Hammock Suspension Kit for New Hangers

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45 Responses

  1. Tim Bowman says:

    Could you include more pictures or drawings as to how these new items work?

  2. Sarah says:

    Awesome info!, my Friends always mock me for having too many Hammocks, but one can never have enough hammocks!!

  3. jotm says:

    Great line-up, but are you sure mixing up load/weight and mass didn’t cause glitches in the specifications mentioned in the article?

    For example: the Ticket to the Moon website states “Each cord can hold the maximum hammock weight of 440lbs/200kg”, whereas you state “200 lbs (91 kg) safe working load”.

    (based on a suspension angle of 30°, a certain hammock weight will cause the same load on each suspension, as you pointed out on the page about the hammock calculator – I would expect that the manufacturers of hammock suspensions do not mean them to be loaded vertically only and that they know a 440 lbm / 200 kg mass (440 lbf weight) in the hammock will cause approx 440 lbf / 1.96 kN load on each suspension)

    It’s the same for the other suspensions.

    By the way, SWL (safe working load) is a deprecated designation in the world of lifting equipment and has predominantly been replaced by WLL (working load limit) [http://www.irata.org/uploads/healthandsafety/WLLSWL.pdf].

    • Derek says:

      I may need to update my word choice. I did use the weight recommendations from the manufacturers but these numbers are not the breaking strength, they are the “working load limit” per strap.

      • Andy says:

        So if straps are rated at 200lbs does that mean the load is divided between the two straps equally-ish whch means the limit is really 400lbs (depending on how central the hammock is hung and where in the hammock the load is placed)?

        • Derek says:

          Andy, you’re pretty close. There are two basic forces at work: gravity and tensile force from the trees/anchor points. Mass can be divided equally between points but you also need to add the tensile forces, which change depending on the angle of the hang. Let’s take a 200 lbs base weight in a hammock with a 30-degree angle. The weight is 100 lbs per side plus 100 lbs tensile force per side. This equals 200 lbs per side. It sounds remarkable but it is true. I’m going to post a video soon where I show real life examples using scales on each side of the hammock. It’s remarkable. For more info, check out my hang calculator http://theultimatehang.com/hammock-hang-calculator/ or my silly video preview where I show the scales http://theultimatehang.com/2013/10/super-secret-hammock-lab/

        • Derek says:

          The rating is working load limit. The breaking point is much higher.

          • Andy says:

            Ok so the short question is; I weigh 220lbs and my Hennessy is rated for 300lbs will 200lb straps handle the job or not?

          • Derek says:

            I would use 1.5-inch to 2-inch wide straps. The breaking strength for those straps is much higher, in the neighborhood of 2,000 lbs. If the straps are the stock straps from Hennessy, than they should be fine (they usually pair the straps with the hammock; thinner straps with lower-rated hammocks).

            The 1.5 inch polyester straps from StrapWorks are rated at 1,600 lbs working load and 4,800 breaking strength. Plenty good.

  4. jotm says:

    PS looking at a peculiar invention from the UK I was wondering: would a sling dig into the bark of a tree, when 5-tonne ratchets are used to bring a group hammock on tension? [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqImIChxJ-E / http://www.tentsile.com/ ] NB I have no connection whatsoever to this company, I am just a puzzled bystander :-/

    • Derek says:

      I’d love to try one if these tentsile tents. It uses very wide straps (which is good) and is more like slack lining than the hammock suspension we typically deal with. Large, strong anchors are a must as is a large hang area. Not ideal for some places. If it were me, I would recommend adding a foam pad behind/under the strap for additional tree protection. This is what slack liners do.

  5. Brad Camp says:

    Great review. I am still fairly new to ham mocking but I have been reading up on it for about a year now. I see the plethora of ways to hang a hammock and I’m excited but sometimes, I just want it to hang up. I have found that the webbing straps (Atlas straps in particular) have been the easiest to deal with as a newbie. I think you hit this nail on the head. I will continue to try out other hanging systems for fun, but until I get the hang of those, the chain web strap is the way to go!
    Thanks

    • Derek says:

      Thanks Brad. There are always trade-offs, and as you get more experience you may find that one method suits you better than another, or some factor is more important (weight, speed, bulk, etc.).

