Hanging a hammock outside is an excellent way to kick back, relax, and swing your worries away. They’re excellent for camping or enjoying the sunshine from the bug-free safety zone of your backyard. Not only that, but a hammock can even replace your tent in the woods!
But what if there are no suitable trees to be found?
This can prove to be an issue if you’re looking forward to hammocking. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of options. In fact, there are several ways to hang your hammock without a single tree involved! In this article, we’ll cover a few creative ways to hang your hat – and the rest of you – wherever you are.
First, however, let’s talk about some equipment and safety considerations. Regardless of where you hang your hammock, how you set up is important.
Make Sure Your Hammock Will Hang
Before you choose a location, you want to look at your hammock. When camping, you may not get to choose your perfect location, so it’s important to ensure your hammock can hang almost anywhere. This is accomplished by selecting your gear carefully.
The main thing to keep in mind is which straps you use. Remember: your straps hold you up by pulling against the structure they wrap around. This means that it’s important to use straps that are strong, practical, and adjustable in some fashion.
Hammocks with multiple loops are a common way to address this issue. The more loops you have in your hammock, the more flexible you can be when you’re hanging out in the woods. (Pun intended).
However, if you want something a little more extendable, you may want to look at a friction-based system. These use a strap or series of straps that can adjust your hammock to the exact dimensions you need.
This also means that if you find two perfect trees that are too far apart, you may be able to close that gap.
If you’re not sure what system is best for you, we’ve put together a list of options. Most of these options will work for any hammock, which means you can try several methods. Consider using:
- Adjustable hammock straps
- Hanging hardware, such as j-hook wall anchors and chains
- Strong ropes
- A loop system
- Store-bought hammock stands
Choose the Right Location
Aside from ensuring your hammock is safe to hang, you want to know you’ve picked a proper location. There are several things to look at when you’re getting ready to hang your hammock.
1. Is the ground soft?
Picking a location with soft(ish) ground means that you’ll have a cushion in case you fall. Hanging your hammock over a bed of rocks or sticks will make for a painful thump if your hammock fails.
2. How high are you hanging your hammock?
Most hammocks are fairly stretchy, which means that if you hang it one foot off the ground, your butt will likely hit the ground fairly quickly.
Therefore, you want to hang your hammock high enough to keep you off the ground. However, you don’t want to hang it so high you’ll be seriously hurt if you fall.
If you’re unsure how stretchy your hammock is, consider setting it up at home first.
3. What is the distance between supports?
Every hammock has its own distance requirements between support poles. Typically, the maximum distance sits around 18 feet, while the minimum rarely falls below 10. Hanging your hammock in this sweet spot ensures you stay safely swinging, rather than teetering on the edge of collapse.
Now that we’ve covered basic hammock setup and safety, let’s look at the different ways to set up your hammock without trees. Whether you’re hanging out in the woods, your backyard, or even on a college campus, there is sure to be an option here to suit your needs.
1. Hammock Stands
Hammock stands are a common – and obvious – way to hang around without a tree in sight. These structures are adjustable, dependable, and make hanging your hammock easier. Furthermore, because these are built to handle the weight, they’re one of the best ways to ensure your safety.
There are many forms of hammock stands, from lightweight backpacking options to bulkier, permanent stands. Most stands are built from metal or wooden poles and meant to sit on flat ground.
However, some stands are meant to be used in areas with more uneven ground, such as on the beach.
On an important note: if you intend to take your hammock stand camping with you, it’s a good idea to test it out first. Assemble it in your yard or living room to make sure you know how to put it up. This can save you some major hassle on the trail!
2. Hammock Structures
Hammock structures are a cool way to “hang around” wherever you are. Typically, these structures are constructed of several beams or pipes in a geometrically stable pattern. This allows them to hold plenty of weight in a small space.
Because of their construction, they can even handle multiple hammocks at one time in a single location. This makes them a popular addition to parks, campsites, and even college campuses. However, you can easily find a suitable hammock structure for your own backyard, too!
3. Posts or Poles
Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to a post. But, if you do, they make a great alternative to trees. In fact, they’re such a popular option that many state and national parks have added them near campsites for visitors.
If you don’t have a post in your backyard, you can easily add one yourself. This YouTube video explains how to quickly and easily erect a post wherever you need one. All you need is something to dig a hole, some concrete, and a post of your choosing.
The most important thing to remember is to use a post big enough to hold your body weight. You’ll also want to make sure that the construction can handle the swinging motions of your hammock.
Cars and trucks make for an easy anchor when hammocking. If you have one good tree (or a building, or a pole), you can use a vehicle as your second anchor. If you don’t have access to the other options, you can even use two vehicles trunk-to-trunk.
If you go with vehicles as a hammock stand, make sure it can withstand the weight where you attach the hammock. Hooking your hammock to the bed of your pickup truck or the ball attachment is a good place to start. Avoid more fragile locations such as doors, handles, or objects inside your trunk.
5. Taking Advantage of Buildings
If you’re camping in a location that has suitable structures, or if you’re hanging around the house, attaching one – or both – ends of your hammock to a building may work. In some campsites, there are even pavilions designed specifically to hang hammocks.
Depending on your location, you may also be able to swing from the side of a cabin or rain shelter.
In some cases, especially at home, you may consider a combination of your building and a pole. Or, you may look at hanging your hammock between a building and a vehicle. These options give you more flexibility in where you can hang your hat (and the rest of you).
Note that if you choose to use a building as one of your supports, you’ll need to choose a suitable location. Make sure there is a strong hook or wooden supports that can support a hook. Otherwise, down will go you, hammock and all.
6. Between Boulders
This option is a little more unusual, but if you’re camping in a desert or mountain location, you may be able to swing it.
The key to hanging your hammock between boulders is to make sure your strap system can maintain friction. You’ll also want to make sure the rocks are tall enough – and far enough apart – to properly hang your hammock. Otherwise, your butt may hit the ground by morning!
One of the bonuses of using boulders is that they can be stronger than trees. However, if you don’t set up correctly, or if it rains, the straps may slip. Therefore, be sure to test your boulder-hammock setup before you settle in for the night.
Lastly, Have Fun and Be Safe!
Being outside is all about enjoying yourself and your surroundings. By hanging your hammock in a safe – if perhaps unusual – manner, you ensure you have the best possible time while leaving nature (and your bones) intact.