At Couch2Trail our preferred hammock suspension method is whoopie slings hitched to tree straps. There are many other types of suspension, but we like our current setup. However, one disadvantage of whoopie slings is this: If your chosen trees are closer together than the minimum adjustment your slings can accommodate (the typical whoopie sling can be shortened to about two feet), your hammock will be too low. No one wants to sleep with their hammock dragging the ground, or so low that it’s difficult to get out of your hammock. However there are times where terrain or surrounding vegetation may limit options in your chosen camp site, and it helps to have an alternative.
First, keep in mind that you can only go so short. You have the length of your hammock itself to deal with (including your continuous loops). You also need to consider whether your tarp will fit the space you’ve chosen to hang. There is certainly such a thing as trees being too close to hang.
That said, if for whatever reason you have selected your site and your only option leaves your hammock too low after hanging it using your whoopie slings, never fear- the Becket hitch is here!
Derek Hansen at ultimatehang.com first introduced me to the Becket Hitch though the article linked to the picture above. I really recommend spending some time on his site and reading his book of the same name if you haven’t already. The Becket Hitch is very simple to tie, and it’s a slippery knot (which I love) so it’s also very easy to untie.
Once you have ascertained that your chosen trees are simply too close for comfort, you can decide whether or not applying the Becket Hitch method will work for you. To use the knot, simply remove your whoopie sling and soft shackle (or carabiner) from the continuous loop on the end of your hammock and apply the hitch. If necessary you can do this on both ends (some use suspension systems where this is their preferred method). Here’s a quick video showing how the knot is applied.
There are of course other times when you may need an option like the Beckett Hitch. You may have forgotten or lost a whoopie sling, or a soft shackle, or you may find one or the other to be unserviceable out in the field due to wear. We all try to be careful packing, and make sure that we have all our gear and it’s all in good shape before heading out, but face it: if you’re anything like me sometimes things slip through the cracks!
It’s always good to have those “just in case” tools available in your mental toolbox, even if you don’t use them regularly. For us, the Becket Hitch is just such a tool, and we recommend you add it to your kit as well!