MSR ceramic filter

8:54 a.m. on August 17, 2005 (EDT)
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I've got a MSR water purifier that seems to be partially clogged. I've cleaned the ceramic filter with white vinegar, I've tried boiling the filter for 5 minutes, which the manual suggested, and ended up warping the plastic rings on the filter and it still takes forever to filter. Any suggestions?

11:36 a.m. on August 17, 2005 (EDT)
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Since you have tried the basic scrubbing of the filter and other listed things, I can only suggest getting a new insert. I assume that you are comparing how hard it is now to pump with how hard it used to be.

Other suggestion is to get another brand. I have used a number of brands over the years, as well as playing with the demo filters at my neighborhood REI(s -- we have a lot of them here) and such places as the Outdoor Retailer Show. The filter I am currently using and find easiest and fastest to pump while not being too heavy is the Katadyn Hiker Pro. I also like the Sweetwater (now part of MSR, which is part of Cascade Designs) better than the one you have. The current First Need is hugely improved over the one I had years ago but is bulkier than the Katadyn or Sweetwater.

I took a good look at the newest revision of the SteriPen at the OR. They are now pushing their prefilter to remove as much junk as possible from the water before using the UV pen. It isn't a purifying filter, just removes particles down to "pepper" size (presumably the typical ground pepper you buy at the grocery store). But I am not convinced that the SteriPen has real advantages over the better filters in terms of weight (you better carry an extra set of 4 AA batteries) and certainly in terms of cost. If the water has a taste to it, the SteriPen will not remove the taste, as will most of the better filters (especially the filters with activated carbon in them).

I talked to several of the filter folks at the OR about the trade-off between boiling and filtering. They agreed with the numbers that Jim S and I have mentioned in this forum a number of times - trips greater than about 4-5 man-days is where the backpacker-size filters are lighter weight than the needed extra fuel.

12:15 p.m. on August 17, 2005 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill, I will take a look at the price of the Katadyn vs getting a new ceramic filter. I agree that filtering is much more practical than boiling for a couple of reasons....it will save you money in the long run as far as buying fuel goes and you can filter and drink your water as you hike instead of carrying water that you boiled in the morning all day. Also, if you are in a pinch for water and all you have is a little trickle somewhere on the trail you can use a filter to take out the muck.

6:15 a.m. on August 18, 2005 (EDT)
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I drink my water as I hike that I boiled in the morning.

I can filter water from that little trickle with a coffee filter and have a nice cup of hot tea while I hang in my hammock taking a lunch break.

It's all a matter of preference. You'll never convince me one method (boiling vs filtering) is better than the other.

11:13 a.m. on August 18, 2005 (EDT)
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Sanitizing the water

Ed -

Each method of making water potable has its pluses and minuses. Each has places where it is more appropriate than other methods. The only method that produces really pure water is a laboratory-grade multi-stage distillation process, and the water from that tastes really flat.

Boiling - plus - easy to use; doesn't really require "boiling", just raise the water to 150F or above to kill all organisms from virus to protozoa; you have your stove anyway; since you generally have to boil the water for cooking meals or making tea/coffee/hot cocoa, no need for other methods for your cooking water; in winter or high altitude expeditions, you have to melt the water anyway, so no need for filters or chemicals in such conditions, just raise to 150F level or above; reasonable for short trips (<4-5 man-days) in areas with no chemical contamination (former or current mining activity or farming activity with heavy pesticide and fertilizer usage).
minus - doesn't remove chemical contamination (important in this area where mercury and other mining has taken place, or where there is current heavy agricultural usage of pesticides or fertilizers); doesn't remove some really bad tastes; doesn't remove the waste products of some algae and bacteria; doesn't inactivate prions; requires extra fuel for the drinking water (crossover with filters for added weight is about 4-5 man-days); does not desalinate (unless actually distilling).

