Two nights in a hammock thanks to work!

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Oct 3, 2009
Brecon Beacons
I work for a college delivering a pretty 'outdoorsy' course to students aged 17 - (33 is the oldest I have taught here). The students got into hammocking after one of our bushcraft days when they hung my gaggle of 'spare' hammocks and all decided they had to have one. Nick at DD Hammocks set up a fantastic group purchase and the students (all bar a few) ended up with heavily discounted hammocks which they used for their second expedition of the year ... at the beginning of this week.

Luckily, if that is the right phrase, their first hill walking expedition was a complete washout and we walked off the hill at 2am completely soaked after the tents wetted out and their enthusiasm followed! This time the weather wasnt kind and the tarps, hammocks and sleeping bags did get damp but the combination of the space (and 'feel' of tarp camping) together with the swiftness with which the nylon kit dried in the breeze quickly had their spirits raised as they realised how much better this was than the last tented experience.

Some have practised and had a really good set-up:

Others hadnt made any effort to prepare and the ensemble quickly took on the look and feel of a shanty town ... although, to their credit, the majority of tarps and hammocks were put up pretty effectively (with a little help):

While some of the staff hadnt got the idea at all and didnt have the best of sleeps lol

My experience ...

I was lucky enough to have a full length winter hammock from UKhammocks arrive in the post the Friday before we left so I took my 3m DIY ripstop hammock together with underquilt and my down sleeping bag as a top quilt. I wasnt sure how this would work out so I took my BCUK Snugpak Cocoon sleeping bag as a back-up ... but didnt once want to use it (which is impressive as it is my 'go to' hammock sleeping bag).

I have set my DIY ripstop hammock a number of times recently and not noticed but the first night quickly showed that there is a pronounced centre calf pressure ridge :-( I suffered it for the night but in the morning I moved the ends of the hammock closer together on the CRL to increase the sag. This only served to increased the wall of fabric next to my head and actually seemed to make the calf pressure ridge worse. The underquilt was fantastic, I normally turn and roll through the night but I stayed on my back and pretty static all night. In fact, while the temperature dropped to 4 deg C I was naked in the hammock with quilt under and over. No cold spots and no draughts. I may have helped in this achievement as my synthetic insulation jacket had got a little damp and I zipped it around the hammock at my feet to help it dry through the night - I certainly didnt get cold feet!

I have a good number of hammock nights underneath me, just in other set-ups, and I once again enjoyed coffee and breakfast in bed using a beercan stove and SnowPeak titanium pot:

The second night was in a different location and the hammock was still loose. I suffered it for ten minutes and then got up again and tightened the hammock along the ridgeline ... which was better ... but worse! The calf pressure ridge was lessened but it was also hard to 'push' it out of the way with my feet ... but at this point I gave in and suffered it through the night. I had my baby-food jar candle lantern lit and slipped into sleep.

This gave me a bit of a confidence boost ... a cliched revelation ... even a bad night in a hammock is hugely more comfortable than sleeping well in a tent!

I had been playing with my tarps before going out this week and had tried a tent pole modification using the 3m x 4m Tatonka tarp on an offset diamond set-up ... which failed abismally. I meant to try the pole mod again with the tarp in a rectangular set-up but didnt get chance before heading out and in the end I just went with my standard set up. I have a 12m tarp ridgeline passing under the tarp with prussicks holding the tarp tension; I leave it rigged like this when I take the tarp down and fold the tarp, rolling the cord around it at the end (so it is ready for quick erection in poor weather). The wind was present (although not terrible) and the rain was fine so I borrowed an idea from this forum and pegged the tarp out from the points inside the edges, leaving the corners free to clip together as doors ... which will be my new standard set up for the winter ... it was palatial luxury!

I havent solved the calf pressure ridge but I did increase the sag by an inch before packing it away so I need another trip to test it again. I have done a lot of reading here since returning and wonder if a DIY 11ft hammock might be the answer as the CRL means I cant easily put the head end lower than the feet as recommended. *I deliberately choose the Hennesey method of folding the gathered ends before whipping as this seemed to decrease the chance of calf pressure ridges but the photo's now show that the material does have rather a lot of fold as it heads up into the gathered ends. Im not sure what I will try for the longer version??

All in all though, the majority of my newly acquired kit, tips and tricks came through for me ... to the extent that I couldnt sleep in bed last night and woke with a bad back!


A somewhat settled
Jun 9, 2009
North West London
Great report. Looks like you had a good time. :) Hammocking is a great learning curve, it took three or four nights before I found what suited me.
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Oct 3, 2009
Brecon Beacons
Thanks. This hammock is 155cm wide, I think it might be overzealous folding before whipping more than the width in this case but it didnt spoilt the night!

Your sleeping bag underquilts were finished and taken with us but the students didnt call for them ... they must be a hardy bunch!!

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