Can you extend the length of your hammock straps?
Yes, you can connect two hammock straps. All hammock straps have loops on each end of the individual straps. You will use a lark’s head knot to connect the straps. The most challenging part is the distance between the trees – if the trees are further apart, you will need to hang your straps higher.
Hammock camping is fantastic. There are so many benefits to hanging from a tree instead of sleeping on the ground. The only thing is you need trees – good, healthy trees. You also need to have trees that are relatively close together in order to achieve a successful hang. Those of you who have tried hammock camping out in sparse woods know what I’m talking about. When you don’t have trees close enough together for a proper hammock set-up, it can cause quite the headache. So let’s take some time to talk about the pros and cons of this situation and what to do when you can’t find trees that are close enough together.
The other issue you may run into is that the trees that you choose are very large in diameter and take up a lot of your strap length. Adding an extension to your hammock will likely be needed. Hammock straps come in varying lengths and you will need to be prepared ahead of time with the proper length. Keep in mind that the circumference of a 12-inch diameter tree will take up a little over 3 feet of length on your straps. Double that for each additional foot of diameter.
Should you connect your straps?
Sometimes you will need to connect two sets of straps, but the important thing to keep in mind is to do it safely. There a couple things to consider and do before you connect straps:
- Inspect your straps: Are the straps you want to use too old and worn? Inspecting the straps you intend to use before your trip ensures that they are in good condition when you need them. If your straps are old, worn, cut, or frayed in any way, you might not want to use them and go buy a new set of straps.
- Be aware of the max weight rating of your straps: For safety, and so you don’t end up on the ground in the middle of the night, you will want to check the maximum weight rating on all of your straps. I would not ever recommend attaching a higher rated weight strap to a lower rated weight strap. If in doubt, always be conservative and go with the lowest weight rating. Yes, I realize that this seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at how easily this can be overlooked.
What to do when your hammock straps are too short
I know I am always talking about how great hammocks are and how easy they are to use. I even detail my love-affair with them and how I get the best night’s sleep ever in my hammock. Unfortunately, even hammocks have some drawbacks. Still, I feel that even though hammocks come with some issues, they are still a better option for me when compared to sleeping on the ground in a tent.
So you found two lovely trees, but they are spaced too far apart and your straps aren’t long enough. We have all been there. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to make an educated decision (hopefully with the help of this post) whether or not to extend your straps. There are some things that you need to be aware of before you make the decision to connect your straps.
When the distance between the trees increases, the height of your strap placement will also need to increase. You always want to try to get the perfect hang at 30 degrees. If the space between the trees is large, this will only be possible if you secure your straps higher up on the trunk of the trees.
For shorter guys like me, you may not be able to achieve the 30 degrees hang angle due to not being able to reach high enough to secure your straps safely. If you are tall and around 6’ 6,” then you will probably be able to reach as high as you need. Maybe. Well, Chris, can’t you just have a tighter hang? Yes, you can, but you might not have the comfort you desire. It’s all a game of give and take. You win some and you lose some. Just some things to be aware of.
How to extend your hammock straps
Be sure that you read this post in its entirety so you know how to select the proper trees, find the right spacing, and ensure your straps are safe to connect. Now, on to the actual “how to” portion of this whole spiel. You know…what you came for.
The way to properly connect your straps is using a basic knot, the lark’s head knot. If you aren’t the best at following text instructions like me, don’t worry. I have visual instructions below as well.
If you learn better through a video I have the video below to show you how to tie the larks head knot with hammock straps. The only difference is instead of wrapping it around a tree you wrap it around the loop of your second hammock strap.
Every strap has loops on each end. Take the two strap ends and open up one end of a strap.
Take the second strap and feed the end through the loop end of strap one.
Then hold strap one in your hand while holding the part of strap two that has been fed through strap one
Open up the loophole of strap two
Take the other end of strap two
Feed the other end of strap two through the open loop of strap two and pull it through the entire way until the strap has no more to pull.
Pull both strap one and two firmly making sure there are no twists in the lark’s head knot.
Once secured, you are ready to use your new extra long hammock strap
Now we need to address the other essential pieces of the puzzle when considering connecting two sets of hammock straps. Don’t skip this!
Finding the right set of trees
There are a few possible scenarios you can run into where you find yourself needing to extend the length of your straps in order to reach your chosen trees. So I thought it might be wise to take a minute to explain the basics of finding the right trees and the spacing of the trees. Just because two trees are close together doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to hang from them. Let me get into finding the right and wrong trees to hang from.
