It goes without saying that those of us here at Grand Trunk are enthusiastic about hammocks. We think that hammocking is part of a broader lifestyle choice that encourages freedom, breaks from tradition, and speaks to a spirit of adventure that lives inside us all. We're proud to say that spontaneity is in our DNA.
Part of the joy and independence of hammocking is resting easy knowing that you're safe. And knowing that you're safe means that you need to know the right way to set up and treat your hammock before settling in. A hammock accident is the very last thing you need when you're ready to embrace relaxation.
You might be thinking, "Hammock accident? No biggie - it's only a sore bum." Sure, that's often the case, but hammock safety is not a thing to take lightly. People have been seriously injured or even died in freak hammock accidents when they've ignored important safety points.
We know what it is to love everything about the hammock experience and we want you to share in the joy. To that end, we've put together this quick guide on hammock safety tips. Follow our lead and you'll be sure to find only peace and comfort in your resting spot.
Read the Instructions
Sorry, but it had to be said.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but being sure to read your gear's instructions really is pretty crucial. The manufacturer puts all the dirty details into these and you've got to know them before you get started. You'll have no one to blame but yourself if you surpass the weight limit and end up sleeping in the grass with a torn hammock as a blanket.
Choose Anchors With Care
Whether your anchor points are natural or man-made, they're the foundation of your setup. While convenience is tempting, you'll want to be picky with what you attach your hammock to. Follow these tips and use common sense.
You'll want to choose points that are 12-17 feet apart. Attach your hammock in such a way that you've got the correct sag (more on this below). Be sure that the bottom point of your hammock is no more than 18 inches off the ground and that the hammock hangs level.
Posts or trees that you're using as anchors should be at least 6 inches in diameter, but bigger is always better. Remember, when you lie on your hammock, it's going to pull whatever you're attached to inward. Be very careful to avoid dead or rotten trees - these can easily break and if they do, they will fall on top of you.
This goes for manmade objects, as well. One high-profile hammock accident involved a brick pillar that was being used as an anchor falling on top of its user. Be sure that your anchors are sturdier than you think they need to be.
The anchor points themselves matter, too. Use tree-friendly straps and climbing-rated carabiners and avoid any makeshift components.
A Word for the Trees
The spirit of adventure is incomplete or warped if it doesn't include a proper respect for nature.
Don't deface trees by cutting or bending branches to get the "perfect spot." Always clean your straps after use to avoid any potential spreading of disease from tree to tree. Don't screw or nail anything into a tree - not only is it damaging, but it creates unsafe anchors.
And while we're on it, respect the planet and other adventurers by always practicing Leave No Trace.
Find the Correct Sag
It's got nothing to do with getting older. We're talking about getting the right curve in your hammock.
On top of just being plain uncomfortable, rigging your hammock up too tightly will make it more likely to spin on you. Spending a night like this could cause back issues. Too much sag, on the other hand, can cause similar problems by curving your body.
A correctly hanging hammock should look like smiling lips. In this position, you should be able to comfortably remain lying diagonally without fighting against rotation or being sucked into the middle.
Ease Into It (Literally)
Don't dive in as soon as you've got your hammock hung.
Most of the time when a hammock fails, it does so in the first few seconds under load. Ease your weight onto it to make sure it's going to hold. Once your full weight is settled on it, you can relax.
Look Out Below...
Accidents can always happen, so clear the ground below you before deciding your setup is complete. You'll kick yourself if you fall onto a bunch of sharp rocks that would have taken a mere few seconds to move aside.
It's also a good idea to avoid hanging over a hill or too close to a ledge as these definitely add damage potential to any fall you might take. Save the most breathtaking views for when you're standing on solid ground.
...And Heads Up
Check above your chosen spot. Are there any loose branches that might fall? Any nests that might contain angry wasps or territorial birds?
Be sure that your hanging spot is free from any potential gravity- or wildlife-based hazards before setting that first anchor.
Don't Forget Precautions
Anytime you're out in nature, it's a good idea to follow some basic precautions.
A first-aid kit should be one of your gear staples. In case of minor accidents while setting up or using your hammock, you'll be happy to be able to take care of cuts or scrapes.
It's also wise to let people back home know your plans. Let them know where you're going and how long you plan to be there. It's generally unlikely that things will go very wrong, but you want someone to know when to start worrying in case something does.
Avoiding Hammock Accidents
Hammocks can help make life more of an adventure. They let you disconnect and reconnect, awaken excitement, and get you exploring beyond the beaten path and the edges of your comfort zone.
A key to leaning into this intrepidness is knowing that you can do it in safety. Follow the tips in this guide and you'll be prepared to prevent hammock accidents and securely embrace the unknown.
If you're ready to share the experience of awakening your inner adventurer, Grand Trunk is here to help. Check out our hammocks and accessories and come hang with us.