Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hammocking without Bugs

I mentioned that over the winter months I had made 9 hammocks. Building the hammock body wasn't really all that difficult for me. It was figuring out how to add bug netting that presented the problem.

The Hennessy Hammock has the bug net sewn right on with no way to open it up. You enter the hammock through the "birth canal" (I know, not the most pleasant description) opening in the bottom. It's a fantastic design, but I won't be cutting a slit in the bottom of my hammock, plus I'd really like to be able to remove the netting when I want.
NOTE:If you have a Hennessy, and want to remove the netting, these great folks do really great modifications.

I personally have an aversion to adding zippers myself. They're kind of expensive, heavy, are outside of my comfort zone to sew, and can cause real problems if they snag or break - you could be trapped in or out of your hammock, or if it's stuck open you get to feed the mosquitoes and blackflies all night. Many people have had great success with zippers so I'm not saying it's a bad idea - it's just not what I want.

Velcro is a bit more user friendly to me - but it presents problems as well. Velcro is easy to sew, easy to connect and easy to disconnect. But Velcro can be difficult to align properly when it runs along the entire length of a hammock. It is also cumbersome to have to Velcro a side every time you want to get in or out of the hammock. In this, zippers excel and Velcro does not. But as I said, zippers are not an option for me.

There's a method that Risk uses that looked promising to me. He sews a rectangle of netting along one edge of the hammock body and puts a couple pockets along the other edge of the netting. Just drape it over the ridge-line and put some weight in the pockets to keep it snug against the side of your hammock. I had very high hopes. Then I tried it. And I hated it. It works well, but if there's enough weight in the pockets to keep it down - there's also enough weight in the pockets to pull that sewn on side of your hammock up nearly to the ridge-line. It works, but it bothered me.

Then there are bug net cocoons, basically a cylinder of bug net with draw cords on the end, they completely enclose your hammock. Those work, but I could see problems with reaching up to the end of the hammock while inside to close off an end. It would also present a problem if you had to get out of the hammock in a hurry for some reason... I'd rather not be trying to fight my way out of a cocoon of bug netting while a bear is ravaging my campsite.

I want a bug net that is easy to get in and out of without having to re-seal every time. I want to be able to tie it off when not in use, or even remove it completely if desired.

I searched and searched and did not find a solution that would work for me. There's lots of great solutions, but nothing that fit my purpose. That's what is so great about do-it-yourself gear. You can make it to your specifications.

So here it is. I utilized a bit of Velcro, but not where you get in and out, just on the ends, so it's removable. I utilized Risk's system of hanging pockets, but instead of just one side, I put them on both sides. Now you can get in and out of either side - without having to mess with zippers or Velcro. This also gives you lots of pockets for keeping gear right nearby - something Hammockers generally suffer a lack of compared to tenters. The bug net can be detached from one side, rolled up and tied off with some elastic that I put along one edge of the hammock.

Oh - one more great bonus of this bug net. Since it's completely removable - you can use it with just about any end-gathered hammock. All you need to do is sew the proper length of the right side of Velcro (hook against loop) along the outside edges of your hammock. Just be sure to adjust the total length to fit the ridge-line length of your hammock. The easiest way to change the length is just adapt the triangle heights to suit.
Here are the directions if you want to build your own.
- Click to enlarge -

My Nephew enjoying an afternoon rest. This shows the opening tossed over the ridgeline. No connection points in the center, it's just held down by weights (extra gear) put in the pockets. Easy in, easy out.

One more side view, no weight in the hammock.

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