I finally got around to testing the Trucker's Hitch (TH) suspension system. It consists of 2 tree huggers, 2 descending rings, and 2 lengths of rope. For testing this system I used The 1/8" Amsteel Blue rope, rated at 2500 lbs breaking strength and weighs .08oz per foot.

I know a few people use systems very similar to what I am playing around with. TeeDee has an excellent write-up on the different types of suspension systems as well as details on some variations of the TH system. The main reason that I wanted to try the TH is because I am trying to reduce the weight of my hammock setup. I can't really do much to the hammock to reduce weight unless I build a new hammock out of a lighter material. I started look at my suspension and decided that this area would be a good place to start trimming grams and ounces.

The suspension system that I currently use is either the ring buckles, or more recently going back to cinch buckles. I also use the Camp Nano Biners, 10' of OWF polyester camo webbing on each end, and a short length of Spectra line that goes from the hammock to the ring/cinch buckles. You can see a comparison of the weights of the different systems below:

Cinch Buckle System:

Cinch buckle w/ ~18" of 7/64 Spectra = 1.2 oz x 2 sides = 2.4 oz
10' OWF camo webbing = 2.3 oz x 2 sides = 4.6 oz
Camp Nano biner = 1.1 oz x 2 sides = 2.2 oz
Total weight = 9.2 oz

Ring Buckle System

2 descending rings w/ ~18" 7/64 Spectra = 1.1 oz x 2 sides = 2.2 oz
10' OWF camo webbing = 2.3 oz x 2 sides = 4.6 oz
Camp Nano biner = 1.1 oz x 2 sides = 2.2 oz
Total weight = 9.0 oz

Truckers Hitch System:

20' 1/8 Amsteel Blue w/ 1 descending ring = 2.1 oz x 2 sides = 4.2 oz
5' tree hugger = 1.4 oz x 2 sides = 2.8 oz
Total = 7 oz

You can see that the TH system about 20-25% lighter than the ring/cinch buckle system, but if you remove the convenience of a biner in the ring buckle/cinch buckle system(RB/CB), it puts the weight really close to the TH system. In my experiments the 20' length of rope that I used is a bit much. I think that I would be fine using 15' ropes and that would help to further reduce the weight of the TH suspension. I could also get by without using a descending ring by simply tying a knot in the rope like a standard trucker's hitch, but once the knot was tied it would be permanent. By incorporating the descending ring I now gain the ability to move the ring and change the length of the suspension. I could also use a ring on the tree hugger to help reduce friction, but for now I'm sticking with the single descending ring per side.

Here's how the system works. The SMC descending ring is attached to the rope by a girth hitch. Step 1 is to place the tree hugger around the tree. I made 2 different tree huggers; one is 6' long and weighs 1.6oz and the other one is 5' long and weighs 1.4oz . The huggers have a 2" loop on one end and a 6" loop on the other. I made one end with a large, 6" loop so that I would be able to use that end at attach a descending ring(s) to the tree hugger with a girth hitch so that I can test the Amsteel Blue rope with the Garda Hitch at some point in the future.

I also incorporated an "abrasion sleeve" on one of the tree huggers that I made from a piece of Vectran I got from an air bag. I thought this may help with th friction of pulling the rope through the loops. Only time will tell.

After attaching the tree huggers to the tree you then pass the rope through the small, 2" loop and back down through a descending ring attached to the rope. To reduce the weight of the system I am not using biners or am I using a descending ring attached to the tree hugger itself. I did opt to use the descending ring on the rope to give me the ability to move the ring up and down the rope (more on this later).

I also found that if you have some an extra length on the suspension rope, you can pass it through the loop and then back down through the ring a second time.

After tightening everything up you can secure the suspension lines by tying a slippery half hitch and then tying another slippery half hitch on top of that. I lounged in the hammock for about an hour and have it a couple of good bounces and the knots showed no signs of slipping. It was also pretty easy to undo the knots. Just a quick jerk and they come loose.

Here's some pics of the hammock set up with the TH system including one shot of me sitting in the hammock. The rope has very little stretch and once I set up the system I had to only re-tighten everything once to take up the slack from the initial stretch.

One huge advantage of the TH suspension is that it is adjustable and allows me to hang between trees that are farther apart, giving me a wider range of places to set up. With the RB/CB system some of the length of the webbing has to be used to encircle the tree. This means if you hang from a couple of really big trees, they will have to be closer together. By using tree huggers, it leaves the entire length of the rope to span the gap between the hammock and the tree.

You can also change the placement of the ring on the rope and change the length of the suspension. I could easily use longer webbing in the RB/CB system but the weight or webbing is much heavier than the rope I am using (.2 oz per foot for webbing and .08 oz per foot for Amsteel Blue).

You can see in the figure below that on most cases the ring can be located right next to the hammock, giving you the shortest length of suspension rope and the most amount of adjustment. If I find a nice spot with trees a little further apart, I can slide the ring down the rope, away from the hammock, and it lengthens my suspension rope, allowing me to hang in a spot that might not have been possible using the RB/CB system. One thing I noticed is that when you move the ring away from the hammock it reduces the amount of cordage going from the ring, to the tree hugger, and back to the ring, reducing the amount of adjustment you have. I don't think this would be a problem in the long run but it's something to keep in mind.

Trucker's Hitch Suspension Pros:

- Lighter system as compared to my standard RB/CB system

- The tree huggers and rope can be kept separate from the hammock in case of a wet suspension or things like tree sap.

- Longer suspension lines gives the ability to setup in more of a variety of locations.

- Amsteel Blue rope stronger and lighter than webbing

- Provides a 3:1 mechanical advantage when the rope is tightened.

- Rope/tree huggers pack down to a smaller size, reducing bulk in pack.

Trucker's Hitch Suspension Cons:

- Longer setup time RB/CB

- Cinch buckles are quicker to adjust.

- System uses tree huggers. I'm not a huge fan of tree huggers.