How to Build the Perfect Rope Swing

Summer Water Play in River
 RyanJLane/Getty Images

In the catalog of human sensations, few rank higher than swinging from a rope and plunging into a cool river on a sweltering summer day. Here’s how to set up your own:

1. UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE AN IDIOT
You. Are. An. Idiot. Not only that, you realize the dangers of this enterprise and the dangers you’re getting others into. Cool?

2. FIND A TREE
Oaks are the classic; pick one with a thick horizontal branch, at least 8 inches in diameter, that extends a dozen feet or farther over deep water. The spot should be 8 to 10 feet deep minimum, and deeper if your launchpad and release point are especially high.

 

3. CLEAR THE AREA OF SUBMERGED OBSTACLES
As you do, double-check the area. If you find a sunken boulder, find a new spot.

4. DRILL A BOLT
Drill into the limb to avoid killing it. Or, in lieu of that, use a noose-like double running bowline knot (Google it) to attach your rope to the tree. Use nylon rope, since it won’t decay in the sunlight.

5. TIE A FEW DOUBLE OVERHAND KNOTS
You’ll use these knots as hand grips. Then—after you double-check the strength of your rope and feel confident that it’s secure—let it rip. To maximize the distance of your jump, don’t release until the rope reaches the end of its upward trajectory.

6. EMERGE FROM THE WATER
Holler. Repeat.

This article is part of our Summer School series, a comprehensive guide to acing the year’s best season.