HAMMOCK GEAR MESH SNAKESKINS
BY ROBB PRATT
December 28, 2018
unicornv007 AT yahoo.com
Canton, Michigan, USA
5' 10" (1.80 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend long trips a year. I also car camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year when we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.
Manufacturer: Hammock Gear Outfitters
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: Hammock Gear Outfitters
Listed Weight: 1.1 oz (31 g)
Measured Weight: 0.88 oz (25 g)
Listed Length: 12 ft. (3.66 m)
Other details: This is a 1 piece design that covers the entire tarp and allows for easy storage and fast deploying. Being mesh, it also means it will permit the tarp to dry (some) while in storage mode. The design is tapered on 1 end. The other end has a larger opening but includes a small cordlock and cordage to cinch it up tight. Both ends are (slightly) reinforced to handle the wear and tear of sliding it into position.
|Snakeskin on Tarp|
TRIPS AND FIELD CONDITIONS
I have used the Hammock Gear Mesh Snakeskins now for at least 8 trips for 22 nights on my tarp.
* 2 Nights - April 20-22nd, 2018 - Kensington Metro Park (Milford, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperature was 26 F (-3 C) on the first night and 30 F (-1 C) on the second night. While there was no precipitation, the dew point was right next to the temperature, resulting in frost build-up at night on exposed surfaces.
* 1 Night - May 11-12th, 2018 - Private Property (Lake, Michigan - USA). Nighttime weather was 37 F (3 C) with light rain most of the evening and into the early morning. Total precipitation was 0.16 in. (7 cm).
* 7 Nights - June 23-30th, 2018 - Cole Canoe Base (Alger, Michigan USA). Nighttime temperature went down to a low of 41 F (5 C) to a high of 76 F (24 C). The humidity was relatively high throughout the week and there was one day of rain that started in the middle of the night and continued until mid-afternoon. Estimated rainfall was 0.25 in. (0.6 cm).
* 4 Nights - August 1-5th, 2018 - Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperature ranged between 49-64 F (9-18 C). It rained several times during the trip but the accumulation was negligible. This was a backpacking trip where I did 23 miles (37 km) with a pack weight of 41-45 lbs. (19-20 kg) including food, water and camping gear. I slept in a hammock.
* 2 Nights - August 11-13th, 2018 - Jordan River Pathway (Alba, Michigan - USA). Nighttime weather was 55 F (13 C) with high humidity but no rain. This was a backpacking trip where I did 18 miles (29 km) with a pack weight of 25 lbs. (11 kg) including food, water and camping gear. I slept in a hammock .
* 2 Nights - August 31st - September 2nd, 2018 - at Private Grounds (Farmington Hills, MICHIGAN - USA). Nighttime weather cooled down to 70 F (21 C) and there was a good thunderstorm during 1 day and gentle rain throughout the second night. I estimated the water accumulation at 0.2 in. (0.5 cm) and the wind gusts up to 30 mph (48 kmh).
* 2 Nights - September 28-30th, 2018 - Kensington Metro Park (Milford, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperature low was 38 F (3 C). It rained throughout the second night and into the daytime.
* 2 Nights - October 19-21st, 2018 - D-Bar-A Scout Camp (Metamora, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperatures low was 28 F (-2 C). It rained and sleeted during the second day and into the evening hours.
I found these online after some searching for new covers for my 11 ft (3.35 m) tarp. My old covers were self-made using the scraps of some feminine mesh that had a higher calling back then - trim for a princess dress for my daughter when she was still doing tea parties. These old ones had seen a lot of use, several years on the trail as well as campsites, and had developed a few holes. They also were a two piece design which meant I was constantly battling to keep the tarp together in the middle. This new design was a one piece meaning when put onto the tarp, only the ends are loose.