  6. Ash aka Tom says:

    Good post, I went with the Python Strap as I’ve seen some of my coworkers butts sag to the ground in the heat. A tip for any MIL hammockers – pick up an extra 3″ adjustable cobra belt, pretty cheap on base or online. You can use it as a wrap on a slick tree (I have no idea what it is but it is but the bark is slippery) and it works great on trailers, MRAPs or whatever luggable is around.

    I know a certain loadmaster (Karl, this is for you brother) who has two on his bag as compression straps so he can hang in his C117 – and if you read this Karl, which is likely because you emailed me the link, I want my ipod mini back and God help you if you’ve put any Bieber songs on it. Yes, Robert told me what you did to his (our older brother) and I’m fairly sure that was against the Geneva Conventions. Mom will kick your ass once she stops laughing.

  7. Womble says:

    The Exped Ergo Hammock uses a daisy chain suspension, together with tree straps. The suspension can be obtained individually.

    http://www.exped.com/usa/en/product-category/hammocks/hammock-suspension-kit-2×35.

  8. Catherine says:

    I just ordered a set of the Phython Straps. I was really excited to see they are B-Corp certified! Wow! Certainly I want them to be strong and reliable, but being B-Corp is impressive.

  9. John Malcolm says:

    Still a bit confused about working load strength, breaking point, etc. I am a big honker. I weigh 355 lbs. I have a Trek Lite double rated at 400lbs. I am not convinced the ropes that come with it are as bad for trees as reported but in is small thing error on the side of the trees and get a strap suspension system. As a beginner I am inclined to follow Derek’s above advice and get a daisy chain type arrangement. I was thinking of the Python. It has a safe working load of 250 lbs. while understand there multiple variables I am wondering Python is heavy duty enough for me.

    Two other questions: When measuring sit height – do I measure from the edge of the hammock when sitting ( where my knees are) or from the belly of the hammock, which is lower where my butt is)?

    The ridge line measurement for the calculator: is this info added only if we use an actual physical ridge line or should we enter the distance even if we are not using a ridge line?
    Thanks,

    • Derek says:

      Sit height is the lowest point in the hammock.

      The ridge line can be virtual. It is the distance between the end points of the hammock and is calculated based on how long the hammock is and the angle of the hang. Adding a ridge line helps “lock in” that angle for the hammock.

      Breaking point is the fail point when the strap actually rips apart. Safe working load is a calculation–a percentage–to account for dynamic forces and strains on the system. A strap that has a 2,000 lbs breaking point will be rated lower to have a “safe working load.” Some companies rate their products lower than others because of their own risk factors or legal concerns. I know several hammock manufacturers that use similar fabrics but list different safe load limits.

      The Python or Atlas strap have a much higher breakpoint point

    • Trevor says:

      You should look at buying Toggle Ropes from Navy Hammocks. They weigh about 4oz, holds almost 2000lbs , infinitely adjustable, extremely simple and the concept has been used in naval forces for well over a century. Can be used for more than just a hammock, I pulled a car out of a ditch with the toggle ropes, just as an example. Blows away any other suspension system I’ve ever tried! Huge fan

      • Derek says:

        Yes, the toggle ropes are cool. I did a review on them as well. The reason I don’t have them listed here is because they are too rope like and are more likely to cause impression damage on a tree. The hitch that Navy Hammock recommends is a good compromise, but it also eats up a lot of the toggle rope, especially on mature trees, making it a less effective solution. If you use the toggle rope, I highly recommend coupling it with a webbing strap. What I do is put the strap on the end of the toggle rope.

        • Trev says:

          In response, the toggle rope is ment to be wrapped around the tree more than once- providing multiple contact points on the tree unlike using a belt or strap. There ‘tsib hitch’ does work but I’ve found a more efficient/effective way, simply hitching to the tree and wrapping in the opposite direction until you’ve eaten up the slack. mine are more than 15feet long providing plenty room even for extremely large trees. I’m a little ocd and persistent on practibility and efficiency. Being a through-hiker I like to carry as less as possible and concentrate on practicality and simplicity. A single 2inch nylon strap does more damage than having a 1/2 rope with multiple contact points. In my mind, why carry multiple single-purpose parts when you can carry a single multi-purpose part.

