Setting up a hammock -- and getting yourself into one -- takes skill and precision. Think you can hang?
is one of the quintessential symbols of summer and the ultimate stress-reliever. Now, lounging is one thing. But actually hanging the hammock? Not as leisurely -- especially if you've been the victim of a vicious roll-up-and-spit-out attack!
Most hammocks come in a kit with hanging hardware included; this is the easiest route to take. Some hammocks even come complete with floor stands. But if yours doesn't, there are several places you hang your hammock: between two posts on your wooden deck or from the ceiling of your covered porch (the latter option works best for hammocks without spreader bars
Here we'll focus on the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method: hanging a hammock between two trees
. You can find hammocks in various lengths
, depending on the distance between your trees. Plus, we'll give you a few great tips on the right way to get in
the hammock -- and stay there.
1. Choose the location.
Where, and how, you hang your hammock depends on the following factors:
-- Whether the trees will support the hammock's weight capacity (indicated on label)
-- Whether you can work with the distance between the trees (they can't be too far or too close)
-- Whether your hammock has spreader bars
(wooden slats on either side that provide support, prevent it from twisting and keep it opened up -- not folded in half)
2. Select your trees.
Both should be hardwood trees
(oak, maple or beech, for example), completely healthy and at least one foot in diameter.
3. Calculate hanging distance.
Measure the length of your hammock and the distance between the two trees. Say you've chosen a 15-foot-long (end-to-end) hammock with spreader bars; the distance between trees should be at least the length of the hammock : 15 feet.
If the trees are further apart than the hammock's length, you'll need to extend it, with equal lengths of rope or chain, on both sides, no more than 18 inches per side. Extending its length beyond three feet total will exponentially up the tip-over factor.
For maximum stability, hammocks with spreader bars should be pulled as taut as possible, positioned completely parallel to the ground.
Because a hammock without
spreader bars is designed to hang freely, and dip down slightly in the center, the trees from which you hang it can actually be closer together (a.k.a. less than its total length from end to end). Aim to hang this type of hammock at least two-thirds of its length in inches/feet. For example, If you have a 15-foot hammock without spreaders, its hanging distance should be at least 120 inches. Two feet more (12 inches on each side) and you'll hit the maximum recommendation. Hanging requirements are pretty flexible for this type of hammock; just remember that the closer the trees, the higher up their trunks you'll need to hang it -- and the farther apart, the closer to the ground.
4. Determine height from the ground.
This part's pretty simple: Hammocks with spreader bars should be approximately four to five feet off the ground while those without them can be hung six to eight feet above it. Just remember: Mosquitoes can be brutal at dusk
-- and beyond. If you're planning to pass out, douse yourself with your insect repellent of choice. (This writer has this lesson the hard way!)
5. Get in -- the right way!
Let's face it; getting in a hammock can sometimes be comical. Here's how not
to embarrass yourself. Stand with your back to the hammock, as if you were going to sit in a chair -- don't straddle it or climb in feet-first. Reach back and lightly grab on to steady it. (For hammocks without spreaders, spread it out a bit before sitting so your weight is evenly distributed.) Sit, stretch your legs, and flip them both onto the hammock.
Then commence relaxation! When you want to get out (probably in a hundred years or so), swing your legs over one side and sit up -- while gripping the edges for stability -- and pry yourself out. Relax, you've earned it!
** We want to hear from you: Got a funny hammock story? Share it here! **