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How Do I Hang My Hammock?
Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. Cord-Based Systems 2.1. Connecting Cordage to Hammock Detail: How to Larkshead Cord to a Hammock 2.2. Connecting Cordage to Tree Detail: Combining Tree Huggers 2.3. Garda Hitch with Ring Buckles 3. Webbing-Based Systems 3.1. Connecting Webbing to Hammock 3.2. Connecting Webbing to Tree 3.3. Ring Buckles on Webbing 3.4. Cinch Buckles on Webbing 3.5. Tri-Glides on Webbing
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4. Advanced Hanging Techniques 4.1. Two Hammocks Under One Tarp 4.2. Hanging in Trail Shelters 4.3. Hanging with Rock Climbing Gear Photo by FreeT heWeasel 1. Introduction. Now that you have your hammock, you have to hang it. But what's the best way? Should you go with the stock method that came with your system? Should you just slap some webbing on there and wrap it around the tree? What's the lightest method? What's the most convenient? T here's no right answer to these questions, of course...it all depends on your priorities f or what you want f rom your system. T his page gives an overview of several available options. It isn't all-inclusive, but it does provide enough considerations, pics and links to get you started. Let's begin with a def inition: The purpose of hammock suspension is to support the hammock safely without damaging the environment. Everything else - low weight, bulk, complexity and expense - are secondary concerns. Now let's break this apart: Support the Hammock... T he suspension has to keep the hammock of f the ground. T his brings a f ew requirements, and there are options f or each that will be discussed below. T he suspension must connect to the hammock. T he suspension must connect to the trees (or whatever you're hanging f rom). Since the trees won't always be the same distance apart, the system should be f lexible enough to cover a wide range of hanging sites. ...Safely... Hammocks can put hundreds of pounds of f orce on each support. It isn't simply your weight divided by two...it's a trigonometry f unction where the cord or webbing is the hypoteneus of a triangle. Using the angle of the support to true horizontal, the f orce on the support is: h = (.5 x user weight) / sin(support angle) . T his also brings a f ew requirements: The suspension must be strong enough. Be very caref ul using cord or webbing that doesn't list a working load or breaking strength. T he lowest acceptable range is generally 700 lbs, and some people will not use less than 1000lbs breaking strength. Do not use 550 cord (parachute cord). I've broken 550 cord twice using it on a hammock, and I cut it directly of f a parachute so I know it's the real thing. The correct knots/lashings must be used. Knots can signif icantly reduce the strength of cord and webbing. Some knots reduce the strength more than others, and certain knots are designed specif ically f or webbing. Additionally, some knots will bind when they're weighted and you'll have to cut the support to get the hammock down. So pick non-binding knots or lashings when you choose your system. The tree must be strong enough. Trees 6" in diameter are usually strong enough to support a hammocker. Make sure the tree is
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alive and there are no widow-makers nearby. Some trail shelters are capable of supporting a hammocker...others are not. People have torn door f rames out of their homes, pulled their walls out of square and ripped garage door supports f rom the ceiling by hanging their hammocks f rom them. Learn f rom their mistakes. ...Without Damaging the Environment. Given the f orce on a hammock support, the wrong cord can easily damage a tree. In extreme cases, this could even girdle the tree and cause it to die. T his is obviously bad f or the environment, and it can encourage restrictive regulations at government-owned that prohibit anything f rom being tied to trees. Fortunately, this has an easy solution...use tree huggers or webbing on the tree. Anything that spreads the f orce across a larger surf ace area lessens the impact on the tree. If hammockers can limit the impact on the trees, a hammocking site is generally more Leave No Trace compliant than a tent or tarp site because we don't f latten the ground. Secondary Concerns. Once the primary considerations f or the hammock suspension are covered, it's time to consider the details of your system. T his is where the trade-of f s start - more convenience usually means more weight, bulk and complexity. Carabiners are a good example of this - it's much quicker to wrap the webbing around a tree and click the biner on than to use the Hennessy Lash...but a loadbearing carabiners weighs over an ounce each. On a thru-hike, that's 2-4 extra ounces f or a couple thousand miles. Only you can decide if that's worth it. Materials are another consideration. Suspension is usually made f rom low-memory stretch cord like Spectra or polyester or polypropylene webbing. Low-memory stretch means that, once the material is stretched out f rom you laying in it, it doesn't remember how to pull back to its original position...it stays stretched out so your hammock doesn't end up on the ground every morning. High-memory stretch material like nylon pulls back to its original position...so you'll end up hanging much lower every morning than you started the previous night. Paracord (550 cord) is made f rom nylon so it can stretch to absorb opening shock...in addition to not being strong enough, it stretches too much to be an ef f ective hammock support. Slap Straps by Eagles Nest Outf itters are currently made f rom nylon...many hammockers have tried and discarded this approach because of this. If you like the system, make your own f rom polyester or polypro webbing. Two Key Decisions. T here are two key decisions to make f or your suspension. Will you use cord or webbing? Webbing is generally heavier and bulkier, but can be simpler to make and use. Cord is lighter and has less bulk, but also means using tree huggers and knowing how to lash them correctly. Will you use hardware? Ring buckles, cinch buckles, f igure nines, etc - all can make setup and teardown very quick and easy, but also introduce more complexity, more parts to f ail, more weight and more bulk. Each of these will be discussed in the f ollowing sections.

