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  1. #1
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Ongoing DIY: Complete Hammock System

    So, my next project after I finish the alpha phase of my pack design is going to be a complete hammock camping system (no, I don't generally think small, why do you ask?), and I was looking for feedback from the collective pool of knowledge that everyone brings to this wonderful forum.

    To begin, my priorities for the system (in order):

    1. Ease of Use
    2. Durability
    3. Cost
    4. Weight


    1.) Ease of Use:
    By this, I mean that it should be easy to set up and take down, with as little "fiddle factor" as possible. Testing will be required to hit the proper temperature ranges and weight ranges, but I think I have a good leg up on that due to the pool of knowledge available for data mining here on HF.

    1a.) Modularity:
    The system should be able to be scaled up or down as the weather changes, from clear skies and 80+ degrees F down to 0 degrees F and blizzard conditions. While it is unlikely that I will face the low end of that range here in FL, I may (probably will) want to go hiking and camping elsewhere on the east coast, and that may entail such conditions. So, I need to at least have a plan to add on to the system for those sorts of conditions.

    2.) Durability:
    The system needs to be able to stand up to a beating. I'm hard on my gear--always have been. So, it needs to be almost as tough as major-retailer gear, or easily field-repairable, or even both (my goal). This means that it's going to be heavier than most ultralight gear (which is fine: I'm not a thru-hiker, and I'm in reasonable shape for someone under 30).

    3.) Cost:
    This is the secondary reason that I want to go DIY rather than purchasing from retailers or gear makers (the first being that no one offers exactly what I want out there; most of the cottage industry folks have many, or even most of the things I want, but no single one of them offers all of those things). This will likely take care of itself over the long run, with trials and alpha testing winding up costing nearly as much as (or perhaps even more than) a complete system that is store-bought. However, it won't have the hidden cost of gear that I wind up being unable to sell. I can budget for this in the safety of knowledge that I will have to refine it somewhere down the line.

    4.) Weight:
    While I'm in the middle of finalizing my alpha design for my pack right now, I still don't want to have to carry more weight than is absolutely needed. As long as I can keep a five-day trip in three season weather (down to freezing) below forty pounds (20% to 22% of my body weight, depending on fitness level) from the skin out, I'll be okay. To be truly happy with the design, I'd prefer to keep that weight down to thirty pounds (15% to 17% of my body weight). Since I have an idea of what the rest of my gear is going to weigh, I can design around this requirement. Hopefully, compromises here will be few and far between; however, the three requirements above will win out if there is a tie.

    Alright, enough jabbering. Time to get to the design phase!

    Let's start with the simplest portion of the system: the hammock itself...

  2. #2
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    The Hammock: Initial Design of the Core Component

    The first component of the system is the hammock body proper. Without that, the rest of it is nothing more than an extensive tarptent set-up.

    I intend on using the DIY Gear Supply double-layer design (thank you, sclittlefield, very much, for making that design public!), with a few alterations.

    Firstly, I'm going to make it a single-layer design out of 1.6, 1.7, or 1.9 ounce ripstop, since I intend upon using an underquilt system rather than a pad and I weigh 185 to 200 lbs. Secondly, I am going to increase the side hems to 1.5" to accommodate 1" Omni-Tape sewn to it without compromising the structure of the hammock body proper.

    The Omni-Tape is intended to be the core of the modularity of the system. Everything is going to attach either to that or to the structural ridge line that runs the length of the hammock, with the exception of the tarp/poncho that I'm in the midst of finalizing the dimensions on. The Omni-Tape will be attached to the bottom of the hammock body, running 80% of the length of the body, to allow for a full-length underquilt and decent wind-blocking capability from the overcover/undercover combo while still allowing for venting at the head and foot ends.

    Here, I run into my first question for the forum at large: does anyone have numbers for the force needed to pull Omni-Tape apart? I've done several searches on it and have come up blank thus far. I believe, based on nothing more than a couple of unscientific tests performed with JRB compression sacks and known-weight items, that one square inch of OT (both sides together, for obvious reasons) should be able to hold about 3 to 6 ounces in a straight pull and slightly more than that in shearing force. Any numbers that anyone has on this would be greatly appreciated!

    My suspension system, in keeping with the ease-of-use dynamic, is most likely going to be a strap/buckle one. I may wind up buying a ready-to-use system from one of the retailers, since it isn't much in the way of savings to do it myself (and, if something is likely to fail catastrophically, this is the most likely spot).

    Onward and upward: the tarp/poncho combo is up next...

