LNT Recommends 2-4-inch Webbing Straps
This article came out a while back, but I came across it again and did a double-take after reading the Leave No Trace Center's recommendations on hammock camping, particularly the size of the webbing straps.
LNT recommends straps at least 2-inches wide and up to 4-inches wide.
I've known Ben, the LNT Education Director, for a few years now, so I got in touch with him about the statement. He said that the recommendation comes from discussions from different land agents (presumably their partners at National Parks, Forest Service, etc.).
We had a good back-and-forth and he did agree to update the post to include 1.5-inch webbing, but that's about as far as he would push it.
It is an interesting revelation, especially with what I'm seeing as a trend here on HF with folks looking to get narrower and narrower straps (e.g., 0.75-inch Mule Tape or 0.5-inch strap). I think we should proceed with caution in this vein because of the potential PR damage we could make for ourselves. New hangers in particular will be looking for the recommended standards in which to operate.
On this topic, I think it is in our best interest to look at some sort of scientific study on strap use, tree damage, etc., to provide the best recommendations to land agents and camp hosts, etc. From my own observations, there is a lot of subjective opinion out there on strap usage, what works best, and what doesn't. It would be nice to have an objective study done that could put some of these questions to rest.
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Hammock: Lite Owl; Light Hiker
Tarp: Toxaway;MacCat Dlx
Insulation: Burrow; Incubator
I think going narrower than 1" will work against us. I also think 2-4" is ridiculous. I guess I'll never be LNT-friendly.
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Holland, MI
Hammock: WB XLC
Tarp: WB SuperFly
Insulation: WB Mamba, HG Incub
Suspension: WB Straps
Reasonably wide straps seem prudent. Scientific study seems impractical.
Ever since I got my HH, my default and preference has been 2", though my longer straps (which I only use when necessary) are 1.5". Trees are our friends!
The 4" straps I found in a quick web search have a breaking strength of 20,000 pounds (!!). That seems quite excessive for our purposes. And if it were possible to find one that was paper-thin (unlikely), it would have problems of its own (i.e., might be difficult to prevent it from creasing when going around the tree (crease would be a stressor to the tree).
I agree that it would be nice to have some science behind whatever recommendations are put out. But it seems to me that it would be difficult to measure how much harm were done to a tree when testing. IF it were possible to do such tests, the results would almost certainly be tree-specific (e.g., Minimum width strap for a Red Oak found to be 1"). It would also be a function of the user's weight (or, more precisely, the tension on the suspension system, which in turn is a function both of user weight and hang angle).
No -- I'm thinking that generating this sort of scientific guidance is impractical.
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: SW Idaho
Hammock: Black Bird 1.1 Dbl
Tarp: AHE Shangi La
Insulation: KAQ Prototype
Suspension: AHE Whoopie Slings
We recently started offering 1.5" webbing. We have thousands of yards of it. But our supplier, one of the largest in the country, don't make anything any larger. I wonder where they expect folks to come up with 2-4" webbing? It's not a normal size range.
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The LNT Center should not make a specific "recommendation", but instead remind hammockers to choose sites, trees and gear which minimize their impact.
Webbing width is not the only variable to consider. The type of tree is also important as is the force applied to the bark due to the load. Some trees and their respective barks can handle 1-mm cord and a small elephant in the hammock without damage to the tree. Others, even the 4-in would compress the cambium layer. When the LNT center begins to recommend such specifics without consideration for the reality of the impact they tread on dangerous ground of having many LNT advocates begin to dismiss the organization itself, while still following the principles embodied in LNT. The same is true with all other aspects of outdoor ethics. The principles are ethical outdoorsmanship. LNT as an organization runs the risk of making themselves irrelevant if they head down this trail of dictating specific actions instead of general principles.
Thanks dehoja. I agree 4 inches is excessive. I. liked my 2 inch straps that came with my hh. When I got my bb and use the 1 inch straps. I am a LNT trainer and promote hammocks as a low impact camping mmethod. I have been really looking at the trees I use with. the one inch and haven't seen damage. Once I did knock down some bark off a pine tree when removing the straps.My vote would be 1 inch straps being the smallest used. 1 1/2 may be ideal. I would be okay with that. I am not that weight crazy as some. This is an area you shouldn't try to cut weight. Save the trees. Been trying to look at what I can use for my tarp line. Was thinking round hollow strap to feed line through that would protect the bark from the line I use. Curious how others feel.
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: south of Winnipeg, MB
How about a tree pad?
A piece of 1/8" thick closed cell foam to wrap around the tree before deploying the straps?
Could be enclosed in cordura with a cam buckle or velcro to hold it in place. Make it bright so that you don't forget it.
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Tarp: WB Edge
Insulation: Tewa UQ, Bag as TQ
Suspension: Web+Whoopie Sling
Has anybody tried this? What happened?
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Waynesville, Ohio
Hammock: Eno DN or DIY
Tarp: HG Winter Palace
Insulation: HG TQ&UQ, DIY
Suspension: Whoopies or rings
This is how I use my mule tape, I also do the same for my tarp ridgeline. This has proven to leave less markings on a tree than using 1 1/2 in straps. With this method I don't have to worry about the strap even touching the tree.
I feel educating the hangers is the way to help alleviate tree damage. I have seen very careless use of wide tree straps and thin tarp suspensions.
"I love not man the less, but Nature more."
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