        • Trev says:

          It doesn’t really matter anyways, my apologies for the rebuttal. I’d like to talk more with you about some other ideas I haven’t found on market as well if you’re interested.

          • Derek says:

            No worries Trev! I encourage good conversation that helps build the knowledge base.

            I agree with the sentiment of “carrying less to do more” and I do love the toggle ropes. In fact, for summer camp, our troop made toggle ropes; it was a fun project.

            You must have the new ropes; mine are much smaller, but still very useful. The TSIB hitch (thanks for that reference; I had forgotten!) is useful and clever, and it really does depend on the tree size. In my area, the Ponderosa Pine can get very thick, and the TSIB hitch isn’t often practical or possible. However, the bark on those trees is robust. I just have to be very careful about what I recommend to folks because there is a perception that hammocks, particularly the suspension ropes, damage trees. Perception often beats out reality in these cases and unfortunately, hammocks are being banned across the USA in local parks and city green spaces because of the perception of some in authority.

            For new hangers, I absolutely stress the importance of webbing straps. They are proven to disburse the forces over a wider are and reduce, even eliminate any marking or damage to the bark of a tree even with a single turn around a tree.

            I do love the toggle rope. It is a great multi-use item.

  10. Carl says:

    Hello Derek,

    I am new to hammocking, having just acquired one (GT SBP for those good with initals) plus your book, which I really enjoyed and continue to reference (along with internet forums) as I try to wrap my head around various issues before I head out and hang. One issue I’ve not seen addressed much – and would like your take on it:

    suppose I am quite prepared/eager to replace my hammock’s 5mm nylon rope supsension with polyester straps. I learned the Marlinespike hitch and like the simple idea of hooking the hammock end carabiner right to it. But I’ve noticed that my hammock uses the SAME type of 5mm rope/cord through the end channels. So if nylon cord is less than ideal due to stretch for the suspension line (as well as tree protection), shouldn’t the cord through the end channels be replaced as well? Or is it too short to matter? If end channel cord should be replaced, what options are there, with respect to both materials and connections? I know the whoopie sling is one, but I’m not sure about others.

    Would love to hear what you and others have to say. Thanks!

    • Derek says:

      Thanks Carl, and welcome! The end loops are too short to matter. The stretch is more cumulative over long distances. Other advantages of using different cordage for the end loops include lighter weight and less bulk for packing, or making accommodation for a specific type of hardware (e.g., Whoopie Hooks or Dutch Biners that require smaller diameter cord). In your case, if you are happy with the Marlinspike Hitch and end loops, you’ll be fine with what you have. I would only recommend smaller rope if you have other goals in mind.

      When I swap out my end loops, I almost always use 7/64″ Amsteel. This is because the smaller diameter rope works with more hardware options and still works fine with other methods such as the Marlinspike Hitch.

      The Marlinspike Hitch is a unique and more advanced hammock suspension style that is predominantly used with long webbing straps and small rope loops on the hammock. Using a Whoopie Sling on the hammock AND a long webbing strap with a Marlinspike Hitch is redundant, in my mind. Why use two types of adjustability? The long strap provides unlimited points of adjustability so adding a Whoopie Sling is superfluous. Just a simple loop on the end of the hammock is sufficient.

      I know that a lot of folks use both Whoopie Slings and a long webbing strap with a Marlinspike Hitch, but I don’t see the logic in it.

  11. Thanks for this. I’ve been wondering about “tree protection” for a while now since getting into slacklining. Completely different outside of using trees as anchors, but it’s a deadly sin to use a tree without some form of protection, which has made me wonder how that translates into hammocking. The main concern with temporary slackline setups is abrasion to the bark from the slings movement. Hammocking won’t see nearly as much force, friction, or movement. I agree that webbing is far more protecting that rope, but would a lightweight tree padding be necessary or helpful to earn good favor from those we come into contact with? The lightest setup I’ve seen is some synthetic felt with Velcro.

    • Carl says:

      Not sure what sort of tree padding you mean, but it seems reasonable to me to believe that some closed cell foam between the line and the bark would help, perhaps not so much in terms of distributing the force (which I think really necessitates a wider strap, not merely a wide pad underneath a thin strap), but in terms of it being a sacrificial layer w/r/t abrasion due to movement. The CCF would have some “give” to aid in muting the effects of movement in the support line. Nothing is perfect, though.