2. Cord-Based Systems. Cord-based systems use rope or cord to connect the hammock to the tree. As discussed above, some method must be used to ensure the system does not damage the tree. T his is usually tree huggers like the ones included Hennessy Hammocks products. Tree huggers are simply 1-1.5" wide lengths of webbing with loops at each end. T he length needed depends on how big the trees are where you hike. You can get
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Instructions f or that here.com . Connecting Cordage to Hammock T his picture of a Hennessy Explorer Ultralight shows an example of permanently attached systems. PDFmyURL. Nylon is ok to use f or huggers because there isn't much room to stretch (compared to the f ull length of the support). but many people do change them. Under the cover the hammock is whipped.longer tree huggers as an option on the Hennessy website. T he stock Hennessy tree huggers (Backpacker model) are on the lef t f or comparison. T hese aren't designed to be changed. Other times. 2. with a special way to attach the structural ridgeline. I used 1" nylon webbing f or a f inished length of 52". or make your own. Ignore the no-tail cat. f rom Strapworks. I'll just bring an extra hugger so I can combine it with whichever end needs more length. Sometimes I'll take one long hugger and one short hugger so I'm more prepared f or bigger trees.1. I needed longer huggers so I made the ones on the right.

If you plan to use a double sheetbend. A double sheetbend is used to connect two lines together. T his picture shows a slippery double sheetbend on a homemade two-layer hammock. it's easy to remove if you want to change something. with Spectra as the support. But they also take more of the hammock's length than whipping and a larkshead. PDFmyURL.A larkshead or girth hitch is one of the simplest methods of attaching webbing or cord to a hammock. whether it's cord or webbing. T he weighted hammock keeps the hitch tight.com . if you make it slippery. of ten when they're dif f erent sizes. See the detail below f or how to make this system with cords. T his works well f or connecting hammocks to suspension lines. add an extra 8-12" to your hammock body length to account f or the knot. Double sheetbends are advantageous because the hammock doesn't have to be whipped f irst and.

tie an overhand knot into a bight of rope. Still. Detail . T his puts all the f orce of the support onto a sewn seam. some commercial hammocks. use this method and I haven't heard of any f ailures at the channel. I attach the support to the hammock as described below.You can also run a cord thru a channel sewn into the hem of the hammock.How to Larkshead Cord to a Hammock My Spectra supports are just 9' lengths of rope with a bight tied in the end. so it seems like it introduces unnecessary risk of f ailure when there are stronger methods available. like Eagles Nest Outf itters.com . First. PDFmyURL. then use tree huggers and the Hennessy lashing (aka lineman's lashing or f igure-8 lashing) to attach the support to the tree huggers.

