If you love being outdoors, you know that a hammock is an essential piece of equipment. Not only are they light and compact but also super easy to set up once you get acquainted with them. The first question a hammock buyer usually revolves around is how to tie a hammock to a tree.
Whether you’re going out camping or just chilling in your backyard, a hammock is guaranteed to give you the relaxation you deserve. Hammocks have become especially popular in the backpacking community because they are light and easy to carry around. Not to mention that you can easily set it up in five minutes (with a bit of practice, of course).
The cool thing about nature is how it provides the best anchor points for hammocks. Yes, I’m talking about trees. Hanging a hammock between trees is an essential experience for any outdoor enthusiast. If you’re planning on trying out your hammock outdoors, worry not, as there are many ways to safely secure your hammock to a tree.
Read on to discover all you need to know about tying a hammock to a tree, along with a few helpful tips about the outdoors.
Things to Look Out For
When tying up your hammock, there are a few things you need to watch out for. Here are a few tips that’ll help you get the best out of your experience next time you decide to hang your hammock between trees.
1. Distance Between the Trees
The distance between two trees is a critical factor to consider. Typically, you’ll need between three and five meters (10-15 feet) of space between trees.
The length of your hammock should tell you how much space you’ll need between trees. If you have a 10-foot long hammock, you need at least 10 feet of space between your trees. You can add a foot or two depending on how much tension you want.
If you can only find spaces that are way longer than your hammock, feel free to use longer lengths of rope or extra straps (more on these later).
2. Tree Health
It’s never a good experience when your hammock comes down on you, or even worse, brings a tree down on you. To avoid all possible inconveniences, select healthy trees with strong and sturdy trunks. How can you tell if a tree is healthy?
This calls for a thorough inspection of the trees. Essentially you want a tree that’s alive and thriving and has a diameter of at least six inches. You want to avoid trees whose bark chips away easily, dry trees and rotten trees. You can identify them by checking for cracks, rot spots and crevasses. If you see any of these, just find another tree for your hammock.
Now, you don’t need to be a tree expert to tell a healthy tree. Just take some time to scout your surroundings and identify quality trees you can use. This will go a long way in ensuring the tree can hold your weight without caving in on you.
3. Height on the Trees
When tying your hammock to a tree, you want it hanging at about 18 inches (45 cm) from the ground. This is the average seat height and will allow you to sit comfortably on your hammock.
The height is important because it plays a huge role in determining the angle of your hammock’s suspension. Ideally, you want your rope or strap hanging at an angle of between 25-30 degrees. This angle provides the right amount of force to keep your hammock in place on the tree or anchor point.
Getting the right angle also ensures that your rope or suspension stays nice and taught. So, next time you lie in your hammock, keep in mind the height and angle as specified above. This should help you decide the ideal height to tie your hammock on a tree.
4. Mind Your Surroundings
When choosing a spot to set up your hammock, take a good look around, as this simple step could make or break your outdoor experience. Avoid places with too much undergrowth, especially if you can’t identify the plant species.
While nature is beautiful and diverse it can sometimes be unforgiving. You want to avoid undergrowth as it can have some poisonous plants that have detrimental effects. Plants like stinging nettle and poison ivy can cause irritation to your skin and even ruin your experience.
Also, avoid marshy areas as they are prone to lots of pesky bugs that can only make your stay outdoors miserable. To be on the safe side, choose a spot that is open and has short grass. This simple choice will ensure you have a splendid time outdoors.
Suspension System for Tree Hammock
There are plenty of ways to tie up a hammock, each with its own perks and quirks. Your choice should be based on your objectives and personal preferences.
Here are a few common methods used to tie a hammock to a tree:
If you aren’t familiar with tree straps, just know this, they’re probably the easiest way to tie your hammock to a tree. A typical tree strap has a looped end and various attaching points (loops) along its length.
Most tree straps on the market are made from either polyester, nylon or even Kevlar. They are lightweight, compact and also super intuitive to use. Simply wrap it around a tree and then pull one end through the loop on the other end. Using carabiners or an S-hook, attach your hammock to your preferred point on your tree strap.