      I should state my bias here: I think that logically, “leave no trace” is an impossible standard; to literally uphold it, you would need to never set foot in the woods, erect a tent, or hang a hammock. It seems more reasonable and realistic to be as light in one’s impact as practically possible (and perhaps also support positive impacts like reforestation, conservation, etc). By doing so, you’ll be on a higher ground than many bears, beetles, and, perhaps, some park commissioners:

      http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2014/jun/07/zipping-through-forest-aerial-adventure-new-way-ex/

      (So much for LNT! I do note in the video the wooden blocks mounted to protect the bark against cable lines; however, note how little of the bark is left exposed in these areas, and consider the bolts needed to mount these wooden blocks. Are they harmless? What about covering up 60% or so of a 1 foot band of bark around a tree? Is that LNT? Perhaps this is naive, but I have to question the endorsement of activities like this in light of the recent kerfuffle over hammock tree strap width. If they can do this, then perhaps mounting some stainless eye bolts in trees for hammockers should be no problem at all, right?).

      • Derek says:

        I hear you. Leave no trace is really more like your second observation: being responsible while in the outdoors. LNT is all about encouraging folks to go outdoors. All too often people go into the woods and expect to treat it carelessly and expect someone else to pick up after them, as if the woods was like a big Disneyland. Rangers have become accustomed to tent damage and have been working for years on containing it and mitigating the impact. Now they need to adapt to hammocks. In the same token, we need support from vendors and the public to adopt safe and responsible practice and techniques so we can all enjoy the sport.

  12. Mary Woods says:

    I use 2 pieces of foam left over from when I made a sleeping pad from Gossamer Gear ccf. I also have an extra piece of pad I sit on on logs and such. I have since then, ordered and use a HG under quilt that I dearly love. The pad will be passed on to one of my tent dwelling friends!

  13. Mary Woods says:

    I use the foam behind my webbing straps. I also have used foam behind my Zing it ridge line on trees with vulnerable (layered or “loose”) looking bark.

  14. Bryan says:

    Derek, I recently purchased a whoopie sling system for my HH Explorer Deluxe. Was not a fan is the 2″ wide stamps that came with my hammock. But I do a lot of rock climbing and thought hey I will just sew some loops in my climbing wedding, after all I do that my life with this sfuff, so I can probably hang my hammock and sleep on it! Works great with marlin spike system. Easy to adjust, setup and take down.
    Love the your Ultimate Hang book! Fun to read and tons of great info. And just FYI I saved weight with the whoopie slings once the original suspension
    Original: 4.2oz
    Whoopieslings: 1.1oz

  15. George says:

    I like this. One other option I think is great for new hangers is just a webbing strap with a Marlin Spike Hitch with the carabiner through where you put the spike! Simple and adjustable. And a bit cheaper, as you just buy the webbing.

    • Derek says:

      Thanks George. The Marlinspike is simple in concept, but it is not simple to master. In fact, it is the Marlinspike Hitch that I’m advocating _against_ for new hangers ;)

      Now, I’m not against the Marlinspike Hitch generally—it’s perfectly suited for hammock camping, and is a great option once you’ve got some experience under your belt and you’ve mastered the technique. If you’re looking for light, inexpensive, and adjustable, check out my recent post on lightweight suspension options.

      • George says:

        Do you think it is difficult without the toggle?

        I have taught quite a few folks how to do this with a couple webbing straps from the hardware store or some such, and a carabiner. Just hook the ‘biner through the hitch where you would normally put the spike. Essentially a way to replicate the sewn loops on the straps but adjustable and lighter.

        • Derek says:

          Yes, I’ve used carabiners as toggles before with the Marlinspike Hitch. It is still a toggle, so I’m not sure what you mean by “if it is difficult without the toggle”. Yes, without a toggle you can’t create the Marlinspike Hitch :) You can use pretty much anything as the “toggle”. I’ve used small sticks, an aluminum stake, a keychain carabiner, pencil, etc.

          One advantage of the Marlinspike Hitch system to the daisy chain straps—as you mention—is that you have more points of connection as you can tie the hitch nearly anywhere along the length of the webbing. It takes practice, however. Seasoned hangers realize that the knot has to settle, which can shift the hang point an inch or so. Tying it _exactly_ where you want can also be difficult, especially if your hang point is really close to a tree. People stress about putting the loop on the knot vs. the toggle, but tying it upside down is also a problem I’ve seen.

