Richard Bucker

hammock suspension systems

Posted at — Sep 30, 2016

I am far from being an expert hammock or hammock suspension person, however, I slept at a Holiday Inn last night… Actually I’m not qualified and I’m not trying to substitute my wisdom for yours I’m just calling it like I see it.I have a number of hammock suspension systems to evaluate and I’m not expecting to break new ground as this sort of thing has been researched and written about to death. My hypothesis is that any simple gathered end hammock can be suspended by a plain webbing or cordage (properly rated of course). And with enough practice the number of fine adjustments should be minimal.I have a number of suspension systems:ENO Atlas StrapsENO HeliosWhoopie Sling with Soft Shackleplain webbingplain para-maxplain 550 paracordI’m not going to test the paracord because the para-max is just a stronger version of the same.The weigh in:Atlas - 180gWhoopie Sling - 20gwebbing - 80gparamax - 100gThe weight of the Atlas strap was expected. It’s a thicker strap and in the loop section the material is essentially  doubled.Capacity:Atlas - 300lbsHelios - 300lbsWhoopie Sling - 3000lbswebbing - 3500lbsparamax - 1000lbsThe complete System:Atlas - needs a carabinerWhoopie - needs a tree hugerwebbing - as isparamax - as isYou can always get complicated with the webbing or paramax by adding buckles and so on but that complicates the system and creates additional failure opportunities.Installation and Adjustment:Atlas - wrap the strap around the tree at the right height and using the carabiner select the hang.Whoopie - decide if you’re going to replace the gathered end of the hammock and if not then you have one knot on the hammock side; then a strap around the tree and then a marlin-spike. Adjustments are made by pulling on one end or the other.webbing - a figure 8 knot on one end and around the tree. and a slippery-becket-hitch to the gathered end once or twice for the perfect hang. Adjustments are made by resetting the becket-hitch.paramax - just like the webbingObservationsLooking closely at the different suspension systems I made some observations. Even though there is something to be said for a proper commercial entity behind a product like the Atlas straps there is a very good chance that it’s just a branded accessory. It’s just a matter to scan Amazon for the number of similar suspension systems.The whoopie sling seems un-commercial. Regardless of the qualify of materials the presentation in the packaging was not all that fantastic and unless I had made the product myself I could not be sure that it was amsteel. Some amsteel products are sold as winch or towline replacements. This just does not feel right.The webbing packs up smaller than the paramax but is limited to this one use. The paramax might have multiple uses. One possible configuration could be an all-in-one ridgeline and suspension although this is a little complicated to hang and adjust.CostAtlas - $30Helios - $35Whoopie - $20 (but incomplete)webbing - $7 for 30ftparamax - $19 for 50ftTests:I tested the Atlas with an ENO DoubleNest last week and did not experience anything special. The positioning of the loops meant that fine tuning had to be accomplished by raising or lowering the tree straps.Today I tested a Yukon Featherlite with the webbing and paramax suspension systems. Tuning the suspension was as simple as re-positioning the becket-hitch (or sheet bend).webbing wrapped around the tree with a figure 8 loopparamax attached to the tree with a figure 8 loopOne thing I noticed when I disassembled the hammock was that the loop and the working end on the tree wrap seemed to be fused. Once I realized what happened they pealed away.slippery double sheet bendI thought this was a proper double but it’s not. This knot worked but was not slippery. It took some finesse to undo.slippery sheet bendThe sheet bend knot got turned inside out with both ends being webbing. This also happened on the paramax side and so I did a double there. I was not at all discouraged with the time or effort it took to get the hammock and suspension adjusted. It was clearly as fast as the Atlas or Whoopie but took no more or less adjustments. (this was the first hang for the Yukon hammock so I had to contend with sag and stretching.Conclusion:I appreciate that people, me included, need to collect things. In a previous post I indicated how many bushcraft knives I purchased… and so I effectively have 4 hammock suspension systems. Some people collect 3rd party libraries (programmer humor) and others lightweight suspension systems. It probably has more to do with being braggadocios than practical.As for which suspension is preferred let’s start with least preferred.The Atlas is least preferred because it’s heavy, while it has capacity for the hammock it might fail if used for something else, and the pack volume.The Whoopie sling is a least favorite too. I cannot confirm that it’s actually amsteel and even with the some confidence there are many moving parts. Regardless of it’s weight advantage  I would question it’s durability or even field repair. I suppose any side or both could be replaced with any of the other systems if necessary. Having not used this system I lack the necessary confidence which I will have to work on.I think I would prefer a single material solution whether it’s paramax or webbing. That the webbing seemed to turn inside out is troubling. As I was taking the system apart I almost opted to cut the strap but finally worked it free. With all due respect to the tree people I think the winner is going to be a double wrap paramax although I’m also going to test the Whoopie. So stay tuned This could change.More testing:attached to the tree I think that because I doubled the cordage the paramax did not fuse like the previous test.with the soft bucklethe whoopie sing was wrapped in the gathered end of the hammockI do not particularly like the diameter of the sling and the hammock material. I think the force is distributed but as the cordage and webbing fused in the previous test I’m certain there is a point at which the sling will cut the gathered end. And as I was removing the sling from the gathered end I discovered just how taut the sling was.I decided to test the Whoopie sling anyway. First I tried the marlin-spike and that was a FAIL. [a] because it’s subject to the wind. There was a slight breeze and the whoopie landed on the ground. Had I been hammocking in the Everglades the hammock and I would be soaked. [b] In my case as soon as I put my weight on the hammock the spike broke and I landed on my ass. I’m confident I was in the correct position. [c] I still had to use a good amount of cordage to wrap around the tree. [d] I used the soft buckle but I found it to be unreliable looking… but they worked.And the winner is…paramax cordage with a double sheet bend and the existing webbing on the yukon featherlight.