How to make DIY snake skins for a hammock or tarp: MYOG

Another Make Your Own Gear (MYOG) article for the DIY camping equipment crowd.

The term “snake skins” refers to a product sold by Hennessy Hammock. If you would like to buy their product, you’ll find it at: http://hennessyhammock.com/specs_snake_skins.html

The Hennessy page also has measurements that you can reference to help determine what dimensions are appropriate for you, whether you order them or make them yourself.

Making DIY “skins” for your camping hammock or tarp is an easy project that can be done with very basic sewing skills. It is a great first project for someone learning to Make Your Own Gear, like Scouts.

Homemade camping hammock with mosquito net

Here is a skin with a semi-attached suspension bag, with the hammock out of the skin.

Make a DIY hammock

Ripstop mesh Skins with hammock and light UQ inside, along with tree straps, and 12' x 10' silnylon tarp in a bag.

How camping hammock skins and tarp skins are used:

  • Skins are fabric tubes that used to contain the hammock and/or tarp when not in use. They provide a protective cover and condense the bulk of the hammock or tarp to make handling and transporting easier.
  • They can be made of a range of lightweight fabrics including silnylon, nylon taffeta, ripstop nylon, polyester tafetta, bug netting, or even breathable mesh.
  • Skins can be made in various styles.
    • The Hennessy snake skin style is made of two identical tubes that are tapered to form long cones with openings at each end.  The hammock and/or tarp’s suspension on each end is passed through the through a skin so that the skin can be used to cover and contain 1/2 of the hammock and/or tarp. Installing a skin on each end of the hammock and/or tarp makes the whole thing resemble a large snake when the skins are deployed.
    • Others make one long skin with no taper at the ends, or with a drawstring closure at one or both ends.
    • or even two skin sections that have not taper.
  • When not in use the skins are simply pulled off of the hammock and/or tarp body and allowed to hand loosely on the suspension rope.
  • An illustration of the utility is that one can set up a hammock, under a tarp that is skinned. If the weather is nice, the tarp may be left skinned so that the hammock has a more open-air feel allowing sleeping under the stars. If it starts to rain, just hop out, pull back the skin(s) on the tarp, and tie out the tarp corners. This dramatically reduces the effort in deploying the tarp.
  • Some people will skin a tarp and hammock together, while others prefer separate skins for each. Since tarps can sometimes become wet from rain or condensation, I prefer to skin the tarp separate from the hammock. That way I don’t have to worry about a wet tarp getting my dry hammock wet.
  • By making your own you can customize the size and features to your desired usage. For example, I have made skins with built in pockets for holding the hammock suspension, in larger diameter for containing both a hammock and light UnderQuilt (UQ), smaller diameter for holding an ultralight hammock and tarp setup, out of ripstop mesh, and out of light nylon taffeta.

Supplies needed:

  • Fabric. The last set I made were a finished size of 75″ long, by 8″ diameter at the wide end, and 2.5″ diameter at the narrow end. I made two that were identical. Starting fabric dimensions were a 77″x14.5″ + two 4″x10″ pieces to make suspension pockets.
  • Thread and needle: 100% polyester thread. Far less than one small spool.
  • A sewing machine is recommended, but optional. I used a sewing machine for mine, but it could easily be done by hand.
  • Scissors to cut fabric and thread.
  • Measuring tape.

Determining dimensions for your skins:
Length: hang your hammock and/or tarp. measure the length of the hammock or tarp body that you intend to cover with the skin. Add 2″ for a 1″ rolled hem on each end to get your raw fabric length.

Diameter: Witht the hammock hanging, I  wrapped a cloth tape measure around the tightly bunched girth of the hammock, mid-way between the ends. I added 1″ to allow easy movement and 1″ to allow for 1/2″ seam allowance on each side. Repeated the measurement at one end of the hammock , added 1/2″ to allow easy movement, and 1″ for 1/2″ seam allowance on each side.

How to make camping hammock skins (same process for making tarp skins):

  • With the above measurement, Cut the fabric to size.
  • How to make DIY camping hammock snake skins, python skins, hammock tubes: MYOG

    DIY hammock skins: fabric dimensions

  • Sew a simple rolled seam/hem on each end.
How to make DIY camping hammock snake skins, python skins, hammock tubes: MYOG

roll hem each end

  • If adding suspension pockets, sew a simple rolled seam on all 4 edges of each pocket.
  • How to make DIY camping hammock snake skins, python skins, hammock tubes: MYOG

    roll hem all 4 edges

  • Center and pin in place a pocket on the outside side of the fabric at the end of each skin that will be at the hammock head and foot(as opposed to the middle). This is the the narrow end, if using tapered ends on your skins.
  • Sew the sides and bottom of the pocket with a simple straight stitch, so that the pocket is open at the end of the tube.
How to make DIY camping hammock snake skins, python skins, hammock tubes: MYOG

sew on the pocket

  • Fold each skin in half lengthwise and pin the edges to make a long cone. Make sure that the skin is inside-out, so the suspension pocket will be on the outside once the seam is sewn and the skin is turned right-side-out.
How to make DIY camping hammock snake skins, python skins, hammock tubes: MYOG

fold lengthwise to align cut edges, then pin

  • Sew a straight seam 1/2″ from the fabric edge on each skin.
  • How to make DIY camping hammock snake skins, python skins, hammock tubes: MYOG

    sew straight seam along long edge

  • Turn each skin right-side-out.
  • Install your skins and enjoy!

Please leave a comment to let me know if this article was helpful to you, or if you used these instructions to make skins. :)