How To Hang Your Hammock: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need

by Seth Haber | Founder, CEO

Not a day goes by where we don’t get asked a question from a customer who’s curious about how to best setup their hammock.   Whether it’s setting it up on a balcony, in a bedroom, between two Jeeps, or just in the backyard – the situations are always different but the questions are often the same:

How far apart should the attachment points be? How high do they need to be to make sure the hammock isn’t touching the ground? Is __ feet apart too short/long to hang the hammock?

If you’ve read our post on The Hammock Angle (part of our Sleeping In A Hammock Guide) you know that you should be hanging your non-spreader bar hammock with a nice loose curve so you can lie at an angle across it and get flat.

ridgeline thumb How To Hang Your Hammock: The Only Guide Youll Ever Need[NOTE: If your hammock has a metal or wooden spreader bar at each end then this guide won't apply to your hammock - to find out why you should probably switch to a new hammock, check out our post on How You've Been Hammock Brainwashed.]

When your hammock is setup, the amount of curve (also referred to as sag) is going to be determined by the distance between the ends of your hammock.  That distance can easily be measured by measuring across the empty space between each end of your hammock.   This distance is commonly called the Hammock Ridgeline Length. You’re probably already thinking, “Wow, there’s a lot more to hanging a hammock than I realized!”. Well, yes and no.  Hanging your Trek Light Hammock between two points can and should be as simple as eyeballing it once you’re used to it (and you can always make easy adjustments with our Go Anywhere Rope Kit).  A tape measure definitely isn’t part of our backpacking kit!  But, simply knowing the factors involved can be extremely helpful when it comes to understanding how it all comes together. And, if you’re looking to hang a hammock in a more permanent way (such as installing eyebolts in your wall or posts in your backyard) doing it ‘by the book’ with measurements is definitely the way to go to make sure the hammock hangs exactly the way you want it in the end. To break it down, when hanging a hammock you’re dealing with a combination of each of these factors to determine the final outcome:

  • Distance between the two objects
  • Height of attachment points (where you put the rope, straps or eyebolts)
  • Hammock Ridgeline Length
  • How high off the ground the hammock sits (think of it as chair height)

hang angle force thumb How To Hang Your Hammock: The Only Guide Youll Ever NeedAnother important safety factor you should take into consideration (especially when attaching to a wall or ceiling) is the amount of force being applied to your anchor points and suspension when you’re lying in the hammock. The amount of force being applied isn’t just dependent on how much weight you’ve got in the hammock as many think.  It’s actually a combination of factors including the weight and the angle of your suspension (the angle between the cord and the tree as shown in the picture to the right).  In a nutshell, the tighter you pull your hammock the greater the forces will be on the suspension and anchor points (another reason to hang loose!).

An approximate 30 degree angle is considered ideal. But don’t worry, you don’t need a protractor in your pack either, the angle will always be correct if you just follow the guidelines below. Exactly how tight or loose to hang the hammock can be a matter of personal preference, but there’s definitely a ‘sweet spot’ that creates the ideal hammock curve. For our Single and Double Hammocks that ridgeline length is around 9’ (108 inches) to get an ideal hammock curve. On our Compact Hammock, which is a foot shorter, it’s closer to 8’ (96 inches).

So, how do you take all of these variable measurements and figure out how to hang your hammock? Lucky for all of us hammock hangers, there’s a hero in the hammock community by the name of Derek Hansen and he created The Hammock Hang Calculator. Derek is a hammock enthusiast, author and talented illustrator who has broken down the physics of hanging a hammock and designed an easy to use and understand calculator.

Using The Hammock Hang Calculator

All you need to do is plug in a few of your known (or desired) factors and the calculator will take care of the rest.   It even opens with several default options preset that work perfectly with your Trek Light Hammock – the Ridgeline Length is already set to 108 inches and the Sit Height is set to 18 inches (average chair height for most). If the Ridgeline Length and Sit Height is what you want, all you need to do is plug in the distance between your points – and your weight if you’re concerned (or curious) about the amount of force being applied – and you’re ready to go! The Hammock Hang Calculator will show you how high to set your suspension points (rope, straps, eyebolt, etc.) to get the perfect hang every time. Many thanks to Derek for putting together such an amazing tool for hammock lovers.  Keep in mind that all of these numbers can be approximated and hanging your hammock doesn’t need to be an exact science, it’s all about what feels comfortable to you.   As it says in the disclaimer on the page, please keep in mind that the calculator is designed for ‘estimating and entertainment purposes only’ and the same goes for the contents of this guide.  You should always get a professional opinion when hanging your hammock indoors, make sure any object you’re hanging from is strong enough to support your weight and double check all equipment.  Neither Derek nor Trek Light Gear can be held liable for damage or injury that results from hanging your hammock incorrectly, from an insecure object or in an unsafe manner.

