How to Make your own DIY hammock

With basic skills making your own hammock is within reach.
Here are 3 options, each will be discussed in more detail
Birkhead Wilderness Hammock Hang gear report and pictures

A hammock in a hammock sock

How to Make your own DIY hammock

Why make your own DIY hammock?

Good question. With basic skills, making your own hammock is within reach for most people. I started making hammocks because I am just tall enough that many of the “off the shelf” options aren’t quite long enough. By making my own I can customize the length to fit me just right. This article covers making DIY hammocks. You might also like this overview of making a DIY camping hammock system.

I also get to add any “bells and whistles” I want… like LOTS of little pockets to hold things while I am in the hammock (sun glasses, pocket knife, cell phone, phone battery pack, flashlight(s), trail shoes, clothes, etc.)

Updated March, 2017

*Added lots of product links to make it easy to find the supplies and gear listed in this article.

What if I just want to buy a hammock?

Lots of mainstream stores carry camping hammocks these days. If a DIY hammock isn’t your thing, then check out:

Other hammock projects you might like:

3 DIY Hammock options will be discussed in more detail below:

  1. No Sew hammock
  2. Gathered end hammock with minimal sewing
  3. Gathered end hammock with attached bug net

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.

We will also show a hammock tarp and, links to guides so you can make your own.
Once your hammock is finished, you’ll need to know how to hang it properly.
Here is a link to an overview illustration on how to set up your hammock.

Detailed directions:

1) No Sew hammock

  • Start with a large rectangular piece of cloth. Some folks use bed sheets. I don’t trust the fabric of an old bed sheet to be strong enough. I prefer ripstop nylon or polyester taffeta.  Fabric length should be the person’s height plus 4 feet (about a foot at each end will be lost to the knots in the next step). I recommend starting with a longer hammock and shortening if desired. Width can be as little as 36″ if you intend to lay straight down the middle. I prefer to lay diagonally across the hammock, so 55-60″ works well. I recently found some 70″ wide 2.2oz ripstop nylon at RBTR that I will try soon.
  • Tie an overhand knot in each end of the fabric.How to make your own DIY hammock: MYOG
  • Attach a rope to each end. These are your “suspension” lines, as you will use them to suspend your hammock from trees, post, etc.. I like to use Samson Amsteel Blue 7/64” because it is super strong and light. Be sure you use a rope that is strong enough to hold AT LEAST twice the weight of the person who will use the hammock. Also, use a rope that won’t stretch much. I attach my suspension lines with a larks head, which tightens itself, but is easy to take off, if needed.
How to make your own DIY hammock: MYOG

How to tie a larks head. In this illustration, the hammock is represented by the horizontal line.

Make your own DIY hammock: MYOG

whipped end of hammock with suspension line larks head

  • Tie your hammock to something strong like a big tree or a post. I strongly recommend using hammock tree straps if you hang your hammock from a tree. Wide tree straps protect the tree bar from damage. Here is a link to some very easy DIY tree straps.

Here is a simple gathered end hammock that I made for one of my daughters.

Camping Hammock overview

Simple home made DIY hammock… holding a home made backpack 🙂

Camping Hammock overview

Rolled hem on a home made DIY hammock

2) Gathered end hammock with minimal sewing

Additional supplies you will need:

Lets get started:

