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How to Safely Hang A Hammock from A Car

May 22, 2019 6 min read

Man hangs on hammock at camping ground with his hammock tied to a tree and his vehicle

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Car Hammock Camping & Hanging Tips

Whether you're a van dweller, a camper, or just need to stop and snooze, there's a better option than sleeping in your car. Bring your trusty hammock with you on road trips and long drives so you can strap it up to a tree and your vehicle for extra convenience.

Not only is this a more comfortable way to rest, but it's the responsible choice ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you. When you need to get some much-needed shut-eye during a long trip, or you need to sleep off those one-too-many beers, simply hang your hammock from your vehicle and enjoy some z’s. Here’s how!

Which Vehicles Are Best?

While you can probably hang your hammock from most vehicles, SUVs, trucks, and Jeeps are ideal for hanging hammocks.

But no matter what type of vehicle you have, you do need one stationary object to hang your hammock from beside your vehicle, such as a tree, pole, post, or another vehicle. And if you can’t find another stationary object to hang your hammock from, consider using a portable hammock stand instead.

READ MORE: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HAMMOCK CAMPING

How to Set Up Your Hammock on Vehicles

Generally speaking, you can easily hang your hammock on your vehicle with the following options:

  • For cars with roof racks, secure the hammock straps to the roof rack and another anchor point;
  • For open top vehicles, secure your hammock straps to the roll cage and a nearby anchor point, and,
  • For trucks, secure your straps to the hooks inside your truck bed.

What You’ll Need

READ MORE: MUST-HAVE CAMPING HAMMOCK ACCESSORIES

The following are the most reliable, sturdy, and safe ways to hang your hammock from any type of vehicle.

detailed graphic explaining crossbar, hooks, and roof rack hammock attachment

Crossbar & Hooks (Carabiner) Method with Slings on Roof Rack (Fairly High, But Safe)

  1. Loop together a webbing strap to create a minimum 2-foot sling.
  2. Loop the sling around the roof rack so it’s secure and tight on the rack and as close to the end of the rack as possible.
  3. Attach a carabiner to the loop at the end of your hammock.
  4. Clip the carabiner to the sling.

The vehicle end of the hammock will be pretty high, depending on the height of your roof rack. But with a long enough sling, you can make the hammock lower to the ground.

READ MORE: YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE ON HANGING HAMMOCKS OUTDOORS

detailed graphic explaining crossbar, hooks, and door fram hammock attachment

Crossbar & Hooks (Carabiner) Method with Slings on Door Frame (Not Too Low, Safer, Solid Attachment Point)

  1. With the front and back doors open on one side of your vehicle, loop and secure a sling around the middle door frame (between your front and back door).
  2. Close the back door.
  3. Hook the carabiner and hammock to the sling.
  4. Shut the front door.

The door frame provides a solid anchor point that is not too low nor too high, making this a safer hanging option.

detailed graphic explaining crossbar, hooks, and roof hammock attachment

Crossbar & Hooks (Carabiner) Method with Slings Across Roof (Adjustable Height, Very Safe)

  1. With the back doors open, wrap a 12-foot long tie-down strap across the roof of your car (under the roof racks) and around into the other side of your vehicle.
  2. Take the loose end and feed it into the metal cam buckle, securing it in place.
  3. Adjust the loop to make it larger or smaller, depending on how much slack you want for your hammock. Consider using a foot or two of space in the loop.
  4. Keep the metal buckle inside your vehicle, close to the centre, to avoid chipping or scratching the paint and windows.
  5. Holding the loop up and over your door, you can now close your car door and hook the carabiner and hammock onto the strap.

With an adjustable height and the weight evenly distributed across the top of your vehicle, this is the most secure and comfortable option for hanging a hammock on your car.

READ MORE: CHOOSING THE PERFECT HAMMOCK TARP

Experimenting with Length

Whether you opt for the webbing strap sling or the tie-down strap method, adjust the length of the loops to find a comfortable elevation for you. An ideal height is about chair height with enough slack so you can easily sit in your hammock and not risk flipping over.

