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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Double Layer Hammock Pattern

Here is a pattern I have put together to build one of my favorite hammock styles.  It is fairly straightforward if you know how to sew.  I am sure the directions could even be more simplified by an expert.  I am not a DIY expert, I don't pretend to be, just a hobbist.  These instructions have no guarantees of perfection or safety, they are published for your consideration and reference.

Materials needed to build one hammock using these directions:

Quest Outfitters:
  • #1202 NO-SEE-UM MESH , (Black) --------------4yds
  • #2032 GROSGRAIN RIBBON - 1 inch Black------12yds
  • #5030 #5 COIL ZIPPER by the yd BLACK-------- 4yds
  • #5043 #5 COIL NL REV ZIPPER TAB BLACK---2 eaches
  • #2400 1/8 shock cord--------------------------------2yds
  • Polyester Tree Straps-------------------------------- 30ft yields two 14 foot straps with 3 inch loops
  • 7/64th Amsteel -------------------------------------- 25ft
Other Suppliers
  • Ripstop/Taffeta Nylon or Polyester 58 in+ wid-------12yds (8yds for body + 2 12ft x 6in wings). This will leave some leftover to make a hammock stuff sack and a ridgeline organizer.
  • Home Depot Mason Line for Whipping-------------- One Roll
  • REI SMC Decending Rings-------------------------- 4 eaches


1. Cut two pieces of fabric (rip stop nylon, nylon or polyester taffeta) for the base layers. Dimensions: 11 feet long by 58+inches wide.

2. Cut two pieces of fabric (rip stop nylon, nylon or polyester taffeta) for the wings. Dimensions: 11 foot long by 9 inches wide

3. Sew a 1/2 inch rolled hem on one side of the inner base layer; see green line in figure below. This will be the finished inner layer that you will see and feel when you enter the hammock.  This hemmed edge will be next to the zipper and the rolled portion of the hem will be down.

4. Attach wings and zipper (if you are building a Black Bird clone,  use the shelf/footbox piece in place of the right wing).

5. Hem ends with a 1 inch channel.  The hem will go across the wings, zipper, grosgain and base layers.  Once hemmed the overall length of the hammock will be about 10’ 6” or 126”.

6. Cut a piece of rope that has a 300lb + working strength for the structural ridgeline of the hammock.  I personally like to use Amsteel or LashIt and use a splicing method to develop an adustable structural ridgline (ASR).  To learn more about how to build an ASR, see the following link:

To learn more about structural ridgelines for a hammock see the following:
To the Woods

If you are unfamiliar with splicing then good old fashion knots work well and you can build a static ridgeline very quickly and without much hassle.   To build a knotted static ridgeline,  measure the length of your hemmed hammock (about 10’ 6” or 126”.)  The rule of thumb is  that your finished ridgeline would be about 83% of your overal hammock length, about 100-103”.  Then tie loops into each end of the ridgeline rope, I tend to use a figure-eight knot, since they are easy to undo in case I need to readjust it at a later time. The end product should look like this:

7. Run a piece of small diameter rope (mason line, ZingIt, LashIt) through each of the hemmed end channels and use Knotty’s method in the video below to whip the hammock.  This method is similar to the Warbonnet Black Bird whipping method, and is one of the most comfortable I have used.   The only thing I do different is whip the hammock around the structural ridgline that we created in the previous step. This means that loops we tied into the ridgeline are poking out of the center of the whipped mass when complete.  I think this gives a more finished look and works better with an attached bugnet.  I will try to get a picture of this posted so that it makes more sense. 

The following tutorial was put together by Knotty from

Do not tie the knots  in the whipping that you can't undo. Also do not cut the excess of the whipping rope.   We will need to undo this to attach the bugnetting. This is just a dry run to make sure it is comfortable before attaching the bugnet.

8. Attach your favorite suspension to the whipped ends.  This becomes a very subjective area for most people as they all have their favorite type of suspensions.  The one I like the best is the webbing and ring buckles, others perfer to use whoopie slings or a cord variation.  See the following videos on the different types of hammock suspensions.  They can all be purchased or done by DIY methods.

These tutorials were put together by Grizz from, check out his other videos to learn more about hammocks.



Whoopie Slings (Constriction):

There are vendors that sell the DIY materials and also finished product for the suspension, here are a few that I have used:

Arrow Head Equipment
Backwoods Day Dreamer
Jacks R Better

Once you have attached your suspension,  hang the hammock and try it out. Make sure the lay is comfortable, if not adjust the ridgeline length until you are happy with the lay. Once you have it dialed in, it is time for the bug net.

