How Far Apart Should Trees be for a Hammock?

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how far apart should trees be for a hammock

There are some questions in life that you never ask yourself until the exact moment you need the answer. How high can an angry dog jump? Can eating too much chocolate ice cream kill you? You get the idea.

One such question is how far apart should trees be for a hammock? It seems like an easy one – but if you’re new to the world of hammocks, it actually takes a little more skill to judge than you might think.

Now, we don’t want you to stress about this too much. Hammocks should never be associated with stress. A hammock is a stress-free zone.

That said, until you’ve actually stood in the middle of the forest looking around for the ideal pair of leafy friends to hang your hammock from, then you’ve probably not contemplated the problem. So congratulations for taking the initiative and reading this article!

There’s a joke in there about not seeing the wood for the trees but we’ll move on.

couple enjoying a hammock in a forest

It Depends on Your Hammock

When you question the ideal hammocks trees distance, your answer will be the same as with every question you’ve ever asked your parents: it depends.

How far apart should hammock posts be really depends on what type of hammock you have. It depends on the type of trees. It depends on whether you’re just hanging around to relax or you intend to spend the night in the trees. It depends if there are any bears in the vicinity. Basically, it just depends on a whole heap of things. But let’s not over complicate things too much. Since you asked, let’s try and find a couple of general rules of thumb to help you out.

Prepare to learn about some of the following bits of hammock lingo – oh yes, my friend, there’s hammock lingo.

  • Spreader Bar
  • Gathered End
  • Sit Height
  • Tipping Factor

Spreader Bar Hammocks

This is the type of hammock you typically see around the pool, or hanging between two palm trees on a tropical beach – you’ll likely know them from Instagram, they usually have an “influencer” rolling around in one with her bum in the air.

Spreader bar hammocks are generally the ones that you tie up and leave in place. It’s unlikely you’ll be lugging one of these in your backpack on a hike. If you’ve ever fallen out of a hammock, it’s probably been from one of these.

If you are setting up a spreader bar hammock in your garden, or around your pool – lucky devil – then the minimum distance you need between the trees is effectively the length of the hammock.

The maximum distance should be no more than 1 metre (3 feet) extra on either side. If you go further than this, you’re quickly increasing the tipping factor and raising those odds of finding yourself on your face in the dirt.

spreader bar hammock

Gathered End Hammocks

Also known as hammocks without a spreader bar. These are the hammocks you’ll typically take with you on a hike or to sleep in on an outdoor adventure. They’re also much more comfortable and much harder to fall out of than spreader bar hammocks.

These hammocks are designed to be hung with a healthy sag in the middle, so the minimum distance they can be hung is actually somewhat shorter than the stretched length of the hammock itself. Around two thirds of the hammock length, in fact. For example, if your hammock is 180 inches, the minimum hanging distance is 120 inches.

The maximum hammock trees distance for a gathered end hammock is more flexible – but try not to go much more than 2 extra feet off either side. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to start climbing pretty high up!

We should also stress – should it ever need to be stressed – that equality is important. Make sure wherever possible that you keep the length of both sides of your hammock balanced; otherwise you’ll end up with sags in all the wrong places.

Final Thoughts: It’s not Just Length – Girth is Important, Too!

Now we’ve examined how far apart trees should be for a hammock, we would be neglecting our duties if we didn’t also share what else to look out for in the perfect hammock hanging tree.

The ideal tree should be healthy, and it should be relatively mature. The last thing you ever want to do as a friend of the natural world is to do any damage to the trees that have kindly supported you. That means opting for a tree that has at the very, very least a 12” diameter trunk. Any narrower and you might see some bending – or heaven forbid – breakage. A tree with any rotting might also crumble under your body weight and you could see your hammock losing altitude rapidly during the night – nobody wants that!

So there you have it, get out there and get your swing on!

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