Leave No Trace
Every year, millions of people take to the outdoors to enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking, hunting, kayaking, and more. Besides providing a beautiful backdrop for many fun activities, spending time in nature also offers a wide range of health benefits including reduced stress, a stronger immune system, and a boost to mental health. In a world that is becoming increasingly immersed in cell phones and social media, it’s important for people to still able to escape to the wilderness — to take a break from technology and experience a connection with the world that simply can’t be felt through pictures and videos.
Having access to national parks and other natural areas is important for many reasons, but millions of visitors can have a detrimental, and in some cases disastrous, effect on the earth, trees, fish, and other wildlife. The health of our planet and the future of wilderness camping and other forms of outdoor recreation depend on more people adopting a series of best practices known as the “Leave No Trace Principles.”
Although most people don’t knowingly intend to harm the environment or the wildlife living within it, it is usually a lack of awareness of how certain behaviors can contribute to pollution, soil erosion, and wildfires. Following the Leave No Trace Principles and making small changes such as staying on designated trails and using camping hammocks instead of a tent can go a long way in helping to protect the environment and minimize the impact we have upon it.
The Leave No Trace principles were established by a non-profit group known as the Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics. This organization provides innovative, research-based solutions aimed at protecting the natural world and sustaining healthy and vibrant natural lands. They accomplish this goal through educational programs as well as the establishment of the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (© The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org). These principles are not just a list of rules, but rather they should be thought of as a mindset — a way of existing and behaving in a place where you are just a visitor. These principles aim to show people how to care for the land by using minimum impact practices and having a pro-sustainability frame of mind.
Hennessy Hammock is a proud corporate sponsor of Leave No Trace. We believe in being responsible stewards to the environment so future generations can enjoy the peacefulness, beauty, and natural life force that surrounds them. That’s why we made it our mission to design a better shelter that allows campers to get a comfortable night's rest in the backcountry without staking, trenching, or ground leveling. It truly is the most sustainable form of camping.
Planning ahead is important for both your safety and for minimizing damage to natural areas. It means educating yourself on the area where you’ll be going so that you’re knowledgeable about the terrain, weather conditions, availability of water, and whether or not certain permits are required.
Planning should also include making sure to pack The Ten Essentials — the most basic items you should always carry with you whenever you head out into the wilderness. This collection includes items that can make a difference between life or death if you’re caught in an emergency situation. If you order the Hennessy 4 Season Survivorman Zip XL Hammock, it comes with a ten essentials survival kit and a bandana printed with survival tips. These items are packed safely away in a zippered pouch so you can take them with you wherever you go.
Planning ahead will not only help to ensure your safety, but it will also help you to reduce your impact on natural areas. The following are some things to consider.
- Pack the correct amount of food to minimize waste
- Plan your trip during off-peak times, if possible
- Split large groups up into smaller ones
- Know the regulations and obtain the necessary permits
- Pack equipment that aligns with Leave No Trace principles
When traveling through backcountry wilderness, it can be tempting to go off the path and just wander wherever your heart desires, but doing so causes irreparable damage to plants and soil. If you consider how many people traverse through natural areas in a given year, if there were no established trials, it would likely result in barren areas, absent of all flora and fauna. THIS MIGHT BE A SLIGHT EXAGGERATION. THE NEXT SENTENCE IS MUCH BETTER
Depending on the goals of your trip or the purpose of exploration, it may not always be feasible to stay on an established path, but doing so as much as possible will help protect natural areas. When choosing a place to camp, avoid camping within 200 feet of water and take as much precaution as possible to avoid disturbance to the surrounding area. Activities such as walking, preparing food, or setting up a tent on the fragile ground can disturb wildlife and damage delicate vegetation. Instead, do your best to minimize these activities and when you do them, choose durable surfaces such as rock, sand, or gravel whenever possible.
There is one exception to this rule — if you and your group choose camping hammocks over tents for your shelter, you won’t need to worry about finding the right surface on which to sleep. The beauty of the hammock is that you cannot tell anyone was there after they leave. There are no stake holes or tent footprints. NOT ALWAYS TRUE ABOUT STAKES You simply pack up your hammock leaving the surrounding area as it was before you came.
The secret behind the Hennessy Hammock’s nearly zero impact design has a lot to do with the “Tree Hugger” webbing straps we include with each purchase. Unlike some other hammocks which are tied to trees using narrow ropes that cut into the tender bark of trees, our webbing straps are wider and provide greater span so they literally “hug” the trees instead of cutting into them.
All of our camping hammocks come with a free set of webbing straps. You can also upgrade to longer straps which are perfect for wrapping around larger trees. In fact, we feel so strongly about using webbing straps to prevent tree damage, that we will actually send webbing straps to anyone for $10 — regardless of what type or brand of hammock they own.
