How to Hang a Hammock

Hammocking is a comfortable way to relax, rest, or pass the time, and you can do this activity whether you’re indoors or outdoors. But to enjoy the full benefits of your hammock, you must be able to hang it properly first. A poorly suspended hammock won’t feel very comfortable, and you may end up not getting any benefits at all.
woman on hammock near to river

Here are the basic rules:

How to Hang a Hammock

  1. Look for two sturdy trees.
  2. Measure the distance between these trees. The distance between the two trees should be between 10 to 15 feet.
  3. Attach your hammock suspension system to the trees.
  4. Get the right height and angle when you hang your hammock. The ideal angle is 30°, and the height to aim for is 18” above the ground.

In this guide, we provide the best practices for hanging hammocks and some early preparations that you should do. You will also learn how to hang a hammock in various settings and the most appropriate equipment to use for each one.

Preparations

More often than not, hammocks are set up outdoors rather than indoors. For indoor hammocking, you’ll generally need only two walls, a ceiling, or overhead beams. For the outdoors, you’ll have to have access to at least two trees or posts. And if you’re planning to bring your hammock to a camping trip, you’ll have to do proper research of your planned campsite to make sure you can even hang a hammock. The following preparation tips are going to be more focused on the great outdoors:

Check if hammocks are allowed at your planned camping area.

You need to know if the camping location you plan to go hammocking at allows you to bring hammocks in the first place. Some areas don’t permit the use of hammocks because of the potential harm they can cause to trees.

Other places that do allow hammocks require that you use tree straps or webbing straps to protect tree barks. There is a fuller discussion on webbings further on in the article.

Do some research on the topography of your hammocking location.

You don’t want to find yourself at a loss when you get to your campsite because there aren’t any trees you can use to hang your hammock. Always research any camping location beforehand to avoid this situation. If your planned camping area does have trees, make sure to gauge them first carefully.

Not all trees are viable for hanging a hammock. For example, some may already be dead and can come crashing down at any moment, so you’ll want to stay away from those. Also, watch out for dry or dead branches that can easily blow off and fall on you. Trees that support your weight have thick and sturdy trunks, so keep a lookout for these types.

Make sure to set up your hammock away from any natural habitats.

Survey the area to make sure you are not setting up your hammock in a place that animals might inhabit. In doing so, you can avoid disturbing such animals and the harm they might potentially cause. Many camping sites have designated areas for setting up your hammock, so you can utilize those spots if you are at such a site.

Also, it would be best if you did some research on the area’s plants for any potentially poisonous ones so that you can avoid them. Furthermore, keep a distance from any water source you might encounter to avoid disrupting that particular ecosystem.

Avoid hanging your hammock on used trails.

Try not to hang your hammock across well-worn trails, as this could end up being disruptive for both you and other potential hikers who might be using that same path. Even if there are excellent trees to be found along such trails, you will find that it is best to look somewhere else.

You won’t have to constantly worry about bothering other people or have to take down and hang your hammock multiple times. A different location can also provide you more privacy.

Equipment

Other than your actual hammock, the next most important gear you need to bring with you is your hammock’s suspension system. The suspension system allows you to hang your hammock in the first place, so having a good one is essential. The following are some of the most common types of systems being put in use:

Rope

A rope is a very sturdy material, so you’ll have no problem hanging a hammock with it. It is intuitive to use, as you only have to pass it through the hammock connection points and then loop it around a tree and secure it by tying a knot. The rope is very common, usually being found in most households, and thus easy to acquire. Even if you don’t own any rope, it is relatively cheap, so you can buy as much as you need.

A downside to rope is that it can be difficult for some people to tie knots with it, so adjusting it to the correct length could be a very cumbersome task. The rope stretches under tension which can cause your hammock to sag over time. Also, the rope can be bad for trees as they can dig into the bark, causing damage.

Hanging Tree Straps/Web Straps

If you’re having difficulty with using rope, tree straps or webbing straps are an excellent alternative. You don’t have to tie any knots; all you have to do is wrap these tree-huggers around trees, then use the incorporated loops for attaching your hammock endpoints.

Tree straps also have plenty of advantages over rope; they are strong like rope but made of rigid material to not stretch under tension. Wrapping these tree-huggers around the trunks also helps protect the bark from being damaged. Furthermore, webbings have a higher level of adjustability than rope, so you can adjust to your desired length much more quickly and conveniently.

There are two most common types of webbings – whoopie slings and daisy chain webbing straps. Depending on your preference, you may end up liking one over the other.

Whoopie sling

A whoopie sling is a non-continuous type of tree strap; this means that a different set of straps or rope is needed to attach the sling to the hammock connection points. The most important feature, though, of whoopie slings is that it makes use of an adjustable loop that you can easily slide up or down until you get your desired hammock height and tension.

Daisy Chain Webbing Strap

A daisy chain webbing strap is a continuous type of webbing strap that extends up to the hammock connection endpoint. You can secure one end of your hammock to one of the several loops incorporated in this tree strap via a carabiner or some other type of clip. If you want to change the height and sag of your hammock, simply clip to another loop.

A minor downside to daisy chain straps is that adjustments come in larger increments compared to whoopie slings. Also, daisy straps are the more expensive type. Still, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use and tree-friendly suspension system, you won’t go wrong with these.

