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The Ultimate Guide to Hanging Your Camping Hammock

July 21 2020

camping hammock silhouette and sunset sky

Looking to relax in a park or the backcountry? Trying to avoid sleeping on the cold ground? Setting up your hammock in the right spot is essential for your outing during the day or overnight. While it may seem easy, there are a couple tips and tricks we’ve come up with to help you hang your camping hammock.

Read below for great tips on how to set up your camping hammock.

Hammock Camping Gear List

  1. Hammock: You need to pick the right hammock for what your adventure calls. Some hammocks are thin and simple for summer camping. Others have extra lining for you to place insulation and there are also two-person hammocks available if you want to snuggle up with someone else.
  2. Carabiners: Carabiners often come with your hammock to link the hammock to the straps, but make sure you know what you’re buying before you leave the store without these.
  3. Straps: People often think ropes when they think of hanging hammocks, but we opt for straps, as they are sturdier and better for the environment, as we’ll talk about later.
  4. Pillows: More of a luxury item, pillows are the cherry on top for kicking back and dozing off under the branches. We recommend our Loftlite Compressible Foam Camping Pillow, as the foam molds to your neck for great sleep or relaxation.
  5. Sleeping Bag: If you’re spending a night out under the stars, bring your sleeping bag. Being off the ground can allow wind to come by and freeze you from below.
  6. Ridgeline: A ridgeline is an extra line run above the hammock for dew and rain cover. It is comprised of a rope/clothesline, tarp, and stakes, like a tarp tent that runs above your hammock if you’re going overnight.

How to Find the Right Trees to Hang Your Hammock From

camping hammocks in different colors in a forest setup

Finding the right pair of trees will set the tone for your hammock session. One of the first things you want to check is that the tree is not dead and branches won’t fall off of it, especially in the middle of the night.

Additionally, the part of the tree you attach your hammock to does not have to be upright. You can tie your hammock straps to a very sturdy horizontal branch, though we recommend putting your weight on it to see if it gives.

How Far Apart Should Trees Be to Hang a Hammock?

two girls on a green camping hammock in a forest water place

  • The proper distance to hang a hammock is 12-17 feet apart, with 15 feet being something of a sweet spot.
  • You want to hang your hammock so that the lowest point is at least 18 inches off the ground when you get inside of it.
  • Finally, you want your hammock straps to hang at 30° for the ideal mix of slack and tautness. (Pro tip: the longer the distance between the trees, the higher the straps must be placed on the tree trunks.)

How to Hang Your Hammock with Straps

While hammocks often conjure up images of the white cords, we recommend using wider straps instead of rope. Straps are great because they support more weight instead of slimmer rope. Also, straps do not dig into tree bark like ropes do. Ropes bear more surface tension and can cut into bark, defacing the tree. Remember to Leave No Trace by picking straps.

We recommend the Eno Atlas Straps because they have slots to clip your carabiners into, saving time from setting up and getting you to relax faster. Watch the video below on how to set up your Eno Atlas Straps quickly without any fuss.


How to Set up a Hammock Ridgeline for Overnight Protection

As mentioned before, a ridgeline is a rope that runs above your hammock to keep you dry overnight. Some hammocks come with a ridgeline already installed, but others do not.

To make a quick ridgeline for overnight camping, you need to tie a rope or clothesline about two feet above your hammock. Then, place your tarp over it and stake it to the earth. It’s quick and easy, and will keep you and your gear dry all night.

Ropes and clotheslines are okay to use with ridgelines, because they do not put too much stress on the trees, like you do with your full body weight resting in a hammock.

Getting Cozy in Your Hammock

red camping hammock with a couple in a cozy spot

Looking to snuggle up with someone special? A hammock for two is a great idea if you’re you’re looking to share with another person in a park for an evening (though we do recommend getting your own for sleeping overnight).

While our pillows are great additions to your hammock plans, our Lightweight Camping Blanket provides a great layer of warmth to cool summer evenings and can up your hammock game pretty well.

Odds and Ends for Your Camping Hammock

  • Netting: If you’re going somewhere in early summer or near water, you may want to get some netting to keep the bugs and mosquitoes out. The ENO Guardian Bug Net is a good investment if you’re trying to relax without the bug bites.
  • Underquilt: An underquilt is a great idea if you’re going somewhere that has cold nights. Basically, a down hammock that runs under your hammock, the underquilt provides a layer of insulation to keep you from freezing overnight.
  • Rain Tarp: If you’re looking for something more official, companies like ENO and Kammok make special hammock rain tarps that attach to your hammock and down to the ground more effectively to keep the wet weather out.

Common Mistakes of Hanging a Camping Hammock

There are a few mistakes people make when setting up their hammock, from running the straps the wrong distance to forgetting an underquilt or simply going overnight without a ridgeline. Check out this video from Backpacking With A Hammock for some ideas to avoid mistakes and set yourself up well for a great night hanging out. (He’ll even show you how to measure 30° for your straps when you’re out in the woods.)