Tarp Shelter

The tarp I used for this shelter was a Warbonnet Superfly Tarp with the tent pole mod. I originally bought the tarp to use with my hammock because it has “doors” which help block wind and rain out. Plus, with the tent pole mod it gives me extra head room. I’ve used it plenty of times with my hammock, and love it for that use, but this was the first time on the ground. I decided to use it on the ground instead of one of my other tarps because of the doors to block the wind out and because it would be roomier for two people with the tent pole mod. This tarp worked out great as a ground shelter. We dealt with high winds that constantly changed direction and the tarp held up great and kept the wind out with the help of the “doors”.

This tarp in conjunction with UST’s heavy-duty emergency blanket as a ground cloth are a great combination for a winning ground shelter or tarp shelter. If you are on the fence about getting one of these tarps it is well worth the money in my humble opinion. I love this tarp for hammocking and now for ground dwelling as well. I will most definitely be using this for a ground shelter again in the future. What’s your favorite tarp or tarp shelter and why? Thanks for reading and remember to get out and enjoy some wilderness time.

 

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Camping With My Dad

A few weeks ago I went on an overnighter with my dad. We both had new Deepwoods Rucks from The Hidden Woodsman that we wanted to test out and it had been many years since my dad has been able to get out and camp. He had gotten seriously hurt on a construction site when I was younger and it really took a toll on his body, which meant backpacking and camping and any of the outdoors stuff he loved doing were out of the question for a long time. It’s only been in recent years that hes been able to slowly try to get back into some of the outdoor activities that he loves. Since other plans I had that weekend fell through and instead of doing some side work, I texted him and said lets get out for an overnighter and cook some steaks over the fire. He replied with YES! LETS GO! So the planning ensued.

I knew the night time temps would be in the low 30’s with windchill around the low 20’s and since it was his first time back out in the woods in years, I decided to go to one of my favorite spots to camp that was maybe a 20-30 minute hike in so my truck would be close in case we needed any extra supplies for warmth. I gave him my 0 degree Hammock Gear over quilt to use and I used my 20 degree over quilt. We used foam pads with  Klymit insulated static V blow up pads over top so that based on the R-value I new we’d be good down to 0 degrees and we’d be comfortable since we both have back issues. I set up my Warbonnet Outdoors Superfly tarp since it has “doors” and I knew it was going to be very windy. We used reusable heavy weight emergency blankets as our ground sheets.

We camped near a large pond with a great view. It rained a bit after we got camp set up and stopped just as we started to cook our steaks over the fire. The steaks (Venison backstraps cut into steaks) and potatoes came out perfect and tasted amazing after being cooked over the fire. We enjoyed some time around the fire and headed to bed. We slept pretty decent all night. The wind gusts got going pretty high which concerned us because the trees creaked like crazy all night and we could hear some trees and limbs falling in the distance. The wind was constantly changing direction all night. Otherwise it was a pretty good night. We both got up around 4 am to go to the bathroom and I loaded up the makeshift fire pit with wood so that we’d have coals to get a fire going later that morning. After I got the fire going again and warmed my hands up, I headed back to bed for a few hours.

I think we ended up getting up around 8-8:30 am. There was a little bit of snow on the ground, on our tarp and on our packs that were hung on the trees. The low that night was 32 degrees with a windchill of 18 degrees. It was so windy when we got up that we both decided we’d just pack up and have breakfast when we got home instead of getting a fire going and trying to cook over it in the wind. Plus I didn’t want to have to worry about the fire being reignited after we left because of the high winds.

We enjoyed our hike out and had a great time. It was nice seeing my dad be able to camp again and enjoy the things he use to be able to. We had a fun successful trip. We ate great food, had a great time and slept pretty well. We only needed our rain gear for a few hours the night before. We both love our new packs. My dad will eventually upgrade his pack frame to the same one that I have because mine has much more padding and is very comfortable. My dad’s already looking forward to our next trip, and to me that always means your trip was successful when anyone you took out enjoys themselves so much that they look forward to the next trip.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the attached photos of our trip. What extra little things do you do to ensure you have a great trip? Heres a link to the video of our trip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rbbY5vnuW0

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Quick Tip #12

Take along a folded up piece of Tyvek when you go camping, backpacking or bushcrafting. You can make it any size you want depending on your needs. Tyvek is very lightweight but very useful. When camping or backpacking with a hammock it’s nice to have a small piece of Tyvek to set your bag and shoes on when you’re sleeping at night or to lay things on well you’re setting up your shelter.  Depending on the size of the piece you take it could be used for many things, it could be used to cover firewood to keep it dry, ground cloth, make shift rain fly, food prep surface, make shift umbrella to keep rain or intense sun off, extra layer over or under your sleeping bag for added warmth, food storage bag, makeshift day bag, makeshift poncho or any other useful ways you can come up with to use it. What ways can you come up with to use a piece of Tyvek (size you would be using as well) for camping, backpacking or bushcrafting?

