The OutLan Channel

Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, Gear

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The 2017 Great Miami Outfitters “Frozen Butt Hang”

There are many things I love in life. One of those is hammock camping. Another is hanging out with good friends. This was our second “Frozen Butt Hang” for myself and my friends Joe and Robb–two longtime friends of mine who also love the outdoors. While it turned out to not be very frozen, we had a fantastic time.

The frozen butt hang is put on each year by Great Miami Outfitters (http://greatmiamioutfitters.com), a local camping/outdoor store located in Miamisburg, Ohio. GMO is one of my absolute favorite places to shop, as they easily rival (or even exceed) big-box stores like REI and Cabela’s. The owner and employees are great people, and they do a great job putting on this event. 2017 was the seventh annual occurrence of this event, and my second.

We started out the adventure with a great lunch and some brews at a local establishment called Mudlick Tap House. This little brewpub has some of the best food and beer around, and it’s only a few miles from the park. After a few craft beers and soup/sandwiches, we were on our way to Germantown Metropark–specifically, Shimp’s Hollow group campsite–to begin our adventure.

Germantown Metropark is a fantastic and wild little spot located in Southwestern Ohio. Here, there are giant, old-growth forests, a rushing creek, and steep hillsides. There is also lots of local wildlife, like squirrels, turkeys, Great Horned owls, bobcats, even coyotes. The park has several miles of trails ranging from very easy to difficult. The Twin Valley Trail (or TVT) goes through the heart of the park, where I traverse several sections of it each summer during the TVT Challenge.

The group campsite is the perfect place to have a group hang. There are literally hundreds of anchor points to choose from. We set up camp on a ridgetop. With all the leaves down we had a great view of the surrounding rugged terrain. We each had our own unique hammock setup and we had to compare and talk gear. Robb had a Hammock Bliss and ENO tarp, Joe had a ENO Doublenest and tarp, and I had my Hennessy Expedition Asym with deluxe tarp. Robb was excited to try out his new whoopie slings and Dutchware straps and hardware. My Hennessy is a great old standby, but I’ve had it for a while and would like to upgrade, maybe to a Dream Hammock or Warbonnet Blackbird. For now, that’s just a dream until I get ahead financially. I realized lately I’ve spent way too much modding my Jeep. Maybe I should pick one or two hobbies instead of ten. Ha ha.

Robb being himself

Robb being himself

Just hanging out

Just hanging out

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My hammock rig with some Dutchware bling

Dinner was an amazing assortment of potluck food. There were meatballs, pizza pockets, even Pad Thai. I am always so impressed with how good some people can cook at camp. I typically stick to Mountain House meals on the trail or hot dogs when car camping. To have this much selection of great food was a real treat. The assortment of side dishes and desserts was also expansive. No one went to bed hungry that night.

After dinner, the boys and I did short night hike out to a backcountry campsite. I haven’t done that much night hiking in the past, and am now convinced it’s something I need to do a lot more. To be out on the trail with just a headlamp and the light of the moon is ethereal and exhilarating. It’s an entirely different experience. The senses become a lot more heightened, and every little sound and movement is enhanced. We walked past a bush full of birds and I think all of us jumped just a little bit.

In contrast to last year’s campout, where it bottomed out at 7º F, this year it only got down to 29º, and was 38º by the time we woke. There was no snow or ice, just some blustery winds that blew through. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going to bed with cold feet, which meant the rest of my body was cold. I ended up wrapping my down jacket around my feet to get myself warmed up, and finally drifted off to sleep.

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The morning temperature from inside my hammock

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I really didn’t want to get out

Sunrise

Sunrise on top of the ridge

Morning was beautiful, with a gorgeous sunrise over the ridge. It was clear and beautiful. Joe brewed some amazing pour-over coffee with his Jetboil stove. We slowly tore down our rigs as we sipped the delicious brew and talked gear, the outdoors, and life in general. Then, we all went our separate ways–back to our families. It was a short adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. If it’s 24 hours or two weeks, make sure you take the time to get outside and live.

 

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The Camping Hammock Trend – Too Much of a Good Thing?

When I got into hammock camping a few years back, I felt I was on the fringe of the backpacking community. It seemed like very few people were really doing it, but those who were loved it and wanted everyone else to know just how much they loved it. Back then, there were only a few trusted vendors and their prices were fairly reasonable. Today, it seems almost every day a new hammock vendor springs up–each with its own “unique” features (gimmicks?). And, these new gear rigs are coming at a very high cost.

Just recently, I saw a new hammock vendor I had never heard of advertised on Facebook. This vendor wanted $275 for the tarp setup alone, and over $400 with their hammock and suspension. Really? Is that where we are now? This just seems prohibitively expensive, especially to someone just starting out and looking to get into hammock camping.

I’m not against paying high dollars for a nice setup. In many cases, I think it’s worth it and I believe you get what you pay for, but these vendors coming out with these crazy prices just seems a bit extreme, and I think in the long run it’s going to turn more people away from hammock camping. I understand any hobby costs money, whether it is hammock camping, backpacking, golf, or whatever, but it just seems as though there are way too many of these “startups” and Kickstarter type of companies that are attempting to make huge bucks for the sake of the trend.

To any new hammock campers out there, keep your eyes open and don’t just jump on a gear rig because it might “look cool”.  There are a lot of quality vendors out there like Warbonnet, Hennessy, and Dream Hammock–just to name a few–who’ve been doing this for quite a while and really know their stuff. And, they’re likely not going to break the bank while outfitting you with a quality hammock and tarp. Do your research, and check out places like http://hammockforums.net and some of the hammock groups on Facebook. There are a lot of people there who really know what they’re talking about and will steer you in the right direction.