SHUG is the most famous hammock camper in the USA and beyond. He has tried to learn and apply it all… There is seriously no subject about hammock camping that he did not cover on his YouTube channel.
Shug has been there at the very beginning. He is our Hammock frontiersman and a jolly joy to follow on the Tube. You can learn lots and lots of cool stuff from him as he fiddles with all kinds of different gear and tells you all about it.
I have watched his video’s from the start of my hammock career and always jump to You tube if he has a new video.
Now here I am.. Years later. Proudly making this interview possible with one of my biggest mentors who gladly wanted to help me out with this interview for our Dutch hammock community!
Let’s go Shug! Whooooo Buddy)))))
Who are you and where does your love for the outdoors come from?
I’m a guy with an American Dad and Irish Mom born in Tipperary, Ireland. One sister born in London, England , I’m born in Derry Northern Ireland and one sister in Shelby, North Carolina USA.
Dad was a Chief in the US Navy stationed at Derry Sub Base N. Ireland. Met my Mom as she was working in a pub. So we traveled as a family all over the World following my Dad around. Thus my love of international confectionary delights while backpacking.
Once we settled in the USA when I was in grade two I was dragged out on camping trips with my Dad and eventually was in Boy Scouts for 8 years. The hook was set. I loved the freedom of the woods.
Once graduated from high school I eventually went to Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s clown College and made the cut into the Big Show. Traveled as a clown with Ringling for 3 years. Met my wife there. She is an aerialist and runs a circus school here in Minnesota where we make our home. I performed as a clown and comedy juggler for 40 years. Recently retired and living the pensioner life.
Out daughter Aerial followed our footsteps and is also a circus performer doing hula hoops cry wheel and aerials.
Through all this time I always made time to get out camping and backpacking. I find my Peace and sense of self reliability out in the forest. Whooooooo Buddy)))))
What is the reason for you to go out into nature and camp (in a hammock)?
To escape from the modern and busy world and society. To test my resolve. To sleep well. To get a perspective on time. To lollygag. To walk on trails or nowadays to canoe lakes in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe area here in Northern Minnesota.
But my favorite thing is to be in my hammock as I awake in the morn and have a cup of Medaglia D’oro instant espresso from my hammock and talk to my camera and get excited about my upcoming day in the woods. Tenting I may have slept 5 hours but in a hammock I often sleep 10 to 12 hours and dream vividly. The hammock is also restorative to my 64 year old body. I wake up feeling like a 43 year old!!!
Where did your love for hammock camping come from and since when are you active as a hammock camper?
Hammocks lead a person to rest or read and relax. No hard work ever gets done in a hammock. You lay and enjoy your surroundings.
In the early 2000s, I went through my ultralight backpacking phase. That led me to redefine my load. But…I never had enough good food and often had to do sit-ups in the wee hours to get warm. It was satisfying
but at a certain point i wanted some comforts back. I bought all new and much lighter backpacks, tarps, sleeping bags and cookware. Eventually one morning I was laying out of the vestibule of my Henry Shires Contrail one person ultralight shelter. My favorite part even them was to fix a coffee and lay in my bag and watch the morning come to life. I was wedging my self up on stuff sacks to get into a position to lay in and sip my morning brew but was not as comfortable as I wanted to be and I remembered seeing some photos online of camping hammocks. I knew I could lay back and sit up a bit and enjoy my morning and coffee in better comfort perhaps.
When I got home I started researching online and went out and bought an ENO hammock. Strung it up and lounged in it in my backyard and had a coffee. Loved it. I had found my groove. I discovered JustJeff’s camping site online http://tothewoods.net and he had directions to make a simple hammock. So I did. What I like about hammocks…you are sorta wearing them as you sleep. At least that is how I feel. A tent you lay in. A hammock becomes a part of you. Off the ground and slope and roots and rocks. Consistency of sleep nightly. All this led me to finding Hammock Forums http://hammockforums.net
There I found so much info. That forum was very inventive back in those days…circa 2006.
Needless to say it all had an effect on me and revitalized my backpacking.
Hammock camping is a very cool and relatively new way of camping in the Netherlands. Do you ever camp in a different way than with a hammock? And if so, why do you make this choice?
I have never slept in anything but a hammock since I started using one in 2006. I have tents but I live all the fiddly bits about hammocks. I base my trips on where I can hang.
