FTA Annual Conference

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While many of you were celebrating the luck of the Irish, others were gathered in Micanopy, FL just outside of Gainesville at the YMCA’s Camp McConnell for the Annual Conference of the Florida Trail Association. The event was scheduled from Friday evening until Sunday morning with the bulk of the activities occurring throughout the day on Saturday. I chose to get up early and head down Saturday morning since I was a speaker and already registered.

The drive was just shy of 2 hours and I arrived in plenty of time for my 10:30 show time. I was scheduled to be speaking at the campfire area and it’s a good thing I took my hammock stands since the trees weren’t where I needed them. I wasn’t thrilled about putting all my gear out around the ash-covered ground but fortunately I’d thought ahead and brought a moving blanket to lay everything on. As you can see I had quite a spread prepared. The tally was six hammocks, four tarps, two underquilts, two top quilts, and a selection of suspension types and other miscellaneous hanging gear.

Gear Spread

The seminar was basically a progression of my experience with a few curveballs thrown in. For the most part, though, I explained where I started and what led me to where I am today. Though not my first hammock (one of those curveballs I mentioned) I started with the Grand Trunk Ultralight since it’s a basic, entry-level hammock.

Grand Trunk UL

The reason I’m so passionate about doing these seminars is that I truly believe that hammocks have vastly improved my outdoor experiences and I want to share the adventure with others. I also realize that many people may be overwhelmed by the plethora of choices and options that are available and I hope to level the playing field and give them an edge when making their own gear selections learning from my trials and tribulations rather than enduring the heartache on their own. I have a lot of information to put out and I try to do my best to explain every critical detail.

Explaining the Knotty mod on the Lite Owl hammock.

When you leave my seminar I want you to feel that no matter what experience level you were at when you arrived you walk away having learned at least one thing. I’ve realized that someone has come up to me each time I’ve given this presentation and said that I provided them that one key point that they were struggling with. That makes it all worthwhile.


Discussing the use of the hammock as a camp chair.

Nano Buginator

Explaining add-on gear like the BIAS Nano Buginator.


Demonstrating top and bottom insulation.

Ring Buckles

Contrasting various suspension methods (showing ring buckles here).


Addressing the audience.

Even after the seminar is over I try to make myself available to answer any questions. I provide additional information through this site specifically for those that attend. I also make my contact info available and let everyone know that they can feel free to stop me throughout the day if they have follow-up questions.

Post-Seminar Questions

I hope that I can continue to have the opportunity to do these seminars in an effort to fully evangelize the outdoor community on the benefits and techniques of successful hammock camping/backpacking. In closing I want to say a big Thank You to my friends at BIAS for providing a hammock for our raffle. Thank you for your continued support!


FTA Annual Conference — 2 Comments

  1. Hey Jaxhiker, great blog and this is a great post. Good on ya for teaching folks the ways of the high-life!

    Just wanted to pop in and let you know that I like your blog!

    • Thanks for the visit and the kind words. I’m hoping to offer a class at REI soon. Looking forward to some cooler weather also!

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