For more information on our camping hammocks, we encourage you to take a look at our features page. We also have a comparison chart so you can get a quick overview of each hammock to determine which one is right for you.
If you’ve spent any amount of time exploring the outdoors, then you’ve probably heard the phrase “ pack it in, pack it out.” This is another ethical standard that encourages backcountry campers and other outdoor enthusiasts to consider that even the smallest things left behind will undoubtedly affect other people and the environment. That’s why it’s so important to bring bags that you can use to pack out everything you’ve brought in. This even includes organic litter such as food waste.
Some people try to burn their garbage, but this is not advised. Trash does not usually burn completely, leaving behind remnants of food that can attract animals and pieces of other things that are unsightly and will be left to degrade slowly over time. Also, pay special attention to how you dispose of things that can’t be easily packed up and carried out in a bag. Wastewater, soaps, and similar refuse should be disposed of far away from lakes and streams.
Part of what makes exploring in nature so enjoyable is coming across interesting finds like unique rocks, colorful flowers, and even an occasional historic artifact. Some people like to collect mementos from their excursions, but you should know that taking reminders home should be limited only to your memories and pictures.
Collecting items such as leaves or sticks may result in a lack of food or resources for a creature who depends on them. And, if you think of how much joy you experience when discovering unique and beautiful things in the wild, removing even the most insignificant items means you’ll be denying someone else the opportunity to discover it for themselves.
For many people, campfires are an essential part of camping, however, it makes sense to stop and think about the impact fires can have on the surrounding environment. Some areas may be at a higher risk of fire danger, and if you choose to build a fire in a restricted area, you could be at risk of having to pay penalties, but more importantly, you could risk starting a wildfire.
Starting a campfire, even in areas where they are allowed can do significant harm to the vegetation and surrounding area if it is not properly contained and then put out completely. Gathering the kindling and wood necessary to start a fire can also deplete the area of these resources — especially in places that have a limited number of trees. It might be difficult to imagine that picking up a few twigs could really make a difference, but when you multiply that one small act by the millions of people who camp each year, you’ll see that it’s the cumulative effect that can pose a problem for the environment.
One way to lessen your impact when camping is to use a camping stove. Although it doesn’t come with the same romantic notion as sitting in front of a roaring campfire, it's a much safer and more efficient way to cook your food. If you can’t go without a campfire entirely, reducing the number of fires you build and relying more on a camp stove whenever possible, is still an improvement.
When you’re enjoying the great outdoors, remember that you’re a guest in a place that’s home to dozens of animals. Your actions while in that place could have a substantial impact on their safety as well as yours. As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to feed small creatures like birds and ground squirrels. Feeding wildlife can be harmful to their health and may alter their natural behavior. Keep from unknowingly feeding wildlife by securing your food and properly disposing of all trash.
If you come into contact with a large animal like a bear or deer, do not approach them. Keep your distance and be especially cautious of all animals during mating and nesting season. Animals that are with their young, have been startled, or are sick may act aggressively so be careful to avoid quick movement and loud noises and above all — keep your distance.
The final, and perhaps most important Leave No Trace principle, is to be considerate of others. Many people seek out nature for peaceful beauty and quiet solitude. They know it's the one place they can go to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. To preserve its appeal and allow visitors to enjoy their outdoor experience, everyone has to do their part to show respect by keeping intrusive noises such as loud talking and barking dogs to a minimum.
Another way to be considerate of others is to practice proper hiking etiquette when on the trail. For instance, there are unwritten rules that dictate who has the right of way. When hikers pass other hikers on the trail, those who are coming uphill have the right of way. When the trail is shared by hikers and bikers, it is the bicyclists who are to yield to the hikers. And finally, if you encounter horses on a trail, avoid sudden or loud noises and step off of the trail to yield to the horse.
Before you head outside on your next adventure, we hope you’ll take some time to think about the seven Leave No Trace principles. By doing your part, you can help to protect wildlife and the environment while also supporting other people’s enjoyment of the outdoors.
One of the easiest ways to minimize your impact and have a more eco-friendly camping trip is to invest in more sustainable camping gear. Hennessy camping hammocks are designed to have as minimal impact as possible on the natural surroundings while also offering a comfortable night's sleep. They’re lightweight, easy to put up and take down, plus they’re bug-proof, waterproof, windproof, and more.
For over 20 years, Hennessy Hammock has been the authority in comfortable and responsible camping. Show you care about the environment by swapping out your tent for one of our camping hammocks and join the movement to spread the word about Leave No Trace.