You’ve been eyeing that super-comfy hammock for a while now, but thoughts of where and how you’re going to set it up are deterring you. Is it a complicated process? How do you set up your hammock safely? What height to suspend it from? What equipment to use?
To set up a hammock familiarize yourself with your hammock and accessories you'll use including straps, rainfly, and bug net. Pick a spot, prepare and fix your anchor points, and hang up your hammock.
Don’t let these questions overwhelm you because setting up a hammock is easier to do than say, "Hannah and Harry hid in the highest-hammered hanging hammock!" A super-comfortable lounging session is less than an hour away, at the most, and no, you don’t always need two perfect trees to indulge in hanging out in your hammock!
Whether you’re going camping, taking your hammock on a beach vacation, or just chilling in your backyard, here’s all you need to know about setting up a hammock.
Table of Contents
The Many Ways to Configure a Hammock
There are many ways to set up your hammock, the two main being the canopy and fly tension method.
The Canopy Method
As the name suggests, the canopy method involves setting up your hammock using canopy set up. For this, you’ll need to align the grid’s shape and the asymmetrical fly. Hold the plastic rings at the end of the hooks to make it easier and leave the nodes in the center alone till the end!
After you’ve done that, grab the plastic hook that’s lighter, attached to the ends of the lid on the main rope. Next, connect the lateral adjustment cables to closeby tree trunks or anchors on the ground to straighten the blade height; this connection can be at any angle, depending on the conditions around.
Ultimately, push the sliding joint tensioners with the main support cables till the hood reaches a central position; this means it’s properly positioned. If you’re operating under wet, windy conditions, use a weight on the roof’s side corners so that the tension is maintained.
You can also use a curtain with your hammock to protect against thunderstorms and heavy/high-velocity winds.
The Fly Tension Method
In the fly tension method, the net needs to be installed by separately attaching the handle from each anchor point, so that the wet weather doesn’t humidify the net, which means that even if the weight on the net increases, the rain won’t fall and the crease tension won’t drop.
Alternatively, you can attach a rope to the one end of the fly, wind the rope around the tree by taking it through the ring at the end of the fly. This gets rid of wrinkles on the fly, prevents water from wrinkling, and keeps the noise steady.
You could also, on the rainfly side, tie as much as possible, either on the branches or ground, and hang an appropriate weight on either side of the rain wedge. This way, when the fly fills and thereby stretches, it won’t lose weight and become weaker; the weight will automatically reduce the fly when you’re in stormy weather, keeping the tension the same in the rain, as it is when dry.
Setting up Your Hammock
Regardless of where you set up your hammock, correctly suspending it is paramount. Though different hammocks may require different levels of suspension, the basic rules remain the same.
If you’re on rough terrain, especially, be careful where you choose to set up your hammock - you don’t want to fall face-first onto really hard ground and knock yourself out (in the worst possible way, of course!)
Fixing Anchor Points
The most important step and also the first step is finding two strong, sturdy anchor points to set up your hammock. In the great outdoors, this can be two trees, whereas indoors or in your backyard, it can be a hammock stand or poles.
Whatever anchor points you choose, remember that they have to be sturdy and ideally spaced 10 to 15 feet apart. If you’re picking trees, you may want to find two trees with relatively rough barks, so that your hammock doesn’t slip, but also not too rough that the ropes get damaged or frayed easily.
Additionally, and this should go without saying, find trees that are strong enough to support your weight; a 6-inch diameter is a good indicator of sturdiness. Avoid trees that look unhealthy or are dying/ have many dead branches - needless to say, again, don’t choose dead branches to hang your hammock from.
Though 10 to 15 feet apart is ideal, you may find two great trees that are spaced further apart or closer. In the case of the former, you can always use chains or straps to make up for the extra space, whereas in the case of the latter, you’ll have to probably use a hammock that’s designed to hang with a bit of a slump.
You’ll also find that your hammock’s length (also known as hammock ridgeline length) itself will influence the distance required; you’ll ideally need the same distance between your anchor points as the length of your hammock.
Additionally, keep in mind that if you want your hammock to hang with more tension, factor in an additional 2 to 3 feet (measured including the rings and chains on your hammock) between your anchor points.
