Newbie Hammock Suspension Question
May 23, 2020 at 11:23 am #3648811
Howdy all…I’ve been enjoying reading and lounging in the trees in my Costco hammock so much on day hikes lately that I think I’m going to give backpacking with a hammock a try. My local overnights are very often in highly wooded canyons with streams…a hammock would open up a TON of cool campsites. Tonight I’ll go out with my Costco model just to see if I like sleeping in one overnight, but I’m also ordering fabric to build something lighter.
Looking at at simple no net designs right now, likely terminating the hammock in 1-2″ tubes and tying Amsteel loops. From there I’ll use a slider buckle or descender rings and webbing.
Instead of sewing tubes, I notice a lot of people seem to be using a lark’s head (I’ve always known it as a girth hitch in climbing…anyway.) to connect their Amsteel loop to the fabric…
What’s inside the fabric? Is it knotted? Gathered? I notice a large mass in the fabric that the lark’s head is grabbing….
I’ve been watching Shug but I can’t seem to find this little bit of info…
Anyhow, this strikes me as stronger and simpler than running through a sewn tube…
Thanks!!!May 23, 2020 at 11:34 am #3648813Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
A lot of them have a draw cord to gather the ends of the fabric. Plenty of meat there to attachMay 23, 2020 at 11:39 am #3648814
Got it…Thanks Ken!
Sounds like sewing a tube would allow me a few different attachment point options then.May 23, 2020 at 11:42 am #3648815Greg PehrsonBPL Member
@gregpehrsonLocale: playa del caballo blanco
I used this tutorial (from Derek Hanson), running a zip tie through the hem, which created a ball of fabric at the ends that I larks headed the non-adjustable end of a whoopie sling around, but an Amstel loop would attach the same way. This was my entry into hammock camping and worked great.May 23, 2020 at 11:44 am #3648816
This is a fun new gear/DIY rabbit hole…May 23, 2020 at 12:03 pm #3648819Slack PackhikerBPL Member
click on Changing Out Suspension
premade hammocks are on sale right now, for 2 days.May 23, 2020 at 1:12 pm #3648829
I use the method Greg mentioned except I use a continuous loop to connect to my suspension rather than a whoopie.
Regarding suspension, I’m really liking the Becket Hitch discussed here. No hardware, easy to tie/adjust. No minimum length like a whoopie.May 23, 2020 at 1:13 pm #3648830
Welcome to the land of comfort! The original Speer hammocks (Ed Speer was one of the first to thru hike the AT sleeping mostly in his hammock and wrote one of the first books about backpacking with a hammock) simply had a knot of fabric at each end and then the strap cinched around that. The advantage of that design was that you weren’t creating stress points (i.e. weaknesses) with each stitch to make your channel. With that said, the hammocks I’ve slept in for years now have the channel with Amsteel loop running through it (or a couple of mine use the whoopie sling directly through the channel).
There are lots of options for your suspension and you’ll likely quickly switch from a slider buckle or descender rings on a long piece of webbing to tree straps and whoopie slings. I hike mostly in Pennsylvania and carry the following:
- 1 6-foot tree strap with a loop at one end and a toggle for a marlin spike hitch
- 1 8-foot tree strap with a loop at one end and a toggle for a marlin spike hitch
- 2 6-foot whoopie slings made from Amsteel connected to my hammock
I’ve found having the 8-foot strap allows me more flexibility with my hang spots than carrying 2 6-footers gave me.
Lastly, read a little bit about structural ridge lines. It’s a fixed length piece of Zing-it or other lightweight rope that guarantees that your hammock lays the same way each time you hang it. It eliminates a lot of the fiddle factor when putting up your hammock.May 23, 2020 at 1:35 pm #3648833
Thanks for all the tips….good reading and links.
Yes, from what I’ve gathered the fiddle-factor in getting consistency from hang to hang is really decreased with the ridgeline…I’ll add one to the Costco tarp to play around.
I’ve slept on a lot of boats in my life; the subtle swaying of the hammock reminds me of that…I tend to want to fall asleep pretty quickly in them, we’ll see how a full night goes.
