Simple Hammock Suspension Options using a Continuous Loop

Simple Continuous Loop

The humble continuous loop. You’ve seen them—they’re nearly ubiquitious on hammocks these days, especially simple, gathered-end hammocks, but also all-in-one hammocks with integrated bug netting. Before you toss that small loop away, I want to describe and show some simple hammock suspension options that take advantage of this little workhorse.

Loop Tips (or “Why Use The Loop?”)

I’ve tested many hammocks, and the more I try, the more I’m finding the value in these short rope stubs. In fact, I would argue that these loops offer the greatest versatility for hammock suspension for both beginner and advanced users alike.

The rope loop first offers a basic necessity on Brazilian-style hammocks by gathering up the ends, creating the basic hammock pointed oval (marquise) shape we all know and love.

Tip 1: Avoid the drips

Probably my number one reason for using these loops is to create an attachment point as close to the hammock as possible. In this way, the attachment point is more likely to remain covered by the tarp in the rain, and the attachment can double as a water break or drip line, preventing water from running down the suspension line into the hammock.

Tip 2: The short hang

When circumstances bring you between trees that just barely clear your tarp, you may find your suspension is too long to be useful. In these cases, it’s nice to have a connection point close to your hammock to make hanging your hammock easier.

Tip 3: Quick connect

With the right connection options, such as a Whoopie Hook or Carabiner, a short loop makes quick work of setting up, just “clip” and go. Other hardware options are equally quick to adjust, such as descender rings, cinch buckles, or tri-glide-style devices.

Tip 4: Pimp my hammock

End loops provide maximum modularity options. Without making any changes to the hammock, you can slip on a new suspension option with ease. Quickly slip off a tri-glide in favor of descender rings or another option. Even without hardware, a continuous loop can be used with a few knot options, such as the Becket Hitch.

Tip 5: Sap sidestep

A nasty side-effect of hanging a hammock around trees is getting your suspension soaked in sap. With single-line suspension, such as straps that connect directly around the hammock and then wrap around a tree, you’re literally “stuck” with sap with no way to keep it away from the hammock. Using a short continuous loop on the hammock, you can easily disconnect a sappy strap and store it separately, if needed.

Tip 6: Under quilt clip

Having a short loop provides a handy clipping point for under quilts. Clip either around the loop or through it for a secure connection.

loop-under-quilt2 loop-under-quilt

I prefer to clip my under quilt clip or hook through the loop for added security.

Tip 7: Hang a pack

To keep my pack off the ground away from the bugs and yet still covered by my tarp, I often clip it to the end of my hammock. I simply insert the pack’s hang loop on the top and insert it through the short hammock loop and use a stick toggle to hold it in place (a mini carabiner also works).

loop-with-backpack

Tip 8: Hammock ridge line

With a short loop on either side of the hammock, you have perfect connection points to add a structural or non-structural ridge line to the hammock. Using 1.75 mm dyneema, you can tie off a ridge line that helps the hammock maintain a consistent sag shape, but also provides a place to clip a gear pocket for storing small items like flash lights, cameras, and phones.

loop-ridge-line

Loop Suspension Options

Toggles (e.g., the Marlinespike Hitch)

Marlinspike Hitch with Toggle

Carabiner (see also Dutch Biners)

loop-16

Descender Rings

loop-3

hammock-suspension-descender-rings hammock-suspension-descender-rings-loosen

For this “wrapped descender ring” version, see my post on no-knots, lighter descender ring suspension.

Cinch Buckles

Cinch Buckle
loop-cinch-buckles

These “triangle” cinch buckles were assembled directly on to the continuous loop, but you can add them separately with a Lark’s Head knot, similar to the other examples shown here.

Whoopie Hook

Whoopie Hook

Elephant Trunk

Elephant Hook

 Eureka! Chrysalis Suspension

Eureka Chrysalis Suspension

Tri-Glide (see also Dutch Buckle)

JRB Tri-Glides

Dutch Buckle

Becket Hitch (see ABOK #1900, aka sheet bend)

Slippery Becket Hitch

The Becket hitch works great (maybe best) with a strap as the suspension line. You can use a modified double Becket Hitch with slippery line like Amsteel so it grips better instead of just slipping through.

Slippery Becket Hitch with Amsteel (Dyneema)

Note: DO NOT USE the Becket hitch with Amsteel/Dyneema on both the end loop and the suspension line. Dyneema is too slippery and will pull through. However, Dyneema with another rope, as in this photo, does work. Be sure to test for slippage prior to going into the field.

