Now that the weather is getting a little warmer, Leave No Trace has received several inquiries about using hammocks while camping. People have asked us if hammocks are a better choice than tents and what impact hammocks might have on the environment. Our Education Director, Ben, had some informative responses to these questions that I wanted to share with our blogging community:
1) The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics does not have a recommendation either for or against tents and/or hammocks. We advocate for enjoying the outdoors responsibly.
2) Hammocks can eliminate much of the impact generally associated with tent camping. When tent camping, you are impacting a larger area just by the sheer nature of a tent’s size and the additional impact of sleeping pads, sleeping bags and the campers inside.
3) As long as ‘tree saver' straps (2-4” wide straps that go around the tree to minimize any girdling effects) are used, there is very little impact associated with hammock camping. Besides getting in and out of the hammock, the ground beneath is almost untouched.
4) A hammock allows for greater flexibility when choosing a campsite. When looking for a tent site, level ground is generally preferred. However, with a hammock, one can essentially camp wherever there are trees. This could be on a steep slope, over boulders, snow or other surface the might not be suitable for tent camping.
For more information, check out Hammock Camping – A Guide to the New Comfort, Convenience and Freedom In the Great Outdoors, written by Wade Edward Speer. There is also a great online Hammock Forum
where you can find even more information and connect with other hammock users.