Survival Skills: How To Build A Tarp Hammock

With all this knot tying we’ve been looking at in the past couple of weeks, I think it’s high time … Continued

With all this knot tying we’ve been looking at in the past couple of weeks, I think it’s high time that we put it into practice. So here’s your crash course in hammock tying.

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What’s so great about hammocks, you ask? Well, the hammock is one of the most under-utilized shelters for survival. They are an ideal shelter for warm, wet climates and they’re also great for places that are loaded with spiders, scorpions and snakes, like swamps, jungles, and deserts. The only place where a hammock becomes a liability is in the cold. If your desert gets cold at night, or you are anywhere else that gets cold, you’ll freeze your butt off as you swing in the wind all night. Trust me.

So what kind of rope and tarp do you need?

A lot of different materials have worked for me. For ropes, I’ve gotten away with 550 cord and 3/16-inch braided nylon rope as minimums. Anything heavier than that will be fine, too. The tarp could be nylon, woven plastic, canvas, thick bed sheets or parachute cloth. Just be aware that lots of companies are making things thinner and cheaper in recent years. I used to make a bed sheet hammock, but they started ripping on me. It can’t be that I’m getting heavier as I get older, so it must be the cheap fabric getting thinner.
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How To Tie The Homemade Hammock**

Let’s use an 8×10 tarp and some 3/16 braided nylon rope as our example materials, since both can be found readily at hardware stores coast to coast. Start out with one of the long sides of the tarp and roll it up halfway across the entire tarp. Then roll up the other long side to meet the first, so that the whole thing looks like a 10-feet-long, two-roll bundle. Now we’ll grab one end of this bundle and bend it to make a “J” shape. Pass the rope through the “J” from behind, all the way around the “J” twice, and then pass the rope under itself to complete a double sheet bend.

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Tie the same double sheet bend knot on the other end of the tarp, pulling each one tight, and leaving 15 feet or so of rope to tie to your trees. Select leg-thick or bigger trees about 10 feet apart, and securely tie the end of each rope to a tree, as high as you can reach. I like to wrap around the tree twice for good grip on the bark, and then use two half hitches, with an extra hitch for added security. I tie to the trees high up to compensate for the settling of the hammock as the knots cinch down. This keeps you from dragging the ground in the finished hammock.

You can tie up another tarp as an “A” frame between the two trees that the hammock hangs from to give yourself a roof. You can also tie a DEET-soaked rag on each hammock line to keep spiders and other bugs from crawling down the lines to join you in your cozy hammock shelter. Tie your knots well, and you’ll enjoy a well-earned nap.