9. I like to fold my bug netting fabric long ways and then cut out the following basic shape. I know there are a few more complicated ways to determine exact lengths of the cuts, but I have found that the most simple for me is to actually just measure the exact size I need based upon my hung hammock.  The critical points to measure are shown below:

a. Determine where you want the tie-outs on the hammock (line Q end points)**; their purpose is to pull the bug netting away from your face. I like the WBBB method that uses two points instead of just one.  I determine where I want them by laying in the hammock and having someone pull the fabric out away from my face at different points.  Once you know the position of the desired pullouts, then use a right angle to determine where at on the ridgeline the tie out would intersect. Once you have those four points indentified you can quickly measure the distance for the (Z, ZZ, Y, and Q values). Then from there it is as simple as cutting out the basic shape.

** If building a Blackbird clone, you will use the measurements on the shelf to determine where the tie outs would be on each side.

b. Once you have the basic shape cutout, you need to shape the edges of the bugnet by cutting an arc into each side. These arcs are called catenary cuts, they help make the bug net stay uniformly taut.

I do catenary cuts that are 4-5 inches deep at the center on the long side and 2-3 inches deep at the center on the two shorter sides.  To find the center measure the length of the edge you want to shape and divide by two.  Find that point on the edge and measure the depth you want to cut to.

I like to use a long piece of flexible wood to model the curve so that I can mark where to cut on the bugnetting.

10. The last and final step is to attach the bug net onto the wings using the grosgrain ribbon.
  • While the hammock is hanging, pin the bugnet securely onto the hammock, just like it would be when sewn.
  • Remove suspension and undo the whipping so that you can sew all the way to the ends.
  • Start at the tie out points and sew the bugnet directly to the hammock wings, sewing toward the ends. Sewing towards the ends pushes out any of the puckers or excess to the ends where it can be trimmed.
  • After sewing the bugnet directly to the hammock,  finish the edge with one inch grosgain ribbon.
11.  Sew loops using the grosgain to the predetermined points where you want the bugnet/wings pulled away from your face.

12.  Attach cord/bungee cord to the tie outs,  I usually use three foot piece of cord tied between the two tie outs on each side. To this cord I attach a four foot piece of bungee cord.  The bungee piece attaches to the stake.

Optional Step to build a WBB Shelf and footbox piece.

Here are the approximate measurements and shape. It is all one piece. If you go this route remember you will use this piece in place of the non zipper side wing.

The red dotted line indicates a second layer of heavy nylon sewn on to serve as a patch to help strengthen the neck between the footbox and shelf. It is critical to put it there as to help absorb the strain.

The finished BlackBird Clone should look something like this:

Good luck,


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tarp Doors

I really like my OES Deluxe Spinn tarp. It is really light and works extremely well to keep me dry. The only issue was that I wished I could seal it up better against the blowing rain we get here in NJ. I also wanted to seal it up a little better in the winter to help trap the warm air from escaping. I have played around with different ways to do this, but the Spinnaker fabric the tarp is made from is very light and I am too scared to sew actual doors on it and damage the integrity of the tarp.

So when a member on the hammock forums website showed his idea for an attachable vestibule, I jumped on the idea and created one immeaditely. He has since updated the design and now a cottage manufacturer is building them and can be purchased here, it is called the Grizz Beak.

My beaks are somewhat similar to the design that is being sold now, but definitely don't have the same tolerances and quality sewing. I also did not cut them to the same dimensions that Grizz had suggested. This was one of my first official sewing projects that I did all by myself. I can honestly say the beaks/vestibules work well but my sewing is pretty ugly. So I won't have any close ups on the seams. In hindsight I think this is the easiest project someone can undertake. The hardest part is cutting the nylon to the correct dimensions, after that is just requires a simple hem around all four sides and some grossgain tabs to hook the beak to the tarp.

I built two beaks and used about 7 yards of 1.1 oz DWR from Wal-mart and reused some grossgain I recycled off an old pack. This ended up running me about $10 in materials to build two off them. This is a lot cheaper than what they are going for now, however, when you factor in the time it may be worth it to buy them.

With that said here are my pictures of the first setup. I have used them on one trip so far and was really happy with how they worked and blocked the wind. They take about 10 seconds to clip onto the tarp and only require one extra stake.

I have some future modifications planned, but am still working on the design. My goal with the future changes is to reduce the amount of overlap of the beak and tarp so as to save weight.

New Under Quilt

This fall I decided I wanted to upgrade my gear a bit and build an underquilt for my hammock. I spent a few months sourcing materials and ended up building a 2/3 length under quilt using once piece of 5 oz Climashield XP.

Each of the four sides has a channel for shock cord to run through. This allows for a better fit of the under quilt against the hammock body.

Material Lists:

  • 1.1 oz DWR Ripstop from Wal-mart. ($1.50/yd. I used about 6 yards total)
  • 1 piece of 5oz Climashield XP from a member of Hammock Forums ~ 2 yards for $20.
  • Shockcord from outdoor store ($5 for about 25 ft)
  • Outdoor Polyester Thread (free, due to it being leftover from previous projects)
Total: $35-40 Dollars

To have purchase a comparable underquilt like this would have ran me over a hundered dollars, so I am really happy with how cheaply I was able to make a quality piece of gear.

