Introduction: Complete Camping Hammock With Screen and Rainfly

This project will show you step-by-step how to make a complete camping hammock, including the hammock, mesh bugnet, rainfly, and tree straps. I built this as a gift for for my girlfriend, who loves borrowing the Hennessy Hammock I've had since I was a Boy Scout, and is taking longer and longer to give it back each time....

All told, this project took me about two full days of work, with estimated materials costs of about $100.

Step 1: Research and Design

From what I've seen, there are two basic camping hammock designs - attached bugnets (like the Hennessy) and unattached (like the Eno). I own a Hennessy and like it, but building one (even with guides like these) seemed intimidating, and there are a few improvements that I wanted to make to the rainfly design anyway. The Eno, by comparison, has a simpler and more flexible design that I could add to and modify - much better for a first attempt. With that in mind, the final hammock camping system has four components:

  1. a basic nylon basehammock with a ridgeline,
  2. a mesh and nylon sleeve that serves as a bugnet,
  3. a very large rainfly with a separate suspension, and
  4. daisy chain-style hanging straps.

This project builds on the work of two others here on Instructables, which I'll link to again at the appropriate stages of the project:

Make a Rip-Stop Nylon Hammock by Mrballeng.

DIY Hammock Straps by ralema69.

I also got a lot of great information and inspiration from Just Jeff's Hammock Camping Page.

Step 2: Materials

To build a complete system, you will need:

Materials:

  • 10'x5' ripstop nylon for the base hammock
  • 8'x5' ripstop nylon for the sleeve
  • 8'x6' mesh netting for the sleeve
  • 12'x5' + 12'x2.5' ripstop nylon for the rainfly
  • 1.5'x3' scrap nylon for the bag
  • ~10' tubular webbing
  • ~150' paracord (I used 3 different colors)
  • 8" pipe insulation
  • strong thread
  • 4 tent stakes
  • Wash-in waterproofing (e.g. Nikwax)
  • 2 climbing carabiners

I used three different colors of nylon (what I had on hand), and three different colors/strengths of paracord (for a combination of aesthetic and safety reasons).

Tools:

  • Sharp fabric scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine and needles
  • lighter or blowtorch for fusing rope ends

I built this at Techshop using a Janome home sewing machine, and no special equipment was required. However, if you had a rolling hem presser foot, a LOT of work could probably be avoided.

Step 3: The Base Hammock

I built a basic hammock by following the instructions outlined in this project: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Rip-Stop-Ny...

There were only a couple differences between Mrballeng's project and mine - I didn't double-layer the cloth (didn't feel it was necessary), and I whipped the paracord at the end to create a cleaner loop. I also attached a ridgeline to the inner part of the paracord loops.

Step 4: Make Hammock Straps

I made hammock hanging straps following the instructions here: https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Hammock-Straps.... I used about 10'-12' of rope to make a 5'-6' chain.

After some experimentation, I've found that the rope chain method isn't versatile enough. I've created new tree hugger straps out of 5' of 1" webbing, with simple overhand knots to create loops at both ends, and a length of ~15' of paracord running from the hammock loops, to be secured with a tensioning knot like a rolling hitch or a truckers hitch.

Step 5: Cut the Nylon and Mesh for the Sleeve

Cut the ripstop nylon and mesh for the sleeve:

  • 1'x8' nylon with a 1" pocket for the top
  • 6'x8' mesh for the middle
  • 4'x8' nylon with a 1" pocket for the bottom

Step 6: Sew the Three Pieces of the Sleeve Together

Pin and sew the three pieces of the sleeve to one another. Sew each seam three times:

  1. Straight stitch about 1" from the fabric edge to create a straight seam.
  2. Zig-zag stitch between the first seam and the edge to securely bind the mesh and nylon.
  3. Separate the pieces and sew the seam flat.

Step 7: Complete the Sleeve

Fold the sleeve fabric in half (seams out) to create a 12'x4' nylon-mesh-nylon sleeve. Sew along the edge to create a tube of fabric, then turn the sleeve inside out and thread paracord through each pocket to create a loop. You'll use these loops of paracord to cinch the ends shut, creating a bug-free sleeping area.