Each time you set up the hammock. Although it isn’t cotton.com . ensuring the whipping is on the outside of the Spectra. I think the f ree end near the knot will act as a dripcord PDFmyURL. tighten the rope and you’re done. Mine is stif f enough that this has never happened.Second. f orm a larkshead in the end to slide the hammock into. Fourth. slide the hammock end through the loop. T hird. make sure the Spectra hasn’t slipped over the whipping.

and hammockers of ten call it the Hennessy Lash.com . and since the tree huggers are separate they can be f orgotten on the tree. You can see a video of how to tie this on on the Hennessy website and on Shane Steinkamp's page. It's also called a Lineman's Knot or Lash. It's pretty easy to tie once you learn it. to make a small adjustment you have to redo the entire lashing.. T he downsides are that it's a bit of a hassle to learn.it's probably the lightest method and it doesn't require any hardware to break or malf unction.much simpler than it appears f rom this picture. T he major benef it to this method is weight and simplicity .2.. Connecting Cordage to Tree T his is the standard Figure-8 Lashing detailed on the Hennessy Hammock stuf f sack and website. PDFmyURL. 2.f or any rain running down the cord.

Here’s another simple way to use a biner. Put a carabiner on the tree huggers. T his picture is f rom a Garda Hitch setup on a Hennessy Hammock. Using carabiners quickens setup. detailed below. PDFmyURL. It holds and it’s quicker to tie and adjust than the Hennessy hitch.com . It's basically a half -hitch inside a half -hitch. then just a “double slip knot” in the Spectra. but it can also keep the entire setup in one piece so you don't f orget the tree huggers when you break camp.Some f olks use carabiners in their setup to make things quicker. at the cost of a little bit of weight.

First. T hread the green one through the loop on the end of the black one. Here. I of ten combine straps like this when I'm hanging my son's hammock next to mine f rom the same tree. the Hennessy is the black one on the lef t and my homemade one is the dark green one on the right.com . if you've brought an extra hugger you can combine the two into one long strap so it'll f it..and you don't need an additional gear to do it (like a carabiner). PDFmyURL..Detail .Combining Tree Huggers Sometimes you get to a campsite and the perf ect trees are a little bigger than the tree huggers will f it. set the two huggers side by side. In this case.

Pull it tighter. PDFmyURL.com .T hread the other end of the black one through the loop on the green one.

Secure the cord to the tree hugger.here's one. Tie and overhand-on-a-bight on each end of the Air Core Plus..3. especially f or newbies. the Gard Hitch aka Alpine Clutch connects the cord to the rings.. Repeat steps 2-4 on the other end and you're done making the system. PDFmyURL. 1.com .this will be larksheaded to the hammock.. 4. I have pics of a f ew of the methods below.. 2. one Air Core Plus adaptor f or each end. and. Ring buckles. two descending rings f or each end.. Now all the pieces should be connected as one unit. When using cord with ring buckles. but it's not too bad. I just tie an overhand-on-a-bight to one end. and you're done with that end. and the tree hugger... Get the hammock. 5. just wrap a hugger around the tree and clip it in. a length of spectra f or the main support. with webbing or cord. 3. I also use a carabiner on the tree hugger. Garda Hitch with Ring Buckles One dif f iculty in hanging a hammock.And it should look like this when it's f inished.this one will be larksheaded around the rings. 2. is making sure it is hung with the the right tension and is centered between the trees. FYI . T hese pull pretty tight when you put weight on them so it can be a bit of a hassle to get them apart. Here's a very easy way that I use f or my DIY hammocks. T here are several ways to add rings to a hammock to use the Garda Hitch. Simply pull on the f ree end to tighten the hammock.have a look and hopef ully you'll f ind it usef ul in creating your own system. then clip the biner to one loop on the hugger and to the cord.there are several Garda Hitch threads on Hammock Forums. Run the cord thru the rings f or the Garda Hitch.. a small adjustment requires completely redoing the suspension. One loop should be 3-4" long. T he other end can have a smaller loop. 6. allow adjustments with very little ef f ort. To set up the hammock. Now you have the hammock.. then a larkshead to the rings. then a larkshead to the Air Core Plus.. Adjust the hitch to tension the hammock how you like it. and spread the rings apart or misalign them to loosen. With lashing and webbing wraps. Go clip the other side.