It took about 4 hours of actual sewing and a few weeks of me trying to figure out how I wanted to do it. My plan was to make it multi-purpose so I could use it as a underquilt in the cold and as a top quilt for the summer months.

I have been able to test it out at about 30 Degrees Farenheit and was toasty warm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Custom DIY Compact Wood Stove

I love backpacking wood stoves. I have built around ten of the quart paint can wood stoves in the last year but have never been happy with their weight and height. However, since a member discovered that the flashing endcaps fit perfectly into the quart can I have been able to finally create one of these stoves to my own specifications.

The endcap allows you to chop the quart can down to the height you want. I use an IMUSA four cup mug and wanted a stove that fit inside of it. So I spent about an hour and came up with this. It has a 3.75" tall base compared to the standard 5". It is my new 'go-to' stove, it burns amazingly well and is a lot lighter and more functional than the larger versions. I have had a lot of success with it this far and plan to take it on my future trips. One thing to note, is that I discovered that a stoke tube really helps kick this stove into wood-gas mode really quickly. I made it from simple refrigerator water line and a brass coupler.

Compact woodstove nested in IMUSA 4 Cup mug:

Integrated fire grate:

Comparison of full size wood stove to chopped stove:

The Stove in action:

My biggest concern with a wood stove on a backpacking trip is wet wood. I plan on taking a small alcohol stove along with it on days I don't want to light a fire. However, I was testing one day in a downpour and was very surprised with the results. It started downpouring as I was trying to get it lit. So I ended up trying to start the stove with wet dead fall in a pouring icy rain with a 5-10mph gusting wind, needless to say it was less than optimal. The stove smoked a lot and never really went into gas mode much longer than a couple minutes. After about 25minutes I got annoyed and decided to put it away for a better day, and as I lifted the lid on my pot I realized it was boiling. I don't know how long it had been boiling, but it sure didn't look like the stove was doing anything, it was just into charcoal mode. So it was a nice surprise, one that would work in crappy weather if I give it enough time. I am going to try to work on a windscreen, I am thinking about trying a windscreen that anchors into the ground with some light stakes instead of actually attaching to the stove.

Hammock Update - Warbonnet Black Bird

It has been a long time since I actually updated my blog. Mainly because I haven't been able to play outside as much this year as I would like. However, with that said, I was able to build and buy some really cool gear this year. My biggest purchase of the year was my new hammock, a Warbonnet Black Bird.

I had been oogling the Black Bird hammock for quite some time before actually buying one. After researching mutiple hammock brands and building one of my own I decided that the best hammock for me was the WBB. It has an integrated bugnet, a footbox that aids in you laying flat, and a built in shelf/pocket for storing gear. It wasn't cheap but I can say that it is the best night of sleep I have got in the woods. It is nice and roomy on the inside and may be more comfortable than my bed at home. I have been able to use it a few times this year and was even able to get my wife to sleep in it during a trip into Yellowstone. She loved it!! She had been thinking my hammock obession was really weird, yet it only took one night in it and she decided it was the only way to camp.

I got the 1.7 DL (double layer) version with the strap suspension system. If I get another one I will get a single layer 1.7 or maybe the 1.1 DL, since my weight doesn't come close to being an issue for either of those options.

It is a large hammock and does need a pretty decent tarp to adequately cover it, however my OES Spinntex Deluxe tarp works really well. So far I am really happy with it and have officially retired my other hammocks to the loaner pile.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Inverted Downdraft Woodgas Stove

I have seen plans floating around on how to make an Inverted Downdraft Wood Gas Stove. I liked the concept but did not like the bulk of them and how high off the ground they raised the pot. One can buy a pre-built stove like the Bush Buddy but the price tends to push most people away. Even though I believe they can be custom sized to your pot so they nest inside.

I ran into the plans to build one of these stoves on the Backpacking Light forums and realized I could make one of these stoves for under $5. I used the BPL forum instructions and also Tamrag's blog to put this together.

Build materials:
1 quart paint can from Homedepot for $3
1 20z Can from Soup/Fruit/Etc
1 piece of mesh, I used gutter mesh that was $2 for a large strip at Home Depot.

I didn't have a 1/2 inch bit, so I used a 3/8 inch bit and the results have impressed me. On a day with gusting winds I was able to bring 3.5 cups of water to a boil with a handful of wood in about 15 minutes from the time I lit the fire.

The best part is the stove fits inside my IMUSA mug but is still a little tall. I am going to make another one and shorten the entire stove by 1 inch and then it will nest perfectly. I am also going to get some of the BBQ Grill paint and coat all the pieces to help keep them from rusting.