Whether or not you will enjoy your hammock camping experience largely depends on how well you set up your hammock. Luckily, most hammocks come with easy-to-follow user instructions that will help you get started with using them.
However, even with these instructions, a newbie hammock user might have some trouble setting the hammock up perfectly. It will take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to enjoy lazy summer days and sleep comfortably in your hammock.
Where can you set up your hammock
While looking for a suitable location for your hammock, there are some guidelines you need to observe:
Area permits – Before you set up, check with the land managers of the area. Not all areas allow hammock hanging, and it would do you better to ask than to incur a fine.
Most parks that restrict hammock hanging do so because of irresponsible campers. Using the ‘leave no trace’ principle is a good way to ensure that the campsite is left as you found it, or even better.
Distance from water sources – Your location of choice should be at least 200 feet from a water source. The shoreline and riverbank environments are fragile and easily destroyed. By observing this distance, you pay your part in keeping them safe.
Are you on a pathway? – Make certain that your hammock is not set up on a pathway. Check to see if there is a visible path before setting up. If there is none, look around to see if your hammock will block a path to a water source.
Take down your hammock – A poorly positioned hammock poses a safety hazard for both animals and people, and you should also make it a habit to take your hammock down during the day so that no children or animals are caught by it.
Natural obstacles – Once you find two trees, look around the area to see if there are any risks like insect nests and poisonous plants. You can also look for a place with minimal vegetation so that little or no damage is caused by trampling.
Pick the right trees and straps to support your hammock
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing the best trees for your hammock:
Don’t use unhealthy trees – If a tree has rotten branches, it won’t make an effective hammocking tree. The branch you’re hanging from could break, hurting both you and the tree in the process. Use a strong tree, preferably one that is at least 6 inches wide.
Don’t attach multiple hammocks to one tree – Tying more than one hammock to a tree puts a lot of stress upon it. Additionally, the possibility of the top camper falling is higher, causing unwarranted injuries. If each camper uses a different tree, the strain on them reduces.
Choose an eco-friendly set of straps – Using ropes and paracord is harmful to the trees. They are too thin and often damage the bark of the tree, causing it to dry up. Instead, look for hammock straps with nylon or polyester webbing that are at least 0.75 inches thick.
Also, you should avoid any suspension system that will require you to drill holes into the tree as this might kill the tree.
How to hang your hammock at the best angle and height
Each hammock comes with manufacturer instructions to assist you to set up. However, these pointers should be helpful with most hammocks.
01 – Your straps should make a 30-degree angle with the ground. This ensures that the tension is not too high for the straps, as is too tight, this will make the hammock flatter but whilst putting more force on the hammock’s suspension system.
However, due to the perfect angle being relative to each camper, you can consider other angles. Taller people usually go for smaller angles around 25 degrees and shorter people mostly opt for larger angles, around 40 to 45 degrees.
02 – Your hammock should be around 18 inches above the ground when you are in it. This is the average height of a chair, and makes getting in and out of the hammock easier. This also ensures that you don’t get seriously injured in case you fall out.
03 – Once you have the distance, height, and the angles all set, wrap your suspension system of choice (rope, hammock straps, or paracord) around the anchor points at least 4 feet above the ground.
Secure the straps to the hammock using knots for ropes, or carabiners for straps. Do this by fixing them through the end loops on the hammock.
04 – Once you’ve set up your hammock, you shouldn’t lie along the centerline, as this will cause your back to stay in a banana shape all night, that may cause back pains. Laying at an angle reduces this risk, and evenly distributes your weight across the hammock.
How far should trees be apart for a hammock?
The ideal distance between trees will depend on the length of your hammock. Most hammocks in the market are around 13 feet long from one ring to another when laid out on the floor.
To set this up, you will need a distance of about 15 to 20 feet. you should bear in mind that the shorter the distance between your anchor points, the more your hammock is going to curve.
You can also determine the best distance between 2 trees using the rain fly ridgeline. If your ridgeline is correctly fitted for your hammock, you can add 4 feet to that length.
If you are not using a hammock rain fly, you can find this distance using your hammock ridgeline length. This is the distance between the two ends of your hammock when it is set up. Simply add 6 feet to this length, and you should be ready to go.
If the trees at your campsite are too far apart, you might need to use extensions for your straps. This is why it is usually a good idea to visit the campsite as part of the planning process.
On the bright side, if you lie down on your hammock and feel like it’s too loose or too tight, you can always use the adjustment points on the suspension straps or tie the hammock on a different tree altogether.
As a beginner, it might be a little difficult to get the perfect set up for your hammock. However, with time and practice, you’ll be able to get your hammock up perfectly and swiftly.
If you keep having trouble getting the measurements needed to hang up your hammock, you can always make use of a hammock hanging calculator.
This is a tool designed to make setting up easier. All you need to do is measure or estimate the distance between trees, the sitting height, weight, the hammock ridgeline length, and the angle. The calculator will then give you an estimate of how high you should tie the straps and how long they should be.
Remember to always ensure you leave no trace when you go camping by following the leave no trace campaign. Also, never forget to check whether the hammock is securely set up before getting in to prevent any accidents.
We hope this article gives you all the insight you need to properly hang up your hammock.