Does length matter?

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darogue100
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Does length matter?

#1

Post by darogue100 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:29 am

I'm a newbie. I just ordered hammock kits from
RSBTR and am wondering how the length of the hammock affects the lay. I am only 5'10 and my wife is 5'7. I'm planning on making gathered end hammocks for each of us. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.



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tangara
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Re: Does length matter?

#2

Post by tangara » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:57 am

To a point, I like the longer hammocks, mostly because they are more forgiving with the angle of hang. I also don't like any of my hammocks that are only the standard width of a bolt of cloth (60", so about 58" finished). I can tolerate them, but they just aren't as comfortable. Most of the ones I like come in between 11 and 13 feet and the width of my height or wider. Think of it this way, if you would suspend the hammock with the ends within two feet of each other, you could lay across the whole hammock without spilling out. So now as you lengthen the hammock, unless it's flat out horizontal, you can always find a sweet spot on the diagonal. fwiw, I'm 5'7".

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Re: Does length matter?

#3

Post by sarge » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:55 am

I'm right at 6'-0" and find that anything less than 10 feet long is uncomfortable. Conventional wisdom is that an 11 foot hammock will be comfortable to most folks. Like tangara, I find that longer hammocks are more forgiving of the hang angle, and that the calf ridge is less pronounced. The calf ridge is also why I like like the wider hammocks as you get more room to lay beside the calf ridge rather than on it. I just replaced my Big Green Weenie ( 1.1 nylon 12 foot long by 67" wide) with the Big Gray Weenie (1.6 Hyper D 12 foot longe by 71" wide) for that reason. I love bofum, there isn't a bad spot on either of them.
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Re: Does length matter?

#4

Post by BillyBob66 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:45 pm

You know, we are all so different(you might find one set of shoes or clothing or bed way more comfy than I do), and so many other variables also seem to matter such as fabric, whipping and width, and hang angle, height of foot end, distance between trees etc. Although lots of people clearly prefer the longer hammocks, I personally don't automatically think length or width is always an advantage, even though I am 6'1". I know that puts me in the minority.

One of my favorite non-bridge hammocks comfort wise was always a HH Safari No net I bought years back at an HH sale. So in this case, yes, both longer and wider was better. But, that rascal is something like 12 feet long, and made of a different fabric than any of my other hammocks, and has far and away the deepest sag under the RL I have ever seen on any commercial hammock. Could it be some of these other factors as much or more than length? I don't know, but it is a very long and comfy hammock. Compared to my HH Explorer UL, it was easier for me to get comfy in a wide variety of positions: on my back with never an issue with knee extension or calf pressure, on my side fetal or legs straight. But the only insulation I had at the time was a PeaPod and HHSS, and neither were great with that hammock, and it was a bit heavy, so I rarely used the hammock except for warm weather hangs.

My HH Explorer UL is actually pretty close to an 11 foot hammock when I measure it. The RL is only 9 ft(108"), but obviously the hammock is a good bit longer than the RL. Heck , the RL on the much longer Safari is only 112" for that matter! I still think it is a very comfy hammock for most positions. Fetal position is as comfy as any hammcock I have used. Flat on my back is also as comfy as any excepy there can be a hint of too much knee extension and sometimes more than a hint of calf pressure. But I can usually fins a sweet spoy with neither problem, or a little something under my knees solves both problems. But usually I just find myself going fetal, and I have found nothing to beat it in that regard.

When the 11 foot hammocks first hit the scene 2 or 3 years back, after I read some rave reviews on one brand, I got me one. I was a bit disappointed to notice I could still get calf pressure. So far it has not replaced my fav hammocks.

Now here come the real contradiction to longer is better: Probably my most oft used non-bridge hammock has been my Claytor No Net. Now one reason for that was that this narrow hammock was what worked best with my PeaPod. Still, for over all comfort it was very hard to beat, though the heavier Safari might have beat it out just slightly when considering all positions. So how long? 10 ft, and the most narrow hammock on the market. Almost never any calf pressure or knee extension and very comfy for side sleeping with legs either straight or fetal. Plus, made my Speer PeaPod very close warmth wise to being wrapped up inside a mummy bag, so it saw a lot of cold weather use. The 11 ft hammock(and a bit wider) I got was not one bit more comfy, and probably slightly less.

