Monday, 22 October 2012

Niteize Figure 9 Rope Tightener Review


Recently purchased a pair of Nite Ize Figure Nine rope tensioners, which I intended to use for setting up a no-knot ridge line system, in conjunction with my tarp or basha. This is my review...

"My name is Mick from JesterBushcraft and I am addicted to gadgets"... There, I've said it...

I must confess, ever since I saw James Bond for the first time, I have been a big fan of gadgets. And gadgets in the bushcraft/outdoor world are plentiful, some good and some not. So when I came across the Figure 9 Rope Tensioners from Nite Ize, I was interested to learn how they performed.

As they were only a couple of pound (£) each, I took the plunge and bought a pair from the well known online auction site. My idea would be to use one of the Figure nine's at either end of my 550 paracord ridgeline, making a no-knot system, rather than the Evenk knot/Taut line hitch combo.

When I received the package in the post, I was quite impressed to see how small the Figure 9's actually were. Measuring just 40mm x 30mm and weighing in at a meagre 3.5g each.

They were also well packaged with clear instructions on the inside of the packaging, giving you an example of 2 different ways you can use the Figure 9 (Loop System & Fixed End). You also get a little promotional leaflet, highlighting some of the other Nite Ize products in their range, like carabiners, torches and key chain accessories etc.

The Figure 9 is made of aluminium and the load limit is 50lbs (22.5Kg) and will accept cord/rope thickness of 2mm (1/16") to 5mm (3/16").

All the load limit and cord sizes are etched onto the Figure 9 itself so you will never forget the gadgets limitations. Plus there are simple step by step instructions on how to use it, on the reverse of the Figure 9. But to be honest, they are very straight forward to use, as you will see in my video later on in the post.

There are larger versions of this product, which will accept larger size rope, should you require it. And they also do a carabiner version, which is basically the same but with a carabiner style clip rather than the enclosed ring.

Rather than explain my experiences in text, you may be interested to watch the video below, which shows me demoing the Figure 9 out in the field along with my British army basha. I do mention in the video that this particular no-knot system would come into its own in the winter time, when we are more likely to be wearing big gloves or mittens, which make tieing knots more difficult.

I intend to use this system for my tarp/basha setup, whenever I go out into the woodland, from now on and am sure it will serve me well.

As a quick and easy rope tensioner, this is one gadget I will be keeping and hopefully using for some time.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Handy Hammock - The Worlds Lightest Self Supporting Hammock Setup

Every Once In A While A New Product Appears On The Market That Makes You Think "Wow, That's Clever" And This Free Standing, Lightweight, Collapsible Hammock Ticks All The Boxes.

I was recently given the opportunity to field test and review a new portable hammock, that is completely self supporting and doesn't require the need for any tree's, which is ideal if you want to relax in comfort on a beach or in the garden.

British Design And Manufacturer...
The British company behind this ingenious hammock design is Handy Hammocks and have spent 20 years perfecting the idea of how to make a hammock stand up on its own two feet (literally !)

With hammock in hand, weighing in at just 1.53kg and all nicely contained in its drawstring bag, I set off for my local woodland hoping to learn how to set up a hammock with no trees.

I wanted to see how easily I could complete my hammock setup, straight from the bag. So I purposely refrained from checking the hammock components, prior to coming out. But I did allow myself a quick 5 minute look at the full colour instruction booklet.

So, once I had found my spot (clear of any tree's) I emptied the contents and started to follow the instructions. I have to say the instructions were a lot clearer the second time I completed the hammock set up, but were never the less fairly straight forward to follow.

Lightest Self Supporting Hammock In The World...
The first thing you notice about the hammock design, is the quality of the individual components. Like the ingenious hammock supports or struts which, in effect, form the hammock stand. These are made from aircraft grade zinc alloy, making this the lightest self supporting hammock in the world.

There is no guess work in setting up the Handy Hammock, thanks to the simple but clever idea of using base plates, connected with cord. Simply place the base plates on the ground with the cord stretched between the two and secure using the anchor pins.

Each high impact Nylon moulded anchor plate (Of which there are 4) are cleverly secured using 3 anchor pins, creating a strong fixing point for the four corner guy lines.

Then assemble the two struts, which is as quick and easy as putting up an umbrella. Insert the ends of the struts into the base plates and hang your hammock on the other ends.

Climb in and relax, free of any overhanging "widow maker" branches.

My initial setup, whilst referring to the instruction booklet and making the odd mistake, took me just under 20 minutes, straight from the bag.

However, on only my second attempt, I halved that time and set up in under 10 minutes.

Handy Hammock Details

Weight : 1.53Kg
Supports Up To 125Kg
Manufactured From Aircraft Grade Zinc Alloy With Kevlar Bracing Cords & 2.5 Dyneema Guy Lines.

When I first got into the Handy Hammock, I was to say the least, a little apprehensive, but climbing in and out of the hammock is the same as you would do with any normal setup. And I have to say was very comfortable, both in the sitting and horizontal position.

The hammock itself has good width to it, allowing you to position yourself on a diagonal for a more comfy lay.

Ideal For The Beach
This style of hammock design is perfect for using on the beach, but would require the addition of special beach anchor pins which are 600mm in length rather than the 300mm pins which come as standard with the hammock kits. This hammock would also work well in anybodies garden, where lack of suspension points are an issue.

This forward thinking hammock company are also planning to launch additional products, which will allow the "Handy Hammocker" to tailor their setup to whatever requirements they may have. Innovative add-ons such as a canopy system, heavier-duty hammocks, integrated sleeping bag, mosi-net, stowage system, extra guy sets (for marshland) and so on.

I know this particular form of hammock suspension is not going to be for everybody, as the hardened bushcrafter or backpacker likes to use the conventional setup using two trees to hang their traditional hammock from.

But I still feel that the Handy Hammock will have it's place in the market, especially for people on holiday who like to spend time on the beach or anybody who likes lounging about in the garden, as a more comfortable (and fun) alternative to the lounger or deckchair. Not only that, if you are a hill walker and want a novel way to chill out when you reach your destination, why not try the Handy Hammock. I guarantee you will have people queuing up to ask you about it, or even asking you to have a sit in it.

Hammock In A Bag...
The whole hammock setup, suspension, supports and all (hammock in a bag) are compact and light enough to be carried in a suitcase or rucksack, when traveling or walking in the hills. Which makes the Handy Hammock a great piece of kit for anybody wanting a fun and comfy way to relax when venturing outdoors.

If you have a decking area or balcony at your home, the anchor base plates can be permanently fixed using appropriate fixings, allowing you to setup your Handy Hammock in super quick time, whenever you feel the need to relax.

As I mentioned earlier, the Handy Hammock is relatively new to the market and the designers have big plans to improve on the design (if possible), the packaging and range of additional products. Making this a versatile, fun and quality hammock suspension system for young and old, serious outdoors people and those who just like to relax in style.

Learn More...

Please feel free to visit their website where you can watch a fun (but informative) cartoon video, that explains the basic details of the hammock. You can also see my review of the handy hammock in the video below, which also includes a 40% discount code, valid until the end of October 2012... Don't Miss Out !

I really like my Handy Hammock and look forward to taking it on holiday with us or just relaxing in the garden, regardless of whether there is somewhere to hang a hammock !