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Reviews > Books > Field Guides > The Ultimate Hang > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

THE ULTIMATE HANG
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M KIDD
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - December 04, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - April 06, 2012

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 39
LOCATION: Franklin, Tennessee
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings and try to keep my pack under 25 lb (11 kg) even in the winter.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Image Courtesy Derek Hansen


Full Title: "THE ULTIMATE HANG: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping"
Author & Illustrator: Derek Hansen
Publisher: Hansen Outdoors Publishing
Year of Original Publish: 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1466263680
ISBN-10: 1466263687
Manufacturer's Website: http://theultimatehang.com
List Price: US $14.95
Book Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 0.375 in (23 x 15 x 0.95 cm)
Materials: Paperback Book (Also Available in a Kindle Edition)

As noted on the Publisher's website and Back cover: Get off the rocks, slugs, and roots and discover the best "tent" you'll ever sleep in, whether you're thru-hiking the AT or over-nighting at your local state park. Learn how to stay dry, warm, and bug free whether you've purchased an all-in-one kit or you've assembled your own system.

About The Author

Derek Hansen is a lightweight backpacker, Scoutmaster, and "hammock enthusiast" who enjoyed his first hammock hang at age 14 at a Boy Scout high adventure base. When he's not out testing outdoor gear, he enjoys reading and spending time with his family.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I was extremely excited to review this book, as within the last few years I've become a dedicated hammock camper. Sometime back I was on the trail with a fellow BackpackGearTest.org tester, Coy Boy Starnes, and he introduced me to the concept. At first I thought he was insane, as severe storms were headed our way and I knew he'd be soaked before the night was over. Amazingly he stayed dry, appeared comfortable and was packing minimal weight...so I scratched my head, went home and an obsession was born.

Thus, in the last few years I've navigated through trials and tribulations evolving from a novice to a somewhat experienced hammock camper. Along the way I've fought my way through "Cold Butt Syndrome" (CBS), struggled in and out of sleeping bags and overcome a myriad of other mistakes the neophyte hammocker endures. Throughout the experience a website for enthusiasts called Hammock Forums smoothed the way.

I mention this because before I even dove into the book I noticed nothing but rave introductory reviews from Cottage Industry gear suppliers and experienced hammock campers that I've either personally done business with, or from whom I've gleaned invaluable experience. Approval from names like Adam "Stormcrow" Hurst, Stuart "Smokebait" Raike and Sean "Shug" Emery probably mean little to the average reader, but to a hammock enthusiast like me these recommendations carry weight.
IMAGE 2
Illustrations as basic as 'Your 1st Entry"


The book appears to be primarily aimed to an audience of newly inspired hammock campers that prefer to forego many of the aforementioned (CBS-like) mishaps that I endured when entering this camping venue. However, the author suggests that even the experienced hammock enthusiast may learn or even recall a few things when digesting the read. I attest, I did both.

Self Illustrated, the book has over 200 images that both light-heartedly and instructively guide the reader through the basics of achieving "The Ultimate Hang". It appears to be an objective and non-biased attempt to instruct the reader on all the basics needed to become successful at this activity. The author occasionally mentions his preferred techniques and methods, but for the most part he tends to openly explain techniques and products available that encompass everything from DIY (Do It Yourself), to major vendors and down to the small cottage industry suppliers that tend to encapsulate this relaxing method of rest.
IMAGE 3
Illustrating the more advanced "Double Hang"


It truly appears the author wants to share ways to extend this often shrouded and quirky method of camping to the masses. I was also impressed that he incorporated the seven principles of Leave No Trace into the read. An Eagle Scout myself, I suppose it is not surprising that a former Scout and current Scoutmaster would look to educate those about the beauty of nature while simultaneously attempting to protect the environment. I applaud this section of the book.

Another feature I noticed throughout various sections of the book was the incorporation of Quick Response Codes (QR Codes). These are matrix barcodes that can be scanned by a Smartphone leading the reader to additional resources and further reading on the topic. I really thought that was a nice touch. In the appendices Mr. Hansen has also added a list of retailers and suppliers for those interested in furthering their hammock knowledge. It even breaks down what key hammocking items each vendor offers.

To summarize this initial portion of the review, I will confirm I've completed what I find to be a quick and absorbing read in just one evening. Although I entered the DIY and small vendor world of items like whoopie slings and under quilts sometime ago, I'm excited to state I've definitely already learned about several new techniques and products that I plan to adapt into my future hammock camping arsenal. Some will be simple tweaks to what I currently do in the woods. Others will incorporate a recently acquired mainstream lightweight hammock for winter use as well as several cottage industry supplies to adapt both my hammock and tarp suspension. Please check back in late winter to learn more in depth how this book and some of the items I've acquired due to the read have changed my hammock camping experience.


