Hanging A Hammock - The Basics

Posted on 18 March 2017Hammock

Hanging a camping hammock seems like a simple enough operation, and it is but there is a few things you need to be aware of to ensure you do it safely and with ultimate comfort in mind. (This list will be added to over time so if you have anything that you want answered just let us know).

Vital Equipment Details:

1. Tree straps
- these are used to protect the trees that you will be hanging from. They can be used in conjunction with suspension systems like whoopie slings or as part of a continuous webbing solution. The features you need from these straps are:
a. Width of at least 25mm.
b. Be made from a low stretch material like polyester. Nylon will stretch especially when wet.
c. Be rated sufficiently. You want a breaking strain of at least 600kg, depending on your weight.
d. Ensure the loops are sewn sufficiently using quality thread and in a manner that does not reduce the breaking strain of the webbing too much.

2. Whoopie slings - these are probably the most common suspension option for the serious hammock camper, who wants to save weight and reduce pack size whilst retaining strength. The features you require from the whoopies are:
a. Made from a high quality UHMWPE fibre rope, with Dyneema being the most popular choice.
b. A bead placed on the adjustable loop can help prevent accidental pulling through of the loop (it has happened to a number of people and can be very frustrating).
c. You want a length usually of around 1.8m. Any longer than that can be just a waste.
d. Ensure the splicing is of good quality - the most common method is to use a locked brummel at the fixed loop end but they can also be stitched.
3. Webbing suspension - often heavier and more bulky than whoopie slings, they are popular with people who like the simplicity and potential added durability of webbing. The webbing requires some type of cinch buckle or locking device which is often left attached directly to the hammock.

4. Hammock attachment point - there are a couple of different ways to attach your suspension to your hammock and it often depends on how your hammock is initially constructed. Sometimes you will have the suspension coming directly from the hammock and other times you may have a continuous loop to which you attach your suspension via a carabiner.

5. Tie outs - some hammocks come with tie outs to help spread out the hammock fabric and keep the net from your face, though they are not essential to hang comfortably. Find what works for you. Personally I often don't use them.

6. Insulation - at temperatures below 20? Celsius most people will require some form of insulation to remain warm. In a hammock the most essential insulation will be underneath you - this can be in the from of an insulated pad or a hammock under quilt. For on top you can obviously use a blanket, sleeping bag or top quilt.

7. Tarps - if you wish to have protection from the wind and rain then a tarp is essential. The tarp should be at least 50cm longer than the hammock ridgeline to offer enough protection at either end of your hammock.

How to hang your hammock - some tips

1. Select solid anchor points that are around 4metres apart. Avoid dead trees or trees with large branches overhead.

2. Always use tree straps to protect the tree from damage, and depending on how far apart the trees are you should hang them around 1.8m high, with the hammock at about seat height. It is often preferable for the foot end to be hung slightly higher than the head end.

3. Your suspension should have close to a 30 degree angle from the hammock to the anchor point. This ensures the force on the suspension and anchor points is kept relatively low whilst achieving a comfortable sag in your hammock.

4. A structural ridgeline on your hammock can be a good indicator of whether you have setup your hammock suspension at the right angle. The ridgeline should be loose when initially setup without anyone in the hammock, and then it tightens up when you get in the hammock. The ridgeline should not be excessively taut once you are in the hammock, you should still be able to bend it slightly.

5. When laying in the hammock you want to lay on the diagonal to achieve a comfortable flatish lay. The angle you lay on is an individual thing so find what is most comfortable for you. Find what works, move up and down the hammock, change you angle, change your leg position etc.

6. There are many variables with hanging a hammock so the most important thing is just find what works for your specific hammock. Once you find that sweet spot there is nothing better than camping in a hammock.

7. Finally always inspect your hammock and suspension components for damage prior to heading out on a hang. Like anything your hammock will suffer from wear and tear with use, especially if you have chosen lighter components.

Happy Hanging.

Simon and Sarah

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