Suspension Rigs: Daisy Chain (looped) Tree Straps

Whether you’re a walker setting up camp after a long day or just wanting to lounge in the sun, you’ll want to set up your hammock quickly and simply.

Adjustable suspension is much easier than tying and retying rope to get the hammock pitched properly. There’s a variety of suspension rigs you can use, and in this article we look at looped/daisy chain straps.

These straps avoid the need for separate tree straps. Rope or cordage can damage tree bark, so responsible hammockers use some form of wider webbing which spreads the weight of the hammock (and you). Looped straps are an ‘all in one’ suspension system (although you’ll need cordage and a carabiner on each end of your hammock which we cover at the end of the article).

Looped tree straps, sometimes called daisy chains are very easy to use and convenient. They go round a tree, feed back through a loop, and then have a number of loops on the other end to allow you to set up your hammock at the preferred height. You attach a carabiner to the hammock, and simply clip this to a loop on the webbing. Quick to set up, take down, and adjust the height of the hammock. There are alternatives which use cords knotted together to make loops, but you still need a separate tree strap with these to avoid damage to trees, the knots weaken the strength of the cords (sometimes by up to 60%) and cords are more prone to tangling.  Some people make loops with paracord, but paracord is prone to stretching and breaking… don’t, it’s not safe!

There are several types of looped webbing straps. Some are far better than others.

Stitched looped tree straps

Relefree tree straps in action

Stitched looped tree straps have exploded in popularity in the last couple of years and many makers sell them on Amazon and Ebay. The quality is variable depending on the manufacturer, primarily due to the uniformity of the stitching on the loops.

They come in a variety of lengths, with most being around 10ft to 20ft. Again, the number of loops depends on the maker… the more loops, the greater the degree of fine tuning the height of your hammock. Ideally, you want to connect your hammock so the straps are at about a 30 degree angle to the tree with the foot end of the hammock set a little higher than the head end.

The strength of these straps is variable , and there are many misleading claims on Amazon and Ebay with assurances that these straps can support thousands of pounds. They don’t. While the straps themselves may support 1000 to 2000lbs in weight the stitching doesn’t, and the straps are only as strong as their weakest point… the stitching on the loops. More reputable sellers such as Gimars claim weight limits of 500lbs, which is a fair estimate for the best, but that depends on the quality of the stitching. Some sellers claim less… 200lbs to 300lbs. These straps are too weak to be safe or reliable. Ideally your hammock and suspension should support 5 times your body weight to cope with the ‘shock force’ of climbing in and out, swinging, your turning over etc.

Stitched tree straps which failed

Some straps have very good stitching while with others the quality of the stitching is poor. Our members have found Gimars to be the most reliable, and I own a set of Relefree straps which so far show no sign of wear. Others are not so good, and have let friends of mine down… literally!

If buying stitched tree straps, we recommend Gimars (but there are better alternatives for a similar price which we cover further on). If buying others, check online reviews carefully.

The weight and bulk of the straps are variable depending on length and the quality of the carabiners which some come with. Some carabiners are surprisingly and unnecessarily heavy. We recommend 12kn wiregate carabiners as shown in the picture above. They’ll support over 2,000lbs and are cheap to buy.

Woven Tree Straps

Looped woven straps in action

A new development are woven looped straps, where rather than the loops being stitched, the webbing itself is woven into loops. These are far stronger and more reliable than stitched straps and are made by Dutchware Gear in the United States. Dutchware Gear has a well deserved reputation for quality and is highly regarded in the hammocking community.

Dutchware Gear sell two types of looped straps. One is made from Woven Daisy Chain Webbing, and we’ll cover these first. The straps themselves can support 5,000lbs. The loops 2,000lbs. This is four times the strength of stitched straps. I own a set and love them. They’re half the weight of my Relefree stitched straps, and half the bulk (the quality of the webbing is higher, and thinner).

Importing them is expensive due to shipping costs, and bear in mind you’ll pay import VAT (add 20%) and depending on the total value of your order you may pay a customs duty too (another 2.5%). There is also a Parcel Force handling charge for billing you with the import duties of £8. Generally, the post office will hold the goods until you turn up and pay the import duties and handling fee. This can make the straps very expensive, but…

There is an importer of these chain looped straps in the UK who you’ll find on Ebay. The name of the UK seller is Henge Hammocks. They utilise these woven loops in their own hybrid straps.

I have bought from the Henge many times, as have members of our Facebook group, and their service is very reliable. They don’t always have these straps in stock, as each time they import a batch they tend to sell out fast. Contact them via their Ebay store and ask them to reserve you a set if you can’t find them in their Ebay store. The straps are well worth any wait if they’re not in stock.

Henge’s hybrid straps are 10ft in length. Mine weigh 217 grammes. The  looped webbing itself weighs 14.5 grammes per foot and is one inch wide. The webbing is military grade.

Link: Henge Hammocks – Woven Daisy Chain Straps (if the link doesn’t work, they’re probably out of stock… email them).

