Hey everyone! Hope everyone is healthy, safe, and inspired. This week I'm going to talk about something I thought I would never talk about. It's something that I really enjoy and is practical at the same time. Sewing! Yeah, I know, a 50+-year-old man who likes to hike and backpack and do all sorts of camping liking to sew. Well, really it's not too far fetched. I got into sewing to save a few pennies on camping gear by making it myself. So like everything I do, I threw myself into this full on. And now I have my own sewing kit (separate from my wife's), and I love to make things for camping and hiking.
Some of my first projects were very simple, like making storage bags or stuff sacks to put things in, like sleeping bags, tents, and smaller bags for small loose stuff. I'm an organizational freak and love to have everything separated and in its proper place. I was surprised at the quality I got and how with just a little training (YouTube) I got quite good. I even made Christmas gifts for all of my family by making toiletry bags or cosmetic bags for everyone in the family. They were all customized for each person with different colors and patterns. They had waterproof zippers and really turned out well. Everyone was surprised that I had made them myself. I even made some bags for my camera gear also, and everything turned out great.
My first big project was a backpacking tarp made for my hammock setup. It was made out of silnylon and waterproof. If you have watched any of my videos, it's an orange tarp and it works great! I have been through a few rainstorms in it, and it's held up great. I even made doors for it so when it rains the mist doesn't waft in. The sewing on the first big item did have some mistakes. But it has been a good functional tarp for a few years, and my son has been using it lately.
My next big project was an Under Quilt for my hammock. An under quilt provides insulation underneath the hammock to keep you from getting a cold butt. The wind or air that goes under a hammock can pull all of the heat off of your body and make you cold. Even in summer. So I made an adjustable underquilt with insulation inside and all of the attachments to hook it to the hammock. It's good for about 50 degrees. I wouldn't go much colder than that without getting a bigger underquilt. This one works great and is the underquilt that I use in the summer.
Making a hammock and a separate bug net was my next project. The hammock was simple enough to make, and my sewing had gotten much better. The bug net, which is actually a big sock that encases the hammock to keep the bugs out, wasn't too bad either. This particular hammock is the one my son uses now with the bug net, and it keeps the bugs away and works great. There are also other parts of the hammock that are not the cloth part that have to be made too, like tree straps, the ridgeline, and a storage bag. Tree straps are the straps that go around the tree and should be webbing that is at least an inch wide so as not to harm the tree that you are anchored to. Whoopie slings are adjustable cord made out of kevlar and are very strong. They hook to the hammock and to the tree straps to hold the hammock in place. And then there is the ridgeline, which goes from one end of the hammock to the other to keep the hammock in a good "hang" if you will no matter what the distance is between the trees. I also make the bag that all of these things fit into and then can also be used as an organizer to put your phone, wallet, water, and what not on the ridgeline. I make all of these items.
My biggest and toughest project was making a hammock with a zippered bug net that could be zipped off and on. It took me some time to make it, but what was neat was I could customize it to fit my needs. I call this hammock the red canoe because it looks like one when hanging alone. It works great, and I can zip the bug net on or off as needed. It has clips to help keep an underquilt in place and can be staked out for more comfort if needed. This is my personal hammock, and I do have plans for making another one with some more modifications. I have since made a winter tarp with built-in doors for privacy and to keep the wind out. I used it last weekend for the first time, and it was great.
All of these projects would not have been possible without the help of YouTube and Ripstop by the Roll, a company out of Durham, North Carolina, where I get my materials for all of the projects, from the fabric, cordage, and accessories. They are a great company and have lots of projects you can do, and they even make kits with all of the materials that you need for a very good price. Now with the time I put in and the cost of the materials, I could probably get a hammock cheaper, but I don't think I could get one that is customized to me. And it's just fun and a good feeling seeing the finished product in use. While camping the other weekend, someone asked me where I got my hammock setup. I just looked and smiled and said, "I made it."
Well, that's about it for this week. Remember, keep shooting and get outside and enjoy life!