You can a hammock in a million different ways, in this article I’m going to cover the most popular and easiest hanging methods between two trees.
This is how you hang a hammock between two trees:
Locate two strong trees approximately 13 to 16 feet from each other. Use straps around the tree and hang your hammock at a 30-degree angle to the horizontal. Install your tarp above it and peg it down.
For a more in depth view we are going to look at each of the steps seperatly.
Finding a suitable spot
Finding a suitable spot for a hammock is far easier than finding a spot for a tent. This is because you don’t need even terrain for the setup. You still need to keep some things in mind when choosing your spot. When I’m looking for a great spot these are my criteria:
- Not a lot of dirt on the ground – I try to avoid areas where there is a lot of fallen branches, steep rocks, etc. they make the possibility for injuries higher than need be.
- Dry ground – An obvious one, you don’t want to step out of your hammock in the morning only to have your feet soaked.
- No widow makers in the area – This is an important one. Make sure there are no dead trees that can fall on your hammock one the wind catches up. Bring them down if you can and have experience with it. If not, better safe than sorry and you should look for another spot. This is also useful for tent campers.
- Avoid windy areas – Setting up or sleeping in windy areas can be annoying. Firstly, wind will make you cold at night and secondly, it will blow your tarp against your hammock. I prefer spots where there is not much wind. When I was canoeing in Sweden we camped on an island where the wind was blowing hard. After looking around for some time I found a spot that was sheltered from the wind by the roots of a fallen tree overlooking the sunrise in the morning.
- Strong trees to hang your hammock from – Another obvious one, look for two decent trees that can hold your weight and are still alive.
- Possibility to hang your tarp different ways – When you are more advanced with hammock camping you will find there are different methods of hanging your tarp. We will discuss this later in the article.
Hang your hammock
Once you have found a suitable spot between two trees it’s time to hang your trusty hammock. But how do you hang them between the trees?
These hanging methods are called suspension methods. The suspension needs to be adjustable to your personal preference. For example, when you don’t find the perfect distance between trees you can adjust your suspension system to be higher or lower and longer or shorter.
There are a lot of methods for hanging a hammock and I will discuss the most used ones; but first let me tell you something about tree straps.
When hanging a hammock between two trees, there is a lot of stress on the bark. That’s why you must consider using straps to wrap around the trees instead of using ropes. This way you don’t cut in the tree’s bark. Hammocker’s call them ‘tree straps’ and are available in different colors and sizes.
If you need a calculator for the right distances I highly recommend using this one. Don’t take literally for each inch but as a general guideline. There is an android or IOS app available for this calculator.
Tree huggers are best hung at the height of your eyes. If you want your hammock to be lower you need to lower your tree hugger or lengthen your suspension system.
Straps – This is the most used method of hanging a hammock. It’s the easiest but not the lightest. You don’t need a seperate tree hugger with this setup because the straps itself are the tree huggers. Hammock straps have a recommended length of around 15 to 20 feet.
This is basically and extended tree hugger with slots at different distances to clip your carabiner from your hammock to.
The con about this method is that you are limited to the slots available.
Rings – Rings are quite similar to straps but without the slots in it. You need to have 4 rings (2 for each side) and wrap your strap around it in a special way so it cinches down the straps. There is a youtube video that explains this all very clear:
Whoopie slings – This is a lightweight option and is gaining popularity It’s basically a rope that’s woven in a special way that you can adjust the tension by pulling on one end and give slack when you pull it the other way. Another video would do justice here:
There are a lot more methods for ultralight hanging but the most used ones were covered here.
Put your underquilt on
If you don’t want to get cold during your night sleep you should consider using an underquilt. So, why shouldn’t you use a sleeping bag for this?
The basics of insulation tells us that air is needed to create small pockets to trap your body heat. If you are laying on your sleeping bag (the insulating material) you will compress it and will not leave space for the air. You completely removed the insulation from your sleeping bag.
An underquilt hangs under your hammock. That way the insulation doesn’t get packed down and provides you with a warm night’s sleep.
You have different choices for under quilts, these are:
Full underquilt – covers the full length of your body but weights more and has more volume.
Partial underquilt – covers only your body but not your feet and head. Weights less and has less volume.
Place your sleeping bag or top quilt inside
The best way to insulate the rest of your body is by using a sleeping bag or a top quilt. If you have a sleeping bag laying around, you can use that. But by using a top quilt you will save space and weight in your pack. To make sleeping in a sleeping bag more comfortable, only zip it a foot or two at your feet so you can use the rest like a blanket.
Put up your tarp
Protection from the rain is a must. That’s why you pitch your tarp above your hammock. If you arrive early at camp I would advise to put up your tarp first and then your hammock. If it rains you can cook or sit under your tarp without the hammock being in the way.
Tarps come in different sizes and colors. If you want to stealth camp it’s better to use a natural color like dark green or brown depending on the season.
What about dimensions of the tarp? I use a 13 by 10 feet tarp (4 by 3 meters). I like the extra space it offers but because of that I need more space in my pack to store it.
The recommended minimum would be a 10’ by 10’ tarp (3 by 3 meters).
This is how you setup a tarp:
- Tie one end of the ridgeline to a tree with a taut line hitch
- Tie the other end of the ridgeline to the other tree with another taut line hitch
- Adjust your tarp so it sits perfectly above your hammock minding the direction of the wind for possible rain.
- Make two prusik knots on each side to tighten up your tarp
- Stake down the corners of the tarp with stakes or rocks.
- Alternatively, you can make a porch or open design by tying the corners to other trees.
Place your backpack in a convenient location
You can put your stuff on the ground at your foot or head side. When there are ants or other creatures wandering around you might like the following method.
You can hang it with another carabiner to one of your tree huggers so it’s easy to take gear in and out. Be sure to cover it with a rainproof cover in case it rains during the night.
I like hammocking because you are more into nature. Waking up to a beautiful sunset is golden to me. I sleep quite well in a hammock, most of the times better than a tent. The total setup time for me is around 5 minutes.