So you've got a nice new hammock, now how do you plan to hang it? You’re itching to hit the trail and see what all the fuss is about… but wait, your hammock won’t magically hang itself. You need hammock straps, people. The best hammock straps.
Ok, Ok. If you’re impatient, and don’t want to read further, go get these, then get off your computer and get outside:
Longest length to hang over canyons or round massive tree trunks: Nature’s Hangout HangTight XL hammock straps
Best hammock straps for strength and load rating (big guys and 2-to-a-hammock): Nature’s Hangout HangTight XL hammock straps
Best for those who like a well-known brand name and super quality: Eagle’s Nest Outfitters (ENO) Atlas Straps Suspension System
Best for ultralight (so long as you don’t mind whoopie-slings): ENO Helios Suspension System
Best for Budget: Rallt Hammock tree straps
*If you want to stick around and see what I think, you'll find detailed reviews and a buyer's guide, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Why Do You Need Straps?
Just one of the challenges of the tent vs hammock debate, is ease of pitching.
These are part of the “suspension system” that allows your hammock to hang between two fixed objects. You can use rope, paracord, an old pair of pantyhose (well. Maybe not that).
Unless you are hammocking in an urban area, where you’ll be hanging between rugged-looking vehicles and buildings, you are likely using trees.
And trees are alive, with bark and things, and they take a dim view of us lot attaching thin ropes that damage them.
Not to mention that unless you are an expert in knot tying, you’ll be wanting to get your hammock pitched quickly and safely using straps and carabiners - not paracord and knots which unravel just when you’ve cracked your evening beer. At least until you are more experienced.
Hammock Strap Reviews
Hammock Strap Suspension System Overview
If you haven't already bought your hammock, now would be a good time to read up on how to choose the best backpacking hammock.
You’ve got to pitch the thing somehow, haven’t you? As you’ve probably gathered by now, hammocking is a wonderful way to sleep, but it comes with some limitations.
You require two anchor points for either end of your hammock - so in the middle of the desert, you’re unlikely to get very far trying to hang it from two cactii. And above the treeline may pose some challenges.
Unless you’ve got yourself a convenient yak or camel to carry a stand-alone frame, you’ll need to get yourself some straps or at the very least some rope/paracord.
Suspending hammocks and getting the right “sag” or “hang” is an art and a science in itself. The angle of the attachments to the anchor point will determine how high or low the center of gravity sits: too tight a pitch, and the center of gravity will be too high, and the hammock will be unsteady.
Which in turn determines the amount of force placed on the anchor points (and your trusty tree-hugging straps).
Ideally you want a 30 degree angle between your anchor point (tree) and your strap.
Hammock strap vs rope or paracord
Some people feel that you are not a “real hammocker” unless you know how to tie fancy knots and are able to pitch your tarp or hammock using nothing more than an old bit of twine. The rest of us need a bit of help.
Rope and paracord work well, when you know what you are doing - having learned all the knots and bought the whoopie slings; but that still leaves one problem. Trees. We like trees.
We don’t like damaging trees.
So straps have a two-fold advantage: they are easy to use for newbie hammockers, and their wide surface area spreads the weight on the tree’s trunk, to minimize damage.
Without turning this into a math lesson, just remember that the force of the straps/rope on whatever it is you are attaching to is both static and dynamic.
It’s not simply a case of how much weight you are placing in the hammock, but also the force will be dependent on the angle of the load as well… static forces for a 150lb person hanging at a 35 degree angle can still be pretty high.
(This is also worth remembering, not just for the sake of the tree, but the sake of your back as well, if the force causes the anchor to break.).
However,it all boils down to your own preference. If geeking out over knots is your thing, you’ll find straps quite boring.
Types of hammock Suspension System
Hanging using straps is the simplest way for beginners to get started. Being tree-friendly, you won't be doing any damage.
Rope and knot system
For the more experienced amongst us, who know their knots and hang-angles. The advantage of these systems is being able to hang pretty much anywhere - and rope being ultralight. But there is a learning curve.
These are no use for backpacking, unless you've got your pet Yak or camel to carry it. Great for setting up in your backyard, kicking back and enjoying the outdoors.
How to Hang a Hammock with Tree Straps
It’s pretty easy to set up tree hanging once you get the “hang” of it.
Here, hammock-guru Shug talks us through the basics of suspension:
- Locate and determine two anchor points of an optimal distance apart (this takes practice, don’t leave it til just before nightfall) - you want roughly 15-20ft apart
- Place the strap around the tree (or other anchor point) and ensure that it’s high enough up to be able to create the right angle of 30 degrees (if your trees are 15ft apart then this should be about 6ft high)
- Pull the strap tight so that it doesn’t slip down the tree and clip the hammock to the strap (with carabiner, or a knot and whoopie-sling/rope)
- Then fiddle with the carabiners and adjust them up and down the loops to get the correct angle, and create the right amount of ‘sag’ whilst still remaining sufficiently high off the ground.
Aim to keep the lowest part of your camping hammock at least 18inches off the ground.
Note: this is just the hanging of the hammock itself without the use of ridgelines. A static ridgeline can help to keep the correct sag in the hammock when you are unable get the straps to the correct hang angle (owing to the distance between anchor points).
Instead of a carabiner, you can use a knot system or a whoopie sling. If you are not an expert in knots, and don’t like mucking about - just use the carabiner.
Derek from the Ultimate Hang is an amazing graphics guy and has created a hang calculator so that you can visualize the different angles:
You might want to consider buying the book The Ultimate Hang, which provides an illustrated guide to getting started.
