When it comes to relaxing in nature, lying in a hammock offers a singular experience. The sense of weightlessness as you hang in comfortable suspension between two trees, caressed by the breeze and shaded by the boughs above, is a peace that’s hard to match. To secure the hammock into the perfect position to achieve relaxation nirvana, however, you need to stress the details.
There are multiple options available for hanging a hammock outdoors. You can opt for a variety of hammock stands, or sink your own posts into the ground. Both options allow you to choose your location and tailor your anchor points to whatever hammock you have.
Yet, there is something serendipitous about finding the perfect spot between two trees in the wild. It enhances the sense of harmony with the world around you, and feels special, like the location was waiting for you to arrive all along.
So, once you have found that spot, how do you take advantage of it? How do you hang your hammock? You actually have a few good methods to choose from, each with their own considerations and advantages. Let’s take a look at the three best ways to hang a hammock from a tree.
Methods for Hanging a Hammock From a Tree
There are 3 main methods to properly hang a hammock between two trees. Each hanging method is characterized by the tools or material that is used to secure the hammock to the tree trunks. You safely and securely hang a hammock from a tree by using tree straps, rope, or hooks.
While each method is distinct from the others, they have a couple overlapping concerns worth noting. If you plan to hang a hammock while camping, consult this list to be sure you have the necessary items in your kit to give you the widest range of options.
Carabiners are metal loops used to quickly connect or disconnect different items. They are commonly used for both safety and convenience while hiking, camping, or climbing.
It is likely that you will be using these securing tools regardless of which method you choose. Though you hammock likely came with a set of carabiners, you should also buy backups. Make sure to buy the load-bearing variety, with eyes large enough to accommodate the rope or hooks you are using.
Tree Straps and Rope
If you plan to use tree straps or rope to secure your hammock, make sure they are a long length. You only need trees to be at least 18 inches to 2 feet farther apart than the length of the hammock, but if your straps or ropes are long enough, you can take advantage of much larger separations. It already takes some luck to find a suitable spot. Go long, and make it easier.
How to Hang a Hammock Using Tree Straps
Tree straps are the most environmentally friendly method for hanging a hammock. The strong synthetic material blends used to weave them allows them to be wide and thin, yet durable and capable of safely supporting your weight. They are also great at gripping tree trunks via a combination of friction and tension, so you do not have to worry about slippage.
When purchasing tree straps, you should opt for the longest and widest that you can afford. The width helps to minimize damage to trees by distributing the weight of you and your gear over a greater area.
You should also look for straps with the most anchor loops. They give more adjustment options so you can get the hammock hanging just right.
Once you have located trees that are sufficiently far apart, follow these simple steps to hang a hammock using tree straps:
- Wrap the tree strap around the tree at a point at least 4 ft from the ground.
- Slip the end with the anchor loops through the larger end loop.
- Pull the strap tight, and secure it with a carabiner in the anchor loop that provides your desired tension level.
- Repeat the process at the other end of the hammock. Test and adjust to your preference.
How to Hang a Hammock Using Rope
Using lengths of rope to secure a hammock to a tree is the classic, tried and true method. Ropes do have the potential to be more damaging to the plant than tree straps, but steps can be taken to minimize the impact.
Choosing a nylon rope goes a long way towards reducing harm to the tree. Because the nylon stretches, it will not abrade the bark as much as fiber ropes. However, nylon’s flexibility means that hammocks secured with it tend to sag more over time.
If you go with a fiber rope, make sure you choose a flexible variant. “Hard laid” rope will not be able to achieve a tight grip on the tree. Choose “soft laid” instead. Opt for rope of at least 3/4 in thickness as well, as this grants an 800 pound weight capacity.
The steps for hanging a hammock using rope are as follows:
- Fold your length of rope in half, forming a loop. The loop will be used to help secure the rope.
- Choose a spot at least 4 feet above the ground, and wrap the length of rope around the tree at least twice. This increases grip security, as well as disperses pressure on the tree.
- Pull the loose ends of the rope through the loop, and secure them to the carabiner or rope loop of the hammock using a knot. The bowline knot is most commonly used, but you can use other secure knots.
How to Hang a Hammock Using Hooks
Drilling a hole into a tree might seem like the most destructive method here, but the small hole created is generally not problematic.
This method is the only one requiring tools other than the securing material itself. You will need a drill, and possibly a few S-hooks depending on the size of the eye on the hook compared to your rope or chain.
Make sure that the hook you purchase is rated for the task. It should be strong enough to bear the weight, and the screw should be at least 1.75 in long to provide reliable anchoring.
With the appropriate tools, hanging a hammock this way is easy.
- Using a bit roughly half the diameter of the hook screw, drill a pilot hole into the tree at least 4 feet above ground level.
- Screw the hook in until the eye is flush with the tree, but do not over-tighten it, as this risks splitting the wood or bending the hook.
- Secure your hammock carabiner to the hook. If necessary, you can use rope or chain to provide greater reach. Use an S-hook to connect these extenders to the hook.
Safety Tips for Hanging a Hammock
1. Look for strong, healthy trees.
When choosing likely trees, make sure you pay special attention to their health and stability. Do not try to attach your hammock to damaged or rotted trees, no matter how perfect a spot they occupy.
2. Only hang one hammock per tree.
Do not hang more than one hammock from a given tree, either. This is for your safety, as well as the health of the tree. Too much weight may put too much strain on the tree causing it to break and resulting in injuries to those involved as well as damage to the tree. Be safe and ensure that you only tie one hammock to each tree.
3. Consider the weather.
If the temperature gets too low, sleeping in a hammock can be difficult and even dangerous. If you plan to go hammock camping in cold weather, be sure to pack a warm hammock underquilt. When the temperature outdoors approaches the freezing mark, you may also want to consider using a winter sleeping bag for additional insulation.
4. Be mindful of maximum weight limits.
Keep in mind that although most hammocks were designed to support a fair amount of weight, they do have maximum weight limits. Because the maximum weight supported can vary greatly between different models, it is important to choose a hammock that is strong enough to support everyone who plans to use it. Additionally, be sure that your carabiners, rope, and tree straps are also capable of supporting all of the weight.
The methods above work equally well whether you are hanging a parachute hammock, the gathered-end nylon variety, or one fitted with a spreader bar. Just remember to adjust the tension and hanging height to suit your comfort level and safety.
Follow these simple steps and common sense principles, and you will not have any trouble securing your hammock, and relaxing in style.
Do you have your own unique method for hanging a hammock? We would love to hear your tips and tricks! Let us know in the comments section below.