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    Senior Member TeeDee's Avatar
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    Hammock Suspension

    I had to break this into more than one post due to length considerations - Sorry to make it so long

    Note: I've written this not to persuade anybody to use a certain suspension method or to change the method they are currently using. I am writing this simply because I have not seen any real comparison of the various methods used for hanging a hammock in terms of the carry weight involved.

    Since I was curious about this myself, I decided to compile what I knew and do such a comparison. If it helps somebody to understand the options available, then it will have served the same purpose it served for me.

    I've tried almost all of the hammock suspension methods. All except the CC buckles. However, I have used the ring buckles extensively and consider the two to be very similar in use.

    I finally decided to do an analysis of the various methods which I know about and see how the methods compared.

    I originally posted this analysis on Sgt Rock's Hiking Hq site. Now that I am back from a long sojourn and before I undertake my next shortly, I have updated the analysis with leasons learned since the original posting and decided to post on the Hammock Forums.

    The most basic lesson learned is simply that for the carabiner hitch described below, I do not need the carabiner hitch on both suspension ropes, only one. For the other suspension rope I use an SMC ring girth hitched to the tree hugger. This reduces the weight and complexity. The K.I.S.S. principle in action.

    Also, I have modified the Carabiner Hitch in that I originally girth hitched the carabiner to the suspension rope. I have found through experience that the girth hitch is more than is needed and that it can be difficult to untie after it has been loaded for several hours.

    I have replaced the girth hitch with simple wraps. I wrap the small end of the carabiner 4 times with the last wrap laid on top of the previous wraps. The last wrap secures the previous wraps from slipping. The rope is then run through the carabiner to the tree.

    The wrapping technique has some great advantages:
    • Simplicity - wrapping the rope around the carabiner is simplicity in action. No technique required.
    • Never jams - the wraps can never jam - physically impossible.
    • fast - wrapping the rope around the carabiner can be accomplished faster than tying any knot.
    • no threading - no threading of the suspension rope is required to wrap the carabiner. Simply clip through the carabiner gate. If an SMC ring is used in lieu of the carabiner, the suspension rope will have to be threaded through the ring.


    The Carabiner hitch requires the use of tree huggers, either webbing or rope tree huggers depending on your philosophical relationship with trees.

    As regards tree huggers, I know that many people hate tree huggers. However, I simply have two words regarding tree huggers:

    PINE SAP

    Anybody that is familiar with pine trees and hammocks will immediately recognize the wisdom of keeping anything that touches the tree far away from the hammock. If you know nothing of pine sap, consider yourself lucky. Enough said.

    For this analysis I have compared the following methods:
    1. plain knot. The knot could be the Hennessy style lashing, simple half hitches, a truckers hitch or whatever your favorite knot is that gets the job done. As I have noted below, the simple knot is used with tree huggers and a carabiner or SMC descending ring is optional.
      1. pros: nothing extra needed
      2. cons: can be difficult to learn and remember (especially for those of us getting on in years :biggrin: ) and tying knots is not always the easiest or more convenient option.

    2. Ring on tree hugger. - this method uses an SMC descending ring on the ends of the tree huggers. This increases the weight by 0.4 oz per tree hugger and assumes that the tree hugger loops are big enough for the ring to pass through the loop (or at least the loop on one end). To use the ring on the tree hugger proceed as follows: girth hitch the ring to one end of the tree hugger ( the easy way to do this is to push the loop through the ring, open the loop and pass it around the outside of the ring - girth hitch done), wrap the tree hugger around the tree one or more times, then girth hitch the second end to the ring again (same way as before).

      The pros and cons for this method are pretty much the same as for the plain knot.
    3. Carabiner on Tree hugger. - this method uses a carabiner on the ends of the tree huggers. This increases the weight by 1.0 oz per tree hugger over the tree huggers alone and 0.4 oz per tree hugger over the SMC descending rings. I have assumed the use of the CAMP Nano Wire Carabiner or equivalent.

      The carabiner adds a modicum of convenience at not having to thread the suspension line through the tree hugger end loops or SMC descending ring, rather just clip into the carabiner.

