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Hammocks: the new way to hang out

April 16, 2020

Written by Joe Frey


We have all seen them around Hydaway and the trails, most of us own one and we all love using them!  Hammocks.  There may be a bit more to this fancy piece of fabric than you know.  So let’s dive in and discuss the hammock; both as a means to “hang out” with friends and a great camping option!

The History:

To better understand the hammock it is important to know the history and how it has been used in the past.  Hammocks have been around for hundreds of years.  As history goes, the hammock was invented by Mayan civilizations as a way to protect them from the environment around them.  They were then adopted by sailors as a way to ease sea sickness during voyages.  Used widely in the 16th century all the way to our present time.

In 2016 there was dramatic rise in interests among hammock.  The term “hammocking” became a trendy phase among millennials to describe a social way for them to “hang out” with their friends.  People realized you didn’t need to be camping in a forest, you could put you hammock up anywhere. With this rise in interest outdoor enthusiasts also began to use the hammock more as a means of camping.  Making the decision to leave the tent at home and only bring a hammock.


Benefits of Hammocks:

  1. Health: It has been proven that sleeping in hammocks provides better circulation, better sleep, and eases muscle aches. Much of this is due to your body being in an “optimal sleeping position” and there being zero pressure points on your body. It also takes us right back to that “cradled baby” sensation that we remember from our early months of life.
  2. Adventure: Having a hammock can be a great motivator to get outside and find a new creative way to hang your hammock.  Hammocks are a great thing to bring on a hike as they take up little space and have many uses.
  3. Above the safety line: Whether you’re backpacking, camping, or just napping being above the ground will ensure you are out of the wet, mud, and critters.
  4. Multitude of Uses: Much of the increased use of hammocks can be related to their many uses.  Hammocks can be used as a chair, bed, blanket, and more.  Other uses can come from their straps and carbineers that many include.  After taking a course in wilderness medicine it is also very apparent that hammocks have many survival uses.  To learn more about the uses your hammock has be sure to check the manufacture’s suggestions for use.

While this is a short list, I hope that it opens your eye to some of the many benefits hammocks can have in your adventures.  They are very useful tools and I want to encourage you to do your own to research to see how your hammock can best serve you.

Check out these reviews from Popular Mechanics and The Adventure Junkies to start hanging out with the rest of us!

Christmas Wish List

December 13, 2018

Written by: Asia Allen

The Holidays are here and with that celebration, often comes gift-giving!  Do you have someone on your list who does a lot of hiking, camping or spends time outdoors?  Well, I have been thinking a lot about my “Wish List” this year and maybe some of these ideas will be helpful for the nature-lover on your list!

Here are a few items that have made it to the top of my Christmas list this year. I believe these items are great to have when exploring outdoors in the cold months of winter, though are helpful all year long.

  1. Down Jacket
    This item is number one on my list because of the warmth, flexibility, and lightweight nature a down jacket offers. Be sure to order the jacket that is optimal for the activities you plan to use it for. You can look at the down fill and the materials used to make the jacket to figure out just how warm it will be and how it holds up to water or the wear and tear of the trail. A few item and brand suggestions are Marmot Quasar Nova Hoody, Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, Outdoor Research 650 Down Jacket, or The North Face Heavenly Down Jacket. These are a couple of the companies out there who have perfected the Down Jacket over the years.
  2. Rain Jacket
    A rain jacket is not just great during the winter, but can be used year round. This is definitely a great item to purchase and is the most versatile piece of clothing out there. There are a few features that can make or break a rain jacket, such as the hood design, vents, and packability. Be sure to research what features are important to you and will best fit your needs! I always think it is important to try on rain jackets in person to feel out these features so you know what is right for you.  A few brand suggestions are Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Jacket, Marmot Minimalist Waterproof Jacket, and Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket.
  3. A Warm set of Base Layers
    When I say Base Layer, I am talking about a comfy layer of clothing, closest to the skin meant to keep me warm.  This piece is essential for any outdoor adventure in the cold months, or helpful for the walk from the house to the car, depending on where you are spending the winter break. These layers provide essential warmth and comfort as you ‘layer up’. You can take the Icebreaker Perfect Base Layer Test to find your ideal fit, or check out Smartwool Base Layer Pant, REI Co-op Merino Midweight Base Layer Tights, or Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Bottoms.

