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Reviews > Shelters > Shelter Accessories > DutchWare Cinch Buckles > Owner Review by Steven M Kidd

DUTCHWARE GEAR TITANIUM CINCH BUCKLES
BY STEVEN M. KIDD
OWNER REVIEW
May 14, 2015

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 42
LOCATION: Carmel, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

IMAGE 1
DutchWare Cinch Buckles

Manufacturer: Dutch Clips, LLC, Pennsylvania, USA
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.dutchwaregear.com
MSRP: US $22 (for a pair)
Listed Weight: 0.67 oz (19.11 g)
Measured Weight: 0.67 oz (19 g)*
*My scale only measures to the even gram

DutchWare Titanium Cinch Buckles are a hammock suspension accessory. They are a lightweight and secure option for use with 1 in (2.5 cm) tree straps. The website states how simple it is to use the buckles with the following statement; "Just wrap your strap around the tree and fasten with your Dutch Clip. Pull the strap to get the right amount of sag and you're done. No back-up knot is needed".


To clarify for those unfamiliar with hammock suspension I will explain with a little more insight. A tree strap is a webbing material designed to protect tree bark when suspending a hammock. It is often made with polyester and generally ranges anywhere from 6 - 15 ft (1.3 - 4.6 m) in length based on the tree diameter a user typically finds in his or her individual environment. The straps typically have one end with a sewn loop that is several inches (centimeters) long. DutchWare sells 1 in (2.5 cm) polyester tree straps in black and camouflage webbing as well as in a Kevlar webbing material. They may be purchased with pre-sewn loops, or the material may be purchased and sewn by the purchaser to individual specifications.
IMAGE 2
Buckles Deployed with Polyester Webbing Straps

Referring back to the quotation above, the tree strap is wrapped around the tree and the loose end is then threaded through the sewn loop, or as mentioned above it may be locked in place with a Dutch Clip. This clip is a separately sold accessory that eliminates threading the strap back through itself. It is convenient, but not required for operation. After choosing a method to secure the strap to the tree, the loose end of the webbing is then threaded through the buckle and back over itself. The strap's free end is then cinched or pulled to a desired tautness that allows the hammock to be freely suspended between trees.

The Cinch Buckle itself is a single piece of titanium and the slider piece is made with aluminum. There is a notch in the titanium portion designed to keep it from twisting during suspension. Once the webbing is tightly in place the slider is locked and will not dislodge.

The buckles are sold in a pair and the manufacturer also offers packages that include tree straps and Amsteel continuous loops as well. A continuous loop is spliced piece of line used to connect the buckle to the hammock itself. If the buckles are purchased independent of the loops, do-it-yourself (DIY) loops should be made with a line that handles a suitable stress load to hold the weight of an adult occupant under dynamic stress. I used the same 7/64 Amsteel Dutch offers for my DIY continuous loops.

FIELD USE & IMPRESSIONS

I've now used the Cinch Buckles for a little over a half dozen nights. I've used them for part of a 5-day/4-night trip to the Savage Gulf and Stone Door areas of the South Cumberland State Park in Middle Tennessee. Elevations ranged from around 1800 ft (549 m) on the plateau to just under 1300 ft (396 m) in the gulf. The high temperature for the outing was on the second day of hiking reaching 86 F (30 C). The low on both Friday and Saturday night dropped to 40 F (4.5 C). I've also used them on an overnight trip with my children in southern Indiana. We take two outings a year with a dad's group that I'm involved with, but no hiking is involved. Finally I used them for hanging from the back deck of my brother's lake home at Smith Mountain Lake in Hardy, Virginia for three nights when a large portion of my family gathered for the passing of my grandmother. Everyone thought I was sacrificing by sleeping outside in a hammock. Little did my family know it was much more comfortable than any airbed tossed on the floor. Temperatures dropped to around 55 F (13 C) each evening and it was dry. All the use has been throughout this spring, and although I've yet to test the buckles in the subfreezing conditions for which I believe they are ideally suited as explained later in the review; I have done plenty of backyard testing with multiple sets of gloves and I find the buckles quite simple to work with while gloved.

