I've been exploring a few ideas, and hopefully, I'll have a hang-able example of them in a few days. It's held together with twine and pins for sizing, so it could only hold a mannequine. Just gotta get the suspension connections sewed on and I should be in business.
1) Large cutouts at the shoulders so the arms exit the center of the hammock, and sit in their own "sleeves" --shoulder squeeze is solved, and much shorter spreader bars can be used (if even needed). A cool byproduct of this setup is that the arms are far more mobile than if they were confined by tensioned fabric, so reachable stowage on the outside
of the hammock is now a possibility in addition to the ridgeline. So is stretching
2) The hammock floor is made of segments of different widths, which combine to make a custom-contoured sleep surface resembling that of a flattened-out recliner chair. No need for a pillow, no more knee hyperextension. Gaps are left where support is not necessary, which both reduces weight (and volume) and makes the interior much more breathable. They will be closed with mesh when I do the bug net after this first phase. The hammock pictured crumples up to the size of a soda can (sans suspension, tarp, insulation, and netting
3) Each leg sits in its own pocket, to elminate knee and thigh sqeeze. The two pockets are supported in the middle by fabric panels attaching to the ridgeline. Elevation of the feet will be adjustable for either comfort or reduction of swelling after a long hike.
4) The entry/exit is a vertical opening between the fabric panels separating the legs. Much like the Hennessey velcro opening, only more vertical, and held closed by tension alone. Pull legs up out of pockets, push through the opening (now untensioned since legs are no longer hanging), and roll forward into a standing position.
5) As a bonus of lying so far below the suspension lines, the top-view profile of the hammock is nearly identical to a gathered-end style, so narrow diamond-shaped rainflies can probably be used. The sides/end of the foot pockets may end up needing to be a waterproof fabric, since they hang low enough that splash, blow-by may be more of an issue, but the rest is very narrow/compact.
If my luck is any good, I'll find that at least one of these ideas is worth applying to my gear going forward.
If I can get the hammock off the ground (
) in the next few weeks, I'll turn my focus to "Phase 2" and get to work designing the bug/weather shielding. Insulation will of course have to be a completely new design, but I'm gonna try for a button-on modular setup that will allow for different quilts, windbreaks, and bug-nets to be attached as the season requires. The blankets would go around the legs/arms so they do not become "thermally isolated" like fingers in a glove.