What do you pay attention to when choosing your gear?
Quality. I like cottage industry vendors. Comfort. Inventive thinking. Caring about customers. Timely delivery. Top notch customer service.
What do you think is a big disadvantage of camping with a hammock?
The hammock system has too many different components for some people….the hammock and what type of hammock, suspension and what type of suspension, the insulation factor…nothing, pad, under quilt, blankets etc. (this is the make or break in my opinion)
Finding the perfect tree spacing….just does not exist. One must adapt.
Some feel exposed and vulnerable in a hammock.
The Tarp. Many campers have never pitched a tarp. They always just put the rain fly on their tent. Tarp pitching is it’s own art! So a bad tarp set-up could lead to a person ends up getting wet their gear wet in the rain. This deters some folks from it.
So many more choices currently as hammocks as a camping shelter have grown. The number and types of hammocks available. (Double layer or single layer. Gathered end hammock or Bridge hammock. 90º hammock like the Amok Draumr. Haven Tent type hammock )Fabric selections. Length and width of hammock in relation to persons height and weight. Load capacity. What type of suspension to use. Insulation choices. Underquilt…what temperature rating? Full or partial length? Goose down, duck down or synthetic. Fabric for UQ? UQ suspension?
Worried that the hammock system will be heavier than their current tent set-up. In my opinion this is somewhat dependent on the season you are camping.
Learning Curve. There is one. check out my video about this topic: https://youtu.be/WI0B20DwLPU
Chilling in a hammock is one thing, but doing it the right way without destroying the trees and getting a good night’s sleep is another. How did you come to this knowledge?
Researching online and with Ed Speers book on hammock camping. Hammock Forums. My own trial and error.
What is your favorite piece of outdoor gear when you go out into nature?
1)My Black Diamond Flik-Lock hiking poles never get the credit they deserve. They are multi-use and have saved me from falls many times. Also at my age of 64 help me up and down hills.
2) Medaglia D’oro instant espresso. Sipping it from the hammock in the morning and enjoying just being. Just savoring the moment in the woods. It is really why I backpack.
3) My hammock of course.
What does your ideal camping trip look like? Do you prefer to go alone, with family or friends? And is this in your own country or preferably far beyond?
Cool weather is best. I love going solo as it is the easiest type of trip to film. I love solos but after doing a couple in a row I like to go with good and dear friends. Time in the woods is precious and to be relished and to be thankful that one can go and makes the time for it.
I like to keep it simple and not plan big travel trips. We have so much great camping, backpacking and canoeing right here in Minnesota. I can make the decision to go fairly last minute without a lot of time traveling and making arrangements. I’m a simple man!
Would love to backpack in other countries but COVID put a pause on much of that. Someday I hope to. But for now the home is where I will trod.
How do you take care of yourself on the trails in terms of food and drink and how do you actually deal with your personal care in the wilderness?
Being out there and feeling at peace is just good for me in so many ways. My buttocks un-clenches and I feel content and at ease. I hydrate all that I can. I do not wash much…it is fun to be out and be somewhat funky. Though I do clean my nether-regions with a Wet-Wipe when I take my morning constitutional (toilet) Walking back to camp from that is the cleanest I feel all day.
I stay Vigilant to my surroundings. I do not hike with Worry. I’ve seen Worry kill some peoples trips.
What big dream do you still have when it comes to outdoor experiences?
Just to be able to still do it and have the spirit to do it for many more years. Trips will show themselves. At this point I just like being away from the cities and the politics and the rat race. For me Peace and self sufficiency resides in the woods.
The people reading this interview all have a passion for the outdoor life. What would you like to pass on to them?
To savor each moment out there. Take time to stop and regard the little moments…not always the big destination views.
Also to always make time to go. A few people have said to me over the years: “you sure seem to make a lot of time for yourself.” My answer is usually: “no one ever gives you the gift on time.”
So make the time or it will fade away.
As an extra question Shug.. Please explain to your fans here. Where does your quote”All secure in sector seven” come from and what does in mean 😀
Funny. I said that on one of my first videos as a sign off. Not really sure where it came from. Someone said may from Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. Not sure
When folks ask where Sector Seven is I say “sector seven is 200 feet around me, wherever I am.”
All secure in sector seven!
Youtube kanaal: https://www.youtube.com/user/shugemery