    *These three articles of clothing represent the TERRIFIC TRIO of outdoor clothing.  I suggest locking these three items together and selecting pieces that complement one another. The rain jacket serves as a hard-shell that blocks out wind and rain, which allows the down jacket to warm and insulate. The base layer helps to wick sweat from the skin and helps the down jacket retain body heat. Here is a link to provide more information on how to choose the best products for layering depending on the weather and activities you plan to do: REI – Layering Basics

  4. A Warm Blanket
    There is honestly nothing more that I love than a really warm blanket. These are perfect for camping, road trips, or snuggling up on the couch. You never know when a nice, durable blanket will come in handy!  I highly suggest one of these blankets for your wish list, Klymit Versa Blanket, Coalatree Puffy Kachula, Rumpl, or the REI Co-op.
  5. Trail Shoes or Warm Boots
    Whether its time to replace the current set of trail shoes or time to upgrade to a new set of boots entirely, this holiday season is the perfect time to gift that special someone with the new pair of shoes that they have been waiting to pull the trigger on. A few trail running shoes I suggest are Brooks, Altra, Hoka, or Merrell. Some nice new boots could come from Salomon, Sorel, Merrell, Teva, or Blundstone.

Be sure to check out your local retailers for these items.  Often, they will be able to help you get the right product, try it on and be sure that the size and style are exactly what you want!

Still looking for other options?  How about a few stocking stuffer ideas as well for your friends and family: Wool Socks, Gloves, A Beanie or Hat, Hand Warmers, A headlamp, or Gift Cards to your favorite outdoor store or retailer!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Get Started: Fly Fishing

March 26, 2018

Written by: Tim Lewis

Fly fishing has been a passion of mine for 5 years now. My first introduction to fly fishing was as a student at Ferrum College where noticed a fly fishing trip posted on the Ferrum Outdoors website. Intrigued, I signed up and the next thing I knew I was fishing with Angler’s Lane at their Rivenridge property on the Piney River. I was so mesmerized by the experience that I returned multiple times during my time at Ferrum. Eventually, I purchased and accumulated my own gear and started fishing on my own. I knew I had found a lifelong hobby and passion. Since coming to Liberty University to pursue my masters and career in outdoor recreation, I have had the privilege to reconnect with Angler’s Lane and the local fly fishing community. This has led to part-time employment with the shop as well as the opportunity to be on the facilitating side of LU’s fly fishing trips as an Assistant Director with Outdoor Recreation. From student participant to full-time employee, it has been a privilege to return to the area and share the same trips and experiences with LU students that first ignited my passion 5 years ago.

What I’ve learned over the years is that fly fishing is growing in popularity, particularly with younger demographics. Younger enthusiasts are catching the bug and finding ways to make the sport accessible and affordable to more audiences. One of the biggest stigmas about fly fishing is the perception that it is an elite gentleman’s sport that requires thousands of dollars before even beginning to catching fish. Fly fishing is really not as expensive and lofty as it appears. Like all hobbies, you can spend as much or as little money on it as you’d like. However, you do not need to start out with a “Cadillac” fly rod; a “Chevrolet” will be fine! I am still using a “Toyota” myself.

To get started, you will need to purchasae a fly rod and reel combo. These packages come with a medium weight fly rod,

reel, fly line, leader, tippet, storage case, and a few flies; everything you need to catch fish. You can purchase these combo packages for $150 easily. Redington and Cabela’s are my favorites brands. It always helps to know a few people who are already active fly fishermen. Most fly fishermen are more than happy to lend you a few starter flies and helpful hints to get your feet wet. I will forever be thankful to those friends who lent me my first San Juans and Woolly Buggers and taught me how to cast!

Next, you need to find a good fishing hole. This can be a little more challenging as most self-respecting fly fishermen will not give away their favorite fishing spots as readily as they will a fly from their collection. You need to build connections and credibility. To do this you should stop by a local fly shop, talk to the experts, share stories and pictures, and buy from them; let them know you are serious! In no time, you will have a network of fly fishing buddies who will always be looking for partners to fish with. Fly fishing, as well as outdoor recreation as a whole, is all about networking and connections; who you know dictates what you know. I also recommend purchasing a National Geographic Trails Illustrated map for your area. These maps will show you where the stocked rivers are as well as the native streams. Also helpful is the VDGIF website that offers a plethora of helpful links, maps, and descriptions of Virginia’s fishing waters.

If you are having a difficult time getting into the sport, I encourage you to come on one of Outdoor Recreation’s many trip offerings! We go fly fishing with Angler’s Lane every semester; a day trip in the spring and a multi-day fall break trip in the fall. We also are always creating new and exciting events on campus such as our Fishing Derby and Fishing clinics. Our partnership with Angler’s Lane has something to offer all ability levels! Many of our OR staff are fly fishing enthusiasts as well and are always happy to share their knowledge and get people excited about the sport! Drop us a line!