Making my own hammock

April 8th 2014

I've owned a Hennessy Hammock Explorer Deluxe for about a year. It was a great way for me to get started in hammock camping. It has everything you need for shelter and protection in one fairly easy to use package. I originally bought an ENO DoubleNest. It was a very comfortable hammock, but required me to add a bunch of stuff to make it into a "complete camping system". The one thing I miss about the ENO is to just hang the hammock and get in. The Hennessy is more of a tent that's hanging above the ground. When you're in it you're somewhat isolated from the outside around you.

I'm wanting to hang indoors. I think the large, tent-like structure of the Hennessy is quite off-putting to my wife. So, I've been looking at getting another hammock without an integrated bug net or attached tarp. There are lots of options for commercial hammocks:

  • The aforementioned ENO DoubleNest is about $65 depending on where you buy it. You'll also need to pick up some straps as well for about $30. That's pretty close to $100.

  • Grand Trunk is another commercial venture that makes good hammocks. Their double sized hammock is $65, including "rope" to hang with.

  • The Warbonnet Traveler is a nice hammock made by a "cottage vendor". The 1.7 single layer has a weight capacity of 250 lbs. That's a little close for me, so I'd probably go with a double layer for more strength. That's $75, but includes straps.

  • Dream Hammock is another beloved cottage vendor that makes very nice hammocks. Their FreeBird is highly customizable. A single layer hammock is $75 and a double is $115. That includes suspension.

  • Butt in a Sling has a nice camper hammock that is $75 with suspension.

I know all of these are very fine hammocks. There will be slight differences between them, but I'm sure they will all lay about the same. My problem is I didn't want to spend $75+ on a spare hammock.

There are a bunch of threads discussing this, but I decided to make my own hammock using a table cloth from tableclothsfactory.com. Here's the basics:

That's a total of $48.56 delivered to my door. That's saving between $10 and $25 from the next cheapest solutions. From a strict cash flow perspective I'm coming out ahead. I'll also have to spend a few dollars to buy wall anchors to hang indoors. I suppose if I wanted to, I could have just bought a spool of Amsteel rope and done my own whoopie slings and ridge lines. That could have saved me about $10 to $15 additional.

However, there are a couple down sides. First, I'm making a single layer hammock. It is very strong, but double layer hammocks have the advantage of being able to slip a sleeping pad between the layers. I'm not sure that matters because I'm an underquilt kind of guy.

Here's another point to consider. The table cloth hammock is definitely heavier than the Warbonnet Traveler. For backpacking, I'm not sure the table cloth hammock is a good choice. Making a double layer hammock out of light weight 1.1oz Ripstop Nylon is about $40 not including the ridge line or suspension. So really, both the Warbonnet Traveler and the BIAS camper hammock are a great deal.

Yet another additional cost is some kind of stuff sack to pack the hammock. My DIY doesn't include one. All of the commercial hammocks do. Since my intent is indoor only, that doesn't really matter. Strictly speaking, I probably don't need a stuff sack for backpacking either. But it is nice to have one.

I chose to go with whoopie slings for suspension. My goal here is only to hang indoors. My thought was that I could easily put hooks in the wall and simply slip the whoopie slings over the hooks. If I wanted to hang outdoors, I'd need to figure out some other type of anchoring system. That would likely be a pair of tree straps for another $10. If I had chosen to buy the Warbonnet Traveler, it would have come with all the suspension needed to actually hang outdoors. It's hard to say, the traveler is a good buy. I'm not saving that much money building it myself.

"Knotty" has one of the better videos on How to Make a Gathered End Hammock. Here's another Making a Nylon Hammock video. The advantage of the table cloth is that it's already hemmed. There's literally no sewing involved if you whip the ends.