So you’re getting ready to set up your new hammock for the first time or just got back from a trip and you have some questions. Well you have come to the right place! In this article I will go over how to hang your hammock! Everything described below is from our own personal experience and may vary person to person. You will find out what works best for you with a little practice. NEVER HANG HIGHER THAN YOU ARE WILLING TO FALL! With that said, lets get to it…
Before you begin to set up camp you want to make sure that you have selected a good site. It is always best to select an area that has been camped in before so you are not disturbing more nature than necessary. Remember “Leave No Trace” or LNT is of upmost importance when enjoying the outdoors.
Now that you have found an area that you think is suitable here are a few things to look out for :
- First you want to find a location that is at least 200 feet from water sources. This is to protect from erosion and the aquatic wildlife also possibly contaminating the water.
- Next you want to find an area that provides natural protection from the elements. Anything that can help block the wind is a plus when hammock camping.
- LOOK UP! This cannot be stressed enough. Look up towards the trees to inspect for dead or dying trees and “widow makers”( which are hanging or leaning trees and branches in live trees). These can be deadly because the slightest movement can cause them to fall and injure or kill you.
- Next inspect the ground. Now while this isn’t as important for hammock camping (another reason to switch from tenting) you still want to make sure that if you have a hammocking malfunction that there isn’t any rocks, trees, roots and such to land on that could cause injury.
- Trees! Now one of the most important Things that you need for hammock camping is trees. When looking for trees you want to make sure that there are two trees that are at least six inches in diameter. This ensures that the trees are old enough to withstand the forces that being in your hammock exerts. You also want the trees to be about 15 feet apart but well go into that more later.
Some things you want to avoid:
- Gullies. If you are in areas that are prone to flash flooding or are expecting weather, you want avoid places that are natural areas where water will travel. Flash flooding is no joke and can be life threatening.
- Areas with higher exposure to the elements. Being exposed to full force of mother nature can be miserable. Try to avoid camping on ridges as this is not only dangerous from exposure but the ecosystems are typically more fragile in these areas.
- The tallest tree. When you are finding an area avoid being near the tallest tree. These trees act as natural lighting rods and can be extremely dangerous in severe storms.
- Dense vegetation areas. You want to avoid areas where the ground vegetation is thick. Now granted this isn’t an issue with hammock camping BUT again you want to practice “Leave No Trace” or LNT. Walking around in these areas can harm the ecosystem especially if the area is fragile.
Setting up your Hammock
Once you have you site selected, you can begin to set up your hammock. I will list out the steps below but remember these are just guidelines and your results WILL vary. This is not only because there will never be two exact trees, exactly the same distance apart, with the same diameters but there are also different hammocks, different suspension types and different sleep styles for everyone. I will be describing a basic setup that most outdoor enthusiast will use just starting out. This includes 10 foot tree straps that have loops sewn into them AKA continuous loops. These are what you will attach your hammock to with carabiners or soft shackles. Lastly you will have your hammock, which starting out is most likely going to be a gathered end hammock that is approximately 10 feet in length. If you would like to see what comes in our complete Hammock and Tarp bundle, check them out here. Now let’s Get Hanging!
- For tree selection, again you want two trees that are at least six inches in diameter. These trees should be approximately 15 to 20 feet apart. This distance will depend on how high you hang your tree straps and how far you want to sit off the ground. Don’t get to caught up in the details as this will become second nature after a few times of setting up your hammock.
- Next is time to set up your tree straps. If your ground is unlevel, go to the tree that’s higher in elevation to start. You will now wrap your strap around the tree. This is where you will get to know the tree as you will most likely end up bear hugging it to get your strap around it. Don’t worry though, they like the affection! If you’re shy, you can try to do the throw method where you toss the strap around the tree and are able to catch it. Now you will feed the end with the multiple loops though the end with the single loop. You want to then cinch the tree strap down about 6 to 7 feet off the ground. If you are using a tree that is closer to 6 inches in diameter, you can wrap your tree strap around more than once to keep you continuous loops higher(if needed). Next repeat the process on the other tree but make sure you cinch it down level with the first strap.
- Note; you may want to have your foot end slightly higher than your head. This helps prevent you from sliding to the middle of the hammock since your torso is heavier than your feet. Again you will discover what works best for you. There are sleep studies that say that sleeping with your feet higher is better for your health. One that really stands out is it can help with swollen feet, which is great after hiking all day. If you would like to read more here is a link.
- Ensure that your tree straps are at least 3/4 of on inch thick as anything smaller can cause damage to the cambium layer of the tree which over time can harm and even kill the tree.
- Now that you have your tree straps ready, you can grab your hammock. Simply attach your hammock to a continuous loop with a carabiner or soft shackle. A good starting point would be to connect your hammock about 3 to 4 feet down on the tree strap. Then simply do the same to the other side.
- Now take a step back, look at your hang, and then adjust as needed. Once you have it how you like, then comes the sit test. You want to sit in your hammock like a chair. You want to open the hammock up with both hands, one on each side. I find it easiest to hold the side closest to me with one hand between my legs and then push the far side back with my other hand. From here you ease into the hammock. Be aware that the hammock will settle as you sit into it until everything is taught. This is completely normal but once everything is taught it shouldn’t stretch anymore.
- When you are in your hammock there are a few things you want to take note of. First would be your sit height. You should have your hammock about the same height off the ground as a chair, roughly 18 inches. This gives you the option to sit in your hammock while cooking or relaxing and if you have any malfunctions, you are not too far off the ground. Remember, never hang higher than you are willing to fall. Next you want to observe your “Hangle”, which is the angle that your hammock and tree straps make with the ground, and should be about a 30 degree angle. This ensures that you are able to get the flattest lay possible and won’ t be putting unnecessary stress on your feet and knees.
- Now once you have everything the way you want it, you are all set to enjoy your hammock! Like it was mentioned before, this will take a few hangs to get everything dialed in to your liking but is completely worth it!
How to lay in your Hammock
I know at this point you just want to lay in your hammock, relax and be left alone but there’s a few more things your need to know. When you first get in your hammock you may think that it’s best to lay in line with the trees but that’s not the case. When you are using a camping hammock you need to lie on a “diagonal” to get the flattest lie. To do this, you need to put your head to one side of the hammock and then your feet to another. This allows the hammock to flatten out and can even accommodate side sleepers, like myself. To ensure that you can get the most comfortable lay, you should look for a hammock that is at least 180% longer than your height and you always round up! So someone that is 5 feet tall can get away with a 9 foot hammock while someone who is 6 feet tall should look into getting at least an 11 foot hammock. To do this, multiply your height by 180 and then divide that by 100. By doing this you are finding the minimum sized hammock that it would take for you to get that flat lay.
I hope this article helps you understand a little more about how to hang your hammock and gives you the confidence to get elevated! Once you begin hammocking, you will find it hard to go back to tent camping. Remember to never hang higher than you are willing to fall.
Always practice LNT and better yet, pack out more than you pack in. I always make a conscious effort to pack out trash that people have left behind. It only takes a second of your time but can have years of effect on an ecosystem.
If you think that you are ready to make the jump from tent camping to Hammocking, check out what we have to offer! Until next time, Get Hanging!