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  1. #1
    New Member Zelph's Avatar
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    Hammocking Materials

    Hello everyone. I'm new around these parts and after quite accidentally stumbling across this sight looking for homemade DIY ideas and projects for camping and outdoors gear I think I have become completely converted to hammocking. This even though I have never been in one (except a net hammock for lounging a friend had), seen one in use by anyone in the outdoors (and I have been in the outdoors a lot as a scout), let alone even considered a hammock for camping. I know, it may seem blasphemous, but I always relegated the hammock to the tropics.

    Anyways, after sifting through this and other sites for information on what types of materials are used to make the different parts of a homemade hammock I feel a bit overwhelmed. Admittedly my knowledge of fabrics is rather limited. So I was wondering if anyone has put together (or will) a comprehensive list of what types of fabrics are used, what are their pros and cons (e.g. waterproof/resistance, breathability, UV protection, durability, weight, natural/artificial, cost, etc.), what parts of a hammock each type of fabric would best be suited for, and so forth. Is there a single fabric that could be used for the hammock, underquilt, overquilt, snakeskin, and/or tarp? Or would you recommend different or multiple fabrics for each one?

    I did some preliminary shopping at local fabric stores today to get an idea and feel for the different types of fabrics I have seen mentioned here. So far I have only seen and handled silk and ripstop nylon. The silk seemed rather heavy and almost rough or coarse compared to what I always imagined silk to feel like. Plus at $24.99 a yard there was no way I was going to be buying that! After I got home I looked at some of my silk ties and noticed some were indeed a little coarse and heavy, while others were very soft and fine. There is a definite difference between the two, but what that could be or why I have no idea. Thoughts? Anyhow, the ripstop nylon the stores carried almost seemed like a mix between nylon flag material and those plastic tablecloths/picnic sheets. Would this be the coated DWR variety? I couldn't find any kind of identifying labels as to if they were 1.1 or 1.9, treated or not, or anything else other than the width of the cloth. The sales associates were of little help either...

    I'm looking to make my own hammock designed to be similar in concept to headchange4u's HH so that I can easily add/remove layers, tops, and other features. I would like to have the hammock be 4 season and this seems to be the easiest and most plausible solution. Since I live in Utah there is a wide range of climates and environments that the hammock would likely be exposed to including heat, sand, dust, cold, snow, rain, and occasional high winds. Any help on materials and their various properties, or suggestions, would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member FanaticFringer's Avatar
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  3. #3
    New Member Zelph's Avatar
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    Thank you for the quick response, and I appreciate you trying to help me, but that link does not provide me with any of the information I seek. It simply is a link to suppliers of various goods and materials. It does not tell me about the various properties, strengths, and weaknesses of said materials. I have looked over some of those sites and they don't provide much (if any) of that information themselves.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Zelph...I have to say first...welcome to the site...next...I have ordered some material swatches from two of these listed suppliers and have found that I have now made two hammocks from two different materials...neither was ripstop nylon and one is evidently a type of 1.1 coated....while the other is still up for grabs on what the material is...I've ran into the same problems you have on material identification (or atleast while at Wal Mart) due to poor labeling. I've got another hammock at the semstress's being hemmed and sewn like HC's HH clone...but now know it too is not rip stop but yet...just plain ole nylon.

    From what I've read...most folks are using the 1.1 coated nylon for tarps and sealing the seams. I dont have much more to add...I look forward to reading about your progress.
    Alex Williams
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  5. #5
    New Member Joe's Avatar
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    Zelph, I am not a fabric expert and wouldn't even attempt to explain the different types, but here is where I purchased my materials when I wanted to make my own DIY hammock. http://www.speerhammocks.com/Products/PRODUCTLINK2.htm
    This is the Speer Hammock site and no, I am not affiliated with them. There are many sites where you can order material, but the Speer site makes it easy to identify what you need and what application it is used for. Just scroll down to the 'Make Your Own Hammock' section for a list and prices. Also, Speer has kits with the necessary items for DIYer's. Welcome to hammocking and good luck making your own gear.
    Joe's rules of contentment: 1. Mind your own business, 2. Don't mind others' business, 3. Remember rules 1 and 2.

