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Your Ultimate Guide on Hanging Hammocks Outdoors

May 06, 2018

A woman hangs in an orange hammock outdoors in front of a waterfall.

Follow These Top Tips for a Safe, Secure, and Comfortable Hang This Summer

Summer is almost here and that means hammock season is almost in full swing.

What better way to kick off the start of warm, beautiful weather than by hanging a hammock to enjoy outdoors? You can spend your summer hanging in the shade, reading, relaxing, and enjoying the fresh outdoor air.

Whether you want a permanent hammock installation in your backyard, or you want to take your hammock with you when you go camping this summer, there are many ways to hang hammocks securely outdoors.

If you own a hammock or are looking to get one, it's important to know how to properly hang a hammock, not to mention understand the various suspension methods available. We’ve put together this handy guide to help you figure out the best way to relax in absolute comfort this summer season, no matter the situation:

You’re Spoiled for Choice

There are many methods for setting up hammocks, each with their own benefits and disadvantages. The method you choose ultimately depends on how you plan to use your hammock, whether for camping, on a or for a permanent setup in your backyard.

Hammock Universe chain hanging kit.

Using Hammock Hardware

Hammocks make use of several types of hardware suspensions, including ring buckles, finger nines, j-hook wall anchors, large s-hooks, and lengths of chain. This hardware is usually very easy to adjust to find the right tension for your preferences.

While hammock hardware is easier to use than learning how to tie a perfect knot with rope, some hardware can harm trees. So you can combine hardware with tree straps to avoid puncturing trees.

Pros

  • Strong, solid hold
  • Easy to adjustdistance

Cons

  • Hardware installations in posts and trees are not mobile
  • Can harm and damage trees

Red rope tied in a knot on a tree branch.

Tie the Perfect Rope Knot

Rope is the traditional method for securing a hammock in place, but you’ll need a few additional skills to ensure a good hold.

Hanging a hammock with lengths of rope means you must first master the art of tying the perfect knot for sturdy hammock suspension. Former scouts will be right at home but learning to tie a decent knot isn’t too much of a challenge.

Pros

  • Easy to pack and carry rope for camping
  • Won’t harm trees
  • Very mobile option – non-permanent

Cons

  • Not as easy as using straps
  • Knots must be secure for astrong hold

Durable and eco-friendly solid multi-ply bamboo board hammock stand with rope hammock pictured in backyard.

Taking a Stand

Hammock stands are ideal for backyards, porches, and patios. These stands are easy to setup and can be moved anywhere you want or need – for the most part. Their size can be a bit cumbersome to transport and disassembling these stands for a camping trip can be time-consuming. If you’ve got the space, though, a hammock stand gives you a ton of freedom and flexibility with setting up the perfect space to relax.

Pros

  • Portable and easy to move
  • Easy to set up
  • Attractive designs and styles
  • Self-contained support

Cons

  • Not as portable for camping
  • Stands take up space

Using Tree Straps

Tree straps are perhaps the easiest hammock suspension type to use outside. What’s more, they won’t allow the combined weight of you and your hammock to harm the tree bark.

You can also secure these straps to posts on porches and patios.

Pros

  • Lightweight, compact, and portable - ideal for camping
  • Adjustable for any distance
  • Won’t harm trees

Cons

  • Can’t be used on walls

Man wearing brown boots and green hiking pants lays on a sturdy red and navy blue nylon hammock in the forest between a tree and tree post.

Hanging Out Between Trees

Do you plan to hang your hammock between two trees? You’ll need to keep distance and height in mind. Make sure the trees you’re using for your hammock can support your weight. You don’t want to choose two thin young trees to hang from, after all, so keep an eye out for healthy, sturdy, strong trees.

Distance between Trees

You’ll need 10 to 15 feet of distance between trees, depending on the length and style of your hammock, and how much tension you want.

If you have a spreader-bar hammock, the length of the hammock will determine the length of the distance you’ll need between trees. For example, a 13-foot hammock will need at least 13 feet of space between trees. For more tension, you’ll need to another foot or two of space.

For spaces that are several feet longer than your hammock, you can hang extra straps or lengths of chain to suspend your hammock.

Height on Trees

The ideal sit height between the ground and your hammock is 18 inches. This is the average height of a chair, making it easy for you to sit in your hammock and get comfortable.

When hanging hammocks between trees (or anywhere else outside), aim to have the hammock’s suspension (rope, strap, cord, chain, etc.) hang at a 30-degree angle. This angle will provide the right amount of force.

You don’t want to set things up too tightly, though. The tighter you pull your hammock, the greater the force will be on the suspension and anchor points.

With sit height and this angle in mind, you can adjust the height of your hammock on the trees. At the minimum, consider securing the tree straps, rope, or other suspension and anchors at 48 inches up the trees.

Wrap a rope, tree strap, or other suspension securely around the two tree trunks. Then use a knot, a carabiner, or other hardware to attach the suspension to the eye (end-loops) of the hammock.

Tree straps are the easiest to use and the most gentle on trees, whereas anchoring hardware will damage trees.

Rope hammock set up in the sun outside on a white porch of an old home.

Setting Up Hammocks on Porches

If you plan to set up your hammock on your porch, use an overhead beam for weight support.

Wrap two ropes, cords, or straps around the post or beam. Then, using a knot, a carabiner, or other hardware, attach each suspension to an eye of the hammock.

How to Safely Hang A Hammock from Your Car

First, you will need a solid roof rack on your car to support the weight of you and your hammock. For safety concerns and so that you don't damage your vehicle, it's incredibly important to determine whether or not the roof is stable enough to bear your weight. Find out your roof rack’s weight limit by consulting your vehicle’s owner’s manual. You’ll also want to test its security and durability first before proceeding to lay in your hammock once you set it up. Exceeding the weight limit can result in damage to your vehicle or injury.

Once you’ve confirmed your roof rack is capable of supporting your weight, you will have to park your car the right amount of distance from a tree. Tie tree straps, ropes, or cords around the roof rack and the tree. Then secure the eyes of the hammock to these straps, making sure there’s a safe distance to the ground and the hammock has a comfortable sag for you to sleep or relax in.

Final Tips and Tricks

When hanging hammocks without spreader bars, make sure your hammock has a loose curve. Hanging loose will allow you to lie in your hammock at an angle and get flat for a comfortable, back-friendly sleep.

The distance between the two ends of your hammock when it is setup affect this loose curve, also known as sag. This distance is called the Hammock Ridgeline Length.

To make sure you hang your hammock in the most comfortable position for you, you will have to consider:

  • The distance between the two objects you’re hanging your hammock on;
  • The height of the attachment points—i.e. the rope, straps, or eyebolts on a post or tree;
  • The Hammock Ridgeline Length; and,
  • The height the hammock sits from the ground—should be about chair height (18 inches).

Finally, consider the type of hanging method that suits where you plan to hang your hammock outdoors. If you plan to secure a permanent suspension, consider investing in suspension hardware.

But if you want to hang from a tree in your backyard or while camping, tree straps and ropes are the easiest to pack, the lightest to carry, and the most gentle on trees.

Use these tips to relax and hang out this summer in a comfortable hammock outdoors!


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