My Bridge Hammock System - Part 3
This will keep the suspension lines and ridge line together and prevent them from tangling when in the stuff sack.
When the Bridge Hammock is hung, you can just wrap the curly laces around the suspension line once or twice to keep from losing it. In this position, it also makes an excellent drip string. If you break a shoe lace while hiking, you always have an extra set handy. Multi-use shoe laces.
Bridge Hammock Accessories
There are various accessories I have made for my Bridge Hammock that make the Hammock a complete system.
A few words about my overcover and bug netting design. When I started thinking about both, I had 2 requirements for both from my past experiences with other hammocks, notably the Hennessy ULBA. Now the ULBA is an outstanding hammock system and I think that Tom Hennessy should be given a loud round of applause for his ideas, the quality of his products and his work in educating people about the use of hammocks. But I found out that there were 2 things I definitely would have to improve on his implementation of the bug netting and the overcover.
- I found out when I switched from using my Hennessy ULBA to my
Safari clone, that I really, really do not like bug netting hanging down in my face. I tolerated the bug netting a few inches from my face in the ULBA, because it was there and needed on many occasions. But once I got into my Safari clone and found the bug netting at arms length, well it was no longer necessary to have it in my face.
To that end, I knew when I started that I would not tolerate either the overcover or bug netting hanging loose and I would especially not tolerate having either near my face, loose or tight. I wanted a LOT of room under both.
Thus the ridge line is an essential part of my overcover and bug netting design. As Tom Hennessy did, I made the ridge line part of both. But I did so in a completely different manner than he did.
The overcover and bug netting may enclose more volume because of this, but I like it that way. I like plenty of room in my hammock. I'm not claustrophobic, but I do not like being squeezed into too small a space.
- The second thing I definitely wanted to improve concerned the
necessity for taking the hammock down and removing snake skins or stuff sacks in order to install an accessory, e.g., an overcover. That is I wanted all accessories, including bug netting, to be installed and removed while the hammock is hung. That keeps the hammock and whatever is being installed out of the dirt. It also means that I only have to hassle one item, e.g., the overcover, and not the item and the hammock.
Before describing the accessories and how to make them, there are two accessories that are needed by various accessories. One is also an addition to the the hammock itself.
Tie Off Cords
Several of the accessories require tie off cords and I have developed a simple method for attaching the cords to the accessory. There are two kinds of tie-off cords: single and double cords. The method for attaching both is the same.
First obtain a length of small diameter cord, such as guy like cord. I use the Mountain Laurel Designs dacron guy line cord. Approximately 12" or 18" is sufficient. I prefer 12" for the single tie-off cord and 18" for the double tie-off cord.
Tie single overhand stopper knots at both ends of the length of cord.
Set your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch with a very, very small stitch length.
If making a double tie-off cord, then tie another single overhand stopper knot in the center of the cord.
Determine the location of the tie-off cord on the accessory, set the accessory in the sewing machine under the presser foot with the cord on top of the accessory fabric and centered under the presser foot. Sew a zig zag stitch over the cord forming a bar tack over the cord. Be careful that you do NOT stitch through the cord.
When done, trim the thread.
If making a single tie off cord, pull the cord until one of the end stopper knots pulls up tight against the bar tack. Done.
If making a double tie-off cord, pull the cord until the center stopper knot pulls up tight against the bar tack. Tie a second overhand stopper knot on the opposite side of the bar tack and work it up tight against the bar tack and pull the knot tight. Done.
Single tie-off cords will be used with the draft stoppers, bug netting and possibly the under quilt. Double tie off cords will be used at the top of the draft stoppers.
Here are some single tie off cords, both just after being sewn and after pulling to the stopper knot:
Some of the accessories also require tie off points on the edge of the Bridge Hammock. These tie off points are located on the webbing, both the inside and outside sides of the webbing.
These tie off points are made similar to the tie off cords described above. Again a small diameter cord is used. Do not cut to length until the tie-off is completed.
Tie an overhand stopper knot on the free end of the cord.
