I got some new toys last week.
I’ve started and stopped this blog entry a couple of times now. Each time it ended up just being a ‘yay-me, check out the new toys I just got’ piece. Now I don’t mind posting a yay-me piece if I’ve done something worthy like catching a bunch of fish, catching some big fish, cooking something really good on the Egg or some other accomplishment, but that’s not what I was going for here. I also thought about making this a gear review but I just don’t think I could do it justice having not had a chance to use my new toys extensively yet. So… rather than making this a yay-me piece or a real gear review, let’s see if I can make it more of a ‘first impressions/gear‘preview’ sort of thing.
So here goes…
I’ve wanted a nice silnylon tarp for hammock camping for since I got into it a couple of years ago. I’ve made some pretty decent tarps from cheap WallyWorld tarps like the one in this post and from Tyvek but those tend to be heavy or bulky or both and generally not really suitable to stuff in a backpack. Typically, a silnylon tarp will set one back a C-note plus a little which isn’t bad for a high quality tarp but is little out of my price range these days. When both Connie and my mom both asked me for a suggestion for a Father’s Day gift I had the brilliant idea of suggesting that they pool their funds for a tarp and a pair of tarp skins. Long story short, I’m now the happy owner of a new silnylon tarp. Of course, it wouldn’t be right to have a spiffy new tarp without a spiffy new ridgeline and some spiffy hardware to hang it with so I bought myself a spiffy little present to go with it.
OK, so what did I get? A Big Daddy from Wilderness Logics. According to the info on the Wilderness Logics website, the Big Daddy is made of 1.2 oz. silnylon, has overall dimensions of 144” x 115” (a 132” ridgeline version is also available) and weighs in right at 17 ounces. I got the black version but it’s also available in gray, forest green and brown.
As one might expect, I couldn’t wait long to set the tarp up for the first time. My first thought: Wow, this thing is a beast! It’s huge! My blue hex tarp, whose dimensions are 144” x 96” doesn’t have nearly the coverage of the Big Daddy. The Bid Daddy is not only nearly 20 inches wider than my big blue tarp, it’s also not an equilateral hexagon. Even if the overall dimensions were the same it would cover more. They don’t call it Big Daddy for nothing! Here are a couple of photos I took last weekend…
As is the case with most tarps (and many tents for that matter), the ridgeline seam did not come taped or seam sealed so I’ll have to take care of that later. That might be a good candidate for a ‘how-to’ post in the near future.
Now for the ridgeline. To be honest, I could have added a small Nite Ize Figure 9 carabiner to the utility cord ridgeline I’ve been using and would have been perfectly fine. But…at times I’m a bit of a gear geek and like have to have something new to play with. A couple of weeks back I saw this video by Derek Hansen on Hammock Forums and I liked the way that the tarp ridgeline formed a ‘V’ that straddles the hammock suspension instead of rubbing against it like a single line off the end of the tarp often does. It was also an excuse to order some new bling from DutchWare.
Again, what did I get? Keith, Dutch’s Elf, and I batted around a few ideas based on the video and I finally settled on a ridgeline set-up that consists of 37 feet of 1.75 mm Zing It, a small Zing It continuous loop, a titanium Dutch Hook and a Stingers.
Doesn’t look like much compared to the ridgeline and components I’ve been using and weighs a bit less too…
I had the DutchWare folks splice a loop in one end of the Zing It through the eye in the Dutch Hook and back splice the other. So how does it all go together? Quite nicely actually. The Zing It loop attaches to the tri-loop on one of the tarp’s ridgeline tie-outs via a lark’s head…
The Stingerz clips to the tri-loop on ridgeline tie out at the opposite end of the tarp…
The Zing It ridgeline is fed through the tri-loops and over the tarp itself. This method of rigging will prevent rainwater from running down the ridgeline and under the tarp.
The ridgeline goes around the tree and the Dutch Hook is hooked to the Zing It loop. Note that the hammock suspension is between the legs of the tarp ridgeline.
At the other end, the ridgeline goes around the tree and is then caught in the Stingerz ‘antennae’, once again straddling the hammock suspension. Combine this ridgeline setup with a pair of tarp skins and setting up a tarp doesn’t get much quicker or simpler.
I’m one happy camper…and a dry one too.
I really can’t end this post without saying a few words about Wilderness Logics and DutchWare. Both of these companies are small ‘cottage’ manufacturers of hammock camping gear and largely aren’t well known outside of the hammock camping/backpacking worlds. Wilderness Logics is based in North Carolina and DutchWare is in Pennsylvania. Both companies do most of their manufacturing here in the U.S. and are committed to providing very high quality gear at reasonable prices.
From personal experience I can say that both of these companies have exceptional customer service. When purchasing from Wilderness Logics, Marty has gone over and above any expectations I initially had to make sure I got exactly what I wanted…this really showed week before last when Connie was ordering my tarp. As for DutchWare, well, Keith has taken care of me on more than one occasion, including once by recommending a hammock suspension option that would save me a few bucks and again by helping me straighten out an order that I screwed up (and then telling me he wouldn’t allow me to pay the difference because I had shorted him a few bucks when I originally placed the order and paid for it via PayPal). You just don’t find that kind of customer service very often these days when the bottom line drives everything, especially with the bigger manufacturers and retailers.