I purchased these buckles for three primary reasons. First, I've never met an item made by Dutch that I haven't liked! Secondly, they weigh less than the typical pair of aluminum buckles I employ when using tree straps for suspension. Finally, and most importantly, I found them much easier to work with in extremely cold conditions as compared to that previously mentioned method.
IMAGE 3
DIY Continuous Loops Larks Headed to a Hammock
A typical pair of buckles does not utilize the slider piece. It is generally two identical buckles that are threaded through the webbing and pulled tight in a similar manner. It works very well and is just as quick to set up. However, breaking that tight seal and loosening the buckles during hammock take down can be a little more difficult. It generally only becomes a problem in subfreezing temperatures and specifically when I'm wearing gloves. I know that I've found myself removing my gloves to loosen the strap tension in the past at temperatures as low as 7 F (-14 C). I personally don't believe fiddling with cold metal with bare hands at these temperatures enjoyable!

Last Fall I was backpacking with a half dozen buddies in Appalachia when one of them showed the group his new toy he'd received from DutchWare. I had to have a pair and since I happened to have a cell signal, I went to Dutch's website and purchased them immediately...while still in the backcountry. The comical event was even captured on a video diary that is published somewhere on YouTube.

Since I always keep spare Amsteel and webbing at home I purchased the buckles only and spliced some loops to the buckles myself. I also sewed up some new tree straps. They actually arrived in the mail around the same time I made it home from that outing, however, one of the sliders was missing. I emailed them and they sent a slider within a few days. I quickly spliced a set of loops to the buckles and was prepared to start using them. I generally only use "straps and buckles" in the particular situations as they weigh more than another suspension method employing whoopie slings. One instance is the extreme cold, even with take-down concerns because I find whoopie slings difficult to work with at all stages in those temperatures. I knew these would be great for cold weather hangs.
IMAGE 4
Buckles with Loops and Carabiners as Mentioned

That stated, during a spring outing with several of the same crew from my fall outing I decided to use the Cinch Buckles in conjunction with an ENO CamoNest XL hammock that I'm currently testing. Feel free to check out that report as well! In normal situations I would merely larks head the continuous loop around the gathered end of the hammock and attach the loop and buckle to the strap. A larks head (or cow hitch) is a hitch in which the rope of the continuous loop is passed around an object, the hammock body in this case and then back through itself for a snug fit. Think of how a luggage tag with an elastic band is looped around a handle and back through itself or take not of the above image. The ENO hammock has carabiners attached to the ends, so I decided to simply clip the loop directly into the biner and attach it this way. In all honesty, if I weren't in the middle of a test series on the ENO hammock I'd likely remove the carabiners to save weight and larks head the buckle setup to the hammock, but I'm obligated not to alter that product during while testing.

The key experience I can report concerning these buckles is how easy they were to work with. I could adjust my hammock suspension to a desired tension with little effort. When I needed to disassemble the setup it was easy to do so with without difficulty. Even after I've loaded the hammock with my full weight, it is as simple as breaking the tension between the slider bar and the buckle. It is a much simpler process than the traditional two buckle system.

In fact, the system is so easy to work with it had me questioning with a buddy on the trip whether or not just accepting the weight penalty compared to whoopie slings was worth the simplicity. It was then that he went over and showed me his identical setup using Dutch's Kevlar Tree straps. The Kevlar straps weigh significantly less than the polyester webbing. Of course I ordered a set of those straps, and I will have to review them in the future. So to compare, my typical whoopie sling setup that uses DutchWare Whoopie Hooks, Dynaglide rope and Mule Tape for tree straps weighs 1.7 oz (48 g). The Cinch Buckles with Dutch's Kevlar straps weighs 4.6 oz (130 g), but the convenience is easily noted after a long day on the trail. The straps are also 15 ft (4.6 m) and I can likely shorten them based on the forests I experience and save more weight if I decided.
IMAGE 5
DutchWare Cinch Buckles and Kevlar Straps

Can I say that I have completely abandoned my lighter suspension method? Certainly not! But for trips that I'm not as concerned about weight and where quick setup is more important I'm sold on the DutchWare Cinch Buckles. I will definitely use them on subfreezing trips like an annual winter hang some of us attend on Roan Mountain.

I have one complaint about the buckles. It concerns the ease in which the aluminum slider bar can fall out when not cinched into a strap. Even as I went up to take a picture or two of them, I had one fall out. This could cause a rough backcountry trip if it fell out and I didn't notice it. To disallow this I ensure they always stay tightly connected to a piece of webbing when in the field. If I use a carabiner or buckle to attach the strap to the tree this is never really a concern, because the buckle can always stay attached to the straps. However, if I want to thread the strap through itself and save the weight of not having a biner is when this can become an issue. It's a minor nuisance and I'm aware of it, but that is the only detractor I have concerning the Cinch Buckle system.

Like I stated at the outset of this review, I've never met a DutchWare item I haven't liked. The Cinch Buckles are another accessory that I've found a special place for in my gear stash!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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