          Put simply, I don’t recommend the Marlinspike Hitch to new hangers because there is too much that can go wrong, especially for this audience. Do I use the Marlinspike hitch? Yes! It’s a great option. It just takes practice and experience.

  16. Trevor says:

    I’m not a fan of daisy chain or slap straps there’s not much option to where I can hang.. They’re small and don’t adjust well. I’m definitely not a fan of Dutch wear after my own experience and talking with Mr. Hennessy he does not test his gear we both have had several of his Dutch clips eat through teflon and Kevlar cords and as well as simply breaking..I want equipment I can take out and have for more than a few months of constant use. I found a company called Navy Hammocks set up next to Hennessy Hammocks, at a well known Appalachian trail fest called Trail Days, with a ridiculously simple badass suspicion setup. cool enough for the Hennessy guys to come over buy some sets for themselves. I got some myself it’s called a Toggle or something like that and I can’t believe this isn’t everywhere. It would be super cool if you guys had a field crew that could hike out, buy and test new equipment at these festivals and show.
    -tree hiker

    • Derek says:

      Trevor, thanks for visiting! If I understand you correctly, the daisy chain straps do have some limits on how much they can adjust. However, having 18 clip-in points provides a pretty wide-range of adjustment–it’s just in 4-inch increments :). I’ve rarely had a location where they didn’t work. For beginning hangers, they sure simplify the process.

      It sounds like you’ve got more experience under your belt, and as such, desire a little more out of your suspension. Other suspension systems offer “infinite” adjustment points for finer control, for example.

      I’m a little surprised that Tom would talk down about Dutchware. I can assure you that Dutch tests all of his gear and his weight ratings are based on those tests. I’ve personally used the Dutch Clips for years without any issues. I have heard of some of these hardware devices cutting through webbing, but those issues are rare, and were mostly fixed with new designs. Tom may be referring to outdated information.

      Now, to your other point, I am very familiar with Navy Hammocks! I’m glad you found them. They just recently had a name change, but their Toggle Straps are still very cool. I did a review on the Toggle Ropes a while back, if you’re interested.

      I love the toggle ropes as well. They work in a similar fashion to the daisy chain webbing, but offer a few more attachment points. The only thing I struggle with on the Toggle Rope is the width.

      • Trevor says:

        I was definitely surprised to hear down talking about another company from him but his brother and wife were right on track with what he was saying about Dutch product. Also talked about how cordura frabrics has let thousands of feet of their diamond rip stop parachute sell that is failing – the diamond rip stop will tear right in your hands- I know from experience at that trail days fest. And this is due to companies not testing their equipment and material! Cordura is big name in the fabrics business and yet still they sold untested parachute material..

      • Trevor says:

        You’re right though everyone think their way is the best way! I generally look for the best quality most adaptable and easiest to use. That’s what I like about navy hammocks toggle ropes and Hennessy. Sorry to criticize other people’s stuff man..

        • Derek says:

          No worries :) I agree wholeheartedly that it is important that folks find the best gear that matches their style and their needs. This post is specifically directed at people who are new to hanging a hammock. I get so many inquiries about what is the “best” hammock, suspension, etc., that I’ve written a few posts directed to that end. Everyone has their own “favorite” system, so it is hard not to be biased. In my own experience, the daisy chain webbing is the best balance of ease-of-use, safety, and tree protection that doesn’t require any training.

          You might be interested in a different post where I talk about some lightweight suspension systems. :)

  17. Vernon says:

    I bought one set of Dutch’s cinch buckles to try out, and after several outings, I converted all our hammocks, except the Blackbirds (similar design already) to that system. Micro adjustment…, one carabineer (carabineers from warbonnetoutdoors.com…best value, low price) click around support,…and Bishop bag friendly….It don’t get no quicker nor easier to set up. Dutch even has longer amsteel loops for the Hennessey conversion……..Great company, Great Guy

  1. May 26, 2015

    […] confusing for scouts to see multiple suspension systems. First, teach the importance of using webbing straps to protect the trees. I restrict what I teach to two simple methods that I can make sure everyone […]

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