  3. #3
    Senior Member Just Jeff's Avatar
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    Underquilts need to be able to flex with the hammock...that's why most of them use some sort of shockcord attachment. The SnugFit uses velcro on Speer hammocks b/c the quilt's inner layer changes shape to adapt to the hammock. (One of the first prototypes actually had shockcord running in channels inside the inner layer, but it was too heavy to market.) Without that, just hooking a normal quilt to the hammock with omni-tape is likely to result in compression spots in some places and air gaps in others. Don't forget that the hammock material stretches over time, but the UQ doesn't.

    Also, the holding power of omni-tape changes as it ages. It'll be strong in the beginning, but lost power over time. Should still be plenty strong to hold up the weight of an underquilt, though, and omni-tape loses strength much slower than velcro does b/c it doesn't stick to everything (like wool or fleece long johns).

    Cost. DIY isn't likely to be much cheaper than buying high-quality gear. One time I calculated how much a few projects cost me...adding up the cost of the materials and notions (not at bulk prices), my time would had to be worth about $3/hr (IIRC) for it to save me money. Since my free time is worth more than $3/hr, it was decidedly NOT a cost-saving venture. BUT...as you say, I was able to make things that weren't being sold, plus I got the pride of using things I made with my hands, and that made it worth the effort. (Also, the $1/yd material I found at every Walmart from two cross-country trips would add a little to that value.)

    Poncho/Tarp - Don't forget that you'll have to set up the tarp, and then your hammock, when it's raining...so if that's your only raingear you may have wet clothes by the time your hammock is up.

    Here's a design option for a single-layer hammock.
    http://www.tothewoods.net/HomemadeHammock.html
    “Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.” ~Judge Joseph Story

    - My site: http://www.tothewoods.net/
    - Designer, Jeff's Gear Hammock / Pack Cover by JRB

    IMPOSSIBLE JUST TAKES LONGER

  4. #4
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Jeff View Post
    Underquilts need to be able to flex with the hammock...that's why most of them use some sort of shockcord attachment. The SnugFit uses velcro on Speer hammocks b/c the quilt's inner layer changes shape to adapt to the hammock. (One of the first prototypes actually had shockcord running in channels inside the inner layer, but it was too heavy to market.) Without that, just hooking a normal quilt to the hammock with omni-tape is likely to result in compression spots in some places and air gaps in others. Don't forget that the hammock material stretches over time, but the UQ doesn't.
    Thank you! That was going to be one of the items I was going to cover in a post further down, and I was wondering just how the SnugFit managed that. One of the things I was looking forward to doing was designing an underquilt that had an inner layer which could be squished without compressing the insulation under it. My initial design has me using a layer of InsulBright, a layer of Climashield, and then a layer of IX, backed with a layer of nylon. I figure on using draft tubes on the ends along with shock cord there to allow for venting.

    Perhaps a differentially-cut, stretchy Lycra or Spandex layer in between the InsulBright and the hammock body would allow for the snug fit needed by an underquilt. Hrm...

    Also, the holding power of omni-tape changes as it ages. It'll be strong in the beginning, but lost power over time. Should still be plenty strong to hold up the weight of an underquilt, though, and omni-tape loses strength much slower than velcro does b/c it doesn't stick to everything (like wool or fleece long johns).
    Very good point. I'd not thought of that, and I should have. I'm going to try to limit the each modular underquilt layer's weight, but I'm going to be working with synthetic materials, so...yeah. It's going to be heavier than a down underquilt, for obvious reasons. I wonder if there might be a better way to suspend it while sill allowing for stacking...hrm.

    Maybe toggles sewn to the hammock edges? Or loops? Probably loops; you'd be able to sit on them and not worry about puncturing the hammock. Then toggles on the underquilt with loops that the next one can attach to? Maybe...

    Cost. DIY isn't likely to be much cheaper than buying high-quality gear. One time I calculated how much a few projects cost me...adding up the cost of the materials and notions (not at bulk prices), my time would had to be worth about $3/hr (IIRC) for it to save me money. Since my free time is worth more than $3/hr, it was decidedly NOT a cost-saving venture. BUT...as you say, I was able to make things that weren't being sold, plus I got the pride of using things I made with my hands, and that made it worth the effort. (Also, the $1/yd material I found at every Walmart from two cross-country trips would add a little to that value.)
    Yeah, if I figured in what my time was worth, it most definitely wouldn't be cheaper. However, this is something that I enjoy doing (even when cursing my lack of skill with a sewing machine), so I chalk it up under "recreation time" rather than "work time". Heck, I'm willing to pay others for recreation time. So, I'm willing to try my hand at it. I may change my mind at some point, but, for now...