      The pros and cons for this method are pretty much the same as for the plain knot.
    4. carabiner hitch. This method uses a carabiner as a replacement for the loop in the trucker's hitch. This eliminates the rope-on-rope friction and abrasion that plagues the trucker's hitch when used repeatedly. A climbing carabiner is designed to reduce such friction to a minimum. Pulling on the rope when looped back through the carabiner still gives the 3:1 mechanical advantage and reduces the friction and hence abrasion to a minimum. I would like to say "eliminates", but that is not possible. Also, any carabiner used in climbing is designed to have the maximum bending radius possible to reduce fatigue failure in the rope.

      With the Carabiner Hitch as I use it, I use 1 SMC descending ring per tree hugger. I use the SMC descending rings to eliminate the abrasion of the suspension rope on the tree hugger loops.

      How to use the carabiner hitch:
      1. Secure Carabiner - first secure the small end of the carabiner to the suspension rope at a convenient place. If you have used a trucker's hitch, then place the carabiner where you would normally tie the loop of the trucker's hitch - think of the carabiner as replacing the loop of the trucker's hitch.

        The carabiner may be secured to the rope in many ways, several of which are:
        • wraps - wrap the suspension rope around the small end of the carabiner 4 times with the last wrap laid on top of the first 3. Under load the last wrap secures the wraps in place. Simple, easy, efficient, quick and secure.

          The wrap technique is now my preferred method for securing the carabiner and the method I recommend. It is much easier and simpler to move the carabiner when necessary using the wrap technique.
        • girth hitch - form a bight, double the bight back on the rope and pull the rope through the bight, clip the carabiner into the loop thus formed - instant girth hitch ( AKA Larks head ). Arrange the carabiner with the girth hitch on the small end. Simple, easy, efficient, quick and secure.
        • clove hitch - form a clove hitch on the small end of the carabiner.


        Note: orient the carabiner so that it is secured on the small end of the carabiner, i.e., the opening for the wire gate is away from where it is secured to the suspension rope. This will make clipping into the carabiner in subsequent steps much easier.
      2. Loop through tree hugger/carabiner/SMC ring - from the first carabiner, run to the tree hugger and through the end loops, through the SMC ring or clip into the carabiner which is on the tree hugger loops if you are using either there.
      3. back to 1st carabiner - from the tree hugger run back to the first carabiner, clip into the carabiner and wrap around the large end of the carabiner and clip in the carabiner again. The rope is now wrapped completely around the carabiner once. Pull tight, as tight as you want. Always remember that you are working with a 3:1 mechanical advantage now. The force you pull with becomes 3 times that force on the hammock or the hammock ridge line. I doubt that even with the 3:1 advantage that you will be able to break the ridge line.

        Once you have the rope pulled as tight as you desire, the rope needs to be secured from slipping back. There are many ways to do this. I have listed 2 here:
        1. wraps - hold the rope and wrap and clip through the carabiner multiple times again, I find that I can pinch the rope wrapped around the carabiner with my fingers to hold it in place. The 3:1 mechanical advantage works to your advantage here in that you are only holding 1/3 of the total force on the suspension rope. Clip and wrap the loose end of the suspension rope through the carabiner 3 or 4 times so that the rope is now wrapped around the end of the carabiner 4 or 5 times.

          Tie a slipped half hitch, pulling a large bight through the half hitch. Using the bight of the first half hitch, tie a second slipped half hitch. The hammock suspension is now tied and secured.

          I have used this method exclusively now for several months. I have never found the slipped half hitches pulled tight. The wraps on the carabiner alone are holding. I have used suspension rope with a polyester sheath, 2,8 mm Spyderline, and coated dyneema. All with the same results. The two slipped half hitches have become a simple means for me of insuring the wraps remain tight and storing the free end of the suspension rope and keeping it from flopping about.
        2. girth hitch - there are two methods for tying this girth hitch:
          1. threading - (thanks to oldguy52 on Hiking HQ for this):
            1. back to the carabiner and go down through it and pull tight, pinch and hold the rope,
            2. come out the bottom then back up and over the standing part, i.e., the part from the tree hugger,
            3. then back under the carabiner and up through again,
            4. Now back out to the standing part. This should end as a larks head knot.

          2. looping -
            1. clip into carabiner and pull tight, pinch and hold the rope,
            2. pull down and under end of carabiner and then up and over the standing part, i.e., the rope from the tree hugger,
            3. form a bight in the loose end, twist the bight 1/2 turn so that the loose end is under the working part, thus forming a loop of the bight,
            4. clip loop formed in bight above into carabiner and pull tight. Girth hitch formed and holding.


