How to Hang a Hammock with Rope

Written By Matthew Cordero

Hanging a hammock with a rope sounds like something only people who are outdoorsy or really good with their hands do. But if you look at the intricacies of using a rope to get this particular job done, it is something almost anyone can do. You just need to know the tips and tricks and that is what we are here for.

Chilling Outside

Whether you are camping in the woods or just looking to tie a rope hammock in your backyard, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Let’s start by hanging a hammock with rope in the outdoors.  

There are three types of suspension systems to hang a hammock. You can use a webbing, a rope, or a chain. If you are getting a commercial hammock with accessories for camping purposes, you will find that most of them come with a webbing. These came into existence after campers realized that they were hurting trees with their hammocks by ruining the outer bark.  

If you are getting one of those decor pieces for the house, you are likely to get it with a chain. But if you don’t have either of these for whatever reason, you still have the good old rope to fall back on. And it’s a pretty great option.

Before Tying the Hammock

There are a couple of things you need before you can get started with hanging the hammock. For example, trees. Now, if you are out there looking for two perfectly-spaced trees, you are going to be looking for a while unless you have unbelievable luck (that we are jealous of). But if you have been doing this for a while, you know that there are a few alternatives.

Hammock stands, for example, are a great way to make camping life easy. You can get one of those portable hammock stands which collapse to the size of a golf bag and are under 20 pounds. This also takes the pressure out of camping only where the trees are. You can set up camp anywhere near a lake or a mountain top without worrying about what to do with your hammock. 

Rope Knot

If you do have that amazing luck and have managed to find a couple of sturdy trees to hang your hammock from, here’s how to proceed.

  • The trees need to be sturdy enough so that you don’t end up bending them to your weight when you sit in the hammock. 
  • The trees do not have to be identical. They can be of different diameters as long as they are strong enough for your weight. Be sure not to tie your hammock on dead trees. That can be dangerous for you and the tree.  
  • The trees cannot be too far apart. This puts pressure on the suspension. Also, your hammock has to be a little curvy when you are not sitting in it. It can’t be a flatline like a tortilla. The length of the hammock usually determines the distance between the trees.  
  • In terms of distance, hammocks are usually 9 to 14 feet long. So the trees should be about four to six feet more than the length of the hammock. ‘Hammock plus five’ is the thumb rule. It is not a deal-breaker if the trees are further apart as long as you have a long rope. If the trees are closer than that, you need to tie your hammock higher than usual. Otherwise, you end up on the ground. That’s just sleeping on the floor. And if you like it, don’t waste time reading any further.
  • If you found trees that are in that golden ‘hammock plus five’ space, your hang height - the height at which your hammock should hang - should be four feet. There are calculator apps that tell you how to achieve this.

The Basic Method

Once you found the trees that work for you, here is how to proceed with the rope.

Palm Tree Top
  1. 1
    Take the length of the rope and fold it in half. Collect the edges on one side and a loop on the other side. 
  2. 2
    Circle the tree with the folded rope at eye-level height like you are hugging it. You could go higher too. Remember, the hammock has to be four feet from the ground. So calculate accordingly. 
  3. 3
    Now you will be facing the tree trunk with the rope encircling it. You should be holding the loop of the rope in one hand and the edges of the rope in the other hand. Run the edges of the rope through the loop and pull it moderately tightly.
  4. 4
    If you have room, circle the tree with the rope. Start by going in the opposite direction of the face of the loop. As you are circling the tree, tuck the rope in so that your whole setup does not slip when you sit in the hammock.
  5. 5
    After circling the tree, run the edges of the rope through the loop again and pull them. This is just to make it extra tight. Pull it straight up and not downwards. 
  6. 6
    Now, do this step carefully. Take the two loose ends of the rope. Run one end through the carabiner. Now run the other loose end through the carabiner in the opposite direction. 
  7. 7
    Tie several overhand knots with both the loose ends on top of the carabiner. And you’re done. 
  8. 8
    Clip the carabiners to the edge of your hammock and you are good to go. 
Under the Pier

Do the same for the other side of the hammock and you’re done. This has been broken down into eight steps for clarity. In reality, it will take you no more than five minutes to do this whole thing. At least on one side. 

In case you somehow missed the mark and the hammock needs adjusting, you will have to untie the carabiner and try it again. If the problem is with the height of the hammock, that too can be fixed by adjusting the carabiner. 

This, by the way, is the easiest way to tie a hammock using rope. If you are feeling good about it, here’s another way to tie the rope for you to try. It is called a taut-line hitch and it’s a bit complicated so stay with me.

The Taut-Line Method

Colorful Ropes
  1. 1
    Wrap the rope once or twice around the tree. Leave about one or two feet on the working end of the rope so that you can create a knot. 
  2. 2
    Cross the short end of the rope over the longer end to make three loops. Thread these loops around the long strand to create a bigger loop. Pull them to tighten.
  3. 3
    When the loops are in a tube-like formation, let the rest of the rope slide back and forth. This can be used to adjust the slack of the hammock.
  4. 4
    Bring the short end of the rope parallel to the longer end and pull the working end downwards.
  5. 5
    Pass it from the bottom of the longer side of the rope and then bring it upwards through the loop at the lower end, making a "Q" shape. 
  6. 6
    Tighten the knot and make sure it slides up and down with flexibility. This will help you adjust the height of the hammock. This knot will be on one side of the hammock and a bowline hitch on the other side so that the hammock is adjustable.  
  7. 7
    Use the rope attached to the end of the hammock to hook both sides to the carabiner. 

This is called a taut-line hitch and you cannot use it on both sides of the hammock. So if you are using this, make sure you know another knot to tie the other side of the hammock. Lucky for you, we already went through that together.  

Feet Up

Now, if you are hanging a hammock at home from the ceiling, a couple of things in the process change. 

Firstly, you want to use an overhead beam to support the weight of the hammock and/ or chair and you. Make sure your anchors are strong enough to handle the weight, especially if you are going to leave the hammock as a fixture in the house. And you will need some equipment. So, pay close attention to this part.  

  1. 1
    Use a stud finder just to be sure that you found the right point to hang your hammock from.
  2. 2
    Mark the center of the stud and drill a hole for the screw eyes. 
  3. 3
    Attach the hammock’s end to the screw eyes using ‘S’ hooks, short chains or a heavy-duty carabiner.    

If you are out in the woods and decided to tie one side of the hammock to your car because you could not find two perfect trees, first of all, great idea. Secondly, make sure the weight hack of your car is strong enough to do this. And after tying it up, make sure you test it a bit before jumping on to the hammock. That might lead to injury.

101 Knots