Types & How to Choose Hammock Straps (101 Guide)
Hammock strap is a significant component of hammock suspension system, it’s a long piece of webbing, one end wrapped around trees or fixed anchors, the other end connected to the hammock, to hang the hammock above the ground. It’s used for both lounge and camping hammocks.
However, this simple hammock accessory could also be very complicated when you dive deeply into it, especially for backpack camping hammock suspension. If you ignore the nuances and casually choose a strap, you might end up hitting on the ground at last.
In the rest of this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about hammock suspension straps and help you choose the right one for your next camping.
Why use straps instead of ropes?
I know you must have a question, why not choose a more simple and convenient rope to hang the hammock?
As one important rule in the Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, we campers have an obligation to protect these trees when we hang the hammock on them. A rope is much narrow to wrap around the tree, will cause more weight distribution on the trunk to damage the bark or even kill the tree. Straps wider than 1″ are tree-friendly to avoid such issues.
So, please use wide straps rather than thin ropes to keep any adverse effects from the trees.
What are the main types of hammock straps?
Most hammock vendors sell the hammock and suspension straps separately, so you need buy extra straps if you don’t have them yet. Generally, a gathered end camping hammock often comes with a continuous loop connected with clips, hooks, or carabiners; a bridge hammock comes with aluminum spreader bars and suspension triangle dogbones made of amsteel for hanging.
There are two main types of hammock tree straps:
1. Daisy Chain Straps
Daisy chain straps have sewn loops over the whole length as attachment points, each loop is 3-5 inches apart and a total of 20-30 points for adjusting. It’s the easiest strap for newbies to start hanging journey, just clip the carabiner to the next lower or higher loop to achieve the perfect hang, no learning curve.
Due to loops are sewn in fixed length, you couldn’t adjust the daisy chain strap in any length you want, so it’s not 100% length adjustable. Besides, this type of strap is actually in a double webbing mod, so the weight is greater than the same size regular tree strap.
2. Regular Tree Straps/Huggers
Tree straps and tree huggers are the names for the same or similar strap, some vendors use two names for each other. But some vendors like Dutchware and some advanced campers from hammockforums.net, they differentiate them in this way – tree straps have a single loop sewn in one end, tree huggers have two loops sewn in either end (I’ll use this definition in the rest of the article).
They both feed one end through the loop end to wrap around the tree. For a one-loop tree strap, the remaining straight end is used better for buckles and rings, or whoopie slings with toggles.
For a two-loop tree hugger, the remaining loop end is used better with some hooks like Dutchware Whoopie Hook for whoopie sling suspension. If you try to thread the remaining loop end through any kind of buckles or rings, it might be a bit of bother because of its thickness. For this reason, one-open-end tree straps are more popular.
Because this type of strap is used with buckles, rings or whoopie slings suspension system, so the length is 100% adjustable, but a little bit complicated than daisy chain strap in configuration. It’s welcomed by both new and experienced hammock campers.
What material is the hammock strap made of?
The most common and widely used material for hammock straps is polyester, you can also find straps made of nylon, Polypropylene, and Kevlar. Below are the differences among them:
Nylon is famous for its high breaking strength, which could be up to 5000+ lbs, but it will stretch when taking the weight. Due to these characteristics, nylon is often used for outdoor climbing rope in tubular webbing for buffer protection.
Actually, nylon webbing is not suitable for hammock straps, it stretches and even worse when absorbing water, which results in keeping adjusting your suspension all the time. Besides, it has lower resistance to UV degradation than polyester, accordingly has a shorter life span.
Flat webbing polyester is the most used material for hammock straps for it almost has no stretch (less than 1-2%) when under load, 5 times more abrasive resistant, and better UV protection than nylon. It’s 100% waterproof, most straps have 1500 or 3000 lbs breaking strength, pretty strong for hammock suspension. Price is cheaper than nylon too.
Polyethylene (polypro) is a synthetic material like polyester, it’s typically lighter but a little more stretchy than polyester (less than nylon), has the cheapest price among all materials. It has the same level of water resistance as polyester, and the highest UV protection.
However, it only has 400 lbs breaking strength which is weaker than polyester, and tends to be slippery when used with any type of suspension buckles.
You might find some straps made of UHMWPE – Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, like Dutchware spider web straps, it’s another type of polypro, has almost the same specification as polyethylene.
Anyway, it’s a good choice for backpacking hammock straps for its light weight and low stretch.
Kevlar is the lightest material among these four materials, also has low stretch and high breaking strength, it’s largely used for a bulletproof vest, it has been used for hammock straps in recent years. The biggest downside of kevlar is the lowest UV resistance, experiment shows it will lose around 50% strength in 40 hours’ straight sunlight.
So, for Kevlar tree strap, usually in light yellow color, it’s a good lightweight choice for backpack hammocker to hang it from late afternoon to reduce UV damage, also can be sprayed with an anti-UV coating to add protection, and it won’t add too much weight.
What are flat webbing and tubular webbing?
Flat webbing is a piece of straight single webbing, tubular webbing is two pieces of webbing sewn at sides to become a tubular shape. Tubular webbing is much stronger, also has more weight than flat webbing.
Tubular webbing is commonly seen in nylon material, typically used for climbing gear for large strength and stretch. Flat webbing is widely used for hammock straps in polyester material, featured of considerable strength and very little stretch.
How long should hammock straps be?
Proper hammock strap’s length mainly depends on tree diameter, if you have a clear sense of tree conditions in your hammocking area, it’s pretty easy to choose slightly longer straps than tree girth to go. For example, 6-7 feet long straps are typically used at the east coast of the US, while it seems not to be enough for the west coast, which should be around 10ft long, because the trees grown in the west are often bigger than those in the east.
Most daisy chain straps on the market have 10ft length, which is plenty long enough for most trees, you can safely carry them for unknown areas. One-sewn-end-loop tree straps from cottage vendors often offer more than 10ft length options for full suspension, while two-sewn-end-loops tree huggers usually provide less than 10ft length for accompanying with other suspension components to connect to the hammock, like a whoopie sling.
How to deal with too long/short straps?
If your straps are too long for small-diameter trees, there are two ways to keep the rest free end off the ground:
1. Wrap around the tree multiple times, which can also reduce the tension on the loop (clip or carabiner, if you use these hardware).
2. Tie the extra free end into a slippery hitch knot (see this video), which can also protect rings or buckles from slippage.
If your straps especially tree huggers are too short for large trees, you can extend the length with extra continuous loops or dog bones. Here is how to do it:
Larksheading one end of the continuous loop or dog bone to one end of the tree hugger, wrapping around the tree, threading the extension end through the rest free hugger loop, then connecting the rest hammock suspension with the end of the extender by any method you like.
What factors should you consider when choosing hammock straps?
From the above analysis of hammock straps, I believe you’ve had a clear understanding of them. For the summary, when you are going to choose a pair of straps, here are 4 main elements you should consider:
1. Stretch – Choose low-stretch materials like polyester and polypropylene (UHMWPE), you’d better avoid using nylon webbing.
2. Size & Weight – 10ft long and 1in wide is good to go, daisy chain straps are around 2 times heavier than tree straps and tree huggers, kevlar is the lightest material. If you are a gram weenie, this element you must not ignore.
3. Wet & UV Resistance – Polyester is the optimum material, although kevlar is ultra lightweight, but has the lowest UV resistance. So, make a tradeoff between weight and UV protection.
4. Price – Daisy chain straps have almost twice the price of same size tree straps or huggers, but are the easiest strap for hanging.