To sum up, these straps are half the weight of stitched straps, four times the strength of the best looped straps, and will cost you around £20 if bought from Henge. Members of our Facebook Group bought out an entire import batch, and every single member was happy. They blow the stitched straps out of the water.

New developments: A new product by Dutchware Gear is their Spider Daisy Chain Webbing. This is made from UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethaline) fibres (the same material as used in dyneema/sailing rope and cordage). It is incredibly strong and lightweight… as strong as steel and light enough to float on water. It weighs under 5 grammes per foot. Like their other looped straps the links are interwoven. Strength wise, the straps will support 3,000lbs and the loops 1,500lbs… a little less than their other straps but more than adequate (and roughly a third of the weight). When they become available in the UK, we’ll let you know!

Would I upgrade the standard Woven Daisy Chain straps for the new Spider Daisy Chain? No. These straps are more than adequate for me. If I was purchasing a second set for another hammock… I would be very tempted, but we’ll have to see what the landed price is in the UK.

Attaching a hammock

You may be upgrading the suspension from a parachute silk hammock, or ones which come with webbing which you tie off after wrapping around a tree (hammocks from DD Hammocks and Tenth Wonder normally come with this suspension as standard).

Parachute silk (210T) hammocks usually come with a short length of poor quality nylon rope which is prone to stretching so you often need to re-tie your hammock. The ends of the nylon rope tend to be heat sealed, sometimes leaving sharp edges which can be abbrasive to the hammock material when packed. The carabiners they come with are usually of poor quality… strong enough, but sometimes having sharp edges on the clasps which can damage the hammock material when packed and being excessively heavy. The webbing which comes as standard with some UK sold camping hammocks I find is also prone to stretching, and the knots you need to tie tighten after you’ve been in the hammock, affecting the hammock height.

When using a looped/daisy chain hammock suspension set up, we recommend you replace the rope and carabiners/webbing on the end of your hammock with 2.5mm wide/8 inch long Amsteel continuous loops and 12kn aluminium wiregate carabiners (see picture). Using continuous loops on the end of your hammock replaces knotted cord where knots can slip or come undone. Loop the Amsteel around the existing webbing or rope, pull through the sewn end of your hammock, then loop the Amsteel back on itself an attach a carabiner to keep it in place (again, see picture).

Amsteel continuous loops are very light and very strong (supporting up to 1,600lbs). You can buy them ready made or make your own (it’s a little fiddly to do, but with a knitting needle, a stanley knife and a bent piece of garden wire, I’ve made some in about 10 minutes). Amsteel is made from dyneema fibres (UHMWPE) which is then coated in samthane (used in the roofing and sailing industry, this coating makes the fibres more wear resistent and waterproof). The loops cost around £6 a pair ready made, while DD hammocks sell 2.5mm wide Amsteel for £0.99 per metre if you want to make your own.

If you want to make your own continuous loops, the following video is easy to follow. 7/64th Amsteel is the same as 2.5mm wide Amsteel. You’ll need 2 metres of Amsteel to make 2 continuous loops: Making continuous loops


Parachute Silk Hammocks

Lounging in my 2m x 3m wide boy!

All over Ebay, Amazon and occasionally in your local supermarket, you’ll find cheap (hopefully) parachute silk hammocks. Some come with a hefty price tag despite being made of similar or usually identical material. There are literally hundreds of manufacturers now.

Material: Virtually all ‘parachute silk’ hammocks are made from 210T taffeta nylon. What does the 210T mean? It stands for 210 threads per square inch. It’s a measure of the density of the fabric. While 210T material isn’t ripstop (if you snag it on a branch, your keys, a belt buckle and damage the fabric, expect that hole to turn into a split), so long as you’re reasonably careful they should last for years. The positives are comfort and price. As with any ideal hammock material, it’s breathable (if not, condensation/sweat leads to an uncomfortable soggy back!). For the rest of this article, I’ll use parachute silk and 210T hammock interchangeably.

Prices: Prices for these hammocks tend to range from under £7 to £60. The difference… very little apart from size (and a higher price doesn’t mean a larger hammock… although logic says it should!). There’s much hype about single layer/no mossie net hammocks… these hammocks are a rectangular strip of material (or several strips sewn together which make a rectangle) with a rope or cord running through each end which draws the fabric together at the ends. That’s it! No special tailoring required. All the 210T hammocks I’ve seen have triple stitched hemming and depending on size, the comfort levels are identical (which it would be, being the same material). When hammocks are made of identical material, it’s hard to justify the huge price difference in parachute silk hammocks beyond hype and marketing.

Not all hammocks are the same, and there are different materials used, some stronger, some softer and that and added features such as double underlayers, built in netting, better quality zips, top covers, internal storage pockets justifies higher prices. The same can’t be said when hammocks have none of these additional features or differences. These 210T hammocks are pretty much identical.

You needn’t be paying more than £10 for a 140cm wide 210T hammock. Prices for 2m x 3m hammocks normally hover between £17 to £30 (occasionally a seller will have one for £10 if you shop around). The last 2m x 3m wide hammock I bought was decent quality with no loose threads… and yes, I found one for £9.99 on Amazon. That offer’s ended… but they do come up!

