Hammock Suspension with Descender Rings and Garda Hitch

I recently came across a YouTube video (thanks Eric H.!) that shows how to use descender rings and an easy wrap that makes a quick and secure adjustment without any complicated knots.

Known to climbers as the Garda Hitch, this technique is used to haul gear upward, as it only slides in one direction. This hitch works by pinching the cord tightly as the wraps compress the rings together. I should note that some folks who have used this technique with rope have noted some wear on the rope with repeated use. Like any suspension system, it is always a good idea to inspect your suspension before every hang. This is just one technique in the ever growing hammock suspension tool box.

(UPDATE: I was recently made aware that Amsteel (or other dyneema-based cord) is not recommended with the Garda Hitch because the single braided fibers get separated under compression and lose their structure. This effectively lowers the working load strength and can weaken the suspension. If you use this method, be sure to use the right cordage, such as a sheathed spectra or Titan cord, such as is used on the Hennessy Hammock models.)

I was surprised at how quick it was to create and adjust and how secure it held. The only modification I recommend to this method is to move the descender rings closer to the hammock so the rings double as a drip line. The other benefit is a lower overall weight since you can use less hardware.

hammock-suspension-descender-rings

Materials

Use the following for each side of the hammock.

  • 2 – Aluminum descender rings
  • 1 – continuous loop (for the end of the hammock)
  • 1 – 1.5 in × 4 ft (4 × 123 cm) webbing strap (for around the tree)
  • 1 – 4 ft (123 cm) line (4mm+ rope; length to your choosing)

Sew or tie eye loops on both ends of the webbing strap. On the line (amsteel), splice or tie an eye loop on one end, and leave the other end open. The continuous loop attaches to the end of the hammock (either through the end channel or around a whipped end). The descender rings are attached to the continuous loop.

By having the descender rings near the end of the hammock, and therefor covered by the tarp, the rings act as a water break in case of water flowing down the suspension line.

The rope is fed through the two loops and wrapped twice around both loops. A third wrap is made only around one loop. This allows you to easily tighten and adjust the suspension.

hammock-suspension-descender-rings-loosen

To release the tension, slide the rings apart, and the rope will come loose.

 

  19 comments for “Hammock Suspension with Descender Rings and Garda Hitch

  1. jaydub
    August 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    This looks 100x easier than whoopie slings.

    • Derek
      August 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      Yes! It uses less rope/line as well, so it could have a net loss in weight and bulk. However, be warned that this hitch can crush the fibers in Amsteel to where it can fail. At least this is what my friends have told me. I haven’t seen any data or heard of any formal tests, but I trust them. Please stay safe!

      • jaydub
        August 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm

        You may have touched on this in the video but I didn’t see it (space cadet). But do you recommend any of the rings over the others? Do any work better? Or is it simply a matter of weight/preference? Further, how small can you go with the rings?

        I have whoopie slings on my eno doublenest, and they are fine but honestly I find them ever so slightly difficult to tighten satisfactorily. I don’t think that would be a problem with this system. Also it looks simpler. I like simple.

        • Derek
          August 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm

          I purposely didn’t recommend any one ring style over another, but was just showing the difference in weight. The other factor to consider is safety load strength. So long as the rings are rated to a satisfactory load limit, they should be fine.

          I’m with you on simple. The Garda Hitch is pretty cool, but it does pose a problem with certain cordage because of how tightly it compresses the rope. My friends (who are much smarter than I am) recommend avoiding Amsteel with the Garda Hitch because it could drastically weaken the fibers. Using different rope should be less of an issue, but as always, inspect your suspension lines and don’t hang any higher than you care to fall :)

      • Lenny Griggs
        September 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

        Lately I have been using a single SMC Decender ring hanging on the knot of the Marlin Spike Hitch. Adjustability would be easier with the Garth Hitch though, but, not by much time or effort. Beauty of both is able to adjust if trees are a shorter distance. Another great idea, need to buy 2 more SMC’s!!

  2. September 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Just tried this with 1 in webbing. The garda hitch worked wonderfully well and was really easy to do. I have an ENO and took off the ‘biners and replaced them with the descender rings so I could adjust height and evenness easier. They held tight with the hitch and I was swinging and bouncing. Thank you!

    • Derek
      September 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad it is working! Straps should be just perfect with this hitch method.

  3. Josh
    September 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I will say it for Derek…hehe. Get the ones he is using, SMC Descender rings, couple bucks each. They don’t have a logo. SMC makes another ring that is fatter but smaller and those do not work. Omega ones dont work either.

    I have used Amsteel in this setup, and yah it compresses the fibers too much….it works, but not the same lifespan. You can just substitute 1 inch poly webbing for the Amsteel….it won’t be a Garda Hitch, just a simpler hitch that you can secure with a safety knot if you wish.

    • September 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Yes, the Omega rings do not work. I woke up almost touching the ground. I will now go and purchase the SMC Descender rings. Thanks for the clarification. :)

      • Remy
        September 12, 2014 at 2:01 am

        Nearly a year later with my reply, but anyways… You can very easily secure the Garda Hitch with a simple slipknot (slippery half hitch)…

  4. David Spratt
    September 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    What is the size of the smallest rings in the video-8 grams? Will they work on the Garda Hitch? What is the weight limit of these and where can I get them if they do work?

    • Derek
      September 19, 2013 at 6:39 am

      The smallest were 1-inch steel rings from Handy Hammock in the UK. I believe they are rated over 400 lbs. I found similar rings at my local hardware store, but if you want these, I would contact Jason at Handy Hammock.

      • David Spratt
        September 19, 2013 at 7:47 am

        Thanks. Might as well use less weight instead of more.

  5. David Spratt
    October 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Will Dynaglide work with the Garda Hitch or will it crush the fiber as with the Amsteel?

    • Derek
      October 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      I can’t say definitively. I’m actually going to do some strength testing on these and see what the failure point is, particularly on Amsteel.

  6. Micah
    June 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Welded 316 stainless steel o rings (4mm x 25mm) have a break strength of just over 1600lbs. go to a 5mm ring and you double the strength. You can buy these on ebay for about $1.50 each including shipping in lots of 5 or ten, or from any number of specialty shops. They are marine grade used in sailboats all the time for high tension dynamic loads. They stand up to serious abuse, don’t rust or pit, and are way lighter than SMC decenders. Mind you I wouldn’t repel using them, but perfect for hammocks.

  7. eb
    July 31, 2014 at 11:50 am

    How about removing/loosening the rings? I pull my line to max tension/tightness. It looks like it would be tough to undo without having any slack to give back, yes?

    • Derek
      July 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      All you have to do is slide the rings in opposite directions. But now I must ask, why are you making your suspension so tight? What hammock are you using?

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