To my fellow newbies
I see many questions about the basics from people just getting started even though the info is already here in the forums (I'm guilty of this as well). I know it's not a lack of looking, and the info isn't hard to find, I think it's not knowing what you should be asking about. After I realized what info I was looking for, it was easy to find more than adequate answers to all my questions. All of this info is already found elsewhere, I'm just trying to list it in one spot so beginners have some idea where to start and get pointed to the best info. As many people say, the shug videos are a great starting point. He'll give you an overview of every main component and several different styles of set up, so look for them first, they should be required viewing!
Grizz's videos are helpful too
Also, I found this video http://warbonnetoutdoors.com/setup.php helpful with some good explanations and tips. It's more of a how to for a particular hammock but still might help get your head wrapped around what the basics are. Next, Just Jeff's page has a lot of great info and how-to instructions. http://www.tothewoods.net/JeffsHikingPage.html
And of course there is the Ed Speer Hammock Camping Book http://stores.tttrailgear.com/-strse...ook/Detail.bok
Here are some very basic points (anyone with more knowledge than me please feel free to correct me or expand on any of this).
First, you have your hammock -
The most popular seem to be Hennesy Hammocks (HH), Warbonnet Blackbird, Homemade (easier than you might think), Speer, Eagles Nest Outfitter (ENO). Check the different brand sections of this forum for details on each specific hammock. You'll hear about the asymmetrical lay. This means you lay in a diagonal in the hammock instead of laying straight down the middle. This flattens out your sleeping position and once you find that sweet spot you'll be surprised how cozy it is! Some hammocks are made to have more room in the foot area (footbox) to help you get a nice flat lay.
Then there's the suspension -
This is what connects the ends of your hammock to the trees. You'll hear about tree straps, webbing, rings, cinch buckles, whoopie slings, toggles, marlins spike hitch, carabiners, and ridgelines. There are many different ways to do this and no one way seems to be better than the others. Some methods are fastest, some lightest, some require no knots, some are all in one solutions, but mostly people like to fiddle and experiment. Basically, you have a strap (instead of rope, as not to damage the bark) that goes around the tree and attaches to an adjustable rope or hardware, which attaches to your hammock. This is also where you're going to hear a lot about ropes. Amsteel Blue in particular. It is a hollow core rope that is very strong but lightweight. It doesn't hold knots well, so it is spliced instead. This has many advantages and is how a Whoopie Sling is made. There are many tutorials in the suspension forum, but I've found I needed this link about splicing a McDonald Brummel (a fixed eye when one end is already used) a couple of times http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...tml#post230949 . I found that 18 ga galvanized wire doubled over, makes a great needle or substitute for a fid. I put a little loop at the end to help me hold on to it when pulling through, it also keeps the rope from sliding off. See attached picture. Also, Nylon stretches, so avoid using it in weight bearing sections of your suspension. A ridgeline helps your hammock hang with your preferred amount of sag, regardless of the angle or distance between the trees. They aren't necessary but can help you get a consistent hang and give a handy place to hang other gear from. They can also make hanging your hammock even faster by providing a visual reference, simply adjust the suspension until the ridgeline is level.
Next there is the matter of staying warm -
In a hammock the wind can move under you and it can get cold quick. If you just use a sleeping bag in a hammock, you compress all the fibers it's stuffed with and lose most of it's insulating properties. That is why you'll need a sleeping pad or underquilt. An underquilt is really just half a sleeping bag that is cinched up under the outside of the hammock, as to aviod having it's filling crushed. A topquilt is basically the top half and you use it like a blanket. A peapod is a kind of bag that completely surrounds the hammock, like a cocoon (harder to get a flat lay due to the limited room to move around). If you use pads, I've found the blue walmart closed cell foam (CCF) pad to be very difficult to move around on once you're on top of it. A slicker bag for it to go into or a double layer hammock that has a space to insert a pad would probably help. Also most pads aren't usually wide enough and your shoulders and upper arms will get cold. Some people use a Segmented Pad Extender (SPE) to hold extra, smaller pads in these trouble spots.
Then you've got to protect yourself from the elements -
This means a tarp to keep rain and wind off. Some are little more than a rain fly, while some are complete enclosures with doors for bad/cold weather. They can be more expensive than the hammock in many cases. What ever you use, you want to make sure that the ends of your hammock are covered so rain doesn't run down into the hammock. Also, you'll want to have some kind of drip line attached to your suspension. Anything that breaks the water's line of travel and causes it to drip or run off instead of running down your hammock. You might need a bugnet, and some hammocks have them built in. Some are big tubes that hang completely around your hammock and help keep bugs from biting through the underside of the hammock.
I hope this gives anyone new to hammocks a starting point so you at least know what to look for. I spent hours (very enjoyable hours) looking through all of the different sections of this forum and watching youtube videos, and realized that many of the questions I asked people were already answered. But I didn't know the nomenclature and didn't understand how many of these things compared to each other. All the lingo and options can be a bit confusing at first, especially when some of the discussions are 40 pages deep. A whoopie what? And how is that better/different from a dutch trucker's garda spike hitch with an auxiliary flux capacitor? Maybe this brief overview that I've culled from many posts will help. Once you get it, it really is a simple, easy thing that can be very affordable or very expensive. Either way is comfortable and fun. A bad hammock still beats the hell out of the best ground system, IMHO. Maybe some of the hammock gurus can add to/correct any of this info or give more detailed definitions.
Edit - I forgot to link to this page, a good resource for whoopie slings & other gear but also has a great graphic that illustrates a typical hammock hang. http://www.whoopieslings.com/ This picture is also posted in the articles section of this forum.