3-Person Hammock Stand

Back in 2010, I published some instructions for making a 3-person hammock stand on HammockForums.net. I’ve updated the illustrations and information and am posting it here for easier access. 


I’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to find a great hammock stand for my tree-less backyard and at events (e.g. car camping, music festivals, Boy Scout camporees) when or where trees are not available. Having a stand that travels well (portable), is easy to assemble, and doesn’t cost a fortune are also bonuses.

Enter the 3-person hammock stand.

This is not my own design, but it is inspired from a tensegrity stand used during the 1998 Burning Man event. Seeing the hammock between the struts was revalatory, so I had to try it out. I purchased everything at Home Depot for under $40, well under the “too expensive” radar1. Construction was fairly easy, but did require a drill and a few drill bits for the holes.

Materials

QTY Description Unit Cost (est.) Total (est.)
3 2 × 3 × 8 studs (the struts) $1.50 $4.50
6 3 ft (1 m) rebar (the stakes) $1.35 $8.10
1 2 ft × 0.5 in (61 × 1.25 cm) hardwood dowel (the pegs) $3.00 $3.00
6 2 in (5 cm) steel O-rings (to minimize abrasion on stakes) $3.00 $3.00
~250 ft (76 m) Rope/line (I purchased three 100 ft (30.5 m) of 3/8 in (1 cm) poly rope in different colors for a total of 300 ft (92 m) $8.00 $24.00
TOTAL US$42.60

NOTE: Instead of poly rope, which I found to stretch a little, you could use some 7/64 Amsteel for increased strength, lower weight and bulk, and virtually no stretch. Consider using 6 welded steel O-rings (or climbing-rated carabiners) to protect cords from abrasion against the rebar.

Construction

YATS-set-up

Drill two 1 in (2.5 cm) holes on the top of each strut, spaced 1 in (2.5 cm) apart vertically, and 1 in (2.5 cm) from the top edge).

Drill one 1 in (2.5 cm) hole near the bottom of the strut, 1 in (2.5 cm) from the bottom edge.

After building the stand, I realized I needed better anchor points for the hammock so I drilled a hole (1/2 in/13 mm) near the two top holes where I placed a 4 in (10 cm) dowel. You can add anchor points further down the strut to better accommodate your hammock. I ended up adding a second anchor point at 4.5 ft (137 cm) from the bottom of the strut.

Rope Assembly

The top rope is one line, 50 ft (15.25 m) in length. Once set-up, it creates a triangle with approximately 14 ft (4.3 m) sides.

Cut 3 bottom ropes at 33 ft (10 m) each (e.g., cut a 100 ft (30 m) line in thirds).

Cut 3 side ropes at 33 ft (10 m) each (e.g., cut a 100 ft (30 m) line in thirds).

SET-UP

  1. Set up the stakes in a hexagon shape. The radius should be 14 ft (4.3 m). The easiest way to do this is to have two 14 ft (4.3 m) strings. From the center point, measure out for your first stake point with the first string. From there, use the second string from the first stake and the string from the center point to determine the next stake point. Use this pattern to determine the six stake points.
  2. Tie off the side and bottom ropes. Middle the ropes and insert the bight through the bottom or second-to-top hole respectively and tie a Lark’s Head knot to secure.
  3. Thread the top rope through the top holes. Pull the rope to take up the slack and the stand will rise. I tied a figure-8 on a bite on one end and used this as the anchor point to tie a Trucker’s hitch to get the structure taut.

I made some minor tweaking in the knots to make sure the posts were at a near 60-degree angle.

Take-Down

This hammock stand comes down quickly once you loosen the Trucker’s hitch. With the top rope loosened, the rest of the ropes are easily unhooked from the rebar stakes.

After the initial set-up, I leave all the ropes connected to the posts. This allows for a quicker set-up next time.

Getting the rebar stakes out is the hardest part, depending on the ground conditions. Use a pair of vice grip locking pliers to twist the stake around and then it easily comes out of the ground.

Pros

  • Easy to construct
  • Lighter
  • Portable
  • Inexpensive
  • Sturdy
  • Up to 3 hammocks supported

Cons

  • Large footprint
  • Not free standing (must be anchored)

3-person-hammock-stand-tarp

  1. This is a great price, considering most commercial stands range anywhere from $60 to $200 or more

  59 comments for “3-Person Hammock Stand

  1. Colton Campbell
    April 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    This is a testy reply! This would be a neat project!

