Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Truth About Pawn Bags

Pawn Bags were born out of frustration.  The kind of aggravating, brain splitting, pleasure robbing, hair grabbing frustration that can turn you into an a red faced monster growling out a stream of profanity that includes words you don't even know you know until you hear them escape your lips and would make a sailor blush. 

Yep.  We're talking about tarp guy lines. 

Hammock camping bridges the gap between minimalist tarp camping and tent camping---the best of both worlds if you will.  Hammocks require overhead cover and the best way to do that is to rig a tarp above the hammock.  The best way to rig your tarp is independent of the hammock ridgeline and once its up you need to secure the corners, and its a good idea to secure them at the mid point of the length as well.  What this means is that, depending on your set-up, you're dealing with close to 100 feet of line in various lengths.  How to deal with them conveniently can be a problem. 

You could take each of your separate lines and roll them up in a figure 8 and stow them in your pack.  But this increases set up and take down time and requires you to open a compartment on your pack if you are setting up the tarp during rain.  It also increases the chances of losing one or more during hasty take down/packing in the morning.

You could leave all lines attached to the tarp and if your tarp is equipped with corner pockets, roll them in a figure 8 and stow them there.  My experience with this method is that it works until it doesn't.  Generally those lines would fall out while I was stowing or deploying the tarp, and now that I'm using tarp tensioners, the pockets are all too small to hold them at any rate.

Even using this method, you still have to stow your ridgeline separately.

A couple months ago, when I got my Thread Injector, I started looking for projects and came across Derek Hanson's Instructions on How To Make Your Own Double Sided Stuff Sack.  These are otherwise known as "Bishop Bags" after a Hammock Forums member who first introduced them to the hammock community.  The bags are originally intended as a method to stow and deploy your hammock.  In  its simplest form, its a stuff sack with a hole cut in the bottom with one end of the hammock suspension sticking through the hole.  I adapted that idea by making a smaller bag for stowage of tarp lines.  Because it is basically a small Bishop Bag, and I've played chess since the age of 12, I named these "Pawn Bags."  Basically, I took Derek's instructions and use an 8" x 8" piece of ripstop nylon to make a smaller bag that ends up being roughly 6" long x 3 1/2" wide.

I then put the bag on the end of the tarp line connected to the tarp and cinch it down so that it won't come off, then stuff the tarp line down inside.

Then leave the end of the line hanging out and cinch that up tight.  I end up with a nice, tidy package that allows me to grab the end and pull it out when needed.

When I set up my tarp, I tighten the tarp line on the stake, then stuff the loose end of the remaining tarp line back up inside the Pawn Bag to keep it from lying on the ground to reduce the chances of tripping over it or snagging it enough to pull the stake out.

Set up and take down are a lot quicker once you get the hang of stuffing the line down inside the bag, but there's no need to wrap it in a figure 8 once you do.  The line comes out just the same way you stuff it in and as long as its loose inside there, it won't get snagged or tangled.

Right now I'm working on a similar set up for both the continuous ridgeline for my tarp and my hammock suspension.  Just to keep the nomenclature consistent, I'm going to call them Knight Bags.

I regularly offer my Pawn Bags on the Pay It Forward section of Hammock Forums, and hold no claim to any copyright, patent, intellectual property or any other such folderall that would prevent you from using the idea to DIY yourself a set or two.

If you want a set of these, contact me at Hammock and I can set you up with a set of (4) Pawn bags and (2) Knight Bags for $25, shipping included.  Please keep in mind this isn't a business for me, I won't always be able to get them to you right away, and be advised that I am not the most experienced Thread Injecter-er out there.  You'll get something that is functional but not necessarily pretty, and production will be subject to my work schedule and the social obligations Significant Other places on me.  I really am making this offer as a service to fellow hammockers and maybe get enough coin to buy a couple of dehydrated meals on occasion.

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