Eye on Eye Sling toggle (see ABOK #1494)

loop-11 loop-12 loop-13 Eye to Eye Toggle

Note: This eye on eye toggle also works best with two different types of rope, not Amsteel on Amsteel. However, you can use Amsteel on both the line and loop provided you tie it as illustrated above with the loop pushed through the suspension line, then the suspension line pushed up through the loop to accept the toggle. Stick toggles should be finger size and firm (some wood gets brittle or soft when wet).

 

  30 comments for “Simple Hammock Suspension Options using a Continuous Loop

  1. July 29, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Excellent read thanks lots of ideas there, so I should never come unstuck. (literaly)
    Keep up the great work from an avid follower.

  2. Todd Foster
    August 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Excellent and comprehensive! Thanks. As an old time hammock user, still using my original Hennessey converted to side entry by simply hand ripping the netting out, best for me in Sierra, I’m following your hammock threads with great interest. One day soon I’ll be updating to the latest cottage industry designs. Need much lighter underquilt and rain fly! Meanwhile have added the Dutch hooks and whoopee slings which are better, but you’ve given me a new idea to try, the becket hitch. I guess backpacking hammocks are finally taking off, as they should IMO. Still only specialized sources like yours for info. No mention in Backpacker Magazine usually, just tents and more tents.

    • Derek
      August 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks for your support Todd! One day I may have to convert my Hennessy to have a zippered bug net (the bottom entry gets tiresome). Still, it’s fun to use on occasion. I’ve been testing that Becket Hitch a lot the past few weeks to see what works and what to recommend. Most poly and nylon ropes seem to hold fast and work well. Amsteel, which is a favorite material for hammock hangers, is so slippery that buries, splices, and hardware work the best; however, I have had success with the Becket Hitch with Amsteel if I wrap it 3 times. Let me know if it works for you.

  3. Sarah
    August 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I’m just getting started with hammocks (self and kids). I have your book and appreciate all the good info there and this video as well. I have some 1.9oz ripstop and want to make some hammocks. What kind of rope or cord is used in a channel hammock for the continuous loop? I am thinking of using a polypropylene tree loop, then attaching Amsteel with a loop on the end to the polypropylene tree loop and then using a toggle to attach the other end of the Amsteel to the continuous loop on the hammock like you showed in the video. (but want to avoid the amsteel on amsteel attachment). Thank you.

    • Derek
      August 10, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you, and you’re welcome! If you buy some stock hammocks, like from Grand Trunk, ENO, Hammock Bliss, or Kammock for example, they all come with end loops that work just fine as-is. Some of the techniques I showed in the video may not be the easiest for starting out, but I’m happy you want to try them. For just beginning, I recommend getting a webbing strap that has daisy chain loops sewn in, like the ENO Atlas Straps or the Kammock Python straps. Then, with a carabiner, it’s clip-and-go from the hammock loop to the webbing. No knots to fiddle with or difficult adjustments.

      If you want to DIY, I would probably make a strap with an eye loop on one end and leave the other end open and use the Becket Hitch to tie an adjustment.

      A Becket Hitch on Amsteel with a strap works great too. Let me know if that helps, or if you want anything more specific. Feel free to email me too.

  4. August 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Can you give some recommendations of rope to use to replace rope on my ENO, Grand Trunks and Yukon Bug net hammock for the kids? I like the idea of using a lighter/ stronger NON stretching rope. Any tips would be great.

    • Derek
      August 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      The small loops that come standard with ENO and Grand Trunk shouldn’t stretch too much (I still use mine), but if you want to upgrade them, the only thing I would recommend would be some 7/64 Amsteel loops. One place I know you can purchase them is from Arrowhead Equipment (he calls them “chain links“), but you can also make them.

  5. August 14, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Hi! First of all, I love your site! Secondly, I was hoping maybe you could give me some advice. My best friend is looking for a jungle hammock, but he’s 6’2″ and weighs between 350-400lbs. I’ve tried looking for them online, but it seems the weight limit is usually around 250. He’s trying to find one that will accommodate 600lbs. Do you have any ideas? Thanks, Savannah

    • Derek
      August 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you are finding the site helpful. I’ll give a few thoughts here and then be sure to contact me at theultimatehang@gmail.com and we can chat more specifics.

      Generally speaking when weight limits are mentioned it is referring to safe working load, not breaking strength. This means that the fabric is probably 5 to 10 times stronger than what is listed. This gives a margin of error for unpredictable issues and dynamic forces (getting in/out; swinging, etc). Most hammocks won’t break until more than 1,000 lbs has been loaded.

