How Do I Keep My Hammock From Swinging?

Man setting up hammock

Hammocks are growing in popularity with campers and hikers everywhere. They are a lighter and more portable type of shelter which makes life much easier in the wild.

Unfortunately, they come with a few drawbacks like being difficult to set up if there are no trees around or not being suited for hiking in very cold weather. In addition to this, some people find they cannot fall asleep because of the constant swinging.

And it is true, once you’re in it, the hammock sways with your every movement.

If you’re uncomfortable with swinging while trying to fall asleep, there’s a number of methods that can help you stabilize your hammock and reduce the swaying. Use your adaptive skills, creativity, and some of our tips to help you out. 

Why People Sleep in Hammocks?

Hammocks are much easier to set up than tents as long as you have all the knots pretied, as most campers and hikers do. All you need to do is find two points to tie off your hammock and you’re good to go.

Besides, nothing beats sleeping in a hammock on clear nights when camping. The weightless feeling and the open skies always help me get a good night’s sleep.

Not all people opt for the hammock because they like sleeping in it, though. Some go for it out of necessity.

A hammock is much lighter than a single-man tent. Even together with the tarp (which you’ll need on everything but clear nights), the hammock is still more compact.

Finally, if you get caught out in low light conditions, or dark falls faster than you expected, tying off your hammock is much easier than setting up a tent at night.

Why Does a Hammock Swing?

Hammocks are constructed to require minimum tie-off points. The fewer you need, the easier it will be to set up. This leads to hammocks resembling that carnival ladder that’s tied off on a single point at both ends.

Anyone who’s ever given the game a shot knows that it’s next to impossible to keep your balance on it. Fortunately, the hammock is much easier to balance than the carnival game as it isn’t made to steal your money, but to provide shelter in the wild.

The hammock swings because there is nothing to transfer the force of you getting into it. The swaying motion will eventually cease, however, it will take some time.

Tips to Keep Your Hammock From Swinging

Even though most people enjoy being gently swayed to sleep, for others it can resemble trying to sleep on a ship in the middle of a storm.

If you don’t like the swaying motion when you’re trying to fall asleep, there are a few things you can do to keep that from happening. The first is no know your gear and practice with it.

Knowing how far to stretch your hammock and how to quickly tie it off will leave you with more time to figure out what you can do to stop the swaying.

Of course, you could use just a tent or a bivvy sack when in the rain, but lifting your bedding off the ground is a much more comfortable way to sleep. Here are some ways you can get the most out of your hammock and stop it from swinging.

Lie in Your Hammock at an Angle to Slow Down the Swinging

Position yourself so that you’re not lying straight across the hammock but slightly askew. Lying in this manner should allow you to straighten your body completely.

This is the correct position for sleeping in a hammock for longer periods of time. It’s fine to nap in that C position people usually make when lying in a hammock. However, if you want to spend the night in nature and get a good night’s sleep, lay in your hammock at an angle and fully extend your body.

Try to Be Completely Still

The simplest way to stop your hammock from swinging would be to stop moving once you’re inside. While this method will work eventually, isn’t always ideal.

It always takes some time to get into the right position and you’re bound to fidget until you get there and that will only keep increasing the swaying momentum.

Also, lying still won’t be an easy task for those people who get nausea from the swinging.

Be Careful When Getting Into the Hammock

That first swing you make when getting into the hammock is the strongest one and will cause more swinging later.

If you pay attention to how you sit and bring your legs up when lying on the hammock, you can reduce the consequences of that first swing.

Keep in mind that this might be really difficult for you to do at first. You should focus on not falling off your hammock and once you’ve got that down, practice getting into it without causing too much swaying.

As with most of your camping gear – practice makes perfect. Know what you want from your equipment and actively work on trying to achieve it.

After a few camping trips and some experimentation, you’ll get a hang of it. Most experienced campers who don’t like swinging can get into their hammock shelter without moving the hammock an inch. 

Man keeping hammock from swinging

Use Something to Anchor Yourself

If you didn’t get enough time to practice controlling the swinging of your sleeping arrangement, don’t worry. There are ways you can stop your hammock from swinging by anchoring yourself to the ground.

You can stop the swaying simply by placing one foot on the ground. Of course, you’ll need to stretch your hammock pretty low to the ground. Once you stop the swaying just pull the leg back in carefully to prevent any backswings.

If you don’t like setting up your hammock so close to the ground, you can use a camping chair or a walking stick to stabilize yourself. This implies that you will need to have a place prepared for the item you will use to stop the swinging.

If you’re using a camp chair, place it close enough so that you can reach it, but far enough that it doesn’t cause any problems when you’re getting out of the hammock in the morning.

If you’re using walking sticks or repurposed tent poles, don’t put them in the hammock with you. Not only can they rip the fabric and damage your gear, but they’re also notoriously uncomfortable bedmates.

The best solution would be to stick them in the ground until they can stand upright without any other support.

If nothing else works, you can tie a ridgeline parallel or perpendicular to your hammock and slightly above it. Use the line to steady yourself once you’re in the hammock. Make sure the ridgeline is secured safely on both sides and that it can take some of your weight. You won’t be pulling on it hard, but the stronger it’s tied, the better.

Tie off Your Hammock

Some hammocks even come with more than two tie-off points. While the main ones can be used to tie the hammock to trees, you can use the additional loops to secure it from moving.

Just run some cord through them and attach the line to other tres or stakes. The lines shouldn’t be completely taut as they won’t need to hold you firmly in place.

If you don’t mind doing the extra work, this is the surest way to prevent any swaying from your hammock.

Unfortunately, it comes with a few disadvantages. The first one being that it is quite difficult to get out of a hammock that has been tied off on both sides. The simple solution to this would be to tie off just one, however, this increases the risk of the hammock flipping over. 

Apart from this, you’ll have to get pretty creative if your hammock doesn’t come with additional tie-off points. 

You could make loops from some paracord and tie a couple of knots on each side of the hammock. Or, use any self-tightening knot squeeze a pinch of the hammock fabric and tie it off or stake it out. This technique can sometimes damage the fabric and you’ll certainly get a lot of wrinkles in the material.

Tie Your Backpack Underneath Your Hammock to Keep It From Swinging

If you don’t have anything to anchor yourself and calm the swinging, and you don’t like to stretch your hammock closer to the ground, there are still ways you can prevent the swinging motion.

All you need to do is provide some form of counterweight under the hammock. Most people choose to tie their backpack under there to counterbalance the weight from the top, but anything can do.

If you have a sturdy hammock liner, you can stuff it with your items to ensure the weight is distributed on the bottom side of the hammock. This way, you won’t need to tie off anything and reduce the risk of ties damaging your hammock.

Finally, some hammocks have a tie-off point on their bottom side, for this exact purpose. If you have a hammock such as this one, all you’ll need to do is tie a rope under it and peg the rope firmly directly under the tie-off point.

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