You are laying in your hammock. The ground a few feet beneath you, the sky further above. Sunlight scatters across your face as you close your eyes, ready to breath in the majesty of the moment. As you prepare to drift away, an unpleasant thought crosses your mind. Do hammocks hurt trees?
As with everything in life, there is a short answer and there is a longer answer. We will give you both.
The short answer is, yes, hammocks can hurt trees. In fact, some cities are banning hammocks all-together.
The good news (as well as the longer answer) is: whether or not your hammock hurts the tree is entirely up to you. We are here to make sure you have all the information you need to ensure a safe hang for you and the trees of your choosing. If you want to hang your hammock without hurting the trees, pay attention to the following…
CHOOSING YOUR TREE
The first order of business once you arrive at your site is to select the trees from which to hang your hammock. You will want to find the healthiest, strongest trees in the area.
Anchoring a hammock to a tree that is too small will be an uncomfortable experience for you. And, we would argue, an even more uncomfortable experience for that poor tree.
We recommend that you choose a tree with at least 7 inches in diameter to set up your hammock.
Besides looking around the tree to ensure strength, you always want to look up toward the top of the tree. If you see any sign of dead branches that appear to be loose or hanging off the tree in any way – stay away! This is not the tree for you.
You’ll also want to check for sensitive (or poisonous!) plant life or animal habitats in the area surrounding the tree. When possible, seek out established sites to minimize disturbance to the vegetation in the area.
The main thing to consider is the width of the straps. Imagine you are given an incredibly heavy necklace that you must wear. I don’t know how you came in possession of this necklace, or why it is so crucial that you wear it, but that’s besides the point. Would you rather the strap of the necklace be made of twine or made of a wide piece of leather?
The same idea applies to hammock straps. Wider straps (1” or more) do a better job of evenly distributing the pressure of the hammock, thus preventing damage to the tree. In simpler terms, no rope. No paracord.
These eco-friendly straps from Bear Butt are a great option:
Or, try these easily adjustable tree-friendly straps from Wise Owl Outfitters:
Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to secure hammock straps to trees.
DON’T STACK HAMMOCKS
No need to get crazy here. If you are hammocking with a group of friends, spread out your sleeping arrangements between multiple trees. Sure, stacking hammocks may seem fun, but the added weight means added stress to the tree. Not to mention a potentially painful night for the person on the bottom hammock.
CHOOSE A HAMMOCK COMPANY THAT CARES
If the company you’re buying from doesn’t care much about quality, safety, or child labor laws, chances are they don’t care about trees either. Choose a company that proves they care about the environment.
Tentsile is our favorite example. They plant 20 trees for every tree tent sold, and donate 1% For The Planet.
CONCLUSION – DO HAMMOCKS HURT TREES?
Long story short, it’s not hammocks that hurt trees, it’s humans hanging hammocks incorrectly that hurts trees. But, now that you have all the information you need, we trust you will go forth and hang with care!