The Handy Hammock
6 UNCONVENTIONAL USES FOR A TIME-HONORED PRODUCT
6 unconventional uses for a timehonored tool
“… you’ll have a comfortable place to sleep above the ground and away from all of the creepy-crawlies.”
Hammocks are incredibly versatile and can be used in various situations, from backyard naps to camping in rocky or steep terrain, but their usefulness doesn’t end there. In fact, my camping hammock is probably the most versatile piece of kit in my gear locker.
I’ve developed six unconventional ways to use a simple hammock that costs $100 or less as part of your prep.
Let’s look at what a hammock is, because that alone can help you understand its versatility. In its simplest form, a hammock is a square or rectangular piece of fabric or netting that is gathered together at each end with rope, webbing or a metal ring. Straps or ropes attach the gathered ends to a pair of strong anchors—trees or the like—that hold it above the ground.
There are plenty of ways to use each kind of hammock, solid fabric or netting, but we’re going to go with a net hammock in this case, because it offers more possibilities.
#1 Use it as a Hammock
The most obvious way to use a hammock is, well, as a hammock. Find two trees to stretch it between and you’re set. Or, find any two points about head high above the ground and attach it to them. This might be eye bolts set into studs in the wall of some
structure; it might be the roof racks of two vehicles parked side by side; or, it might be around the bottom of a boulder on the uphill side of a steep slope and the top of a taller boulder on the downhill side of the slope. Regardless, you’ll have a comfortable place to sleep above the ground and away from all of the creepy-crawlies. The key is to keep both ends at the same height. Sleeping on the diagonal in the hammock will help you sleep flatter and feel less like a banana.
#2 Use it as a Seine Net
A mesh hammock is basically a large piece of fishing net reworked as a place to sleep. To repurpose a hammock as a fishing net, think about it not as the loop-shaped net used to land your trout or bass, but rather as the seine nets used by ancient peoples across the globe.
A seine net is a large net that’s thrown over the location where a school of fish is expected to be, or stretched across a stream to catch fish swimming upstream or downstream.
To turn your hammock into a seine net, you must first remove the pieces that bind the ends together so that you have a large rectangular net. Select two sticks from the environment, 3-6 feet in length; these will be used to hold the net in place. Secure the net to the sticks with string, zip-ties or another available method. Be sure to have the bottom of the net at the bottom of the sticks so
that the fish cannot go underneath it. Once secured, you can either press the sticks into the bottom of the stream at each bank to catch fish as they swim by, or you can secure one stick near the bank, then stretch the seine net out and swing it in an arc to herd the fish towards the bank where they can be removed by hand.
#3 Use it as a Hanging Chair
You normally lie down in a hammock and take a nap or sleep for the night, stretching out from one end to the other. But, if you turn sideways and move forward so that you’re sitting with your legs hanging over the front end of the hammock with the rest of it going up your back, you can use your hammock as a very relaxing and comfortable chair. If it’s high enough aboveground, you can even swing as you watch the world go by.
#4 Turn Your SUV or Minivan Into an RV
Many people have hung a hammock from their car or truck when they didn’t have two trees a suitable distance apart to get the correct amount of curve for their hang. But, how many people hang their hammock inside of their SUV or truck? I have. A car isn’t long enough to make this work for an adult, but an SUV or minivan will work just fine.
Wedge the ends of the hammock in the passenger-side front door and in the corner of the tailgate on the driver’s side. Start at the tailgate and drop the hammock in between the upper left-hand corner of the body of the vehicle and the open tailgate. Then close the tailgate. You’ve secured one end of your hammock.
Next, drop the seats so they lay as flat as possible. The final step is to wedge the other end of the hammock in the passenger-side
front door. When it is time to go to sleep, simply crawl into your hammock and relax. Just remember to lock the doors so someone doesn’t open one up before you wake up in the morning.
#5 Use it as a Cargo Net
The flexible strength of the mesh hammock makes it a perfect cargo net for oddly-shaped items or a bunch of smaller items, like all of the little stuff that winds up in the back of your SUV or truck bed. Stretch the hammock over whatever you want to keep from moving around as you drive, and then secure the edges to the tie-down buckles on the bed of your vehicle with cords, zip-ties or small carabiners.
Another way is to lay the hammock out flat on the ground, pile everything on it, then gather the ends of the hammock together and tie them with a cord to form a large mesh bag. You can carry the contents in the bag by
slinging it over your shoulder like Santa Claus at Christmastime, or you can lash it to a pack frame if the load is too heavy.
#6 Use it as a Ghillie Cloak
Our last use for a mesh hammock is as a ghillie suit, or, more specifically, as a ghillie cloak. All you need to do is cut some small branches and grasses—whatever is in the environment around you and where you want to hide—and then weave them into the mesh of your hammock. You can also tie them in place with the string from your ever-present roll of paracord, or use zip-ties. Once you have your hammock all vegged up, you can get into your hide and lay it over yourself like a bushy poncho. You can also use it as a hunting blind by setting it up in front of where you are waiting for your dinner to walk by.
Choose Versatile Gear
Anyone who wants to be self-sufficient or lead the way to new places knows the importance of two key principles: making the best use of what you have on hand and choosing versatile gear.
If it fits into your way of doing things, get yourself a hammock. Use it in all of the ways you can think of, and start stretching your mind to think outside the box. The sky is the limit.
Although a mesh or net hammock can be deconstructed and applied to other uses, sometimes it’s pleasant to use a hammock as it was intended, for relaxing.
(above) This design uses a steel ring to bring together the mesh at either end of the netting, and braided green nylon rope to connect the hammock to your chosen support.
PHOTO BY THINKSTOCK (below) Use stout sticks on each side of your hammock to hold it open. You can hold it in place using zip-ties, pieces of cord or even strips of duct tape. In this case, Schwartz used a zip-tie to hold the top edge of the hammock in place.
PHOTO BY LARRY SCHWARTZ
Biologists and students use a seine net to capture fish in a stream as part of a species census.
(left) You can use the fishnet characteristic of a mesh hammock as the base for a ghillie cloak/suit, like those used by hunters and military snipers. The fishnet serves as the platform for various pieces of foliage. PHOTO BY LARRY SCHWARTZ