Size: Parachute silk hammocks tend to be 140cm or 200cm wide. Many sold as ‘double hammocks’ aren’t. A 140cm wide hammock is not a double hammock. That’s misleading nonsense. It’s a reasonable sized single. Some 210T hammocks are even narrower at 120cm wide… avoid these (the narrower width puts pressure on your shoulders and you won’t be able to lay on a diagonal, so they’re less comfortable and you’ll sleep like a banana). Fine for kids… small kids at that! Hammock width and length is important for comfort. 140cm wide is ok for comfort, but a 200cm wide hammock is simply more comfortable and worth paying the extra (if you can find a deal, sometimes the larger hammocks are the same price!).

Why the extra width? If you lay diagonally across a hammock, the hammock flattens out and you don’t have that ‘banana bend’. This allows you to sleep or relax on your side without your knees being bent at an odd angle and pressure on your hip or calves. As you can see in the picture above, in a 2m wide hammock you can “starfish”.

Comfort: 210T material is very comfortable in part because it isn’t ripstop. Ripstop material includes stronger threads woven in with the fabric as reinforcement. While woven in ripstop threads strengthen the fabric, the fabric then tends to have less ‘give’. A lack of reinforcing threads leaves the fabric stretchier, so it conforms better to your body. The differences are marginal, but still noticeable. If you thought cheap hammock material was less comfortable, you’d be wrong, and trust me when I say even ripstop fabric can rip if you abuse it.

Weight limit: 210T fabric will normally support around 400lbs in weight. You’ll see adverts which say more…. but take the higher weight estimates with a pinch of salt. Some claim to hold much higher weights, but that is static weight. When you climb into a hammock, swing, shuffle about or turn over you apply ‘shock’ force to your hammock fabric. Those claims are misleading. Generally, I’d say a 210T hammock would be fine for someone weighing up to 350lbs. Fine for most of us, but if your partner, kids and dogs are in there too…

Hammock weight: The 2m x 3m hammocks weigh in the region of 500 grammes plus whatever carabiners/suspension you use. One of our group members recently had a DD superlight hammock split, and replaced with a larger 210T parachute silk hammock. Compensating for the area of the larger hammock, the weight difference was only 2%! 210T is a light material.

The downsides and compensating

They’re single layer: If camping in them overnight, or on anything other than warm summer days you’ll need some insulation for your back. If using a sleeping mat, these can be a pain in single layer hammocks as they shift about. A double bottom layer sandwiches a sleeping mat in place. Hammock material and sleeping mats tend to be slippery. If you’re using an underblanket… no problem.

Non-Ripstop material: You need to be careful not to snag your hammock on sharp objects. Be careful of car keys, boots, belt buckles! I’d think twice before having a dog jump in… more than one 210T hammock has been destroyed by a labrador’s claws! Without ripstop material, the hammock is likely to split if it becomes damaged. Be careful and you should be fine! I haven’t had one split yet but the cats are banned from mine too!

Upgraded tree straps (these by Henge Hammocks on Ebay)

No tree straps: These hammocks rarely come with tree straps. Tree straps are essential so the weight of you in the hammock doesn’t cause damage to the tree bark. Ropes are too thin and constrict the tree bark. Any campsite owner, park ranger or fellow hammocker worth their salt will not approve! Tree straps should be at least an inch wide. In some states in America, they insist on tree straps being 3 inches wide. Buy yourself some tree straps, or upgrade the suspension to looped/daisy chain straps.

No integral midge netting: Depending on where you chill or camp, midge netting can be an essential. You can buy separate midge nets, but these need to be the right size! A 3m long parachute silk hammock is not going to sit well in a midge net designed for 2.7m hammocks. While some parachute silk hammocks come with a built in midge net, these are usually poor quality and the thread density in the netting is too low to keep out midges. One exception is sold by Onetigris where the netting is of decent quality. Watch out for and avoid hammock mosquito/midge netting which looks sheer and is green. I’ve come across too many people who’ve found this tears easily. You’ll find lots of these hammocks on Ebay and I would avoid them. Cheap is fine… cheap and prone to breaking is not!

Rope and Carabiners: The rope and carabiners these hammocks come with tend to be ghastly. The rope is stretchy nylon (and it’s normally too short to be useful), and the carabiners are heavy steel, and some come with sharp edges on the clasps (not a good thing with material which can split if it’s snagged). You can buy cheap 12kn wiregate carabiners on Ebay for about £2 each if you don’t mind waiting for them to be imported. On Amazon for £6.99 a pair for UK delivery. These are far lighter, have no sharp edges, and are strong enough for hammock suspension. Do the upgrade. 12kn carabiners will hold over 2,000lb, and the aluminium ones only weigh 20 grammes.

