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Friday, June 5, 2015
A Week Of New Gear Testing (Day 1): JW Knife, Hennessy Hammock & RE Factor Tactical Items Tested
This past week I went on a week-long fishing/gear testing trip into the back woods of Appalachia (WV). The trip was mainly to test the concept of hammock camping, as before this week began I have never slept in a hammock or set one up for that matter as I have always been a major fan of ground based camping. Copperheads, mosquitoes, chiggers and a variety of other seasonal pests that are much worse than normal this year after a fairly light winter made me want to give this type of camping a try. The other major reason I wanted to try hammock camping was the fact that it keeps you cooler in the summer than ground based camping and as someone who is always burning up that make being in the woods each week much easier! In the video below I cover everything I planned to take into the woods along with the items I planned to test.
Hennessy Explorer Deluxe Asym Zip:
In the video below I explain my thoughts on my first attempt at setting up the hammock. I purposely avoided reading the directions and looking for any tips or tricks on hammock camping before I went out as I wanted to see how intuitive it was to setup the hammock. I was able to setup the hammock with just the light of a headlamp in around 15 minutes while it was raining. It rained the majority of the first night and I really wanted to try out the water collection items that came with the hammock but staying dry took priority for me. Throughout the night I thought of several things that would speed up and improve this setup process and you will see these tips and tricks in a few future posts.
The stuff sack below is roughly the size of a football and easily holds all of the hammock contents once you put it into the snake skins that are included.
If you are a direction kind of person there are extensive setup directions right on the stuff sack that make setup easy to accomplish.
Out of the bag you will find two items the tarp (left) and the hammock (right). After your initial setup these two items will most likely be tethered to each other to facilitate faster setup.
The no-see-in mesh provide a good view out and no view in so if you are a sleep in your skivvies kind of camper sleep in confidence (word of caution.... you may get a little cold). I personally slept in a pair of shorts and t-shirt in 48 degree F weather and was a little cool (What I was striving for) due to the thunder storm and heavy winds blowing under the tarp.
This is the setup that worked well for the first night, but all of my subsequent setups will be much different and much more efficient to setup with a better tension system.
RE Factor Tactical Operator Band and Survival Key Chain:
I was recently sent a few items from RE Factor Tactical and thought this week would be an excellent time to test their effectiveness. The first two items I tested were the Tactical Operator Band and the Survival Key Chain. The video below demonstrates the effectiveness of the Survival Key Chains whistle vs that of the Wazoo Bracelet and a Chinese clasp.
The Tactical Operator Brand includes the following items: handcuff key buckle, ferro rod, fishing hook and line, P51 can opener, Eagle Claw Steel leader, Suunto Compass and paracord. The Survival Key Chain Includes the following items: Whistle buckle, ferro rod, fishing hook and line, Eagle Claw Steel leader and paracord.
As you can see below the Survival Key Chain is about twice as long as the survival pod key chain (Review Link- HERE) but contains a few extras not in it's smaller counterpart.
The fit is decent as you can see below (medium size), at first I thought it was a little bulky compared to a simple 550 cord band but after awhile you get used to it. I will say that it needs to be the last thing you put on because no long-sleeve shirts seem to want to go over the band.
The first night I put the band to the test immediately using its glow in the dark compass to navigate to my shelter location for the night (granted I knew where it was but wanted to ensure it gave a proper heading). The glow in the dark feature made night navigation easy enough to accomplish. I will say that if the band hasn't been out in the sun all day you will need to charge the glow in the dark feature with a flashlight for about 20 seconds to get a decent navigation back lighting.
Jeff White Baker One:
The Jeff White Baker One is one of my favorite designs by this particular knife maker and I'm finally getting a change to get it out and put it through its paces for more than just a day trip here and there. While I didn't get to use the knife the first night (I didn't need a fire) it did wear quite nicely and the sheath fits it like a glove. Nothing negative to say what-so-ever as far as ergonomics got. It took an edge very quickly and was one of the easier knives to sharpen (The only knives I own that are easier to sharpen are made by Mora).
Want A Few Of These Items For Your Kit?
This was a very productive first night where I was able to setup the hammock for the first time and utilize the compass from the RE Factor Tactical Operator Band. This first night; short as it may have been provided a few lessons learned especially when it comes to hammock camping: 1) If I'm going to experiment with a hammock in the winter an under quilt is 100% necessary; 2) Jungle style hammocks are the way to go in the summer as they are so much cooler and keep you from being bug bait all night; 3) I need to keep a secondary tarp with this kit as the tarp foot print isn't as large as I would like to work under during a heavy rain; and 4) I can sleep like a baby in a hammock. The Operator band's glow-in-the-dark compass is a great addition to the bracelet as it makes night navigation much easier. After one night each of the products have easily met and exceeded my expectations and I can't wait to share with you how well they preformed for the rest of the trip!
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