DD Hammock Pack 2012 with XL Tarp upgrade Unboxing review....... TBC

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VANDEEN

Nomad
Sep 1, 2011
351
0
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Thanks to Sandbag47's recent group buy on BCUK I took delivery today of a DD Hammocks Frontline pack deal with an XL tarp upgrade.




The pack consists of the following:-
(all weights from my kitchen scales with 5g resolution)

Mil-Com DR35 35Litre pack 945g

XL Tarp Olive 4.5 Metres X 3 Metres c/w Stuff sack/draw cord/cord lock , 4 guys, 4 pegs & peg bag 1185g

Frontline Hammock c/w Stuff Sack/draw cord/cord lock, 10m webbing, 3 x 2m shock cords & 2 x two piece collapsible poles for midge net spreading 1215g

Snake Skin for Hammock c/w 2 end draw cords and cord locks 65g

Sleeping bag liner 175g (not on photo)

15M of Black Cord 210g

Whistle c/w thermometer & compass 15g

& a free DD Hammocks XL T-Shirt, & window sticker :)


The pack:-Is marked up as a DR35, it looks slightly different to the one on the DD website & everywhere on the web; the main differences I noticed are the non padded waist belt, slanted pocket lids and zips & horizontal D rings instead of vertical.

It seems a well made bit of kit all stitching seems sound, re-enforced where needed like load hauling loops, straps, etc. & appears to be made of a fairly H.D. internally coated cordura type fabric.

Layout,
1 main compartment closed by draw cord & cord lock & two Q.D. adjustable lid straps. It has a lined base to protect the coating of the "waterproof" bottom. 2 side pockets with double zippers 1 lid pocket with single zipper

It has a comfortably padded channelled back covered with the breathable mesh of the "air jet" system to hopefully help with airflow and reduce "sweatiness"

The amply padded contoured shoulder straps are articulated in two places & have full-length webbing intermittently stitched to allow the looping through of whistle/compass cords etc. and allow additional adjustment height positions of the chest strap.

The waist strap is Q.D & is single side adjustable out to 50 inches, it's definitely a waist strap not a hip belt on this size of pack & it is un-padded and only 24mm wide along it's entire length. It's more to stop the bag bouncing about than to spread the load. The strap has a handy retainer for the extra webbing when synched in around those of less ample proportions.

Chest Strap, is height adjustable & both side adjustable to keep the Q.R. catch centred. It has an elasticated expansion section & retainers for excess strap once again when synched in.

On the outside back of the pack there is again intermittently sewn webbing for the strapping on of additional items, 4 x plastic D rings with 2 mini biners, ice axe / walking pole adjustable holding strap & lower “pole” retaining loop.

The side pockets are of a slightly unusual design to me, obviously built with water shedding in mind, as the lids taper down away from the pack body rather than being parallel with the bottom of the pocket, (this will make using their full height impossible for a single item if it's not narrow enough at the top to pull the flap over it). The double zippers are unbranded but feel of reasonable quality & have paracord pulls already attached, a nice touch to help when wearing gloves. The pocket zips again are on an angle, this time the reverse i.e. from the sidewall of the pack up to the outside centre top of the pocket. I personally would have liked to see the zips being longer to make loading easier & the pocket tops flat, but it depends what you put in your side pockets I guess.

The top pocket is a couple of inches high but is the size of the whole lid so more than adequate for a gps, compass, map, gloves hat & a chockie bar when out & about. The zip is a single this time but again fitted with cord loop pull as well as the standard metal tag. It has two rows of 5 hole molle style webbing stitched on the top surface to allow the attachment of additional items once again.


The tarp.
I upgraded my "DD Pack deal" & paid the extra for the DD XL Tarp.
Well, it is huge!! 4.5 M x 3 M should be way more than enough to cover my hammock & "door in" at the ends if the weather turns inclement. With five attachment points along the ridge seam all completely seam taped for "waterproofness" & the end ones re-enforced by a sewn in triangle of a rubbery type material. I don't fear a saggy ridge with that amount of supports so I won't have to over stress the end tie outs to keep it taught either.
All of the other edge tie out points have also been re-enforced with this same triangular "patch" on the inside of the tarp. The tie out webbing has been hot cut/heat sealed & triple stitched full length outside & half length inner with a few bar tacks at the end of the inner sewing. On inspecting these tie out points it was where I spotted a couple of "faults" First one you can see here where the seamstress has wandered off the tape
The mistake has been noticed probably at QC and the stitches mainly removed & more stitches added to the tape, where they should be.
On another tie out some of the stitches haven’t caught properly on one of the rows

Apart from that it’s spot on, and nothing a few min’s with a needle can't solve.

The stuff sack and peg bag are made with a rolled hem to remove the chance of the raw nylon edge fraying with use & the draw cord channel likewise hemmed.

The guy lines c/w adjusters just needed a touch with a lighter to seal the ends & with the four pegs supplied it's good to go. Given it's size and the wind resistance it will offer I will probably supplement the steel "pin" pegs with a few more & maybe some V section ones too.


The Frontline hammock.
I hunted for the "hanging loose thread ends" I've seen mentioned in the past on DD hammock reviews & found nowhere near the number you'd expect if you believed everything you heard on the web, a whole two in fact!. I've found more on an M & S shirt!
In general again it's an exceptionally well put together bit of kit especially for the price. It has a nice soft but solid feel to the fabric & the midge netting does indeed look midge proof, maybe even corn fly too it looks so fine.

