Whilst the video is almost finished (or in other words, currently uploading to youtube), I wanted to share a few key takeaways from our night out in the woods.
A lot of it will probably sound pretty obvious, but as it is with this kind of thing, its only obvious after the fact. Due to Matt and I being quite “go go go” kind of guys, we may have overlooked a few things on our way out.
The first is related to gear. Obviously, the more the better, and owing to our walk in and out of the forest being about 10 minutes, in this case it wasn’t a question of “how much” we could carry. I think we showed that with minimal preparation, it’s possible to spend a night in the woods and have a good time doing it. Though in future trips, it would be advisable to take more clothing layers of various thicknesses to be able to fine tune the level of “warmth” going on, without resorting to wearing a coat in bed which is decidedly uncomfortable.
An improved sleeping bag is definitely a must. Last time I relied on some hand-me-down gear from my mum and dad I slept in a leaky tent. The sleeping bag I used is perfect for guests when they sleep on our couch, but not so much to get the right kind of warmth out in the woods.
A thermos, means we wouldn’t have to resort to heating water up every time we want a hot drink. In all likelihood, we would warm water up anyway for the hot bottles we put by our feet, but the logic of improved sleeping bag means maybe we would be less reliant on that. (Though, it’s a case of not forgetting the thermos in the kitchen, as I had actually prepared it).
Not only an improved sleeping bag, but if we are to continue hammock camping, we need to insulate the bottom half of ourselves too. If we’re talking scientifically, a sleeping bag (as well as clothes, quilts, etc) keep us warm by trapping a layer of air within the material from which they are made. Unfortunately, when you’re lying on the material, the air is “crushed” out, meaning you’re no longer insulated. This results in the cold we felt coming from underneath. We countered it somewhat by using the survival blanket (this aluminium foil type stuff), but it didn’t entirely solve the problem. So thinking logically (and which a quick google search confirmed) we need some kind of under-insulation. One option could be to simply put a camping mat inside the hammock, and another could be an “underquilt”, which is like a sleeping bag, except it hangs on the underside of the hammock, but not directly beneath the occupant, meaning there is a palce for the air to trap itself and keep you warm.
It would be ideal if we could find a way to bring a small fire which is not a gas flame. Now obviously, this weekend anything in the forest was not combustible owing to the fact everything was waterlogged. But also, it is illegal to make a fire in most forests, so there is that to get around as well.
Food is the next big one. This time, we were only in the forest for about 18 hours, so it wasnt major. We picked up cup-a-soup and some pot-noodle and ravioli, but it would be more enjoyable if we brought something a little more gourmet along. Also useful would be bringing a kettle as well as a pan, so that the tea and coffee don’t have to taste of tomato sauce.