Tips on Choosing the Safest Site for Your Camping Hammock

Tips on Choosing the Safest Site for Your Camping Hammock

Camping hammocks allow us to get in and out of a site quickly while causing minimal disruption to the environment.  However, there are some important things to consider as you evaluate a site in order to protect yourself as well as the fragile ecosystems that you are enjoying.  Let's take a closer look at a few guidelines that can help you to choose the best spot to call your temporary home.


Trees and Water

The are two cardinal rules that apply to leave no trace camping, and they involve taking steps to protect waterways as well as trees.  Areas near sources of water tend to be rich in plant and animal diversity, but they are usually very fragile and susceptible to disruption.  Try to find a spot to hang your hammock that is more than 200 feet away from the closest water source.  This will help you to avoid causing damage to the local environment while also keeping you away from the well-traveled paths that animals take to get to the water. 

It's also important to choose the right trees.  You want to tie-off on ones that are healthy, sturdy and capable of sustaining your weight without becoming damaged.  Avoid trees that lean, are anchored in soft soil, have narrow trunks or bend.  It's also important to avoid tying-off on dead or dying trees as well.  Tress that are not sturdy, healthy or thick are susceptible to bending, breaking or falling down, and this happens more often than many people think.


Height and Foliage

Another general rule of thumb is to hang your hammock so that it rests about 18” above the ground.  This is to minimize the risk of injury if you fall or the hammock collapses.  This height generally prevents the straps from rising too high on the trunk as well.  You want to tie-off around the sturdiest part of the trunk, but its important that the straps are placed below leaves, shoots or branches. 

18” also usually gives enough clearance beneath to avoid damaging foliage, and you should try to avoid setting up your hammock in areas where tall growth is present.  You don't want your hammock to brush against this growth as it can cause damage to the material as well as the foliage, and it can also provide a means for insects or small critters to crawl inside. 


Taking Down the Hammock

You should also consider taking down the hammock, but leaving the straps intact, when leaving the site for any length of time.  This will help to reduce wear and tear on the material as well as protect animals from getting snagged if they climb aboard when you're away. 

Following these tips, in addition to other guidelines related to leave no trace camping, will help you to get the most enjoyment out of the experience while keeping hazards and disturbances to a minimum.