Could I adapt the PCT bear bag hanging method to hang a surf swing?
May 22, 2023 8:40 AM   Subscribe

So I've been wanting to get a surfswing to take camping and set up at our camp site, or maybe even take to the park sometimes. The problem is that hanging method isn't really designed for easy removal. But I just saw this method for hanging a bear bag, and I have no need to hang a bear bag, but I'm wondering if I can do something like that for hanging a surfswing.

I would use some sort of solid metal bar as the catch, I I think. Not some random twig/stick.

As I see the the main problems would be:

The extra rope hanging down would be a hazard while swining. There were have to be a way to secure the rope(s) out of the way.

I would presumably have to do this twice since the surf swing hangs from TWO points and I would need to get them about even-ish height, I assume, which might be tricky.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would honestly just do a throw line with light cordage, use that to haul up the support line for the swing, and then tie that around a tree trunk. The whole catch thing seems like a significant failure point. Plus having the line tied to a separate tree trunk keeps it out of the way and that you can balance the two ropes before fully securing them.
posted by Ferreous at 9:04 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]

I'm not a rope or knot guy, but there are a lot of big differences between a surfswing and a bear bag:
- suspended pack: weighs maybe 20kg, usually much less; human + surfswing: weighs 30-100kg
- suspended pack: just hangs there statically; surfswing: swings back and forth, load constantly changing
- consequences of suspended pack falling: bruised apples, dented cans, slight increase in potential bear/vermin activity if you don't notice right away; consequences of surfswing falling while in use: serious injury/death
posted by mskyle at 9:24 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]

This does not look like a safe and secure method for attaching a swing.

How about using the standard straps with a telescoping boat hook?

They make boat hooks which extend to 12' and compress down to as little as 4 1/2 feet. You could use it as a hiking stick. Pair a boat hook with some extra rope and you should be able to get those straps around a reasonably high branch (~18 feet, depending on how tall you are) and easily undo them when you're done.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:49 AM on May 22

Response by poster: Ok, I think the consensus is that it's not safe to try to adapt something like this.

How about using the standard straps with a telescoping boat hook?

The problem with the standard system isn't the attachment it's the take-down and re-use. It looks like I'd basically have to buy new ropes for every use.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:45 AM on May 22

The linked Amazon page also has an add for some tree swing straps - if you used something like this I think you could leave a thin rope tied to the part of the buckle the stays close to the tree limb and then when you're done and the ropes are no longer under load you could tug on that rope to undo the strap. It would probably be a pain in the ass, you'd need a very good knot so that it doesn't just come untied, and even if you did it "right" you could definitely end up in a situation where the strap gets caught on something and you can't get it down but I think that's probably inevitable - trees are tricky. Might be worth trying out on some close-to-home trees.
posted by mskyle at 12:47 PM on May 22

That's what the boat hook is for. you can use it to pull on the rope looped around the branch to take it down. The boat hook is a long telescoping rod with a sturdy plastic hook on the end meant for grabbing rope and pulling it towards you.

If you think all the weight applied to the swing will cinch up the rope too tight and make it difficult to pull it down, you can always tie a short section of cord (using a rolling hitch) with a loop on it to the mid-point of the swing rope so that once it's wrapped around the branch you can grab it with the boat hook and un-cinch it. Once it's un-cinched you'll be able to grab the loop with the boat hook and pull everything down.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:52 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]

You'd have to check the ratings of things, but my initial thoughts, instead of doing the larks head over the tree branch, do the larks head around a carabiner, throw climbing slings over the tree branch and attach the carabiner to those. Depending on the rope they're giving you, going around the carabiner is more strain on the rope than going around a tree branch, so that might be a new point of failure. Someone at an specialized climbing store might be able to give you specifics, but generally you want many multiples of anticipated weight when considering dynamic loads.
posted by platypus of the universe at 4:43 PM on May 22

I think you want what arborists call a "retrievable canopy anchor".
posted by nicwolff at 12:53 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

The places you are camping may also have opinions about you hanging a swing. Some sites require tree straps for hammocks to avoid damaging the bark, I assume this would go for anything load-bearing tied to a tree. I’m also concerned about finding appropriate branches that are big enough and positioned such that the surfer couldn’t bonk into a tree.
posted by momus_window at 7:37 PM on May 23

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