The straps make it that much easier to set up your hammock on a tree. They are meant to be wrapped around trees with a big diameter and also to protect the tree bark. All in all, hammock straps are a quick and easy way to get your hammock set up safely on a tree.
These refer to the various accessories that are used to secure a hammock to various surfaces. They include S-hooks, ring buckles, chains of varying lengths, finger nines, and j-hook anchors.
While they are mostly used to secure hammocks to a wall, you can also use them on trees. However, using hardware alone may cause some damage to the trees. We do recommend using them in combination with either rope or straps to protect the tree.
Hammock hardware is guaranteed to give you a solid hold. While this is so, they are better suited for use on walls rather than trees. They may take a longer time to set up and also damage the tree.
Hammock Rope Knots
Tying a hammock to a tree with rope knots is hands down the most authentic way to do it. There’s such a traditional feel to it that resonates with many campers and backpackers alike. However, most people that are new to hammocks find it rather intimidating.
We’re here to tell you it’s really not that hard. With a little bit of practice, anybody can do it. Some of the knots used when tying a hammock to a tree have other interesting uses that might come in handy elsewhere.
Here are some of the common knots used to tie a hammock:
Some people like to call this the king of all knots. The bowline knot has a fixed eye loop on one end. The bowline has stood the test of time by proving to be strong and reliable. It is easy to tie and untie even after bearing a heavy load.
To tie hammocks to a tree using the bowline knot, first wrap your rope around the tree two or three times. Then, with the rope on your left hand (standing end) make a small loop. Now thread the other side (working end) under and through the loop.
Then wrap the working end under the standing end and back in through the loop. Give it a little tug on the free side of the working end to tighten the knot. Now just use your S-hook or carabiners to hook your knot to the loop end of your hammock.
It’s also important to know that the bowline is a non-adjustable knot. This is especially important when setting your hammock height. Also, watch out as the knot is known to come loose when left freely.
The half hitch knot is another great knot to know. It is often a foundation for tying other knots such as the taut-line hitch.
To tie the half hitch, loop your rope around a tree or any other anchor point. Now pass the working end around the standing end and through the bottom of the loop you just created. To give your knot a bit more strength, you can double it.
Taut Line Hitch
The taut-line hitch is a running knot tied to the standing end of a rope. You can slip the knot to loosen or tighten the slack of the line. It is quite useful in situations that require adjustability, like tying a hammock to a tree.
To tie a hammock using the taut-line hitch, first wrap your rope around the tree twice or thrice. With the working end make two loops around the standing end (work towards the tree). Now bring the working end around the loops you just made and make an additional loop around the standing end (outside the first two loops).
Tighten the knot by pulling on the working end. At this point slide the rope up and down the standing line to make sure it’s adjustable. The taut line is used hand in hand with the bowline knot to tie a hammock to a tree. Since it’s a running knot, using it on both sides of a hammock could compromise its stability.
If you’re looking for an easy knot, then the backpacker hitch is for you. It is perhaps one of the simplest to tie and would make an excellent choice for anyone new to knots.
Because it’s a fixed point knot, first start by wrapping your rope around a tree a couple of times. Then thread one end of the rope back through the turns to fasten it. This knot relies on the friction between the rope and the tree to keep it stable.
While it might not be the sturdiest of knots, it does do a pretty decent job tying a hammock to a tree.
Knot Tying Tips
- Invest in good quality rope and, if possible, go for something like a paracord. If you’re going to trust a rope to hold your weight, it had better be strong.
- Take time to practice your knots. Make sure you have a good understanding of them before you try them out outdoors.
Although there are many knots you can use to tie a hammock, the ones mentioned above are the most common. Some of these knots are also used by sailors and even rescuers during emergencies.
There are so many ways to tie a hammock to a tree. However, using hammock straps is by far the most straightforward and least complicated. You can purchase hammock straps separately at your local adventure stores. Some bigger brands also include them with their hammocks, so keep that in mind as well. Keep practicing, and pretty soon, you will be tying hammocks to trees like a pro.