I can’t imagine myself going 100% hammock…But as I said, for the local mountains, where 80% of my backpacking takes place, eliminating the need for level ground, space, etc. could be a game changer.May 23, 2020 at 1:51 pm #3648835
While I’m picking brains here…
I keep using the Costco hammock I have (Chillax double) as a reference point because it’s all I know in regards to comfort…
The fabric is 9′ x 6′.
It is my understanding that length gives more ability to lay flat, not so much the width. I’m noticing that the Blackbrid XLC, which seems to be popular, is 11’x 62″ with a 112″ ridgeline…two feet longer and almost a foot less wide in the body.
I was going to sew something 11′ long and max width for a single panel…so likely ~58″ after hems.
So I’m guessing I won’t be able to get as flat on the Costco hammock as I otherwise would on something longer?
Correct me if I’m off here, please…May 23, 2020 at 2:41 pm #3648844
You’re correct – I’m 6-feet tall (although the doctors keep trying to tell me that I’m now 5’11”) and I’m able to get a much flatter lay in an 11-foot hammock than in a 9-foot model. The width is indeed less important. 58″ after your hems will be plenty comfortable and you’ll be able to get a nice diagonal lay and be as flat as you’d like.
You haven’t mentioned insulation. An underquilt is, IME, much more comfortable and warmer than trying to use a pad in the hammock. I’ve also found that, in cold weather, the warmth of the underquilt is more important to my comfort than the warmth of my top quilt.May 23, 2020 at 3:03 pm #3648846
100% yes the UQ is key to really being comfortable. I find a 3/4 length one is more than adequate. I never feel the need to put a or under my feet, down to around freezing.
Craig, there are a lot of advantages if you are comfortable sleeping in a hammock but it’s not a great solution in low desert or up high above treeline. It’s a really nice option to have on the right trip.May 23, 2020 at 3:34 pm #3648848
Yes, I don’t foresee it being my all-around go-to. But if I can sew a nice simple setup myself, for 3 season local use I think it could be great. I can envision MANY places that I regularly camp where it would have real advantages.
As for insulation, bug protection, etc., here’s my plan:
1. Sew a very simple no-net hammock. Try it out for a bit, see if it’s for me, play with suspension systems, etc. I can do this for around $45 including suspension hardware. If I need bug protection, I’ll improvise with my Sea to Summit nano pyramid and just clip it to my ridgeline/tuck it under me. Good enough for now. (I’m leaving for an overnight in an hour and this is the plan for tonight).
2. If I like it, I’ll likely sew a bottom entry net like Dutch’s. Again, going cheap and simple/functional. Out of .5 noseeum it would like be under 5oz, which is fine. I like the idea of keeping things modular and being able to ditch the net; I don’t need it for 75% of the year where I plan on hammock camping.
3. I’ll use a full length Thermarest Prolite for insulation for now. I’m not that stressed about this or getting an underquilt becasue in truly cold temps, I’ll just go to my typical ground system. I don’t really see myself hammock camping anywhere below freezing or even 40…with what I do, that’s typically going to be mid/tarp/tent country anyway.
Gotta be honest, for real cold temps and/or rough weather, hammocks begin to look insanely fidgety and complicated to me vs a ground shelter, pad, and bag.May 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm #3648851Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Sweet dreams. My first night hanging I slept 14 hours straight.May 23, 2020 at 5:04 pm #3648857rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
Happy to let you borrow my Dutch chameleon hammock to use on a couple of trips, just pay shipping both ways.May 23, 2020 at 6:08 pm #3648866
The problem with a pad is it isn’t wide enough to wrap around you and it is really hard for most people to stay on top of. Try it out and if it works for you then great!
a narrow thin pad like a GG Thinlight going side to side under your torso/shoulders might be helpful.
If the pad doesn’t work you can DIY something with APEX insulation pretty easily.May 23, 2020 at 6:11 pm #3648867Iago VazquezBPL Member
@iagoLocale: Boston & Galicia, Spain
On a 10′ hammock the recommend Ridgeline is 101″. I’m 5’9″ and I had a bit of calf ridge. I tried 11′ with minimal improvement. Hard to eliminate completely. Until I started playing with reducing the ridgeline to about 92″ on my 10′ hammock. Much happier now. Still playing with it… Guidance is good, but don’t take it as law…
Good luck. Hammock sleeping is awesome!May 23, 2020 at 7:50 pm #3648875
Craig – If you’re set on using a pad please PM me your address and I’ll send you a genuine “Speer Segmented Pad Extender” – basically it’s a sleeve that holds your pad and has slips for some 1/4″ foam insulation that extends the width of your pad by 4″ for your shoulders and hips.