Testing Is Key

Always test everything before strapping your hammock in and sitting in your hammock. You want to make sure all anchor points are secure so you won’t fall flat on your behind while trying to get some rest.

READ MORE: 10 BEST NATIONAL PARKS FOR HAMMOCK CAMPING IN THE U.S.

Safety Concerns & Disclaimers

Check the Owner’s Manual for the Weight Limit of Roof Rack

Always make sure that your roof rack is strong enough to hold your hammock and weight. Check the weight capacity in your owner’s manual.

Know the Weight Limits of Your Accessories

Along with knowing the weight limits of your hammock and roof rack, make sure the straps and carabiners are suited to hold the right amount of weight as well.

If Using Carabiner, Check to Make Sure It's Not Hitting/Scraping the Paint off the Vehicle

Note that the carabiner could scratch your car if it’s too close to the car. So try to hang it so it stays at a distance from your vehicle.

Know Your Knots

If you don’t have tree-friendly tree straps to secure your hammock to a tree, pole, or post, you can use secure ropes and knots. Here are some of the best knots to know.

detailed graphic explaining how to tie a shoelace knot

The Shoelace Knot

If you know how to tie your shoelaces, then you know how to tie this knot. But to jog your memory here’s how to tie a shoelace knot:

  1. Wrap the rope around the tree (or another anchor point) two times.
  2. Create a loop with one end of the rope.
  3. Circle this loop with the other end of rope.
  4. Push the bight of the second end through the knot to create the second loop.

detailed graphic explaining how to tie a falconer's knot

The Falconer’s Knot

  1. Pass the rope counter-clockwise around the perch or glove, with the tail end to the left.
  2. Place your right hand, palm up, underneath both pieces of rope and grip the left tail piece between the first finger and middle finger, like you are cutting the rope with scissors.
  3. Place the thumb through the two pieces, over the "scissors" and under the second piece. Bring your thumb to the right, like you are hitchhiking.
  4. Keep your thumb in position and rotate your wrist to the right, so the back of your hand is facing upwards.
  5. Make a loop with your thumb. And with a pinched first and middle finger put the "scissored" rope through the "hitchhiker's" loop.
  6. Pass the free end through the new loop to secure the knot.

To untie, simply pull out the free end and tug firmly.

detailed graphic explaining how to tie a mooring hitch

The Mooring Hitch

  1. Wrap the rope around an anchor point once, and then form a loop with the free end exiting the loop on the inside.
  2. Take the standing line and pull a section through your loop.
  3. Take a section of the free end and pull part way through the new loop
  4. Tighten the knot by pulling down on the standing line. Release the knot by pulling the free end.

What You Absolutely Shouldn't Do:

While there are simple methods to hang hammocks on vehicles, easy does not always mean safe. So avoid the following methods to save your butt and your car from damage.

Car Door Method (Too High, Not Safe, and Can Damage Vehicle)

Simply tying a knot at the end of your hammock and closing the car door on the hammock end is a quick method for hanging a hammock. But it isn’t very safe.

First of all, the hammock will be too high above the ground, making it difficult to get into while posing a risk for injury from falling.

Another issue is the potential damage to your door. The weight of the hammock can flex the top of the door. And if flexed for too long, it can leave permanent damage to your door.

Carabiner, Sling & Handle (Wood, PVC) Method (Not Safe and Can Damage Vehicle)

Although the added sling and handle provide extra slack for your hammock, placing it at a lower height, this method can also damage your car door. And all it takes is someone opening the car door to have you fall to the ground, ruining your peaceful hang time.

READ MORE: 10 TIPS FOR HAMMOCK CAMPING LIKE A PRO

Sleeping in a hammock is by far much more comfortable than sleeping in a car. So whether you want to hang your hammock from a car, an SUV, or a truck, keep these tips in mind for a safe, relaxing hang any place, any time.

Sometimes, pulling over and taking a rest in your hammock is the best option to stay comfortable and safe.