Field Trials

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I finally had the chance to take the latest gear acquisitions into the field. The wife was hosting a baby shower so the last thing I needed was for our son and I to get caught up in it. It was the perfect excuse to go hiking. Before anyone arrived we grabbed the pack and headed to Hanna Park.

What did we have to test today?
– Hennessy Hammock (Explorer Ultralite)
– GoLite Jam2 backpack
– Targhee II Mid boots

We hit the trail and after doing the hiking trail for a while jumped over to a bike trail. There’s 15 miles of bike trails and far fewer hiking trails. They’re also pretty nice with a lot of switchbacks, slight changes in elevation, etc. Unfortunately I didn’t realize there was some sort of race going on. There weren’t too many bikers that we saw but we did have to wait on the side of the trail several times.

The Targhees felt great on my feet. I finally got the right size! No more pressure marks on the tops of my feet when I take them off! I barely felt the ground under me and I was walking on rocks and tree roots. There were a few spots of soft dirt/sand and they felt solid there also. I’m very pleased with the purchase and can’t thank the folks at Gander Mountain (both the Jacksonville [Chris] and St. Augustine [Lisa] stores) for helping me out so much.

Now for the pack. I decided to go lite. 🙂 The pack weighed in at 16 lbs wet. I had my 3L Camelback in the sleeve and 2 Nalgene bottles on either side. I also carried my Jetboil, Hennessy, snacks, diaper stuff, etc. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hike as much as I’d hoped and my pack went from 16 lbs to close to 50 when my son wanted to be carried. That put the hurt on my back with him on the front and the pack on the back. Before that it seemed to be just fine. I might need to fine tune the pack but it seemed to ride well on my hips and I didn’t feel a lot of pressure on the shoulders.

I’m going to need to do some more trail time to really make a good assessment, though. I also need to get the larger Pacific Crest pack out there again. I’ve only walked around the neighborhood with it.

After the hike and a trip to the playground we went to setup the Hennessy. We found a nice spot back in the woods a short distance from the lake. There was a good bit of shade and a cool breeze blowing (one benefit to being close to the ocean). The trees were a good bit apart from each other (maybe 16-18′) so I had to put the tree straps overhead. I have to admit that I think the snakeskins are a brilliant idea. If you’re considering a Hennessy you’re a fool not to get them. If you buy now they’re free! I got the hammock up quickly and jumped in. I decided to leave the fly off for now as I just wanted to give it a whirl (at least better than I got the first night I put it up).

My son and I crawled in and it was great. Very comfortable with the two of us. I was honestly hoping that he’d fall asleep since it was nap time. He lasted about 20 min before he wanted to get out and gather firewood. Oh well. While he did that I put the fly up and got in a few times to fine tune the positioning. I think I still need to work on that a bit so I don’t get rain on my head.

So in closing, the overall impression of all three pieces is high. I think I made three smart purchases that’ll serve me well over the next few years. I have church and a birthday party mid-afternoon tomorrow but I’m hoping to get over to the neighborhood college to hit their hiking trail if only for a bit.

Sorry I don’t have any pics. That’s the next major item on the list. I really don’t like the idea of dragging my DSLR out there. Not only is it heavy, it’s also fragile. I’ve got to find a camera I can take out with me and not worry about something happening to it.

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