The rope which connects the hammock to the carabiner can also be replaced. The ends of the rope are sealed by burning, and can have sharp edges where the nylon hardens as it burns. I upgade mine with 2.5mm wide, 8″ long Amsteel continuous loops. Amsteel is far stronger, less bulky, and has no sharp edges. There’s also no knot to become undone. It’ll cost you around £6 to do this and the loops can be bought from Henge Hammocks (no we’re not on commission, but their service is good and many people in our Facebook group use them for hammock accessories).

2.5mm Amsteel will support roughly 1,600lbs in weigh. Why have something which can support so much? Hammock suspension equipment should ideally support 5 times body weight to cope with ‘shock force’ from getting in, getting out, swinging, turning over and shuffling into a sleeping bag. Amsteel is so light it floats on water and a popular material for hammock suspension due to this.

In Summary

Few of the (much) more expensive hammocks are as wide as a 2m x 3m parachute silk hammock and you can often pay hundreds of pounds for these, they normally have to be imported from the US which also involves import duties. For day time lounging in a hammock in a non-midgy/mosquito area, for comfort and value for money, they’re well worth the money.

These cheap hammocks are a contender for comfort, even when compared to the much much more expensive hammocks.

Add Ons

Back Insulation: For overnights and chillier days you can use a sleeping mat to insulate your back or go for one of the synthetic underblankets. Personally, due to the width of the 2m wide hammocks, I’d go for the underquilt made by Snugpak. I use a DD underblanket simply because I already had one which works well enough, but Snugpak’s is 24cm wider. There are cheaper synthetic underblankeds, but these are narrower still and more usually used with shorter hammocks.

Bug Nets: As for adding a mosquito/midge net, you want one long enough for a 3m wide hammock and your choices are a little limited. While bulky, the best quality in my opinion is by Thermarest. In addition to being roomy, it has an internal ridgeline to hold the netting away from you and material on the bottom which will not snag leaf litter. The downside is it’s a little bulky as it reaches to the ground, and is expensive with current prices on Google showing between £52.95 and £68. Last year, one store was selling them half price! A cheaper alternative is the Mosquito Net Cocoon made by Hammock Bliss for around the £40 price mark. 2100 holes per square inch make it more than midge proof, and it’s 3m long.  Unigear is even cheaper at under £20 on Amazon.

Suspension: There’s lots of choices here. Whoopie slings and tree straps, looped/daisy chain straps, and webbing with cinch and buckles being a few of the more popular. We’ve an article coming soon on suspension options, and will link from here when published.


DD Hammocks: Hammock Range

There are seven reasons why we’re recommending DD Hammocks.

  • They’re a UK supplier, meaning you get UK based customer service;
  • We’ve tried the service personally, and it’s good. You get a quick response, they’re helpful and friendly;
  • The quality of their products is good and the products feature thoughtful design. We sleep in their products.
  • They’re inexpensive, and you don’t see quality compromised for price. There’s no point having a cheap hammock where midges climb through the mosquito netting, the hammocks and netting tears, or where the strapping breaks!
  • They have a wide range of accessories allowing you to spread the cost of building your ultimate hammock camping system.
  • Fast Delivery (when we purchased in the morning, we got our items next day).
  • If we recommend something, we don’t want our visitors upset. We feel confident with DD.

To see the full specification of DD’s hammocks, click on the green + buttons in the table below.

ModelImagePriceLengthWidthWeightMaximum LoadIntegral Mosquito NetMosquito Net Spreader PolesDouble under layerSewn in Internal PocketsHanging System TypeBivi Option
DD Frontline£51.59
2.7m1.4m860g (Hammock Only)125kg
YesYesYes4Webbing strapsNo
DD Frontline XL£82.95
3m1.8m1250g (Hammock Only)125kg
YesYesYes4Webbing strapsNo
DD Travel Hammock/Bivi£51.59
2.7m1.4m930g (Hammock Only)125kg
YesYesYes4Webbing strapsYes
DD Superlight Jungle Hammock£149.95
2.7m1.4m1520g (Hammock Only)125kg
YesYesYes4Whoopie SlingsYes
DD Superlight Hammock£55.95
2.7m1.4m270g incl suspension rig100kg
NoNoNoNoWhoopie SlingsNo
DD Camping Hammock£26.95
2.7m1.4m650g (Hammock Only)125kg
NoNoYesNoWebbing StrapsNo
DD Scout Hammock£18.95
2.35m1.3m600g (Hammock Only)100kg
NoNoYesNoWebbing strapsNo



Zebra Bushcraft Billy Cans

zebra1If you’re looking for camping cookware which can handle considerable punishment, Zebra billy cans are ideal.

They come in four sizes. 10cm, 12cm, 14cm and 16cm. The 10cm and 12cm cans are ideal for one person, the 14cm for two, and the 16cm for three to four.

As you’ll see in the image, they also come with what looks like a dog bowl, which fits inside the main pot held on the rim. This allows steaming, smoking meat, cooking two layers of food or as a plate or shallow bowl.

Hang them from a tripod over a fire (the handle has a curve in the middle allowing this), pop them on a camp stove or lay them on their side and even use them as an oven to bake bread, these are versatile pots which will take years of abuse. Expect them to discolour slightly after use, but that just adds to their character.