LONG-TERM REPORT

KEY TAKE AWAYS

My review of this book is as simple as this statement: I believe that Derek Hansen has created not only "An Illustrated Guide To Hammock Camping", but also a completely thorough, well thought out and cutting edge review of hammocking. His book covers nearly everything a novice hammock camper would need to know in order to become a successful and comfortable "hanger", even if they had zero knowledge of this method of camping. The illustrations are simple and light-hearted, yet they convey the point directly, clearly showing knots, suspension and hammocks in general, and how to properly and safely hang a hammock in the backcountry, all while protecting the nature the camper is within.

I found his information cutting edge, in that at the time of printing he had brand new-to-market cottage industry products already in place in the book. One simple explanation of this would be Mr. Hansen's detailed explanation on hammock suspension. There are a myriad of ways to suspend a hammock safely, and this book covers nearly twenty pages on the subject. Before receiving a copy of the book, I had been using a common method involving a marlin spike hitch and a toggle. It worked well, was light weight (an important feature to many in the hammocking community, and specifically this hammock camper) and compact. However, when reviewing page 67 of the book I noticed a new to market product known as the Dutch Buckle and was intrigued. It was as lightweight as my former suspension method, but in my opinion much simpler to attach to a tree and quickly adjust when needed. I purchased a set from Dutchware and it is the only suspension method I've used since late fall. The book also explains multiple ways to supsend a hammock's weather protection. I was also happy to learn a new and lighter method for hanging my tarp.


IMAGE 1
Dutch Buckle by "DutchWare"
IMAGE 2
Tarp Ridge Line by "DutchWare & Whoopieslings.com"






















What I found so insightful about the read was not only new and innovative ways to better my hammock camping experience, but also simple and inexpensive ways to enter the arena. After reading this book I personally went out and purchased multiple items that I believed would make my hammocking experience more enjoyable. However, the writer doesn't suggest this is the only route to work your way into hammocking. He explains both simple cost-effective ways as well as more complex and expensive options to enjoy the outdoors in a hammock. In fact, after first receiving the book I also acquired a simple Grand Trunk Ultralight hammock. I could have kept the stainless S-hooks that came on it and attached it to a current suspension method I already owned, but I wanted a more comfortable experience, so I added a whoopie sling suspension and an adjustable structural ridge line to the product. As mentioned in the book these items can be purchased from vendors, or made if a person has splicing expertise.

Since first reading the book I've also purchased as many as four different types of hammocks. As mentioned I bought the Grand Trunk UItralight, a hammock type mentioned in the book as a simple gathered end style. I was entering the winter season of camping and I've always historically used a hammock with an integrated bug net. This isn't really necessary for winter hammock camping, so I thought I'd try it. One thing I learned quickly from this experience was that adjusting my under quilt was much simpler with this type of hammock. The author mentions ensuring a proper 'seal' so that I don't experience "Cold Butt Syndrome" in the middle of the night. I found that a simple gathered end hammock like the one previously mentioned or the Warbonnet Traveler I also acquired made it much easier to ensure that seal. Below are some images of these hammocks and techniques either gleaned or rehashed in the read:

IMAGE 3
Grand Trunk (w/ Whoopies & Ridge Line added)
IMAGE 4
Grand Trunk with Under Quilt (UQ)





















The book covered so many topics about hammock camping it is difficult to review them all in short and concise report. While the book is a mere 130 pages, it covers nearly every topic I can think of when considering hammock camping. Because the activity is not only driven by major manufacturers, but also by cottage industry specialty vendors and even Do-It-Yourself (DIY) folks, there are constantly new and innovative ideas that surface. There are already a handful of new to market items since I picked the book up just over four months ago. I don't know if the author intends on publishing an updated or revised copy in the near future or not, but I could see a need filled by such a product. From his acknowledgements and introduction I only suspect this project was mostly for fun, education and sharing a hobby he loves with the masses. I hope he has the time, energy and passion to continue allowing this book to evolve with for those in the future. If not, I suspect a reader could pick up a current copy in a decade and still find a happy and comfortable hobby...but that is merely my thought on the subject!

SUMMARY

I loved the read. I believe I'm an experienced hammock camper, and I still gleaned plenty of informative ideas of hammocking from the book. To my elation, and most likely my wife's chagrin, I've picked up four new hammocks, several new rain tarps and suspension systems since reading the book. Derek Hansen has made my pastime more enjoyable for me. I suggest this read to anyone interested in the activity of hammock camping or even spending a night in the wilderness.

I'll leave the reader of this report with a few more images of my Warbonnet Traveler (a gathered end hammock) and my just arrived Warbonnet Spinn Big Mamajamba tarp. Both are items the book led me to acquiring. I can't wait to get to the woods to test it out...

IMAGE 5
Warbonnet Traveler
IMAGE 6
Warbonnet Spinn Big Mamajamba





















I'd like to thank Mr. Derek Hansen and BackpackGearTest for giving me the opportunity it review,"The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping".



This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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