A Ranger's Hammock

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Valladon
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A Ranger's Hammock

Post by Valladon »

Greetings fellow Rangers!

I am in the process of putting together my sleeping gear for my kit. And have run into the annoyingly difficult question of how to pack light, but still (mostly) comfortable. And one seemingly simple solution I keep coming back to, is a good hammock.

I don't believe hammocks are really historically accurate to early medieval Europe, but we also know that Tolkien added numerous 18th century items to Middle-Earth (matches come to mind). Also with the Dunadain being descended from Numenor, and they being a sea-faring people. It only seems logical that hammocks would've been known to them.

So, what do you guys think? Is it something you've ever considered? Experimented with? Or is there some glaring flaw I'm missing with this piece of kit?
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Udwin
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by Udwin »

Welcome Valladon. Questions of period/setting appropriateness aside, the thing about hammocks (at least in my experience) is that using one at any time other than summer requires two sources of insulation, because whatever you're lying on gets compressed and makes your back cold.
There's a reason why hammocks were developed among groups in the tropics and not by say, the Great Lakes tribes.
Then there's the weight of material and cordage strong enough to suspend you. A single blanket and a tick or groundsheet will likely weigh less and take up less space.
If you're using pack animals or a boat, those considerations aren't as important, but if you're on foot, it's the old trade-off between comfort while hiking and comfort while sleeping.
It also depends on your environment - you can't always count on appropriate trees to hang from. I opted to forego bringing a hammock on the AT for this very reason and I'm glad I did.
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redhandfilms
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by redhandfilms »

I actually made a waxed canvas bedroll with sleeves at the ends. You can put rods and or rope in them to string it up as a hammock. However, I'm likely going to ditch this setup as it's quite heavy and instead go for a lighter oilcloth ground cloth. That said, no reason I couldn't add sleeves onto that for the same concept.
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Valladon
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by Valladon »

I suppose I should also mention, this would almost exclusively for summer use. As I'm not yet brave enough for a winter camp in kit (yet). I live in Northern Utah, where triple digits during the day are quite common. And nights rarely drop below 50° F in the summer. And 20° F is considered a warm winter day, with sub-zero nights.

I assumed I'd be quite comfortable in just my cloak, and clothing on a summer night. With the addition of a wool blanket for early autumn. I've admittedly only spent a few nights in the wilds without a modern sleeping system, and found that I was quite uncomfortable from ground convection. I have seen things like browse bags to help with this issue, but can't help feeling that a hammock would be a simpler (spelled lazy) solution.

I also think a hammock just works with a Ranger's MO. Potential to sleep high of the ground to remain unseen. If you don't light a fire you can leave no trace for enemies to follow. And if there's no trees, I really like your solution Redhand! Just have one that can do both.
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Eofor
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by Eofor »

Valladon wrote: Tue Mar 21, 2023 9:41 pm If you don't light a fire you can leave no trace for enemies to follow.
A good tracker will still notice the marks in the bark from your hammock ropes.

I have the same issues with hammocks that Udwin already voiced and would ask what you tried sleeping on before that caused you issues? I know a lot of the time it can simply be the campsite and I have left my 'comfortable' resting place to sleep propped up against a tree.

But if sleeping rough is the only thing standing between you and a life in the wild and this would solve it then sure, why not.
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Turgolanas
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by Turgolanas »

Valladon wrote: Tue Mar 21, 2023 11:36 am
So, what do you guys think? Is it something you've ever considered? Experimented with? Or is there some glaring flaw I'm missing with this piece of kit?
I've done a decent amount of hammock camping, in various types of weather. Not with ranger gear, granted, but a lot of the principles probably still apply. Some points:
1. You will need more and longer cordage than for just a tarp setup - Partly because you will either want to be very sure of the weather, or be prepared to put up a rainfly. The cordage will need to be fairly heavy duty as well. That being said, I prefer to carry enough strong rope to support me climbing or fording a river, so not huge for me.
2. In the cold, you will need the equivalent of a ground pad under you. I've been successful using my standard ground pad and a mummy bag down to mid 30s, I believe. If I were to do something similar with ranger kit, probably as many blankets under me as on top of me.
Note - the combination bedroll hammocks are neat, but this would be a bigger problem with them because you're more limited to how you can set it up.
3. Hammocks are handy because they are small and light. Modern materials make that happen - might be a consideration with period materials.
4. It sucks when there aren't good trees. Fortunately, if you have a tarp and bedroll seperate from the hammock, you can bivy sack instead. I've used a hammock as a ground cloth for a pad and sleeping bag when I was sadly treeless. And as a blanket when cold.
Eofor wrote: Wed Mar 22, 2023 1:31 am

A good tracker will still notice the marks in the bark from your hammock ropes.

Really, one should use some form of buffer between the ropes and tree, so that you don't accidentally damage a tree. We used to put small branches between the trunk and the rope for this reason. I would imagine that would prevent help keep a tracker from picking up signs. A similar principle holds for bear bags, if anyone needs to use those.

I will admit that I solved the pack light but be comfortable issue by sneaking a modern pad into my bedroll. Alas, the last place I used it had many small thorns.
I know a lot of the time it can simply be the campsite and I have left my 'comfortable' resting place to sleep propped up against a tree.
I need to try this. I haven't due to cold, and lack of comfortable trees where we have been camping. I've been on hikes though where a comfortable rock chair beat out my fancy modern gear.
Valladon
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by Valladon »

I'll definitely try out some more traditional methods first, as I didn't really think about modern materials making hammocks so light and convenient. My real issue is that I live in the Northern Utah desert mountains. So I might have to deal with warm (read HOT) days, and sub 30 degree nights. It's really proving quite the quandary...
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OParnoShoshoi
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Re: A Ranger's Hammock

Post by OParnoShoshoi »

A good tracker will still notice the marks in the bark from your hammock ropes.
You could change that by having something wider where it actually sits on the tree. Such as a wide strap of leather or cloth. It would spread the pressure and leave less of a mark.
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