Another hammock got some popular attention a year or two back with several very experienced users calling it their favorite hammock, maybe the most comfy overall. The Switchback. I agree that it is a major contender for top dog. Length? I think it might be about 9.3 ft or so, at least according to the listed length at the web site..

But wait, it gets even more crazy. Back in the day, if there was any competition for the HH, it was Speer. More than a few people found the Speer as or even more comfy than the HHs. In more recent years, even though they are still sold at TTTG, it seems like almost no one uses a Speer, though their home DIYs might be similar. But still, every now and again someone(rarely) pops up who says "I just tried this Speer and it is the one for me". As for me, the Speer is a non starter when it comes to side sleeping with legs straight. And flat on my back it has a bit of knee extension so works better with something under my knees. But other than that, it is at least as comfy as anything else, and is great- one of the best- for fetal and consistently has about the least calf pressure of any non-bridge I have used. Length? Speer called it 8.5 ft. It might have been closer to 9 ft.

So, there have been a fair number of hammocks over the years that were rated very highly for overall comfort which were 10 ft or less. So, YMMV.
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Re: Does length matter?

#5

Post by TXyakr » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:01 am

First watch this video on YouTube he explains it better than I can:

https://youtu.be/SuSOIWd1Gfw

IMO it depends on many factors what length and to a lesser degree the width will work out best for you, without being excessively large. I am 5' 9" about 160 lbs, 51 years old, have mild arthritis in my back as well as some bulging disks so am in mild pain most of the time, also have migraine headaches almost everyday the "thorn in my flesh" 2 Cor 12:7 (may explain my intolerance for stupid comments but not excuse them, opposite effect as on Paul, ha ha ha). A 11' Warbonnet BB XLC, double layer nylon is fairly comfortable to me but seems a little narrow, fine for car camping (best hang angle 30 degrees). For every night sleeping at home I prefer a 12' or longer, super wide Brazilian hammocks (hang angle up to 45 degrees). Once just to see how it worked I slept in a friend's ENO-DN 9' 4" ? but with a pad to help flatten it out this was fine for one night but I would not have wanted it for a long trip (no Structural ridgeline and a lot of messing around to get close to ideal 30 degrees hang angle and ideal sag). I also have a very minimalist 10' hammock (no net, single layer nylon) for backpacking it is OK but not as comfortable, mostly because it is narrow 52", I happen to like wider and I must get the angle of hang just right. A structural ridgeline is more critical for this IMO (to maintain the ideal sag even when an ideal hang angle of 30 degrees is not possible), but less so or not even needed for a 12' -14' Brazilian style hammock.

I think you may find that certain material will create fabric ridges more than others so perhaps a thick polyester could work better for a short hammock than a very thin nylon. I'm not sure about that, best to ask around and get feedback, also just lay in some at a group campout, this could give you a good idea. Most people will tell you their hammock is the best thing ever, understandably. I have been sleeping in hammocks since I was a little toddler, and my parents for decades before I was born, so many many decades of experience. I will tell you the truth that there are faults with every hammock I own and have ever slept in but they sure are better than 99% of flat beds. :)

Ideally if you both car camp and backpack you will have one shorter and a little more narrow and one hammock that is longer perhaps about 11' by 5' for car camping. For sleeping at home those extra large polyester table cloths make a very good hammock and are much cheaper than a true high quality 100% cotton Brazilian hammock than can cost $200 - 500. My brother-in-law and occasionally some friends travel to Brazil but even there these are quite expensive and very heavy to carry in a suitcase. I rarely go to Brazil anymore, it's an expensive place to vacation, camping in nearby states much cheaper, kids about to go to college blah blah...