PDFmyURL. Instructions here. Relax! Ring buckles attached to a Hennessy without making any permanent mods. T he rings are clove hitched to the stock Hennessy spectra support.7.com .

and is a very easy way to add rings to a DIY hammock.com . T his allows you to use the Garda Hitch on the HH without any mods. PDFmyURL. Here's an option to put ring buckles on the tree hugger. Just larkshead the spectra to the hammock as shown above. and hang your hammock. Still no permanent mods to the HH. put the rings on the huggers (instructions here). Instructions on same page as above. expect it has a prussik adaptor instead of clove hitch.Same as above.

and it is still simple because there are no tree huggers to worry about. I strongly recommend against using webbing that doesn't clearly list a working load or breaking strength. Webbing systems can be the simplest suspension to make if you connect directly to the hammock and use the 4-Wrap lashing. Some random notes: Webbing should have a minimum working load of 700 lbs. If you use knots. Nylon webbing will stretch too much.if that edge f ails.1. Connecting Webbing to Hammock PDFmyURL. Webbing is designed to handle the load across its entire width. then ran the webbing to the ring buckles attached to the tree hugger as shown here. You can also put the ring buckles at the tip of the suspension triangle if you want to modif y your BMBH or make your own DIY bridge. Strapworks. and always use 100% polyester thread. and the wrong knot can put too much stress on one edge. T his is the JRB Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock (BMBH). cinch buckles. even cotton blends.. will decay with outdoor use. tri-glides . be sure to pick one that's suitable f or webbing. You don't need tubular climbing webbing.like ring buckles. 3. It weighs too much and it's usually made of nylon anyway.can make it much more convenient to use. and several other online vendors carry suitable webbing. Adding in some hardware . Webbing-Based Systems.com .You can also use ring buckles with a Garda Hitch or with webbing on a bridge hammock. Cotton. Webbing does tend to weigh more and be bulkier than comparable cord-based systems. I connected the spectra to the ring on the top of the hammock's suspension triangle with a larkshead. Ed Speer. Get polyester or polypropylene webbing since it's low-memory stretch. Use X-boxes or bar tacks to sew loops in the ends of webbing.. it will rip across the entire width. See the Grizzly Adams pictures in the webbing section f or more details on this. 3.

small enough that the overhand knot can't slip thru. and the knot takes the place of whipping. T hen wrap the webbing around the hammock and sew a loop into the webbing. In his book Hammock Camping. Af ter gathering the hammock ends. But it is dif f icult more dif f icult than the other methods to undo if you want to make changes.com . For webbing. tie the end of the hammock in an overhand knot. Ed Speer recommends this method f or attaching the webbing. T his method is easy and reliable.As I said above. T he weighted hammock keeps the hitch tight. PDFmyURL. I have a sewn loop in one end and I just run the f ree end thru the loop to create the girth hitch that cinches down on the hammock. I think the larkshead or girth hitch is one of the simplest methods of attaching webbing or cord to a hammock.

As mentioned in the cord section. Two downsides I f ind with this method. and it's pretty easy to undo if you want to make changes if you use a slippery double sheetbend. PDFmyURL. which nearly doubles the weight of the suspension system. the Crazy Creek method means running two lengths of webbing to the tree. all the f orce of the support is transf ered to the seam on the sewn channel.com . You don't need whipping with this method. Second. You can also connect webbing thru a channel sewn to the end of the hammock. like the Crazy Creek pictured here..f irst. the double sheetbend is a popular way to attach the supports. T his seems like an unnecessary risk to introduce when there are stronger and lighter methods available. as pictured..

