Hammocks are great “Leave No Trace” shelters as, when used with appropriate, tree friendly suspension systems, they don’t alter the surroundings or hurt/destroy existing plant and wild life. Hammocks also require no ground leveling, trenching or staking.
Use “tree saver” straps. These are 0.75”-2” wide straps made out of soft webbing that go around the tree to minimize girdling and damage to the bark and cambium layer, which can cause wood tissue death.
Never hammer/screw anything into the trees.
Set up hammock camp at least 200 feet away from lakes and streams to protect riparian areas (the interface between land and an area of water.) They are home to many different plant habitats and communities and are significant in soil stabilization.
Look for an established, or already existing, campsite to set up your hammock. As prescribed by Leave No Trace principles: “Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.” Also from LNT: “Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.” If you are hammocking in a large group, consider breaking down into smaller groups to prevent unnecessary disturbance.
Make sure that the area allows for hammocking. Florida state parks, for instance, prohibit hanging hammocks, so double check to avoid getting in trouble or disturbing any conservation efforts. We recommend you check with the local authorities in the area you are heading before you leave.
Don’t hang your hammock from any dead trees. You could hurt yourself, and hurt the area around you! Even if your chosen tree looks alive, check above you for dead branches and or fruit that could fall.
Make sure to thoroughly check the ground area for sensitive plant life (plants at higher altitudes heal slower than those lower down), wildlife dwellings and potential hazards like yellow jacket nests or poisonous plants – ideally, vegetation will be absent. Always check for roots and lichen, and avoid stepping on them entirely. Never alter anything that you see and avoid introducing or transporting objects/plant life you may find.
We suggest you do not hang your hammock more than 18” off the ground to prevent accidents and to avoid damage to higher branches and leaves. Always hang your hammock on the thickest part of the tree trunk and avoid trees that bend or are planted in damp ground – they could potentially become uprooted.
Always take down your hammock whenever you leave your campsite to prevent animals or small children (if there are any around) from getting tangled up in it. When you are done, pack everything up and inspect your campsite and surrounding area for anything you could have left behind. Double check all trash and leftover food is packed up and taken with you.
As always, clean up after yourself! Leave the spot just the way you found it. For more on the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, check them out HERE