The 14cm can is an ideal size to snugly hold a wood gas stove during transportation. Due to its height and unlike a normal pan with a standard handle, we find this more stable on a smaller stove allowing safer cooking.

What we like:

  • Solid construction;
  • The odd inner pan for steaming food;
  • Size.

What we don’t:

  • A design flaw is the plastic clips used to hold the handle upright – these melt if the pan is on a campfire. Take them off when cooking.

The issue with the clips is not enough to detract from just how good a piece of kit this is.

Some complain that the handle gets hot. Use a stick to lift the billy can when you’re ready to serve. Set it on the ground, and then use the stick, gloves or an oven glove to lift the lid. It’s not rocket science. Stainless steel gets hot! If not cooking with the lid on, you can also use an aluminium camping pan grip which are cheap to buy to handle the pot. This can also be used with the internal pan, and hey presto, you then have a mini frying pan.

In the following video a zebra billy can is used as an oven to roast a whole chicken on a small spirit burning stove. We know of people who use theirs to bake fresh bread in the morning. Please note the zebra can in the video has a minor modification, in that the plastic clips have been replaced with sprung wire.



A Beginners Guide To Hammock Camping

A Beginner’s Guide To Hammock Camping

Your equipment needn’t be expensive. We were set a challenge to build our own hammock camping rig for under £45. Not a problem and we could have done it still cheaper. It kept us dry in torrential rain, warm and we slept incredibly well. You can also buy custom camping hammock rigs and tarpaulins. Hammock camping isn’t an expensive pastime, and regardless of your budget, it’s affordable. Even those cheap chinese hammocks can hold 18stone.

DD Hammocks, a UK based manufacturer also sell custom hammock camping equipment (handling up to 20 stones). We mention them because they have good quality, affordable equipment and offer very good service. Their equipment is well designed with features which may not be apparent to inexperienced campers but are worth noting. Built in mosquito nets which stop the netting drooping on you, double layer bottoms to the hammocks for insulation (and/or storage), storage tabs inside the mosquito netting to hold a nightlight or water bottle, and suspension systems aimed at fast set up and take down. They also sell kit which is tailored to hikers who want exceptionally light weight equipment, hammocks for kids, larger tarpaulins which the family can cook under or for greater privacy at night. An alternative to DD Hammocks are ones made by Tenth Wonder which our members like too. Both manufacturers offer affordable, decent quality kit.

The great thing is you don’t have to buy all the equipment at once. Start with a tarpaulin and hammock, and then consider adding adjustable rigging (which mean you can raise or lower the hammock or adjust its lie between two trees without having to untie anything. With this and a sleeping mat to insulate your back, you’ll be set up for camping in summer months.

To extend your camping season, you can then add an under-quilt. An under-quilt is suspended under your hammock, trapping a layer of warm air. People go hammock camping in the snow using these and stay warm. One other great upgrade is a custom hammock sleeping bag or quilt. Most people will climb into their sleeping bag before sitting in the hammock and swinging their legs up and lying down. Custom hammock sleeping bags have a waterproof area around the feet, and zip up the middle. Over quilts have a similar enclosed ‘box’ for your feel, and attach around the neck and are used in conjunction with under quilts.

DD Hammocks’ beginners guide to hammock camping is a good start for anyone who wants a better understanding of setting up, equipment and sleeping positions (yes you can sleep on your side, and lay flat in a custom hammock!):

If you’re heavier than 20 stone, there are still options. Hennessy Hammocks (an American manufacturer) sell a hammock large enough for people 7′ tall and 350lbs! An alternative and cheaper option is the

Design Matters

Hammock width and length: Width is quite important, as a wider hammock gives you the option of lying at a slight angle, which flattens the hammock out and allows you to sleep on your side. The hammock has to be long enough for you to sleep comfortably.

Mosquito nets: Ideally, you want a hammock with an integral mosquito net, and one with mesh fine enough to stop midges. Aside from a cold back, nothing can ruin a night more than being eaten alive, and we live in midge country! Black mesh gives an experience of looking through sunglasses and I prefer this to green netting. Spreader bars which lift the mosquito net away from the hammock (and your face) feel roomier. Tabs inside the mosquito net give you an option of hanging a lamp (meaning there’s no need to hunt for a torch, and if you read, your light is right above your head). While you can hang a lamp from your tarpaulin ridge line, you may not be able to reach this without ‘getting out of bed’. Then you have the difficulty of readjusting your bedding after lying back down, without the benefit of a light!

Storage: While you can hang equipment from the ridge line which supports your tarpaulin, you’ll want pockets in your hammock for your car keys, phone, wallet and book/kindle. Reading in a hammock at night time is incredibly relaxing. The more pockets, the more storage. Some integral mosquito netting has tabs at each end inside, which allow a cord to be tied between them and items such as water bottles to be suspended from them. No hunting about at night for a drink!

