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Monday, May 26, 2014

My (Mostly) DIY Hammock Camp

Dave and I recently upgraded our tent to a Tarptent.  It's super light (3.43 lbs, including ground cloth), but it's tiny - a tight squeeze for the two of us.  It's adequate for shelter, but in terms of comfort, it's no Chateau Dayan.

Enter the hammock.

The hammock was my bed in my closet-sized room in the lake house.  I thought it would make a comfortable, lightweight alternative to a tent (as long as I camp below treeline!)...  of course, after I made a few modifications.

The Hammock


Grand Trunk Ultralight.  Still not sure where I got it - K & T won't take responsibility - must have been the hammock fairy?

The hammock itself was the only part of this kit that was not DIY'ed.

The Suspension

The hammock came with some heavy paracord and heavy "S" rings.  The paracord munches through tree bark, and the system was a PITA to adjust.  First it's too loose, then it's too tight, then it's not centered - bah humbug!!

I replaced that bunk with a ridgeline (that's the rope connecting each corner of the hammock) to hold the amount of "sag" in the hammock steady.  The ends of the hammock are connected to whoopie slings (whoopie!), which are adjustable, spliced loops of rope.  And the whoopie slings attach to tree slings, which are straps of 1'' webbing to protect the tree.


In this photo, you can also see my little ridgeline organizer, where I store my glasses, ear plugs, and headlamp.

Together, the hammock and suspension weighs 1.13 lbs.

The Shelter

I'm the type of person that needs to sleep under a cover 12 months of the year.  I like having hidey-holes and being tucked out of sight.  I was willing to have a bigger (read: heavier) tarp, if it meant I had a retreat!

my diy tarp!  right door unstaked
My DIY tarp has two doors that can be staked inward or outward for privacy, warmth, and additional weather protection.  

It's made out of light-weight silicone impregnated nylon with a ridgeline made of "Lash It" (which does not stretch).  The guylines are attached to some shock cord, so when the nylon stretches overnight, I'll maintain a tight pitch.

Weighing in at 1.80 lbs, plus 0.23 lbs for stakes, this isn't the lightest tarp.  But I made it, and I love it!  

On trips when Davo and I expect bad weather, we're packing this in addition to the TarpTent, so we have plenty of space for gear, cooking, sitting, etc.

The Insulation 

One downside to hammock camping is that the air passing underneath your hammock removes heat from your body via convection.  Sleeping in an un-insulated hammock in temps below 70ish is chilly.


For a while, I was sleeping on top of my ThermaRest, but at 1.50 lbs, I wanted something lighter.  This closed-cell foam pad is 0.68 lbs and cost $8 - much better.

To keep the pad from sliding around in the night, I sewed two pockets into the hammock.  I also painted circles of 100% grippy silicone caulk onto the hammock fabric.  Works great!

The Bugnet

My bugnet is a big bag made of No-See-Um mesh that slips over the hammock and has a drawstring at the bottom.  Super simple.  Don't even have a photo of it.  Weighs 0.28 lbs.


Ironically, the weight of the tarp, hammock, bugnet, and stakes is 3.43 lbs - exactly the same as the TarpTent!  For the same weight, though, I get a TON more space, WAY more comfort, MUCH more versatility in camping locations, and the pleasure of having made my own gear, customized for me, at a fraction of the cost of buying it from a store.

Happy hanging!

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