Here is one table cloth source but there are others I personally would not choose white or black, there once was a place that had many better colors but I couldn't find it, key is for car camping or home (not backpacking) try to get thicker 250 grams per square meter Polyester and about 60" by 126" or larger. However, some people really prefer the more stretchy nylon and claim thin nylon material is more comfortable with less calf ridge problems so best to just try for yourself. Primary advantage of a table cloth is that hems have been done for you so just saves time, because most of us are busy and like that but if you purchase your own fabric there is a much better selection and some form of "ripstop" is super important for camping, you will snag it sooner or later.
http://www.tableclothsfactory.com/Tusca ... 26_wht.htm

IMO RSBTY kit a very good option, especially if they have a particular fabric you really want. If weight is not an issue, i.e. not long distance backpacking then personally I would go with the thicker nylon fabrics and use the full length or about 11.5' finished (also easier to sew for me at least, does not bunch up as much). Then when you have time come back and make a shorter minimal length and fabric thickness one just for long distance backpacking or day trips i.e. hanging out at a park.

Note that the longer your hammock is the fewer options you may have in tree selections, if two trees are too close together perhaps with a netless hammock you could tie one or both of the ends of the hammock in a big knot(s) to shorten it but not an ideal solution (hard on the fabric). My friends and I often did this with very long Brazilian hammocks when we were kids and the spacing between posts or trees was just to short.

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Re: Does length matter?

#6

Post by tangara » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:07 am

I agree on the fabric issue. It makes a ton of difference. That would be the one thing that would keep me from ordering from a cottage vendor. I wouldn't be able to feel the fabric ahead of time unless I got to a hang and found some different brands to compare. I have a very light Grand Trunk hammock that I got for traveling in the tropics where baggage weight is often an issue on little planes and dicey runways. That sucker is short and the fabric is terribly light, but it is comfy, and I have no trouble laying in various positions. It is nylon, so it has some stretch to it, which alleviates some of the ridgy issues people complain about. I keep expecting the fabric to split in two some time, but so far it has held up and it must be going on 15 years. My three "Brazilian" hammocks (I think I got them in Peru), cost $20 for all three, so I can't identify with the pricey costs of them now. You can bet locals aren't paying those kind of prices for them. With those, they are actually very forgiving of a short distance between trees, you can lay almost sideways if needed. But if you want to do the standard lay on a short distance, I just use a becket hitch from the tree strap around the hammock lines that I fold in half. These hammocks are the most versatile I have, but not for hiking, unfortunately.

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Does length matter?

#7

Post by Mophead » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:35 pm

Looks like you've already got A LOT of info but I'll give you my take:

Forgive me if this has been brought up. I know points of it have been from skimming.

I say length is important but width is more important for a flat lay. Extra length is allowing you to take advantage of the width with a diagonal lay to get flat up to a point. I don't know what the optimal ratio is and it would probably be different for different people.

You could leave one end un-finished and long and whip it to different lengths temporarily using a double sheet bend:

http://www.animatedknots.com/sheetbend/#ScrollPoint

The blue rope would represent the hammock end after its gathered.

And here is some info on doing the gather:

http://www.tothewoods.net/HomemadeHammock2.html

If you are concerned about weight I would make them slightly on the wider side and experiment with the shortest length without sacrificing comfort. Shorter hammock = shorter ridgeline = shorter tarp and less weight as well as tighter hang possibilities. Once you've gotten it dialed in you can finish the second end.

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Re: Does length matter?

#8

Post by TXyakr » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:07 pm

tangara wrote:I have a very light Grand Trunk hammock that I got for traveling in the tropics where baggage weight is often an issue on little planes and dicey runways. That sucker is short and the fabric is terribly light, but it is comfy, and I have no trouble laying in various positions. It is nylon, so it has some stretch to it, which alleviates some of the ridgy issues people complain about. I keep expecting the fabric to split in two some time, but so far it has held up and it must be going on 15 years. My three "Brazilian" hammocks (I think I got them in Peru), cost $20 for all three, so I can't identify with the pricey costs of them now. You can bet locals aren't paying those kind of prices for them. With those, they are actually very forgiving of a short distance between trees, you can lay almost sideways if needed. But if you want to do the standard lay on a short distance, I just use a becket hitch from the tree strap around the hammock lines that I fold in half. These hammocks are the most versatile I have, but not for hiking, unfortunately.
GT Nano if that is what you have, is fine but you can definitely improve on it with DIY by making it longer and wider and a very light but better quality ripstop nylon. Technically nylon does not hold up as well to UV and other things (chemicals, body sweat, heat etc.) as polyester but as long as it is not abused it should still last a long time 5 - 15 years perhaps with very heavy use. I have one from the 1960's that is nylon but don't use it anymore it would probably rip.

