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