Emergency Blanket

An emergency blanket is one of the lightest and easiest things that you can carry with you at all times and could possibly mean the difference between life and death. There are many manufacturers that make and sell some version of an emergency blanket. Like anything, whichever brand of emergency blanket that you buy, test it out before your life depends on it. Some emergency blankets are silver, some are orange and some are designed to be more like a sleeping bag. Here again it will come down to personal preference. The emergency bivy’s are a little too bulky to be able to carry easily in your pocket, which means you might not even bother carrying it, which in turn  won’t help you in the end if you need it but left it home.

There are many stories of survivors who survived a cold night stuck in the wilderness only because they had one of these emergency blankets. Emergency blankets reflect a huge amount of your body heat back onto your body and can help keep you from becoming hypothermic in cold weather conditions. These blankets can also be used to keep you dry in wet weather. You can either wrap yourself up in it or you can use it like a tarp to make a makeshift shelter. Be careful if you do try to use it as a tarp because emergency blankets are much more fragile than tarps. Tying an emergency blanket too tightly or using it as a tarp in high winds could cause it to tear.

Another option is to find some wood and kindling for a fire. Then find yourself a good tree that you can comfortable sit and lean against. Sit down and spread your legs and dig a small pit in the ground for a fire in the area between your legs. Build a bank around the pit, to protect your legs, with the dirt you dug out of the hole. Now build a little fire in the pit and keep the rest of the wood in arms reach. Sit there with your emergency blanket wrapped around your body and create a sort of funnel over the fire and allow the heat from the small fire to rise up inside the blanket. Smoke will come inside as well but will escape through the hole around your neck. Just make sure it’s not so bad that all you are breathing is smoke. You can use a small stick to help keep the blanket spread out over the fire as well as keeping it up high enough that it doesn’t melt. You want a very small fire, it won’t take much. You must be very careful if you choose this option but it can help you stay somewhat warm and help you survive a cold night stuck in the wilderness.

Anytime you head out into the wilderness it is worth putting an emergency blanket in your pocket especially if you plan on just hiking for a few hours or just going out on a day hike. These are often times when injuries happen or someone gets lost and can’t find their way. This is also the time when people are not prepared to spend a night in the woods. They usually are not carrying any form of shelter or sleeping bag. In the spring and fall this could become life threatening because temperatures at night could still drop very low causing hypothermia. So for what little an emergency blanket weights why not carry one in your pocket to help protect yourself in an emergency survival situation? It may just end up saving your life!

Hennesy Hammock Review

This is just a quick review for an Expedition Asym Classic Hennesy Hammock. I have had this hammock for about four years now. First off, if you want one, this is the time of year to order one. They are generally on sale and giving extras away as well. When I ordered mine I got a free set of snake skins, which come in very handy and free shipping. I also ordered the larger rain fly. I use the smaller rain fly with an ENO Nest Hammock for my son. I wanted the larger rain fly so that gear I left on the ground under the hammock wouldn’t get wet. Mostly just my shoes, I usually clip my bag onto the ridge line.

I love this hammock. It is much easier to get into than standard hammocks and the Velcro entrance closes right up once you are inside. It is so much more comfortable than laying on the ground and it is fairly quick to setup. It will take you a few times setting it up before you’ll have the process down. The other nice advantage to a hammock over a tent is that if it is pouring out, chances are you’ll stay drier in the hammock than you will in a tent.

Another good quality about this hammock is that the mosquito netting is sewn on, so there are no holes for the blood suckers to get through. There is also a nice pouch hanging from the ridge on the inside of the hammock which is great for flashlights, glasses and other small things you may need quickly or want within reach.

My hammock has held up well and I haven’t really had any problems with it at all. The only downside to this setup is that it is still heavier than the setup I use for my son which I also use when I want to backpack as light as possible. The Hennesy hammock is still lighter than most tents and a whole lot more comfortable and easier to pack. It also has the mosquito netting for bug protection. Here are the specs for the hammock I bought as well as the information from Hennesy hammocks website:

 

Classic bottom entry with velcro closure.

This is our most popular model with all our patented features including mesh pocket on ridgeline and webbing straps to protect the bark of trees.  New asymmetrical shape and 30% larger rainfly than the Scout model.  New 70D catenary cut rainfly to reduce weight and wrinkles.  This is an all-purpose hammock – great for backpacking, family camping, expeditions, kayaking, motorcycling, and any other purpose which requires comfort and durability at an affordable price.