Determine the location of one end of the tie-off point on the side of the webbing and place in the sewing machine under the presser foot with the cord on top of the webbing and centered under the presser foot. Sew a zig zag stitch over the cord forming a bar tack over the cord. Be careful that you do NOT stitch through the cord.
Pull the stopper knot on the free end up tight against the bar tack. Now move the along the webbing approximately 1" in the direction in which the other end of the tie-off point is located. Sew another bar tack over the cord.
Tie a second overhand stopper knot in the cord and work it up tight against the second bar tack and pull tight. Cut the cord and heat seal the end if necessary. Done.
Tie-off bars will be needed for the draft stoppers, the bug netting, the overcover, the Bridge Hammock pillow and possibly the under quilt.
The Gear Loft/hammock can be used both inside and outside of the Bridge Hammock. The gear loft/hammock is simply a rectangular piece of 1.1 oz riptop. Uncoated is fine. You can make gear hammocks for outside the Bridge Hammock for the head end of the hammock. Using it inside of the Bridge Hammock on the head end may interfere with using the hammock. But in a pinch it could be done. A gear loft/hammock for the foot end, however, can be used both inside and outside with no problem. Making for either end is the same, but the dimensions will differ if you have differing spreader bar lengths on the head and foot ends.
First terminology so that I can describe the process of making a gear loft. The width of the fabric goes from side to side of the hammock and the length goes from end-to-end of the hammock. The foot end of the gear loft will be the end at the foot end of the hammock when hung inside the hammock.
To start cut a rectangular piece of 1.1 oz uncoated ripstop. The width will be equal to the spreader bar length on the end of the hammock on which the loft/hammock will be used. The length of the fabric will be approximately 3'. The length can be varied to suit your own desires.
Use grosgrain to trim the edges of the fabric.
First trim the head end of the fabric then the edges that will be the sides. Extend the grosgrain on the length edges on the head end past the fabric approximately 1.5" to 2". Fold the grosgrain back on itself to form a loop and stitch in place. Lastly trim the foot end of the fabric and again extend the grosgrain approximately 1.5" to 2" past the edges and fold back to form loops and stitch.
Make 3 loops of grosgrain on the head end, dividing the end fabric into 4 equal lengths. Take 3 2" lengths of grosgrain and sandwich the head end edge of the fabric with approximately 1/4" sticking out past the edge and stitch in place.
Using a bowline knot or similar knot for forming a loop, tie a length of guy line cord to the grosgrain loops on corners of the head end. This length of cord will be used to hang the hammock from the ridge line when used inside the hammock or the suspension line when used outside the hammock.
Using another length of guy line cord, tie the end to one of the head end corners using a bowline and thread the remainder through the grosgrain loops along the head end edge and then through the grosgrain loop on the opposite head end corner and then through a cord lock.
Take 2 lengths of guy line cord and thread each through the corner grosgrain loops on the foot end of the fabric. These cords are to tie to the accessory rings.
With the foot end cords tied to the accessory rings and the head end cord suspended from the ridge line, the gear loft is hung inside the Bridge Hammock. The guy line and cord lock may be used to vary the droop of the head end opening.
Making the gear loft/hammocks is fairly simple.
Some pictures of the finished gear loft on the hammock:
draw cord loose:
use of 2 Prussics to adjust hang of gear loft inside hammock:
draw cord partially closed
from inside with draw cord partially closed:
from inside with draw cord fully closed:
Bridge Hammock Pillow
One accessory that is possible with the Bridge Hammock that would be extremely hard or impossible with a regular hammock is the Bride Hammock Pillow. This is actually a platform for the head made from 1.1 oz ripstop, grosgrain, guy line cord and 4 Line Loks.
It is simply a rectangular piece of ripstop edged with grosgrain. The grosgrain extends past the edges and is folded back to make loops for attaching the guy line using bowline knots.
The two guy lines from the head end of the pillow are run through the Line Loks, through the head end accessory rings and back to the Line Loks and secured. The foot end of the pillow is done in the same way except using tie off bars on the webbing.
Once installed, the Line Loks are used to adjust the head to foot and side to side tilt and height of the pillow.
