I wanted to post a status update and trip report with my first experiences with hammocking. I have gotten the DIY bug in a serious way. I started by buying a 34 yard roll of 1.1 ACU ripstop from Magna Fabrics and a 100’ piece of Amsteel in 1/8” diameter. I waited for this to come in by reacquainting myself with my thread injectors. I own two -- a black, solid metal Singer, and a Mecchi. The Singer is still locked up from the last time I had tried to use it to make gear, (some sort of load bearing vest) but the Mecchi was good to go, after some adjustments and such.
I took over the dining room table after the fabric came in, and started with a double layer gathered end concept, via Knotty’s video. The first hammock was a good start, and I learned from this one. It was too small, measuring out finished at 7 ½’. My son was also too big for it. We did some test hangs off of a metal hammock frame that was made for the large, spreader yard lounger hammocks. We went to a tree, and did some more practice hangs before deciding to build another one.
The DIY whoopee slings were really fun to make. Being former Navy, I had some familiarity with marlinspike seamanship, as it is put. The Amsteel line is awesome stuff. The videos from Opie on YouTube were very helpful, as well as reading all the forum ideas. Good thing the whoopee slings are so durable, and easy to make! After making two sets, we were ready for Hammock number 2.
I went with 12’ double layer again, this time I cut in on the edges like (link) explains. Also, I threaded the whoopees through the channel, instead of gathering and whipping the ends. And, the big difference, a ridge line. This hammock finished out at 11’. The practice helped me to measure and cut the two layers. I definitely recommend having the big tables like Creative Kayt explains in her videos.
Some of the tools I use: The dining room floor, and a long board for layout, and a trigger-pull soldering iron with a flat tip to “melt-cut” the ripstop. I also use some electric fence wire bent in half to make the whoopee slings, going backwards from the directions.
I experimented with using a zig zag stitch vs. a running stitch. The zig zag works well for the ends, and the running stitch works well on the edges. I did a rolled him on the edges, and after it was finished, ran some light test braided line down the seam to have some tensioning adjustments for the sides. Not sure if this really helps or not.
Anyway, the longer hammock was very comfortable, and it was definitely the way to go. I planned another one and built it in one evening, from start to finish, about four hours. In between, I did some test hanging with a whipped end bed sheet, which helped with the ridgeline concept.
Now, on to the overnight trip:
My son and I decided to walk about a half-mile from our house to the creek area, and establish our campsite far enough away from the house to make it seem like camping for real. It was really hot, which is to say, over 100*. Setting up the hammocks was very easy, and not having to worry about the ground underneath was great. We did have to pull some dead branches from overhead, just a precaution.
As you can see in the picture, the two hammocks are pitched close together, and the foreground hammock seems tighter, which it stretched out some. The night experience was interesting, as we didn’t have the bug nets, but definitely needed protection. We ran out of bug spray, so we put our bed sheets over the ridgeline to make a good bug screen, but lost some ventilation. It was so hot anyway, that we didn’t need much for insulation.
The night progressed well, just many wakeups from the local wildlife, which were deer, coyotes, and a cricket that decided to set up shop right under my ear. The mosquitos would whine on the bottom side of the hammock, which I could hear through the two layers, but no bites. The best sleep comes after about 4 in the morning, when everything is quiet before dawn. We also slept in, as it was comfortable in the hammocks.
I did get up in the middle of the night, as lightening flashes and increasing thunder made it seem that a storm was coming. We rigged our Wal-Mart tarps diamond style, which didn’t help the ventilation any, but there was no rain to come.
Overall, I am confident that we can continue to camp this way, which is much easier than setting up a tent. Some things to improve will include bug screens, and getting the packs lighter!
I have since built two turtledog stands, using the angle cuts on top, and some old trampoline net poles I had lying around. That was the most expensive, getting the wood and hardware for these. However, I have set my hammock up in the upstairs, where I can take naps and sleep at night sometimes. It does get cool underneath in the house with the thin ripstop. So I also have some poncho liners on order, along with some shock cord.
Yeah, it is going to get more expensive, but it is fun to build your own, and I will continue to thank all the forum posters and youtubers for the helpful ideas. I will get more pictures, as I am just using my phone for now.
Thanks for all the information sharing!