How To Hang A Hammock In 7 Easy Steps

Hammocks are setting off from porches and backyards and headed out camping. Some people love rocking to sleep, others want to gaze at the moon and the stars, and then some folks are done sleeping on the ground. But hanging a hammock in the great outdoors is different from clipping in on a deck.

How to hang a hammock in seven steps:

  1. Select Your Site
  2. Look For Two Healthy Trees 10-15 Feet Apart
  3. Use Tree Friendly Straps
  4. Hang It 4-5 Feet Off The Ground With 30 Degree Angle
  5. Hang A Hammock From A Car Rack, Roll Bars, Or Truck Bed
  6. Hang A Hammock From Rocks
  7. Hang Your Hammock From A Stand

1. Select Your Site

Take care when selecting your hammock site. Even if you don’t have to pitch a tent on the ground, you still don’t want certain obstacles underneath you in case you fall out. (Unless you are a skilled and graceful rock climber who doesn’t have clumsy moments. If so, good for you.)

Thus, look out for sharp sticks, rocks, hornet’s nests, and ant farms. Also, keep an eye out for noticeable marks of an animal pathway. You don’t want to string your bed across a deer highway or a bear’s favorite route to his beloved swimming hole. 

No joke, we have friends that accidentally pitched their tent on a popular bear route to a lake. The bear did go around them, but they spent hours listening to it inspect the camp, going for a swim, and sniffing at their tent. They tried to sing and shout to make the bear leave. Bear did not care.

2. Look For Two Healthy Trees 10-15 Feet Apart

Ideally, you want two healthy trees 10-15 feet apart. You want to avoid lashing your hammock on rotten wood, dead branches, or anything less than 8 inches in diameter (try to go bigger).

Also, lean against the tree and ensure it doesn’t rock widely or show signs of the roots lifting from the ground.

Avoid trees with clear animal rubbing marks or scratches. That tree has been claimed, and you will upset the local wildlife if you use it for your own gain.

Lastly, take a few minutes to hang around it and see if an angry squirrel or chipmunk will launch an assault. Having small objects thrown at your head is funny at first but unpleasant after a while.

Also, if birds are divebombing, you are causing a racket; maybe leave their house be? You are just a visitor.

3. Use Tree Friendly Straps

Securing a hammock can be done in serval ways, including ropes or paracord.

Hammock straps are the easiest and most tree-friendly method to secure your bed, aside from using a stand. These are wide (ideally, at least .75 inches wide), spreading the weight, and less likely to cut into the bark.

In addition, check the weight-bearing limit of your straps to the total load: you, hammock, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, hammock, carabiners, underquilt, and pillows.

Some excellent straps are:

4. Hang Hammocks 4-5 Feet Off The Ground At 30 Degrees

Hammocks typically hang from an attachment placed 4-5 feet off the ground at a 30-degree angle. If it is too taunt, it is difficult to get into and will feel tight. If it is too loose, you sleep like a U, and it’s uncomfortable.

When in the hammock, you want to have at least 18-inches between you and the ground.

Also, hang more than one hammock per tree. While people have stacked their hammocks like bunk beds, it causes strain.

It’s crucial to cause as little harm to the outdoors when we visit so that it will thrive long after we’ve left.

5. Hang A Hammock From A Car Roof Rack

Some roof racks are strong enough to hang one side of a hammock. Obviously not an option for backpackers, but it can help those in a pinch.

Many sites might have one suitable tree, but not two. Hanging a hammock from a car roof rack is also an excellent idea for tent or RV campers who want to set up a hammock for day relaxation.

However, ensuring that your car’s roof rack is in excellent shape and installed correctly is crucial. Also, not all roof racks are equal, and not all can bear the same loads.

When looking up the weight limit of your roof rack, don’t just compare it to your own weight. You must add your weight plus the hammock and any accessories, including a sleeping bag, carabiners, straps, and underquilt.

Always overestimate weights to ensure there won’t be accidents.

Lastly, while some people do the car door method, it is not safe.

Hanging Your Hammock From Roof Rack

The roof rack method has one big drawback: the hammock is hung relatively high. Thus, some people do find it challenging to get into the hammock or don’t feel comfortable being so far off the ground.

  1. Position the vehicle 10-15 feet from the tree or post being used to secure the other side of the hammock.
  2. Use hammock straps, not ropes. It’s kinder to your car and roof rack.
  3. Look for a strap to create a sling.
  4. Wrap the strap and slip it through to hang from your roof rack.
  5. Ensure that the wraps are in the corner of the rack, where it meets the roof, so it can’t slip further down once you get on.
  6. Attach the carabiner to your sling.
  7. Attach the hammock to the carabiner.
  8. Once you’ve hung the hammock on the other side, give it a test. Then, check that the carabiner on your car side isn’t scraping the paint. If it is, adjust the tension, so the hammock pulls the carabiner “away” from the car. 

Hanging Your Hammock Across Car Roof With Rack

A slightly safer method is hanging the hammock from the car roof, with the straps going across the roof and through the top of two rear doors. The rack ensures the straps won’t slide off the back of the car.

The other advantage of the wrap-the-roof method is that you can hang the hammock lower to the ground, negating the need for a stool or wings to get in.  

  1. Have a 12-foot tie-down strap ready
  2. Open both rear doors of your vehicle
  3. Feed the tie-down strap over the top of the roof, through the roof rack space, and then run it inside, along the ceiling. It’s like putting a belt around your car’s roof. Leave enough slack for the loop to hold a carabiner at the desired length.
  4. Buckle the strap on the inside of the vehicle in the middle. You don’t want it to chip a window or door or be on the outside where it can scrape.
  5. Shut the first rear door, ensuring the line isn’t “bunched.”
  6. Hold the “loop” up on the other side, then carefully shut the second rear door. (It’s like closing your skirt in the door, but the tie-down is peeking out at the top instead of the bottom.)
  7. Clip the carabiner into the tie-down slack.
  8. Clip hammock into the carabiner
  9. Once you’ve secured the other side, check that the carabiner isn’t banging into your car’s paint. Adjust as necessary.

6. Hang A Hammock From Rocks

People have hung their hammocks from rocks. How you do it depends on the shape and type of rock.

The easiest is when you can use your straps or webbing to wrap around the rock, creating an anchor point, much as you would do with a tree.

An experienced mountain climber can also use nuts or cams to create anchor points, wedging them into cracks. You will still need 10-15 feet between anchor points.

7. Hang Your Hammock From A Stand

Campgrounds are designed to accommodate tents, RVs, and converted vans. The hammock campers are still the minority, and the sites on offer might be a patch of grass with a fire ring and a picnic table. There won’t be a rock or tree in sight.

Even if you hang one end off your car rack, what do you do with the other end? Trying to use the picnic table is risky and will probably upset the rangers or wardens. Thus, for these types of camping, you’re probably going to need to invest in a portable hammock stand.

Some of the most popular portable hammock stands:

Is There Truck Hitch Hammock Stands?

There are hammock stands that attach to a truck. One of the most popular models is:

This is an alternative to setting up a stand on the ground. Not all terrain is suitable for setting up a stand, and there might be no trees or high rocks. There are areas of Eastern Oregon like this, full of sagebrush and low rocks, where you pretty much have to sleep in the back of your rig or hook up a hitch stand for a hammock, as even pitching a tent is impossible.

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.