Chemicals (halogens) - plus -only requires a small tablet or small bottle of liquid halogen (except the MiOx, which requires a device that takes a battery, so extra batteries).

minus - takes a long time to be effective, especially at low temperature; almost useless for winter or high altitude expeditions due to the long times needed at low temperatures; leaves a noticeable taste (just like city water for chlorine-based); iodine-based methods may have a mid-term effect for people with thyroid problems or for young children; does not remove chemical contamination; does not inactivate prions; does not desalinate (some chemicals available to do this).

Filters (many kinds with different pros and cons) - plus - produces "fresh-tasting" water; can drink the water "right now", with no cooling time (like boiling) or required time to act (like halogens); removes biologics from protozoa down to bacteria and in many cases viruses; carbon-types remove chemical contamination, such as mercury, organic solvents, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides found in runoff; reverse osmosis filters will desalinate (not commonly used for backpacking because of size and force needed to do reverse osmosis); backpacking type are small and light enough to have weight advantage over boiling for trips greater than about 4-5 man-days.
minus - weight and bulk; takes work to pump the filter, especially certain brands and models; backpacking types will not desalinate; may need to add halogens to kill viruses with some filters; problematic at temeratures below freezing (freezing water still in filter will crack the filter element, rendering it useless).

SteriPen - plus - fast-acting (48 sec/half-liter, 90 sec/liter); requires little preparation of most water.
minus - heavy; goes through batteries fairly rapidly (always need at least one set of spares, lasts about 50 liters on a set of 4 AA Li batteries, plus replace the lamp at about 2000 liters); needs fairly clear water (pre-filter provided); does not remove chemical contamination.

5:15 p.m. on August 18, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sanitizing the water

Bill, can you restate that in three sentences max?

I will admit, I love yanking your chain about this water deal.

Remember folks, when out in the deep woods, miles away from your nearest toilet...boil your water for thirty seconds.

Your bowels and your camping partners will love you.

7:51 p.m. on August 18, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sanitizing the water

1. Each method (boil, filter, chemical, UV) has its advantages and disadvantages

2. Use what works for you, unless you are in the woods with Ed

3. If you are with Ed, take a huge stove with lots of fuel and a huge pot, which you use to boil the water at full, rolling boil, down to half its original volume (this will concentrate the Florida muck they call water to the point that all the beasties will choke to death, making the water taste terrible, although it may be safe to ingest while swinging in your hammock).

6:23 a.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sanitizing the water

All valid points - for you.

I carry the same amount of fuel if I'm camping for three nights or five nights.

One 470 Camping Gaz and one 270 Camping Gaz cannisters.

Only cooking instrument I take is an aluminum 8 cup coffee pot.

After setting up my base camp I hike 1.5 miles to the nearest spring and haul back five gallons of water (I habitually consume close to a gallon per day).

Morning of my departure, I still have fuel left over after boiling practically all that water.

More than enough fuel to have a cup of coffee or two, hanging in my hammock, waiting for the ferry to arrive to take me back to the mainland.

I highly doubt that a full 270 can weighs more than a filter.

As the gaz is consumed, I'm loosing weight. A filter is going to gain weight as it is used.

11:53 a.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Ummmm ... forgive my skepticism, but ...

Lessee now -- 5 gallons of water hauled 1.5 miles from the "nearest" spring (hmmm, means you either plan your campsites to always be 1.5 miles from a spring or you camp in the same place all the time - booorrrrriiiinnnnggg!). That's 40 pounds of water to haul (5 gal x 4 qt/gal x 2 pints/qt @ "pint's a pound the world around"), plus the 5 gallon jerry can, which you had to carry in empty. Now my very light plastic 5 gallon can (empty) weighs more than my Katadyn or Sweetwater filter. Plus, I like to camp various places, some just the canonical 100 meters from the lake/stream/spring. Carrying that 40+ pounds from the spring to camp seems like too much effort to me. And why not get the water while hiking around? Surely you don't just swing in your hammock continuously for 5 days?!?!?!