    Poncho/Tarp - Don't forget that you'll have to set up the tarp, and then your hammock, when it's raining...so if that's your only raingear you may have wet clothes by the time your hammock is up.
    Yep. I think there're a couple of things I can do to avoid this, but I face that possibility. In lower temperatures, I'm going to be looking at carrying a set of dedicated sleep clothes regardless (I sweat pretty bad under most conditions when exercising, and sleeping in wet clothes is undesirable for me), so it's limited as much as possible.

    Here's a design option for a single-layer hammock.
    http://www.tothewoods.net/HomemadeHammock.html
    Thanks! I definitely appreciate it. I think I'm going to stick with the Warbonnet whipping, since that seems the easiest and most foolproof way to do it, but the information is definitely appreciated!

  5. #5
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    High and Dry: Tarps and Ponchos Galore

    The second-most important item in the design is the tarp. Heck, I live in Florida; we get six months of 3:00 PM thunderstorms like clockwork.

    So, I've come up with the following design:



    It's an hex tarp that measures 12' 6" long by 10' wide. With the 1' 6" head slit at the middle, that should allow it to fold up to the dimensions of a standard USGI poncho.

    At each corner of the tarp, I intend upon placing a mitten hook attached to grosgrain or gutted paracord loops. This will allow the tarp to attach easily to a separate CRL to be strung up before taking the poncho off. In addition, I can carry stakes with the lines already attached to clip the tarp to. This should minimize my time in the rain without a poncho and offer a semi-sheltered place to hang the hammock.

    When wearing the tarp as a poncho, the mitten hooks will clip to loops attached to the head slit and to a pair of loops centered at the point where the hex cuts begin. This will pull the tarp in far enough to keep it from being too unwieldy, at least in theory.

    My issues are as follows: the poncho/tarp is going to be heavy and bulky compared to a normal poncho, it is going to allow me to get wet setting it up, and it does not offer any end protection against wind-blown rain.

    We'll see if this winds up being a valued piece of gear that helps lower my pack weight or a white elephant that I wind up hating in the field...
    Last edited by FLRider; 11-15-2011 at 00:05. Reason: 10', not 10" wide...

  6. #6
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Silny Slugs: Carrying System/Weather Protection

    In keeping with the ease-of-set-up dynamic, I intend upon using something like a cross between Hennessy's snakeskins and WL lazy slug tube as the carry system for the hammock and attachments.

    If I make oversized snakeskins with drawstrings (probably made out of shock cord) at the midpoint, which are sized to handle maximum volume I expect out of the system in full winter mode, I should be able to use them as end weather protection against wind-blown rain.

    For the poncho/tarp, I figure on using a standard waterproof (well, water resistant, since it'll have a drawstring closure rather than a roll-top) stuff sack that attaches to the tarp (haven't decided on just how yet) to go over the head slit, providing additional coverage to prevent water intrusion.

  7. #7
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Hot Tail: Underquilt Musings

    So, I'm in the midst of trying to figure out my underquilt design.

    My current design has me using a modular design, composed of two, possibly three lightweight quilts that will stack. The first quilt (against the bottom of the hammock) will have a layer of stretchy material, two layers of IX (the InsulBright, while useful, has a tendency to not be the most durable of materials), and then a layer of 1.1 nylon. This'll be my summertime quilt.

    A question on this for those of you out there with more sewing experience than I: how hard is it to sew a stretchy spandex or lycra material while its stretched out to its maximum?

    My thought is that, if I sew it to the IX with the stretchy material at its maximum stretch, I can then rely on it to scrunch up when it's not under pressure and conform to the bottom of the hammock. Then, when my body weight stretches the nylon in the hammock, the inner layer of the underquilt stretches and stays with me. The real trick is going to be getting the outer layer of nylon and the two layers of IX the right size so as to not be compressed when the inner layer is at its maximum stretch.

    I've searched the forums, and don't see any posts on anyone doing this. However, as always, it's possible I've missed a post somewhere. Does anyone have any experience with this approach?

  8. #8
    New Member
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    I've been playing with a similar underquilt design to what your describing. Have you done a search for modular UQ's? You might skim this thread if you haven't already:
    http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=36729

  9. #9
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by packnalf View Post
    I've been playing with a similar underquilt design to what your describing. Have you done a search for modular UQ's? You might skim this thread if you haven't already:
    http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=36729
    I had done a quick search for them, but somehow missed that thread. Lots of good ideas there. Thanks!

  10. #10
    PuckerFactor's Avatar
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    Problems with setting up in the rain aside, I think the poncho/tarp ideas is good. A slight modification I would suggest is to offset the head hole towards the front (so the front is shorter) to keep from stepping on it, and to give more length for covering your pack.
    Hope that makes sense.

    PF
    It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    Formerly known as Acercanto, my trail name is MacGuyver to some, and Pucker Factor to others.

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