RE: Hammock Camping windbreak
MessageThanks for the details Dave--I'm considered trying the same thing, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I even considered lowering the 'side walls' all the way to the ground--sort of like skirting around the bottom of a house trailer. You're way ahead of me on this and maybe have tried this as well. Nothing works like actual field performance--maybe this winter you'll get the chance to refine this some more. It is an intriguing idea and may be the regal solution we're all searchng for....EdFrom: o123david [mailto:o123david@...]
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 3:05 PM
Subject: Hammock Camping windbreak
Ed asked... "can you offer a better description of your polyethylene
rings w/ duct tape? This sounds interesting, but I can't envision it.
Does the poly sheeting go completely under the hammock? Do you have
It seems to me that the reason we often can't keep warm in a hammock
is the wind that blows through the hammock. It blows cold air into
the insulation making the insulation less effective.
One solution tried is a radiant heat barrier. If I understand the
physics correctly this method is only meaningful if you don't have
the right amount of thermal insulation. In other words it is only
effective if you don't have enough normal insulation or, more
commonly, if the wind has caused much of the normal insulation to be
ineffective. It also creates a problem with condensation. A much
better solution is to block the wind before it reaches the insulation
and to have the right amount of insulation.
Another method tried is a vapor barrier used inside most of the
insulation. In my experience this is somewhat effective when it isn't
too cold out and it works better when the humidity is low, situations
where you normally lose a somewhat significant amount of heat due to
evaporation from your skin. You may find it of some value. I find the
weight and discomfort not worth the trouble. Anyway, it is not an
effective way to prevent loss of heat to the wind.
A third method is to wrap yourself in windproof material. You might
make the hammock out of windproof material or spray it with something
that makes it windproof. Since the material will also be waterproof
(Gore-tex and similar materials don't work here because you don't
have the necessary large difference in vapor pressures) you will find
that condensation collects and decreases the effectiveness of your
insulation. You might instead try to block the wind with a tarp
pulled down almost vertically along the sides of the hammock. With
the Hennessy diamond-shaped tarp I have learned that this doesn't
work because of gaps in coverage. With the large tarp that comes with
the Speer hammock this apparently does work as long as the wind
continues to come only from the sides.
The solution I use is to suspend windproof material around the
Cool dry air comes from below, moves through the hammock, and what
has become warmer more-moist air exits above. From what I have read
this is part of the design of all good shelters and is the only way
to both block the wind and rain and prevent the buildup of
Taking the typical hammock which is 5' wide, if you suspend a 2'6"
wide strip of material from the top edge of the hammock going all the
way around then you will have effectively blocked the wind from all
directions. When the wind blows from one direction the windproof
material is blown against the hammock and blocks the wind from that
I will attempt to describe the how I do this. A picture would be
better but, unfortunately, no camera.
1. Take (or imagine taking) a piece of cord twice as long as a side
of the hammock. Tie it in a loop. Suspended it from each end of the
hammock. Set up the hammock. You will see that the cord hangs down
just like the sides of the hammock. The cord continues to follow the
top edge of the hammock.
2. Now take some polyethylene. Cut it in a strip 2'6" wide. Use duct
tape to tape the polyethylene in a loop just as long as the cord.
Reinforce the top edge of the loop of polyethylene with more duct
tape. Tie the reinforced edge of the polyethylene to each end of the
hammock. You now have a removable windbreak.
The windbreak does not block access to either the Hennessy or Speer
When used even in very little wind it adds a significant amount of
It does not create a problem with condensation, but it does make it
feel clammy in the hammock. I intend to switch to sleeping on an
angle and hope that with a larger portion of the hammock body no
longer being covered with a pad there will be more movement of air
and the clamminess will go away.
It is time for a confession. This is the first year since 1997 that I
have not hiked over 2500 miles of trail. I have hiked very little
this year and used the windbreak on only one week-long trip. It never
got windy. I don't know that the windbreak will work - I only THINK
that it will. And I know that something like it is needed.
I used polyethylene because it is cheap, windproof, and easy to work
with. Strength does not appear to be needed because the material is
only blown against the hammock. The 2 mil poly that I used was
probably excessive. The strip of full-width duct tape along the top
edge of the poly was definitely excessive. With the Speer hammock I
tended to put stress on the top edge of the poly as I left the
hammock so it would be best to put a thin line of Spectra cord (that
doesn't stretch) inside the duct tape along the top edge to prevent
stretching. The stress points are at the ends of the hammock where
the windbreak is attached, a problem that I hope will be resolved by
adding the Spectra cord inside the duct tape that follows the top
edge of the poly. When I cut the poly I made most of the windbreak
2.5' wide but tapered it to only 1' wide near the ends.
The windbreak is cheap and simple to both make and use, lightweight,
and will hopefully make hammocks warm in windy conditions without
creating a problem with condensation. Please let me know if it really
does work. --David
To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.