    • Derek
      April 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      It’s fun! In my backyard, we built a small fire in the middle and enjoyed resting in our hammocks while enjoying the warmth (be careful not to make it TOO big or risk a melt-down).

  2. April 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Looks great and I will have to try this at the next Cub and Family Weekend. Thank You Good Sir

    • Derek
      April 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      One of the reasons I love the 3-person hammock stand is because it works so well at scout camporees. Back in Virginia, all our camporees were held in large fields, and every troop and pack (on Webelos Weekends) were assigned a plot. This stand makes an impressive show during inspections and draws a great crowd.

  3. Lilprincess
    April 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    A test reply, but last year we did this for our three boys. A great set up!

    • Derek
      April 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Sweet! I’d love to see photos — would you mind sharing some?

  4. John
    April 5, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Love the blog AND your book! What’s your thoughts on using just two for a single hammock “hang”?

    • Derek
      April 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Thanks John! Yes, it is possible. In fact, that’s exactly how the Handy Hammock is designed. I’ll have to give it a try with my current stand and see how it works…

  5. April 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    In GA if you can get that stake in the ground to almost 3 feet you’ll never get it back out. Permanent part of your yard. :)

  6. Bill
    April 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Made this today with two scouts. Was a great easy project.
    About an hour from home depot to hammock stand.
    My Suggestions….
    Cut all ropes to size. the long lengths made it too off set. Two separate bottom ropes.
    Amsteel….. Made mine with Poly. Way too much stretch (my 220lbs probably didn’t help much).

    • Derek
      April 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Great suggestions, Bill. I’m glad the designed worked. Paul at AHE recently made one with Amsteel 7/64 with success. I’m going to pick me up some Amsteel and upgrade my stand soon.

    • Bill
      July 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      I have now gone to mule tape for ropes. 1800# strength. And little to no stretch.

  7. Brigham
    May 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Hi,
    I was wondering what type of knots you used to connect the rope to the poles and to the stakes.

    • Derek
      May 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      I list the knots and techniques under the “setup” section.

      For the bottom rope you can tie figure-8 on a bight on both ends and leave them alone. The side struts can require some adjustment depending on what rope you use, so using an adjustable knot like a taut line hitch or truckers hitch is nice. After I set mine up the first time I left the side and bottom ropes attached, which makes setup faster.

      • brigham
        May 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

        Thank you.

  8. Bryan
    July 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Used your instructions here and in your book to make one this weekend. After a little trial and error adjusting rope lengths and strut distances, I successfully hung two hammocks and enjoyed a Sunday afternoon hang with my brother-in-law. I agree with you and Bill on the cordage suggestions. Amsteel would be ideal, but poly rope is cheap and works. I used a poly blend but it is very stretchy. Also, I had to use a trucker’s hitch, rather than two half hitches, on the side ropes, because the two half hitches kept slipping when I entered the hammock. Currently, I’m not using the anchor point pegs, rather I’m just wrapping my suspension straps multiple times around the struts. Do the pegs add any benefit other than convenience (i.e. safety)? Also, thanks for suggesting the different types of knots you used. Very helpful.

    • Derek
      July 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Bryan! I made a new stand last month for my brother. It was an interesting exercise to make another one and I seeing what changes/updates I could make. The steel O-rings around the rebar stakes really worked well. We didn’t add the anchor pegs/dowels on the struts at all — just wrapping the webbing around the posts worked well enough. It’s more of a convenience factor. On my stand, I had adjustable Whoopie Slings that wrapped around the posts and pegs, making it easy on/off.

      That poly rope is very stretchy. When we first set up his stand we had to adjust every strut at least 3 times :) Like you, I had trucker’s hitches on all the vertical cables and the top cable. Once it was ratcheted down, it worked great and we had a nice time relaxing.

    • Derek
      July 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Oh, I should also mention the different knots we used. For the side ropes (yellow), instead of 6 different cords, I used 3. I tied a Lark’s Head through the wood strut and then threaded the working ends through the steel O-rings that were around the rebar stakes. In this way, I could tie Trucker’s Hitches on the lines easily. The Lark’s Head worked great and didn’t slip.

