Hammock camping is fun in good weather, interesting in mild weather, but can get a bit finicky in really nasty weather. The biggest problems are rain (the bane of every camper) and wind. Wind is a bit more of an issue for tarp campers and hammock users because in a tent, people are surrounded by cloth. But in a hammock or just on the ground under a tarp, usually the ends are open.
- As an aside – I use the word “tarp” loosely. A lot of hammockers call them “rain flies” instead, but generally you think of a rainfly as something attached to the top of a tent over the netting, to let air flow, but keep rain out. But what I use is more of a pitched tarp all by itself. But it’s not to be confused with those blue-on-one-side, silver-on-the-other-side $15 lawnmower tarps from WalMart. This thing is made of Silicone-impregnated Nylon and costs around $150. It’s thin, light, and keeps out the rain.
Sure, you try to set up the tarp across the wind so that it doesn’t blow down the length of your hammock, effectively rendering your insulation useless, but sometimes it doesn’t always work. Usually you can set up everything just right, and right about bedtime the wind shifts and you’re stuck in a wind tunnel.
So, looking down the length of my tarp and hammock setup, you can see the issue. I’ve pulled the walls in close like I might on a windy night or one with rain in the forecast. Nice walls on two sides, but if these are my only tree choices, I could be laying in a wind tube all night.
Of course I wouldn’t wear jeans in the woods, duh… This is my back yard, I’ll dress like I want.
I started researching how to make doors for the hammock tarp, but the more I looked the more it seemed others had already done the work.
Specifically, people were telling me to abandon research and development, and just go with a “Grizz Beak”. Grizz was a hiker using a hammock during a bad rainstorm. The rain started blowing under his tarp at night, getting everything wet. So, he wrapped a poncho around the end of the tarp, which formed sort of a beak-looking structure. It kept the wind and rain out of the end, and by the next morning, his fellow campers were saying, “Great work, Grizz! You should sew some of those and sell them!”
So that’s what he did. For the cost of what I could have purchased in R&D fabric, I went online and purchased a Grizz Beak. They make them to order, one at a time at their house.
- Another Aside: People whine about other people buying online and not supporting small businesses. Not every business online is a huge chain. There are LOTS of small specialty vendors online. If you own a small business or if you just work in your garage making unique stuff, and you’re not online, you’re only hurting yourself.
Unfortunately the Grizz Beak only comes in three colors – brown, green, and camo, I think. I originally wanted a deep purple or something. Something different. But – brown it is.
It doesn’t look all that beak-ish in it’s present form, its more of a wedge, designed to go straight down from the peak of the tarp, and wrap around the sides. I immediately improved mine by adding two feet of tie-off rope to the little rings at the corners. I had set up the hammock on a hill, and one corner didn’t completely cover the tarp because the ground stake wouldn’t reach.
From inside, you can see the cloth overlaps to provide a good bit of rain and wind coverage, yet it lets the hammock suspension go through. There is a small gap but 95% of the space is closed off.
The Grizz Beak also offers the hammock user a modicum of privacy, something we don’t usually get, being completely exposed to the world from the ends. If you’ve never tried to completely change your clothes in a hammock, covered by only a thin blanket or your thick sleeping bag, you’re missing out on a unique, swear-word filled adventure.
But like all things camping, the likelihood that your Grizz Beak will be placed on the end facing other campers is much less than the likelihood of the rain blowing from the opposite way.
The beak wads up to the size of a baseball, and weighs less than half a pound. Mine weighed in at 6 ounces with the tie-out ropes in place. Its like rain insurance. Most of the time I hope not to use it, but I’ll carry it just in case. On a recent trip, while it didn’t rain, the wind was cold, harsh, and incessant for three days. A “beak” would have been nice.
Now here’s and Idea – Since the original Grizz Beak was a repurposed poncho, if they built this Grizz beak with some snaps and made it a little longer, you could have a combo Beak and Poncho in one, thus eliminating the need to carry a separate raincoat. Food for thought, Grizz.