Hammock Camping – Double Bunking:

Have you tried camping two up in a hammock with a single tarp? There are significant weight savings to be made…

This is an 8’ x 8’ (2.4 x 2.4 metres) cuben tarp to which we sewed two 4’6” x 8’ (1.35 x 2.4 metres) ‘wings’ so we could close it off as a tarp shelter like this:

It weighs 200 grams. Joe Valesko at zpacks made it first for me years ago. You can see what it looked like before we sewed the ‘wings on it here; http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/tarps.shtml. I/we have slept in it many nights. Here I was using a space blanket as a ground sheet. This works well. At this point I had not made my bed. It can also be erected as a hammock tarp like this:

Of course it can be tied/pegged out much tauter than this. I am not expecting to be camping on the verandah (though that is where many ideas are first tried out – as I’m sure you have already noticed!)

It makes a vast roof – as you can see it will provide you with plenty of shelter from rain, and you can peg the downwind side up high enough that you can have a fire slightly to one side and enjoy the fire whilst relaxing on the hammock out of the wind and rain.

Della is reclining on a Nano 7 hammock here (https://www.grandtrunk.com/products/nano-7-hammock) which (with the caribiners removed and with dyneema ropes attached) weighs 187.5 grams. I would just throw one of our Thermarest Neoair Womens mats (340 grams) in it and a Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral #3 down sleeping bag (600 grams) for a perfect night’s sleep (Total: 1327.5 grams). Perhaps you would like to compare that weight to your current tent, sleeping bag and mattress combo! My arrangement is also much more comfortable, safer and drier. She has one arm thrown over her face as the sun is quite bright. This is one disadvantage of cuben: it is so thin that for a summer roof it provides little shade in the daytime – but there are always trees. The converse of this ‘deficiency’ is that it is a lovely airy shelter on more inclement days when another tent might be dark and grim.

We already know we can sleep in two Nano 7s pitched one above the other. Have done. You have to pitch the tarp slightly higher (4’6” instead of 4’). You have to boost the top person in, and then the bottom person (me) is closer to the ground than I would like (so far as getting in/out easily is concerned), but it works!

Now to check out whether we can both sleep head to toe in a double hammock. Side by side definitely doesn’t work! Here’s Della:

And here’s me at the other end:

As you can see, Spot figures there is plenty of room for him too – and he’s comfy! This is a Trek Light Gear Double Hammock (https://www.treklightgear.com/double-hammock.html). We were playing around with mattresses here. Della is lying on a ¾ length Neoair. I am on a Neoair Womens. We are using the new Klymit Ultralight pillows (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/ ) and the Airbeams (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/air-beam-pad/ ) from our packs (both of which we would be carrying anyway) for side insulation on the side where our sleeping bags will be compressed. It is comfy enough.

Hummingbird Hammocks (https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/shop/single/) have a double hammock which weighs 10.2 ounces (289 grams rated at 400 lb, 181 kg), and a single+ one which weighs 7. 6 ounces (210 grams rated at 158 kg) which could also be used  for two. I should also mention their ultralight single here which weighs 5.2 ounces (146 grams rated at 300lb 136 kg) – even lower than the Nano 7! I need to try their products out!

I think a single wider (possibly longer) mattress would work better. The Klymit Ultralight I ordered from Massdrop is on its way. It is 23” wide. I am also eying some wider xped mats which look really good.

So, what is our strategy here. What are we about doing? There are places we go where we may not need a shelter at all (because there are huts a day apart – Fiordland for example). However, you would be a damned fool to have no shelter as you can be very dead (as I have seen) if you don’t make it to a hut in torrential rain, for example. You must have a roof (see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/) There, and other places such as the Nth Queensland Cloud Forests it might be good to have the option to sleep on the ground, or if the ground is too wet/rough etc, to sleep in the trees.

We are looking at what is the minimum we can jointly take so we can do this. We are pretty close here to the solution. We will be looking into some wider pads which might better suit two people in a double hammock such as Big Agnes Q-core slx, and Exped Synmat UL7 MW & etc.

If you have a (wife or)  youngster at home you want to start on camping/hiking/hunting, a double hammock plus tarp shelter such as I have explained here will mean s/he has to carry very little and will be safe in the tree with you – away from nasties such as spiders and snakes!

PS: I don’t know whether you noticed the eye bolts in the verandah posts to which I have attached two lengths of chain and some caribiners so I can quickly swing a hammock on the verandah if one of us wants to have a lazy day (Della actually went to sleep in the Nano 7 whilst I was off cleaning out a sheep trough!) I recommend this arrangement for your consideration.

PPS: If you are considering just a single hammock configuration you might want to know how light you can go with a tarp. This guy has been making cat curve tarps for ages: http://www.outdoorequipmentsupplier.com/maccat_tarps.php His Mac Cat Standard is obviously all you would need. In 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon it weighs 270 grams (and costs US$105) which means it would weigh above 104 grams in cuben (let’s say less than 120). For comparison Joe Valesko makes an asym one which weighs 136 grams. Add a hammock at 146 = 266, plus @ 20 grams dyneema suspension ‘rope’, some pegs and some guylines for the tarp. You are still looking at a hammock/tent at less than 350 grams – closer to 300! (Can that magic figure be broken? Stay tuned…)

My first homemade hammock and hammock tarp were both fashioned from some green 2.2oz/yd2 nylon ripstop from Spotlight (you can see what it looked like in the ‘poncho shelter’ link below). We simply cut the required length for the hammock (leaving the full width of the fabric 5′ – 150 cm), folded it over and double hemmed it at the ends (to take the rope). The selvage was enough for the sides. For the tarp we used a 7′ x 7′ (210 x 210 cm) square flat felled at the join and hemmed all round, to which we sewed grossgrain tie-outs at the corners and halfway along the sides. This arrangement worked fine for years and in all kinds of weathers hunting sambar deer in the Victorian mountains. Indeed I have been bone dry under this minimalist tarp when a couple of fellow hunters were soaked to the skin inside a tent pitched under a tarp not ten yards away! I am talking a tarp of 49 square feet here – and some of that area is almos6t certainly superfluous! In cuben 49 ft2 would weigh 2.7 ox or78 grams! Now you see what my 300 gram ‘limit’ is about!

Update: there is a better way to do this. You can hang side by side like this:

See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/simple-hammock-double-up/

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