Camping is one activity that never gets old. You can find new spots to set up camp and add a number of activities like hiking or picnicking. If you are looking for a relaxed and calm hiking or camping trip, you can always add a hammock to your camping gear! This would make your everyday camping so much more laid back and fun. The perfect way to start a hammock camping trip is to plan and learn the basics of hammock knots and tricks.
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Outdoor explorers and frequent campers enjoy using a hammock in place of a camping tent in many situations. This is due to the comfort and ease with which it takes to pack and set up the hammock as compared to a tent.
Importance of Hammock Knots
Every hiker, whether new or professional, knows how important knots (yes knots) are while setting up a tent. Well, a hammock is not very different from a tent in that regard.
To say that hammock camping is an easy activity is one thing and it is true that you require lesser effort than camping with a tent. However, if you are in a situation where you have not tied the hammock correctly and are swinging from a height then you may just sustain some injuries. This could be serious if you fell on your head or other damage prone body parts.
To learn the proper method of making hammock knots and the safer locations to set up your hammock are very important. Learn to prevent possible injuries by learning the risks and the tricks to securing a well balanced, secure and comfortable hammock.
Here we have created a detailed guide of how to hang a hammock, which hammock rope to use, the best hammock straps to buy, and what hammock knot is best for your trip!
Where to Set Up the Hammock
To enjoy a hammock on your trip, you need to first find out where you can set it up. This is easy as there are so many places you can hang your hammock up on, so long as there are anchor points. They are most commonly tied between two poles or two trees. This differs from most tents, where you will need to find flat ground that is hard enough for the tent stakes to stay put.
All that you need to hang a hammock is two strong tall structures that are a distance of around 5 meters apart. You must also be careful of dead tree trunks or dying or decaying bark. Dead bark could be dangerous to be around, especially if you are tying a hammock to it. If there were a strong gust of wind, the tree could uproot and hurt you.
Remember to look out for these signs and you can relax and swing from your hammock without a care in the world. If you cannot find two trees or poles 5 meters apart from each other, then you can hang your hammock from the same tree! You can do this by using a spreader bar. Make sure the ends are tied tightly to the tree so that the hammock can support your weight.
You may tighten it according to your weight or the weight of another person, however, it is not recommended to seat two people on a hammock at the same time. Another aspect to look at when setting up the hammock is the ground you are hanging it over. In case you fall off the hammock, ensure that the surface is not rocky, sharp, or dirty.
The height of the hammock off the ground is important to consider as well. The base of the hammock should be adjusted to the height of a chair and the ends tied to the tree can be at your own height level. Try not to hang the hammock too high off the ground to avoid falls and injury. The next step, after picking the right spot to hang your hammock, is to use the tools included to fasten the hammock to the tree or poles. You do this using straps, hooks, rope, and carabiners.
How to Set Up the Hammock
Now that you know what steps to follow before actually hang the hammock, it is time to put yourself to work and learn how to tie a hammock.
- Find the spot, gather the materials and pick two strong poles or trees that you want to tie the hammock to.
- Now secure the straps that will help you tie the rope of the hammock to it. A carabiner can be used to join the rope to the straps.
- If it is raining or likely to rain, you can adjust a tarp, which is a plastic sheet that acts as a covering.
- Using a hammock’s ridgeline, tie the tarp above the hammock, leaving enough room for the hammock to be adjusted comfortably and at the right height below.
- The tarp can protect you from harsh winds as well as rain or snow.
Hanging the Hammock
You have nearly completed the process of hammock tying, all that is left is now to hang and secure the hammock with the right kind of knot. The knot you choose is vital to keep the hammock in place, especially after you sit on it, to hold your weight. There are either adjustable or static knot that you can learn to secure the hammock. For heavier weights, the static knot is better suited to the task, and adjustable knots are used for other light weights.
Types of Hammock Knots
We have listed a few common types of hammock knots, however, if you do more research you can find much more. It should be sufficient learning about these hammock knots, all that you need to do afterward is keep practicing. Test the knots out by placing a heavy object on the hammock after making the knot, to see if it stays in place.
Learn the knots needed to tie a hammock securely. Here is a list of the essential hammock knots.
This is a very commonly used hammock knot that is easy to make and holds the hammock in pace. It was originally used by sailors to attach their sails to the front of their boat. Nowadays the knot can be used for any kind of purpose, and that’s why it works great for hammocks. The loop of this hammock knot can be easily adjusted to any size, is easily secured to the tree, and is tough ensuring your hammock stays put.
To make the Bowline Knot:
- First, make a loop on one end of the rope you are using for your hammock.
- Next, put the longer side of the rope through your loop.
- Now, run the long end of the rope around the start of the rope, moving left to right, and finally insert it into the loop that is newly created. Pull to secure the knot.
