How to make a DIY camping hammock Peak Bag with a self-closing vertical opening. This project took about 20 minutes, and that includes ripping one seam to do it over.
For the uninitiated, some hammock campers hang stuff sacks inside their hammocks from the head end or foot ends so they have a place for little items while in the hammock.
These are called “Peak Bags”, as in, bags that hang from the peak, or highest point of the inside of the hammock.
Unlike a tent, you can’t just set your stuff beside you in a hammock. Anything that is put in a hammock will end up working its way to the lowest point… usually under the occupant’s posterior. 🙂
Whats so special about this DIY, self-closing hammock peak bag?
Maybe you should ask Optimator at HammockForums.net
“I received my peak bag from rjcress. Sweet little bag, thanks man!” -Optimator
(Yes, I go by “rjcress” at HF.net)
Using a stuff sack as a peak bag usually means that it is hard to access the stuff in the bag, and nearly impossible to get something from the bag with one hand. Stuff sack peak bags are often hung from a loop on the bottom of the stuff sack, which puts the drawstring opening at the lowest point of the peak bag. Imagine yourself not quite fully awake and fumbling around in the dark in your hammock for your glasses. You loosen the drawstring on the peak bag to slide your hand in and your glasses tumble out, along with your flashlight, your fresh socks and t-shirt, cell phone… or whatever else you put in the bag. Good luck finding your glasses before they get under you and get crushed.
Some purpose built peak bags are cone shaped to better fit the available space in the head and foot peaks of a hammock.
One possible solution to the hassle of getting stuff in and out of a peak bag is to move the opening from the bottom to the part way up the side. The first peak bag I saw with a side opening had a drawstring closure on the side. This was a real improvement over a bottom opening peak bag, as you didn’t have to worry about everything falling out whenever you reached in for one thing.
However, I thought it would be neat to try one that had an opening with no drawstring or fasteners, so I could insert or remove items from the peak bag with one hand… in the dark, without even looking at it.
This is a prototype peak bag with an overlapped vertical slit opening. Non-bulky, heavier items pull the opening shut. Stuffing the bag full of bulky items spreads the opening apart a bit, just as you might expect it would.
Here is what it looks like in use.
It is really easy to put stuff in or take stuff out of the bag with one hand.
I put a stripe of white binding along the edge of the outer flap of the opening so I could more easily see and feel where the opening is. Partly necessitated by the black fabric I used. The white stripe has no other purpose.
- I used a triangular scrap of black nylon left over from my gear hammock prototype project. The starting size was a triangle with 2 x 15″ sides and a long side of 23″. Finished dimensions are 14″ on the seam that has the opening, 22″ diameter circle at the bottom. I recommend using ripstop nylon or a polyester taffeta instead of a soft fashion fabric type nylon like I used. Mine is stretchier than I would like. 🙁
- The bottom works out to a 7″ circle. I added 1″ for a seam allowance and used an 8″ diameter bowl as a template to make a circle of the same nylon fabric. Next time I’ll substitute some sort of mesh or mosquito netting for the bottom so I can see what is in the bag.
- I use 100% polyester thread for all outdoor gear projects
- This was sewn on a very old model 19-51 Singer. It could be sewn by hand as well.
- One 6″ strip of double sided velcro cable wrap, a bread tie, a mini biner, an S-biner, some string, a mitten clip, or whatever you intend to use to hook the bag to the peak end of your hammock.
- One 3″ piece of 1/2″ wide grosgrain ribbon
- Measure and cut the triangle of fabric.
- Roll hem each of the short edges and trim any overhang from the long edge.
- Make a cone with the fabric by overlapping the hemmed short edges of the triangle.
- Pin and sew the overlapped hemmed edges, leaving about 6″ section un-pinned. The un-pinned/unsewen section will be the self-closing opening. I like mine starting about 2 inches from the base of the cone. ie. pin and sew the bottom 2″ of the overlapped hemmed edges, skip 6″, then pin and sew the upper section of the overlapped hemmed seam.
- Measure and cut the circle for the bottom.
- Turn the fabric cone wrong-side out and sew the edge of the circle to the bottom edge of the cone. If you did your math right and didn’t stretch the fabric too much as you sewed, it should be a perfect fit. When complete, you have a bag!
