How Far Apart Do Trees Have to Be to Hang a Hammock?

  • October 26, 2020
  • / By Matthew Cordero
hammock distance trees

Even if you’re outfitted with the right hammock and suspension system, having properly spaced trees can make or break your peaceful escape. Too little distance and you could be bent like a pretzel; while trees too far apart could slingshot you like a shooting star.

The perfect distance between trees to hang your hammock is between 10 to 15 feet. For spreader bar hammocks, the minimal distance should equal the length of your hammock, while hammocks without spreader bars can be hung anywhere that’s both comfortable and safe.

hammock distance trees

In this article we’re going to take a look at the factors that make for the perfect distance for your hammocking pleasure.

There are a few things to consider when checking the distance between trees to hang your hammock. Firstly, make sure the trees you’re considering can support your weight.

You don’t want to hear an ominous crack in the middle of the night, followed by a painful thump on the ground. Look for healthy, sturdy trees, ideally no smaller than 12” in diameter, to support you for the long haul. 

After you’re sure you have sturdy options to hang your hammock, the next step is to gauge the distance between your hanging options, though the ideal distance will depend on your hammock style and how you intend to use it.

Spreader Bar Hammocks

A spreader bar hammock is a hammock with a rigid support, usually made of wood, at the head and feet ends of the hammock that helps keep the fabric spread out and flat. 

These are popular for more permanent fixtures since you wouldn’t want to carry the extra weight if you’re traveling with a hammock. If you have a hammock with a spreader bar, the length of the entire hammock from hanging point to hanging point, including any ropes or straps for support, should match the distance between the trees.

Therefore, a 12 foot long hammock would need 12 feet of space between trees. If you want more tension on the hammock, it is advisable to have a few extra feet between the trees. You may need to use additional straps, rope, or chain to extend the hanging points and find the right comfort level for you.

Travel Hammocks

If your hammock does not have spreader bars, the hanging distance is a lot more flexible. These hammocks tend to be more widely used because they’re commonly lightweight and packable.

Ideally, the distance between trees for these hammocks is two-thirds the full length of your hammock, again including any straps or rope beyond the fabric. Therefore, if your hammock is 10 feet long, the distance between your trees should be about 6 and a half feet. This is because these hammocks are designed to have a “dip” in the middle, so they hang loose.

Just keep in mind that the closer the trees are together, the higher up on the trees you will have to hang your hammock to keep you from touching the ground. Alternatively, the further away the trees are the lower to the ground you can hang your hammock since the fabric can be stretched horizontally. So while the two-thirds rule is a good general guide, the actual distance will depend on how you want to use the hammock. 

Hanging hammocks with a wider distance

If you have found a perfect set of trees that are a lot further apart than you’d like them to be, you can always add extra straps or lengths of chain to reach the trees. It is recommended to not extend your hammock more than 3 feet on either side as this will affect the not-so-proverbial tipping point.

When extending the hammock hanging points you might also need these straps to be higher up on the trees, but you can find more info about the height the straps need to be on the trees in our related questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How high should a hammock hang on trees?

The ideal sit height between the ground and your hammock is around 18 inches, which is the average height of a chair, making it more comfortable to maneuver and sit in.

As an added bonus, if you fall out at this height, you’re not likely to incur serious injuries. As for the height on the tree, this depends on the distance between the trees and the length of your hammock. An ideal angle to hang the hammock is 30 degrees below horizontal from each side.

This will prevent excess tension on your hammock. If your travel hammock is 8 feet and you want your hammock 18 inches off the ground with a 30 degree angle on each side, you would attach your hammock to the trees 6 feet off the ground.

How big a tree do you need to hang a hammock?

To support a fully grown adult, make sure you choose your trees wisely. A tree should be no smaller than 12” in diameter and should be sturdy, healthy and be able to hold your weight. If a tree has dead branches or looks unhealthy, it’s best to look elsewhere.

What posts do you use to hang hammocks?

If you don’t have sturdy trees as an option for hanging your hammock, you can opt to use immovable posts. Treated hardwood is best, but make sure there is no wood rot or cracks. The posts should be no less than 4 inches by 4 inches thick and should be embedded into a solid concrete base to keep the posts sturdy. You can use hooks to hang your hammock on the posts or use the tree straps just as you would with the trees.

What is the standard size of a hammock?

The length of a one-person hammock is usually between 76 and 79 inches long and may vary between 39 and 50 inches wide. A double or two-person hammock is wider and strong enough to fit two average sized adults with a width of 52 to 60 inches and a length of up to 79 inches.

When you buy a hammock, be sure to check the weight capacity which is affected by the reinforcement and material used to make it. There are even family hammocks that are massive squares and they’re big enough for a family of four to squeeze in and laze about.

What do you use to hang a hammock?

There are many different methods and materials you can use to hang a hammock. The most popular, efficient and effective option would be a pair of hammock tree straps you can buy from most outdoor stores. They are specifically designed using lightweight polyester or nylon fiber that protect against bark abrasion. They’re quick and easy to install, usually adjustable, and are broad enough to protect the trees from damage. 

If you don’t own a pair of tree straps yet, an alternative would be to use natural fiber rope which is lighter in weight than man-made ropes, thus easier to carry on hikes. Although polyester rope is stronger, these ropes and cords might dig in and damage the trees. Nylon is not a preferred material to use for hanging hammocks due to its elastic properties which could cause your hammock system to stretch until you hit the floor; it might also be uncomfortable to be bouncing up and down in your hammock.

How do you choose a good spot for your hammock?

When choosing where to put your hammock up for a daytime nap or overnight sleep, there are a few extra things to consider. Always check for wildlife habitat or rare fauna that might be disrupted or altered during your stay and try to avoid them.

When camping in any setting, remember the “leave no trace” principles of setting up away from water sources, check with local land managers, and use established camping sites wherever possible. Don’t forget to check for sticks or rocks that might not be kind bedfellows if you fall.

Lastly, be on the lookout for any insect nests or possibly poisonous plants that could quickly turn your chill time into ill time!