Survivor School: How To Make a Hammock Shelter from a Tarp

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I know that I have been on shelters for some time now and I think that there are just a few more essential types before I am done.  Then in the future, I will visit shelters if I think of one I may have missed.

Today, I feel is one of the neatest shelters, as long as it is warm outside.  It is a Hammock.  True backpacking hammocks are pretty cheap and take up little space in your bug out bag, so It may be worth just getting one.  But I am not teaching you how to buy one, am I?  I’m supposed to show you how to build one.

If you are in a hot climate, I don’t care if it is wet or not, this may be the best type of shelter to use.  If you are in a cold climate, or a desert that gets really cold at night, don’t build this shelter because you will freeze your butt off.

The importance of this type of shelter is to keep you off the ground.  Reasons for this include, but are not limited to, keeping out of the water in swamps; keeping off the ground in the case of snakes, scorpions, or spiders in the swamp, desert or jungles; or just making a cool (temperature wise) shelter.

If you remember, I told you to bring a sheet and a tarp in your BOB.  If the sheet is a very thick sheet, it will breath better than the tarp, but sheets have been made cheaper and thinner, so a lot of new ones will rip on you.  You can also use a parachute, but I don’t tell people to keep parachutes in their bags.

The directions that I give you will be for putting a tarp up for now and the directions could be adapted for the other materials very easily.


Tie the one end of the hammock with a double sheet bend, which I realize should be in a knot tying post, which will come soon.

Double Sheet Bend (the white rope)



Double Sheet Bend (practical application)


Then attach this end to a tree, but do it a good 5-8 feet above the ground (higher if possible) based on your weight, to account for the sag of the hammock.  You can use paracord for tying the ends.  Pull the knots tight, so the hammock doesn’t sag more than needed.  Now do the same to the other side.  BAM, you have a hammock.

Hammock Shelter Made from Tarp

This hammock will fully enclose you, but if it is rainy, you may want to tie another tarp above it in an A Frame configuration or by tying two corners to the trees a couple feet above the hammock, and staking the other two corners down with paracord.

Another configuration for tarps that have the rings in them is to weave your cordage between most of the rings, leaving a few unused.  Tie the two ends to trees and tie a branch to the two free corners to be used as weights to keep the flap closed on you.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, the free area of the tarp is to be draped over the top of the hammock, and the weights will keep it from blowing open.

Hammock Shelter with Roof


WOW!  The tarp is such a versatile survival tool.  See why we use it in our BOB yet?

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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