Introduction: One-Tree Hammock System, Ultralight

About: Build, modify, create, adapt!

Anyone that loves swinging in a Hammock has been there. That moment when you find the perfect spot by the lake or overlooking an incredible mountain vista, and there is only one tree to use as an anchor. I found myself facing this very predicament on a deserted Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia, and I decided to do something about it. Behold the ultra light, super portable, one tree hammock suspension system.

I had seen other improvised versions of the one tree system, using other anchors such as sticks and rocks. The problem is, that those things aren't always available, and they are not easy to bring along while traveling. The solution? Bring your anchor with you!

Whether you found that perfect spot on your hike, or just need to get out of the van for a while, the ultralight one tree hammock system solves the problem by adding just a pound to your pack and being a compact solution to the age old problem.

Step 1: The Kit

  1. 30 ft length of STATIC (non stretch) rope
  2. Lightweight camping/backpacking hammock
  3. 2 carabiners
  4. Ground screw (orange screw: )
  5. Webbing or hammock suspension system
  6. Prusik loop
  7. One tree

Step 2: Set Up the Anchor Rope

  1. Tie a figure eight on a bight on one end of the rope. Knot diagram image courtesy of:
  2. Throw the loop over a branch that hangs out over the direction you want your hammock to point. If the tree doesn't have a good branch, it just requires a little climbing. You can use this same cinch knot on the trunk of tree, but you'll need to tie it up about 10 ft. Ideally when you anchor the other end, you want the rope to be at a greater angle than about 30 degrees. The greater the angle the better the anchor. ( Don't go more than about 60 degrees or the tension will pull up on the anchor and may pull it out.)
  1. Pull the loop down to eye level and pull the other end of the rope through until the knot cinches back against the branch. Pull it tight.

Step 3: Set Up the Hammock

  1. Use your suspension system or webbing and wrap a loop around the tree at about eye level or a little higher.
  2. Clip on your hammock, using one of the carabiners. The end of the hammock should be as close to the tree as possible. Pull it tight.

Step 4: Build the Second Anchor

The ground screw takes the place of the second tree (second anchor point) in this system. It's important to make sure the ground is level. If the ground slopes down, or away from the tree, it will give the system a lower angle to work with, and make it so your hammock sags really low, or even hits the ground.

  1. Pace off 20 feet from the tree and screw in the ground anchor. Put it as deep into the ground as you can. It's ok if the top is almost in the ground.
  2. Pull the rope tight and hold it over the anchor in the ground. measure about 2 feet up from where the anchor and rope meet, and tie an alpine butterfly knot. Knot diagram image courtesy of:
  3. Take the free end of the rope and loop it through the anchor.
  4. Pass the end back toward the loop in the rope, and through it. This will make a crude 3:1 mechanical advantage that will allow you to pull the rope very tight. This combination of knots and loops is also called a trucker's hitch.
  5. Pull on the free end of the rope as hard as you can, and take up as much slack in the rope as possible. If it is going to support your weight, it has to be really tight!
  6. While keeping the tension on the rope, tie a half hitch around the rope and cinch it up to the loop. this will lock the knot. Put another half hitch in for good measure.

Step 5: Attach the Prusik

Now that you have both anchors set up, all you have to do is attach the other end of the hammock to the rope. In order to get the hammock attached without slipping, you will use a prusik loop. (it's just a loop of paracord, or rope)

  1. Grab the prusik, and stretch the hammock out so it's level and taught. Drape the loop over the rope where the end of the hammock touches the angled rope.
  2. Loop one end of the prusik through the other, and around the rope. do this three times and pull it tight. The triple wrap will add friction to the rope when your weight pulls on it, and it will grab the rope and will not slide.
  3. Attach the hammock and you are all set!

Step 6: Hang Out or Take a Nap!

Bask in your versatility! There is nothing standing in your way of swinging in your 'mock, overlooking that beautiful view, no matter how remote the spot.

For road trips, van life, and campsites, try the trailer hitch version of the anchor.

Notes: This setup will hold up to 150 pounds. If you are heavier than that, the system will work, but you'll need to add another orange screw into the system or a deeper ground anchor such as a large dog tie out as seen above.

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