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  1. #1
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    Hammock Camping Best Practices

    The upcoming review of camping hammocks in Backpacker magazine is probably going to cause an increased interest in hammock camping

    I learned of hammock camping from an equipment review in my local paper and then searching the net for more info brought me here. I spent 35 years backpacking and ground sleeping with tents, tarps, and biveys, but after just a few weeks of lurking I was convinced to give hammock camping a try. Now I use one of my three hammocks almost exclusively when staying on the trail, except I still use a bivey in a lean-to in the winter.

    I'm guessing the same will be true for a lot of people who come across the backpacker magazine article as subscribers, or from searching the net, or from reading articles written in local papers by outdoor writers who discover the backpacker magazine article. And a lot of them are going to find their way to this forum.

    I'd like to suggest that the forum add a category about hammock camping “best practices" for members to discuss ways in which hammock campers might reduce the impact of our chosen shelter on the environment and on fellow campers. Sort of an ethics and etiquette topic. Not just another LTN set of rules, but rather discussions about things specific to use of a hammock.

    I hate rules as much as anyone when I'm in the wilderness. I go to the wilderness to be wild and free, not restrained and directed. But unfortunately, most of our readily accessible wilderness is managed, and that means rules and regulations we have to live with. Some self-regulation is also needed to prevent wilderness managers from concluding that even more regulation is needed.

    I think this forum more than any other is the place for issues about best practices and etiquette when hammock camping. I certainly don't think we should leave that topic to ground dwellers.

    Some of the obvious topics are hanging location, tree selection, and method of tree attachment.

    Or maybe the owners and moderators should get together and propose a set of best practices to begin such a discussion.

    In any event, now that I'm a "donating" member I feel free to make such suggestions and so I did.
    Last edited by nogods; 04-26-2008 at 07:05.

  2. #2
    Senior Member fin's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Best Practices

    NoGods, I'm with you. There are a lot of different threads with ideas about the best way to be low impact and preserve our ability to use our shelter of choice against those with limited views, but having one place to put them all might be a good idea. Include it with the Hammock Primer that has been talked about, even though Jeff http://www.tothewoods.net/ has one of the best sites I've ever seen for newbies, and Risk http://www.imrisk.com/ has a great site as well. Maybe a re-index of the site utilizing keywords as suggested in another thread that I was reading somewhere in this site the other day. As a computer guy myself, I know it would help indexing or searches if people always used the title in their posts to categorize their comments.

    Maybe we wouldn't have to create a new category per se, just make a "category" link that would be a pre-programmed search of the "subject", which would pull all threads pertaining to said subject, and format it in a "pretty" way. Lots of ways to do this, it deserves some thought.

  3. #3
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nogods View Post
    I hate rules as much as anyone when I'm in the wilderness. I go to the wilderness to be wild and free, not restrained and directed. But unfortunately, most of our readily accessible wilderness is managed, and that means rules and regulations we have to live with. Some self-regulation is also needed to prevent wilderness managers from concluding that even more regulation is needed.
    Yep, "With freedom comes responsibility".
    i'm not sure where i herd that, but it applies perfectly to a lot of areas of life.

    good points guys. lets keep working on this line of thought.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  4. #4
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    Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.

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    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nogods View Post

    In any event, now that I'm a "donating" member I feel free to make such suggestions and so I did.
    You (and others) should feel free to make suggestions like this all you want, donating member or not.

    Hammock camping is already much lower impact on the environment than tents or tarp. I have heard several times that when you set up a tent on the ground it can take up to 2 weeks for the vegetation in that spot to recover. You basically crush a large area when you set up a tent, but it had never really crossed my mind until I started hammock camping. Now when I break camp there is hardly a trace that I was even there. I only leave footprints.

    When I set up my hammock I try to pick and area where I won't have to clear any of the under brush if I can help it. I also like to pick trees where the bark won't be damaged by the webbing. Certain trees do better than others .
    Last edited by headchange4u; 04-25-2008 at 19:31.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member gunn parker's Avatar
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    This discussion HERE might be worth reading for some of the newer guys.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by headchange4u View Post
    Hammock camping is already much lower impact on the environment than tents or tarp. I have heard several times that when you set up a tent on the ground it can take up to 2 weeks for the vegetation in that spot to recover. You basically crush a large area when you set up a tent, but it had never really crossed my mind until I started hammock camping. Now when I break camp there is hardly a trace that I was even there. I only leave footprints.
    Some wilderness administrators understand that point. For example, last year I had email correspondence with a senior forest ranger regarding the upcoming restriction on camping in designated sites in the high peaks wilderness area of the Adirondacks. Here is the portion of his response with regard to use of hammocks:

    "At the time the regulations were written, hammocks were much less in use, and generally not widely available. The spirit of the 15 ft regulation is to minimize the impact of camping on the ground (the "tent" footprint) to the immediate vicinity of the campsite. I hope that as we revisit the management of the HPWA, the Department will consider further these regulations in light of the natural resource protection benefits that arise out of the use of hammocks. While I do not expect that they would be allowed outside of designated campsites in the eastern HPWA, I would hope that consideration would be given to clarifying their status via-a-vis the definition of tent, to allow them to be located at a greater distance form the center of the campsite."

