Goat Island 2014

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Karo Step Underquilt

So recently I bought two pounds of 800 FP down to use in a couple of quilt projects. Actually it wasn’t recently; it was last year. I had intended to get started on making an underquilt to match the top quilt I made https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=65593. Needless to say, things got in the way and I kept putting off the project.

Until now!

For Christmas, my wife gave me several fantastic presents.
Present number one – a Sonicare toothbrush. When used with Arm & Hammer baking soda toothpaste, you get that fresh from the dentist clean feeling.

Present number two – the last two books from The Wheel of Time. I don’t get much time to read but I really enjoy it. The Wheel of Time is a GREAT series and I was really looking forward to finishing it up.

Present number three – time. I have been sitting on all this down (courtesy of Paul at Arrowhead Equipment) and fabric from DIY Gear Supply for about a year or so. She knew I had really been wanting to work on some hammock gear; so while I was on vacation, my wife let me take the time to work on the quilt.

The quilt was initially supposed to be a full length quilt but I was limited to the fabric remaining from my top quilt. I didn’t realize how much I would need when I placed my order, but I made the best of what I had. Here are the specifics of the quilt.

The inner shell is 60 inches long with 1/2 inch seam allowance and 46 inches wide plus 1/2 inch seam allowance. Starting 7 inches from the center out it tapers down to 35.5 inches at both the head and the foot end.The outer shell is 56 ½ inches plus ½ inch seam allowance. The outer shell also tapers down by 10 ½ inches but it starts tapering 8 inches out from the center. I based the dimensions for the quilt on a circle with a 29 inch diameter. I wanted the quilt to have about a 3 inch loft so the outer shell is based on a circle with a 32 inch diameter.

The baffle walls are constructed from nano-see-um and measure 3 inches by 8 inches. This gives a full baffle height of 2 ½ inches.The baffle walls are attached to the outer shell 14 inches on center giving me 8 inch walls in line 6 inches apart. The baffle walls are then attached to the inner shell at the same interval from head to toe, but the side to side interval is at 12 ¾ inches with the side to side walls darted down to 7 ¼ inches to help keep the side to side curve of the quilt. If you are looking at a crosscut of the quilt, the head to toe baffle walls look like the spokes on a bicycle.

I wasn’t able to get any video while I was making the quilt but I did get some video while I was stuffing the underquilt. The first method shown utilizes a shop vac. This method is fairly clean (comparatively) but is relatively slow. The second method involves diving in and grabbing as much down as possible and stuffing it into the quilt. This requires a large enough opening for a fistful of down.

I was also able to get some video of sewing the quilt shut. The hardest part about sewing the quilt shut was to put all the pins in place without letting the down escape.

Panel Pull Installation

Panel Pull Installation on a Tarp without using Pins

I hate using pins when sewing. I disdain installing them and then removing them right before the feed dogs pull them under the presser foot. Yes I know they help keep things in place and straight and aligned together… but still.

I hate using them but I could not figure out a way to keep the panel pull patches in place while stitching the panel pulls to the tarp. Man that silnylon is some slippery stuff – especially when it it on piece on top of another.

There was just now way around having to use pins and this made me very until it was mentioned that I could glue the panel pulls in place and then sew them on the next day. WOW!!! Why didn’t I think of that?

Extreme DIY Projects

Most of the time you see a DIY project, they are kind of boring. I am happy to say that I’ve seen some pretty extreme DIY projects out there. DIY projects like cuben fiber tarps and underquilts; hot tarps; and super, ultra-light, minimalist rigs. DIY I am trying to go deeper into making my own gear. I started out with pretty easy projects like stuff sacks and hammocks. Then I did the natural DIY project progression; I started making my own underquilts, top quilts, and tarps.

While these projects are still very challenging, they just didn’t meet the level of true DIY I was looking for.

Have you taken DIY to the EXTREME? Share some of your extreme DIY projects with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Does it sometimes feel like you’ve gone to extremes with your DIY addiction? I know it does with me.

Cutting Catenary Curves on a Tarp

This tarp started out as one sheet of sil-nylon 30 yards long. I folded the fabric in half (matching the long sides) and stitched 15 yards along one side. As it turns out, 15 yards is a lot of material to run through a sewing machine at one time (as you can see in the pictures below).