About the fuel required - the amount of butane considered to be needed for boiling water is a bit over an ounce per liter. Yeah, I know, out here in the West (Rockies or Sierra), we usually start with water at 50-60F, where in Florida you start with 100F water. Still, that means something like 20 ounces of fuel, which is 2 of the 470s plus one 270 canister, not your stated "one 470 plus one 270" (do you carry spare fuel to make up for that part-full cartridge you had on the shelf?). A 470 weighs 23 ounces full and a 270 weighs 13 ounces full, giving a total of 59 ounces to carry in (and 19 to carry out for the 40 ounces of fuel), or 3pounds 11ounces. My Katadyn Hiker Pro with the extra carbon filter and Nalgene and Camelback fittings weighs exactly 1 pound in its carrying bag. When done with filtering, I pump it dry, so it only retains an ounce of water, and that dries out in an hour or so.

Hey, Ed, your numbers don't add up. If I only boil the water I need for meals and don't have the 5 gallon container, I end up with significantly less weight carrying the filter for your 5-day trip. The fuel savings alone gives me less weight to carry (one full 470 cartridge weighs more than the filter, and the empty which I have to carry out is still close to half the weight of the filter). Even if I use your stated single 470 plus single 270, that's 36 ounces at the start (and 12 ounces to carry out), more than the weight of the filter (cooking for 5 days would require 10 ounces of fuel, so your numbers give 26 ounces for the purification process in excess of cooking). Unless you drink all the water hot (in coffee, for example), you also have to wait for it to cool after boiling.

Ya know, your numbers, Ed, support the numbers that Jim and I have come up with - the cross-over between the weight of the filter and the weight of the fuel for boiling is at about 4-5 man-days. And if you really carry that jerry can to haul water 1.5 miles, well, the filter is coming out way ahead. Oh, I know, you carry a canvas 5 gallon bucket and are very careful to not slosh any of the water out of it on the return hike. In that case, don't go hiking in the desert - that water is too precious to lose through sloshing or even through boiling.

Ooooohh, I forgot. If you only grab the water once, you reduce your chances of getting grabbed by one of those Florida gators.

12:40 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Ummmm ... forgive my skepticism, but ...

I have actually tested this. I can bring a full 20 cup coffee pot to a rolling boil with one once of fuel.


"A 470 weighs 23 ounces full and a 270 weighs 13 ounces full, giving a total of 59 ounces to carry in"

WHAT? and you say MY numbers don't add up?

Jerry can? LOL!

Ever hear of 2.5 gallon watersacks? They weigh 4oz each.
fill 'em up and throw 'em in your backpack. Makes easy work of carrying that 40 lbs for as far as one wishes.

2:31 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Ummmm ... forgive my skepticism, but ...

>>> I have actually tested this. I can bring a full 20 cup coffee pot to a rolling boil with one once of fuel.

Lessee, 20 cups (8 ounce cups) is 5 quarts(liters). Your stove and technique must be a whole lot more efficient than what the manufacturers claim (or what Jim, several of the outdoor magazines, or I measured). What is your secret for getting so much more output from your stoves than even the manufacturers claim? I pulled out my combustion handbook, and did a quick calculation for raising your 20 cups of water from room temperature to boiling. You have to be getting just over 100 percent efficiency getting the heat output of that 1 ounce of butane/propane mix into the water, just to raise it to the boiling point, much less full rolling boil. Most stove and pot combinations get less than 40 percent efficiency in transfer under ideal conditions. So somehow you must be getting the heat from the exact start of combustion directly into the water with no loss to the air or heating the metal of the pot. Let's just say that I am more than a little skeptical of your claim.

>>> "A 470 weighs 23 ounces full and a 270 weighs 13 ounces full, giving a total of 59 ounces to carry in"

>>> WHAT? and you say MY numbers don't add up?

