Truck Hammock: A failed experiment


I write a lot here about things that work. I'm amazed sometimes at how often things we try work out, but... they most certainly don't always.

You may remember this post some time back: http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2011/06/jack-camper.html. We love that sleeping platform and it's been really really useful. On the other hand, after using it for a while we've found a few flaws with it.

  • It's not tall enough. This severely limits how much gear we can fit in the truck. As an example, a 5 gallon bucket doesn't fit upright under the platform.
  • The openings to the boxes are too small, this means we don't use the space in the boxes efficiently.
  • They are a lot of wood, this means they are heavy and they take up space.
  • The splits in space that the boxes make severely limits what *shapes* of gear we can fit
  • The space that remains is long and narrow, meaning there isn't enough "front" easy to access space
  • The boxes do take time/effort to remove and reinstall right now (particularly due to needing to be tied in place).

These are minor gripes overall, but, we thought worth trying something else, in hopes of solving some of these problems. If it doesn't work, we can just go back to the boxes we have.


The basic idea is simple, build something with no underlying structure that just sits on the lip of the truck cap/bed. This way we have more space underneath, the structure is much simpler, and takes a lot less material.

We got to chatting with a friend who was hanging out at our house, and came up with an idea. What if we went father, what if the platform could be made *really* light... What if we made it out of fabric! This seemed cool enough to be worth trying. I went to the store and bought 10 C clamps and a bit of wood. I also went to the army surplus store and found some sports netting. With these bits I constructed this: IMG_20130119_192145.jpg

The problem is that currently, if I get in, my butt touches the floor. With this setup if I retensioned and fiddled I'm confident that I can make it so one person is fairly far off the ground. The goal though is to hold up *2* people and to maximize cargo space underneath. Tension is exponential with respect to droop under load. In other words... this would have to be *ludicrously* tight to have sufficiently little droop and to be useful. 5 inches would be a big loss in space. Even if we could get everything else to hold at that tension (the hammock strings, the clamps, etc.) there's some danger to the truck bed and cap as well.

We *could* build a very solid frame and use that for the tension, this would work just fine. But, that's complex to build and getting somewhat heavy again. I think this can be done and it would be really cool, but right now I want a new platform that's easy to build, deal with, and repair, not a difficult engineering project. So, I think my next attempt will be a much more mundane solid sleeping platform. I have some sketches in the works now.

One thing to keep in mind if someone else embarks on this journey. If you have gear underneath the hammock, note that that gear may be dangerous. Imagine your hammock giving way and you landing with an ice-axe through your right lung... Yeah... This is an additional reason why I decided to abandon the project.

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