DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits What happened when we put RBTR DIY Hammock and UQ kits in the hands of a DIY rookie? […]

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits

What happened when we put RBTR DIY Hammock and UQ kits in the hands of a DIY rookie?

Guest report by Joe

Houston, we have a problem!

Two years ago, my son started sleeping in a hammock on his Boy Scout camping weekends. I think he liked the novelty of it, the comfort, and the ability to avoid sharing a tent with another scout. This arrangement came with an unfortunate down-side – when the weather dropped below 60 degrees, he was cold at night. Even his slight frame compressed the loft of his sleeping bag and made even mildly cold weather camping uncomfortable.

About a year ago, he could not make the camping weekend, but I did. He allowed me to borrow his ENO hammock and give his set-up a try. The hammock was much more comfortable on my back, but I was cold that night when the breeze blew right through that hammock. The next morning, I knew that I would be converting to hammock camping, but I also knew that I needed to solve the cold hammock issue.

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Problem solved?

To help keep him warm, we made an easy wind block undercovering from a heavy duty, reflective emergency blanket, using duct tape to create side channels through which we laced paracord, and added some cord locks to adjust tension. The reflective material helped keep wind out and some heat in. It helped, but not as much as we hoped. We needed a better solution.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - SOS emergency blanket UnderQuilt

First attempt to stay warm in the hammock… sort of worked

Out of the frying pan…

A few weeks after bouncing a few ideas off of Jeff, the Gear Report editor, he asked if I would be interested in making few DIY hammock items from kits provided by Ripstop By The Roll. I went on the website for Rip Stop By The Roll and selected materials and colors to make a hammock and two underquilts.

But before the package arrived, I had to find a sewing machine. I looked at sewing machines on Amazon and eBay. However, a local sewing machine repair shop was offering a totally reconditioned Singer sewing machine for $75.00. I brought the machine home and eagerly awaited the kits.

That’s right folks, I had never made anything using a sewing machine.

Other options:

Additional supplies you will need to complete your DIY Hammock and DIY UnderQuilt kits:

I have found that I usually can’t gather all the stuff to make a hammock for less than a kit from Ripstop By The Roll. Besides, a kit can be a good start to any DIY hammock, hammock tarp, top quilt, under quilt, bug net or backpack project.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - RBTR invoice

RbtR to the rescue

When the kits arrived at my door, RbtR had not yet posted any instructions on their website for making a hammock from their hammock kit (they have now and can be found here). So, I went online and reviewed this How to make a DIY hammock article. It is a pretty easy design that called for a double hem along each side with a channel on each end. The ends would be gathered and whipped. I opted for a stopper knot and loop tied under the whipping from which I could connect the loop to whatever hammock suspension system I ultimately chose.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - DIY Hammock Kit

DIY hammock kit from RBTR

Head… meet wall

My first problem was adjusting my machine to sew this very slippery nylon material. I struggled to find the right thread tension so as to keep the back threading from gumming up. I spent two nights toying with the machine, trying different thickness of threads, to come up with the right combination so that the stitch set correctly.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - sewing machine thread tension - gummed up mess

Top thread tension too high

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - sewing machine thread tension

Smooth sailing… er… sewing

After the material was cut to fit the patterns, I used the extra material from the kit to sew a stuff sack. Making the stuff sack first was ideal. The fabric pieces were small and easy to manipulate, my anxiety level was pretty low as I was not worried about messing up, and the internet has some easy designs that worked very well for me.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - make DIY stuffsack

Next I worked in the hammock. Like I mentioned earlier, the easy design I found online from the How to make a DIY hammock article allowed me to finish the hammock in one night’s work. The Saturday after finishing the project, however, left me unsettled. The fabric I had selected for the hammock was light – too light. I felt it stretch when I laid down in it. I did not like that feeling. Further, I had some trouble getting the whipping tight enough to keep the stopper knot from sliding out. Good thing I hung the hammock only a foot or two off of the ground. This set back of not feeling comfortable in the hammock I had just completed left me a little discouraged, so I put the machine away for a few weeks. That is, I did not work on another RBTR kit project until the leaves on the trees started to turn color and cold weather was on the horizon.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - make DIY hammock

measuring hammock fabric

Back on the horse

A few months later, I pulled the box out of the closet and began to look at the underquilt patterns that had recently been added on the Ripstop by the Roll web site. By now, I was more confident in my sewing skills and how to manipulate the fabrics. All of the materials that were called for in the instructions had been part of the original kit sent to me months before. The instructions were easy to follow, and after one Saturday of effort, I had sewn a 3/4 length underquilt. The following weekend, I sewed the full-length quilt. I was not comfortable with the absence of actual quilting such that I was worried that the batting would separate or tear from the edges and ultimately clump and leave cold spots. The ease my mind, I added some quilting stitches to secure the batting in place.

Sweet success

In October, I used the two underquilts together with the mylar wind barrier on a rather chilly camping weekend. The set-up was exceptionally easy, as was the tension adjustment system. That night, the wind blew and the temps dropped below freezing. I, however, was very comfortable in my hammock system. Since then, I have used that system three times in sub-freezing temperatures with very comfortable results.

Editor’s note:

This was a rather fun project for me since I didn’t actually have to do the work. 🙂 … but more so because I had known Joe for a few years through Cub Scouts then Boy Scouts, as our sons progressed through the ranks. I knew that Joe was a smart and talented guy (an attorney by trade and passionate outdoorsman), but a rank newbie to task of thread injection (that is what the cool kids call “sewing” when outdoor gear is involved). I admit that I suffered a bit with Joe seeing him get nervous about producing a publication worthy end product. As demoralizing as it was watching him lose confidence in the way his first hammock turned out, it was even more rewarding to see him brush off his newly honed Thread Injector skills to join me in teaching the Boy Scout troop the basics of making their own gear. Joe followed up shortly after that class with a flurry of activity and a pair of underquilts.

DIY Rookie takes on Ripstop by the Roll Hammock and UQ kits - teaching Boy Scouts how to DIY make gear

teaching Boy Scouts how to DIY make gear

Should you make a DIY hammock?

I won’t say that DIY / MYOG projects are for everyone. It takes a bit of personal drive to tackle the operation of a sewing machine, with the variety of complicated and foreign parts and adjustments. However, I believe that the vast majority of people are capable of learning to sew well via online tutorials, some tips and guidance from someone that sews, and maybe even a class.

Other hammock projects you might like:

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.