The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Hammocking - Part One: Setting Up Your Hammock

These days, it seems like just about everybody is using a hammock. There’s a good reason for that - hammocks are amazing! They’re way more comfortable than a tent or an air mattress and they let you relax pretty much anywhere you like with a great view of the outdoors. Plus, hammocking is just plain fun (not to throw shade at tents or RV’s, but there’s just no comparison).

When you’re just getting started, hammocking looks pretty hard. No worries- we’ve all been there, and we're here to help.

In Part One of this guide, we’ll discuss how to set up a hammock, and you’ll see just how easy it actually is. In Part Two, we’ll talk about some things to be aware of when you go hammocking, like what kinds of trees are best and what kinds of activities to avoid. Lastly, in Part Three we’ll discuss how you can make the most of your hammock on any adventure - from the nearby park to the other side of the world.

How To Set Up A Hammock

People in Hammocks

The Parts of the Hammock

Before we talk about setting up the hammock, we need to define the main components of the hammock. Hammocks come in all shapes and sizes, but each one has the same 3 basic parts:

  • The main body of the hammock (We call this the “Hammock” - but that’s just because we couldn't think of a more original name)
  • The Anchor Point: These are located at each end of the hammock and are where the hammock attaches to the Suspension System.

Most hammocks use carabiners in their anchor points.

  • The Suspension System: The way that the hammock connects to the tree or another fixed object. Usually, this is a length of webbing or rope.

Hammock Strap

The most common kind of suspension system, a hammock tree strap.

Setting Up Your Hammock

Once you learn how to properly set up a hammock, the whole setup process can be done in a couple of seconds. Right now, we’ll break it down into 3 easy steps. If you prefer a video version, check out this video we made to explain the whole process.

Right - let’s get started!

Step 0: Make Sure You Have Everything

Before you go out hammocking, make sure that you have all the essentials. You will need:

  • Your Hammock. (This is probably self-explanatory)
  • Your suspension system. For Octopus hammocks, this comes included with the hammock. For other hammocks, you should always check that you have a suspension system because it isn’t always included. If you need a suspension system, you can get one here.
  • Any accessories you might need, like a rain fly or a bug net. We’ll talk more about these in Part Two.

Step 1: Find the Perfect Spot

Before you can do anything else, you first have to find a place to hang your hammock. The best way to do this is to find two trees, but you can hang your hammock from any two fixed objects that are the right distance apart. We’ve seen people hang hammocks from posts, buildings, cars, and everything in between.

The important thing is that your fixed objects are 10 to 15 feet apart. If the objects are too close, your hammock will sag and hit the ground. If they are too far apart, your hammock won’t be able to reach all the way. We'll talk more about finding good hammock spots in Part Two.

2 Trees

These trees are the perfect distance apart for hammocking.

Step 2: The Suspension System

There are all kinds of suspension systems, but most of them use the same basic design: a long piece of webbing with many loops. This kind of suspension system is called a Tree Strap system. A tree strap has two ends: one that has many loops, and one that has just one loop.

To set up your straps, put the strap around the tree and pass the end with multiple loops through the end with one loop. Next, pull on the strap to tighten it. Do this process twice (once for each tree). For the best results, hang your straps about 4 to 6 feet off the ground.

Step 3: The Hammock

Take a look at your hammock and find the anchor points at the ends of the hammock. Most hammocks use carabiners for anchor points. Clip one carabiner to a loop on your tree straps - any loop will do. Go to the other tree strap and do the same. You're nearly done!

Before you lay in your hammock, you should check the angle. Your hammock should not be flat! Hanging your hammock too tightly (making it flat) puts a huge amount of stress on the tree and your gear, increasing the odds of damaging both. Ideally, your hammock should have a slight curve, like a banana.

Octopus Hammock

Notice the slight curve in the hammock. This helps spread your weight more evenly, protecting your gear and the trees.

Congrats - you’re all set!

That’s all there is to it! The best way to learn more about hammocking is to go out and practice it. The more you try it, the better you’ll get, and the more you’ll enjoy it. Why not start today?

We hope this article has helped you learn a little more about how to set up your hammock. We’ll discuss how you can get the most from your hammock in Part Two, and in Part Three we’ll share some of our favorite hammock tricks.

What advice do you have for setting up your hammock? Let us know in the comments!

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