By Travis Birch
My affliction started was I was a young boy. As I grew older, and learned more, my affliction grew as well. It seemed unquenchable at times, and my family put up with it for years, then finally they fully succumbed to it as well. The center of wants and desires, to be able to live untethered from the constraints of society. To not be a hostage to the manufactured processes and ways that is often dictated to us.
As a boy, free time meant exploring the woods and beaches that speckled the little hamlet I grew up in. Never worrying about getting lost, actually hoping that it might happen so I could hone my skills to recover myself. Back then, my friends and I would take on this endeavor. It meant that sometimes we dragged ourselves home long after the street lights came on. That was our curfew. If only we could camp out and investigate the challenges the woods offered us.
Today my friends and I have moved on. My exploring takes place with my wife and boys. Sometimes though, it is just my four legged friend Chester and I. My wife rescinds my curfew, as long as I go prepared to spend the night. Not wanting to be weighed down by large packs, I have found a couple of inexpensive ways to survive in a minimalist manner.
Very simply, a couple of tarps, tarp and some nylon cord gives me a peaceful night’s sleep in the woods. Two tarps, 8’X10’ is perfect. If it is spring, summer or early fall, plastic is great. Any other time, canvas tarps offer a little more warmth, the only downside is that they are a little heavier to carry. A spool of 100’ of nylon rope is more than enough to finish the deal. If your tarp doesn’t have holes along the seam, a grommet application kit, grommet kit, will easily assist you with putting sturdy holes along the seam for making your bed snug.
These light weight accommodations fit easily in my pack. When I head into the woods to explore a new area, or go on an extended hunt, I time my trip, and know when it’s time to pick out a spot for the evening. When that spot is found, I scout out two trees with low hanging branches. I want my trees to be about 15’ apart. Then I loop the nylon cord at least a couple of feet off the ground. Ideally the cord stays secure by utilizing the low lying branches as a lock. Pull the loop taunt, and knot it in place. The first tarp gets wrapped around the rope, this will serve as a hammock. Tuck the ends with the grommets around so the grommets end up on the bottom. Take some additional cord and weave it through the grommets thereby securing your hammock from collapsing.
If rain is in the forecast, a second loop is made about four feet above the hammock. The second tarp can be simply thrown over to act as a tent, protecting you from any inclement weather. In cold weather it doesn’t take much coaxing to get Chester to lay by my feet. He is an instant thermal device that I can count on every time, firestarters. When the sun rises, breakdown is simple and fast, and if nature sends any invaders, I can make a quick get away, and I don’t have to worry about leaving an expensive tent behind. This is a fast lightweight way to live in the woods without putting a huge footprint on nature.