How can I cheaply hang 10-20 hammocks with no trees?
August 13, 2014 11:42 AM   Subscribe

In three weeks my girlfriend is hosting a "Nap Day" in a place with few trees. She'd like to find an affordable way to purchase and hang 10-20 hammocks. Anyone have any creative solutions?

She's considering a double tripod solution like the one mentioned in this youtube video. She's open to hanging them solo or in a group as shown in some of the solutions on this web page.

Also, any tips on where to source cheap hammocks or any of the other materials would be greatly appreciated.

posted by funkiwan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is $20 cheap enough? I've slept in camping hammocks like this before, they're surprisingly comfortable!

Not sure about the best way to hang without trees, though..
posted by Grither at 11:49 AM on August 13, 2014

You can rent construction scaffold by the month for very little money. It is amazingly sturdy. Insist on the clean indoor stuff. ( they will say they don't have any, but they will) Just order the uprights and crosses, no need for planks, string your hammock diagonally and you'll be all set.
posted by HappyHippo at 12:00 PM on August 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Are the attendees coming to the napfest in cars? If so, strategically park the cars and hang the hammocks between the bumpers.
posted by XMLicious at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2014

These $20 hammocks come with frames.
posted by rocketpup at 1:21 PM on August 13, 2014

> These $20 hammocks come with frames.

Sadly, the last bullet point in that Amazon description: "Optional Hammock Stand shown not included"

That particular hammock stand sells separately for ~$90. Amazon has others that are cheaper, but they're still around ~$60.
posted by mosk at 1:25 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bah. Sorry about that.
posted by rocketpup at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2014

The cheapest hammock + hammock stand I was able to find on Amazon is this one, which is ~$48 shipped, maybe a little less with Amazon Prime.
posted by mosk at 1:31 PM on August 13, 2014

I would go for the rustic-looking tripod stands on the page you linked. Assembling the rigs would be part of the fun.
posted by beagle at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2014

Could you drive steel pipes into the ground and hang the hammocks between them?
posted by coldhotel at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far!

HappyHippo, that scaffolding idea is interesting, I'll check into that and give it some consideration.

XMLicious, no cars - that's part of the charm. I'll have to remember that one for camping though.

Grither, I'd love to find a solution that was $20 per that also included what I needed to hang this. Ideally, I would love 20 hammocks, and my budget is about $400.

coldhotel, to drive single pole into the ground so that it's stable may be more force than I have access to.

Any other ideas?
posted by funkiwan at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: Borrow them? If I saw a friend-of-a-friend was asking on Facebook (or whatever) to borrow hammock stands for such an interesting project I'd probably lend you mine.

You can make hammocks out of swimsuit material, which you can buy by the yard. They might be too stretchy for your plans, though.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:15 PM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: I've had a terrible time with metal fence posts and hammocks The fence posts were rated for compression force, but not for flex. We sank the fence posts in 2 feet of concrete, with 6 feet above the ground. when we strung the hammock between the two posts, they collapsed inwardly until the person in the hammock was resting on the ground. We have tried a comic opera of reinforcements, putting rebar inside, additional pipes outside, and the posts still bend at the waist when sideways/diagonal forces are applied.

The straps that are designed to support camping hammocks are quite expensive-- they are designed not to harm trees.

What I'm saying is-- the cheapest solution might not work, might not be safe. Check on the subreddit for FAQs or workarounds.
posted by ohshenandoah at 8:07 PM on August 13, 2014

An idea that comes from my four wheeling (driving a car off road) days.

What you would need. 4 old wheels, 2 Tirfor-style hand winches and 4 strong posts. (or maybe double that amount)

What I’m imagining is a Golden-Gate Bridge style suspension bridge hammock holding system.
Dig a holes to bury the tyres, which act at the suspension anchor, (we used that when we had no trees around to attach our winch to), connect the winch to the two tyres and stretch it over the two posts (possibly tree trucks with a v-shaped notch in the top). Then simply crank the winch until the steel cables (usually at least 20m long) is at the desired tension. Do the same with the other tyres and cables etc. so you have the two parallel cables.

