My Switchback is currently en route to 2Q & ZQ for some netting repairs (I sat on the net when returning from a late night nature call, then tried to lay down ). There are a few other mods I had in mind that she's going to be working on for me, but one thing that's been circling my brain is a way to improve the internal ridgeline as well as spreader bar attachment options. That, along w/ a proir mod to my Skeeter Beeter, have resulted in this idea for a pass through taut ridgeline instead of the internally tied off one.

It would:
  • Allow for heavier objects to be hung from the ridgeline, such as a RL organizer or small electric lantern.
  • Let the netting to shift horizontally along the ridgeline without bearing any of the pulling forces keeping it aloft.
  • Still allow the netting to be rolled up & tied off, with the ridgeline still accessible once rolled up.
  • Eliminate the need for proper spreader bars or smooth sticks of a more precise length in order to use the spreader loops.
  • Weigh less than the current shock cord & guy line setup. (admittedly it's just a few grams).
  • Still allow for SB/rip waverly netless mod

I haven't commenced work on this, but I'm planning to (while enlisting ZQ's expertise if/where needed). Any feedback, warnings, alternative ideas, etc would be very much welcomed.

This is based on the SRL mod I performed on my Skeeter Beeter. Here are two pics for reference:

This is basically a pass through structural ridgeline, which is just a 1.75mm zing-it whoopie. You can see I added tabs of grosgrain to the end of netting, sewn onto the hem of the channel, which I melted small holes through to allow the RL to pass through. The netting isn't attached to the RL beyond this, and can be tugged in either direction without damage. This works great since the Skeeter has a more traditional 30 degree hang angle, which keeps the RL well above me. The SB hangs closer to 20, so a RL passing through near the channel ends would put it too low. Dale has solved that by including a ridgeline that is attached internally to the netting, which when rigged is a comfortable height above you (pic from spaceweaseal):

With the Switchback in mind, a pass through non-structural taut ridgeline would be a pretty nice upgrade. Using the top SkBt pic as a reference, the channel end of the SB would be below the taut RL, and the RL itself would extend to the tree and hook a MSH or tree hugger.

Here are my thoughts on why this mod would offer the above mentioned improvements:

On the stock setup, I'm not totally comfortable with how taut I need to tie it to prevent sag when using a RL org, lantern, handing my knife etc. and the grosgrain loops do not play nice w/ non straight, non smooth bars (e.g. sticks). Any weight on the line has to be taken into consideration, and getting into and out of the hammock exacerbates this. With this mod since the ridgeline is now held taut by the attachment at the hammock suspension (i.e. MSH) and not the shockcord tieouts on the net, there is no sag regardless of how much I hook to it (inside or outside of the hammock), how much weight is in the hammock (pulling down), or what type of spreader bar is used. Most importantly, this can be done while reducing the chance of damaging the netting through use.

The pass through could be at the same point where the stock ridgeline is attached to the grosgrain strip. The entire stock cordage could be removed and be replaced w/ lighter cordage. At the attachment point a small hole could be melted. You can see in my Skeeter photo there's a tiny gap between the RL and grosgrain tab; this could be solved using a small rubber patch sewn on or slipped into a grosgrain patch stiched on three sides. The rubber would have a slit or punch hole in it and act as a gate. This would allow a RL to pass through, while offering true bug-sealing capabilities.

The replacement RL would actually be 3 pieces - a middle section w/ two fixed loops on the end made to match distance between exit points in bug netting, and two end sections which would just be whoopie slings. Fixed loop of each WS would be larks headed to the middle section inside the netting. Girth of the knot would act as a stopper against the rubber gate to allow for some tension when pulling the netting out, but under any sudden/excessive load these would just slip through the slit and the netting wouldn't be pulled along.

As a side note to the rubber gate idea, the stock tie outs give you the option of securing the netting at the tree/hammock suspension, or if using a tarp you can tie to the tarp pullout on the RL as well. I think the pressure points provided by the larks head knot & rubber gate gives the same option while alleviating any bunching of the netting in the middle that would occur when the tie outs are above the netting (at the tarp tieout) as opposed to inline with it when tied to the suspension. Stated differently, this would enforce more of a trapezoid shape in the RL instead of an arc. I have some lingering doubts about this, and testing would need to be done, but think the theory is sound.

The increased options re: the spreader bars is the other main benefit of this mod. Now any type of spreader bar or misshapen stick could be laid across the ridgeline without causing more/additional sag. The grosgain tabs currently there for smooth bars could be replaced w/ small shockcord loops w/ cord locks or nacrabiners to hold a variety of curved, bent, or roughly textured bark stick in a variety of diameters that could not be easily slid through the grosgrain loops. And the grosgrain strips that run from zipper to zipper acts as a barrier to prevent snagging the net on any rough bark on the stick. Plus, if you have a knife handy cleaning up a stick for this purpose and adding notches to assist with positioning is a breeze.

Here's a pic from Acer which demonstrates how I'd attach sticks or bars to the adjustable shockcord loops replacing the stock grosgrain loops:

One more side thought on the zipper-to-zipper grosgrain strips.. If this were adopted as a design change instead of a mod, I'm not sure what role or functions the zipper-to-zipper grosgrain strips would serve. Since the net tieouts are no longer supporting the ridgeline or acting in a damage limitation role, a shorter length strip could be useful to secure whatever kind of loop is deemed best for spreader bars. As a mod though, it doesn't make sense to try to remove the stock strips of course.