We decided to ask ourselves this question, just to see if we’d surprise ourselves. Its a funny one, because it can change easily, and it often is not an expensive piece of gear at all…Here is SweetPea’s:
What is my favorite piece of gear? Geez…that’s a tough question. I would probably give a different answer if I had just finished hiking in cold conditions, rather than finishing a summer of beautiful west coast hiking. If I took weather out of the mix and just looked at my gear with an objective attitude, I would have to say that my favorite piece of gear would be my Grand Trunk Nano-7 Hammock
Making the change from tenting to hammocking really made a difference for me on the trail. Instead of waking up multiple times a night to shift or turn over in search of a comfortable position, I wake up refreshed and limber. I look forward to snuggling in my hammock and reading or writing a journal entry at the end of the day. I can be in my hammock for ten hours and not feel stiff in the morning. Sometimes I even hang up my hammock at home in the basement, just because I enjoy sleeping in it!
I bought my Grand Trunk Nano 7 “Used” on the Backpacking Light Gear Swap website back in 2011. I have used it for 1,500 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the entire Wonderland Trail, the entire Tahoe Rim Trail, the entire John Muir Trail and multiple overnight trips in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I haven’t have any problems with the hammock…the stitching is still in great condition and there are no holes or tears in the material.
The comfort of the Nano 7 hammock is certainly helped by the fact that I am petite. I don’t think Beardoh would find it nearly as comfortable. When I first received the hammock, I swapped out the ropes that come with the hammock for whoopie slings. This made my Nano 7 less than 7 ounces!
It is hard to pin it to one piece of gear…so I’ll do two:
Hammock – I am totally with SweetPea on the hammocks. So comfy. I’ll admit hammockers are really in love with their hammocks, a piece of gear that most hikers couldn’t care less about it. However, it has done my back wonders. I have yet to use a commercial hammock…..We’ve sewn two for me, since longer hammocks are hard to find (I am 6’5”), but there are some excellent commercial options coming available recently for all sizes. We certainly sleep on the ground where there are not trees, and we do not let the inability to hammock alter the trips that we take. For the AZT hike in spring 2015, we will have our hammocks as well as a small pad for ground sleeping, allowing us to do both as appropriate.
Here are a couple videos that we made just before our 2011 AT Hike that explains a bit about using a hammock for camping. Originally, we had made these videos for some family/friends that were unfamiliar with hammock camping. Our hammocks have changed a little bit since then, but the general principles are the same:
Headsweats Sun Visor – We were in a bike shop in northern New Hampshire one day late in the summer of 2013 , and I saw these visors…they were around $20, and I thought aloud ‘Who would pay $20 for a stinking visor?’….and then, I put it on. Damn, these visors are comfy. I was astonished. Santa brought me one for xmas that year 🙂 I really dig the visor for the breathability on the top of my head while wearing a bandana as well as its light weight.