Tag Archives: hammock

Hanging around – 12 nights in the DD Jungle Hammock 

It’s the morning after the night before (and the one before that and the one before that etc) I’ve just jumped out of my hammock and I feel… nothing. No aches, no pains, no discomfort in my crumbling dysplastic hips and none of the searing back spasms that so often follow a nights sleep in my bed at home. 

I’ve just spent a fortnight holidaying at my folks place in Italy and rather than sleep indoors, I decided to take advantage of the good weather and sling my DD Superlight Jungle hammock up in the garden for a total of 13 nights (12 in a row with one night indoors feeling rough post travel). 

The superlight is a light(er) weight version of DD’s modular jungle hammock – double layered hammock, removable mosquito net and lightweight waterproof fly sheet/tarp. The whole thing including suspension (whoopie slings) weighs 1500 grams, not ultra light compared to some shelters but not bad for a one stop shop. 

full set up earlier in the year

Due to flying with only hand luggage, I was unable to bring the poles which are used to shape the mosquito net and also provide structure to set up the tarp, so was just hanging in the hammock with the mossie net tied up to keep it off my face. Fortunately Italy, unlike the UK, actually has a proper summer so didn’t need the tarp. 

Having only previously used the hammock with it’s full compliment of poles, I was intrigued to see how it would hang without them in place. 

The general consensus to getting a comfortable nights sleep in a hammock is to aim for a 30 degree hang (plenty of sag) and to sleep on the diagonal, avoiding such issues as leg hyperextension and pressure points around the ankles. 

When using the DD with it’s poles and net/tarp in place, I’ve found that too much sag affects the structure of the hammock resulting in a tarp that is baggy, thus creating folds of material for rainwater to pool in. I therefore tend to set the hammock up with anchor points a little below head height and set the whoopie sling suspension relatively taught, creating a flatter hammock and smoother tarp. As well as provide structure for the net and tarp, the poles help to spread the hammock out creating enough width to be able to sleep on a shallow diagonal.

On this occasion without the poles, I decided to hang in accordance with conventional wisdom and set my tree huggers up at head height and the suspension relatively relaxed. 

Initially I struggled to get comfortable, without the poles acting to spread the hammock it felt somewhat coffin like. The sides of the hammock would pull up taught making the whole hammock very narrow and difficult to get much of a diagonal lay. 

I spent much of the next week tweaking the suspension until I’d ended up with a “hang” that was reasonably comfortable. The DD is not a particularly wide hammock and so achieving a full diagonal lay wasn’t really going to be possible but despite this I was still able to get a mild diagonal which allowed me enough space at the head end without feeling enclosed and enough support for knees, legs and ankles that I didn’t wake up aching. 

Certainly compared to ground sleeping whether in a tent or bivvying, the jungle hammock is far superior in terms of comfort and even against my bed at home provides a degree of support and comfort that just seems to lend itself to a good nights sleep. 

Without the poles though, I found myself yearning for a little more space to achieve the ultimate diagonal lay and have bitten the bullet and ordered a Warbonnet Blackbird xlc which is a wider hammock and by all accounts one of the comfiest and best equipped hammocks around. 

One minor gripe was the placement of the integrated kit pockets. The hammock has four pockets which easily take a phone, head torch or other smallish bits of camping kit. The only problem being that (for me at least) the placement of the pockets was inconvenient. Having achieved a comfortable lay I found the pockets at the head end were exactly that, located right where I wanted to lay my head. At the foot end they were just too far away to be able to reach easily. This meant I was only able to effectively use on pocket at the head end opposite to where my head was resting. 

The Hammock does come with a ridge line and a kit organiser attached to this which for this trip I didn’t use but in the past I’ve found useless for all but the lightest of items, otherwise the ridge line and organiser would sag too low. Minor gripes and I’m sure I could make better use of the foot end pockets but for me they just don’t work. 

That’s not to say I’ll be getting rid of the DD though. It’s modular “all in one” approach lends itself well to my bikepacking wildcamps, being simple to set up and take down for quick stealth camps. It’s also adaptable and can be used as a ground shelter/bivvy should you not be able to find suitable trees, it really is an extremely versatile sleep system.

It’s built well, looks the business and I was impressed with how it handled a very windy last night in Italy. A thunderstorm blew up with high winds (thankfully no rain) which ended up giving the suspension a real test as the hammock bucked not only sideways but also up and down! Despite this I was snug as a bug and the hammock kept me hanging until the first drops of rain in the early morning. 