      This small change in the design meant less cutting and knot tying and a more secure stand, I believe. I’ll see if I have photos I can post.

      • Derek
        July 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm

        Here’s some photos of the stand I recently made, showing details of the changes.

        • Bryan
          July 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm

          Def like the o-ring concept….nice little mod. About what length is your single yellow side rope (30ish ft)?

          • Derek
            July 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm

            Yes. So the side and bottom ropes we cut in thirds. The rope was 100 ft so that comes out to roughly 33 ft each. Plenty of extra length for the knots.

  9. john
    August 23, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Derek,
    We set this stand up at the Ommegang beer festival last month and I have 2 questions. How important is the 60 degree angle and should the top rope remain taut when the stand is weighted. We found that the top of the 2x4s moved toward the middle of the stand when weighted. No failures or falls but that played havoc with our tarps and ridge lines. Any thoughts?

    • Derek
      August 23, 2013 at 11:38 am

      The 60-degree angle on the struts is optimal for stress reduction and to help ensure that the strut receives the most compressive forces. However, it’s an approximate, so you can be flexible.

      The biggest factor with the sagging struts and lines is the type of rope you use. I offered up what I used, the poly rope, but it is stretchy, especially when you load it with a few people. This can make the stand flex a little. I usually have to sit in the stand, and then re-tighten the ropes a few times to get the stretch out.

      It’s not ideal with that rope, however. I should update the instructions and recommend (if I don’t already) other types of rope that are less stretch prone. One of my friends made one out of Amsteel, which won’t have those issues.

      • Chris
        August 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm

        Derek,
        What is the function of the top rope, and why is 60° optimal?

        • Derek
          August 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm

          The top rope is absolutely essential. Without it, the stand won’t stand up. The top rope keeps all the struts together by keeping tension on all the struts.

          What you are attempting to create is an equilateral triangular pyramid, or tetrahedron. With all the angles at 60-degrees, it forms a very strong structure, equalizing the forces across all components. When you change the angles of the struts, you could compromise the effectiveness of the compression, so that the struts receive some bending forces (that could be bad).

      • David Todd
        November 14, 2014 at 2:32 am

        I’ve built this design many times and have used it here in Hawaii where I live and I’ve built it at Burning man as well. It’s great and Iove it, but the issue always comes down to the covering. I’ve used sheets, but they’re not rain proof, I’ve used tarps, but they don’t come in the right sizes and they are noisy with the wind, Also I can’t keep the rain from dumping in the middle. I’m trying to design a covering to cover all three hammocks and the area in the middle to keep the area dry. I thought about using one pole in the middle, but would still need to design a good cover. Any Ideas

  10. October 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Going to build one of these this weekend for a Cub Scout campout. is the size of the struts (2″ x 3″ by 8 feet) essential to the design? Can I use 8-foot long 2x4s?

    • Derek
      October 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      You can use 2x4s or other hardware as needed. This was just what I used. The folks whose stand I based my design from used much larger beams as struts. I was trying to find something as light and portable as possible to use at scout camporees. Please share photos of your set-up at the campout! I’d love to see them.

    • Bill
      October 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      I have used 2×4’s. Just check the rope lengths. I think they are long. I had to shorten.

  11. Capt. Doug
    February 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Derek first let me thank you for this sight and your book both are fantastic.
    I just built one on in my back yard to test for an upcoming scout camp out…very cool I weigh in at about 255 and once adjusted it doesn’t move at all..
    A couple of questions.
    Can you tell me how far the feet should be from the center point and each other….I seem to have a lot of rope left on the base ( green ) ropes.
    And a comment….I put a truckers hitch on each of the Yellow ropes to get some leverage on tightening them. I did an eye splice on the tops of the yellow ropes as well as one end of the blue…

    • Capt. Doug
      February 2, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Derek
      Disregard my questions I just found that the length for the ropes on a different sight….had myself and 2 kids hanging in the back yard and it never budged…

    • Derek
      February 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I’d love to see some photos of your finished stand. I’m glad it was working for you!

  12. Jim Boggs
    February 8, 2014 at 10:40 am

    If you put a central post in the middle, could you also hang three more hammocks in the center?