Ed, I used 2-470s plus 1-270, which is the amount needed to boil 5 gallons of water by most people's measurements. 2x23 + 13 = 59 ounces of full fuel canisters. You claim that you get by with a single 470 plus a single 270, which is 36 ounces, of which about 24 ounces is fuel, which still is heavier than the 16 ounces of filter. Allowing 10 ounces for the normal 5 man-days of cooking means 14 ounces for your boiling of the water for drinking, almost as much as the filter right there.

>>> Jerry can? LOL!

>>> Ever hear of 2.5 gallon watersacks? They weigh 4oz each.
fill 'em up and throw 'em in your backpack. Makes easy work of carrying that 40 lbs for as far as one wishes.

Yeah, I have had a number of the 2.5 gallon sacks. First of all, I have found that they crack and start leaking in very short order. I have never gotten one to last more than 2 seasons, and most other people I know have had similar experiences. Second, even if you have found ultralight ones that weigh only 4 ounces (the ones I have had are more than that, and the one Campmor currently has, same one I have used over the years, is 7.5 ounces, while their 5 gallon ones are both 10 ounces), you still have a half-pound of extra weight, which is half the weight of a filter. Third, you are still carrying 40 pounds of water. That's way too much work.

I would suggest you take a good hard, documented look at your claims. You have said that you use 5 gallons of drinking water in 5 days (presumably 5 full days, not the usual half day at the start and half day at the end, so actually 4 full days). 5 gallons is certainly a reasonable amount of water for 5 days to stay properly hydrated. But you say you boil all this water with one full 470 and one full 270 cartridge (my and most other people's measures predict 2 full 470 plus 1 full 270). You say you boil a 20 cup container with one ounce of fuel (implying 4 ounces of fuel for the 5 gallons). You say you carry this 5 gallons of water in 2 - 2.5 gal. plastic containers which weigh 4 ounces each (as opposed to the 7.5 ounces for the ones I have and as listed in Campmor's catalog), for a distance of 1.5 miles from the spring in a single carry for the 5 days.

Sorry, but your numbers are very much in contrast to numbers published in several outdoor magazines (notwithstanding the strange numbers in an R&I issue about a year ago, which implied an even higher fuel requirement), as well as measurements several of us have made. But, to each his own. Do as you wish.

2:45 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Ummmm ... forgive my skepticism, but ...

I'm not reading all that! I didn't even get past the first sentence.

what ever you said - you can have the last word in this string if you must. and I'm a bettin' you must.

As I said earlier you'll never change my mind that filtering is better. I have my methods and I'm a stickin' to 'em.

What did they do BEFORE filters?

Oh god why did I ask that... I'm sure a 32 page novelette will follow.

3:04 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Ummmm ... forgive my skepticism, but ...

How'd we get into this old debate again?

Bill, you're still missing one important point: Down in Florida, Ed's starting with water that's somewhere about 190 F from sitting in the sun. You can get that to a rolling boil with just two-thirds of a match (Diamond brand, wood, 1.5", strike-anywhere variety). It's also really refreshing for swimming.

4:47 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Before filters --

>>> What did they do BEFORE filters?

1. Just slurped from whatever mucky stuff they found

2. Got sick and sometimes died

3. Darwin award - those with cast-iron stomachs survived. Those without died.

Hey, when I first started going to the Sierra as a kid, and into my 20s, we carried a Sierra Club cup on our belts (had a SC emblem stamped into the bottom, too), scooped a cupful when we got thirsty, and drank. Never got giardiasis or whatever, either. Filter? We don' need no stinkin' filter.

4:49 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Florida water

>>>> Bill, you're still missing one important point: Down in Florida, Ed's starting with water that's somewhere about 190 F from sitting in the sun. You can get that to a rolling boil with just two-thirds of a match (Diamond brand, wood, 1.5", strike-anywhere variety).

