How Big A Tree Do You Need To Support A Hammock? (Explained)

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Whether you are experienced at hammocking or a relative novice, finding a good spot to put up your hammock can sometimes be an issue.

And often the biggest problem is whether the trees you have earmarked are big enough for your hammock.

After all, you don’t want to be woken from your slumber by your hammock coming crashing down because the tree you pitched it on was too thin.

So how big a tree do you need for a hammock? 

Let’s take a closer look.

How Big A Tree Do You Need To Support A Hammock?

In general, you will want to look for a tree that is at least 4 inches in diameter to attach your hammock to. But the most important thing is to give the tree you have in mind a shake, every tree species is different and if it moves or bends it might not be strong enough to support a hammock.

As Thick As Your Thigh, As Fat As Your Forearm

Foot of tree

If you do a bit of Googling on the title question you will find all kinds of suggestions for the size of a tree you can safely use to attach a hammock to.

Three popular ideas are that the tree should be:

  • As thick as your thigh, or;
  • As fat as your forearm, or;
  • Five and alive (ie 5 inches or more in diameter and not a dead or rotting trunk).

As a very general rule of thumb, we can say that a tree should be four to six inches in diameter before you consider using it to hang a hammock from.

But at the same time, we don’t all have the same-sized forearms or thighs.

Which probably brings up a more accurate answer to this question.

The size tree you need for a hammock depends on a number of factors…

What Size Tree Do You Need For Your Hammock: What to Consider

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to trees for a hammock.

It can vary enormously.

Both some important things to remember are:

How Much Do You Weigh?

Without getting too personal, how much you weigh will no doubt influence the size of the tree you need for your hammock.

If you weigh 120lbs then you won’t need as big a tree to support you compared to if you weigh 240lbs.

Different Species of Trees Have Different Strengths

Whilst we might take four inches as a minimum diameter for a tree from which you want to hang your hammock from, it does depend very much upon the species.

For instance, an Aspen tree might not feel stable even if it is 6 inches in diameter.

That is because it has a shallower widespread root system, and it is a soft wood tree.

But a 4-inch Oak tree, with its hardwood strength and incredible root system, would provide more adequate support despite being two inches narrower.

Make Sure the Tree is Healthy

Feet hanging over edge of hammock

Any tree you suspend a hammock from should be rooted in firm ground.

If it isn’t then it is unlikely to support a hammock.

And in keeping with the “Five and alive” saying mentioned above, the tree needs to be healthy and not dead or decaying.

A few signs of a tree that isn’t healthy include:

  • A lack of foliage.
  • Pests such as ants, termites and beetles are visible on the tree.
  • Brittle branches.
  • Rot or fungus is present.
  • Broken twigs and branches are on the ground around it.

On the other hand, dense bark, strong branches and lots of vibrant leaves mean a tree is healthy and might be a good choice for your hammock.

How Does It Feel?

If you have pinpointed what you think is a good tree for your hammock, you should carry out one final test.

Give it a shake!

If the tree doesn’t feel stable and shakes, or easily bends, then you might want to look elsewhere.

It needs to be able to handle your weight load, and this indicates that it won’t.

Also remember the smaller and thinner a tree, the more it will bend.

If you attach your hammock to a thin tree and drift off to sleep in it, all might seem fine, until you wake up and find your hammock is almost touching the ground as the tree has bent so much!

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Answering the Question How Big A Tree Do You Need to Support a Hammock
Click infographic to enlarge.

As a very broad rule of thumb, you will want to look for a tree that is at least four inches in diameter.

But that might well not be enough, so before you put your hammock up there are a few more things you need to think about:

  • How much do you weigh? The heavier you are the more solid a tree you will need.
  • All trees are different. A 4-inch Oak tree will be much stronger than a 6-inch Aspen tree.
  • Any tree you attach a hammock to needs to be healthy. Putting your hammock up on a dead or decaying tree is dangerous.
  • Do a manual test. Try to shake the tree you have in mind. If it bends or moves it might not be strong enough.

And really it is as simple as that last point.

If the tree you are attaching your hammock to is over around 4 inches in diameter and it feels sturdy and strong, then you are probably good to go.

Good luck!

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