Straps vs ropes question

Owl

New Member
Sorry for starting out here directly with a question, but it's the primary reason I joined the forum.

I'm an avid hammock camper. With that said, most of us that are into this are well aware of "LNT" (leave no trace) policies and have over the years adopted the use of tree straps...straps that wrap around the tree for the short time we're hanging from it. Most straps are a minimum of 1" wide, with many going to 1.5 to 2" wide.

The intent in the use of the strap is to distribute the forces generated by the hammock load across a wider area than would be experienced if using a round rope/cord structure.

The goal of this is to prevent 'ringing' or any kind of damage to the bark or cambium layers of the tree.

There has recently been a lot of discussion on the forum that we frequent for hammock camping on whether or not straps vs rope makes a difference...and folks have thrown some anecdotal type evidence around, with no one looking for 'expert advice'.

I'm here looking for advice from you folks...most likely far more likely to have good insight as to what kind of forces/ropes are most likely to cause damage to various types of trees.

With that said...thoughts?

Is there any kind of documentation around with guidelines on rope/strap size/weight capacities/tree type?

I'm of the opinion that straps are better than ropes for the use we have them for...it prevents the possibility of damaging a tree permanently, even if hung only over night.

I'd really like to get some input if y'all don't mind.
 
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bonner1040

Well-Known Member
Straps are better than ropes generally because of the increased surface area. However 3/4" rope would be better than 1/8" straps. I think straps appeal because a strap holding 500lbs is ligther and wider than a 500lb test rope, same thing with 5000lb 1" webbing vs 5mm 5000lb cordage.
 

TreeLogic

Well-Known Member
For all intents and purposes either would be fine, IMHO. The straps are flatter so wouldn't cut in to the bark/cambium quite as much, but either would have to be left on the tree for a good while to do any damage. Since they're not moving back and forth, and I would assume they'd be girthed, they would act much like our friction savers which are intended to be gentler on the trunk.
 

Merle Nelson

Well-Known Member
Owl, welcome to the site and please thank your community for taking the time to think about and do what it takes to protect the trees you use for hammock support. My wife and I live next to the Pacific Ocean and pick up trash on our beach walks. Much of it has been in the ocean for years. We have pictures of dead birds with stomachs full of ingested plastic and are aware that in some feeding areas whales are consuming more tiny shards of degrading plastic than Krill as they try to feed.

If we want future generations to have a chance to see and experience the beauty we see, we must attempt to ‘leave no trace’. Thanks for bringing that topic up here.
 

Tony

Well-Known Member
I agree with the above stated. Generally speaking a strap with a wider surface area is better. Also, a girthed strap or cinched rope will contact nearly 360 degrees, where a basket hitch with limb hold it up will contact less surface. The wider the basket, the less the contact to a certain point.

Having said all that, my judgement is also that whether rope or cordage, installed properly with minimal movement, both would be fine for up to double body weight loads. I would prefer straps for Bonner's logic of them being lighter for the capacity.

Keep in mind, the physical charities of the tree and the time of year. Many trees are more likely to sustain damage at certain times of year and/or in certain environmental/climate conditions.

All in all a fun question. One more should ask.

Owl, what forum are you involved in for hammock camping in trees? Sounds like a fun one!

Tony
 

Owl

New Member
I really appreciate the responses, folks! To the best of my knowledge, the MINIMUM that most folks use for strap width is 1". It's pretty common, as are straps up to 2". I can't recall hearing or seeing about straps <1", and it's pretty rare to find them wider than 2".

The most common method for use is to have a loop on one end of the strap, and either run the far end through the loop itself, or through a climbing rated 'biner attached to the loop, which allows the strap to be cinched down 360* around the tree.

I'd agree that once it's setup, there's no movement at all in the strap, even once the weight is applied.

Part of the concern is that the load applied has both static and dynamic forces...and those forces aren't "just" equal to the weight of the hanger and equipment. Rather it's a bit of a trigonometry problem, as the forces are actually dependent upon the angle of the load as well. Static forces for a 200lb person hanging at a 30* angle can still spike very high, when they're turning over in the hammock, for example.