    • Derek
      February 8, 2014 at 10:53 am

      First, I don’t think the distances will be long enough. Second, that center post would need to be anchored to the ground somehow, or if it was a post cemented deep in the ground. Otherwise, I don’t believe it would work.

  13. Brian
    February 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Could this design be opened up to allow for 4 people (enough for my whole family)? I assume by adding a fourth stud. Thanks.

    • Derek
      February 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Possibly. A triangle is sturdier and equalizes better, especially when not equally loaded. It’s worth experimenting, but there might be a better solution. The footprint would also be larger. I’d probably go with a modified turtle/dog stand by lashing a square with tripods under each vertex.

  14. April 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Derek, phenomenal setup! We plan on making a few of these to use at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival this year. Got a few questions for yah:

    * Would it be better to cut the struts on an angle at the bottom so they sit flush with the ground?
    * Also, to fit this rig in my car could I cut the struts down to two 4.5ft sections and bolt them together?

    See Image: http://i.imgur.com/yEEvSVS.png

    • Derek
      April 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks Ryan. There is no need to cut the struts. The struts are taking compressive forces, driving them into the ground. As to cutting the struts in half and using a coupler, my inner risk meter begins to rise. The segments introduce a weak point that may fail. On this stand, since the load is not symmetric, the struts get pulled at different angles, which will stress those joints.

      If it were me, I’d just strap the three 2x4s on top of my car. If you are intent on constructing something, I would consult an engineer.

  15. Paul
    April 21, 2014 at 9:08 am

    This is a great jig, Derek! I built just one strut this weekend and attached it to my clothesline with poly rope. Very solid! I have a question for you. Is there any reason why we couldn’t use a single rope (66 feet) for the bottom and sides ropes? You could tie a lark’s head around the top of the strut in the middle of the rope and then just string each side around the rebar and tie a single trucker’s hitch somewhere along the bottom near the strut. I’m going to finish stand (build the other two struts) this week and may try this unless you advise against it.

    • Derek
      April 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      If I understand correctly, the answer is yes. I need to update this post because the last two stands I’ve made were simplified a little. For each strut I used a single line for the side and bottom ropes and middled them and used a larks head knot to attach to the strut. I also use steel rings on the rebar to prevent abrasion. Truckers hitch to tighten.

  16. Celly
    May 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Derek: This looks intriguing. It looks like most of your hammocks are hanging a fair distance from the top of the struts. Has anyone ever asked you about using shorter struts? Like maybe 7 foot or 6 foot struts? Presumably, you could move your ground anchors in a little (maybe closer to 12 or 13 feet rather than 14 feet) and reduce the lengths of the side and bottom ropes. I haven’t done the math, but presumably, if you keep the struts in the same locations, but just lop a foot or two off the top, you should be able to keep the angles all the same by moving the ground anchors in toward the center by a corresponding distance (and shortening the ropes correspondingly).

    Have you had any issues with abrasion on the top rope? I know you mentioned others using 7/64 Amsteel. It would seem like Amsteel (and other rope) would get torn up every time you raised or lowered this stand. Are you sanding out the top holes? I’m wondering if an eye bolt with lag screw threads (drilled into the “inner” side or the top end of the strut) would relieve the abrasion issue (if it is an issue).

    • Derek
      May 5, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Celly: you can construct the stand with shorter struts and tendons. The advantage (perhaps) of what I’m illustrating is how little construction and extra hardware is needed. I think to avoid abrasion on the top strut I would recommend using some webbing loops and carabiners on each strut that the top rope is threaded through. There are lots of ways to spice it up and customize it :)

  17. Megan
    June 9, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I recently made this hammock for mysteryland which is a music festival upstate New York and it was amazing. We set it up before hand in my back yard in order to measure out the ropes and make sure it would all work out. We made a few adjustments with the rebars. We had some trouble keeping the ropes from slipping up the rebars so I searched in my she’s for something we could use as a stopper, the only thing I could find were some clips and hose clamps. We tightened the clamps 3/4 of the way up the rebars and clipped the clips from the ropes that belonged on each rebar to below the clamps in order to stop it from slipping up or having the ropes rub on the semi sharp part of the clamp. This made set up even easier then it had been before as well. Since the ropes were already measured out, it took maybe 10 minutes at the most to set the whole thing up once we got to the festival. It survived the 4 days an got a lot of compliments from everyone. We put pool noodles on the stakes in order to avoid any injurys and the tents we had fit well inbetween the stakes in order to keep us within out limited amount of space.The top lines also doubled as clothes lines since it rained heavily the second day n soaked through everything. I have nothin but good to say about this set up and the only this I regret not doing was getting the rings because I can see slight wear on the top rope just from people constantly getting on and off. Thank you so much for this plan! I have a few pictures if you’d like them!