The hammocks can be suspended between the two. To damp movement in the system, you could place small prop posts from ground to wire along the length at different angles.

Is there a tree-top adventure course nearby. Maybe they have someone who is an experienced builder of such things who could help you out with making it and borrowing equipment?
posted by guy72277 at 1:39 AM on August 14, 2014

Not directly answering your question, but throwing in a suggestion which be useful once you've solved the immediate problem of construction materials:

I've been at an outdoor multi-day techno festival where there was a little hammock forest on top of a hill. The hammocks were all slung from firmly planted vertical posts arranged in concentric rings. From memory (and having just drawn a little diagram to check) the innermost ring had 4 posts (yes I know that's a square and not a ring, but bear with me), the next ring had 8 posts, the next ring 16, and so on. This gives a formation in which you can hang hammocks in triangles: thus you have a lounging configuration where it's *very easy to see and talk to your neighbours*. Very important in that kind of situation. (Message me if you want a picture.)

The posts were all made out of wood and must have been pretty deeply sunk to stay stable, but beyond that I'm afraid can't provide much more in the way of technical details. I'm fairly certain that there were guy ropes on the outside posts and cross-connecting ropes between the tops of the inner posts. The hammocks were made out of hessian, i.e sack material.
posted by illongruci at 5:34 AM on August 14, 2014

Response by poster: Hi All, Thanks for all the responses! Since it's public property, and I'm uncertain I can dig deeply enough to hold the hammocks stable, I'm leaning towards a combination of borrowed stands (thanks, TCITL!) and tripod stands. illongruci, I'm curious about the configuration you saw. Supposedly Hennessy Hammocks creates a multi-tripod version (perhaps similar to what you saw) for boy scout festivals, though I haven't been able to find out if that's available anywhere. I may also mix in few simple forts with bedding underneath. Also, that reddit forum is a great resource. Thanks, ohshenandoah. If anyone else has ideas, let me know.
posted by funkiwan at 6:29 PM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Okay, so in case anyone else attempts to do this, here's a solution that worked for us. We put out a call to friends and neighbors and borrowed a half dozen hammocks. Stands were much more difficult to come by. After several prototypes and iterations, we ended up building hammock stands modeled after a turtle dog stand: basically two wooden tripods that suspend a pole from which the hammock hangs. We did not cut the wood for the top of the tripod so we tied rope around the bases through eye hook screws to keep them spread at a fixed width.

Here's a couple of pictures:

We ended up spending around $45/hammock stand. And here's a link to the cost summary: Google Doc or Image.

If anyone stumbles across this and has any questions, please don't hesitate to PM me.

Happy hanging!
posted by funkiwan at 2:45 PM on November 2, 2014

I don't understand how those stands work. If you swing in the hammock doesn't it knock into the legs and cause it all to collapse?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:28 AM on November 3, 2014

Response by poster: If you swing in the hammock doesn't it knock into the legs and cause it all to collapse?

Good question! You can gently rock in these hammocks but all-out swinging isn't a great idea because yes, if you knock the supports hard enough you can tip. We didn't find this to be too much of an issue because a gentle swing only needs a few degrees of movement. You have at least two variables that control how much you can swing:

1. Widen the legs. I believe there's a balance to how far you can open the tripod before you need to consider shear stress on the wooden supports.

2. Lower the suspension of the hammock. The larger the hammock the more you need to be concerned with hitting the ground.

The balance we tried to achieve with these hammocks was providing an inexpensive structure that was relatively stable for the purposes of relaxing in, that didn't require instruction or inspire fear in the participants. We were not trying to build jungle gyms. I heard second-hand that one person managed to tip the stand, but that was only after he aggressively swung in it, and had several near tips and good warning before it actually went over. He had a great time and wasn't injured in any way.

We developed a setup protocol: 1. Make sure the legs were equally spread apart (this is why we tied thin rope through eyelet hooks one foot from the bottom of the tripods, with about 40" of rope between each leg), 2. that the suspension ropes hung straight down and that 3. the hanging ropes were centered in the middle of the tripod. Once we did that we found the stands were pretty darned stable.
posted by funkiwan at 2:26 PM on November 3, 2014

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