2. T hen the support only has one piece of webbing running to the tree. which saves weight and complication.If you like this method. 3. Connecting Webbing to Tree PDFmyURL. I suggest running the webbing thru the channel and f orming a larkshead right at the channel.com .

com .Running T hru Sewn Loop Biner on Sewn Loop PDFmyURL.

and each wrap add surf ace area to create the f riction that holds the hammock up.. You have to alternate directions by wrapping around the support end.. or just tuck it under one of the wraps like this.. You basically wrap the webbing around the tree several times.. T he major advantage to this setup is that there are no moving parts to malf unction.T he Speer 4-Wrap method is usef ul f or webbing with a f ree end that doesn't use any hardware.com . You can f inish a 4-Wrap with a half -hitch to the support.it's very simple. but since it's a big tree it had plenty of f riction to hold me up. T he ideal f or a 4-Wrap is to get ~4 wraps.it's pretty easy and Risk has excellent directions here. but as long as you get enough f riction it doesn't really matter how many you get. T his one has about 2-1/2 wraps. T he downsides to this method are that it isn't as easy to adjust as the others and a lot of webbing means more weight than a simple cord/hugger system (but still comparable to hardware-based systems). PDFmyURL.

com. T he ring buckles are one of the most usef ul systems I've f ound.net. I connect the rings to the hammock with Air Core Plus f rom backpackinglight. including REI. SMC rings are available f rom many climbing shops.com . but TeeDee's thread on Sgt Rock's HikingHQ is what f inally convinced me to order the parts. Ring Buckles on Webbing Ring buckles were one of the f irst DIY systems to make hammock suspension adjustable. and run the hammock support thru the rings just like an old f ashioned belt or a motorcycle helmet. It had been talked about on the Yahoo hammockcamping group f or a while.3. and usually PDFmyURL. Discuss this project on the Ring Buckle Supports thread at HammockForums. T he concept behind ring buckles is simple . and Ed Speer's 1" polypro webbing supporting the hammock f rom the tree.connect to rings together using a larkshead. See my step-bystep instructions if you want to make your own. Here's a picture of SMC descending rings as buckles. the rings should create enough f riction to hold a hammocker securely.5" internal diameter. With strong enough webbing. using Air Core Plus with larksheads at both ends to attach the rings to the hammock.3. but I mainly use them with cord and the Garda Hitch now. Some people say the webbing slips thru the ring buckles. I use 1" polypro webbing f rom Speer Hammocks and 4 x SMC Descending Rings with 1.

I've only had the webbing slip when it wasn't lined up correctly. Photo by slowhike Some people want to try the ring buckles bef ore they permanently modif y their hammock by cutting of f the spectra.just pull the f ree end and the half -hitch slips right out f or you to make the adjustment.. T his takes about 2 seconds and the system is still very easy to adjust.com . Photo by Miu PDFmyURL. Putting a simple half -hitch in the webbing right behind the rings stops the webbing f rom slipping.lowers them slowly to the ground. If I take care to keep the webbing lined up thru the rings it's always held me steady. T his picture shows how Miu attached ring buckles to her Hennessy to test out the buckles..

. He's using webbing but the Garda Hitch will work just as well in this mode if you want to use cord.Here is a ring buckle set on a JRB Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock (BMBH). then ran the stock BMBH webbing thru the rings.these don't come with the BMBH so you can make your own or get them f rom a Hennessy.. I just put the rings on a tree hugger as shown here. I didn't make any permanent modif ications to the BMBH but I did need a tree hugger. T his picture shows Grizzly Adams' DIY bridge with ring buckles.com . you can permanently modif y your bridge hammock by putting the descending rings at the tip of the bridge's suspension triangle. If you like this system. Photo by Grizzly Adams PDFmyURL.

the cinch buckles seem a little more f oolproof . Photo by Grizzy Adams 3. Lots of hammockers pref er cinch buckles over ring buckles. if the cord is stif f enough to keep the buckle aligned.com . Cinch Buckles on Webbing Cinch buckles are another way to quickly adjust webbing suspension. Crazy Creek uses these buckles on their webbing. Blackbishop made some without a webbing adaptor and I like these better. even though they weigh a little more. but I didn't like how their webbing system worked so I got some more buckles and made my own using a webbing adaptor.net PDFmyURL. T he outer two pieces of cord are f rom the suspension triangle. Discuss this project on the Cinch Buckles thread at HammockForums. Although I've never slipped with the ring buckles when the webbing was aligned.Here's a close-up of the ring buckles on Grizz's bridge. the webbing doesn't misalign. and the middle one is f or the ridgeline.4. and you don't need a half -hitch to back it up. because they never slip.