- Turn the bag right-side out.
- Cut a 3″ strip of grosgrain and fold it in half, making a doubled section 1.5″ long. Sandwich the grosgrain around the point of the peak bag to make a loop for hanging the bag. Sew through the sandwich. ie. grosgrain > point of peak bag > grosgrain
- Thread the velcro strip through the grosgrain loop and wrap around your hammock’s ridgeline or head whipping (or which ever other attachment method you choose)
- Lie in your hammock as you normally would. With a little practice, you should be able to reach up over your head and put something in the bag with one hand.
- Put some stuff in your new DIY self closing hammock peak bag. You rock!
- Take pictures to show your friends your new bag. (sorry, something about making this a 12 step process is appealing to me and I needed another step) 🙂
More on how it is attached:
I used a 3″ piece of 1/2″ grosgrain folded over the pointed end to make a loop. Through that loop is a velcro strip that I fastened in a loop over the ridgeline.
The velcro strip/loop is off of a spool that I got at Lowes or Home Depot. They are sold for things like bundling wires/cables and pretty handy to have around.
Once the velcro is wrapped around the ridgeline and fastened, I slide the whole thing down the ridgeline to the head end.
What dimensions are right for you?
The 14″ seam length (from base to point of the cone) seems about right. Much longer and it would touch my head when lying in the hammock. In the pictures it looks like it is touching my head. I was lying too far to the head end of the hammock in the pictures. I’m normally about 6″ further down, so it won’t come close to touching my dome.
The opening slit is just a bit over 6″. It was closer to 4.5″ at first, but that was a bit snug to fit my hand in, so I enlarged it.
I was not a math major and had to look up the formula for the size of the circle for the base of the cone (embarrassing, huh?). In my case, I had a 22″ circumference.
22″/3.14 = 7″ diameter
+ 1″ for a 1/2″ seam allowance all the way around gave me an 8″ circle to cut.
If I make another one It will have a bit larger diameter bottom, as this one is pretty modest volume/capacity. Then again, if all I want to put in it is a few small items, it may be a good size as is. 150 FREE bonus points for the first person to post the formula for the volume of a cone, along with the volume of this peak bag (14″ tall x8″ wide cone).
One of the best things about making DIY gear is that you can vary the dimensions and design to meet your needs. So be creative… just post your changes below so we can all learn from your ideas.
What material to use?
I had a long triangular scrap from the tapered cover flap from my proof-of-concept gear hammock. Just trued it up so the short edges were equal length, roll hemmed both short edges, and sewed them together with about a 1/2 inch overlap. The fabric is a very soft nylon (I assume, it was poorly labeled) I got from the 5yd sale display at WW a couple of months ago. It is definitely not DWR (durable water resistant) and is too stretchy. I think this would be much better in RipStop Nylon or a polyester taffeta that doesn’t stretch so much.
What the cool kids are doing with their peak bags?
You can see the side drawstring model earlier in this post. Here is one with a mesh bottom, so you can see what is in it.
With a bigger peak bag you could even pre-pack it before you go to sleep at night so that you have your fresh socks, underwear, and shirt all ready for you in the bag in the morning.
You might put a peak bag at the head end for your clothes, cell phone, etc., and another at the foot end to hold our shoes, so they don’t have to sit outside where bugs, animals, and sneaky fellow campers can have their way with them overnight.
Rumor has it that a bottle of water will not freeze in a peak bag, in an insulated hammock, in sub freezing temperatures.
The potential uses are ENDLESS (not really, I’ve just always thought that was one of the cooler lines that Vince used in the sham-wow commercials).
This would be a great into sewing project for Scouts that are thinking of making their own hammocks. Better to learn how to sew on a small project like this than a whole DIY hammock. 🙂
Here is what it looks like hanging on the ridgeline of my DIY Frankenbird (DIY warbonnet blackbird hammock) just before I slid it down to the head end.
If you want one, but don’t want to do it yourself, let me know. for $15 + $5 shipping I’ll make you one. Use the contact form to let me know.
If you make one, post some comments on whether this article was helpful 🙂
Check out the other DIY projects listed here at gear-report.com by searching for “DIY”
Inspiration for this post came from GvilleDave’s post at hammockforums.net. Thanks Dave and all else that posted.