The Ultimate Hang!

You’ll be hearing more from us on the blog about Derek Hansen soon as Derek recently just published an incredible book on hammock camping called The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide To Hammock Camping. We just added it to our store so you can buy it immediately and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to learn more about the world of hammock camping.   Derek uses over 200 illustrations and a wealth of knowledge to explain everything you need to know about topics such as staying dry, keeping warm, and, of course, setting up your hammock properly. I hope this guide, along with the Hammock Hang Calculator, has been incredibly helpful in helping you determine how to hang your Trek Light Hammock.  If you’ve got any questions about hanging your hammock or feel we missed anything just post your question in the comments below! (P.S.  You can also download a mobile version of the Hammock Hang Calculator for your iPhone for 99 cents in the Apple store!)

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  • Walt

    Wonderful info. I’m going to build a wood stand for my non spreader bar hammock. Using this, I will build my stand for a perfect nights sleep.

  • Erich Spaker

    Great info
    Hammocks are great and can be made very cheaply

    I have made one out of only an old sheet and paracord (3$ at Home Depot) tied to two trees

  • chuck

    my hammock is 80″ long (fabric from end to end) and there are bars at each end and then rope from each bar to the respective rings, and that is a total of 132″. so when i use the hammock hang calculator do i use length of hammock as 80″ or 132″?

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Hi Chuck – The Hammock Hang Calculator (and most of the information in this article) is focused on non-spreader bar hammock designs at the moment. My expertise is focused on non-spreader bar hammock designs – to learn more about why I highly recommend checking out this post on the subject: http://www.treklightgear.com/treklife/hammock-brainwashed/

    Wish I could be of more help, if you have any questions about switching to a gathered-end style hammock just let me know how I can help!

  • Ian Sahlberg

    I want to install a post that can hold two hammocks about 30 degrees separation from each other. How do I calculate how deep and what size post to use etc?

  • Jake Bartlett

    I live in the top floor of a building and I want to hang inside – my ceilings are slanted on the sides of the room (in line with the roof) – is it safe to hang from the slanted part? Or should I hang from the flat ceiling instead?

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Hi Jake – Unfortunately every home is built a bit differently so it’s impossible for us to give firm advice from a distance on any home installations. Some ceiling beams are load-bearing and some aren’t so it’s important to have someone look at it that can look at your home build and understands the forces involved.

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  • Brandon Green

    Nice guide! I was just thinking for those that don’t want to mess with actually measuring things out with a tape measure or something to that effect one may be able to use some other quick rules of thumb. For instance, distance between anchor points could be 4-6 paces or steps apart (roughly 3′ to a pace or step). Hang point could be anywhere from head high to as high as one can reach depending on how low or high one wants to be off the ground. And suspension length could be the length of one’s arm from tips of outstretched fingers to shoulder. Not a perfect guide of course, but those quick rules of thumb should also get most folks in the right general range for the, “perfect hang,” so to speak. Cheers!

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  • Oleg Boch

    Do I have to use a a cord or would it be OK to just plug the S-hooks that came with the hammock to a mounting point in the wall? What is the difference between the two ways?

    I am going to install an angle iron secured into the wall with anchors and I made sure that the weight this structure will support is WAY above what the load should be (it’s well over 1000 lbs) and I have a hole drilled on the bottom part that I was going to put the S-hook in. Then I read this article and used the Hang Calculator. I have the Trek double hammock so the inputs I used are the following:
    Distance between hang points: 9 ft.
    Ridgeline length: 108 in.
    Preferred Sit Height: 18 in.
    Weight in Hammock: 180 lbs (but since I have a double this could be doubled if I have a cuddle buddy)
    Hang Angle: 30 degrees

    I started with inputting 10 ft. as Distance between hang points and the calculator gave me suspension length of 6.9 in., then I changed the distance to 9 ft. and the suspension length became 0. Does that mean that if I want to hang it with just using the S-hooks that are built into my hammock and hanging them directly off my anchor point that these are the numbers I would use? Thank you.

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Hi Oleg – You’re exactly right. If you want to hang without any suspension and just hook in then you want to be in that 9′ (108 inches) sweet spot. Let us know how it goes and don’t hesitate to snap some photos and share them with us!

  • Shona Strohmayer

    I have a lofted bed, would it be wise to put a hammock underneath it? It’s 80 inches long and leaves about 55 inches underneath.

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Definitely Shona! Check out this post for a good example of a loft bed hammock setup: http://www.treklightgear.com/treklife/loft-bed-hammock/

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