This instructable shows the major steps in making a hammock tent with a waterproof tarp. All the materials are readily available online or in any large or small town fabric store and even some big box retail stores that have fabric sections in them. The fabric is ripstop nylon off the shelf. I was lucky (and persistent) enough to find camo ripstop for 1$ a yard for a remnant. The ripstop itself is not waterproof and for the hammock I would recommend NOT waterproofing it so it can breathe. Other wise you will wake up in a puddle of your own sweat. I used 100% poly thread and only in a few situations did I deem it necessary to use heavy duty thread. Your sewing machine should be set to a fairly long stitch length. I also recommend backstitching every foot just a tad in case the tread breaks at some point in the future. This will not allow the entire stitch run to become undone.
I did not include detailed instructions on sewing or whipping the ends or waterproofing the tarp. There are wonderful instructables by other authors that include these needs in great detail.
I would strongly recommend using elastic shock cord for the side tie outs on the hammock and for four points on the tarp.
NOTE:I used 550 para cord. I have read this is not a good solution for this. I double the cord and I think at 6' @ 170lbs I should be ok. It is strongly recommended to use something much more sturdy like 1000lb tested cord or mule tape which is rated in the thousands of lbs.
As always use extreme caution when constructing anything that will be suspending you or anything that is flammable or vapor horrific.
I based this design very roughly off of several retail designs. My favorite being the Hennessy Hammock Tent. It is one of the most beautiful and elegantly refined products on the market.
I started with a sheet of ripstop nylon 120" long and the standard 60" width. This stuff can be purchased for as little as $1 a yard on sale.
I had to roll the edges so it would not fray. This stuff will fray in to nothing but super fine fibers if the edge is not hemmed. My first attempt was to get after the edges with a lighter to keep it from fraying but I realized that is far from a permanent solution. It began to fray in parts anyway so I rolled the hem.
I then folded it over and sewed the ends about 10 inches essentially forming a large tube that is open in the center.
I then cut a length of 550 para-cord about 12 feet long and doubled it. I tied a double knot in one end and left about a two inch loop. This cord goes inside - loop facing in the hammock - so I can attach a ridge line when needed. This cord is also how I will attach the hammock to the tree straps. The knot keeps the cord and the cloth from pulling through the whipping .
Next step is to gather and whip each end of the hammock. Here is the end of the material I gathered around the para-cord. I held the cord at the top end of the fabric where the seam is. This is in the middle peak of the "W" so the cord is centered. I left the knot about a foot in - (it will be pulled tight against the fabric when I finish the whipping). I used the "W" method for gathering the fabric. I tried several and the "W" seems to leave the least amount of binding of material when laying in the hammock.
Here is the end after whipping. I did ten wraps for added security. I am flipping between the two hammocks to show different stages of construction and because I started taking the photos a little late in the construction process.
here is a photo of the "tube that is open in the center" with my beautiful wife helping me with presentation. If you wanted a simple hammock this would be the end of the construction process for the hammock itself. I plan on making some customizations to this camo camping hammock. I have included a bottom entry on this -(details on that coming up)- for when I have the tarp draped over. It has a removable ridge line for when I just want to use it open faced with no tarp or mosquito net or when the weather is beautiful. Since the ridge line is removable I can change the length of it if I desire.
This is the completed prototype of my DIY asymmetrical camping hammock with the mosquito netting sewn in. This was the most difficult part for me. I ended up setting the hammock up with ridge line in place and draping several yards of mosquito netting over it. I then used a marker to roughly trace the opening on the netting. I then laid it out and used a straight edge to straighten the lines as much as possible. Then I sewed the netting to the inside edge of the opening all the way around. I used two lines of sewing for strength. You do not need to roll the edges because the netting does not fray. It still turned out a little wonky but it works pretty well.
here is a detail of the tie outs on the side. These are 1" poly webbing. I sandwiched the ripstop and netting between two pieces of webbing - inside the hammock and out. The piece on the outside is about two inches longer. I lined the ends up and sewed them with heavy duty upholstery thread in a "boxed X". This left the outside piece longer so I can use a carabiner and elastic shock cord for the tie outs on the sides. The tie outs are about 26" inches from the center of the raw 120" material in opposing directions. This gives the hammock its asymmetrical design and allows the occupant to place their shoulders in one nook and their feet in the opposing nook on the other side allowing the occupant lay diagonally inside the hammock. This creates a situation that allows the occupant to lay flat or on their side instead of partially folded in half as with standard hammocks.
here is the bottom entrance. I cut a slit one third the length of the hammock on the bottom and rolled the edges. Then I sewed velcro to either side - I sewed the soft (loop) side to the bottom because it can be a little uncomfortable getting in and out with the hook side facing up. The end of the slit (towards the center of the hammock) is folded over and reinforced with the webbing. This forces the hammock to close when pressure is applied (when you lay down and put your feet up). The other end of (toward the whipping) I reinforced with another piece of webbing. This I found was not needed. It ends up being pulled together when the end is whipped. This would also allow a little more room for entering.
This is the tarp for this hammock tent. It is basically a rectangle who's opposing corners are used as a centerline. It is ripstop that I draped over the hammock and roughly cut to match the side tie outs on the hammock - changing the shape just slightly from a right rectangle. I then rolled the hems to keep from fraying. I also added little triangles of the same ripstop at opposite direction (so the "ripstop fibers" are at a 45 degree angle) at each of the corners for reinforcement. Then I added little loops of the webbing and used the classic "boxed X" to sew it to the tarp. It still turned out a little wonky - the tie out points do not perfectly line up so I will have to use separate cords and stakes for the tarp. If you line it up properly you can use the same stakes used for the hammock.
After that I coated the entire thing with a DIY waterproofing solution of 1 tube of 100% silicon caulk mixed with a large can of mineral spirits. I then dunked and ringed several times to coat it entirely. I actually waited until it was almost dry and then repeated the entire process to make sure this thing was fully coated. DIY SILNYLON!!! There are detailed instructables on many versions of how to do this DIY waterproofing solution by a few different super handy authors...
Be careful when doing this. It smells nasty and I am positive the vapors and the solution are bio-cide.
This is a tree strap I made out of 1" poly webbing about 6 feet long. These go around the tree instead of the cord to preserve the tree bark and the cord. The strap goes around the tree and the cord lashes through the loops on the webbing. I sewed a loop on each end of the webbing using the "boxed X". For this I used heavy duty upholstery thread.
here is a little added detail I liked on the retail versions. It is a little sheath I made to cover the whipping. I purposely made it too small so it would be VERY snug around the whipping and not slide off. It is basically a tube that narrows at one end to just the width of the cord.
here is one of the main reasons I fell for these. This is the hammock and tarp. I could get it smaller by rolling it tighter or using a compression bag. It is super light, does not require poles and packs super small. It is also one of the most comfortable sleeping arrangements I have enjoyed while camping. The retail versions are quite secure and resistant in foul weather and I do not see any reason this would perform any differently. This can also be used as a bivvy if no trees are around by suspending the head via bicycle or backpack or walking stick.