I am a hammocker. Not only do I sleep in one every night at home (I’ve evicted my massive Queen size bed about three years ago), I also love a good hammock when out on the trail.
Even though my complete setup is a bit heavier than my tent (hammock + bug net + tarp = just over 700 grams), a hammock is vastly more comfortable than a mattress in a tent. Plus, the hammock can be used individually on sunny weekend days, to swing lazily in the breeze and read or nap.
The only problem with hammocks is that you have to actually tie them to something. Since anti-gravity air hooks haven’t been invented yet, one generally has to make do with the next best thing: trees. Or rather two of them. One at each end. On top of needing two trees, they also need to be roughly the right distance apart. For landscape connoisseurs such as myself, who take views and lay of the land into consideration as well, make good hammock spots hard to come by. This has made me develop the terrible habit of judging everywhere I go, what it would be like to sling a piece of cloth there to laze around in. This can be a fun pastime, but sometimes excruciating when you find the most fantastic spot, but with none, or only one suitable tree available.
This is where Vitaly Abalakov, Greg Lowe, and Ray Jardine come in to the picture. They are the fathers of the Spring-Loaded-Camming-Device (SLCD). Nowadays commonly referred to simply as “cam” or “friends” (the product name of Jardine’s original cam).
Whereas Abalakov and Lowe are the forefathers of SLCDs, Ray Jardine is arguably the inventor of the modern SLCD we use today. Cams are used in rock climbing, where they can fit into gaps in rock faces. The lobes that spread out, grab the rock and, when force is applied (usually when a climber falls), they really bite into the rock and enormous frictional forces prevent the cam from coming loose.
If you have a bit of a nerd streak in you, it’s also worthwhile doing a bit of research into how the logarithmically spiralled lobes distribute the forces, etc. (two random sites I found on the topic: an overview and a bit more elaborate).
Anyway, to keep a short story short: cams work beautifully with hammocks. So, if you have rocky outcrops or cliff formations you would like to expand your hammocking into, I can only urge you to invest a couple.
Just make sure that you read up on the dos and don’ts of placement for cams, before you flop your tired old cadaver into your hammock, or you might find yourself sprawling flat on the ground.
The other thing I really like about cams is, that they are easily removable and adhere to the old principle of “leave no trace” when out in Mother Nature’s lap.
Personally I went for a Black Diamond Camalot C4 0.75 (the green ones (different sizes are colour coded)). The Black Diamonds are commonly considered to be of very good quality, and their dual-axis actuation allows for a wider range of what sort of gaps the cam fits into. The 0.75 size has a range of 23.9-41.2 mm and weighs in at a 119 grams. Probably not a piece of kit I’d take on an extended hike, where grams are counted, but I will probably have it with me on weekend tours as standard from now on. This should broaden my pool of potential hammock sites considerably.