So there may not be MOVEMENT, but there may be sharp spikes in the force being distributed on the tree.

I appreciate the thought on type of tree and time of year as well...the type of tree is something I know folks consider, but I'm not sure many have thought about changes in the trees themselves due to season.

The forum is simply "hammockforums.net". Most are pretty dedicated backpackers/hikers/campers. Some very courteous and intelligent folks there...I've enjoyed learning from them.

Darn sure enjoyed the responses I got here too! Thank you all for the info.

I am curious...would there be any kind of reference material that I could refer to in order to make the point about types of trees/seasonal changes, and the 'risk' of ringing a tree with certain types of rope/cordage/etc...?
 

TreeLogic

Well-Known Member
Owl,
I think I may have happened upon the hammock forum while googling rope splices before. Once again, welcome to our forum and we're glad to have you.

Not sure of references, but here's a general rule. The more thin-skinned the tree, the higher the chance of damage. Thicker barked trees will have more protection and there will be less chance of reaching the cambium layer.

As far as seasonal changes go, others may be able to elaborate, but certain trees have a higher sap flow at different times of the year. If you ever see sap running near your tie in points, it might be a good time to give the tree a break, or at least change the position of your tie in point.

Our profession requires us to drag ropes over limbs on a daily basis, and in a much more dynamic manner than your hammock anchors. This is an issue we're highly aware of and we've all seen minor damage that we've caused to thin-skinned trees. Because of this, a tool has been created (a friction saver, or cambium saver), which is a strap with a metal ring spliced into each end. This strap is hung over a crotch in the tree, and our climbing line, which runs back and forth during a climb, is fed through the rings and runs across the metal rings instead of the bark of the tree. Even on most thin-skinned trees, the lower-most portion of the trunk will grow bark as the tree ages. But the upper crown is a different story and can be more susceptible to rope burn.

By the way, the method which you described to strap the hammock to the tree is what we call a girth hitch. It can be done with an eye at the end of the strap, or with one long loop.

Hope that helps. Thanks!
 

Common Sense

New Member
I am really perplexed by this discussion.

Do you really think that you are damaging trees by enjoying a night in a hammock. You spend days, write in blogs and share concerns about the health of the trees. A basic understanding of tree biology will help you see that you are wasting your time worrying about the health of the trees.
Cambium, a very thin layer of growing tissue that produces new cells that become either xylem - wood, phloem - inner bark or more cambium is protected by the inner bark and the outer bark. There are layers upon layers of dead bark between your hammock and the living part of the tree.
All these talks about leaving no trace have nothing to do with your hammock. Pick up your cans and candy wraps and swing on your hammock without worrying too much. A bucks trying to remove the velvet from their antlers cause a real damage to the trees. . . Then again, this is called nature. We all area part of nature, your burgers or natural air pass doesn't change the way nature behaves. . . Just some common sense folks :)
 

evo

Well-Known Member
I am really perplexed by this discussion.

Do you really think that you are damaging trees by enjoying a night in a hammock. You spend days, write in blogs and share concerns about the health of the trees. A basic understanding of tree biology will help you see that you are wasting your time worrying about the health of the trees.
Cambium, a very thin layer of growing tissue that produces new cells that become either xylem - wood, phloem - inner bark or more cambium is protected by the inner bark and the outer bark. There are layers upon layers of dead bark between your hammock and the living part of the tree.
All these talks about leaving no trace have nothing to do with your hammock. Pick up your cans and candy wraps and swing on your hammock without worrying too much. A bucks trying to remove the velvet from their antlers cause a real damage to the trees. . . Then again, this is called nature. We all area part of nature, your burgers or natural air pass doesn't change the way nature behaves. . . Just some common sense folks :)
With some of the micro cords, and coupled with idiot proofing I’d vote for straps greater than 1” diameter.