    So at least there is one administer who views hammocks as a lesser impact on the wilderness. But we have a long road ahead in convincing others because a lot of people think hanging anything from a tree is worse than trampling some grass and moss.
    Last edited by nogods; 04-26-2008 at 07:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nogods View Post
    Some wilderness administrators understand that point. For example, last year I had email correspondence with a senior forest ranger regarding the upcoming restriction on camping in designated sites in the high peaks wilderness area of the Adirondacks. here is the porion of his response with refard to use of hammocks:

    "At the time the regulations were written, hammocks were much less in use, and generally not widely available. The spirit of the 15 ft regulation is to minimize the impact of camping on the ground (the "tent" footprint) to the immediate vicinity of the campsite. I hope that as we revisit the management of the HPWA, the Department will consider further these regulations in light of the natural resource protection benefits that arise out of the use of hammocks. While I do not expect that they would be allowed outside of designated campsites in the eastern HPWA, I would hope that consideration would be given to clarifying their status via-a-vis the definition of tent, to allow them to be located at a greater distance form the center of the campsite."

    So at least there is one administer who views hammocks as a lesser impact on the wilderness. But we have a long road ahead in convincing others because a lot of people think hanging anything from a tree is worse than trampling some grass and moss.
    Perhaps someone should put together a video showing the effects of a tent crushing the ground in various terrain. Then, we could really see how long it takes for that spot to return to normal. Does anyone here like to watch grass grow? Now you have a chance to watch it bend upward! Also, part of the video could "arrive" at a recently dispersed camp and have the viewer guess where the tents were and where the hammocks were.

    Most importantly, it would be a nice thing to have a video showing how friendly webbing is to the trees. I think the NooB video being discussed would be a very good venue for showing that the technique has evolved past just tying a rope to a tree.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bear bag hanger's Avatar
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    hammock damage

    Maybe slightly off topic here. But only a little. I think the damage tents do to the ground is, maybe, about equal to the damage we do to the trees. Below is my opinion, I haven't spent a lot of time formally studying this.

    I've been using hammocks for about five or six years now. During my 2004 AT thru hike, I talked to several rangers, of interest is one in the Smokies and another one in the New Hampshire Whites. Both mentioned they do not ticket people using hammocks in the wrong places, but not to tell anyone where I heard it.

    On the other hand, I've observed my own hammock does damage to the trees I hang on, even it it's just a little. I use one inch stapping to minimize this damage, but it's still there. I have tried using two inch wide tree savers, but still noticed as much damage as the narrower straps. Early on, I noticed rope does a whole lot more damage and shouldn't be used.

    Usually, when I come into a campsite, I can tell which trees have been used for hanging. I also can see when a tree gets used a lot. It will eventually kill the tree. I think a single tree can be used several times a year without harm, but when it gets used several times a week, all the time, it will die. I don't think anyone has ever done a study to see how many times a tree can be used before permanent damage is done. Even the hard bark trees will die if used too much. I've also observed that when a tent tamps down the grass, etc. it comes back pretty fast if not used over and over again.

    I've been reading other threads about hammock stands, but still haven't seen anything remotely useable for backpacking. If we start getting a large percentage of campers using hammocks, this may be our only salvation.

    I still, of course, use my hammock. Tents aren't exactly great for the environment either. But, let's not kid ourselves into thinking we don't hurt anything when we go out there.

    OK, let the flames begin ...

  10. #10
    Just another hanger attroll's Avatar
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    This is a good idea. Is anyone up for the challenge to create this article?

    I think this should also be in the articles section. This web site is slowly growing and we are the only hammock forum that I know on the web. We need to get everything in place so when others come here they can use this forum as there hammock bible or quick reference guide. I don’t know what articles Nogods is referring to but if it is in the upcoming backpacker magazine then I am sure our traffic will increase and so will our users.

    If anyone has any articles they would like to submit please do so. If you are not good with articles then submit them to me in work and I will put the article on the site for you.

    If you have any suggestion for articles then let everyone else know here and maybe someone will take your suggestion and write one.

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