In this video I show you how I cut out a four season tarp with doors using a template, Sharpie, and a sharp pair of Fiskars

This tarp is partially based on the designs found at DIY Gear Supply and I used this spreadsheet to calculate the catenary curves. The curve calculator was required due to changes made in the tie-out point locations. The catenary curve is added to the tarp to allow for the tightest pitch possible (some explanation may be found here) and because it looks really cool :).

30 yards of seconds* sil-nylon from Noah Lamport. A quick note when ordering from this vendor – all orders are by phone and you need to be sure to ask them to take the fabric off the roll to save you some shipping cost.

The template is made from foam core board from the Dollar Store.

*(no noticeable flaws in this fabric or the coating)

Karo Step Top Quilt

DIY Karo Step Top Quilt

I decided a many months ago that I would make a winter top quilt for hammock camping. I saved and saved and then I contacted Scott over at Backwoods Daydreamer (aka – DIY Gear Supply) and placed an order for 850 Fill Down and rip-stop nylon fabric. Then Fall Semester happened and I was unable to get motivated to do anything other than study and hang out with the family.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago…

The urge to make something starts gnawing at me again so I start researching the designs for a karo step top quilt. I wanted to try this style top quilt because the karo step quilt does not have traditional full length or width baffles. The baffle walls do not run continuously down or across the quilt. This allows for two things

  • The Down can be dumped into the quilt with out needing to make sure equal amounts of down fill each chamber
  • The Down can be shifted around as needed to help with hot/cold spots

The chambers are 14″ squares with 8″ baffle walls offset by 6″

karo step top quilt pattern

This appealed to me mainly because I didn’t want to bother with weighing out the bulk down I had ordered. I also liked the idea because I could adjust my wall spacing and distance from the outer edges allowing me to forego sewing the baffle wall height up the outside edges. After much hemming, hawing, determining, and discussion with friends, I came up with this pattern (not pretty I know but hey it works).

The planning phase was really the biggest part of the process — for me. After getting the layout finalized, I got started cutting and sewing, and sewing and cutting.

My process is as follows:

  1. Measure and cut baffles using a Rotary Cutter (make sure you use a mat for cutting or you could get in trouble).
  2. Cut out down chamber template from piece of cardboard and mark center-line and baffle locations on all four sides.
  3. Cut inner and outer shells to length and put rolled hem on head and foot ends.
  4. Mark baffle wall location on inner and outer shells using template and soft colored pencil (don’t want any snags on your fabric). Start along the center-line and then work your way out.
  5. Pin all head-to-toe baffles to inner shell and start sewing then pin all side-to-side baffles to inner shell and start sewing (see video #1 at bottom of page for a tip with this).
  6. Mark outer widths (plus seam allowance) for head and foot ends of the inner shell – for me this ended up being 56″ and 48″ plus seam allowance (including a rolled hem on each side).
  7. Mark a cut line between outer head-end and outer foot-end marks and pin two layers of material together just inside and outside the cut line.
  8. Cut along the diagonal cut line between head and foot ends. This results in a tapered shell.
  9. Line up the center-line of the head-ends of the inner and outer shells (make sure the outside faces are together. baffles out).
  10. Stitch head-ends together.
  11. Place material right-sides out and mark and cut the outer shell two inches wider than the inner shell width (this will give you an outer wall when every thing is said and done).
  12. At this point, I put a rolled hem along both outer edges of the inner and out shells seperately.
  13. Now you can start pinning and sewing the first row of head-to-toe baffles one at a time to the outer shell. Pin one then sew. Be VERY careful to make sure you are pinning to the correct outer shell baffle line (don’t ask me how I know.)
  14. Then you get to pin and sew the side-to-side baffles to the outer shell (see video #2 below).
  15. Now repeat steps 13 and 14 until you have no more baffles to pin or sew.
  16. Line up the outer edges of the inner and outer shells pin together and sew being careful to dart the corners to form boxed corners. At the top on one side, I stitched in a short loop of 3/32″ shock cord to serve as a button loop.
  17. Start stuffing down into the the foot end as far into the quilt as you can. (Sorry no pics or videos or this step :) ) A shop-vac really helps with this process.(click here to see how)
  18. Once all the down is in place, sew a rolled hem into the foot-end of the quilt. Be sure that there are NO openings left to let down out of the quilt. Don’t forget to dart your corners.
  19. Now mark three locations on each side at the foot-end of the quilt. This is for the ‘foot box’. I marked mine at one inch, nine inches, and eighteen inches. Once marked, you can stitch the 3/16″ hook & eye closures in place.
  20. Next I fixed a single 4 hole black button opposite the shock cord button loop.
  21. Finally string a draw cord through the rolled hem at the foot end of the quilt and secure it in place by stitching one side and placing a cord lock and figure eight knot on the opposite side.