The end channels have three rows of stitching across the width and the "crossed box" stitching at the corners. The sides are "plain hemmed" with two rows of stitching. Plain hemmed means the raw edge of the nylon is exposed where it is sewn onto the zip webbing as it is only folded over once. This gives cause to a bit of fraying of the very edges, but it being a double stitched folded seam, a little bit fraying shouldn't give too much cause for concern once you trim it off so it doesn’t catch in the zips anyways.

This was the worst bit & was where one of the four internal pockets was sewn. (it has four pockets closed by velcro tabs)


The fraying could be avoided by either "hot cutting" the nylon or by sewing it with a rolled seam (like the stuff sacks etc) where the raw edge is contained within the hem. Either of these options would add considerable cost/and or labour to the job & would certainly up the price. From the Mk1 & Mk2 frontlines I've seen/heard of it doesn't seem to have been a problem but time will tell.

The places I will re-enforce with a second row of stitches though are the ends of the "pole sleeve channels" on the bug net, particularly the opening end. A single row of stitching with only a two or three stitch “back stitch” to finish in such an area could be bettered in my opinion.




The webbing has all been hot cut/hot sealed & is well stitched, I was pleased to see the 2 internal webbing loops have still been maintained for an internal accessory line to be hung.

The one "proper fault" I found on the hammock was a complete lack of any finishing back stitch at one end of the opening bottom section, as you can see from the needle holes two stitches have gone already, I'll probably just knot these thread ends together and put a few extra stitches in to finish it off properly.




The hanging "rope" has been hot cut/sealed and is snag free and feels quite robust & without too much stretch.

The corded stuff sack is a good size & well finished which means you shouldn't need to "ram" the hammock in either.



The Snake Skin:-
A great idea for a quick and easy set up/break down as long as you have one end of the hammock tied up, nicely snugg as it passes over the bug-net channels so a perfect fit overall. I may mod it to be in two halves, like some of the other manufactures have, to make it even better.
There was a problem with a poor finishing at one of the ends with the rolled seam not being continued to cover the unfinished ends of the plain seams on the sides of the slits and a loose thread hanging.

Again an easy fix.

Sleeping Bag liner:-
Plenty big enough and considering I normaly find an 80cm bag snug around the shoulders/chest I think it may be bigger than stated I'll have to have a measure. Well worth the money to save your bag & add a half to a full season to your normal kit.


15M of Black Cord:-
Well it's cord, & its black, & it's about 15M long, & about 6mm from the feel of it. It's more than strong enough for general purpose use round the camp.

Whistle c/w thermometer & compass:-
Surprisingly more accurate than expected for both the thermometer & the compass which is liquid damped, though you've got to be very careful to hold it completely level so as not to restrict it's movement.


Free DD Hammocks XL T-Shirt, & window sticker :)
Well the t-shirt "fits", @ XL it's the biggest one they do, but I think I may need to "slim" into it before I dare venture outdoors with it on.



All said & done I'm extremely happy with the package as a whole & look forward to trying it out & giving it a bit of a review of it in action so to speak.
 

widu13

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 9, 2008
2,335
16
Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt
Nice review. I have some early DD kit and there was a small amount of QC issues, but nowhere near as much as you. You would be doing everyone a favour if you pointed DD in the direction of the thread. We would benefit from a better product, and DD will actually get the products they have probably fought long and hard for and were promised!

If too many of us are willing to say "it's only a little bit, I can sort it myself in a few minutes" then the quality will only get worse not better and DD won't know so won't be able to have it improved.

On the whole I'm a fan of DD products.
 

garethw

Settler
Hi there
First of, I've several items from DD and have on the whole been very happy with the gear. But I can't help picking up on the comments by Vandeed... I have also seen sloppy stiching on a number of items. Things that they may get away with as seconds are going out as prime gear.

Its strange as the company pays great attention to what the public says on improving gear, but lets substandard products get onto the market regularly. I would say every item I have, has some sign of this... none are serious enough to send them back, or can't be fixed by me...

I know the gear is budget, and inexpensive when compared to other brands... but surely tighter quality control, is not difficult.

The company got really slammed on the Hammock Forums a while ago for just this lack of QC...

So come on DD, don't let a brilliant line of products and great service down by shoddy workmanship...

cheers
Gareth
 

redandshane

Native
Oct 20, 2007
1,581
0
Batheaston
A nice honest review
I have to say I have seen a variety of DD tarps and the QC is definitely variable
There must be something because I now always look at the stitching when someone has one
I saw one that was so bad on a tracking course I was too embarrassed to say anything as people have obviously spent good money and are very proud of their new kit.On the other and I have seen some that are excellent
The thing is it is never enough to greatly affect the performance and can be fixed buy the buyer but I really don't believe DD would want a reputation built on that.
 
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Chiseller

Bushcrafter through and through
Oct 5, 2011
6,176
0
West Riding
A very fair review. I've yet to unpack mine. I dare say, after reading this, I will be scrutinising my own purchases. We all have off days, granted, but for the stitcher, quality control and packers to have an off day is not acceptable. Your review is clearly just, and its only right tha shud mek folk aware. However....I agree with others that you should raise your concern with DD, so they have the oppertunity to correct and prevent further errors. That would be right thing to do. Two bodgers don't make a proffesional ;)I have interacted with DD Hammocks customer services. They are Absolutely Excellent :thumbup: I have never dealt with such polite, patient and helpful folk. I would never hesitate to contact them. Cheers marra :thumbup: