Making our own Hammock System

As we started to mull around the idea of doing a thru-hike of the Florida Trail (FT), Sierra and I debated on whether or not to try hammocking for a change.  This of course led us down the rabbit hole: What would we need to hammock? How much does that weigh? How light can we get that to be?  Should we buy it or make it?  Where would we get the materials and patterns?  Are their any tutorials or am I going to have to wing it? etc.  Each question that we answered narrowed down our concept to an actual project.

I had always wanted to try hammocking and this gave me an excuse to go all out.  What we found was that most hammocks are a gathered end type.  That means that they are built using a rectangular piece of fabric and each end is bunched together to form a “Gathered End.”  This end is made of in a variety of ways from zip-ties, a knot, a draw-cord, a continuous loop, etc.  The method we settled for was a combination of using a zip-tie to cinch up the gathered end and then using a continuous loop with a cow-hitch as an attachment point.

Hammock systems vary in construction, yet have most of the same parts that make it up.  First there is the hammock and it needs some sort of line to go from tree to tree.  what holds the hammock in the air is called the “Suspension.”  That’s what keeps it off the ground.  We settled on the “UCR,” Utility Constrictor Rope, with a toggle for weight and minimal length. The most common method of securing your suspension to a tree is with “Tree Straps”.  This strap wraps around the tree and gives you an attachment point to hang from.

Many hammocks require a certain amount of hang for you to be comfortable and this is best done with a “Ridgeline.”   A ridgeline will give you a consistent hang and help distribute your weight a bit more.  A ridgeline goes from one end of your suspension to the other at the ends of your hammock.  The general rule of thumb is your ridgeline should 83% – 86% of your hammock length and your hammock should be about 4 feet longer than you are tall.

These are the main features of your hammock; the ridgeline, suspension, and tree straps.  But what about the weather?  To keep rain off of you, you will need a rain fly or tarp and those can be set up in a variety of ways.  To keep the bugs out most people either suffer or have a bug net that hangs around the hammock.  We have opted for both of these.

What we found was cost wise it was about $50.00 more for us to buy a Dyneema tarp than to make one.  That was a no-brainer for us, since we have never worked with the fabric before, so we bought one for each of us.  Making the hammock was far cheaper and possibly easy compared to buying one.  We could use ultra-light materials and have it perfectly fit for ourselves with minimal effort.  The suspension system, apparently it relied on the same techniques in construction as dogsled lines do.  Since I already make those I am fairly confident I can make our suspension system.  The bug-net looked simple enough to make as well; we could custom fit it to our setups and save quite a bit of money on it too.

What we bought was 5 25ft sections of 7/64 Amsteel cordage, 4 Dutch Clips, $ Titanium Toggles, 4 8ft Spiderweb Straps with a loop, 4 Whoopie hooks, some shock cord, 2 mitten clips, and 2 Asym Dyneema Tarps from Dutchware.com

We then bought 2 50ft 1mm Dyneema cord from Zpacks. com for tarp guy lines.

Lastly we bought 4 yards of 1.9oz Ripstop Silnylon, 4 yards of 1.0oz HyperD Silnylon, 2 DIY Bug-net kits from Ripstopbytheroll.com.

Our projected build will be about a day or two depending on the free time we have.  We should end up with 2 complete hammock systems with: Hammock, UCR Suspension, Tree strap and toggles, bug net, and tarp that weight about 1lbs 3oz for me and 14oz for Sierra.  Making our total weight 2lbs 1oz compared to our Zpacks Duplex Freestanding tent at 2lbs 3oz.

In our post or two I will do step by step walk through of how we put it all together for you.

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