If you are new to hammock camping and have no idea how to safely identify good, solid, healthy trees for your set-up, I dedicated an entire post finding ideal trees and went much more in-depth in that post – 12 Tips for Choosing Trees for Hanging Your Hammock
If you aren’t interested in the nitty gritty of finding the proper trees, the rest of this post will give you the basics.
The right trees:
You want to look for strong, healthy trees. It’s tempting to pick the biggest one you can find, but that’s not always the way to go. Remember, you have to wrap your straps around that big ol’ tree trunk, and by doing so, you are sacrificing the strap length that you hope to hang from. If you do find a big tree and it’s the only ideal tree to use, there will need to be another tree relatively close by. The second tree will need to be closer than the typical 6 paces away, so you will still have enough strap length for your hammock set-up.
The method I use to find the proper trees (get ready because this is revelational) is by hugging them. Literally. I look for trees that I can hug. Now, I’m not saying I’m just going around in the woods and hugging trees to see if they will work because that would just be crazy. Wrapping your arms around a tree gives you a good idea of what size tree trunk you are looking for. If my fingers can touch anywhere between my elbows to my wrists, I know that a particular tree, assuming it’s also healthy, is an excellent tree to choose. I do go smaller sometimes, but you want to make sure the tree strong enough to hold you.
Don’t pick a sapling. Please don’t choose a sapling for its safety and your own. If you can shake the tree, walk away. You will end up hurting yourself as well as the tree. Trust me and just hug the trees. It works. Once you hang your hammock a couple of times, you will know the right tree size for your needs.
My post: Do Camping Hammocks Harm Trees? Goes into detail about how to maintain good tree health while hammock camping.
The wrong trees:
Hammock camping can potentially be dangerous if you’re not smart about it. If you choose a dead or too small of a tree, you could end up having part or a whole tree fall on you.
Another thing to look for is dead branches. Widow-makers. Don’t be fooled if you see a bunch of strong branches in the same tree as a few big dead ones. If you see a mix of living and dead branches in one tree, it’s not a good pick. The weather is always changing and those branches could break off, fall, and hit you, or worse. It’s just not worth the risk. Always make sure to take a good look at any tree you see as a potential candidate. Hopefully, there are enough trees in the woods to choose from. I’d rather sleep on the ground than hang from a dead tree. It’s not worth the risk and I would advise you to do the same.
When you inspect a tree for safety, don’t just look up at the branches in the tree. It’s equally important to look at the health of the bark. If the bark is falling off the trunk, it means that the tree is likely infested with some kind of pest feasting upon the wood internally and is probably rotten inside. If the bark is healthy, then you want to look at things growing around, on, or climbing up the tree.
The last thing you want to do is be hugging on a tree that is covered in poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. Inspect the tree before you do my recommended hugging method. I will not be held responsible for any itchy rashes that result due to failure in proper inspection of candidate trees. One thing to note is that poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all tend to climb trees. These are not to be confused with the harmless Virginia Creeper.
Know your plants and how to identify them. Plant identification, specifically the harmful ones, is one of the things that I taught my young sons about being out in the woods right from the get-go. Here are some pictures to help you identify poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
You can read here where I discuss correctly identifying poison ivy and poison oak: Poisonous Plants When Hammock Camping: Part One – Identification
Your spacing is the second most important thing once you’ve selected the right trees. You typically want to look for two trees that are about 12-15 feet apart – this is around six paces. A pace is your average walking speed, but only counting every time your right foot touches the ground. You can also use your left foot for pacing. Just be sure that you pick just one foot to count. Anyway, if you walk as you normally would between the two trees, your right foot should touch the ground six times.
It is essential to try to get the right distance, or you will not be able to get a good hang on your hammock. You will probably only need to do this the first few times you set your hammock up. After a while, you will become experienced and will be able to eye-ball your proper tree spacing and distance. If you can’t find spacing of 6 paces between any two trees where you are, this will probably be one of the scenarios that you will need to extend your straps.
So Now You Know How
Hammock camping can be great, but just like tent camping, there can be setbacks when you are trying to find the perfect set-up. Sometimes you just need that extra bit of strap length to make things work. Connecting your hammock straps is a solid option. You just need to make sure you are doing it safely. No matter how excellent hammock camping is, it’s pretty useless without two trees.
I hope you find the perfect hang while you’re outside enjoying The Wanderful Wild.