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Gear Test - MacCat Standard

BGT Owner Review uploaded here.

This page is a work-in-progress. It's just a log of my testing results, so don't take anything in here as a final conclusion. I'll continue updating it as I get more experience with the product, and eventually I'll consolidate it into a finished review.

Summary of Tests:

Date: Aug - Oct 05
Low Temp: 20-25 F
Weather: No rain

I've used the MacCat a few times since Brian sent it to me...in the backyard, on the Little Sur River, and at Ten Lakes Basin in Yosemite. I've very pleased with the results so far. Unfortunately, it doesn't rain much in Monterey until rainy season comes, so I don't have much experience in storms yet...but it's coming! We're supposed to have some rain this weekend, actually...I'm the only guy I know who hopes for bad weather just so I can test gear!

I've posted my thoughts so far on the How to Stay Dry page and the Ten Lakes trip report.

Short version - this thing feels cavernous for the weight, and it's so easy to pitch tightly that I don't expect any flapping problems. I was very impressed at how it seemed to cut the wind on the Ten Lakes trip. The only real down-side I can see at this point is that it takes four stakes instead of the JRB's two...not a big deal at all. I'll keep posting details as I get more experience.

Date: 6 Nov 05
Low Temp: 48 F
Weather: Light rain, wind 5-10 mph
Gear: Green Speer-type, Exped Downmat 7 with homemade SPE, Nest top quilt, MacCat Standard, tarp tensioners
Worn: Cotton T-shirt, cotton sweats, cotton socks

Excellent coverage...it rained at intervals throughout the night and I never felt a drop. The ends of the hammock were completely covered and stayed dry. I really liked the excellent 360’ views.

I was more comfortable in this tarp than any other I’ve used...I never even had a doubt about whether or not I was covered. (This is also the biggest tarp I've ever used.)

The tarp had lots of condensation on the underside before I even got in, and it was hard to get in and out of my top-entry hammock without rubbing my back on the wet tarp. I could have pitched the tarp higher above the hammock to make this easier.

I noticed a big change in the tarp tensioners by morning. I had them on the D-rings by my left ankle and right shoulder, and I saw the wrinkles running so that pulling on the corners without the tensioners would have removed the wrinkles. Maybe strong tensioners on the ridgeline would have tightened it up. Even with the wrinkles it was still not loose enough to flap much, though.

Idea: Put a 4’ guyline, with a loop at each end, on each corner tie-out. This should be sufficient for most uses, but I'll carry 4 other 4’ sections in pack in case I need to extend them. A loop in each end of those would make for quick connect without knots. I'll try this out soon.

Date: 7 Nov 05
Low Temp: 48 F
Weather: Steady rain, wind 5-10 mph
Gear: Green Speer-type, Exped Downmat 7 with homemade SPE, Nest top quilt, MacCat Standard, tarp tensioners
Worn: Cotton T-shirt, nylon shorts, thin nylon socks

After all this time with no rain, I finally got a good test! It rained pretty hard last night for several hours. I woke up a couple of times when it got really loud, but I never even saw any spray coming near the hammock from the ends. I was confident enough in the coverage that I slept fine all night (except the few times the rain got loud).

My snakeskins were wet from the rain dripping down the support lines, but they stopped the water before the hammock got wet.

I'm very happy with the coverage, and I like how this tarp gives a better view out the sides than the stock tarp. I can pitch it higher and more open and still get good protection. I still don't like having the two extra tie-out points, though - it adds a bit of complexity to the setup...but I'm starting to think it's worth it.

I still want to test the MacCat in a windy storm, though. As luck would have it, we're supposed to get thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow!

Date: 8 Nov 05
Low Temp: 50 F
Weather: Heavy rain, wind 5-10 mph
Gear: Green Speer-type, Exped Downmat 7 with homemade SPE, Nest top quilt, MacCat Standard, tarp tensioners
Worn: Cotton T-shirt, nylon shorts, thin nylon socks

Tarp was great again...this was pretty heavy rain, but still not a lot of wind. But I'm confident that the coverage will be adequate for storms...I just want to see it for real.

Date: 16-18 Dec 06
Low Temp: -10 F
Weather: Heavy snow, wind 100+ mph
Gear: Green Speer-type, Exped Downmat 7, Speer PeaPod, No Sniveler top quilt, MacCat Standard, tarp tensioners

This tarp was AWESOME in a Sierra blizzard at Winnemucca Lake. See the trip report for all the details. Excerpt below.

Praise for the MacCat!! I tightened it up Saturday night just before I bailed, and Sunday morning (after the 100+ mph winds) it was flapping in the gusts...one of the two ridgeline cords broke, and 3 of 4 corner cords were broken. It was hanging by one ridgeline tie-out, one JRB tarp tensioning line on a corner, and a mini-carabiner attaching the other ridgeline to the hammock support. It bent that carabiner. After gusting like that all night, I found absolutely no signs of wear on the tarp. One of the plastic D-ring connectors had a dent from the cord holding so tight...this is a tough piece of gear!

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