Specifications

Height limit: 6′ tall / 180 cm

Weight limit: 250 lbs / 115 kg

Packed Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz / 1160 g

Packed Size: 4″ x 7″ x 9″

Hammock fabric: 210D Oxford nylon

Hammock dimensions: 100″ x 52″‘ (diagonal)

Mesh: 30D polyester No-See-Um netting

Suspending ropes: 10′ long 1600 lb. test polyester rope

Webbing straps: 1.5″ x 42″ long black polyester

Rainfly weight: 10 oz / 280 g

Rainfly fabric: 70D polyurethane coated polyester ripstop

Rainfly dimensions: Parallelogram 63″ X 99″ / 160cm X 252cm Diagonal length above ridgeline 132″ / 335cm

Color: Hunter green hammock with hunter green fly and black trim

Stuff Sack: Logo and set up instructions printed on ripstop polyester bag (18 g., 5/8 oz.)

What’s Included: All Hennessy Hammocks come complete with attached mosquito netting, detachable rain fly, support ropes, and stuff sack with set up instructions on back. Hennessy Hammock also provides complimentary standard 42″ long “Tree Hugger” webbing straps to protect the bark of trees. Because these accessory webbing straps are complimentary, they are weighed separately from the hammock.

 

If you would like to just buy a complete hammock setup, then I highly recommend Hennesy Hammocks. You can’t go wrong.  They do have lighter weight packages but I didn’t want to spend the extra money. Have you ever used a Hennesy Hammock or any hammock for backpacking or camping? If you have used Hennesy Hammocks, have you had any problems with your setup? I hope this review was helpful. If you have never tried using a hammock for camping or backpacking I recommend you try it. You may never use a tent again.

A simple shelter

The fallen tree or debris shelter is one of the simplest survival shelters to make. If you find yourself stuck out in the wilderness with no man made form of shelter like a tarp or tent and there are no other natural forms of shelter, then knowing how to build this shelter could be very helpful and lifesaving.

First survey your surroundings. You can either use a fallen tree where the tree is still attached, about 3-4 feet off the ground, to the trunk. It should look like a triangle on its side. If you do use the fallen tree method, make sure the tree is secure and you are not in danger of the tree coming loose and crushing you. The method I recommend and use is first find a generally good level spot where you would like to make camp. Next, look for a good sturdy tree with some good branches that will be low enough for the entrance of your shelter. Now go find a log for the ridge of your shelter. Make sure it is long enough so that you will be able to lie down in the shelter when you are done building. I am 6 feet tall so I generally try to find a thick log or fallen tree that is about 9-10 feet long. If you cannot find a good log or already fallen tree then you will have to cut a small tree to fit your needs. Try to find everything you use on your shelter from already fallen trees if at all possible.

Now lean the log on the tree so that one end of the log is still on the ground and the other is resting on top of a thick branch where it ties into the main part of the tree. Lay the log in the notch of the branch and trunk. If you have some sort of cordage it wouldn’t hurt to tie the log off for safety sake. You will now want to go find sticks or branches that are about as thick as your forearm and lean those out along the log you have leaning against the tree. Make sure you have a good steep angle to help run water off in case of rain. If you weave some thinner branches or vines trough the branches it will help make it sturdy.

If you are in an area with evergreen trees you can begin thatching the roof with evergreen branches. Keep the butt end of the branch up and start along the ground and keep piling them on until you reach the ridge log. Place a layer of evergreen branches along the ridge so that they overlap each sidewall and close the ridge up.  Now just fill the inside with leaves or evergreen branches and move in for the night. You can also close in the front door with branches and leaves after you are inside. Make sure that you do have some vitalization though.

If you are not in an area with evergreens then you can supplement by building up piles of leaves and debris against the walls you built out of sticks.  Place some small branches on top of the leaves and debris to help hold everything together and then place more leaves and debris on top of those branches. Completely cover the two walls and ridge. The more layers of leaves and debris that you have the warmer the shelter will be and you will be less likely to get wet in a rain storm. Place a thick layer of leaves inside the shelter for bedding. Climb in and enjoy all your work.

In the winter you can also place snow on the outside walls and ridge for insulation and to cut out any wind that might be blowing. I recommend that you test out building one of these shelters in your own yard or wherever you might be able to. It is easier to learn from any mistakes you make now than when your life might depend on it. There are also many modifications that you can make to this shelter as well. You can thatch the walls with birch bark, add a tarp or Tyvek underneath the thatching to make the shelter more water resistant and you can also thatch the roof with moss. Have you ever built one of these shelters and what modifications if any did you use? As always build at your own risk and never stop learning and fine tuning your survival skills. You are only guaranteed to have your knowledge and skills in a true survival situation. You may not have any man made tools or supplies when you most need them. So go out and enjoy the wonderful place we call the great outdoors and test your survival skills.