You are absolutely right, Dave. I forgot all about that. Bet Ed could do it with half a paper match, though. And they do allow 2 books of matches on the plane, too.

5:30 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Florida water

we must be discussing different products.

The watersacks cannot crack.

They can tear or be punctured but they can't crack.

They are just basically big, thick sandwich bags in a nylon carrying tote with a handle and rubber spigot. Ziplock bags won't crack either.

Campmor states they weigh in at 4oz and according to REI, they are 2oz.

I have had the same watersack since 1991. I did have had to replace the rubber spigot once. Bought the second watersack five years ago and it is still in perfect condition.

Either we are talking about different products or you are very hard on your equipment. No way it will crack. Even when frozen.

I'm sorry that my experiences don't jive with your interpretation of reality, but that's just the way it is.

Measured gaz cannister before boiling. Measured gaz cannister after boiling. 1 ounce difference.
Digital & calibrated scale.

Due to an infinite number of variables, I will trust my own testing before accepting anything I read on an internet bulletin board as fact. I certainly hope others reading this board will do the same.

Hell, as far as I know you could BTK trying to lure my cute little rear into your tent.

BTW, carrying a 40lb pack is certainly not heavy and should not be a chore for any healthy person.

Have a good weekend!
e

5:47 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Florida water

Bill, you got your facts all skewed.

Your thinhing of those big heavy collapsible water carriers.

When I say watersack, I mean "watersack".

http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?memberId=12500226&productId=13506

6:06 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Florida water

Oh, you mean the wine box liners!. Yeah, well, Campmor lists them at $9, but when you buy them with the wine, they are $5 and you get the wine, too (cheap rotgut, but suitable for dirtbag hikers and climbers). Yeah, I have a bunch of those. The rubber valves have a very short life before they start leaking. I have replaced the valve on my REI one several times. And the valve is hard to get on and off. Yes, I have the showerhead attachment. That's kind of nice.

But they are rather hard and slow to fill in a stream or spring. I have pumped the water into them faster than they would fill on their own. And that gave filtered water for less effort than lugging it back to the camp, then boiling it.

So you agree that you are carrying an extra half-pound (actually, I just weighed mine and they are about a half-ounce less each). Remember, that's half a pound for 2 of them, and you have to add the ounce or so for each cloth carrying bag, so you are over the half-pound mark.

Maybe a young kid like you enjoys slogging 40 pounds of water for 1.5 miles. But us old geezers like to travel light. And 40 pounds added to my usual 24 pounds for a 5-day pack is way too much. Sorry, I'll be lazy and go with the lighter loads, filling with water as needed.

6:25 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Plastic sacks

>>> The watersacks cannot crack.

>>> They can tear or be punctured but they can't crack.

>>> They are just basically big, thick sandwich bags in a nylon carrying tote with a handle and rubber spigot. Ziplock bags won't crack either.

Oh yes they can, and do, crack. The sacks you are talking about are not quite "big, thick sandwich bags". And ziplock bags do crack as well. I have observed several people (adults who should have known better and scouts) try to use ziplock bags as pee-bottles in winter. A number came apart, most by splitting at the edges (not the zip-seal coming apart). However, the sacks you are referring to (which also are used in wine and apple juice boxes) are stronger by a lot than even the heavy-duty ziplock bags. But they will eventually crack, particularly in winter usage.

>>> Campmor states they weigh in at 4oz and according to REI, they are 2oz.

Weighed my REI one - 3 3/8 ounce liner by itself, 4 7/8 liner in the nylon bag. This is a calibrated digital scale, accurate to the 1/8 ounce step size up to the max range of 5 pounds.

>>> I have had the same watersack since 1991. I did have had to replace the rubber spigot once. Bought the second watersack five years ago and it is still in perfect condition.

The rubber spigot usually goes first

>>> Either we are talking about different products or you are very hard on your equipment. No way it will crack. Even when frozen.