Insulation: A double layer bottom to the hammock allows you to use a sleeping mat for insulation (even in the summer, a breeze can leave you feeling chilly unless your back has some insulation). While you can put a sleeping mat in a hammock without this bottom layer, they tend to pop out which is a pain.

Side tabs on the hammock: These are used to ensure an under-quilt (if you’ve bought one or intend to) is nice and snug underneath you. You don’t want this quilt to be compressed (by your weight) as you’ll lose some of the benefit of insulation. Neither do you want a gap as you’ll lose that trapped warm air which insulates you. They’re not essential, as you can attach an under-quilt via elastic cord to your tarpaulin ridge line.

Breathable bottoms: Some hammocks come with waterproof bottoms. It’s tempting to buy one of these to allow the hammock to be used on the ground as a bivi when camping away from trees. A word of caution though. Standard hammocks “breath” while ones with waterproof layers do not. Condensation from breathing and sweating can be a problem in hammocks with waterproof bottoms. I know several hammock campers who’ve traded in their bivi hammocks for this very reason.

Spreader bars: A few brands use spreader bars at the end of their hammocks to give the sleeper a flatter lie. While this may seem a good idea, I really don’t recommend them and wouldn’t buy one myself. These brands then use additional guy lines intended to stop the hammocks tipping over when you get in (or roll about in your sleep).

Spreader bars make hammocks unstable and remove your option of an under-quilt/blanket to insulate your back. While a sleeping mat can go inside the hammock, they slide about. Buy a hammock with gathered ends if you want a hammock you won’t slide about in or fall out of! If you want a flatter sleeping position, buy a wide hammock.

Light weight: If you’re a walker, you may want to sacrifice some of the above options to reduce carry weight. Most manufacturers offer a light or superlight range. Unless you’re camping only in the winter, do make sure you have a mosquito netting (by which we mean midge netting!) and personally, I’d still want a hammock with a double bottom to keep a sleeping mat in place! It is possible to buy detachable mosquito nets, and ones which will go over most hammocks. DD hammocks sell one.

I still don’t know what to buy!!! Well come and join our Facebook group and ask advice. You’ll find lots of experienced and helpful members as well as complete beginners. Regardless of your experience, you’ll still learn something new and they’re a friendly crowd!

Buying a hammock with these options saves you money in the long term, and gives you plenty of options to upgrade your kit which you needn’t buy straight away (or at all). All you really need is a hammock, a tarpaulin, and something to hang them from.

If you’re a serial kit collector don’t despair, you can then focus on camping knives, clothing, rucksacks, camp stoves, fire pits, cooking pots and a whole host of other things.


4m x 4m Tarpaulin/Basha – For Versatility

4m sq tarp – open fronted

First, let’s demystify the jargon… a basha is simply another term for a shelter, and is a word used for tarpaulins which have multiple tent peg/guy line attachment points. These multiple tie up/peg out points allow the tarpaulin to be used in a number of different ways. A ridge line is simply a piece of cord which your tarpaulin hangs from (usually running along the centre of the the tarpaulin to keep it off your head (and the ground!).

Most hammock campers use a 3m x 3m square tarpaulin to keep them and their hammock dry. A standard length for a hammock is 2.7m, and once you’re inside, the hammock length shortens as your hammock inevitably “sags down” once a little (or not so little) weight is inside. For light summer showers where rain is coming down vertically, a 3 metre square tarpaulin is sufficient to cover your hammock and keep you dry.

An anecdotal point… that surly faced kid in the advert on TV is wrong, the hypotenuse is useful in life! A 3m square hammock, hung like a kite on a ridge line gives you 4.24m of cover overhead. See… maths can be fun (*cough*).

So why buy a 4m x 4m tarpaulin?

Yes, there’s a hammock under there!
  • Communal space: A larger tarpaulin gives room for you, the kids and friends to sit out even if the rain’s coming down. The open fronted set up in the image above (for those who can’t get their heads around metres) using just one side for seating cover gives you 6.5ft x 13ft of communal living space (family sized!).
  • Versatility: You can set up your tarpaulin in more creative ways.
  • Communal Hammock Cover: In summer months (and trees allowing) you can hang two or three hammocks under a single tarpaulin.
  • Cope with horizontal rain: We live in Britain, and sometimes the rain is aided by wind and travels horizontally! A larger tarp keeps kit on the ground dry, while still giving you ample room to stand.
End view
  • Tent Like Insulation: If you’ve thought “if only I could close off the ends of the tarpaulin, I’d keep the drafts out!” well with a 4m x 4m tarpaulin you can!
  • Privacy: Sometimes it’s nice to change your clothes without scaring other people in the woods!

A 4m x 4m tarpaulin allows an A-Frame enclosed end set-up

With a little creativity, and a tarpaulin which has multiple guy-line/peg attachment points, you can set up a tarpaulin in more creative ways.

aframeshapecartoonIf you peg out your tarpaulin following the design in the image, you can close off the ends to make a fully enclosed tent which will still allow you to hang your hammock, and space to stand! You can now get changed in complete privacy and without having to crawl around on the ground. Not only this, if gives you a completely weatherproof and draft proof set up.

