START SMARTFol­low these tips to en­sure that your ham­mock setup is safe, com­fort­able, and low-im­pact.

Backpacker - - FIELD TEST HAMMOCKS -

DOCheck lo­cal reg­u­la­tions. Some pro­tected ar­eas (Joshua Tree, for ex­am­ple) have rules against ham­mock use.

DOUse an es­tab­lished camp­site, rather then cre­at­ing a new one and dis­turb­ing more of the en­vi­ron­ment.

DOSeek out trees with trunks at least as thick as your thigh. Smaller trees can snap un­der your weight.

DOFind trees that are 13 to 16 feet apart, then ad­just the ten­sion of your straps so that they form a 30-de­gree an­gle for the per­fect hang.

DOTie a piece of string or at­tach a cara­biner to your rig­ging to cre­ate a drip line, pre­vent­ing wa­ter from run­ning down the straps and into the ham­mock.

DON’T Hang the low point of your ham­mock more than 18 inches off the ground. Any higher and you risk in­jury if you fall out.

DON’T An­chor your ham­mock from dead trees. Your weight can pull the tree down on top of you.

DON’T Use reg­u­lar rope as rig­ging. Flat, ham­mock-spe­cific straps min­i­mize im­pact on trees. (See ENO straps, above.)

DON’T Park your ham­mock near a wa­ter source. Leave No Trace ap­plies even when you’re off the ground.

DON’T For­get to bring a tarp if you plan on sleep­ing in an un­cov­ered ham­mock and rain is in the forecast.

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