When it comes to camping there is no easier and more comfortable solution than a hammock. It is compact, cosy and easy to use.
I spend a lot of time outdoors. For me one thing is certain - I have to have a good sleep. I used to be a tent man but it was not easy. Even though I used camping mat I still had a stiff back and neck that made camping not so pleasant. About a year ago I discovered camping hammocks. A professional hammock maker introduced me to this "new" invention. I was hooked right from the beginning and had to make one for myself. The first one was, of course, a catastrophe. It was really heavy and bulky. I got some tips from hammock master and soon after I made a new one. It was really compact and lightweight. I have n using it ever since.
I decided to sew a new one not because I need one but because I know that I could improve the design and quality quite a bit. And so I did. I am super happy with how it turned out and it is a big honour to share my design and tips with you! The new hammock packs smaller than a can of beer and weighs only 520 grams! (talk about lightweight )
I also made a tutorial video of the process. Together with this ´ible it should be fairly easy to understand how the procedure works. If still, something is unclear, please leave your questions down below and I will answer them shortly.
No more talking, let us begin!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- The most important thing is, of course, the fabric. It should be thin but also strong. Most camping hammocks are made from ripstop nylon and I suggest you use the same. Here are some links (1 , 2) to help you find some. I used polyester taffeta. Polyester stretches much less than nylon but is a bit heavier for the same strength. It makes a fine hammock because of its low stretch. You can find it from here or here
- You will also need 4,5 meters of 5 mm synthetic rope. It is used mostly for tension string (ridgeline). What is tension string I hear you ask? Tension string is one very important part of the hammock but funny enough many mass produced hammocks miss it. It basically keeps the hammock at a constant length. Without it, your hammock will become a cocoon. Some prefer it but the most comfortable position for sleeping is diagonal. This way you can lay almost flat like on a real bed! This item can be found at sewing shop or hardware store.
- Next thing is 8 meters of (non-elastic) band around 2-3 cm wide. I strongly recommend using this over regular rope because it is much easier on the trees. Ropes will put more pressure on bark maybe even breaking it off. 4 meters on both ends of hammock should be enough for even the thickest trees (not including giant sequoias here ;) .It can be found at a sewing shop.
- And the last thing is four stainless steel metal rings. These are used for tightening system. They should be big enough so that the band fits through them but not too big as you want to keep the weight low. 4mm thick ones are strong enough. This item can be found usually at hardware stores.
- The most important tool is a sewing machine. You could technically do without it but it will take a lot of time and patience. Actually.... there is around 20 meters of sewing so you better get your hands on a sewing machine!
- Sewing pins
- matches or a lighter
- pencil or marker
- straight edge like a long spirit level
- Tape measure
Step 2: The Edges
The length of the fabric has to be exactly 3 meters and 28 cm. Do not ask why - it just has to be. Add extra 5 cm to both ends.Fabrics usually come in widths of 1.5 meters and that is perfect. So use your tape measure, straight edge, pen and scissors to mark out and cut 3.38 m long piece. Do not throw away the offcut!
The sewing order is somewhat important to get a nice looking result. It goes like this. Firs one flip (and sewing) on the ends, then double flip on the sides and then again one single flip on the ends. Using this method minimises the loose strands.
I am not really sure of the sewing terminology. After all, I am a woodworker. I hope you still understand me.
By double flip on the sides, I mean folding the edge over itself twice so that the raw edge is completely hidden. It is really important to use sewing pins to avoid "accidents" during sewing. I found that pinning on a soft surface is the easiest. I used an old sofa.
The second flip on the ends is the last one. It creates a little "loop" through which the string will go in a minute. It is shown in the last picture. I sewed it two times as it will have to take all the body weight (the middle line is from the first flip). I also added comments to the photos.
Step 3: Rings and Tension String (ridgeline)
Get the rope trough the loops on the ends and tie it and two rings together using a regular knot. Try to make the rope as short as possible.
Next up come the rope between two pairs of rings. This is called tension string. I explained its use in tools and materials step. The length of this rope has to be exactly 2.8 meters long. Once again, do not ask why. Any knot that is strong enough can be used. I used Figure 8 Follow-Through Knot. You can learn how to do it from this video . It might take several tries to get the length exactly right.
If you already have a hammock (that does not have ridgeline) and want to add one then the length of the line has to be around 85% of total hammock length. Bear in mind that some hammocks are designed to be cocoons. In that case adding a ridgeline would not make much sense.
Use matches or lighter to seal the ends to prevent them from coming loose.
Step 4: The Bands, Sock and Pocket
The last thing to do is to cut the band to two 4 meter pieces. Seal all ends with flame and on one end make a loop. You are done! Now the hammock can be used.
Of course to make it a real camping hammock it has to be easily transportable. To make it really travel-friendly I took an offcut of the fabric and sewed together a sock. I ran out of the nice rope so I had to use my sister´s old skipping rope. I used it to make a sealing system that keeps the sock closed. I also attached the sock to one of the rings so that it would never get lost.
Last but not least I made a small pocket that I attached to the hammock. As I am a man with long hair I use this pocket to hold my hair bands during the night. But it can, of course, hold anything else like a phone (my previous hammock could even hold my kindle!)
Step 5: Start Camping!
Now all that is left to do is to set it up. Once you get the hang of it, it only takes a couple of minutes.
Start by attaching the bands to the trees. I usually put them at a height of around 180 cm (or my eyesight). Attach one end of the hammock as shown in the pictures. You have to also tie a knot otherwise it will slip. Make the knot so that by pulling the free end it comes loose. It is really helpful when the knot has tightened under pressure.
As you can see the sock hangs nicely and never gets lost.
Once again - please to not use a regular rope as it will damage the trees. Use band of 2cm or wider.
Packing it up goes fast as well. I have found that rolling the bands into circles, putting them on the bottom of the sock and then stuffing rest of the hammock in works the best.
Step 6: The End!
I am really happy with how this turned out.
I hope that you have enjoyed this ´ible and now know that there are other alternatives to tents. Of course for it to be comparable to a tent you will also need a rain cover and a mosquito net. I might do a ´ible someday on how to make these.