How to Properly & Securely Use Hammock Straps

Never used hammock straps before and want to know how to use them without potentially harming the trees? Let's dive into what you need to know to set up a hammock.

Most hikers and backpackers cherish the moment when they’re finally able to set up their hammock after a long day of trekking in the woods. Back at home, you may have a hammock stand or even a hammock that stays attached to a specific set of trees year-round.

However, out in the boonies, lightweight backpackers and hikers who don’t want to carry with them a portable hammock stand and will have a slightly trickier task of securing their hammock. The good news is out in the woods, there’s not going to be a shortage of trees and with some hammock straps, it shouldn’t be too challenging to find a spot to set up your hammock.

That sort of begs the important question, and the reason you’re here today. Do you know how to use hammock straps? Well, here’s how to set up your hammock using straps:

  1. Take one of your straps and wrap it around the tree
  2. Feed the end that has the attachment points through the loop on the opposite end
  3. To tighten the strap around the tree, finish by pulling the end with the attachment points
  4. Repeat the above three steps for the other strap
  5. With both hammock straps secured, you can now clip your hammock to them

If you want to practice before you go out on your adventure, you can always find some trees in your backyard (or even at a park or something) to do so. The process is pretty much as simple as it sounds, however, there’s still a lot that we want to cover about the topic.

How to use hammock straps the correct and safe way

man setting up hammock using straps
Image credits: Wise Owl Outfitters

The five-step process that we began this article with will allow you to use hammock straps properly and securely. However, that process takes several factors into account that we haven’t explained yet. As you might have guessed, that’s what we want to do right now. It’s important to learn how to use hammock straps in a way that keeps both you and the trees safe from harm, and there are several ways to do just that.

  • Avoid wrapping your straps around trees that are starting to bend
  • Avoid using trees in wet areas
  • Use tree-friendly hammock straps (at least 0.75 inches wide)
  • Don’t use screws or any other tools that harm the trees
  • Make sure there’s no beehives, wasp nests, or any sensitive plant life close to you
  • Don’t use dead trees or trees that have a lot of dead branches
  • Use tree protector wraps (not needed with tree-friendly hammock straps)

Also, it’s important to make sure that the area you’re in allows tree hammocking. If you’re boondocking and backpacking out in the wilderness, you’ll probably be fine. This is mostly if you’re camping at city and state parks as some may not allow tree hammocking.

Are hammock straps better than ropes?

a hammock hanging in rope from palm
Image credits: Urip Dunker

All this talk about how to use hammock straps and you may be sitting back chuckling to yourself “Yeah, but I’m just going to keep using rope to get the job done”. We don’t want to say that using rope is incorrect, but hammock straps are the better choice. So, yes, for the purposes of securing a hammock, straps are better.

But, why? First and foremost, straps made from tree-friendly material will not potentially harm tree bark. Rope, on the other hand, can. Being wider than rope, hammock straps also do a superior job of distributing the weight of the hammock over a larger area. This will, in turn, limit the long-term damage to the tree.

We know, though, what if you’re not a tree hugger and could care less about protecting trees? There are still key advantages that hammock straps have.

In addition to being more secure, rope oftentimes requires complicated knots to secure hammocks. Rope will also wear down more quickly. Then again, for backpackers, carrying rope will be the lighter option. So, there’s that.

Let’s be clear here, though, we don’t want to condemn using rope. It’s not as if using rope is going to literally destroy the trees you’re using, it’s just that hammock straps are more tree-friendly. But using rope can still get the job done if that’s all you have or all you want to bring. The good news is we’ve already covered how to tie and secure a hammock with rope.

How do you find the perfect spot to hang your hammock?

multiple green hammocks hanging in trees in the forest
Image credits: Kristaps Ungurs

Before you can implement what you’ve learned about how to use hammock straps, you first have to find two trees that’ll serve the purpose. We’ve briefly mentioned some factors to keep in the back of your mind when you’re looking for the right trees to hang your hammock.

Besides what we’ve already talked about, it’s important to find two trees that are spaced correctly for your needs. Clearly, you can’t move them closer together or farther apart. The trees need to be spaced just enough to work properly, and also look to avoid unstable trees and trees with sharp branches.

Adjustments can be made as you see fit

This is important to mention because you may get your straps secured to two trees, clip your hammock to them, and find out that you don’t like the current angle and height of the hang. The good news is you can make adjustments so get inside the hammock to see how it feels.

Raising or lowering the straps, picking different trees to use, and changing which attachment point the hammock is clipped to can all be different things that you can perform to achieve the desired angle and height that you want for your hammock.

Will straps come with your hammock?

The safe answer to this question is to expect to have to purchase hammock straps separately. Yet, there are some hammocks on the market that will come with straps. It just depends on the manufacturer you’re buying from, and what they bundle in with their hammock.

We would like to point out that if you’re in the market for both a new hammock and straps, don’t limit your selection by only considering those that come with straps.

You can always buy the straps separately and doing so can be nice anyway as having extra straps on hand can be useful.

Hammock straps can also be used to hang some of your camping gear around the campsite. Due to the additional weight, though, backpackers may want to be wary of how many additional straps they carry with them.

Don’t forget about the length and weight capacity

Hammock straps will come in different lengths, and this can play a role when you go to secure them to the trees you’ve selected. Longer straps will allow you to account for trees that are spaced further apart, and then you can merely adjust to your desired preference.

Straps 10 feet in length are a good standard to shoot for.

As far as weight capacity, just ensure that the straps you buy can handle the weight of your hammock, yourself, and any additional items such as a hammock sleeping pad that you’ll have on the hammock itself. All such weights need to be accounted for.

Final thoughts

Don’t panic too much if you’ve never used hammock straps and are concerned you won’t know what to do when the time comes to hang up your hammock. The process of how to use hammock straps is pretty simple, and the prep work beforehand is what should draw the most attention.

Figuring out the perfect spot to set up your hammock taking into consideration the plethora of factors detailed above is probably going to be the most time-consuming part of securing your hammock straps. And, as mentioned, to get the hang of things, take your hammock straps and find two trees to see if you can install them with the steps listed above.

That way when the time comes to go on your hiking or backpacking adventure, you’ll be more confident that you’ll be able to easily secure those straps. All in the meanwhile, don’t forget to find the right trees to secure to. Alright, we’re finally done shoving all this down your throat! Happy hammocking, everyone!

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Tyler Jones

Tyler is much like a swiss knife. Even though he has a degree in Computer Science, he knows almost everything there is to know about camping. He has been writing for HeadlessNomad since 2021 and has contributed with over 100 articles. If you have an outdoor-related question, then Tyler much likely knows the answer.