Don Gravatt started "thinking outside the tent" 17 years ago. Until 2005, he had been a tent camper all his life. While doing research for a L.A.S.H. (Long A** Section Hike) adventure, he started reading about hammock camping—and he never looked back.
These days, Gravatt even owns a hammock company, Jacks 'R' Better. He'll be demonstrating and selling his hammocks and other backpacking gear at this year's festival. He'll also give a talk at noon about "finding the balance" when it comes to backpacking.
"Weight, comfort, and confidence are three key things to consider when choosing gear," he says.
"Focus too much on ultra-light weight and a piece of gear may fail, be uncomfortable, or you will have no confidence in it and stress over whether or not it is going to fail," Gravatt explains. "Focus too much on comfort and your pack can bloat and weigh so much you may not be physically able to complete your hike. Or you might just psych yourself out worrying about the heavy load."
The key, he says, is to have confidence that your gear won't fail, and it will keep you comfortable and safe. Gravatt has tested out this theory, with more than 1,200 miles logged on the A.T.
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