    • Derek
      June 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Awesome!! Yes, I’d love to see some photos. Curious, did you angle the rebar stakes away from the posts at an angle? I’ve never had slippage issues like you describe when I do this. The rings help a lot. Did you also tie a larks head at the strut on both the side and bottom ropes?

      • Megan
        August 3, 2014 at 7:51 pm

        The website won’t let me post pictures here but I’ll try emailing them. Rebars may have been at a bad angle so I’ll have to try that next time and definitely will be investing in some rings. I saw the most wear on the top ropes from people constantly getting on and off

  18. Ian
    August 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    what length should the side ropes be? Fiddling around with rolling hitches we found that 9′ bottom and 10′ sides seemed to work best, but with poly rope we got some slippage under load. I think figure 8 knots to a set side might be best and do all the tension on the top rope. (logically I would think 8′ would be the right size for each of the outer ropes but this doesn’t seem to give the right 60 degree angle.)

  19. Joe
    August 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Someone mentioned modifying this for 4 people, but I am wondering about 5. Has anyone given that a try? I this would make a great Webelos project/camp-site!

    • Joe
      August 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      After thinking about this for a little while it seems that the equilateral triangles are pretty key to this. That said, what if you used two of these together to provide for a 6-person hang?

      • Derek
        August 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        For multiple folks I’d recommend building a series of tripod bases with ridge poles connecting. It’s easily expandable and very sturdy. If you live close to a grove of bamboo, they make for cheap renewable yet sturdy poles.

        • Joe
          August 6, 2014 at 11:28 am

          That makes sense, Derek. I guess I was really liking the coolness factor of this set-up, so maybe I’ll do both. By the way, I happen to live in southeastern Louisiana and we have a lot of Bamboo down here. Do you think I could swap out the 2×3 boards with some 3″ diameter bamboo?

          • Derek
            August 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm

            I suppose. You may have to lash out guy points as drilling holes in the bamboo may not be structurally sound.

        • John Sanders
          August 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

          Derek, I built this last year and have upgraded this year to amsteel. I made adjustable loops on either end of thirty feet of amsteel and use a larkshead at the middle for the bottom ropes and side ropes. I think those are too long (or my adjustable loops are too short). When tightened up what does the length of these ropes end up at. Any suggestion for tensioning the top rope with amsteel. Does a trucker’s hitch still make sense? Or would an adjustable loop (giant whoopie sling) make sense? With the poly rope I used last year everything stretched and we had to keep adjusting the whole set up.

          • Derek
            August 7, 2014 at 6:36 am

            I haven’t done the stand with Amsteel, but I want to. I think big Whoopie Slings would probably work, but you could probably get away with a trucker’s hitch. Amsteel is notoriously slippery, so test first.

  20. John Sanders
    August 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Derek, I think I solved the bottom and side rope issue and the stand set up nicely today. Still worried about tensioning the top rope but I might try a couple different options and practice my trucker’s hitch.

  21. Clark Griswold
    October 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    What is the length between struts? My hammock needs more than 12ft of spread to hang correctly.

    • Derek
      October 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Twelve feet? You must he hanging a mayan! :) Awesome. The length of the stand can be adjusted by lengthening the inner triangle. You’ll have to make some new calculations, but it will work.

  22. Bill Whittlesey
    October 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I wanted to report my first failure with this stake and support pole system. Instead of using the three person stand set up, I used on support pole, and a tree for the other side (due to no good hanging trees).
    I used too short of a rope to go to the upper part of my support pole. The up pulling direction pulled the rope up off of my stake (which was re-bar). It makes a very rude wake up at 1:30 am when you hit the ground.
    To avoid this mistake: Use longer support lines and lay your steaks back a little. Maybe even tie a knot on the stake to make the slide up harder.

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