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I'm working my way into ultralight backpacking (Knee problems) and have taken interest in hammock camping to drop weight during the summer months. I've hung and slept in hammocks before and found them quite comfortable, but I hadn't heard of a ridgeline until I bothered to look for a solution to rain/bad weather (kinda necessary in the Pacific Northwest).

My question contains several parts (forgive me if these are brutally obvious):

What is a hammock ridgeline? Where is it attached (to the hammock, the attachment points, etc)? What do I use it for?

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A ridgeline is generally used to suspend a tarp above a hammock. It attaches to the trees at or near the level that the hammock attaches to them, but it is pulled tight so that it is well above the level you will be sleeping at.

Some hammocks, such as a Hennessey, have integrated ridgelines. Others, like ENO, do not. In the Hennessey hammocks, the integrated ridgeline helps to provide an asymmetric shape for the hammock (which offers a wider, flatter sleeping area), while also providing support for the tarp.

In the image below, a piece of paracord is tied as a ridgeline near where the straps are affixed to the tree:

enter image description here

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A ridgeline defines the amount of sag a gathered-end hammock has. If there is no ridgeline, the fabric carries all the tension from the anchor points and is more taut. With a ridgeline, the fabric is much looser, facilitating a diagonal lay.

It also keeps an integrated mosquito net away from your body. Plus it's a handy place to hang stuff like your glasses and a ridgeline organizer.

It doesn't normally support a tarp-- Tarps have their own ridgeline or use some other method of attachment (like to the suspension lines on a Hennessy).

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The ridge line goes from one tie-out point to the other directly above where the user lies down. Some hammocks may not have any ridge line or may have a non-structural ridge line as explained on this site.

In my experience, a tent setup (e.g. cuben fiber tent) will usually be lighter than a hammock setup for the same temperature setup. Particularly in colder climates where an under quilt is required.

  • not to mention the lack of trees in a lot of regions – njzk2 Aug 9 '15 at 4:36
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What is a hammock ridgeline? I agree with Uke, a hammock ridgeline helps you to be able to reproduce the appropriate amount of sag in your hammock. Distance between trees will vary, but with a ridgeline in place the sag in the hammock will stay consistent. The sag is important because it allows you to lay diagonally in the hammock so you can achieve a flat lay.

Where is it attached (to the hammock, the attachment points, etc)? On a gathered end hammock you can attach at the suspension point. Making a ridgeline is easy and you can add it to any hammock that doesn't already have one. Common measurement is 83% of the total hammock length. A 10' hammock would need a 8'3.5" ridgeline. You can make it by tying a loop on each end of the line and then just larks heading it over the end of the hammock. Try to choose a cord that doesn't stretch.

What do I use it for? Besides what I described above, you can also hang things off of it. Search for ridgeline organizer. Also search for the site "The Ultimate Hang" and "HammockForums". Lots of great information. Good luck.

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May I also add when tying down a tarp, unless it is one of those heavy old canvass tarps, I have always felt most people are doing it wrong. Allow me to explain...

When you tie from the ringlets in a high wind (and I don't mean tornado, just decent gusts) you risk the ringlets just ripping loose from the tarp altogether.

What I suggest 550 paracord is cheap and strong. Run a length of rope through a ringlet, across the tarp and then threaded through the ringlet across from it. I create a sort of rib cage with the rope across the tarp threaded through the ringlets and then tied down. This way the tarp goes all the way to the ground (long tarp not square) and the loops of the rope are connected to a small handful of metal tent stakes I keep with me. This prevents rips and tears and makes your cover much stronger, and less noisy in the wind.

Also, if I may: When tying off a ridgeline such as in the photo I see one more mistake. Notice the rope is wrapped forever around each tree in an attempt to keep it taught and strong? Problem is there is a single strand of rope.

Best method is to run several strand across between the two trees for your ridgeline, use less to tie it on either side. You don't need a ton of rope wrapped around each tree, just a couple of good knots. Running several strands across rather than just one is what will strengthen the ridgeline, this is basic engineering. This also has the added advantage of more hang points and side by side which is great for running some bug netting around you inside and underneath your tarp.

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