I have found the pillow to be very comfortable to use for sleeping on both my back and side. It feels soft and conforms very well to my head.
I have found the Bridge Hammock Pillow to be more comfortable for sleeping on my side than a regular pillow. With a regular pillow, my arms are forced to fold in front of my chest - it is the only place to put them with a regular pillow. However, with the Bridge Hammock Pillow, I can extend my arm under my body up under the Bridge Hammock Pillow and thus under my head and slightly in front of me. This is a more natural position for me when sleeping on my side than having my arms folded across my chest.
The Bridge Hammock Pillow is extremely light and the Line Loks hold their position so I have not had to adjust it since I found the best position for me originally. The pillow is stored with the hammock and is immediately in position when the hammock is hung.
I have gotten used to the fact that I don't have to bother with storing a pillow separately. Hang the hammock and I know it is there.
The over cover is used with the draft stoppers described next to enclose the Bridge Hammock and preserve body heat.
After the Gear Loft/Hammock and Bridge Hammock Pillow, the overcover is actually the easiest Bridge Hammock accessory to make. It just takes a lot of words to detail how to do so.
The overcover is made the same as the main body of the bug netting and so I will describe the overcover first.
The overcover is made from 1.1 oz DWR ripstop.
The overcover for my Bridge Hammocks is laid out as shown here:
For the overcover, I used the full width of the 1.1 oz DWR ripstop at 64". I left the selvage in place and only needed to cut the proper length. I've used bias tape to bind the cut edges on the ends. Leave the selvage as is.
The tie off bars shown in blue are placed on the edge of the overcover. The pack clips are placed as shown.
The dimensions shown are those needed to fit my Bridge Hammock. If your Bridge Hammock differs, you will need to alter the dimensions accordingly. The width will probably be the same. The placements of the pack clips and tie off bars will differ and may scale according to the length of your Bridge hammock. The length will also differ if you have made your hammock fabric length different from the 80" I used.
I suggest making the length of the overcover and main body of the bug netting approximately 12" to 14" longer than the distance from accessory ring to accessory ring. I tried various overcover lengths from 6" to 14" greater than the accessory ring to accessory distance and found 12" to 14" to work best for me. Shorter will not give enough slack when the "clothes line" (described below) is loosened. Longer may work, but you will have a lot of excess fabric.
NOTE: I would suggest always loosening the clothes line for entry/exit. It is possible to enter/exit the hammock and overcover with the clothes line pulled tight, but it puts unnecessary stress on the ripstop and may result in premature failure of the ripstop.
Next make the attachment loops for the clothes line and the loops for hanging from the ridge line.
Use a 4" length of 7/8" grosgrain and sew 2" on the middle of one end, fold over the edge and sew the remaining 2" down on the other side. Sew around the edges and an 'X' in the middle.
The point to sew the grosgrain is shown in orange/red in the illustration.
We will now make loops on the top and bottom sides of the overcover on this grosgrain.
Take a length of small diameter cord. The same cord used for the tie bars and tie off cords. Fold the cord into a bight approximately 4"long, lay on the grosgrain on the outside of the overcover. Approximately 1/2" should be sticking out past the edge of the fabric. Bar tack the cord to the grosgrain in 4 places.
Turn the fabric over and repeat on the inside side of the overcover. The bight should be pointing away from the edge. Bar tack in place with the first bar tack approximately 1/2" from the end of the bight.
The cord on the inside should be laying directly on top of the cord on the outside side when bar tacking in place.
Now cut the cords after the last bar tack and heat seal the ends if needed.
Repeat on the other end of the overcover.
Both the outside and inside attachment loops are now completed.
The outside and inside loops have been sewn together to form a single unit so that the tension in the clothes line is carried directly by the loops and not the ripstop.
You now have a loop sticking out each end of the overcover and a corresponding loop on the inside of the overcover.
NOTE: It would be possible to sew a single loop for both the outside and inside by sewing a single double ended loop on the inside and letting approximately 1/2" stick out the end. This will work fine if you have no plans on mating the overcover to the draft stoppers to fully enclose the hammock. By sewing the loops independently in this manner, the gap in mating the overcover and the draft stoppers is minimized and almost totally eliminated.
