Well I'm typing this with sore shoulders and a sense of accomplishment. This weekend marked my first hiking trip using a hammock. I used a DIY design I found on www.tothewoods.net (love the site BTW). A simple gathered end hammock using 15ft tubular nylon webbing for suspension and 12ft of 100% nylon fabric (I don't think its rip-stop as it doesn't have the typical square pattern imprinted on it). I used 4mm climbing rope on the ends of the hammock for the whipping using the knot described on tothewoods.net. No bug net and a 8x10 poly tarp from Walmart on my way out of town (thanks to Shug for sharing his experience and suggesting the tarp).
We arrived in camp at about 10:30pm thanks to a couple slow pokes in the group. I was so tired after the hike in I was not even going to hang the hammock but rather just set my tent up and crash. But after catching my breathe and deciding I would rather hang in comfort rather than lay on the hard ground after the hike I just endured, I began looking for a couple perfect trees. With a lot of luck I found a couple trees the right distance apart and the right diameter. I used larkshead knots on the inside of the whipping to attach the hammock. And used the improved Speer 4 wrap knot around the tree. I had both ends suspended and decided to have a sit. I noticed the edges of the hammock were too high and made sitting in it uncomfortable, then as I swung my legs into the hammock I felt the foot end of the hammock slide. Upon inspection I found that the whipping had slid a couple inches towards the end of the hammock. The whipping was still tight around the fabric, but apparently the combination of the nylon fabric and the climbing rope didn't make for a secure connection for the webbing to put stress on it. I did a simple overhand knot with hammock fabric with the webbing on the inside of the knot. It held all weekend but I'm not sure if I will be able to undo the knots.
All in all the hammock is the most comfortable way to sleep outside. Even the guy that brought the air mattress was complaining about being sore from sleeping on the ground. The temps on Friday night got down to 42F and I could tell when I wasnt' on the pad I had brought for insulation. Saturday's low was 49F and I woke up with a sweaty patch on the pad from where I'd been sleeping. I can see the appeal of the underquilts now. The bugs were not a problem nor was the weather. I am really glad that I had brought the tarp and hung it on the SW side of me as a wind block, that added to my comfort (thanks again Shug). I also liked being able to unstake the tarp and flip it back to let the afternoon breeze through while I took a little nap.
I have several things that I will be changing on the hammock, the first being the whipping method. I've seen lots of methods out there and need to find one that can handle my 270lbs frame. The next thing I will change is the suspension as I can now see the advantage to having both a structural ridgeline and adjustable suspension to give me more hanging options. Also will be adding a bug net, lighter tarp, and a shelf or bag to get my boots up off the ground. Thanks for reading.