      That said, there are a few hammocks with a stronger weight limit. And, when you say ‘jungle hammock’ I’m guessing you mean a hammock with a bug net.

      Unless he is concerned with how heavy everything is, you can always buy an external, separate but net that would work on any hammock.

      The Hammock Bliss no see um hammock has a pretty strong weight rating:

      http://hammockbliss.com/no-see-um-no-more

      The Kammok Roo hammocks are reasonably priced and have a strong weight ratio.

      Email me for more examples.

  6. Caleb
    January 7, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I love the idea of the continuous loop. Does a Whoopie Sling attached to the loop with a larks head still provide a water break or does there have to be a piece of hardware in between the two?

    • Derek
      January 7, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Good question, Caleb. I’ve got a “science project” lined up when the temperature warms up to test all the different suspension options under rain conditions to see what water break works the best. From my own experience, I would say that a whoopie sling larked onto a continuous loop wouldn’t do the job as the two hitch too tightly together.

  7. Michael Anderson
    April 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

    What kind of knot do you use to make your continuous loop.

    • Derek
      April 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Double or single fisherman knot.

  8. Kari
    May 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    So… Can I use the Becket hitch with the stock cord and straps in place of the Hennessey lashing? It will hold and not jam?

    • Derek
      May 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      I’ve found that the Becket Hitch works best in the opposite way: use a rope loop on the hammock and use a longer webbing strap and tie a slippery Becket Hitch. This is what I’ve been doing with my Boy Scout Troop with great success. It is easy to untie: simply push back the loop toward the webbing and then pull the slippery hitch back through. No jamming. Tying off a Becket Hitch with the stock rope, especially if you have a Hennessy with the thin spectra line, it can be pretty hard to get it to hold. In my experience, a double Becket Hitch held better.

      What is important here is to make sure the bend will hold. Not all ropes grab well. I wouldn’t recommend this knot with Amsteel; it is just too slippery. Some of the Hennessy ropes are too thin and slippery, so I would gingerly test before applying all my weight.

      My personal preference with the Hennessy Hammocks is to tie a slippery clove hitch onto a climbing carabiner with a safety hitch. It is easy to tie and untie so it helps make adjustments a little quicker, and it doesn’t burn/melt the webbing strap. Send me an email if you want further clarification.

  9. May 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Does anyone have experience using the JRB Tri-Glides like the “Dutch Buckle” (loop over the top, like the photo)? Looks like it might be the lightest “quick” attachment method available. I’m asking because it looks like the “Dutch Buckle” is no longer made.

    • Derek
      May 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      They work great. There are two basic ways folks use them: as a toggle or as an all in one. For an all in one, the webbing is attached to the hammock and the tri-glide is attached. You go around the tree and then feed the working end back through the tri-glide.

  10. Mittagsfrost
    October 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Derek, this article opened my eyes! I can’t wait to test it all. Thank you very much!

    Just a little remark: There’s a broken link. Please change http://www.arrowhead-equipment.com/hammock-suspension.html to
    http://www.arrowhead-equipment.com/store/p372/Cinch_Buckle_Kit.html

    • Derek
      October 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks! I’ll get that fixed. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  11. Nathan
    November 26, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I took about 2 ft of chord (like amsteel) and made a prussic knot on my hennessy expedition suspension rope. Then I hooked a caribiner into the loop end of the prussic knot. The prussic knot could slide along the suspension rope when there was no tension. As soon as tension was applied, it would grab the suspension rope and hold tight. To setup, I wrapped my tree-hugger straps around the tree, hooked my caribiner into them, slid the prussic knot along the suspension cord to tighten. Voila – seconds only to set up. The prussic knots lasted for years.

    Does anyone else have experience with using prussic knots like this?

    • Derek
      November 27, 2014 at 8:31 am

      Great idea! Climbers use prusiks as a self belay device, so what you’re doing isnt uncommon. What’s worrisome is the safety factor. If the prusik were to slip you wouldn’t have a backup. I would also be sure the prusik uses a line safety rated for your weight.

      • Nathan
        November 27, 2014 at 8:46 am

        I never had the prussic slip. After hanging in my hammock, it sometimes took a bit of effort to get it to slide. It really grabs tight. I wrote Tom Hennessy about it a few years ago, and his response was that they thought it too risky from a marketing point of view. I can see that – you want to make sure there is absolutely no way you can get sued. However, like I said, this worked for me for years. My only caution is that you check your prussic rope regularly. Over time it will wear down due to chafing.

        • Derek
          November 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          Yes. That is one of my concerns as well.

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