The overcover is connected to the ridge line via a "clothes line" and micro carabiners to Prussic loops on the ridge line.
The clothes line is attached to the overcover at the inside loops sewn above. You will need small diameter cord for the clothes line. Approximately 18" to 24" longer than the length of the overcover. Tie the free end of the cord to the inside loop on the foot end of the overcover using a bowline knot. Thread the cord through a Line Lok and then through the inside loop on the head end of the overcover and back to the Line Lok. Through the tie off end of the Line Lok and tie an overhand stopper knot.
Clip a micro-carabiner to the foot end outside loop and then clip the micro-carabiner to a Prussic loop on the ridge line at the foot end. Position the Prussic loop so that the end of the overcover is aligned with the accessory rings or slightly past them.
Repeat at the head end.
The overcover is now hung on the ridge line and you need to adjust the length of the clothes line cord and find the correct position for the pack clips and the tie bars.
Now get into the hammock. The Line Lok on the clothes line should be adjusted so that with the line loose and the overcover hanging loose, the Line Lok is within easy reach overhead. Also, you should be able to adjust the clothes line with the Line Lok so that the line is pulled up tight against the overcover with the overcover pulled tight against the line and the webbing of the hammock.
The final adjustments of clothes line length and Line Lok position will be made later.
Now find the correct position of the pack clips. First adjust the Line Lok on the clothes line so the clothes line is pulled tight, as tight as you can reasonably make it. It should be drooping down from the ridge line about 2" to 3" in the middle. Then grasp the fabric near an accessory ring and pull the fabric down so that it is tight to the clothes line attachment loop. Use a wooden, spring clothes pin or some other deice, to hold the fabric on the accessory ring. Repeat at all accessory rings.
Now make sure that the fabric is pulled tight from accessory ring to accessory ring on the same side of the hammock. You do not want to pull the fabric so tight that the spreader bars are pulled together even a little bit. Just so that the fabric is not hanging loose between the accessory rings. Repeat on both sides.
I have found that the distance between pack clips on the same side of the overcover is always 6" to 7" longer than the distance from accessory ring to accessory ring and the side of the hammock. This should apply to your overcover also.
Now you need to do a lot of little adjustments. With a ruler, check the distance from both edges of the fabric to an accessory ring. For my overcover those distance are as noted in the above illustration. Note these distances. Repeat for all accessory rings. You will now have to individually adjust the fabric at each accessory ring so that the distances to the edges is equal at all accessory rings. Be sure to maintain the tight fabric from the accessory ring to the clothes line loop and no loose fabric from the head end accessory rings to the foot end accessory rings.
This process can take a few minutes, but getting the accessory rings centered on the width and length of the fabric at this step is essential. So proceed slowly and carefully. It doesn't take as long as you think while doing it.
Now, with the fabric clipped to the accessory rings and adjusted so that it is centered, loosen the clothes line, duck under the edge of the overcover and get in the hammock.
Tighten the clothes line.
You will notice that the spreader bars have risen when you entered the hammock and the fabric from the accessory rings to the clothes line is now loose.
Loosen the clothes line and exit the hammock and re-adjust the fabric at all four accessory rings so that the fabric will be remain tight when you get in the hammock.
Repeat this test several times to ensure that the fabric will remain tight from accessory rings to clothes line when you enter the hammock and tighten the clothes line.
Of course, if you have an assistant, the assistant can help by resting in the hammock while you do all of the above adjustments at the accessory rings.
Also, note the fabric of the overcover from head to foot along the webbing. It should not be hanging loose in folds. There will be excess fabric along the clothes line, do not be concerned about this.
I have found that the distance from head end pack clip position to foot end pack clip position is always 6" to 7" greater than the fabric length of my Bridge Hammock. I expect that yours will follow this trend. The extra 6" is needed so that you can pull the edge of the overcover up and duck underneath.
