Some of you may recall that I was on here when I first got my DD Travel Hammock and XL Tarp, asking for advice and help on how to set it up for my needs.
I was asking about adding a gear hammock, using skins, ridge-line options etc etc.
Well, I've finally got it rigged how I like, thanks in no small part to this forum, and I've even found a way to hang it in my back yard! So I've taken some pictures in case anyone else ever has the same questions I did.
I've come from ground camping and wanted to spend as little as possible in the (experimental) move to hammock camping. As you can see, I've used an old sleeping bag as an under-quilt and, what you can't see, I have an Exped Synmat 7 between the layers of the DD's bottom.
I've suspended the DD mesh hammock underneath the main hammock (within arms reach) and will be using that for any gear that needs to be within easy reach.
Despite the XL tarp having loops in place for an over-the-top ridge line, I've gone with an under-slung ridge line, mainly because it means I can suspend the bugnet from that line, rather than having to tie out to a tree, which means I'm using much less shock cord (lighter) and it takes much less time (faster).
In these pictures it doesn't look like my under-slung ridgeline is supporting the tarp at all. That's because it isn't! My back yard isn't the easiest place to hang, and the way it worked out, all the support is coming form the corners. I've tested this setup in the wild though and it works just fine.
Here's a close-up of the mozzie-net suspension. I've basically tied some shock cord into a loop and then attached that loop to the tarp ridge-line with a prussik knot. There's a mini 'biner on the end, which clips onto the loops of the netting. The shock and 'biner get gathered up with the tarp. If I choose not to use a tarp, then I'd have to revert to tying the netting out to the trees but I've already re-purposed the original shock cord, so I reckon I'll always have to deploy the tarp. If I'm looking for a view, I can always just fold half of it over and use it as a wind-break... right?
Here's where the re-purposed shock cord has gone to; I've used it to create whipping knots at the four corners of my old (1-season) sleeping bag. I've added hooks to the end of that cord and simply clipped it onto the optional tie out loops already present on the 2012 DD hammocks. (You can also see the Synmat 7 poking out there).
I approached this in a very low-tec way; after setting the hammock the way I like it, I unzipped an old sleeping bag, cut through the foot-box following the line of the zip (to create a rectangle) and used silver gaffer tape to seal the resulting holes and keep the insulation inside. I then temporarily clipped the 'hood' of the sleeping bag to the suspension at the foot end of the hammock and created the whipping knots where they needed to be to keep the bag snug to the bottom of the hammock. When finished, I then created another hooked shock cord to more permanently attach the hood to the suspension, so that it doesn't hang down and create an opening.
I use the term 'permanently' loosely because the whole thing can simply be unclipped and left at home when the weather is warmer. For now though, it remains attached and, with a lot of patience and a slightly modified snakeskin (more gaffer tape), it all squeezes into the one skin.
I've entirely replaced the stock DD suspension, using a whoopie sling through the end channels and coupling those to some extra long tree straps with a carabiner and marlin's pike (marlin spike?) hitch. In this picture you can see I've used huge bolts as the 'toggle' of the marlin's pike hitch. Not very light but they're what I could find close to my back yard. In the wild, sticks tend to be more available
I've re-purposed the original suspension webbing to serve as a sort of internal ridge-line/gear hangar/book-rest strung up between the two internal end loops of the mossie net. You can also see here how I've added some hooks and hung my reading light and eye-masks etc, so they're easy to reach but out of the way.
I've also added lengths of cord to the foot end zips of the bug-net; to make it easier to reach down and zip up.
Mounting the gear hammock was more of a challenge. Again, I didn't want to have to tie it out to the tree, so I had to find a way to semi-permanently suspend it from the hammock itself. I didn't take good enough pictures of this part, so I'll try to be as clear in my description as possible...
The mesh hammock has two loops on each end. The main loop is a big, chunky woven thing and there'a a much, much smaller, string loop under that. The main loop is designed to run your webbing/suspension through. I have no idea what the intended use of the other loop is but I'm glad it's there!
First of all what I did was use some webbing to create a closed loop running through the channels at each end of the main hammock (not pictured, sorry). So basically, the whoopie sling's run through the channels and up toward the tree-straps. When suspended, the slings pull the gathered ends of the hammock really tight. This means you only need a short piece of webbing (less than a foot long), which you can run through the constricted channel and then tie into a loop that hangs limp from the ends of the hammock. Once there, it'll be useful for all sorts of stuff, including hanging a gear hammock!
Because I wasn't sure about the sag for the gear hammock, I doubled up the green webbing that DD supply with the mesh hammock and tied a series of over hand knots in it about four fingers apart, resulting in a line with a series of loops. I tied off the end of that webbing to the main fixed loop of the mesh hammock, ran it through the new loop I'd added to the main hammock and then pulled it to a point where it seemed snug enough (but not too tight) to the bottom of the hammock and clipped it in place using a lightweight, mini 'biner (cheap, keyring quality, see the picture above), which attaches to the small, secondary fixed loop of the mesh hammock and the nearest loop/knot of my modified webbing. If no knot is close enough to hold it at the right place, simply add another overhand knot where you need it.
This allows for a semi-permanent, adjustable-on-the-fly suspension from the bottom of the hammock. The whole thing gets sucked up into the hammock sleeve/snake skin along with the hammock and the underquilt.
To be honest, I thought I would have to adjust it with every different hang or depending on how much gear I have in it but after a few hangs I've managed to find a sweet spot that works all the time without any further input from me and, with the Synmat 7 and a sleeping bag between me and the gear hammock I don't think I ever really had to worry about anything other than making sure I could easily reach into it from within the main hammock. At some point I'll get rid of all that extra webbing (visible in the very first two pictures).
In this final picture you can see the XL tarp in the context of my back yard. I've used normal tie-out cord (with a self-tensioning shock cord mod) for the four main corners and then copious lengths of shock cord for the inner two tie-out loops, affording me greater flexibility regarding tie out points.
There are a few drawbacks to using this system.
1) Unless I can figure out a way to use a fixed ridge line I'll always have to deploy the tarp, if only to make sure I can suspend the bug-net. I originally put the tarp and hammock in seperate skins so that I could hang it ready but not necessarily have to unsheathe it - at the moment I no longer have that option.
2) I bought this hammock particularly for its ability to convert into a bivvy if there are no trees/suspension points available. Unfortunately, I think the addition of the short webbing loops - used to mount the gear hammock - means that iI can no longer stretch it out and stake it down for use as a bivvy. Furthermore, keeping both the hammock and tarp in sleeves means it'd be a ball-ache to unsheathe them and set them up if there are no available anchor points; so I guess I'm just going to have to keep the tree-line in sight at all times!
3) Keeping the hammock, under quilt and mesh hammock all together in one modified sleeve (if you must know, I artificially widened one of the 'mouths' by cutting it open and then re-forming it with gaffer tape - it makes it easy to spot the head end if nothing else!), makes for a bulky, hard to pack outfit that seems to take up far more space than the three items packed separately would. Mind you, now I've gone this route, I'd like an even bigger skin so I can lump the Synmat and the tarp all in there in one go!
You read this far? Wow, well done. Here's some instagram pictures of my setup in a more fitting location: