Engineering lessons from the hammock

HammockNow that spring is here, it’s time to get out into nature and enjoy some fresh air.

Whether you’re heading up into the mountains for a weekend camping trip, or are jetting out to Hawaii in the coming weeks, you’ll want to make sure you have a hammock.

There’s something special about this simple hanging bed, and yet it has a lot to teach in regards to engineering.

Here are three things to think about next time you are setting your hammock up:

Knots. Were you in the boy scouts or girl scouts as a child? Did you get your knot-tying merit badge? Maybe you fished instead? New to knots? Hanging a hammock properly requires creativity and knot-tying skills. Start by familiarizing yourself with the basics here, then start watching some beginner’s knot-tying tutorials. With a little bit of focus, you’ll be a master in no time.

Measuring. Hanging a hammock requires finding the perfect two trees. If they’re too close together, you’ll crunch your body up, and won’t be able to hang comfortably. On the other hand, if they’re too far apart, and you don’t have any extra rope, your hammock will get too far extended, and be unable to tie properly. You need to find two trees that are just the right length apart. It takes some patience and a good eye, but it is possible.

Ingenuity. Depending on the kind of trees that grow where you are staying, you may have a very easy time hanging your hammock, or a very difficult time. Sometimes you’re going to have to get creative. That may mean moving rocks and shrubs. Clearing out space under the hammock to avoid a fall, or setting up your hammock farther away from camp than maybe you’d like.

You’ll be hanging up your hammock this summer anyway. Might as well make it a learning experience. Have fun and see what tips and tricks work best for you. Happy swinging.