Many years ago I visited Peru and drove from jungle side over Andes mountains to Lima went to Quechua market there (my parents worked in Peru before I was born). I noticed that most things especially handcraft and fabric were much cheaper there than in Brazil. Style of hammocks is basically the same.

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Re: Does length matter?

#9

Post by tangara » Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:42 am

Checked last night and I got them in Bolivia. That makes sense. Stuff there was dirt cheap. We got a night's stay with a huge supper and breakfast to go for $3. I also got an Alpaca blanket for $20. I made quite a haul in that country. Everyone got souvenirs. I brought 7 hammocks home, among other things. The flight to and from kinda made up for the cheap rates in country, though.

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Re: Does length matter?

#10

Post by TXyakr » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:03 am

Cool trip I would really like to go to Bolivia sometime. Off topic of your thread but have you ever tried that Alpaca blanket as a bottom insulation between you and the hammock? This product is very expensive in the US but I was considering asking a local crafts person to make a custom Alpaca rug just the right size as a pad to put in my hammock it would be too heavy for backpacking but might be great for car camping or large canoe camping, and still insulate reasonably well if slightly damp due to an accident or something. I have had all different brands and qualities of dry bags fail me, and just swap them out frequently and sometimes double bag critical items like sleep insulation now. But the major advantage of Alpaca is it insulates well and lasts for a long time if you care for it properly, are able to prevent moths.

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Re: Does length matter?

#11

Post by tangara » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:34 am

Yes, I have and it works great. Too hot for indoor sleeping, and I keep my house around 60 in the winter. It's definitely too heavy for backpacking, especially since it's a little wider than a queen sized bed and doesn't compact down very well. It's very thick. But if you can have a smaller sized made to fit, you'd probably do pretty well. I've toyed with the idea myself, but I was going to sacrifice an old army blanket that I have, which is a little thinner and would have to be used as a two or three layer quilt. That blanket was my first insulation for a long time. I could easily pin extra layers to it if needed. Never let me down, but was pretty heavy, but back in those days weight didn't matter so much.

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Re: Does length matter?

#12

Post by ipokebadgers » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:08 am

I thought I would throw my $.02 in although it seems everything has been covered. I am 6' and camped in an ENO Double Nest hammock for years before I learned there were cottage vendors out there. I didn't know about 30 degree angles, diagonal lays or any of that. I was very comfortable in the 9.5' hammock. I figured out on my own that I could get a good sag and lay diagonally and be comfortable. And then I ordered an 11' hammock, made a ridgeline that is 83% of that, and hung at a close to 30 degree angle. The longer hammock made my lay even flatter and more comfortable. I apparently figured a lot of this stuff out on my own with the shorter hammock but when I got the 11' it all became clear. I have a 65" wide double layer 11" and a 70.5" wide double layer 11" and like them both. I still have the old ENO but it doesn't get used. As other have suggested the material makes a difference too. See if you can try some out or get an 11' and then sell it if you don't like it. Good luck with your search.

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Re: Does length matter?

#13

Post by tangara » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:51 pm

Thanks for getting us back on topic ;) I agree with the not knowing any better and it all just seems to work itself out. It's really not as complicated as we seem to want to make it. Everybody's optimal could be so different.

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Re: Does length matter?

#14

Post by darogue100 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:30 pm

Thank you all for your thoughts, I do appreciate your opinions. I'm going into this with my eyes wide open and I'm ready to learn as I go.
Thanks again

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