          Tie a slipped half hitch, pulling a large bight through the half hitch. Using the bight of the first half hitch, tie a second half hitch. The hammock suspension is now tied and secured.



      With the Carabiner Hitch, only one carabiner is necessary for the total system. One on one suspension rope. For the other suspension rope use a simple tree hugger or a tree hugger with an SMC descending ring or carabiner.

      To use the system, install one tree hugger on one tree with an SMC descending ring or carabiner. Wrap the suspension rope through the ring/carabiner once completely and tie loosely with a single slipped half hitch. Install the other tree hugger on the other tree with the other SMC descending ring or carabiner. Secure a carabiner on the suspension rope a short distance from the tree. Tie the Carabiner hitch and secure with one complete turn through the carabiner and secure with a single slipped half hitch.

      Adjust both ends to center as necessary. When positioned, secure the single ring/carabiner end by wrapping the ring/carabiner 4 or 5 times and secure with 2 slipped half hitches. At the Carabiner Hitch, pull the suspension rope as tight as desired and secure with an additional 4 wraps and 2 slipped half hitches. Done.

      1. pros: quick and simple to use.

        Provides a 3:1 mechanical advantage for those of us that like to really tighten our suspension and ridge line.

        Very secure, the SMC descending is rated at 144 KN.

        Also, the Carabiner hitch, using either a carabiner or SMC descending, has the advantage of not reqiring any modification to the suspension of a Hennessy hammock. Thus, this method may be tried simply and quickly.
      2. cons: like a trucker's hitch uses more suspension rope. The amount used depends on the placement of the carabiner. lacing the carabiner closer to the tree uses the least rope.

    5. Carabiner Hitch using SMC descending Ring - this method is almost identical to the Carabiner Hitch above except that an SMC descending ring is used in lieu of the carabiner. This method saves 0.6 oz over the Carabiner Hitch method at the expense of having to thread the suspension rope through the SMC ring as opposed to simply clipping into the carabiner.
      1. pros: Very light.

        Provides a 3:1 mechanical advantage for those of us that like to really tighten our suspension and ridge line.

        Very secure, the carabiner is rated at 22 KN along the long axis used.

        Also, the Carabiner hitch, using either a carabiner or SMC descending, has the advantage of not reqiring any modification to the suspension of a Hennessy hammock. Thus, this method may be tried simply and quickly.
      2. cons: like a trucker's hitch uses more suspension rope. The amount used depends on the placement of the ring. Placing the ring closer to the tree uses the least rope.

    6. ring buckle. This method was "discovered" at the same time and independently by myself and a guy posting on the Yahoo hammock groups (don't know his name). The buckle utilizes two SMC descending rings. Any ring with a high enough rating and proper inner diameter could be used, but the SMC rings at 0.4 oz each are the lightest rated rings with a suffiecient inner diameter to accomodate suspension webbing of which I know. They are pretty inexpensive also.

      I have assumed that the ring buckle is attached to the end of the hammock using a 24" length of 2.8 mm Spyderline. The webbing used has a loop on one end through which a carabiner is clipped. The looped end is passed around the tree, the carabiner is clipped back onto the webbing. The free end is then run to the ring buckle and secured. Note that it is not necessary to actually remove the free ed of the webbing from the ring buckle. A convenience for many.

      Note that a ring buckle is normally used on both ends of the hammock. I imagine that one one ring buckle could be used on one end and the suspension webbing on the other end of the hammock could be secured by tying a knot, but I have not read of anybody doing this.

      Also, the carabiner on the loop of the webbing is not really necessary either. It serves two purposes:
      • prevent the abrasion of webbing rubbing against webbing, and
      • convenience. The carabiner makes it possible to leave the weebing threaded through the ring buckle at all times.


      Note: in order to compare apples to apples, I have also included the option of using an SMC descending ring on the loop end of the webbing instead of the heavier carabiner. The SMC ring preserves the first purpose of the carabiner, but eliminates the second.

      1. pros: quick and simple to use
      2. cons: slipping of the webbing through the rings can be a problem. usually alleviated by tying a slipped half hitch after threading the buckle and pulling tight.

    Last edited by angrysparrow; 07-20-2008 at 18:08. Reason: added text at TeeDee's request

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