DIY Guide: Double Layer Hammock
Hammocks have become my favorite sleep system for camping - I have even considered them for my main home sleep system. The first time I brought one camping I was amazed when I woke up. I didn't have the aches and pains from sleeping on a thin pad all night. The other amazing aspect was that I actually 'woke up' rather than got up due to being sick of the half sleep/half awake state that I am used to while backpacking. Suffice to say - I prefer the hammock.
All that being said there are difficulties to hammock camping that I won't get too far into in this how-to article, but that are real considerations when choosing a sleep system. First off you need insulation underneath you or your weight compresses the loft in your sleeping bag making your backside cold. Second if you cannot find suitable trees or are through hiking a trail that spends time above treeline you need to be able to go to ground. Third carrying an underquilt is heavy and annoying as it is like an additional sleeping bag in your pack and sleeping pads do not stay in place well when you move around in your hammock. Also, an underquilt is not a substitute for a sleeping pad should you have to 'go to ground'.
While browsing around DIYgearsupply.com I came across their plans for a double layer hammock which allows you to place a sleeping pad in between the layers. The sleeping pad gets pinched between these layers, keeping it in place while you enter/exit and move around during the night. This appealed to me, because I wouldn't have to take a bulky underquilt and could use the sleeping pad on the ground if I needed to. It just seemed right. So without further ado, lets get started!
I have included the image that details the materials and basic steps from DIYgearsupply.com, click here to download. I kind of did this project on a whim so I purchased my rip stop nylon from a local fabric store - it is thicker and heavier than the ultralight materials you can get from DIYgearsupply.com or whatever synthetic fabric dealer. I tend to over-engineer everything I make so the slightly heavier and stronger fabric did not bother me, but if you want a nice lightweight version I recommend ordering the materials. Even though I used much heavier fabric than I needed to it is still only 5oz more than my ENO DoubleNest setup, but overall much lighter when you factor in the underquilt vs sleeping pad weight savings. Not bad for a double layer hammock. I imagine if I used 1.6oz weight nylon fabric, like I should have, I might have even got it lighter than my DoubleNest setup!
If you are unfamiliar with sewing terminology and what a particular hem/seam is DIYgearsupply.com also provides an instructional on these techniques. I recommend checking out their site even if it's only for the free DIY plans. They have plans for everything from different tarp designs to ultralight pack designs, not to mention everything you need to make them.
Trim your ripstop nylon into two 3.5 yard pieces. The width will be 60 inches (5 feet) because that is how bolts of fabric are shipped. Take both rectangles of fabric and lay them directly over each other, I used pins every foot and a half or so to keep the pieces in place. As per the diagram from DIYgearsupply.com sew a single stitch along the edges highlighted in green about 1 inch from the end of the fabric. Do not sew the entire length, just the 78 inches highlighted in green. This will allow 48 inches for the opening between the two layers.
Once you have sewn both sides along the green highlighted edges turn the semi-tube inside out so that the raw fabric edges are on the inside. Now on each piece of fabric on the 48 inch open end (highlighted in blue on the DIY image) you will want to make a hem. These hems must be made seperately on each piece of fabric to retain the opening. Fold the fabric the same 1 inch toward the inside and make two stitches up that remaining 48 inches. Repeat for all sides (this will be done four times total). After all sides are done make a perpendicular stitch at the beginning of the opening, trapping both sides together. View the images below for clarity as it is a little tricky to explain.
Now that our 48 inch opening has been completed we are going to move back to the 78 inch section (highlighted in green). This is where I made a mistake so be sure to not get sloppy here (I forgot to do this on one of the sides before sewing the roll hem in Step 4). It turned out perfectly functional, but it still bothers me. Anyhow, you are going to want to create two stitches down the entire length of the 78 inch edges (green highlighted). These stitches should match the ones you previously made for the blue highlighted section (the 48 inch openings).
The last step is to create a roll hem on both ends of the hammock (the red highlighted section). This will create the drawstring channel that you will use to make the ball end for attaching your suspension system. Fold over a 1 inch or so section at the end of the hammock. Then fold it over again so that the raw edge of the fabric is hidden inside the roll (hence the name 'roll hem'). I pinned this in place to make the sewing easier. Now at about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the bottom of the roll, stitch across the entire width (the red section). Repeat on the other side and you are done sewing!
Use some drawstring cord (I used some paracord I had lying around) run it through the channel and sinch it down tight. Wrap the tag ends of the drawstring twice behind the balled end and tie off (I used a square knot). Make sure it is tight. Now take some strong cord, paracord will do, amsteel blue is ideal, I used some thin - low stretch - accessory cord from the climbing section at REI. Create two loops using a triple fishermans knot. Use a larkshead/girth hitch to attach these loops just behind the balled ends. Make a 101 inch ridgeline out of some strong, low stretch, cord. Paracord may not be ideal for this because it stretches a bit too much, again amsteel is ideal though I used the climbing accessory cord. Make loops at both ends of the ridgeline and slide the larkshead/girth hitched loops through the ones you just made in the ridgeline.
Congratulations on your new homemade double layer hammock! I set mine up to experiment with it and slept in it that evening. It got to 31 degrees that night and I was plenty warm with the sleeping pad inserted and my cheapo 25 degree bag. This setup only weighs 5oz more than my equivelant ENO DoubleNest system and because I can take a light sleeping pad instead of an underquilt there is a significant overall weight savings. Or I can bring both an underquilt and light sleeping pad for really cold weather. Check it out:
Take care and good luck! Watch the companion video below.
February 27th, 2015← BackNext →
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DIY Guide: Double Layer Hammock
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