A bridge hammock is described simplest as a floating cot. It is so named for the same basic principal used to build a suspension bridge. Vertical towers support a cable which in turn supports the deck of the bridge. Converted to use in hammocks the principal allows spreader bars to replace towers, webbing or cordage to replace cables… and finally fabric to replace decking to create a floating surface.
It is this unique geometry and structure that leads folks to try a bridge hammock. If one is happy and comfortable with a gathered end design, then stick with it. However for those not satisfied or too mystified with all the various gathered end hammocks available; a bridge hammock can provide a simple solution. Simpler and more consistent setup, multiple sleep positions, in line lay, lack of calf ridge, and other benefits are reported.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows; bridge hammocks do have some downsides. The spreader bars can present challenges for some, weight is often increased. The tree to tree distance and tarp sizes needed can be another tradeoff. And while the setup is simpler, the additional components and structure required increase the cost of the hammock itself.
The first commercial bridge hammock was released by Jacks ‘R’ Better, the Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock. Brandon at Warbonnet released his popular Ridgerunner. Both hammocks remain solid performers for many happy customers.
Further innovation took place at Hammock Forums as several folks there brought their own backgrounds and skills to bear as they exchanged ideas and innovations. While many contributed, for me it was two folks named David, better known as ‘WV’ and “Grizzly ‘Professor Hammock’ Adams”. It was Grizzly Adams innovative ‘Counting Grams Video‘ where he introduced the lightest bridge hammock in the world.
When I tried hammocks I was not satisfied with what I found. As a person coming from a long background as a more traditional backpacker I didn’t so lightly look past the downsides and challenges of hammocks either. For many; hammocks are simply more comfortable. While I agree… backpacking is a game of harmony and balance. Weight, pack size, setup, and dozens of factors color our individual gear choices.
I was intrigued by this bridge idea though… I was used to making gear so rather than buy something I jumped in. Grizz’s video inspired me to push further, to build lighter, smoother, cleaner, simpler. This push led to the Micro Bridge, a bridge so light that it bested many gathered end designs. I had the floating bed I was looking for.
I had to learn quite a few tricks to build the original Micro… more to adapt it to something speed hikers could use for record attempts. And further tricks to expand the usefulness to other campers. Fellow campers raised further issues and challenges to meet. I have designed and built well over 100 unique bridge prototypes now, learning a trick each time.
Could I build a bridge that allowed you to sleep on your belly? Yes.
Could I help with back pain, injuries, damage from work in the trades? Yes.
Could I build a little wider and reduce shoulder squeeze? Yes.
Could I design something that allowed you to easily change positons often? Yes
Could I put it all together AND break the 250 pound weight limit other bridges have? Yes.
The Jacks went first. Brandon builds a fine bridge. VW, Grizz, Bic, Dutch and many others all have unique contributions.
Town’s End has a few too.
The lightest. The only commercial bridge rated to 350+ pounds. The unique geometry, structure, and design that gives that signature ‘pop’ in the center. From recessed bar designs to hybrids, these bridges are unlike any other. There are other solutions out there, but if for some reason that gear is not for you… maybe time to see if yer ol’ pal Bill has a bridge that’ll do the job.