DIY $50 portaledge frame--a simplest and strongest DIY frame.

This frame inspired by the need to create semi-disposable activist "sits", which sometimes get destroyed by other user groups in wild places.


The standard tubing for a lightweight portaledge frame is 6061-T6 Aluminum Tubing.

The A5 design used 6061-T6 tubing, with a 1.125" Outside Diameter, and 0.058" wall thickness.  Metolius and the BD Cliff Cabana (originally an A5 design) also use this size, but it is not the right size for these larger frames, so those companies had to add a "spreader bar" stiffener, a sign of patched design.  The 1.125" OD 6061-T6 Aluminum tube for an A5 Alpine Double size frame (40" x 75"), but not bigger. I do not recommend the "block corner" frame design, as I introduced with the first A5 portaledge in 1986.  The better design is to use strong, curved tube corners.

If you cannot get 6061-T6 (or better yet, 2024-T3), you can use local sourced 6000 series aluminum if you beef up the wall thickness to about 1/8" (twice as thick as the tubing mentioned above).  For example, below is aluminum you can buy at a number of supply shops locally in Hobart, Tasmania (6060-T5 is much softer and weaker than 6061-T6).


There are a myriad of tools used to bend tubing. Some people have made their own tube benders.

 (NOTE:  NOT PIPE BENDERS, pipe is a different category of hollow rounds.  Pipe benders are not suitable for thin wall tube bending).  The most affordable option getting a tool that allows fine control and with the correct bending radius is a tool currently found on eBay for less than $120USD.

Below, just my initial notes in calculating general size.  I actually made a tapered ledge by varying the angles of the two "double-bend" ends, so the ledge has a delta shape, allowing bed tensioners on only one side of the ledge.  See videos.

Sewing a portaledge bed:

Super simple suspension:

It all starts with the frame.

See this document for a primer on frame strength, deflection, and weight:

First the tube size--what tube available?

Ideal tubing for one-person ledge is 1.25"OD, 0.058" wall thickness, and 1" OD, 0.065" wall thickness Aircraft Seamless 6061-T6 tube.

Ideal tubing for two-person ledge is 1.375"OD, 0.058"wall thickness, and 1.125"OD, 0.058" wall thickness tube, with some of the 1.125" reinforced with 1" tube.



many larger order suppliers--check the Thomas Register listings for "6061-T6 Seamless Tubing"


A good source (2019-2020) for high quality 2024-T3 tube from China has been this supply shop:

--They can custom make any size you want, but also stock a few great portaledge tubing sizes:

Jiangsu Yiwanhong International Trading Co., Ltd

Address: Shuangdeng Road No.2, Industrial Park, Suzhou, Jiangsu


Phone:+86 512 62967280

Skype&Whatsapp: +86 13222297515

Wechat: +86 18283328256

--ask for Mango. He can send you a stocklist. Be aware of importing rules and do your own quality control for proper heat treatment of the tubes. 2024-T3 is truly the best portaledge tubing ever. You can maybe also get it from the USA suppliers above or in ThomasNet. (Australia USA 6061-T6 tubing is quite dear and also not as good as the 2024-T3).

Post questions and comments and local supply on, specify what kind of tubing (material, outside diameter, wall thickness, etc) that you can get in your country. Ideally at least 6061-T6 or stronger--HOWEVER, you can use weaker 6000 alloy, but you need to get larger and thicker tubes (heavier). Let me know if you need help with the strength and deflection calculations for a specific size. You can compare with a proven design for a particular size ledge.