UST Tarp & GT Skeeter Beeter Hammock
I had to take a few days road trip for business at the end of summer, so instead of staying in hotels I decided to test out some new gear to see if it would hold up on a multi-day trip.
Since the weather was still warm at night (~65 degrees F) I figured sleeping in my Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Hammock would be a good way to go.
We had used it several times before and had taken it on trips with us but never spent the night.
You can lose heat through the bottom of a hammock so I used a fairly warm sleeping bag to keep me comfy.
The hammock was comfortable and sturdy and I used it over the course of 4 nights in different locations. The built-in screen kept all the bugs out as advertised.
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Typical Price: $69
Grey No-See-Um mosquito netting hangs overhead and away from you so you can still read a book or sip a drink without feeling claustrophobic. Keeping you comfortable on the inside while keeping mosquitoes and other bugs on the outside.
Double-sided zipper makes getting in and out of the hammock a seamless process. Triple-stitched reinforcements on the mesh and fabric additionally boost the hammock's strength.
If the coast is clear and you donʼt need the mosquito netting, just ﬂip the hammock over and sit on it as a normal hammock.
I used Grand Trunk Tree Slings with Tree Protectors so I wouldn't ruin the bark on the trees I hung from. They also feel sturdier than using just the rope that comes with the Hammock but I think that's just my feeling.
To give myself a little extra protection from the morning dew and any possible night-time precipitation I slung up our Ultimate Survival Technologies BASE Hex Tarp using the guy lines and stakes that came with it.
I also like using it because I sleep better in the woods when I'm covered up some - like in a tent. It's just a little bit smaller than the hammock (by a couple of inches) but was good enough for what I needed since it wasn't raining that night.
In a down-pour our larger Kelty Noah's Tarp Shelter would have been appropriate.
The tarps is made well, and the stitching appears pretty solid. It can also be used as a shelter and emergency blanket.
The hex shape trades coverage area for pack size and weight so its not a one-size-fits-all solution.
We have several tarps which we use depending on our needs - including a handful of the 6mil Poly Tarps you can buy in any hardware store.
The reason to go for a tarp like this though is the fact that it packs down very tight and small - so it fits easily into your backpack.
It could even fit into a large enough pocket. Every emergency kit should have some reusable shelter option, and this is a great one for not too much cash.
Typical Price: $30
The versatile, ultra-lightweight UST All Weather Tarp can be used as a ground cloth, single person sleeping shelter, gear protection, and even as thermal protection in emergencies.
The four-sided, flame-retardant tarp’s reverse side is aluminized for wrapping around yourself for thermal insulation and reflectivity for emergency signaling.
It sets up in minutes with the included guy lines and steel stakes, and instructions are conveniently located on the exterior of the stuff sack.
The All Weather Tarp measures 8 x 6 feet and weighs 15 ounces. It packs down to 8.5 x 4 x 4 inches in the included stuff sack.
Both the Hammock and Tarp broke down and packed away quickly each morning, which was great because I didn't want to be late for all my appointments.
You can find cheaper versions of both these products but from my experience you are better off spending the few extra $$ to get the better product which will last 10x as long and save you from replacing them.
The trip gave me some time to pull out some other stuff as well. I spent the night reading a US Army First Aid Manual on my Kindle, and listened to tunes on my JBL Clip +.