You can easily set up a hammock pretty much anywhere if you know how to tie just a few simple knots.
Although I still prefer to use tree straps (or a built-in stand like featured on the Mock ONE), sometimes rope is the easiest - or, possibly, only - way to go. Luckily, knowing how to tie just five knots goes a long way towards hanging a hammock, no matter the situation.
Here are five of the best knots to know for hammock hanging.
Essential Knots for Hammocks
Dozens upon dozens of knots exist that can be adapted or used for hammocks. And that's not to mention the many variations of each. Luckily, you don't need to learn them all. The following knots are all you need to know how to tie the vast majority of the time. Remember that tying all these knots gets easier each time you practice.
Also known as the bow knot, the shoelace knot is one of the most simple knots for hammocks. Not only is it incredibly easy to tie, but it's also very strong.
Start by forming a small loop by passing one end of the rope over the rest of the rope. Go around this loop with the hanging end of the rope to encircle it. Next, push the curved rope you've created through the middle of the knot to create the second of the two finished loops. Pull tight.
Basically, just do what you do while tying your shoes. To adapt for a hammock, wrap the rope around the tree several times before tying the knot.
Adapted from falconry, the falconer's knot is another excellent knot for hammocks. It's another strong, relatively easy knot to tie your hammock to a tree.
Wrap the rope around the tree from right to left (counterclockwise). This will leave the free end on your left and the end attached to your hammock on the right. Gather the right end of the rope in your palm, move your hand from right to left, and grasp the free left end between your index and middle fingers.
Move your thumb up (like a thumb's up sign) and rotate your hand to the right. This movement will form a loop. Next, pull the section of the rope that you're holding with your index and middle fingers) through the loop your thumb created. Finally, pull the free end of the rope through this loop and pull until tight and secure.
The half hitch is an important camping knot to know because it's a key component in several other knots and hitches.
Loop your rope around a tree, branch, length of rope, or another object to create a circle around the object. Next, pass the tail end around the hanging rope and through the bottom of the loop you created. Pull tight.
Do note that the half hitch isn't the most secure by itself. It's not well-suited to holding your entire body weight, although it is ideal for rainflies, bug nets, and other guy lines. Or, double it (create two half hitches) for more strength.
Another simple, yet essential not, the bowline knot has many uses for hammock camping.
You can tie this knot at the end of the rope or in the middle of a rope wrapped around another object. Generally, it's easiest to learn on the end of a rope.
Create a small loop by passing the tail end over the hammock rope. Pull the tail end back through the loop you created, bring it around the back of the rest of the rope, and then pass it back down through the original loop. Pull the tail end to tighten and hold the main knot to keep it in place.
Taut Line Hitch
The taut line hitch is yet another useful hammock knot, ideal for hanging with adjustable tension.
The biggest benefit of this knot is that you can easily move it up and down the rope as needed. Start by wrapping the rope around the tree branch (or another object). Pass the free end through the loop you created two times. One more pass is required, but you move the free end between itself and the other end of the rope (instead of through the original loop).
If you tied this knot correctly, you should be able to move it along the rope with ease.
How to Hang a Hammock Without Ropes
Perhaps the easiest way how to hang hammock is with straps.
These straps are usually made from nylon webbing. One end typically attaches to your hammock with carabiners and the other end wraps around the trunk of a tree or other attachment point.
In my opinion, straps have several benefits over ropes. First and foremost, they're easier to use. Although the above knots aren't that difficult to learn, straps don't require tying a knot at all.
Another benefit is that straps don't cut into a tree like ropes tend to do. They are better for the environment in this sense. In fact, hanging a hammock with ropes isn't even allowed in certain areas where the trees are sensitive or at risk. Tree saver straps are an excellent way to leave no trace while hammocking.
You can purchase straps separately, although many of the best camping hammocks come with dedicated straps.
Depending on your model of hammock, there's a good chance it comes with carabiners on each end.
Typically, you'll attach these to ropes or straps and then attach the ropes or straps to a tree. But, it's entirely possible to connect the built-in carabiners directly to a hook you've installed on a tree, fence posts, or similar structure.
In fact, the built-in carabiners method is most popular when hanging an indoor hammock, especially a hammock chair.
Another great alternative to ropes is a hammock stand.
Of course, you can use ropes or straps to hang a hammock from a stand but it's not always required. For example, the Mock ONE is a portable folding hammock with a built-in stand.
The Mock ONE and similar models are incredibly convenient and easy to set up. They're a great choice if you plan to go hammocking somewhere without trees or other structures to easily hang from.
Learning how to properly hang a hammock isn't all about knowing how to tie the right knots. It also includes locating the right trees (or other support structures) as well as hanging at the right height and angle.
Select the Right Trees
Trees are my go-to method for hanging a hammock.
Although you can always use other objects, like fence posts, pillars, or the rack on your vehicle, trees do the job just fine if you can find two strong trees within adequate distance of each other.
The trees you select must be strong enough to support your body weight. They must also be about 15 feet apart (although this depends on your specific hammock model). Finally, look up above for dead branches (known as widow makers) that could potentially fall and cause serious injuries.
Find the Right Height and Angle
For most people, the preferred hammock angle is roughly 30 degrees. That's the angle between the strap (with you inside the hammock) and the ground.
Another consideration is height off the ground. The hammock should hang no more than 2 feet (although 18 inches is ideal) above the ground when you're inside.
The exact height to attach your straps or ropes to the tree depends on your hammock model. I've typically found that about head height or eye level is best. You can adjust as needed until you learn what height is generally best for your particular hammock.
Hammock Knots FAQ
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hammock knots.
Q: What is the best knot for a hammock?
A: The five knots described above work well for hammocks. Another good option (to secure to a tree), especially if you don't have much experience with knots, is the shoelace knot (or bow knot).
Q: How do you tie a hammock between two trees?
A: Select two strong trees an adequate distance apart. Attach one end of the hammock (with ropes or straps) to the first tree at about head height. Attach the second end to the second tree. Adjust the suspension hardware as needed to achieve the ideal hammock hang angle.
Q: How to hang a hammock without ropes?
A: Tree straps are the best alternative to hang a hammock with ropes. You can also use a hammock stand or simply the carabiners on your hammock. In a pinch, you can even use your hammock on the ground as a ground shelter for camping in overnight.
Learning how to tie basic hammock knots goes a long way towards your hammock camping success.
Although there are countless knots out there, the five outlined above (backpacker hitch, bowline, half hitch, taut line hitch, and fisherman's knot) are the best of the best, in my opinion.
What about you? What are your favorite knots for hammock ropes? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!