufficient. Hence the 'American' phrase satisfaction guaranteed. I rarely use this option, however, in light of the economic climate that I am in - I will use it. I don't have the ability to window shop and talk to experience shopkeeps and get great advice. Sometimes, I just must purchase something and see if it works for me. Since competition was killed long ago, chances are I have to purchase it from a mega-chain which through their business model do not generally employ experts in their fields in various departments to advise customers. Since this has been foisted upon me and most consumers through no fault of our own, I don't feel any pain in utilizing a return policy when it is advantageous to me. Obviously, it is advantageous to those retailers as they have captured USA wide - sometimes worldwide markets through their policies.

Now, there are some places I would never think of returning things. For instance, I bought a seat I didn't like at a LBS. I didn't return it as he is a one man operation - and I want to support him. I ended up regifting it to someone else that uses it till this day. I would not return things at my local health food store that is also a local operation.

If these mega corporations don't like me returning stuff, I would believe that they would change their policies. In the last year I've returned a coffee machine I didn't like (didn't get hot enough), I've returned some shirts (didn't fit me after all), and I even took back an entertainment center (it was very unstable even properly assembled).

I'm sorry that in other places in the world people are stuck with all of their bad purchases. I'm guessing where you are there are more boutique style stores where you can get more service, advice, and utility from your purchases, but sadly that business model is failing in many places.



Originally Posted by tmac100 View Post
So you bought an item and used it, and now want your money back?? And you admit it wascheap. You want something "good but cheap"? Huh? Only in America!!

Sounds like you want a retailer to MAKE you happy at your convenience and at their expense.! If I am not mistaken, there is No indication that the bovy was defective or .. So WHY are you retuning it (with the implication that you will get your money back).

Am I missing something here about consumer behaviour in the USA? It sounds like the case of the lady spilling HOT coffee on herself while driving (after taking the lid off the coffee cup) and successfully suing the vendor for getting scalded/burned. Sounds like you don't want to take responsibility for your actions...

That said, maybe you should forget about camping and bicycling and stay home in your nice warm bed - and suing the bed maker because you found the bed too soft or too lumpy, or..

Sheesh! After reading such opinions I am happy to be out bicycling in places away from the USA. Seriously!

Don't get me wrong, because I have spent a bunch of time in the USA and have wonderful experiences there, but attitudes like yours remind me that I should be away from folks and attitudes like yours. Africa and Australia remind me of such "away from" places that are pleasant, safe, and enjoyable - and where folks take responsibility for their own actions.

Take responsibility for YOUR actions and beliefs. Rant mode off
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Old 03-25-11, 04:56 PM
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I am not a hammock fan, but dangerous!!! Never heard that one before.

My preference runs to smallish tents and a decent sleeping pad. There are decent tents for under $100. The Eureka Spitfire solo model comes to mind (or if you prefer more space the Spitfire 2). The solo one can be found for about $85 (Amazon and with free shipping, for one).

Closed cell pads can be like $10-15 and are way better than leaves. There are self inflating pads that are much more comfortable yet and more expensive. Then there is the NeoAir. It packs small, is light, and is supremely comfortable. It is also expensive.
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Old 03-25-11, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I am not a hammock fan, but dangerous!!! Never heard that one before.

My preference runs to smallish tents and a decent sleeping pad. There are decent tents for under $100. The Eureka Spitfire solo model comes to mind (or if you prefer more space the Spitfire 2). The solo one can be found for about $85 (Amazon and with free shipping, for one).

Closed cell pads can be like $10-15 and are way better than leaves. There are self inflating pads that are much more comfortable yet and more expensive. Then there is the NeoAir. It packs small, is light, and is supremely comfortable. It is also expensive.
True. My 2-person REI Dome2 tent was $99 and it exceeded my expectations so far. Very easy to set up, good ventilation, quality zippers, resistant to wind and completely leakproof. It weights 5lbs. You should expect to spend several hundred dollars to equip yourself. I've done it over several months, starting in Winter, in preparation for my first tour.

First, it was easier on the wallet to buy stuff little by little, second I had the time to find sales.
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Old 03-25-11, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
I agree that airflow above and below can make them colder then a tent, although, depending on when and where you are camping, that can be a blessing, but why do you find them more dangerous?
It's very easy to fall out when you are asleep.

Marc
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Old 03-25-11, 06:22 PM
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I have used a Hennessy Hammock Backpacker Ultralight with the Supershelter insulation system on 3 tours in February in the south/southwest US and California. The coldest night was 25 degrees F and I stayed relatively comfy. True, there are not always trees...just need to be creative. Sometimes I wish I had a tent I could hang out in. On the other hand, I probably get going earlier in the morning. The journals are here. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/direc...ser=Powers&v=B
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Old 03-25-11, 06:57 PM
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Thanks for the clarification on returning the used item.

I am still amazed about the woman who burned herself with hot coffee, and then sued the restaurant for selling her the hot coffee. Common sense is not that common is it?
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Old 03-25-11, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
It's very easy to fall out when you are asleep.

Marc
I think that depends very much on the hammock and the sleeper. I've fallen out of hammocks and I've slept in hammocks, but I've never fallen out of a hammock while sleeping. Some hammocks are difficult to get out of once you're in them, let alone fall ou accidentally. My Hennessy hammock is made for sleeping in, and it would be difficult to fall out of that one.
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Old 03-25-11, 09:09 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
It's very easy to fall out when you are asleep.
If this is your biggest concern, calling a hammock "dangerous" seems a bit over-blown. If you're worried about falling out, I'd suggest: 1) buying a better hammock, or 2) mounting it close to the ground.
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Old 03-25-11, 10:21 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
It's very easy to fall out when you are asleep.

Marc
That was the last thing I ever expected to hear as to why a hammock is dangerous. I mean, I guess I fell out of a bed a few times, but I was either really drunk or having a nice time...

Falling branches, snapping ropes, Something better please. Like any outdoor sleeping arangment always check for widow maker tree limbs, and have your gear in good condition.
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