If you have gone camping a couple of times, there must have been at least one time when you set up your hammock, lie down in it and it just doesn’t feel right.
You might have tried to move around but you’re greeted by discomfort because the hammock is too tight and the fabric isn’t giving space no matter how much you adjust.
What could be wrong? Could it be that your hammock is too tight? Or maybe you’re doing something wrong.
My guess is, that your hammock is too tight and that’s why you feel all squishy and uncomfortable. But let’s find out for a fact if that’s the case.
Can A Hammock Be Too Tight?
Yes. Your hammock can be too tight. So, if you feel like it is, then it most likely is.
However, how do you tell for sure that your hammock is too tight, and what causes a hammock to be too tight?
Once you begin to see stress lines on your hammock fabric or you climb in and your shoulders are squeezed, then your hammock is too tight.
If you’re unable to turn around comfortably when you sleep or change positions, then your hammock is tied too tight, and it is most likely a mistake on your part.
The major sign of a hammock that’s too tight is discomfort in the middle as well as stress lines on the hammock material.
We’ll talk about how to correct this as we go on.
What Happens When Your Hammock Is Too Tight?
From minor discomforts to full-blown claustrophobia, the impact of sleeping in a tight hammock is all shades of uncomfortable.
Because of how you’ll be cocooned in the hammock, you’ll only be able to sleep in the very middle of the hammock without any space to change positions or stretch as you sleep.
Also, a tight hammock will place more pressure on the tree or objects you’re suspending it from. It could damage your patio ceiling or trees as your hammock straps could over-brush a tree trunk.
Your suspension hooks could also become weakened and worn.
How Tight Should Hammocks Be?
Before you go about making your hammock too loose for comfort, please understand that the solution to a hammock that’s too tight isn’t making it too loose.
A certain level of tightness is required of your hammock for it to hold properly and carry your weight.
So, how tight should the hammock be?
Technically, your hammock should have a 30 degrees angle between the strap and the ground, as well as an 18-inch height above ground level.
In simpler terms, your hammock should look a bit curved in the middle and resemble the shape of a banana. That way, it isn’t too flat to be uncomfortable, and it also isn’t too saggy that you’ll feel pulled towards the floor.
Why Is My Hammock Tight in The Middle?
If your hammock is tight in the middle, it means you tied it too tight to the tree or whatever object it is suspended from.
Many inexperienced hammock campers try to tie their hammocks as tightly as possible, and they end up leaving little to no space in the middle of the hammock. So, when they lie down, they cannot get comfortable because the middle is tiny, tight, and too straight.
Remember what we said about your hammock resembling a banana after tying it up? If it’s looking like an ironing board instead, then you have missed it.
Here are some reasons your hammock is tight in the middle:
1. You tied it too tight
Your hammock is only as loose or tight as you make it; so if your hammock feels tight, then you tied it too tight.
One mistake people make when setting up their hammocks is that they pull the straps until the hammock is flat in the middle. But that’s not how it should be.
When your hammock is straight and flat, you’re in for a whole lot of discomfort and tightness.
So, how should you tie your hammock? We’ll get to that part soon.
2. Your hammock is too long
Don’t go buying the longest hammock you find in the store because you think you need the room. The length of the hammock you buy should correlate with your height.
According to hammock experts, your hammock should be 3 feet longer than your height, but not any more than that.
If you get an extra-long hammock, you’ll have to pull it very tight to get the extra fabric up, which will translate to a squeezed fabric with sides that are too tight.
3. Your suspension angle is wrong
Your suspension angle must not be too steep or too flat when you’re setting up your ridge because it’ll cause tension that’ll tighten the middle of your hammock.
Always create a suspension angle of 30 degrees when tying the straps of your hammock. You can use a ridgeline to help you get the right suspension angle.
4. You’re using the wrong type of hammock
Some hammocks come with tighter fabric than others because they are primarily made to store heavy camping equipment.
If you were to buy such a hammock and sleep in it, you wouldn’t be comfortable.
How Do You Loosen a Hammock?
The simplest way to loosen a hammock that’s too tight is to loosen the suspension. If you tied it too tightly or raised it too high, then you need to correct that.
Remember the 30-degree angle rule as you re-tie the hammock and ensure that it isn’t above 18 inches from the ground.
As you loosen the suspension, remember to give it a good sag, so that your body gets the right amount of cocoon when you lie in it, but not too much to be extra saggy.
Loosening and retying the hammock also reduces the pressure on your straps, the hammock fabric, and the platform you’re suspending it from.
How Can I Make My Hammock More Comfortable?
The nights and days you spend in a hammock should be comfortable and not something to dread. But if you’re only familiar with the discomfort, how can you change that?
Here are some simple rules and practices that’ll help:
1. Get the right hammock size
The size of the hammock you purchase will affect how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel when sleeping.
For instance, if you weigh a lot, you’ll be more comfortable sleeping on a hammock made of heavy materials such as canvas and hung on thick ropes. Otherwise, a lighter material or weaker rope will sag and stretch under your weight.
If your weight is on the lighter side, then you might not want a heavy hammock material because it could envelop you. Lighter materials and a slimmer can still handle your weight with the right amount of sag and no discomfort.
Also, a smaller hammock size will deliver more comfort and relief than a larger one if you have a sore pelvis.
In the end, always opt for a hammock fabric that is comfortable, durable, and affordable.
2. Longer hammock over a shorter hammock
Most hammock experts recommend hammocks that are 11 feet long. If it gets longer than 11 feet, then it might be hard to find the right place to suspend it.
However, you can toy with the length of your hammock depending on your height.
As we said earlier, the hammock should be at least 3 feet longer than your height.
A longer hammock is more comfortable because it helps your body stretch out flatter and better, compared to a short hammock.
3. Maintain a good sag when hanging your hammock
Don’t string up your hammock too tightly between your anchor points because the result is an uncomfortable cocoon that’ll be uncomfortable for your back and shoulders.
Instead, leave a good sag, preferably a 30-degrees angle. If you don’t know how to calculate that, ensure that when you look at the hammock from the side, it looks like a banana.
One benefit of having a good sag on your hammock is that it lowers the center of gravity and stabilizes the hammock, so you don’t easily fall off.
4. Lay Across the hammock diagonally
When your hammock has a good sag, you can comfortably lay diagonally across your hammock and feel comfortable.
Your body will recline flat across the hammock fabric in an ergonomic fashion while your head and feet both drop down.
5. Raise Your Foot Area Higher
Hanging the leg area of your hammock a few inches higher helps to keep your body at a comfortable angle and prevents your heavier torso from sliding naturally towards the middle.
When hanging the foot side of your hammock, try to keep it between 8 and 10 inches higher than the other sides.
It is a good idea to set up your hammock with the head end between 8 and 10 inches lower than the foot. That way, your body moves closer to the head area and reduces the calf ridge.
6. Set the right hammock height
Set your hammock at a comfortable height for sitting. It’ll also be comfortable enough for you to climb in and climb out of the hammock.
It should be low enough for you to relax and lean back as you sit, and also high enough for you to get up easily. Although 18 inches above the ground is recommended, you can explore the height that suits you.
7. Use a Knee Pillow
When you lie diagonally, you might feel discomfort such as a tight ridge under your legs.
This can cause negative pressure on your knees. To avoid or release the pressure, get padding such as a small pillow and place it under your knees.
You can also use a small pillow for your head to ensure that you have the needed neck support when you sleep to avoid neck pain.
Now that you know these tips, you won’t have to deal with tight and uncomfortable hammocks anymore. Follow these simple tips when setting up your hammock and you’ll find that hammock camping will become more comfortable for you.