Video #1

Video #2

Titanium Pot

“Where’d you get your pot?” is a common question heard around the camp **inside joke from Goat Island**. I had been looking to ad to my cook kitchen setup ever since I was invited on a backpacking trip on the Chatooga Trail, but being limited on funds I was looking for a real deal. I have been using a cheap stainless steel cup but in the effort to reduce my pack weight (really just b/c I wanted some new gear) I started looking for a better, lighter cook pot/cup.

So after much reviewing and gnashing of teeth, I picked up this 700mL titanium cook pot from Backcountry.com.

I have not really put it to much use other than drinking the random beverage from it, but my initial thoughts on this pot/cup are positive. Even though it is lightweight, it is very sturdy. The handles are stiff and stay put when closed up against the sides of the pot (nice feature). The added spork is a very nice plus considering the price. The only real con I notice about this cook pot is the stuff sack. The stuff sack is thick and heavy but that can be easily remedied with a little DIY knowledge and some rip-stop nylon.

Snow Peak Titanium French Press

I recently had the chance to use my Snow Peak French Press to make some coffee while hammock camping with a group out at Parson’s Mountain in the Sumter National Forrest. This container of the press is made out of titanium and the plunger is made from stainless steel and weighs in at a mere 7 ounces. The review on REI’s site are not the best (3 1/2 stars out of 5). After reading the reviews, I decided to buy the press anyway. Mainly because I had a gift card and I couldn’t find anything else I really wanted at that price point.

I was kinda worried about whether or not I had made the right decision in spending $50 on a french press that did not get GREAT reviews. For any of you sitting on the fence about this product let me just say, this is a fantastic french press.

The key to making coffee with this press is going slow. All the negative comment about this coffee press talked about how grounds would bypass the plunger and end up in the finished product. I’ve found that as long as you go slow when pressing out the coffee grounds you can use regular, pre-ground coffee.

Dunkin Donuts Original Hazelnut Ground Coffee  is the only coffee I’ve run through this french press and I have had fantastic results with every batch.

Cheap Down Vest

While on business in Conway, SC, I took an opportunity to stop by the Outlet Mall before heading home. My first visit was to the Columbia Outlet Store where I learned a bit of interesting new. As I was walking through the store I noticed some Mountain Hardware gear on some of the racks. This seemed a little odd so I asked one of the clerks about it. I was then told that Columbia recently purchased Mountain Hardware. So be on the lookout for Mountain Hardware at your local Columbia Outlet Store for a decent discount on some Mountain Hardware apparel.

From there I started out of the parking lot until I saw a sign for an Eddie Bauer Outlet Store. Seeing the sign vaguely reminded me of a thread (this one –> http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=45706 ) in which I read about a really, really good deal on a down jacket. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. SO I decided to stop by the store and take a little look. While there were no jackets on the discount racks in my size, I did find a down vest that was just my size.

A Review of the CLUQ – Climasheild UnderQuilt

I really enjoy the being able to make underquilts and other gear; not only for myself but for family, friends and friends of friends who request to have one. This is a hobby for me – not a business – and therefor I am not in competition with any of the cottage guys. I like playing around on the thread injector (sewing machine) to see what I can make. With school and a family, my hobby can be kind of expensive. I would like to make a quality product for a reasonable price in order to help my hobby sustain itself. To get some feedback, I sent two underquilts with a friend on an overnight trip on the Palmetto Trail.