  • Start with a large rectangular piece of cloth. If you are going through the trouble of sewing, make sure you use the right fabric. I prefer ripstop nylon or polyester taffeta.  Fabric length should be the person’s height plus 2-4 feet. I recommend starting with a longer hammock and shortening if desired. Width can be as little as 36″ if you intend to lay straight down the middle. I prefer to lay diagonally across the hammock, so 60″ works well. I recently found some 70″ wide 2.2oz ripstop nylon at RBTR that I will try soon.
  • Sew a simple rolled hem along each long edge of the cloth. Width of the hem is up to your preference. I usually do about a 1/2″ width hem.
  • Sew a wider rolled hem on the short ends of the fabric, creating a channel along the ends. I usually do about a 1″ wide hem.
  • Feed a small line or string through the channel. I use a straight section of coat hanger about 10″ long to help feed the line through the channel. I tape the end of a piece of mason’s line to it and pull through. Then I scrunch the fabric together and cut the line so it is about 12″ long.
  • With the fabric bunched together, wrap each end of the line around the bunch twice, pull the line as tight as you can, and tie. This creates what we call the “whipped” end of the hammock. Technically, it is not whipped in the same manner that you would whip a rope, but that’s the common term so we’ll use anyway. 🙂
Make your own DIY hammock: MYOG

Whipped end of hammock

Make your own DIY hammock: MYOG

Whipped end of hammock

  • Attach a rope to each end. These are your “suspension” lines, as you will use them to suspend your hammock from trees, post, etc.. I like to use Samson Amsteel Blue 7/64“because it is super strong and light. Be sure you use a rope that is strong enough to hold twice the weight of the person who will use the hammock. Also, use a rope that won’t stretch much. I attach my suspension lines with a larks head, which tightens itself, but is easy to take off, if needed.

    Make your own DIY hammock

    You can see the ridgeline above the hammock body, connecting one whipped end to the other

  • Cut a piece of line about 3 feet longer than finished length that you just calculated. I have used spectra, Amsteel, and mason line for ridgelines and all have worked fine. I’ve heard of others having mason line break. So, choose a line with a working load rating capable of holding at least the occupant’s weight.
  • Either tie or splice a loop in one end of the line, feed the suspension line at one end of the hammock through the loop.
  • Tie or splice another loop at the other end of the line so that when measured from loop to loop, the line is the same length as the finished length you calculated above.
  • Feed the other suspension line through the loop so that you have a line connecting both whipped ends.
  • Tie your hammock to something strong like a big tree or a post. I strongly recommend using hammock tree straps if you hang your hammock from a tree. Wide tree straps protect the tree bar from damage. Here is a link to some very easy DIY tree straps.
Camping Hammock overview

Warbonnet Blackbird hammock with mosquito net

3) Gathered end hammock with attached bug net

  • Follow the directions above to make a gathered end hammock with minimal sewing.
  • You’ll want a ridgeline to hold the but net fabric up. To make one, start by laying the hammock on the ground. Measure the length between the two whipped ends. Calculate 83% of the length. ie. if the distance between the ends is 100″, then 83% = 83″. This will be the finished length of the ridgeline
  • Drape your bug netting over the ridgeline and pin the bug netting to the hammock body all the way around.
  • Sew a full length zipper to the hem on one side of the hammock.
  • Sew the bug net to the zipper.
  • Sew the other side of the hammock body directly to the bug net.
Make your own DIY hammock: MYOG

whipped end of hammock with suspension line larks head

Other stuff you may want to go with your hammock:

Add a hammock tarp, and you have a place to sleep out of the wind and rain.
Here is a link to an overview of hammock camping tarps.
Here is a link to instructions for making your own tarp for hammock or ground camping

Camping Hammock overview

Jeff’s DIY Silnylon Hex tarp

Add a hammock tarp and a bug net and you have a light, portable, and very comfortable shelter. And yes, you can make all of these yourself. I made them all using a 1950’s model sewing machine (the cool guys call them “Thread injectors”) and very modest skills. Bug nets can be sewn on, detachable, or separate.

Camping Hammock overview

Jeff’s DIY tarp, hammock, and Army mosquito net.

The view from inside a home made DIY hammock sleep system.

Camping Hammock overview

The view from inside a home made DIY hammock system.

  • If you would rather purchase hammock stuff than make it, these trusted retailers offer lots of options:

Do you hammock camp?

What advice would you share with someone thinking about getting a hammock for camping, hiking, paddle treks, Scouting, thru-hiking, etc.?

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 http://MGECOM.com 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.