In summer months and if privacy isn’t an issue, it gives you a far larger covered area to cook, socialise or simply chill-out under. If you take your dog camping, there’s ample space to house a pup tent.

We bought ours from DD Hammocks.


  • Weight and size: For its size, it’s light weight (weighing 1.29kg). Considering it’s a ‘monster’ of a tarp, both it and my hammock still fit into the bottom compartment of my rucksack.
  • Quality: Made from polyurethane coated polyester, taped seams, and in terms of waterproofing the fabric has a 3000mm hydrostatic head (meaning a column of 3000 wouldn’t leak through). This is an excellent quality tarpaulin.
  • Number of Attachment Points: It has 19 attachment loops , loops appear stitched onto an extra layer of thin rubber and are very securely stitched on.
  • Price: Cheaper than many smaller tarps, but still of a high quality. Good value for money.
  • Fast Delivery: Ordered on Thursday morning, delivered on Friday. Delivery was also included in the price.


  • Tent pegs and guy lines: It comes with only four guy lines, and four tent pegs. Well… we had to find something to complain about!
  • Hmmm… finding trees over 4 metres apart.
  • You’ve only got three choices of colour: green, camouflage or brown. I suppose camouflage is more than one colour.
  • Struggling here… it doesn’t recharge my phone! There you go!



Well worth the investment. Would we recommend it? Well we have one, and use it, and like it. We’ve never got wet using it, and it doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear. The pictures on this page are ours. What more do you want from a tarpaulin!

Consider adding:

  • Your own tent pegs and additional guy lines.
  • A tarpaulin sleeve. DD Hammocks sell a 2.8 metre tarpaulin sleeve. While not as long as the 4m tarpaulin, they’re roomy enough so you can stuff one in! It shortens pack up time if you’re slinging your kit in the car! Leave the tarp attached to the ridge line when you pack up, and then set up next time takes a few minutes.



Make Your Own Mosquito Net

Custom camping hammocks often come with their own sewn in mosquito net, but what do you do if you want a cheaper alternative, or have an open hammock which you love? You can buy a loose one custom made for hammocks from DD hammocks or make one. One factor in term of deciding whether to make one or buy your own is the quality of material used and whether or not the mosquito netting in a shop bought mosquito net is treated. While you can spray your own net, mosquito repellent isn’t cheap, and a bottle of Jungle Juice costs close to £10.

If you’ve a sewing machine (or someone you know does and you can bribe them to do the sewing for you), making your own mosquito net isn’t hard.

You’ll find black net curtains on Amazon (most are sold per panel, so check as you’ll need a pair). Make sure they’re long enough and deep enough! You’ll want a pair, and to sew them along one length that will go over your ridge line. How long and how wide the curtains must be deep depends on how you set your hammock (and the hammock size). When you’re in your hammock it sags, and you want the material deep enough so it can be gathered underneath you with shock (elastic) cord which you will use to tighten the netting once you’re inside. So You don’t want mosquitoes flying in underneath.

You’ll need:

  • a pair of net curtains (avoid tulle, it’s too flimsy… go for sheer or plain black voile made from polyester). For size, we’d go for 54″ wide and 90″ long;
  • Fine polyester thread;
  • Ideally a size 9 to 11 ballpoint needle;
  • 5m x 4mm shock cord; (yes, we know the video says 3mm, but this stuff is only £2.85 for 5 metres, including delivery!);
  • 4mm spring loaded cord locks (for the ends of that shock cord).



Crabbing – Making Memories

Velvet Crab

Crabbing is an essential part of childhood. I remember doing it on various childhood holidays. The excitement of dangling a bit of weighted string off a jetty with a lump of pork chop and hauling up monsters (and then watching parents trying to put the in a bucket without losing their fingers) stays with you.

Brown (or Edible) Crab

We’re a little more sophisticated now and use a crab snare, although there’s a range of equipment you can use (albeit a length of string, pebble with a hole in and a bit of chicken works perfectly well!). A crab snare is small, wire metal box which you put the bait in, and attached to the box are nylon free running snares.

Whether you take the crab back home (or to the campsite) and eat it, or simply set it free, your children will have the experience of being close to nature, being away from tablets and playstations, and… well… being being kids. Crabbing is a ‘quality time’ thing to do.

Your children are unlikely to remember hours on Minecraft, but they will remember catching their first crab. Make a competition out of it. A prize for the first caught, the biggest and the most caught.

There are 65 different species of crab in the seas around the British Isles. The brown and velvet crabs are particularly common (and make a very good meal!). Brown crabs have particularly strong claws used for crushing mussel shells (so be careful… don’t say we didn’t warn you!). The crab you’re most likely to find is the shore crab (and yes they’re edible, with a sweet flavour… very popular in Spain).