Considerations when Choosing Hammock Straps
Material: Most hammock straps are made of polyester or nylon-webbing - at least those I’ve reviewed are. They don’t stretch like tubular nylon.
If you insist on buying a $5 set of tubular nylon straps for your hammock, don’t complain that they stretch.
The stitching helps to make the material even more static. Do note, however, that on the first few uses, the material may stretch a little bit. If this does happen, it tends to settle after a night under your weight.
The straps should not stretch more than about half an inch and they definitely should not appear to be elastic in any way!
Another aspect of durability is the size of the loops and the stitching in between the loops. Since most manufacturers use a daisy chain system, a fair bit of your weight is placed on the stitching between the loops (unless it’s ENO). Look for triple stitching.
ENO has patented the loopy-looking loop system which allows the carabiner to hang without putting direct pressure on the stitching.
You'll need sturdy, durable straps, but equally you want to be mindful of the type of anchor points you use. After each use, check the straps for any fraying as a result of rough tree-bark.
Fading and damage by UV light is mostly relevant if you have a permanent backyard setup. Similarly, mold and mildew resistance is a consideration, but mostly only a problem if the straps are left out in the elements for a long period.
Most hiker/backpacker users should clean and store their straps in a dry place when not in use.
Maximum Supported Weight
I blame the marketing departments for a lot of the confusion around what weight the straps can withstand. There are two numbers involved here:
Maximum breaking tension: the max weight it can withstand without a loop breaking. This is often the weight the strap is “tested to”. Note that you shouldn’t be testing this yourself, in the field.
Maximum load is what interests us. This will determine how many of you can be supported at any given time.
As a rule of thumb, you need to choose a hammock strap that is rated to support twice your bodyweight - so if you are around 150lb, then get a minimum rating of 300lb.
This allows for the different forces that the strap will need to withstand as a result of different angles and any moving around you do at night.
Stay off the floor, folks. And honestly, don’t use it as a trampoline!
Strap Length and Thickness
Longer straps you can span wider gaps and hang from thicker trees. If you are camping amongst monster Redwoods then you’ll need some serious length. But these do come with an added weight in your pack.
I wouldn’t go with much less than an inch wide - as that's not much better than a rope. Or at least, wrap a towel round the tree or a lightweight bit of foam on the very thin-barked trees.
This’ll only be a consideration if you are a hammocking backpacker who has to fit everything in your pack.
The less space and weight taken up by sleeping and chilling gear, the more space for food! (Or a cheeky wee dram of whiskey for those cold nights).
Using the carabiners does add a bit of weight, so you could go with a whoopie sling for your tension system.
If you’ve got a friend who is carrying your bags, or a yak, then the odd extra ounce won’t really matter.
Note: the super-ultralight hardcore folks tend to use rope or paracords, and would likely sneer at the big bulky (relatively!) straps. But we won’t worry about them right now.
Ease of Setup
Most strap sets have either a daisy chain design or ring-lock system. The daisy chain essentially has you clipping your carabiner onto the end of your hammock and then to the loop on the strap.
Voila - very simple.
I prefer the daisy chain because it’s just one less piece of hardware to break. All the options I’ve reviewed use either the daisy chain or ENO’s proprietary version thereof. Only the neon-green monstrosity uses a flimsy O-ring.
By their nature, straps are beginner-friendly. But there’s still a bit of a learning curve to them - this is mostly to do with angles and making a comfortable pitch that allows you to sleep optimally.
For winter hammock camping, it is easier to set up with gloves if you use straps and carabiners than with ropes and whoopie slings and their associated knots.
Fit for Use with Trees
As part of the Leave No Trace philosophy, you’ll be wanting to leave as little impact on the trees as you can.
In addition to opting for straps vs rope and being mindful of the forces applied due to the angle of pitch, here are some hints that can make you more of a tree-hugger:
- Thin skinned trees suffer more damage than trees with thick bark
- Certain times of year, some trees have higher sap flow. If you see sap running near your tie-in, maybe give the tree a break.
- If you have no choice but to pitch between trees with thin skins, maybe consider using some sort of pad between the strap/rope and the tree.
Oh give me a break. These are hammock straps.
For hanging your hammock from a tree or other supporting device.
It’s not a multifunctional tool with multiple features that help to solve lots of your household problems. Wait. You never know, you could use these straps to make a sort-of homemade TRX.
Or, even better, winch your Land Rover out of the water. Just make sure you have the ones that claim high maximum load: (note this is very silly and irrelevant to hammock straps)
For those of you that refuse to buy hammock straps unless they come in pink: here you are. You can thank me later.
Actually, this isn’t totally stupid. When manufacturers make the stitching in a reflective thread, it makes pitching, by torchlight, using black straps… a lot easier.
Indeed, if you tend to be a night-time wanderer, having a nice bright reflective hammock strap can prevent you walking straight into it and being garroted.
What else do you need with your tree straps?
Check that the shipment comes with carabiners - if it does, buy a spare. If not, be sure to order them at the same time. Most will come with a drawstring bag to keep the straps rolled up in.
Check that your hammock ends will fit the carabiner of choice and grab yourself a whoopie sling if you want to extend your hammock’s length.
Last, and not really least, is the price. All I’ll say here is don’t buy $5 straps and expect them to last, or to keep you reliably off the floor.
If you want to give hammocking a try, then grab a set of straps from the list above - except the OxStraps in neon green, I don’t recommend those - and start experimenting!