Is there a graceful way to make the transition from being a ground dweller to being a hammock-hanging Ewok? (Well, Ewoks sleep in trees, don't they?) Ideally without spending a mint all at once?
I've done a lot of clueless weekends, and I've tented for all of them. I have my tent system fairly well tuned to suit me. I sleep well. Ordinarily, I wouldn't even ask the question. But the last couple or three weekends that I've done have been in areas that have been all dense spruce and balsam, or dense viburnum, or sharp rocks, or steep slopes, or really wet clay. It's been rather a challenge to find sites that were safe, comfortable and lawful - and I'm actually fairly good at stealth camping, it's just that I've been weekending in some difficult terrain lately.
Elf kind of put a bug in my ear when he mentioned, on our trip two weekends ago, that it was one of the few times he'd been out that he'd have been seriously tempted to try hammocking. And I just came into a little bit of 'found money' - some generic gift cards that I could put toward (among others) Cabela's, REI, Amazon, or overstock.com. If any of those would have anything suitable.
I've tried at various times asking my hiking partners who hang. They're no help at all, because they got started with hanging at the same time they got started with backpacking! They're as ignorant of tents as I am of hammocks, and have nothing to offer about making the transition.
For what it's worth, if it makes a difference to your answer, I'm 6'1", 190 lb and a side sleeper.
If I were to go the hammock route, is there a way I can make the transition slowly? From what I can see on the places I've looked at, Hennessy is the only brand I'm likely to find that I can buy with the "found money." But I've seen nice reviews, at least of the hammock proper. I gather that a largish guy like me needs something like the Explorer Ultralite A-sym; I'm just slightly too tall for the Scout or Expedition. Do the hammockers think that's a reasonable choice? The one at REI seems to come with a nylon tarp prechosen (as opposed to the array of choices at Hennessy) but the choice doesn't look too different from what I might have picked anyway.
What about insulation? In mild weather, can I make do at first by hacking up some closed-cell foam into a pad-with-wings like the one that used to be on SGT Rock's site, or am I going to regret that immediately? I recognize that I'll probably want a proper underquilt eventually, but I'm wondering if I can delay the purchase until I learn whether I can actually get a good night's sleep in a hammock at all.
I presume that an unzipped (or zipped, for that matter!) sleeping bag will do for a top quilt. It'll "leave me with a further opportunity" down the road to reduce pack weight and volume, of course, since I'm sure that a proper quilt is smaller and lighter, but again, I'm mostly looking to test the waters!
I'd imagine that, unless I unexpectedly turn into one of the proselytizing hammock zealots, that I'd be after a three-season kit. I'm perfectly willing to go to ground in the winter. For one thing, there are a lot more tent sites once there's a decent snowpack!) I'm therefore not foreseeing having to tool up a hammock rig for cold weather. I'd mostly want to be set up for stealth camping in difficult terrain (as I said, dense brush, steep slopes, sharp rocks, wet clay ...) with abundant trees.
I'm well aware of the phenomenon of getting a piece of gear to try things out, then trading it in on a slightly better one, then .... until you've spent several times what the good stuff would have cost to begin with. So if you think I'm about to embark on that course, warn me off it!
Of course, I'm overthinking this. Have you ever known anything that I didn't overthink? And even at that, I'm going to wind up doing it all wrong, or why would I be asking on this site? So, is anyone willing to help the clueless?
(I'm not asking on HF, at least not yet, because I'd wind up trying to drink from the fire hose and ending more confused than when I began. Also, I haven't been there since the meltdown. And that's all I'm going to say, because the purpose of this site isn't to complain about other sites.)
I'm not lost. I know where I am. I'm right here.