Crab Net

Crabs detect things by sense of smell, so the smellier the better. Raw food such as pork, chicken or fish is ideal but do make sure the kids wash their hands before eating ice cream after they’ve been crabbing! Oily fish works well, and a piece of mackerel (or mackerel head) is good to bail cage or net traps (I never did work out how to tie a fish head onto a string). Even better if you leave the bait out for a day or so to get a bit rank and even smellier!


Take your pick…

Go Traditional: A simple length of string (or paracord) tied around a rock to weight it down (or use a large fishing weight) and then wrapped around bacon, chicken or pork chop works well. It’s how I used to catch crabs as a kid. The crabs cling on, and you haul them up from a jetty or sea wall hoping they won’t let go (they usually don’t)!

Safety Lines

Safety Rigs: For a couple of pounds, you can buy a hand reel, line, with a weight and netting bag attached to the end. Quite why they’re called safety lines escapes me, but they work well, and I always have two in the boot of the car (no comments please that it’s about time I cleaned the car out).

Crabbing Nets: These are large nets much like a bucket, which you pop bait into, drop to the sea floor, wait and then can scoop up several crabs at a time.

My Crab Snare

Crab Snares: Little seen in the UK, but popular in America (and introduced to me by Thomas), the picture is of my very own crab snare. A small, plastic coated wire cage, with free running snares attached. You’ll need to attach your own line (string or paracord is fine) and weight down the cage (pebble or a fishing weight). You can also attach these snare boxes to a fishing rod! Use a decent strength line as weighted down with three crabs, these boxes can get heavy! The secret is to slowly haul (or reel) in the line so the snares draw closed on the crab legs and claws. Be warned, removing the crab from the snare can be an adventure (yes, those claws do nip).


Pyramid Star Crab Traps: If you find the idea of dealing with snares and pincers a little scary, why not try a pyramid trap. These are clever pieces of kit where, when lowered to the sea bed, the four sides open up, allowing the crabs to scuttle to the bait. Draw the string up, and the sides close shut! No risk of losing your catch, and once you’ve hauled it up, place it on the ground, lower the cage to the ground and the sides come back open.


You may want to put the crabs back, and that’s fine. It’s a matter of choice. Personally, I’d eat them if they’re a reasonable size (whoever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch never tried one of these!).

See our article on Guilt Free Crab Killing.


Suspension Rigs: Whoopie Slings

whoopieIf you’re looking for the smallest, strongest and most light weight hanging system possible, you want whoopie slings. Whoopie slings are made from a material called Amsteel which is incredibly strong… essentially as strong as steel and far thinner and lighter than sailing rope. It’s so light in fact that it floats. For the walker/hiker who wants their kit to be light weight, it’s the best option.

Whoopie slings allow you to easily adjust their length, making sure you can set up your hammock in minutes. This rig involves no knots, meaning there’s no risk of your breaking your fingernails (or getting out your knife) when it comes to taking your hammock back down.

DD hammocks offer a complete kit, including 6ft long 2.5mm thick Amsteel whoopie slings, tree straps and carabiners for £30.95. The rig weighs only 260 grammes. DD Hammocks are a UK supplier whose equipment gets 5 star ratings.

2.5mm Amsteel has a minimum strength of 1,400lbs. A good guide for suspension ropes is that they should be able to hold 5 times your weight (to cope with the shock caused from tossing and turning and adjusting your sleeping position). For anyone under 20stone, 2.5mm Amsteel should be more than sufficient. If you’re heavier than this, don’t panic. Our O-Ring rig should do you (but make sure you research rope strength to ensure peace of mind).

Except for children, we don’t recommend you use paracord for hanging your hammocks. Paracord will stretch, and while the best quality will bear 550lbs, beware cord claiming to be authentic paracord. I’d trust paracord for my ridge line and guys lines for my tarpaulin, but not for my hammock.

The following video shows how you can attach a whoopie sling to your hammock (replacing the rope it came with). It also shows how incredibly easy it is to adjust the whoopie slings’ length.


Suspension Rigs: Double O-Rings

SDC10965This is the hanging system I use. I’m not skinny, and I can confirm that even for the more ample hammock camper, this set up is perfectly secure and is also quick to take down. Four thick metal O-rings (used in pairs) allow you to quickly hang and adjust your hammock. I tie mine directly to the tree straps rather than using a carabiner, but the principle otherwise is the same as the one set out in the Youtube video below.

To simplify matters further, I removed the short rope attached to the hammock, replacing it on each end with 5 metres of pre-stretched 6mm thick sailing rope. 5 metres is more than you’ll need in most situations, but the slack can be coiled and tied up. Sailing rope is stronger than most nylon rope which can stretch.

The O-Ring set up also acts as a water barrier (when it rains, you don’t want water running down your rope and into your hammock). A further precaution is to tie a small length of paracord to the hanging rope near the hammock end, which acts as a wick (water runs down the rope, meets the paracord, and then runs down it, dripping onto the ground rather than your neck!).

Tree straps protect the bark on the tree whereas rope or cord can cause damage.


An alternative adjustable set up uses whoopie slings. Whoopie slings offer a far more lightweight and compact alternative to O-rings and rope.