Once you have the fabric adjusted correctly mark the position of the accessory rings. Take the overcover down and measure the distances from the marked positions to both near fabric edges and ensure that corresponding measurements are equal.
Now sew the pack clips on the overcover with the pack clip attachment point at the marked positions.
Use 3" of 7/8" wide grosgrain. Fold the grosgrain in half and sew down. Then thread the grosgrain through the pack clip and fold in half and sew down again. Next sew a 1.5" length of grosgrain on the outside of the overcover where the grosgrain on the pack clip will be sewn. This reinforces the overcover fabric. The grosgrain through the pack clip is now bar tacked to the grosgrain on the overcover.
Position the pack clip and grosgrain on the overcover grosgrain so that the first bar tack is on the marked pack clip position.
I will call this the pack clip attachment point.
The pack clips are sewn on the inside of the overcover with the opening of the pack clip pointing up so that when the overcover is on the hammock the opening is towards the center line of the hammock. Also, the pack clip is pointing towards the end of the overcover.
Next you will need to position the tie off bars on the inside bottom edge of the overcover.
Hang the overcover.
To obtain the proper placement of the tie off bars I used the small version of the Grip Clips. If you are using 1.1 oz ripstop instead of a heavier, cheaper prototyping fabric, you may need to use balloons as suggested with the Grip Clip instructions to better grip the ripstop.
The tie off bars should be placed far enough apart for you to duck under the overcover between the bars and enter the hammock. They should be far enough apart to tension the cover close to the webbing all the way to the accessory rings.
They should also be close enough together so the edge of the overcover is pulled at least 2" below the webbing in the middle of the hammock. This will ensure that the overcover seals the sides of the hammock. If the tie off bars are too far apart, the edge of the overcover will ride up higher than the arc.
If they are too close together, you will find it very difficult to impossible to enter/exit the hammock between the tie off bars.
You are looking for that happy medium distance.
With the overcover hung, the 4 side shock cords need to be attached to the Grip Clips and adjusted so that the position of the tie off bars can be determined correctly.
Using the 3/32" diameter shock cord, thread through one of the accessory rings from the outside towards the hammock centerline, through the nearest Grip Clip and across under the hammock, through a Line Lok, then though the opposite Grip Clip and back to the Line Lok. Position the Line Lok approximately 1/4 of the distance under the hammock. Tie off the shock cord to the Line Lok. Now pull the shock cord snug under the hammock and cut the shock cord approximately 4" from the accessory ring and tie a small loop using a bowline knot. Clip the loop into the pack clip on the overcover. The shock cord should always run from the hammock centerline, through the accessory ring and then clip into the pack clip.
Repeat at the other 3 corners.
Adjust the length of the shock cords using the Line Loks. The cords should be tight enough to just barely lift the hammock fabric. If you feel the cords underneath the hammock when in the hammock, they are too tight. Loosen them slightly.
When viewed from above the shock cords will resemble this illustration.
Adjust the position of the Grip Clips along the edge of the overcover so that:
- You may lift the edge of the overcover and duck under to enter
and exit the hammock. You can do this without pulling things apart.
- When in the hammock and the clothes line is pulled real tight, the
fabric of the overcover is tight from accessory ring to attachment loop, and
- the fabric is tight along the whole length of the side webbing on
both sides of the hammock.
- note the position of the edge of the overcover through the
hammock fabric. It should be at least 2" below the lowest point of the arc, and
- the edge of the overcover should lie flat and snug against the
Test various positions of the Grip Clips if necessary so that all of the above conditions are met.
Note and mark the positions of the Grip Clips and you are ready to sew the tie off bars on the overcover.
I sewed 7/8" wide grosgrain to the overcover and then sewed the tie off bars to the grosgrain. Sew around the perimeter of the grosgrain and then sew an 'X' in the middle. I think the grosgrain helps to spread the forces over a wider area and prevents concentrated forces which would more easily damage the overcover ripstop.
We can now make the final adjustments on the clothes line length and the position of the Line Lok.
The position of the Line Lok should be such that you can easily reach it in the loose and tight positions while lying on your back. Once you have adjusted the postion of the Line Lok to suit your needs, cut off the excess cord.
