In an ideal world, every van has a hammock. I have some massive appreciation for being able to kick back in the sun with a good book, podcast, or tasty brew. That said, while I love a good chill session I also am not the kind of person who is going to drive around or plan our camp location solely based on the right tree arrangement for hammocking. It’s just not in my blood that way.
Fortunately, our friends Laura and Brian of Mobile Roamers had us covered with this brilliant idea– create a way to hang a hammock in your doorway, and you will forever be able to recline out of your side door. It’s genius!
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: This project is best attempted before your walls are installed, or if you are removing them for another project. Or if you really want a hammock and it seems like a worthy trade off. Due to a leak in our roof, we already had the walls removed– otherwise, we very well might have skipped out on this project until later.
There are a number of ways to tackle this, but we leaned on some hand swaging for this one. Don’t know about hand swaging? No worries– neither did we before we embarked on this project! That’s #vanlife for you! We used this video as a general guide and asked questions of any Home Depot folks who would make direct eye contact.
What you need to swage:
Self-explanatory, and essential!
Galvanized vinyl-coated wire rope
Instead of purchasing an entire reel, we bought what we needed from Home Depot’s bulk cable section. In total the project calls for only a couple feet, at most, but we bought extra just in case we made any errors.
Cable crimps (also known as ferrules)
You will need 2 ferrule and stop sets for this project, although if you’ve never used a swaging tool before it’s always good to get an extra given how inexpensive they are! Make sure your ferrule will accommodate whatever size of wire rope you choose.
Any of these might do nicely.
What else you need:
The right hammock
Regular camping/recreating hammocks are quite long and, if used for your side door hammock, might have you sitting on the floor of your rig. Not exactly as relaxing as you planned. After some thorough online searching, we ended up purchasing this hammock and pulling the hammock off of its wooden crossbeam. So far, so good. It sits a little higher than we were expecting, but once we tried it, we loved it. I’m 5’5″ and, as the shorter of the two of us, I had no issues getting in and out of it.
We use these to set up the hammock in the side door. We used some larger ones but leave it up to you to play around until you have the right size to fit your needs.
To DIY your way to hammocking glory:
1. With the steel of your van walls exposed, look for holes on either side of the side door that would be good mounting points. We are not going to prescribe where the holes might be, as every van make and model is slightly different. Point is– you probably have them there, and if not you can always drill them out. These holes will be where your vinyl-coated wire loops go, so we do not recommend putting them on the inner edge of the door frame, as that will put too much pressure on the steel. Our holes were about 1-2 inches away from the door frame, near the top of the door on the wall.
2. Cut the appropriate length of vinyl-coated wire for the loops. Our loops have a 3-4″ diameter, but again this will vary based on where the holes in your vehicle are. Measure twice, cut once!
3. Create your vinyl wire loops using the swaging tool. String your wire through the wall holes before you use the cable crimps and swaging tool to complete the loops.
4. Install your hammock! Take your hammock and carabiners to the loops, slide the side door open, and take it easy!
That’s your 4-step plan to that hammock life. We’d love to see pictures of how yours turned out, either in the comments or by tagging @vannathetransit on Instagram!