Determining the “ideal distance between trees for hammock camping” is one of the key factors for ensuring a comfortable and relaxing experience.
While general guidelines suggest 15-20 feet between anchor points, the optimal spacing depends on several variables including hammock size, hang angle, and physical factors like user height.
With the right set up and preparation, you can create the perfect environment for blissful hammocking.
Factoring in Hammock Size and Suspension
The total length of the hammock when fully extended, including the suspension system, influences the amount of space needed between trees. Hammocks come in different sizes and styles.
Standard gathered-end hammocks are typically 10-12 feet long but require 15-20 feet between anchor points when hung. The curved hang position and sag from weight distribution widens the distance required. Integrated structural ridgelines help maintain the ideal hang shape.
Larger Brazilian style hammocks are wider and longer, necessitating more space between trees for an optimal hang. Some users report needing up to 22 feet or more.
Adding extras like Whoopie sling suspension systems can also increase the total length substantially. The adjustable cinch buckles take up several feet on each end. For these, distances of 18-22 feet helps maintain comfortable hang angles.
REI experts recommend budgeting “at least 18 feet between anchor points” as a starting guideline that allows flexibility for adjusting on site.
Achieving the Recommended 30 Degree Hang Angle
Experts recommend aiming for a 30 degree hang angle on each side, which allows for an ergonomic natural curve to the hammock. This provides back support, while preventing sideways swinging or squeezing.
You can use trekking poles extended the appropriate width to help visualize and gauge the angle as you set up the hammock. Adjusting the suspension lengths incrementally lets you fine tune the angle for the optimum distance between the trees.
This wider hang angle has the effect of increasing the space needed between anchor points. But it results in greater comfort and stability.
Ruth S., avid hammock camper, explains: “Getting that perfect 30 degree hang really lets me lay back comfortably without any squeezing or sideways swaying.”
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Accommodating User Height and Weight
Your specific height and weight impacts the amount of sag when laying in the hammock, which alters the ideal hang angle and distance between trees. Read our article about How Much Weight Can a Double Hammock Hold?
Heavier users report needing a few extra feet of distance to compensate for increased sag in order to maintain that coveted 30 degree hang angle on each side. As Chris D. describes, “I need a good 20 feet minimum distance or I end up curving the hammock too much with my weight.“
Conversely, lighter users may be able to achieve the right hang angles with slightly less distance between trees.
Tall users also often cite needing up to 22 feet between trees so their shoulders, knees, and head don’t feel scrunched or compressed.
Testing out different distances and consulting other user experiences for your body type helps dial in the perfect span.
Selecting Suitable Trees and Preventing Damage
When choosing trees to anchor your hammock, only use those which are living, mature, and appear structurally sound without major defects. Trees should be robust enough to withstand the weight load of a fully occupied hammock.
It’s also critical to prevent abrasion damage to the tree bark by using wide tree straps and padding at contact points. Check periodically for any wear or cuts into the bark. As arborist Amanda W. recommends, “Inspect trees thoroughly and pad them properly to avoid harming the bark or structure.“
Consulting an arborist can provide guidance on species-specific traits when assessing trees. With proper selection and precautions, trees can thrive for generations of hammockers.
How do I adjust the distance between trees if my initial hammock hang is not comfortable?
If your hammock feels too squeezed or cinched when you lay in it, the trees likely need to be farther apart. To widen the distance:
- Detach suspension from one tree.
- Extend it a couple feet before reattaching to the same anchor point.
- Test the lay and adjust again in increments as needed.
If there is too much sideways swinging or sag when you get in, the trees may be too far apart.
- Detach from one end.
- Shorten the suspension in increments before reattaching to take up slack.
- Test the hang angle and comfort after each adjustment.
Using adjustable tree straps or Whoopie slings makes it easier to fine tune the distance. Move slowly, only a couple feet at a time, until the right amount of sag and hang angle is achieved for optimal comfort.
Note: Having a friend spot you can help safely make adjustments while hammock is occupied.
Lay your hammock out on the ground and ensure there is 15-20 feet between the ends before hanging. The hang angle should be about 30 degrees. Adjust distance as needed to prevent too much sag or squeezing.
Yes, longer hammock styles like Brazilian hammocks require more distance between trees than typical 10-12 foot gathered-end hammocks. Add a few extra feet for longer models.
Whoopie slings and other suspension kits can add several feet to the total hammock length. For these, increase the distance between trees to 18-22 feet.
Use trekking poles extended as guidelines to help visualize and adjust the 30 degree angle as you hang the hammock. Fine tune by adjusting suspension lengths.
Heavier users need more distance to compensate for sag, while taller users also require more space so they don’t feel cramped or scrunched in the hammock.
With smart planning and experimentation, you can discover the “ideal distance between trees for hammock camping” for your specific needs.
While general wisdom suggests 15-20 feet, many find 18-22 feet ideal when factoring in hammock size, hang angle, and body variables.
Perfecting your personalized hammock hang takes practice but brings ample relaxation rewards.
- REI Expert Advice provides a comprehensive guide on how to choose a hammock. The guide includes information on size, end use, accessories, hammock tents and sleep systems, and more.
- The Wanderful Wild has an article that provides 12 tips for choosing trees for hanging your hammock. The article is aimed at helping new hammock campers identify good trees for their hammock set-up.
- Hammock camping is a form of camping in which a camper sleeps in a suspended hammock rather than a conventional tent on the ground. You can learn more about it on Wikipedia.