This hitch does a good job of attaching and tightening your hammock to a tree. It is so commonly used for this purpose, that it is often called the hammock knot. You do not require extensive knowledge of knots to make this one. It is great for beginners and does its purpose well.
Usually, you use this knot to connect two ropes together. You can use webbing or hammock rope for making the Becket Hitch more effective. Be careful about this kind of rope, as it can damage the tree in case your hammock is hung in the garden or park. To counter these effects, use a webbing strap which can protect the tree from scratches and friction.
To make a Becket Hitch:
- First, insert the rope through the loop, which you are connecting the rope to and is usually the hammock’s loop, from the bottom.
- Next, bring your rope upwards and bend it to create another loop next to your original loop from the hammock.
- Then wrap the end of the rope around the original loop and pass it through the loop you just created.
Two Half Pitch
This knot is great to firmly hold your hammock to an anchor point. This hammock knot is frequently used to secure a clothesline or hang hammocks to trees or poles.
To make a Two Half Pitch:
- First, make a loop around your anchor point on the tree or pole, and wrap the short end of the hammock rope around the long end.
- Next, pass the rope through the new loop created, to make the first hitch and pull it to secure.
- Then make another loop under the first, creating one more hitch.
- Finally, pull to secure the entire hitch.
Yet another great knot to hold your hammock in place. This method will hang your hammock with slings that are wrapped around the tree twice and then added the water knot. This hammock knot is easy to do and secures the hammock in place.
To make a Water Knot:
- First, make a loose overhand knot on one end of the rope.
- Next, insert the other rope through the knot and trace the exact path used for the first knot. They should overlap.
- Then pull the ropes to secure the water knot.
There is no perfect knot or way to tie a knot. If you do further research you can find a million more hammock knots suited to your situation and steps to follow to master them. Try to find knots that allow easy removal, so you can unpack your hammock and continue on your journey. Keep practicing to perfect your hammock securing skills.
Hammock vs. Tent Camping
This form of camping may be new to you, as the traditional method of tent camping is better known. To hammock camp, you require lesser luggage and have a more convenient way to pack the necessities for your trip. You are restricted when you use a tent to camp as you cannot set up on rough terrain or near water bodies.
You stand the chance of rain running into the tent, but if you use a hammock then you are above it all. The ventilation and relaxation that comes with a hammock is hard to find in any other camping experience. The ease of setting up a hammock beats the time consuming and difficult method of setting up a tent.
Moreover, the comfort and flexibility you get by sleeping in a hammock is better than a packed and restricted tent. Tents can be expensive to purchase and come with many parts sometimes sold separately. If you too are a minimalist camper then you will find that hammock camping is a better alternative.
Although we conclude that hammock camping is great for you to try out, there are a few downsides to using a hammock.
- The first is the danger of having two people in a hammock at once, you could tear the hammock material or break the rope holding you up. Remember to buy one hammock per individual joining your camping trip.
- The second bane to using a hammock is that there is limited space to store items or food. You will have to bring a backpack and hang it from the tree as well. Also, the necessity of a tarp to protect you from rain means that you must tie the tarp above you.
Safety Tips for Hammock Camping
The hammock is a relaxing and easy to use tool for camping outdoors. But like any tool, when paired with the wilderness, you must be aware of the safety risks involved. Read the following to understand and prevent any injuries.
- First, make sure that you have the right kind of hammock for the hike or camp you’re going for. For example, a rope hammock is good for catching a break after a long day, but they’re probably not fit for sleeping in all night as the open rope pattern can be uncomfortable if sat (or slept) on for long. There are various other hammocks you can choose from, like, a hanging hammock, paracord hammock, tree hammock, etc.
- Ensure your suspension is strong enough to hold your weight. When you buy a webbing or rope, they come with the specific breaking strength. The average lowest breaking strength is 700 lbs.
- Also, make sure that the trees or poles which you are securing the hammock to are sturdy and healthy enough to hold you up. A tree with the diameter of more than 6 inches is best suited to stay put. Try to make sure that both trees used t hang the hammock are of similar diameter.
- Be careful of loose branches or fruits in the tree above that may fall when subjected to strong winds.
- Always use the most appropriate hammock knots for the given situation. A good knot can reduce the strain on the webbing or rope of the hammock.
- Make sure that the hammock has enough sag so that the anchor points of the hammock don’t carry all the tension. This is where the hammock’s ridgeline comes into play. The ridgeline allows the fabric to be loose by taking away some of the tension from the anchor points.
- Lastly, try to not sleep diagonally on your hammock. Lie across the hammock as it is intended.
We hope you enjoyed learning about how to set up a hammock and a few knots that you can try out to hang it securely. Practice and try out new techniques, take your hammock to new locations, and enjoy the great outdoors in a more relaxed and minimalist way. Share your hammock camping experiences with us by commenting below!