Despite having ordered the Blackbird I would still recommend buying the DD jungle, particularly the superlight version. It might not be the absolute best or comfiest hang on the market (it’ll be interesting to compare when the Blackbird arrives) but for the money, convenience and weight it’s certainly a serious bit of kit that’s not only very comfortable but very adaptable, suitable for beginners looking for a no fuss solution to hammocking as well as serious hangers looking for a multi function solution to all their camping needs. 


A wild school night 

If you’re anything like me, a serious lack of organisation and procrastination , not to mention the usual excuses (family, friends, work, tv, comfy bed and other such commitments!) can be a big barrier to getting out for a little adventure, especially when it comes to adventuring on a school night.

Despite the very essence of Microadventures being to keep it simple and maximise those hours of freedom between the end of one working day and the start of the next, I’d not managed a midweek wild camp for over three years but with a small window of opportunity presenting itself this week, I was determined to jump through it head first and grab myself a little hump day treat… 

good to go

I’d spotted my intended camp – a former quarry now reclaimed by a beautiful wood – whilst out on the bike recently and having packed and loaded the bike the night before, I was quickly changed out of my suit and on the trails within an hour of getting home from work. 

hitting the trail

Keeping it simple I packed only the essentials – hammock, down jacket, buff, waterproofs (you never know in Britain), water, bike spares and of course some Peroni 😉 

bear essentials…

The wood in question was only about 5 miles away (something my hips were grateful for) and I took my time, just enjoying being outdoors on my bike, no need to rush. 
I had the woods all to myself, save for a few noisy badgers, foxes and owls who made an appearance once darkness enveloped the trees. 

alone in the woods?

I love the transition of life and noise in a woodland environment, the day crew eventually settling in for a good nights kip at sundown, only to be replaced by the denizens of the night, scurrying and scuttling and screaming (blimmin foxes!) around their darkened playground. 

But even the night owls have to get some shut eye and there’s often a moment of quiet tranquility that descends upon any woodland. This moment usually happens at about 3am when you suddenly need to clamber out of your cosy hammock to answer the call of nature but it’s a beautiful moment to witness, if only until it’s shattered as you curse and swear and shuffle yourself back into the hammock. 

do i have to get out?

Awoken by sunrise and the dawn chorus (is there a better alarm clock?), I was packed up and back at my desk bang on 9am, perhaps looking a little dishevelled, a little wild but certainly feeling more alive. 

Kit list – top three

Thought I’d share some of my favourite, “go to” bits of kit used when bikepacking… 

1) Boardman HT Pro

Not gonna get far without one of these. 2012 model, nice and light (11.5kg) and keeps plugging away despite some serious abuse over the years. 

me and my bike

2) Alpkit Kraku

Tiny, lightweight and super powerful. Perhaps doesn’t give the most even burn (narrow hot spot) but for the weight and price you can’t go wrong for a one or two night trip. 

Kraku pulling coffee duty

3) DD Superlight Jungle Hammock

If you’re going ultra light then a bivvy bag is the way to go but if you like a bit of comfort after a long day on the bike then it’s a hammock every time. 

The Jungle Hammock is a modular system combining the hammock itself, a mozzi net and rain fly, total protection from the elements for a combined weight of 1.5kg. Compared to my lightest bivvy set up  (alpkit hunka bivvy bag, 400g, and lumo mat, 450g,) you’re only paying a small weight penalty in exchange for a huge amount more comfort. You could even leave the mozzi net poles behind and hang the net loose to shave some more weight off. Of course you will need to find two sturdy trees! 

just add trees!

I’m always on the look out for shiny new kit to try out, shout if you’ve got any tips for great “go to” gear worth taking a look at. 

Nature is a place politics can’t touch – a referendum microadventure 

Having racked up six wild camps by the end of March this year – not to mention six rather cold nights over December and January – April and May had been bereft of any microadventure action as I focused on training for June’s South Downs Epic mtb ride (itself training for London to Brighton off-road in September). 

And so I found myself with a Friday booked off work, the same Friday on which the rest of the U.K. would also wake up to the news that we had decided, just, that we wanted to leave Europe. I’d been up all night following the coverage so come morning I was somewhat sick of politics. Whether you “won” or “lost”, that amount of political coverage is no good for anyone. To rebalance myself, I loaded up my trusty hardtail and hit the trail. 

The South East of England isn’t exactly blessed with wild camping spots, it’s busy, built up and doesn’t quite have the outdoor tolerance of places such as the Lake District or even the South Downs. 

That’s not to say that you can’t find a spot – I’ve certainly found many a surprising wild place over the years and it feels all the more rewarding if you’ve worked for it – but it’s easy to get lazy, to stick with what you know, with what’s “safe”, relatively speaking! 

