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  1. #1
    Needs more Hang time Catavarie's Avatar
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    Smaller hammock, or Where did my calf ridge go?

    So I spent my first night in a smaller 9' x 4.5' hammock last night and I must say, WOW! I was immediately comfortable from the first moment I laid back. My body just fell into that sweet spot with no squirming around to get comfy, and the calf ridge was nonexistent. Before spending a full night in the hammock I had worried that I would be wrestling to keep my TQ in due to the smaller size, but the fear turned out to be unfounded as my quilt didn't shift once.

    Now one may say that I simply got lucky with the perfect angle on the suspension, or that my derriere happened to land just right. Well to that I say phooey! I've had this hammock out a few times for short backyard "tests" and each time out I'd had the same results. Now I know that the ridge is still there as the first time I was testing this new rig out I moved around quite a bit trying head left, head right, feet at one end, and feet at the other. During this bout of hammock gymnastics that would make Shug mighty proud (or at least giggle with glee ) I did notice a small ridge in line with my buttocks. In my larger hammocks (10.5' x 5' [DIY: Green Monster] and 10' x 6'[$5 Kmart clearance: Big Red]) the ridge created extends along the entire length of my sizable size 11 feet, in this new hammock (dubbed the Lean Green) the ridge barely reaches my instep measured from the heel. Smaller hammock equals a smaller ridge perhaps?

    So a bit of background is in store. I've been doing this hammocking thing for almost two years now and have spent more than a small number of nights in my super scientific test area (the backyard), on the trail, and even in large campgrounds surrounded by rolling metal behemoths, which rumble like sleeping dragons all night long. So while I'm not an expert, I'm no spring chicken with this hanging thing either.

    My Green Monster has had a noticeable calf ridge every time I've used it. More nights than not the ridge, has been bad enough that I've had to get out and adjust the suspension at least once, if not twice, to reduce it to a tolerable point. This is with a fixed SRL and setting the foot end much higher than the head, often times as high as my 5'8" body will stretch. This being my first hammock, and being that I made it myself I loved it no matter how much pain it caused me. Kind of like having a child that ends up being a hooligan, no matter what they do you never stop loving them.

    Big Red on the other hand was comfortable the first time I hung it. I can barely notice the ridge line as it is so wide that I can go completely to one side of it without much maneuvering. Big Red quickly became my favorite hammock, although weighing in at nearly 17oz with nothing more than suspension it's not my favorite to carry on the trail. With Big Red's large size came floppy side panels that can require a bit wrestling at times to get them off the face when trying to sleep. It's a bit like a large dog that still thinks it is a small puppy. It can break things and knock over the occasional person but that's just because it doesn't realize its size.

    In came Lean Green. It started life as the same $5 Kmart clearance hammock. I surgically removed the floppy sewn on side panels and snipped a foot off its length. A bit of stitching and end gathering later it was ready for a test. It's like a new marriage. It gives just the right amount of support and gentle snuggle. So what if it wakes up before me to brush its teeth so I think it doesn't have morning breath. I don't care; I can take a bit of fiction when life is so good.

    So while I was lying in the Lean Green hammock last night gently being rocked to sleep I had a thought. What if hammock comfort doesn't come from increased size, but rather proper portioning? Perhaps it's not the length, nor the width but the ratio of the two? I also feel that with the reduced size my butt had a smaller area to land so it naturally gravitated to its proper place causing the lack of sweet spot searching altogether. Whatever it is I have to say that I love my new Lean Green hammock, and can't wait to get some lighter weight material to reduce its weight even further.
    *Heaven best have trees, because I plan to lounge for eternity.

    Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement. - Mark Twain

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  2. #2
    dejoha's Avatar
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    Great points Catavarie. I agree with you. I have a post on "advanced hammock theory" where I started to play around with this idea of proportions. I believe there is a formula for calculating all the factors involved with the "right" hammock for your height, including the right length, width, and sag.

    Just going wider causes the hammock sides or gunnels to "canoe," which introduces floppy fabric on the sides because you can't get any more diagonal without going "banana." A deeper sag with a wide hammock helps somewhat, but the right proportion of width to length and the right sag allows the hanger to get in the right diagonal position for maximum "flatness" and comfort.

    One of these days I'll get in a studio and film this, but it may take a while. It's sort of fascinating in a strange, geeky way.

  3. #3
    Member SwedeMix's Avatar
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    Catavarie - that was a really great write up, made me smile from ear to ear!