Preparing Your Anchor Points
Once you’ve decided on your anchor points, prepare them - this is where you’ll require equipment for setting up, such as support belts, suspension systems, tree straps, and rings. Each ring should be fixed at around eye level on the trunk (or at least 18 inches or chair height) from the ground.
If you’re using "J" hooks, you will have to drill into your tree or anchor point to attach them, and then use "S" hooks and chains to connect your hammock to the tree.
You could also use tree straps, which are the easiest and don’t require any drilling or preparation of your anchor point, and therefore, also the gentlest on the tree itself. The point is that there are many different ways to hang up your hammock and depending on which method you choose, you’ll have to accordingly prep your anchor point.
However you’re preparing your anchor point - whether drilling or using straps - set it up so that your hammock hangs at a 30-degree angle, the most ideal to hold up the weight.
Attaching the Straps
Once you’ve prepped your anchor point, you’ll need to attach the connecting straps. As mentioned earlier, if you’ve used a "J" hook, you’ll need to use chains and "S" hooks to attach your hammock to the tree. Hammock-hanging kits are easily available in local hardware stores, department stores, or Amazon.
Using rope to attach your hammock is an easy method. Generally, most hammocks come with ropes. In that case, you’ll need to know how to tie a hammock knot and may need carabiners for additional security. If your hammock didn’t come with ropes, you can easily get yourself some!
Additionally, you can use tree-strips or "tree huggers" to attach your hammock. In this case, you’ll just have to wrap the strap around the tree and knot it firmly and well, and then use carabiners to attach the hammock to the tree strap.
If you’re setting up your hammock in the wilderness on your camping trip, choose a hammock that comes with a built-in support system instead of ones that come with them attached separately.
Configuring Your Rainfly
Again, this step applies if you’re setting up your hammock on a camping trip. A rainfly is a protective cover that shields you from the rain and keeps the water from getting into your tent or hammock. If you’re camping outdoors and plan on crashing in your hammock, a rainfly is an excellent idea!
Most rainflies are easy to set up and generally have a ridge that runs through the center that can be attached to your anchor trees itself.
Ensure that the ridgeline is high enough above the ground so that it isn’t closing in on you claustrophobically as you lie in your hammock, but low enough to keep out the rain and other elements. Using guylines and stakes will help keep your rainfly firmly in place and also prevent water from accumulating.
Setting up Your Bug Net
Another step that applies if you’re camping in your hammock is setting up a bug net - you can do this either separately or using an integrated net.
If you’re using the former, the net should cover your entire hammock and protect you completely; if you’re using the latter, you don’t have to worry about anything except setting up!
Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
Of course, setting your hammock upright accounts for a major part of how safe you are while lounging around in it, but especially when outdoors, it’s an excellent idea to do the following to ensure that your hammock is as safe as it looks.
- 1Double Check Your Hammock: Just because you’ve got yourself a fancy, branded hammock doesn’t always mean that you’re going to be accident-proof. Check each part carefully before using it and if you find that one of the parts is faulty, get in touch with the manufacturer for replacement.
- 2Picking the Right Spot to Hang Your Hammock: As mentioned earlier, pick trees that are sturdy enough to hold your weight. Even if two trees are at the ideal distance, ensure that the trees are strong. Keep away from tall, dry branches, as you never know when the wind can knock your hammock (and you!) down. Also, avoid shoots and pick trees that don’t bend under your weight, and to avoid stress on the trees itself, it is recommended that you use a 1:1 ratio of hammocks and trees!
- 3The Height: Though we have talked about this, it bears repeating, since the height also plays an important part in your safety. Don’t place hammocks so high that you can’t climb into them. Chair height when you sit on your hammock, or shoulder level if you’re looking at the attachment on your anchor point, is ideal.
- 4Double Check Your Attaching Gear: Make sure the straps are attached securely, as are the carabiners so that you don’t wake up to the rude shock of your body hitting the hard ground! After assembly, check that everything is correctly assembled and you have a level, flat support - after all, you don’t want the rope to collapse.
Wherever you’re using your hammock, it’s important to set it up correctly. Though hammocks are designed to be easy to set up, setting them up in the wilderness is a little bit more work than setting them up indoors or in your backyard.
Additionally, unless you’re carrying along a hammock stand or poles, you only have trees to depend on to suspend your hammock. Therefore, how well you set up your hammock is of utmost importance.