The Handy Ham­mock


Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Larry Schwartz

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.

Ham­mock Ba­sics

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...


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

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