As Matt said, it’s the biggest weakness of using a pad (versus an underquilt) for insulation under you. I’m happy to give the SPE away – just give me your address.May 24, 2020 at 5:02 am #3648910Ryan “Rudy” OuryBPL Member
@ohdogg79Locale: Central FL - Ocala NF
I’ll just throw in a “second” on Beckett hitch/straps as the go to suspension. Very easy knot to tie, won’t slip as long as it lays across the continuous loop (rather than on itself), more length range than whoopie slings, lightest per foot option, no hardware needed, etc.
also, started on a Z-lite pad but quickly shifted to a underquilt for two reasons… as mentioned, it’s tough to stay ON them, but more so for me, it made my back sweaty since they don’t breath at all.May 24, 2020 at 7:06 am #3648918
Oh yeah. I forgot about the sweaty back. I started with a Hennessy reflectix pad, very sweaty.May 24, 2020 at 6:37 pm #3649018
Thanks again for all the advice and help here! And thanks for the offers Doug and Kevin, I appreciate it. I’ll let you know if I choose to stay with a pad Kevin, thanks!
So here’s where I slept last night:
I really liked being able to sleep down on the stream. I’ll have a “trip report” forthcoming but will talk hammock experiences here…
First off, SUPER comfortable. I have an old knee and shoulder injury that typically stiffen and wake me up in the morning when I’m sleeping on the ground…This didn’t happen! Woke up feeling perfectly fine! I tossed a little in the night…this hammock is too short for me and was likely too bowed…but it was still a great night’s sleep, better than on a ground pad.
Yes, the pad is a little tricky to keep under you, but I managed. I can certainly feel the cold spots though. Last night it was actually very comfortable, but I can see where in colder weather you’d definitely need something with better coverage.
That’s not a “structural” ridgeline, just a line for hanging my headlamp. The hang could’ve been better, I think I needed more sag, but I was committed to the spot and had to get things high enough not to rub the dirt bank on the right.
All told, I’m sold for now! I’m going to keep trying it when appropriate and build a system.
I have a 4 yards of 1.9 ripstop, 25′ Amsteel, a pair of buckles, and 25′ of 1″ webbing in the mail from RBTR right now. Going to sew the 11 footer. $37…not bad!
Next time out I’m going to swap the pad for a Costco down throw rigged in some yet-to-be determined way as an underquilt and see how that feels.
I’m getting the impression that you hammock users are eager to share the message!
Thanks again for the help and advice.May 24, 2020 at 7:42 pm #3649026
Nice spot – where only a hammock could go. One other thing – you really want to try to make sure your hammock is level. Otherwise it becomes much “shorter” because your center mass will gravitate to the lowest point.May 25, 2020 at 4:16 am #3649056Ryan “Rudy” OuryBPL Member
@ohdogg79Locale: Central FL - Ocala NF
Sick hang, looks amazing! Def the kind of spot you could only do in a hammock :) Glad it worked out well!
for modifying the Costco down throw to be an underquilt (pending its size and whether you’d need to cut it down at all), all you’d really need to do is sew some small tabs of grosgrain, etc to the four corners to attach a shock cord suspension. Easiest way (but hardest to adjust) then is to just tie a long enough piece between two end tabs and wrap around the end of your hammock. For easier/more adjustment, tie one end to the tab, loop the other end through a carabiner hooked to the end of the hammock, and bring it back to the tab, using a cord lock as a toggle. Do same at each corner.
typical underquilts have a channel running along the side to make even more adjustment, but def not necessary.May 25, 2020 at 6:02 am #3649058
Nice hang. Glad you had a good first night out.May 25, 2020 at 8:00 am #3649065Brad PBPL Member
One other thing – you really want to try to make sure your hammock is level. Otherwise it becomes much “shorter” because your center mass will gravitate to the lowest point.
I rece ntly bought a Warbonett Eldorado, but haven’t had a chance to use it yet. I believe I saw on one of the setup videos that the foot end should be about 6 inches higher than the head end.
I assume this is because you sleep closer to the head end, so the sleep position ends up being even.
Is this the best hang method?
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