Fortunately I’m lucky enough to work with a chap who has a similar passion for the outdoors and who, perhaps even more fortunately, knows someone who owns a small patch of woodland which they wouldn’t be using that particular weekend. This then would be less of a stealth camp but being a good 30 mile ride away and having never been there before, I wasn’t sure what I’d find on arrival so there was still a healthy sense of adventure! 

What I found at the end of a rutted forest trail was a beautiful clearing, the late afternoon sun piercing through the tree canopy, no sounds other than the call of dozens of woodland birds and the sheep grazing nearby. 

This place really was the perfect antidote to all the political noise of the last 24 hours. 

I set up my hammock overlooking the clearing and quickly set about making a trail dinner using my new woodgas wood burning stove. 

Maybe it had been too long since I’d channeled my inner Keith Flint, or perhaps it was just the stove itself but for some reason I couldn’t get the thing to take and so ended up eating a meal of lukewarm supernoodles spiced up with slices of Hungarian smoked sausage. 

Frankly, I’m blaming the stove as in the morning I managed to get a proper open fire going! 

see I can do it!

Despite thunder storms the previous day and more of the same predicted later on Saturday, the forecast looked good for the night so I opted for just the mozzie net on the hammock and no tarp. 

Thankfully the rain stayed away (tarp on hand if needed) and I drifted off to the sounds of owls and foxes going about their nocturnal business. Gently woken by the day shift of birds and sheep swapping with the night shift, I fixed myself a coffee over an open fire and reluctantly packed my gear onto the bike before heading homeward. 

can’t i stay forever?

The ride each way was a solid 27 miles, mostly off road (north downs way/pilgrims way) and as well as being a great green corridor to and from my camp spot, having the bike fully loaded with camping gear was a good bit of extra training for L2B, win squared! 

it wasn’t all easy riding

Rebalanced, I arrived home just before the predicted storm set in. Turns out this microadventure was perfectly timed, in more ways than one! 

Gambling with the weather 

Notched up wild camp number three of 2016 last night. 

Armed with a decent weather forecast (well decent for January) I decided to forgo setting up a tarp and instead just hung my hammock. 

Risky for sure but it paid off – the skies were clear and the rain held off until morning, giving me a night spent gazing up through the trees at a beautiful star filled sky. 

Awoke gently at 7am to a private showing of this woods’ version of a dawn chorus and the first few drops of rain – exactly as forecast – prompting action at a speed I don’t usually achieve in the morning! 

The full deluge held off just long enough to stash my down sleeping bag before it got soaked and to brew up a fresh moka pot of coffee – I’ve yet to discover a better start to the day than waking up in an English wood and brewing coffee on a stove, or better yet an open fire. 

Now back home, sat typing this as I gaze out the window at the constant drizzle, I’d say my gamble paid off. 

A world first? 

Last night I’m pretty sure I did something no other human on this planet has ever done before. 

In a world where the limit of human performance is constantly redefined, where the likes of Killian Jornet, Ueli Steck and countless others are forever going faster, higher and further, it’s easy to overlook some of the worlds smaller, more humble “firsts”. 

Ueli Steck on the Eiger

Take last nights wild camp in some local woods for example. 

Now, I know that I was certainly not the first person to ever camp in those woods (evidence of that was sadly strewn around parts of the woodland) but I am pretty certain for a start that I was the only person daft enough to wild camp there that particular night! But as I lay in my hammock, strung between two unlikely looking trees, the wind fluttering gently against my tarp, a thought occurred to me. I may not be the first person ever to camp in these particular woods but there is a very good chance that I’m the first person to ever have decided to string up a hammock and spend the night hanging between the two specific trees I happened to choose. 

I was well off the beaten track, one tree (although sturdy) was quite small and not the obvious choice to anchor a hammock and the other looked relatively young compare to the thicker trees elsewhere in the woods. 

So maybe, just maybe, in the middle of a small woodland in Kent on a windy December evening, I managed to (quite by accident) take a couple of lungfulls of that rarefied air usually tasted only by those sportsmen, those athletes we often revere as being superhuman and in the course of that one long and dark night set my own world first – the first person to ever set my hammock up between random tree a and random tree b. 

hanging out between random tree a and random tree b

Of course, world first or not it’s all just a bit of good fun, I’m not seriously comparing myself to Ueli Steck! The above simply goes to highlight the power of microadventures, of getting outdoors and letting your imagination run wild. Give it a try sometime, you might make history! 😉