The hammock occupant uses only a specific amount of space. If you can optimize the comfort of that 2' by 6' sweet spot, the rest of the hammock is unnecessary. On larger hammocks, the unoccupied fabric is necessary to comfortably suspend the occupant in the sweet spot.
That optimizing has been done with hammock chairs. They use only the necessary fabric with the rest of the comfort in the suspension. Figure out how to do that with sleeping hammocks.
The hammock chair is suspended from above. Could the sides of a narrow fabric rectangle be suspended on taut parallel ropes from each side of wide trees. Use two spreader bars like a bridge hammock to reduce the shoulder squeeze.
Second design: Turn the occupant perpendicular to the suspension, like laying in a 90" wide home hammock. Keep six or seven feet of that width, but shorten the length of the hammock fabric to 30". It would look like a bridge hammock with the spreader bars at 90* to the suspension. Substitute three or four cords for the spreader bars. Instead of shoulder squeeze, there would be head and foot squeeze.
Someday, there will be flexible plastic sheets (like kids' snow sleds) with specific flex characteristics for hammock bodies. Then we will go back to using open cell foam insulation just like backpackers in the 1960s.
For adventure racing, investigate sleeping in identical small hammocks of different fabric strengths to determine which one is comfortable. Note that when HH furnished beta model Adv. Racer hammocks to some racing testers (overseas where liabililty is less), the hammocks were only guaranteed for the length of the race. See if you can sleep safely in one yard of thru-hiker.com M90 or M50 for a couple of nights, expecting to make a new one for the next race. May as well try cuben fabric too.
Last edited by heyyou; 09-16-2012 at 15:15. Reason: had a second thought, that doesn't happen very often
I think I may have mislead folks with my reference to a hammock chair. The style I was talking about isn't the type that uses two bars to suspend the seat from, but the DIY type that is really just a miniature gathered-end hammock, also known as a gear hammock. I find these things are greats for trailside rests and naps.
Your idea of using ropes around wide trees is intriguing, but I'm not sure that I'd want to develop a system that relied on having two wide trees available. What would you do if there was only one wide tree or your camp area was a stand of younger trees? Still, I think there is something there worth mulling.