Jungle Hammock

The jungle hammock was developed for use by U.S. Army and Marine Corps troops operating in areas with trees, rain and insects. It solved a basic health problem by providing a place to sleep that was dry, safe from bugs and snakes, and relatively comfortable. The very successful design has been widely copied and is still in use today.

T-4 Denton Crocker on Mindoro Island, Philippines, 1945, created a shelter in a sugar cane field by using a jungle hammock rigged over a canvas cot
T-4 Denton Crocker on Mindoro Island, Philippines, 1945, created a shelter in a sugar cane field by using a jungle hammock rigged over a canvas cot.

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Jungle Hammock in World War II

In the Pacific Theater of World War II American soldiers encountered jungle conditions in many of the battle zones. Jungle hammocks provided good shelter from rain. The hammocks were screened and raised off the ground which reduced bites from malaria-carrying mosquitos and typhus-carrying ticks or mites. Soldiers appreciated that hammocks reduced the rate of infectious diseases, but the hammock could be difficult to exit in an emergency and was considered, at seven pounds, to be heavy and bulky. The hammocks were routinely used to shelter and protect the injured and seriously ill and by regular troops during monsoon conditions or as a relief from sleeping in the open. Some complained that it was too short or too curved to sleep in comfortably.

Jungle Hammock Development

Early in the war, the Quartermaster Corps was asked to develop a jungle hammock to enable troops to sleep off the ground, avoiding dampness and insects. At the same time, there was a requirement for the hammock to be light and of minimum bulk.

The resulting design combined the functions of a bed, mosquito and sandfly netting and a waterproof tent fly. The whole unit formed a single piece of equipment that could be set up and stowed away rapidly. It provided a comfortable, insect-proof, tented bed wherever trees grew to support it and could also be pitched as an individual tent in treeless areas.

The hammock was normally hung with a good bit of curvature. The hammock proper was of a light-weight fabric with a double bottom that kept mosquitos from biting the sleeper's back and provided a dead air space for warmth in the chill of the late tropical night. Over and attached to this was an enclosed zipper-opening insect netting, joining the hammock to a rain-proof canopy, whish was stretched over four-foot sticks cut on the site. The canopy had small straps at the corners which can be used to tie it to the spreader sticks. The zipper had a quick release feature in case of need for a hasty exit. The netting and canopy were held up loosely by elastic cords. Snap straps under the hammock supported a rifle, keeping it dry and handy. Boots and clothing were hung on the hammock ropes while the pack was suspended from a nearby tree.

A single rope attached to a tree at each end of the hammock. The tie rope connected to a steel ring to which were attached a large number of smaller cords that fanned out to the hammock itself on the bottom. A second set of cords attached to the canopy on the top. Drip rings prevented rain from running down the ropes into the sleeping area. When stowing the hammock, the waterproof canopy, netting and ropes were rolled inside the false bottom, putting the inevitable abrasion on this side. No blankets were carried with the expectation that the hammock plus a light, knit wool sweater would provide warmth for sleeping.

Jungle hammocks in use during construction of Ledo Road, 1943-1944
Jungle hammocks in use during construction of Ledo Road, 1943-1944.

A repair kit was supplied with each unit, kept in an inside pocket sewn into the jungle hammock. A label was attached to the hammock with set up instructions. The jungle hammock measures about 34" wide x 84" long.

Hammock, Jungle, Nylon M-1965

The basic design of the jungle hammock was very successful in the field, although saw limited use since only certain units ever had them issued. Still, in the Vietnam era an upated version was fielded, basically the same but with new nylon material. The M-1965 is still the current military version of the jungle hammock. The photo at right is an M-1965, shown taken right out of its shipping container -- it looks like a heap of nylon before it is stretched out and hung up.

The current Jungle Hammock nomenclature is: HAMMOCK, WITH CANOPY, JUNGLE, M-1965. NSN: 8465-00-782-6723. Specification MIL-H-43132E, superceded by specification A-A-55282. The latter specification authorizes substitution of commercial copies of the original U.S. Army Jungle Hammock.

There is also the HAMMOCK, JUNGLE, NYLON, M-1966, specification MIL-H-43595B, which is a simple hammock without the integrated netting and canopy. It uses a poncho on nylon lines over the hammock for shelter and an optional, separate mosquito bar. The NSN for the M-1966 hammock is 8465-00-935-6397.

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