How Do I Make My Own Hammock?
Hammock suspension must support the hammock safely without damaging the environment. It connects the hammock to the tree (or whatever you're tying to), and is usually made from cord, rope or webbing. See the Hammock Suspension page for more details, but here's the simple version.
Strength - They need to be strong...usually with a breaking strength around 600 lbs. In the Files section of the Yahoo Hammockcamping group, Youngblood has posted an Excel spreadsheet illustrating the forces a hammock support exerts. Basically, the support rope is the hypoteneus of a triangle. Using the angle of the hammock support to true horizontal, calculate the force on the support (h) by
h = (.5 x user weight) / sin(support angle)
If you're careful to always hang with lots of sag (about 30 degrees from horizontal) you may get away with using a lower rated cord. I've broken 550 cord two times now, and it's rated to 550 lbs. Also, don't forget that knots can weaken the strength by about half.
- Stretch - Supports should generally be low stretch as well. If you have stretchy supports, the hammock will sag a lot when you get in. That makes estimating the correct hang angle more difficult, and if your trees are very far apart it can make it harder to hang the hammock high enough that it doesn't touch the ground when you get in. Many kinds of rope are high-stretch, as well as nylon webbing. Spectra is a popular low-stretch cord, and Ed Speer sells polypropylene webbing that's great for hammocking.
|Option 1 - Spectra Cord and Tree Huggers|
|My Spectra supports are just 9' (I think) lengths of cord with a bight tied in one end. I also just bought some BPL Air Core Plus that I plan to start using instead of the Spectra in these pictures - that should save me an ounce or two. I attach the support to the hammock as described below.
|First, tie an overhand knot into a bight of rope.|
|Second, form a larkshead in the end to slide the hammock into.|
|Third, slide the hammock end through the loop, ensuring the whipping is on the outside of the Spectra.|
|Fourth, tighten the rope and you’re done.
Each time you set up the hammock, make sure the Spectra hasn’t slipped over the whipping. Mine is stiff enough that this has never happened. Actually, when the support is around the hammock it doesn't even slip enough to stress the whipping.
|Connecting the Cord to the Tree - Tree Huggers|
|Thin cord like this can damage trees when you put force on it, so most people use tree huggers for protection. A tree hugger is simply a length of webbing, about 48-72", with loops on each end. You wrap it around the tree, then lash the cord through the loops.
The Hennessy lashing (aka lineman's lashing or figure-8 lashing) is a good way to attach the support to the tree huggers. Hennessy has a good video of lashing Spectra to tree huggers here.
|Here’s another way to tie the hammock up. Put a carabiner on the tree huggers, then just a “double slip knot” in the Spectra. It holds and it’s quicker to tie and adjust than the Hennessy hitch. Just be sure to use a climbing-rated biner.|
|Option 2 - Webbing|
|Webbing is another good option. You don't need tree huggers so there are two fewer pieces to keep up with in your pack, and it's a bit easier to just wrap it around the tree than to keep the tree huggers in place while you lash. It's really not that big of a deal, though...the biggest difference between cord/huggers and webbing is simply personal preference.
I connect my webbing to the hammock just like the Spectra above. I sew a loop into one end, then form a larkshead and wrap it around the end of the hammock. Then I use some version of the 4-Wrap Lashing to connect it to the tree. Risk has two pretty good write-ups on the lashing. The Speer 4-Wrap and the Improved Hammock Knot based on the same lashing.
|These straps are made from Ed's 1" Polypro webbing, with a finished length of 130" each. They weigh 2 oz each. This is the 4-wrap lashing, with the extra webbing just wrapped around the tree at the bottom. The hammock is inside JRB Python Skins.|
|Other Options - Buckles, Toggles, Rope, etc.|
|These aren't the only methods available...other options include various buckle setups, using toggles or Eagle's Nest Slap Straps, using rope instead of cord, and probably several other methods. Many of them are posted in the gear galleries at Hammock Forums, Whiteblaze.net, and the Yahoo Hammockcamping group (you'll have to be logged in to Yahoo to see the pics).|
|Here's a picture of my buckle setup using Crazy Creek's buckles. It's much easier to adjust the hammock's tension and to center it under the tarp with buckles like this, but they're certainly not required...the methods above are very simple and work fine.
I have some more pics on my Hammock Supports page.