Hammock Hanging Hardware

Another way you can hang a hammock is by the use of hammock hanging hardware. There are several types of hammock hardware, but what’s important is that these pieces of equipment do their job properly.

First, you will need solid anchors to hang your hammock, and the most common hardware for this function that you can use is J hooks. You can screw the J hooks into trees if you plan to use your hammock outdoors; for indoors, you can screw them into the walls.

Lengths of chain can serve as a substitute for rope and straps. If you want to adjust the tension of your hammock, you can use different lengths of chains. You can also move your J hooks up or down to accomplish this.

Lastly, you can use S hooks to connect your hammock endpoint to your length of chain. You can also change the height and sag of your hammock by simply moving your S hooks up or down.

A downside to hammock hanging hardware is that it can cause damage to tree trunks. It can also be difficult to adjust the J hooks once screwed in. They also have a relatively higher price point compared to other hammock suspension systems.

Hammock Stands

A hammock stand requires no ropes or straps and is the easiest way to hang a hammock. Attach your hammock endpoints to either side of the stand, and you’re all set. Just sit or lay down and relax. The best part about a hammock stand is that you can set them up anywhere if there is enough space for it to fit in. These even come in a variety of styles and designs you can choose from.

A downside with hammock stands, though, is that they are relatively large, so you might not be able to bring them with you on camping trips conveniently. Hammock stands are best used at home, such as in the backyard, front yard, porch, or patio.

Hanging A Hammock in Different Settings

Now that you’ve prepped yourself, it’s time to get to the actual hanging of your hammock. The following are some guidelines you can follow for the best hanging setup.

Now that you’ve done all your research and prepared your gear, it’s time to get to the actual hanging of your hammock. The following are some of the most common places people hang their hammocks in, and we provide guidelines to help you hang your hammock for whichever setting you choose.

Hanging your hammock from trees

There are two main steps to hanging a hammock between two trees, which are further elaborated on below:

Look for two sturdy trees. Measure the distance between these trees.

Of course, the first thing you should do is to look for trees or posts suitable to hang your hammock; you will have already learned this from earlier in the article. But for a more convenient hammocking experience, the distance between the two trees should be between 10 to 15 feet.

A distance of 10 to 15 feet will give you the ideal range for the tension of your hammock. You won’t stretch your hammock too much, and you can avoid feeling constricted in it. If you can’t find any trees with the recommended stretch, you can adjust your hammock suspension system. For example, if trees you find are over 15 feet apart, you can switch your hammock straps to longer ones to avoid stretching.

Attach your hammock suspension system to your two trees. Get the right height and angle when you hang your hammock.

After finding suitable trees, your next step will be to attach your hammock’s suspension system to them. To get the most comfort out of your hammocking experience, angle your hammock at around 30 degrees. You can lay or sleep in your hammock in a very comfortable position at this angle, and your suspension system doesn’t get pulled too tight either.

For the best height, you should raise your hammock to around 18 inches off the ground. This amount of distance will keep your hammock raised to a comfortable height over the floor – not too low that you graze the bottom and not too high that you can’t properly get out of your hammock.

You will most likely not get the proper height the first time you attach your webbings or ropes to your trees. What you can do is to wrap your cords higher up the trees in the beginning – while at a 30-degree angle – then gradually lower them until you reach that 18-inch height for your hammock.

Hanging your hammock using one or two cars

Another way to hang hammocks outdoors is from between two cars or between a vehicle and a tree. Make sure first that your car has a sturdy roof rack that can support your weight. Then, distance your vehicle 10 to 15 feet from the tree or second car you’re going to use to hang your hammock. Lastly, secure your ropes or webbings around both hanging points, ensuring that the hammock is around 18 inches off the ground.

Hanging your hammock from a ceiling

You might want to install your hammock indoors instead of outside, and one way to do this is to hang it from a ceiling. You will need a significant amount of space, so covered areas like a roofed porch or patio are places you can use.

You can use either hammock hanging hardware or rope, or webbings. If you plan on using hardware, make sure that the surface you’re going to screw your anchors in is solid and can support your weight. Apply the same 30-degree angle rule to your length of chain for optimal comfort. You can also use ropes if there are overhead beams available.

Hanging your hammock between walls

It is also possible to hang your hammock between walls, and you can accomplish this with the use of hammock hanging hardware. Trying to hang your hammock between two opposite walls could be difficult as, more often than not, walls will have too much space between them. What you can do instead is to look for a corner, and if there is enough space, hang your hammock at a 45-degree angle between the two walls.

FAQs

How high should a hammock be off the ground?

The best height for hammocks would be around 18 inches off the ground. This height is also the average height of a regular chair, meaning you can sit in your hammock comfortably and easily get in and out of it.

How do you hang a hammock without damaging a tree?

The best suspension system you can use to prevent damage to trees is webbing straps. Unlike rope, webbings don’t dig into tree bark or cause any direct damage like hammock hardware. The recommended width for tree-friendly webbings is between 0.75 and 1 inch.

How much weight can the average hammock hold?

The weight capacity of your hammock largely depends on its suspension system. The average load that hammock straps can take is around 400 lbs; this includes both your weight and other equipment you might be carrying with you.

Conclusion

Learning to hang a hammock may be a bit troublesome at first, but after you get the hang of it, you’ll find that the process isn’t so complicated after all. Also, having the best hanging practices ingrained in you will ensure that you will always get the most benefits and experience the most comfort anytime and anywhere you hang a hammock.