Hammock System

This is by far my favorite beginner project. Anyone looking for a way to practice sewing should absolutely look into this. It is inexpensive, easy, has very long, simple stitches to practice with, and is useful (more so than a 15th stuff sack for sure). I’m new to the ultralight hammock scene, so the cheap part was important, in case it just wasn’t for me.

Really, most of the guides for this system have already been made and can be found on the cyberweb. My goal here is to bring them all together in one place, so as to save others the time I took to find the info.

The pieces you will need to create an UL hammock setup are:

1. Gathered end hammock – $13.16

A basic design can be found at DIY Gear Supply. I use a single layer hammock with 1.1oz ripstop nylon. I’m just under 5’10”, and I started with a piece 116″x62″. I sewed a 1″ rolled hem around all four edges, giving me a final size of 114″x60″. I used tech line to gather the ends and tied them off with a simple square knot.

2. Whoopie slings – two for suspension and one for the adjustable ridgeline -$12.50 (w/ wire mentioned below)

I used two sources for my whoopie slings. First the illustration at DIY Gear Supply, and then also this video. The instructions at DIY make whoopies that are about 8′ long. I think the 6′ whoopies from the video would be just fine for me though. A tip for wire to use is to go to the craft section of Walmart and get the 24 gauge silver wire that should be $2 a reel. I made my ridgeline a whoopie with special dimensions, so that I could adjust it to get it right. For it, I marked off the first 16″ as show in the DIY guide, then skipped forward 6′ and marked the start of my 9″ bury. I’ve tried to draw this ridgeline whoopie below. This let me make a longer sling using less cord. This worked well for me, but if your hammock is longer, add some length. As a note on length of a ridgeline, the common starting point is 83% of the length of the hammock, which has worked well for me. Finally, I suggest getting one of the mini plastic circles for each of the slings and trapping them in the adjustable loop. This will keep you from pulling it through itself on accident.

3. Nacrabiners – a lightweight replacement for old, heavy carabiners – $1.25 (5′ of cord)

Opie made a video on how to tie the necessary diamond knot for nacrabiners that was more helpful than anything else I found. The video can be found here. Before tying this diamond knot, just splice the cord straight through itself, like the first step in the whoopie slings. This creates an adjustable loop to put the knot through.

4. Tree straps – $4.06

This is probably the easiest part of the system. Cut a 14′ piece of nylon webbing in half. Sear the edges. Fold over the last three inches. Sew two 1″ box stitches on each of these folds, leaving a 1″ loop open to put the nacrabiners though.

5. Bug netting – The Hug – $9.29

 This is of course optional, but the bugs were so bad on the AT last summer, I wanted to add this.I decided to create a minimal, removable bug protection set up for my hammock. Searching around for designs, I found one made by Derek Hansen at The Ulimate Hang. His design is called The Hug, and works amazingly well for me, at a very small weight. The hammock forums thread on this great piece of gear can be found here. One suggestion I would make is to be sure to use some velcro like Omni Tape or other soft velcro, because I’ve had my hammock a bit damaged by hard velcro.

Inside The Hug

Total cost for all the pieces (including shipping and tax from DIY Gear Supply): $49.

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to put together the guides and videos I’ve linked to here. I found them very helpful, and hopefully others will too.

So the cost of the system ended up equivalent to (or less than) many mainstream hammocks, but at less weight. From memory, this comes out to be just under 16oz for everything shown above. About 3oz can be dropped by leaving the Hug at home during the bug free months. For the comfort it adds, dropping a little weight in other places can be well worth adding it back in here.


2 thoughts on “Hammock System

  1. Wow awesome, thanks for the posting this! I’m new to sewing and making my own gear, I was planning on starting with a stuff sack and then making the Henry Shire Tarptent, but maybe I’ll do this first. Do you recommend the Backpackinglight articles on sewing? I’m thinking of getting a membership to read those specifically.

    1. The articles on BPL can be useful. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend nice enough to teach me the basics, so I have not read all of the articles. But I will be checking out the down quilt and vest articles in particular, because I want to make a down jacket soon and hope to get some tips. I’ve had a BPL membership for about a year and a half now and actually find the State of the Market reports to be more useful in my MYOG endeavors. The staff at BPL does a fantastic job of breaking down the attributes of gear that make them so great, which makes it possible for me to add them into my gear. Most of the basic guides for sewing at BPL can be found elsewhere on the internet with some effort though.

      One of the first projects I worked on was the Tarptent actually, It is a a good project. I think I will be putting together a simple guide late this month or next on making a 9×7 flat tarp that should cover most of the topics for using silnylon to make shelters.

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