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.
[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 eye bolts)
- Hammock Ridgeline Length
- How high off the ground the hammock sits (think of it as chair height)
Another 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!)