This is the trip report for the gear that went on the Palmetto Trail Trip with muskrat.

the following is his review in his own words…

A review of the ¾ length UQ made by “ChickenWing”

I have been hammock hanging now since 2007 and by no means do I claim to have a complete understanding to the infinite opportunities hammocking presents to the enjoyment of the outdoors. However, I do know what I like and what works for me. In 2009, my desire to jump into the deepest realms of hammocking began with researching hammocks and tarps and insulation. The information present at the time was very overwhelming but through the knowledge and experiences of other hammockers, I made my choice, bought my gear, and still use them often today. I believe I made sound choices and I have the hammocking community to thank for their honesty and openness to share their opinions and knowledge for others to read.

Currently, I have expanded my gear collection to include Hennessey Expedition hammocks for my wife and 2 daughters. However, their adventures into that outdoors are somewhat limited by what the weather will be. In preparation to have them outfitted for weather just beyond their comfort zone, I have started looking into underquilts (UQs) that will match up with their hammocks. Knowing that they don’t get out as often as I would like them to, cost of the UQs is playing an important factor. They also have expressed very little desire to even be outside for an extended period of time when the weather is below freezing. So, with this information, I began researching synthetic UQs knowing that synthetic insulation has kept me warm in temps well below freezing and will also provide warmth should rain be a factor.

After a few conversations with ChickenWing (reality name “Eric”), he talked me into trying out an UQ he had made for his gathered end hammock. The insulation is synthetic (Climashield, 6 oz, 1”-2” loft), and the outer shell is 1.1 nylon ripstop. This UQ is much like several others in that it has a sewn channel on the outside edge of the UQ in which the shock cord is fed through allowing for easy adjusting while the UQ is in place. The stitching throughout the UQ was fantastic with no loose threads. At each end of the UQ there are adjustments for sealing the UQ to head and foot end of the hammock by simply tightening or loosening the shock cord through the cord locks which can vary with different hammocks.

Using any UQ with a Hennessey Hammock (HH) can be a bit of a challenge if it is a bottom entry hammock, which my three hammocks are. Once inside the hammock, there is very little anyone can do to adjust any UQ without having to get out. After placing this UQ on the HH, I notice that the length was perfect in allowing easy entering and exiting from the hammock. It appeared to snug up nicely on each end to retain the warmth between the person and the UQ. However, I realized it would be nice if there could be a way to affix the UQ to the side pullouts to prevent the UQ from shifting side to side when sleeping. This would have to be designed carefully or provide optional points-of-attachments for different sized people so that the UQ could be in the right location for the user.

With the above comment being noted and discussed with ChickenWing, I decided for myself it was time to run this UQ through my own personal test for warmth and ease of adjustment. I recently got a group of friends together for an overnight hang on the Palmetto Trail. A friend, (Kelly) who is also in the market for an UQ for his Warbonnet Blackbird, decided he would also like to try out this UQ as well. ChickenWing was gracious enough to provide me with a second UQ and we were able to test the UQs on the WBBB and on a Hammock Bliss Double (gathered end hammock, similar to an ENO). With Kelly lying in his hammock we fitted the UQ perfectly and easily to the hammock in about 2 minutes. On the Hammock Bliss, it was even easier since I had access to each side of the UQ while lying in the hammock. No issues at all with the setup. Our projected low for the evening was right at 50*, not as cold as we would have liked yet too cold to sleep without any insulation underneath us. My attire for the evening was mid-weight thermals and Kelly slept in jogging pants and a sweatshirt. Sleep was great that night. Neither of us had to make any adjustments and neither of us had any cold spots at any time throughout the evening. We were both pleased to learn that the temps hit a low of 47* and we both felt that the UQ was more than sufficient. Being a “hot sleeper”, which I found myself venting on occasion that night, I feel comfortable that I could take this UQ down to 32* easily. However, my wife and 2 daughters most likely will not share my opinion and will “pleasantly” ask for more insulation.

Overall, this UQ is exactly what I am looking for to outfit the rest of my family with. It is very well built, can accommodate varying hammocks within minutes, is a fraction of the cost that I have paid for my down UQs, yet provides ample warmth to make it through that chilly night’s sleep. Eric is very open to suggestions when it comes to modifying his UQs and is willing to work with individuals to meet their requests. I will, without hesitation, recommend Eric’s UQs to anyone looking for a reasonably priced yet well built UQ to add to their collection. Kudos to Eric for a fine product!

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