We are talking about the same product, per your URL link. I tend to be easy on my gear. Yes it does crack, especially in cold weather. Well, maybe not in what you Floridians call cold.

>>> Measured gaz cannister before boiling. Measured gaz cannister after boiling. 1 ounce difference.
Digital & calibrated scale.

Usual way of doing the measurement. Repeat- outdoor mags and other tests I am familiar with differ with your statement. Also, using heat output tables in standard publications and some simple math says you must be getting greater than 100 percent efficiency. What's your secret?

>>> BTW, carrying a 40lb pack is certainly not heavy and should not be a chore for any healthy person.

Ok for you young kids. Old guys want to carry less and go farther and faster.

6:05 a.m. on August 22, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Plastic sacks

well, thanks for the compliment!

I turn 51 years of age in two weeks and always enjoy being called a young kid by my elders.

e

11:01 a.m. on August 22, 2005 (EDT)
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Water sacks

51? Like I said, you're just a kid.

Anyway, I was in Redwood Trading Post yesterday to see what they had in their sale. I happened to look at the water carrier rack and found a couple interesting items that will reduce your weight carried, Ed. One was a 2.5 gallon plastic liner in nylon bag that looked at first glance exactly like the REI one I have. But the hang tag claimed 2.5 ounce. Well, maybe, but I didn't weigh it (don't carry a scale in my pocket). It did feel quite light. I looked at the plastic liner and noted that it was much lighter (thinner) plastic than my REI one or the wine/juice box liners. And the nylon bag was of much lighter material as well. Same valve, though, and that is the heaviest part.

The other was what you might call a spherical bucket. The claim is that it is 3 ounces. It is made of a coated nylon, sewn in such a way that the opening (abt 4 inch diameter) will always remain at the top when sitting on the ground, and it won't spill. I have a yellow plastic foldable bucket that has a tendency to have the top shift to the side when sitting on the ground, spilling everything (works just fine if you hang it on something). Anyway, this bag (Coughlin), can sit very stably and has handles that make it easy to carry. You wouldn't put it in your pack, but it would work well clipped with a carabiner to the outside of the pack. It folds up small enough to shove in a hip pocket when not in use. When hanging, you could pump virtually all the water out with a filter (it spreads too much when on the ground to get all the water with some of the pickups). The opening is big enough to pretty much fill the bag when scooping it into a stream or lake.

Hey, two of them would save you 2 ounces!

11:13 a.m. on August 22, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Water sacks

I'm very happy with my watersacks. I don't need to replace those.

My camping season starts October 20th. Going for a four night trip up north (southern Ga).

I will be shedding some pounds this trip by leaving the tent and the thermarest at home and venturing into the world of hammock camping.

I have one of those "spherical buckets". I hate it. Only used it once. Bugs kept flying into the water.

e

3:01 p.m. on August 22, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Hammock Camping

Hammock Camping is definately a good way to go and it is much easier on the back, however, I've found that it is not always that easy to find two trees that are spaced perfectly apart. It often takes a little more work to find your perfect camping spot at the end of a day, but when you do it is very worth it. Don't forget your tarp!

You going to the Pine Mountain Trail by chance?

6:39 a.m. on August 23, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Hammock Camping

I am going to the first border island in south Georgia.

I have yet to call hammock camping easier on the back. I have only done it once since I purchased my hammock and found it to be the most uncomfortable night I ever had while camping. Hopefully through testing I will find my "spot".

Two trees that are five to 6 1/2 paces apart works for me ~12-15 feet (Bill S will insist that the two trees I use are actually 25 to 28 feet apart).

Never had much of a problem here in the southeast finding plenty of good hammock spots. Scrub pines are practically everywhere there aren't housing developments.

I take two tarps, one rectangular and one diamond shape.
One gets hung in the trees to cover the hammock, the other will get set up three feet above the ground as a gear shelter (if necessary it will become a fly for the hammock if I set the hammock up on the ground as a one person tent).

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