Will 550 Paracord Hold an Adult in a Camping Hammock?


Paracord has become a multi-purpose utility cord for many and the camping world has not been left behind. Since it’s is easily available and quite affordable, most first time users of hammocks are running after 550 paracords for adult carriage.

Experienced ‘hammockers’ also use it but continue to question themselves time and again, will 550 paracord hold an adult in camping hammock?

Many blogs and marketers will simply say yes and advise you to double up the strand of paracord to increase support for an adult. The truth, however, is that a 550 paracord is not a good choice when it comes to tying down or holding a hammock due to thinness, stretchiness, and intended use.

It is an insufficient option to hold an adult in a camping hammock because it stretches over time, causing the hammock to sink. It is also too thin and hence not strong enough for the job, and to top it off, is not eco-friendly.

black paracord
Not even the heavier 750 paracord would be recommended for this.

What? Not Eco-friendly? Bet this is already in your mind if you are an outdoorsy person. Most outdoor enthusiasts live for environmental protection, conservation, and nature in general so anything that hurts nature is, therefore, a simple No-Go-Zone. Continue reading to find out more about this and other reasons to culminate your relationship with paracord for hammocks.

First Things First, What Is a Paracord?

Hard words for simple things. We all probably know millions of things we use and see every day but have no idea what they are called. Paracord is one of these. Simply put, it is a lightweight rope made of polyester or nylon that has been braided together. 550 paracord, in particular, can hold up to 550lbs.

Will Paracord Hold a Hammock?

Just to reiterate, paracords are not suitable for hammocks. Before exploring why they are not, here are some facts of paracord:

• Nominal tensile strength of 550 pounds
• Stretches under heavy loads
• Has Relatively low Strength
• Made of 7 to 9 3-ply core yarns.
• Most paracord shrink when exposed to a combination of heat and moisture.

Why Paracord Is NOT Recommended for Hammocks

Paracord has amazing uses, hundreds if you care to count. Hammocks is not one of them. Even if you forget your hammock suspension at home, avoid using paracord as an alternative. Sure, it can be used for a myriad of uses when camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities, but when it comes to carrying an adult in a hammock, it falls short. Here’s why:

Stretchability

Paracord is made of nylon or polyester, both of which stretch under heavy loads. Worst of all, paracord has a high memory stretch. This means that every time it stretches, it retains this form, only to stretch again with additional weight. Not only will this look bad on a hammock, but it could also lead to accidents as the stretching continues.

This is when paracord is used as the suspension system to create an anchor point in a hammock. Furthermore, it is not recommended for any other part of the hammock set up. When used for the ridgeline, it won’t hold the tension off the suspension. This means drooping, sagging, sinking, and all words that suggest that the hammock won’t stay in its place for along time.

Manufacturers may talk about 550lbs, but when pressure is exerted on two points on a post or tree, it reduces paracord’s resilience and paves way for its stretching ability.

Even when double up, over time the rope is bound to stretch irreparably, and you’ll one day find your back touching the ground! Rigid ropes are better placed to hold an adult in a hammock since they do not sag.

It’s Too Thin

Paracord is made up of 7 to 9 3-ply core yarns. Despite sounding like a lot, it only amounts to a maximum of about 4mm which is barely enough to meet the standard threshold required to hold the weight of an adult. A 550 paracord, for example, will be 3/16″ thick when relaxed, only to shrink to 1/8″ thick or less when stretched tight.

To hold the weight of an adult, a hammock should have a suspension system of 1 or more inches.

Being too thin, some people opt to double up the cord. While this might hold for a while, it is still not sustainable. Within the second usage, the strand will show signs of wear and tear, which can be dangerous. This will make relaxation time full of worry and anxiety, which is enervating.

Resilience

There are different types of paracord, which imply different levels of resilience, or strength. Manufacturers say 550 paracord can hold up to 750lbs, but that’s the thing, it’s simply a ‘can’. A ‘can’ has so many possibilities, one of them being ‘it might not’. Considering the dynamic load for motion on a hammock, a paracord will automatically fall short.

A hammock moves when swinging, bouncing on it when sitting, sleeping, changing posture, and so on. Stretchy ropes tend to lose their resilience and strength by 35-40% in motion. That said, even though manufacturers claim 550+lbs weight capacity, the reality is far from this.

In fact, any knots and sharp angles made by the rope weaken it by yet another substantial percentage.

Other elements that lower paracord’s resilience against pressure, therefore strength are: Distance between trees, the angle between the ropes, heat, and moisture. That said, you don’t want to be risking your spine on a 550 paracord on a hammock in the name of basking.

If you have to use it, opt for a higher weight like the 1000 lbs one, which will better the protection.

It’s Not Eco-friendly

Last but not least, paracord hurts the tree. Being thin, the nylon fibers that assemble into a paracord snag on the bark of the tree and scratches it, leaving permanent marks. This is even worse with regular motion from the hammock, Of course, a thicker option will reduce the extent of abrasion, but it will still hurt it none-the-less. Imagine destroying the beauty of a tree in the park simply because you’d like to bask.

Worse still, imagine 100 people using the same tree or scattered trees in a park. It is such a grotesque sight that thinking about it is enough to make a nature lover cringe. Continuous abrasion has in fact led to the ban of hammocks in parks. To be part of the solution, give back by using other eco-friendly methods.

Alternatively, use a protective technique, like placing small sticks or some form of barrier between the rope and the tree to protect the tree’s beauty.

What Are the Best Options to Hold a Hammock?

The good news is that numerous alternative options are just as affordable and available as the paracord. They are safe, strong, sustainable, and do not stretch.

Here is a summary of the top options:

Straps & Tubular Webbings: They are portable, lightweight, and compact, making them perfect for travel and excursions. Tubular webbings may not be too eco-friendly but straps are., and they are readily available and strong enough for hammocks. This is a highly recommended alternative.

Hammock straps are frankly our number one option, and the choice of the overwhelming majority of hammock campers. In fact, it’s important enough we did a major in-depth guide to the best camping hammock straps.

Hammock stand: Though cumbersome, it is environmentally friendly, easy to set up, and can be used anywhere. It is actually one of the best suspension methods.

Chains: Not a first choice, but still reliable since they are strong and do not harm the tree when used with eyebolts.

Thick and braided ropes: They have been used since time immemorial and are effective. They may, however, harm trees so should be used with barriers.

Rope: While you can use rope, you really shouldn’t. This is harmful to the trees, even after just one use. This is doubly true if you use a rope more than once on a tree. Fans of hammock camping are never going to recommend the use of rope, and for good reason.

So What’s the Verdict?

Paracord is amazing for innumerable uses, but setting up a camping hammock is not one of them. Choose an option that will not expose users to accidental falls, or hurt the tree. Remember the trees are the reason you can bask and enjoy some great outdoor fun in the first place. That said, let’s keep them safe!

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Big Alaska Dayton

I've always loved the outdoors and have heard the call of the wild, so to speak, since a young age. Big-time camping, hiking, backpacking, and traveling enthusiast, I'm always up for another adventure or another activity that gets me away from the desk and out to enjoy the world. An Eagle Scout with an incurable case of outdoor wanderlust, this blog was a natural labor of love and personal expertise. Hope you enjoy it!

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