    This is really interesting, been thinking in these exact terms myself. Maybe time to start experimenting, hmmm..
    Dejoha, a video sounds just great - it'll save us mere mortals tons of time and a few messed up hammocks! Love your teaching-skills, keep it up!

    // SwedeMix
    People on this forum are absolutely incredible. I wish we could discover new land and inhabit it all together. :-) - Deadphans

  4. #4
    samsara's Avatar
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    I was going to link to a thread by MAD777 about narrow hammocks but I see that you already posted there

    I have a dream... a dream that some day we will have something like the foot size measuring device for buying shoes (do they have those things any more?). You lay down with your head at the top and someone pulls in the measuring sides and bottom and *poof* you have your measurements for the perfect hammock!

    Nahh

    Dave
    "Laying and swaying in a hammock is like a steady morphine drip without the risk of renal failure" - Dale Gribble

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Pipsissewa's Avatar
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    Those are called Brannock devices. (my head is full of useless information!)

    My first hammock was a smallish 4.5x9 parachute hammock. That darn thing is STILL the most comfortable hammock I have (out of 5!) I can hang it ANYWHERE, ANY WAY and it's comfortable! So, I think you're on to something there. I don't know if it's the proportion of length to width, or the proportion of length to the height of the user or what, but I agree with your findings, Catavarie. Thanks for the write-up!
    "Pips"
    Mountains have a dreamy way
    Of folding up a noisy day
    In quiet covers, cool and gray.

    ---Leigh Buckner Hanes

    Surely, God could have made a better way to sleep.

    Surely, God never did.

  6. #6
    Moderator raiffnuke's Avatar
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    Great write up Catavarie! I have been experimenting with larger hammocks, but I haven't played around with smaller hammocks...I guess it is time to get back to some napping...er I mean hammock testing!

  7. #7
    samsara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pipsissewa View Post
    Those are called Brannock devices. (my head is full of useless information!)

    My first hammock was a smallish 4.5x9 parachute hammock. That darn thing is STILL the most comfortable hammock I have (out of 5!) I can hang it ANYWHERE, ANY WAY and it's comfortable! So, I think you're on to something there. I don't know if it's the proportion of length to width, or the proportion of length to the height of the user or what, but I agree with your findings, Catavarie. Thanks for the write-up!
    Ok, so we need someone to develop the hammock brannock

    Dave
    "Laying and swaying in a hammock is like a steady morphine drip without the risk of renal failure" - Dale Gribble

    The Florida Hangers Facebook page and the Florida Hangers web page

  8. #8
    dragon360's Avatar
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    My smallest hammock would be a GT ultra-light I've had for some time. I've always found it comfortable but never been able to really get lost in it. My larger hammocks, I have an easier time evading the dreaded ridge but maybe I need to take some time to relook at this!
    The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering. - St. Augustine

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  9. #9
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Very, very interesting thread, Catavarie! And seems to be confirming some experiences I have had and posted about, though I don't think I had yet thought " Hmmm, could a smaller hammock be better?".

    First your thought on Big Red and " it is so wide that I can go completely to one side of it without much maneuvering": how often I have posted the same thought about the HH Safari! When I stay far enough to one side, the ridge hits me mid thigh where it is of no consequence. It can't seem to put pressure on a nerve as happens with some other hammocks causing calf pressure. I think yours is the 1st other post I've read stating a similar opinion, though about another hammock.

    Another hammock with mostly no calf pressure problems has been my Claytor No Net. It is not all that long at 10 ft, but is also my most narrow hammock at 48". As well as my best hammock with a Pea Pod. I have always meant to try the shorter Claytor model, both for comfort and pod use, but have not yet done so.

    Finally, my old Speer 8.5 ( probably actually a 9 footer the way most folks measure) is my shortest hammock though wider than the Claytor. And I am always surprised that it consistently equals or exceeds any non-bridge I have tried for lack of leg ridge misery. It is not my favorite hammock overall, because I might have some slight knee hyper-extension ( way easier to deal with than calf pressure )and side sleeping with my legs straight is not so great ( fetal is fine ). But otherwise very comfy, and a match for any in the calf pressure wars.

    So, what's up with these short or shorter hammocks?
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Very interesting thread! I'm interested as I'm only 5'-9" and would love a shorter hammock but yet still maintain comfort of my 11' DIY. Definitely will be following this one.

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