A picture of the finished (except for tie off cords for mating to draft stoppers) overcover laid out on the floor. The clothes line is visible runnin down the middle of the overcover:
The shock cords can be seen coiled near the edges and the clothes line runs down the middle. The head end is on the right with the Line Lok visible on the clothes line. The simple rectangle of the overcover is amply evident.
To remove the overcover, simply unhook the ends of the shock cords from the pack clips and pull back through the accessory rings and tie off bars, slide the Prussic loops slightly towards the middle of the hammock and unclip the attachment loops from the micro-carabiners. I like to just drop the overcover into the hammock and fold in half length-wise while it is in the hammock. I can then fold in half and quarters with 3 of the shock cords captured inside the folds. I fold as small as possible and use the 4th shock cord to wrap and make a neat bundle.
If you are packing the overcover into the modified snake skins, you do not need to unclip the corner pack clips. Simply unclip from the ridge line micro-carabiners and drop into the hammock bed.
To install the overcover, place it in the hammock with the appropriate ends at the appropriate head and foot ends of the hammock. Clip the end loops into the Prussic loops on the ridge line and slide the Prussic loops to adjust the ends of the overcover slightly past the accessory rings. Find the shock cords and drape over the hammock edges. Reach under the hammock, grab a shock cord and run it through the tie off bar in front of you and to the nearest accessory ring on the side of the hammock centerline, through the accessory ring and hook into the pack clips. Repeat for the remaining 3 shock cords.
NOTE: I would suggest always loosening the clothes line for entry/exit. It is possible to enter/exit the hammock and overcover with the clothes line pulled tight, but it puts unnecessary stress on the ripstop and may result in premature failure of the ripstop.
With practice, the overcover can be hung in a minute or two or three.
Note that if the head and foot end spreader bars are of unequal length, then the overcover will only fit in one direction. You can easily tell the head end from the foot end of the overcover by inspecting the inside attachment loops.
The Line Loks usually hold their position locked on the shock cords and the only adjustment needed is tightening the clothes line after entering the hammock. If the shock cord Line Loks do slip, adjusting them is easy.
Approximate time to make overcover: 3 hours. That was after I had made the prototype and worked out the bugs and the procedure described above to make it.
- compute desired overcover length from accessory ring separation
- cut fabric to length
- bind cut edges with bias tape or hem
- sew head end attachment loop grosgrain
- sew head end outside attachment loop
- sew head end inside attachment loop
- sew foot end attachment loop grosgrain
- sew for end outside attachment loop
- sew foot end inside attachment loop
- thread clothes line
- adjust proper length of clothes line cord
- check pack clip placements and mark
- sew pack clips to overcover
- check tie off bar placements with shock cord attached
- mark tie off bar placements
- sew grosgrain for tie off bar and sew tie off bar
- repeat last step for remaining 3 tie off bars
- hang overcover and enjoy result
With the draft stoppers installed, the system of overcover and draft stoppers can close in the hammock for cold weather use. Since the draft stoppers are not attached to the overcover, ventilation is achieved by adjusting the top height of the draft stopper end panels as described next.
For storage, since the overcover is a simple rectangle, I simply fold it and use one of the shock cords to wrap and secure. No stuff sack needed. It can be folded down to a fairly small bundle. I used camo which turned out to be 1.9 oz DWR ripstop. If using 1.1 oz DWR ripstop, it could probably be folded down even smaller.
Some pictures of the overcover on the hammock:
The overcover with poncho liner installed as under quilt (see below for poncho liner as under quilt) and clothes line loose:
Draft stopper on end fully closed:
Draft stopper on end partially opened:
overcover installed with sleeping bag as under quilt (see below for using sleeping bag under quilt), clothes line loose:
overcover installed with sleeping bag as under quilt (see below for using sleeping bag under quilt), clothes line tight:
inside installed overcover with sleeping bag as under quilt (see below for using sleeping bag under quilt), note prototype draft stopper installed:
Last edited by TeeDee; 12-08-2007 at 16:00.