  6. #6
    slowhike's Avatar
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    welcome to HF Zelph. an article on fabrics would be helpful. hopefully that will happen at some point.

    sounds like the one fabric you described was probably coated & not what you would want for a hammock.

    the sales people in most of the fabric stores (including wal-mart) rarely have a clue about fabric weight, rip stop, DWR treatment, etc, so until you become more familiar w/ some basic characteristics you are looking for, you would be better off buying on line from one of the sources listed.

    some of them will even send you samples (there may be a small cost). that way you can see & feel what 1.1 & 1.9oz ripstop is.

    once you've spent a little time w/ the stuff, you'll be more likely to go into a store & see something that will work for you.

    to find more info on silk, hammock fabrics, etc, use the search feature at the top of the page. that will give you a good start.

    speer hammock's offers a book "hammock camping" that is full of great information. see the manufacturers list on this home page.
    i hope this helps some what & maybe others will have a few other suggestions. ...tim
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  7. #7
    Senior Member stoikurt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alex30808 View Post
    From what I've read...most folks are using the 1.1 coated nylon for tarps and sealing the seams. I dont have much more to add...I look forward to reading about your progress.
    Well, not quite true. Most are using Silnylon for tarps. Sil does come in different weights but the best for lightweight tarps is about 1.3 which means it's 1.3 ounces per sq yd. It starts as 1.1 and then is impregnated throughout the fibers with silicon (so it's not a coating) and ends up around 1.3. It has a slick and crinkly feel much like wax paper. By far Speer Hammocks has the best price for it but his color is limited to Silver Gray or Black. There are excellent directions for a "BlackCat" tarp here. I've made one and love it.

    Oh, and Zelph, welcome to the site.
    Stoikurt
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  8. #8
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    Hey Zelph. Glad you made it to Hammock Forums.

    My suggestion would be to look for 1.9oz untreated rip stop or 1.9oz rip stop with a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) coating. Avoid water proof fabric for the hammock body because if you sweat or water gets into the hammock it will be like a bath tub.

    You can use DWR nylon for hammock bodies, top quilts, under quilts, or even snake skins, but a lot of people like a water proof material for snake skins.

    Normally materials that have a DWR coating normally have a shiny side and a dull side. The shiny side is normally the side treated with something.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -Terry Pratchett



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  9. #9
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    As Slowhike and others have alluded to but not explicitly said is that identifying fabric via the web is quite difficult, when you aren't sure what weight and material etc. is. Its kinda like trying to describe a rainbow to a blind person. There's really no basis for communicating the essentials.

    The easiest way to get that common basis is to get samples of said fabrics so you can see, feel, touch, etc and learn what makes them what they are.

    Rispstop, Taffeta, Twill, are types of fabric "weaves". Or how the threads that make up the fabric are woven together. The silk you were looking at was probably something known as Dupioni (and has lines of lumpy threads in it known as slubs). Great for curtains or fancy dresses, but not for outdoor gear. Ripstop has a distinctive grid pattern where there are regularly placed heavier threads in the weave. Taffeta is a uniform tight weave of very fine threads and often is quite shiny, almost like satin. Twill is the kind of weave where the threads skip in a pattern that makes a slight texture and herringbone/parquet pattern similar to jean material on the surface. Often very tough wearing and usually heavy/stiff.


    Silk, nylon, polyester, are the type of material the fibres that make up the threads are made of.

    DWR, Sil, PU coated (PolyUrethane) are finishes that are applied to the fabric after its woven. DWR is a breathable surface treatment that keeps water from easily wetting the surface of a fabric, it will often be virtually invisible and unfeelable. It can be aided by something called calendaring which is rolling the fabric between hot rollers which makes it slightly shiny and tighter/smoother feeling as it mashes the threads into each other. Sil is silicone treatment that is soaked in the the fabric (impregnated) and makes it totally waterproof and rather slippery and shiny and crinkly and will be the same all the way through because its "soaked into" the fabric. PU coating is a single side treatment spread on like contact cement that feels a bit sticky and rubbery and quite thick and heavy. It makes the fabric waterproof too, but can peel off over time.

    A given weight of fabric is affected by the fineness of the threads that are woven into the fabric, and how many there are and how tightly they are woven together. You can determine this best by how much air and light passes through the fabric, and by how thick it feels.
    Last edited by Rapt; 10-12-2007 at 09:26.

  10. #10
    Senior Member stoikurt's Avatar
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    Nice job Rapt. That looks like the beginning of an article to me.
    Stoikurt
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