and setup/teardown is as quick as clicking two biners around the webbing. T hese buckles can be bought f rom onerope1. PDFmyURL. I tie some Spyderline into a loop.com . I never have to separate any of the pieces so I don't have to worry about leaving a strap behind. Here's a closeup of the cinch buckle showing how the extra wraps keep the buckle aligned by not giving any room f or the buckle to slip sideways.Cinch 1".T his picture shows how I like the cinch buckle setup.com . then use a double-wrapped larkshead around the buckle. When used with a biner on the tree. T hen I add another larkshead to secure it to the hammock.

Tri-Glides on Webbing PDFmyURL.5. using a webbing adaptor to keep the buckle aligned. 3. Step-by-step instructions here.Photo by angrysparrow T his is the f irst version I made.com .

1. but at only 22 grams a set this is an excellent combination of simplicity. Advanced Hanging Techniques. adjustability and weight.com .Tri-Glides are a JacksRBetter product that allows use of 1" webbing without having to remove any pieces or adding the weight of rings or buckles. T he webbing still has to be threaded thru the tri-glides f or each setup so it isn't quite as quick as rings or cinch buckles. 4. Two Hammocks Under One Tarp One of the most of ten heard complaints about hammocking is the PDFmyURL. Photo by cgul 4.

T his of ten requires a bigger tarp to get adequate storm coverage. PDFmyURL. Here Seuss shows how two hammocks can share a single tree f or one support and dif f erent trees f or the other. Photo by Seuss While the pic above has the hammock tied to two dif f erent trees.com .. not sweating. T his picture is Joker and me at the 2007 Mt Rogers Hangout under a MacCat Standard tarp. I usually wrap my hammock of f of one side of the tree and my son's hammock of f the other side of the same tree. It's enough separation f or us to be comf ortable and I'm close enough to check on him during the night... It's certainly easier to hang a single hammock under a single tarp. but with some creativity two campers can sleep under a single tarp.. etc.make sure he's on his insulation.usually the head end to keep the shoulders separated more.dif f iculty in group camping.

NC.com .Here's a picture of Ed Speer's double hammock stand f rom the Sept 2006 SEHHA hangout in Hot Springs. PDFmyURL.

don't hang. If the shelter looks rickety. T he big thing is that you're not only putting your own saf ety at risk. and the maintenance crew has to come build a new one. One advantage to others when you hang in a shelter. PDFmyURL. pick your supports caref ully and listen f or creaks..2.it's a pretty controversial topic on WhiteBlaze.. but it's important to remember the f orces the supports can exert on the shelter's walls.. You should also be aware of what other hikers think about it.. No one may want to hang below you.FreeT heWeasel demonstrates how to hang two hammocks vertically on the same tree. If the tarp is big enough to provide coverage and you can get in.if the shelter f ails you hurt them as well. is that you're not taking up the f loor space.net. etc. Hanging in Trail Shelters Hanging in shelters can be just as convenient f or a hammocker as f or a ground dweller. And if it looks like it can support you. but at least they can put a pack under you and you're not breathing in each others' f aces.com . though. do what works! Photo by FreeT heWeasel 4.

3. Hanging with Rock Climbing Gear. HHs in Tri-Corner Knob Shelter. GSMNP Photo by Repeat PDFmyURL.Clark Hammock in an AT Shelter Photo by Hikerhead 4.com .

so rock climbing nuts and cams can open up a whole new set of possible hanging sites.com . Check this HF thread f or more discussion.Some locations don't have many trees to hang f rom. In this picture NigelP hangs with rock climbing gear. Photo by nigelp PDFmyURL.

Another view of niglep's setup.com . Photo f rom nigelp Top of Page | © 2009 | Email Me PDFmyURL.

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