This new one arrived in a few days after ordering. I was pretty excited to pop them on the new tarp and head out to the yard to try it out. Then I remembered our yard doesn't have suitable trees to hang a tarp so it was down to the basement for now.
|Snakeskin - Receiving Package|
The first thing of course, is to weigh it and snap a few pictures. I was pleased it came in actually slightly lighter than what was listed on the manufactures site. I also measured the length - which is pretty tough to do with mesh fabric that keeps sliding around. I suspect it's probably like trying to measure a real snake. I ended up putting a few books on one end and pulling it tight. I doubt I'd try that with an actual snake unless it had been run over by a car first. My engineering friends in quality control would have scoffed at any attempt to make this a repeatable measurement but I did get consistent measurements around the manufacturers reported length.
From a description standpoint, one end is tapered to roughly 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter. The other end was wider at approximately 4 in (10 cm) in diameter. The larger opening end has a piece of cordage and a cordlock to cinch it up tight during storage. I like that a lot - for me, I won't be fighting the tarp and the wind until I'm fully ready to take on that battle. I also noticed that both ends had mesh material folded back on itself and stitched a second time - giving it more strength, especially when I slide it back and forth.
|Snakeskin with Smaller Opening|
|Snakeskin Larger Opening with Cinch|
I quickly stripped off my old DIY snakeskins and began the laborious process of installing these new ones. Actually, that's incorrect. They only took about 5 minutes to slide them on. I think I spent more time being extra careful because the mesh felt so delicate and I do have some metal bling on the cordage used to hang the tarp. I didn't want to punch a hole or tear the fabric without even getting out of the house.
With things prepped and ready, it was time to put the tarp back into its storage sack and wait the painful 2 weeks until my first camping trip of the 2018 season.
|Snakeskins on Tarp, All Coiled and Ready to Go|
I arrived at camp to chilly but clear skies. I quickly found an ideal campsite and hung the tarp. The snakeskin sleeve made this very easy and I was able to adjust the position of my tarp several times until it was perfectly aligned over the center of my hammock.
When my hammock was setup and it was time to deploy the tarp, it took just a moment to undue the cordlock and pull back the sleeve. It slide like, well, a really smooth thing over a slippery surface. I'm not always good for metaphors.
|Snakeskin Pulled to Side|
There really isn't much else to say about them. Two days later, I packed up under below-freezing conditions. There was ice crystals from frozen dew on the tarp. The snakeskin sleeve though, slide very easily back on the tarp, holding everything into place.
Taking home a wet tarp isn't ideal at all but once home, I hung the tarp back up in the garage and repeated drawing back the sleeve, letting things dry out and then putting the sleeve back in place.
LONG TERM USE & DURABLITY
I had a great outdoor usage year where I got in 22 nights of hammock camping. I made use of the Hammock Gear Mesh Snakeskin every trip.
For at least one of the trips, I left the tarp inside the snakeskins and ready to deploy in case it rained. For other trips, it did rain (and sleet with some hail) and I was able to complete camp breakdown faster than usual. The mesh sleeve also allowed the tarp to shed water while it was packed up.
From a durability standpoint, I have not yet had any issues. There are no holes in the mesh, the cordlock works great and it slides just as smoothly into and out of place on my tarp. While I also don't expect any damage to occur, the snakeskin did not cause any damage to my tarp.
Honestly, these things are ridiculously easy to use. As I own a tarp, having a method to contain it without fighting the wind and all the cords is a must. Snakeskins just make setup and takedown that much easier. I'm especially pleased with the one piece design instead of the two piece design as I'm no longer battling the cords in the middle becoming exposed when one side slides slightly off-center. The mesh is also ideal for both lightweight but also for shedding some of the dew and condensation that develops on the tarp surface.
1. One piece design makes the tarp very easy to handle.
2. Mesh design permits (some) of the water to fall off the tarp even in transportation
3. Reinforced edges give a robust feeling to the sleeve without adding significant excess weight
4. Cordlock on larger end make it stay in place when I want it to stay there
1. Only black as an option? Honestly, I'm really reaching for something to dislike about the sleeves or something that could be done to improve them. They really are a slick little design and I can't find anything I would do to improve them. If I had a different color mesh option though, I'd likely have chosen it.
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