Last October I posted my first impressions with Dutchware’s new Chameleon Hammock. At the time I’d spent only two nights in my Chameleon. Now I’ve spent over a dozen and we’re well on the way to becoming fast friends. That’s not to say that we haven’t had disagreements as friends sometimes do and I’ve had to make a few changes to my former netless hammocking ways to solidify that friendship. On the flip-side, I’ve also added a few accessories for my own enjoyment. Call it compromise.
In my previous entry I mentioned that I liked to get in my hammock on one side and out on the other. I quickly found out that getting in and out the same side works much better with the asymmetrical bugnet. And, since I’ve added a ground cloth to stand on when I kick off my shoes, getting in and out on the same side is much more convenient. I’m not sure that getting in and out gracefully will ever happen but I’ll be happy to take any improvements, even if they come just a little at a time.
So what have I added? For starters Santa brought me a vented top cover.
It’s probably safe to say every hammocker likes to add any little bit of warmth they can get to their set-up in the colder months. I’ve read that top covers and winter socks create a microclimate inside. It didn’t take me long to discover that my microclimate is called ‘rain forest’. Apparently my breath is quite moist. As we all should know, when warm moist air encounters a cool or cold surface, condensation is going to occur. I was expecting some condensation but wasn’t prepared for the amount that actually accumulated on the inside of my top cover. The first night I noticed the condensation, the temperature was below freezing. The next morning when I turned on my head lamp and started to get out of my hammock to go mark my territory, I bumped the top cover and had a small snowstorm inside my hammock. My next condensation encounter was in above freezing temperatures and I got rained on.
After those two incidents I wasn’t completely sure whether I wanted to keep the top cover but, as many of my friends and family know, I’m not one to give up on an idea easily. I traded emails with Thom Ressler, aka ‘Dutch’ of Dutchware and he gave me a few suggestions to try to help reduce the amount of condensation in my top cover. Little did I know at the time that the wheels in Dutch’s head were turning to come up with something that could be done to help vent moisture out but keep the bit of additional warmth in.
Enter the Dutchware Breathalizer.
It wasn’t too long after our ‘conversation’ that I noticed a new video by Dutch on YouTube for the Breathalizer. I was intrigued and fired off an email to Dutch asking if he’s had a chance to field test it and what the results might be. What I didn’t expect was for Dutch to reply saying that I would be a good test asking me what color Breathalizer that I would like. A few days later it arrived and, of course, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Only catch…overnight lows were in the 50s and 60s instead of the 20s and 30s. No problem, with the temperature of my breath being around 98 degrees and the outside air 30 to 40 degrees cooler, there should still be some condensation. I hooked in the Breathalizer per Dutch’s video and opened the head end of the top cover per his suggestions and…
No condensation! Fast forward a week to cooler weather. Overnight lows back down in the mid 30s. Better conditions for a good Breathalizer test…or two. With no changes in set-up but much lower temperatures I ended up with just a tiny amount of condensation on the Breathalyzer and none in the foot end of my hammock. That my thermometers told me that there was a 5-degree difference in the temperature inside the top cover versus outside was just icing on the cake. I should get a few more nights to test the Breathalyzer and top cover before its time to switch it out for the bugnet but as first impressions go, I’m quite pleased.
So what else did I add? ConnieLou ordered a peak shelf for me for my birthday. Installation per Dutch’s YouTube video was a piece of cake and now I have a place to put my pillow so it doesn’t end up under the middle of my back when I get in my hammock and a place to toss my cell phone and headlamp overnight. Definitely like this addition. For those that might be interested, Dutch has come out with a version that can be used with any netless hammock that has a ridgeline.
One last addition… Those that read my previous entry about my first impressions about the Chameleon may recall that I was considering adding a piece or cord to one of the zipper pulls at the foot end of the top cover/bugnet to allow me to pull it closed without the late-night aerobics required to reach down and grab the pull itself. I did…and it worked beautifully. It’s amazing how happy a 5-foot long piece of braded mason’s twine with a loop at one end can make a person.
Thank you everybody…