Friday, July 27, 2012

Ultralight hammock

We see a lot of posts on lightweight hammocks and we are in the market making them. So here's a breakdown of what we've done and a brief explanation of how we've done it.

I don't own a Grand Trunk Nano 7, but I have purchased other GT products and find them exceptionally well made and affordable for what you get. Bottom line, I think that brand offers a great mix of quality and value. But the Nano 7 has a reputation of being a very light, uncomplicated hammock. Again, not owning one, I learned from reviews and specs that it was a 7 oz. hammock and that weight included suspension hooks and channel loops.

We've touted BIAS as an affordable entry into ultralight hammock camping and the challenge seemed too tempting to pass up.

All of our hammocks, since our early incarnations as we entered the market, have been 11 footers. We learned early on in our hammock making tests that long seemed to "lie" a lot better than short and the length made the need to lie on the angle a lot less necessary. We found, in short, that long hammocks eliminate the need for wide hammocks. This proved interesting.

A nine-foot hammock that's 64 inches wide brings, in theory 6,912 surface inches. Some of this is lost in the end taper and the gather, but let's go with that math for the moment.

Take an 11 foot hammock that's 52 inches wide and run the math and it comes to 6,864 surface inches, with the same caveats about loss in the taper and gather applying. So, if the fabrics are identical it stands to reason that the 11 foot hammock will be lighter thanks to the reduced width. The question becomes, "Is it as comfortable?"

Comfort is anecdotal and no two people have the same "sleep number" as an astute hammocker noted on a Hammock Forums thread. What we found was that, yes, the 52-inch hammock with the extended length was far more comfortable than the shorter, wider hammock.

Taking that logic to our approach to how to build a hammock that would fare well with the Nano 7 proved enlightening. First, we found a lighter fabric. Using a sub 1.1 oz. military grade 30 denier nylon ripstop, we got our hammock down to 6 oz. True, this isn't "apples to apples" on the Grand Trunk because it includes hooks. The function of the hooks, though, is to connect the hammock loops to a suspension system. A toggle has the same effect. It connects the hammock to the suspension. At 5 grams per pair, our aluminum toggles bring the finished weight of a Weight Weenie Micro (our name for this long, short, light hammock) to about 6.17 oz. Exact weights vary a little based on the hand-crafted construction of our hammocks, but this is very close based on our design.

So the question becomes did we succeed?

Well back to this "apples to apples" approach... We're still not there. The main reason is that the GT Nano 7 is 9 feet long and 4 feet wide. So to compare "apples to apples" we'd have to shave four inches in width and two feet in length off our Weight Weenie Micro.

And there you have it. We have produced a lighter hammock (seven ounces vs. six ounces) with greater surface area and (anecdotally speaking) more comfort because of the increased width and length.

The stats:
Finished Width - 52 inches
Finished Length - 132 inches
Hammock weight (with loops) - 6 oz.
Hammock weight (including toggles) - 6.17 oz.

GT Nano 7
Finished Width - 48 inches
Finished Length - 108 inches
Hammock weight (with loops and hooks) - 7 oz.

-- Brian


  1. I own both.
    The weight weenie is far superior in terms of comfort.
    I popped a Dutchware/whoopie sling combo on mine for ridiculously low total weight.
    I found that your stuff sack is about twice the size it needs to be!
    The options are good.
    I'd ask for a bishop bag if I could.

    1. Doug: Excellent comments. Look in the near future for bag upgrade options.

      We really HATE hitting folks for more money with add on options, but there are two things going on: 1) We get a million requests for custom work and 2) Custom work is a pain in the neck. It's hard to keep the notes with the orders. It's hard to follow the work through start to finish and when you're shipping as much as we are, it's tough to differentiate between the blue hammock with the knotty and the whipped end and the blue one with channel loops and no knotty when they are both in identical blue bags.

      We thought the custom add ons were necessary to say: 1) this is now an option and is labeled as such in the build notes without all the emails flying back and forth (and a better chance of handling correctly). 2) since enough people are asking, we need to add this as there is a demand, and 3) while more time and more work may be involved, time and work are fine -- as long as we're fairly compensated for it.

      So, there you have our ever-increasing option strategy sorted out.

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