I probably have maybe $100 in hammock gear. If I were you, I'd look up the Tablecloth hammock directions, and make a tablecloth hammock, and use a 10x10 blue poly tarp, and your existing sleeping bag and a Wal-Mart blue pad. Go to harbor freight and buy a 12' lashing strap. All that should be less than $100, and will let you decide if you want to hammock further.
Time is but the stream I go afishing in. Henry David Thoreau
I am a noob here as well. I had a little sticker shock when I first started looking at making the change. I also had the added expense of having to do everything twice and twice the price because I am also getting my 8 year old in the trees as well. We are getting ready to do our first hang with our Cub Scout Pack in two and a half weeks. We are car camping at this point so I wasn't as worried about weight. I'll worry about that down the road when we start backpacking. I have been able to DIY two rigs for around $180. I don't have the receipts in front of me for an exact amount but it was in that ballpark.
We got two taffeta tablecoths from Tablecloth Factory and whipped the ends with some 550 paracord I had already. They were around $15 or so each with shipping. I was not comfortable at first making my own whoopies so I bought two sets of whoopie suspensions with tree straps and adjustable ridgelines from Arrowhead Equipment $80 or so with shipping. I found a source online for Tyvek 8'x10' groundcloths and bought two, I think the company name was Material Concepts $48 with shipping. We are going to mod them into tarps with some tie outs and guylines. Lastly, I bought 4 sheer voile curtains 59"x84" and am going to use a thread injector using Crypticcrickets method for making bugnets. NC can be tough for skeeters. The boy's mama made bugnets a requirement, so I complied. They were $15 with shipping for all four off of Ebay. Add in a few feet of shock cord for a closure on the bottoms $10. Two hammocks with tarps and bugnets for $90 each in round numbers. It isn't a top of the line rig and it certainly isn't a rig I'd want to take for an extended trip on the AT as it might be a bit heavy. But for less than $100 each we have decent setups for the type of camping we do. We also got the satisfaction of making the gear ourselves so it was a dad/son project and there is no $$ value for that. There are probably cheaper and assuredly lighter ways to accomplish the same thing or better but it works for us for now.
I also highly recommend Shugs videos and "The Ultimate Hang". The videos were free on youtube and I bought the Kindle version of Derek's book for $3.99. Both are irreplaceable, IMO, for getting you started on the right foot.
Last edited by Eagle84; 10-02-2013 at 12:07. Reason: Forgot to add something
This one time at Scout camp. . .
I echo these thoughts on getting out to a group hang....ie. Fairfield Lake. Lots of helpful folks and the opportunity to observe and test drive gear and systems.
And one of the nice things I discovered is that hammockers are not a pretentious bunch.
That is,...there is no shame from "gear slobs" or pressure from showing up in a table cloth , $18 Grand Trunk hammock, and DIY gear is actually held in high regard.
To wit, I have yet to use the Hennessy for camping, but I recently took one of my tablecloth hammocks up to the Lake Superior North Shore region in the George Crosby Manitou State Park. The first night we were there we had very light snow flurries, just enough for us to notice. I hung my homemade hammock, tossed my sleeping bag in, and strapped my homemade underquilt to the bottom. I was plenty warm that night.
If you've got the time to learn and/or the inclination to make your own gear you CAN do so at a fairly significant savings depending on your perspective. There is a group of people here who almost demand that you include the time you spend making the gear into the "cost" of the item, I am not one of those people though. The gear may not be as pretty, but it will work if you take your time and are willing to fudge a few things when they don't go exactly as planned. Like my underquilt, first experience using goose down. There's still goose down floating around my apartment from time to time, nearly a month after the quilt was finished.
It's all a learning experience though. As far as what is "required" to hang? I have my hammock, 2 tree straps, and 2 "whoopie slings". That is all that I require as long as there aren't bugs or rain. I tend to also use a rainfly because it acts as a psychological barrier, for myself mostly but maybe also for animals. Haven't hung when it was warm enough for bugs yet, but the Hennessy hammock I have has the bugnet on it, you can also make a bugnet for pretty cheap, just do a search for "fronkey bugnet" either here or on Google.
I think that pretty much covers it though. That and the Shug videos will give you a really solid understanding of the basics. If you'd like to know more about homemade/tablecloth hammocks just let us know. I'd be happy to share more of what I know.
Okay here's the thing....I bought my first hammock (Grand Trunk single) from REI because I had a dividend and it was cheap on their outlet site. At the time I had never heard of hammockforums nor had I considered camping in a hammock.
So I set it up in my yard with the attached "ropes" and got in it, read a book for a while and fell asleep. Did it again when it was cooler outside and my butt got cold. So I grabbed one of my foam sleeping mats that I use in a tent and put it under me. Problem solved.
Threw the hammock in my bag on my next campout. The stars were out so I decided to grab my mat and sleeping bag and check them out for a while. When I woke the sun was shining.
The point is this...go buy a basic hammock and enjoy it and don't get too caught up in all the fancy jargon and doo dads on this site. I will admit that the tips on this site are great (like lying on a diagonal and the amount of sag, etc) and after a long while I did upgrade to a Wilderness Logics Night Owl but still use my GT all the time.
You can do the whole thing very cheap to start and for a long time actually. If it looks like rain use a cheap blue tarp for now....that's what I used for a year or two. A blue foam pad from Wally's is under $15, REI Outlet has a GT Hammock for $35 and for now you could get away with the hanging kit for $8.75. Add your sleeping bag and a plastic tarp or sheet and you are set to begin your adventure. It's really that simple and that inexpensive.