Step 8: Cut, Sew, Hem, and Seal the Rainfly

To make a rainfly wide enough, I sewed a 5' and 2.5' wide pieces together. This creates an offset seam (didn't want the seam directly above the hammock for fear of leaking). I then hemmed the whole thing, and added 2" loops of webbing to the corners. Cut a length of paracord 20'-25' for the fly suspension, and wash the whole thing in weatherproofing fluid.

For the guy-lines, check out these knot resources:

Rollling Hitch

Blake's Hitch

Bowline

Step 9: Give

Give the completed hammock to a very special person, and set a date for a backcountry trip for two.

This Instructable is part of the "Homemade Gifts" contest, so if you like it please vote for it!

Step 10: Hang Out.

Hang the hammock and enjoy!

Comments

author
MarcelV32 (author)2017-03-22

Love this. Wish I saw it before I made mine lol. mine is much bulkier.

author
supernoodle2014 (author)2016-04-08

Be careful when buying paracord, there are a lot of "550" paracord a out there that is made for craft purposes and isn't able to hold a load. Good job on the instructable

author

Good warning; thanks supernoodle2014

author
ShelbyI (author)2016-04-04

Thanks for the 'able! It's turning out to be rather fun to make.

One question - how do you make the bag thingie to cinch the ends of the bugnet around? Maybe I just missed that section..... Couldn't find instructions :/

author
adamtylernelson (author)ShelbyI2016-04-08

Hey Shelbyl, thanks for the compliments. I hacked the cinching together when it was clear the netting wouldn't cinch tight around the cord. The tube is made of pipe insulation with some extra fabric glued around it to make it look nice. If you can come up with a better method, please post it!

author
t8rh8r (author)2015-08-13

Wow, looks really great! If you haven't checked out hammockforums yet, you should totally join.

A word about hammock suspensions.

Universal paracord is usually 550 para cord, I think, which means it's breaking strength is 550 lbs. Which is fine if you plan to only lay softly in your hammock and never move. But, when you start adding dynamic forces the loads on the suspension increase exponentially. Also paracord stretches minutely as you apply load. A better option would be amsteel blue a marine grade rope. It's a hollow core nylon (I'm pretty sure, with 12 strands) rope so you can splice it, and it doesn't stretch as bad as paracord.

Here's a cool link to a video of its strength being tested this is the 3/4" rope. But the 7/64" is rated for something like 1700 lbs. www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcifJkhXpMM

author
luvit (author)2015-06-27

sum tin wents wrong.. i wokeup in the world;s largest rain gauge..

author
IdahoDavid (author)2014-12-24

Nice setup. I have thought of a similar design but would like to find a way to fit a sleeping pad under the hammock -- perhaps with a extra sleeve -- to reduce the cold spots at my hips and shoulders. Also, a grommet in your fly right at the point where it touches the overhead rope is useful. I find it works better to tie the fly at this point to the support trees rather than running the rope all the way through. This keeps the edges of the fly taught instead of slipping toward the middle.

author
buddysjr (author)IdahoDavid2015-02-28

Extend the cover length so you can have solid cover over all but your face and using a good sleeping bag you will be the happiest bug in a "rug", (hammock)!

author
hegure_ryu (author)IdahoDavid2014-12-25

Saw a blog the other day with the sleeping pad IN the hammock. So your weight kept it down which helped with the cold.

author

Good ideas all - rainfly redesign will definitely be part of the Mark II system. Thanks!

author
andrea biffi (author)2015-01-19

awesome and useful project!

author
malenkylizards (author)2015-01-09

Neat!!! How do you pack it? Just toss it in a stuff sack? Also, when packed and stowed, what's the weight and volume?

author

I made a simple stuff sack out of leftover fabric - you can just barely see it in the first picture of step 9. It weighs slightly less than a Hennessy Expedition Asym Classic (which is 2 lbs 9 oz), and the weight could be further decreased with more lightweight hardware (e.g. using a paracord soft shackle or similar). Packed size is also comparable to the Hennessy, about 4"x7"x9"

author
jjmcjared (author)2015-01-06

Are you using Noseeum netting? If not I highly recommend remaking this with that material. It is a much finer mesh. If you are just using regular nylon mesh, even the smallest you can find in most store, there are bugs that are able to penetrate it.

Happy camping!

author

I'm not using noseeum netting in this version - I saw several other projects that discussed using noseeum netting (or sheer/chiffon fabric as a cheaper alternative). We'll test the hammock and see if noseeum is warranted in our area.

author
ralema69 (author)2015-01-06

Thank you so much for including my ible for the DIY Hammock Straps!

author
czarnian (author)2015-01-06

Very good 'ible!! the simplicity of it makes so versatile, thumbs up for you.

She has the most mesmerizing eyes and the most charming smile I have seen in a very long time. All of the best lucks for you two guys.

author
adamtylernelson (author)czarnian2015-01-06

Thanks!

author
tpeterson1959 (author)2015-01-06

Very nice! And what a great gift (I voted for you)! Anything hand made is always special, but something as special as a sleep system (hammock no less), is truly special.

Please post some pics of your trip!

author
kim.romine.7 (author)2015-01-06

Awesome...I have a hammock, but with your instructions and I have a complete system. THANKS!

author

Great! I hope it will work for you.

author
BigAndRed (author)2015-01-06

Nice idea.

Ive recently bought an insect proof hammock off ebay.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/400752119670?var=670296...

all it would need is a tarp over it to keep the rain off.

rain protection is not a big issue here in Western Australia as its been a couple of months since last rain and not going to see rain till easter. I wouldnt use a hammock in winter.

author
IgorF (author)2014-12-29

perfect!!!

author
rramsey1 (author)2014-12-28

This is a perfect project for my boys. We've been wanting to make some camping hammocks for a while, but couldn't find one that appealed to us all. Thank you.

author
adamtylernelson (author)rramsey12014-12-28

You're welcome! Good luck with it.

author
poonkira (author)2014-12-25

I've seen a hammock tent suspended high above two trees these would be great

author
sxcgreekboi_24 (author)2014-12-25

This is a good idea for summer, but In winter you are letting the air circulate to muchand the tarp and the sling will chill to much from the cold air. I like the idea tho

author
thundercookie (author)2014-12-25

I will try this and sleep in my back yard like a pro

author
Bard (author)2014-12-25

Have you tried spending a night in it ?

How comfortable was it?

author
adamtylernelson (author)Bard2014-12-25

In our tests it's been very comfortable, though I'm a little concerned about the mesh sagging and not providing good protection overnight. Making the sleeve a little tighter in the Mark II should help address this.

author
knexinventer (author)2014-12-25

Over the summer my family and I set out on a week and a half trip to Washington and back and the entire time (except in hotels) I slept on a hammock. We built a stand for it to keep from destroying the trees "in the Redwoods and Creater lake".

100_5172.JPG100_5168.JPG
author
wpierce3 (author)2014-12-25

I've actually seen a set up for colder weather that used both methods.

It had a tarp that covered the whole thing. It was made to help keep snow and wind off of you as much as possible.

Then it had a second layer that had a pull cord. you pulled it over you and then pulled the cord to snug it up around the hammock its self. depending on the weather it came with 2 of these one was nylon and a little warm. the second had a thick fleece lining and was very warm. When I tried it out it was around 30 degrees and I was in a thin sleeping bag. I wasn't cold that night.

The tarp was similar to a tarp you'd buy in a wal mart like 8x10 it was Ved and staked out tight over the hammock. the hammock itself was 2 layers of silky nylon with a layer of fleece inside. the thicker cover was similar. An inner and outer layer of Silky Nylon with a Fleece inner layer.

author
adamtylernelson (author)wpierce32014-12-25

That sounds like an awesome setup. I know that Hennessy Hammocks have a "winterizing" kit that involves an extra top and bottom layer that has a pouch for a sleeping pad. There are several improvements I want to make to the sleeve, and winterizing will probably be a part of it.

author
trailogy (author)2014-12-24

Nice job! I think I'm gonna make this for my camping trips.

author
adamtylernelson (author)trailogy2014-12-24

Thanks! It's fairly lightweight and can be made lighter by shaving the material fabric a little and exchanging the hardware. We tested it today and it goes up and down in about 5-10 mins.

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