It’s a bit extreme but I can see folks setting up in some small diameter maple in the spring. There is a huge difference between 1/4” dyneema cord and 1” webbing. Murphy’s law, 99.9% of the time most will be able to get away with the cord and be just fine.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
The consideration is pounds per square inch of contact.

Which would work better in snow:

Boots/shoes
XC skis
Snow shoes
 
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*useless info*

Active Member
Some UI thoughts:
.
Any actual witnessed damage from short term hammock?
>>any long term webbing/flat rope supported hammocks noted?
Are same trees repeatedly used?
Any slippage with flat rope/webbing strategy?
Any elasticity in system to buffer dynamic loading of movement?
Relative tree diameter?
Consider throwline to branch supports for less trunk "damage" ?
.
Seen long term rope damage, girdle,swallowing
>>can't remember seeing long term flat rope/webbing damage as ever same
>>but not used as much
Tree might be able to push webbing open more?
>>picture 1/2" rope as maybe 1/8" extreme contact footprint?
.
Would calc 30 degrees from flat across,as 60 degrees from column of support on straight tree.
>>cosine of support column efficiency: .500 >> so full load to both legs of support
>>that is to single leg each side
Thicker bark/double cambium type like Live Oak would give more texture and protection.
>>palms also seem fairly resilient to this usage also by construction.
.
Round Turn should give best grip tho.
>>and serve 2 legs per side to hammock
>>diving load more>> but then flatter teepee leverages against rope again.
.
Definitely better grip with same strength round vs. flat rope>>especially if no taper
>>but tighter grip more potential sliding abrasion damage then too.
>>by extension 1.5 web grip better than 2" of same manufacture.
>> flat rope would maintain strength more on arc than round rope cuz round has higher deformed 'height' on the arched dimension to be then leveraged against round
>>flat, would lay flat and virtually not leveraged on tree wraps i'd think.
.
i'd think all day hammock hang loaded would be just moments in tree time.
>>tree wouldn't really grow in that time to then girdle phloem.
.
Got to get to work, good topic!
 

*useless info*

Active Member
Biologically i think we are okay on short term 12hr loaded, maybe unloaded some adding to time of hang as long as no abrasion on firm species.
Hammock generally not loaded 24/7
>>2 days perhaps almost 1 week in dog years, but moments in tree time
.
To general, generic, global support model applied to example:
Tuning rope device grip on host anchor with rope type :flat or round, and diameter
>>look for 1" flat rope to place 1" foot print, but 1/2" round rope closer to 1/4"(?) full/intense contact to transmit same force induced, and grip,and abrade tree.
And if single choke or more basket /dual leg support (less input tension)
And single or double bearing (for geometry of pulls)
And support 'teepee' geometry (for choosing grip vs. support choices)
.
Perhaps more academic to this scenario; as applies more to generally smaller host anchors;
but still a tendency thru whole range:

.
Angle of pull on support should be double bearing allowing more positive angles of pull.
Single Bearing simple eye2eye choked is best pulled straight across
>>but rope or webbing have to be super tight/high tension to induce this
>>need to fortify also at predicted angle of pulls

Note how E: in pic above induces only half load tension into system
.
For higher loading stuff around here at this point might suggest wrap:3/pull:2.
But here would go to baby.bro: wrap:2/pull:1
All below pull less tension as dual support legs as E: above
Note how can adjust 'teepee' as support pillars(long teepee) vs. grippers (flat teepee):
(A&B examples mostly show to show tunable properties of C)

Note how even different geometry of round vs. flat rope is such an inverse geometry:
>>dictates to stay away from Over Hand based knots in Round
>>opposite strategy to use Over Hand based knots for seam in flat rope/webbing.
.
With good gear, just a series of choices tunable to shituation!
For me, broadest range of recomend-ability would be 1" Flat rope webbing in wrap:2/pull-1 fair teepee/beak. Flatter teepee giving more force in grip(sine) that costs more tension to provide same column of support (cosine) for same loading.
>>Most support with softest footprint would think in these ranges least abrasion
>>But if took even best and super tightened across and bounced on could tear something up..
 
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