The question of rope causing damage vs. webbing causes a lot of heated debate in the hammock world. The argument we hear often is that flat webbing disperses pressure more than rope and therefore is tree-safe, while ropes are inherently bad.
The fact that a wider strap can disperse the pressure more than a thinner one is certainly correct, however in our decade plus of experience and speaking with many arborists over the years, the real difference is in the tree itself. If a tree has a very soft bark layer then no matter what you're using to hang your hammock can potentially damage the tree.
And, this is what matters most - by using the 1"-1.5" webbing sold by most brands as 'tree-safe' you could actually be increasing the diameter and amount of the damage caused if you're not careful.
We believe strongly that encouraging education and sensibility when hanging your hammock is more important than believing you're using 'tree-safe' hammock straps and using them blindly. When used properly and on trees with healthy, strong bark, rope will not cause any damage.
If you're camping somewhere and the only trees available have soft bark then we recommend putting a towel, or t-shirt, socks, etc. under your suspension system, regardless of whether it's rope or webbing, to pad the tree as much as possible.
Why do we use ropes in the first place? They weigh less than straps, cost less for you the consumer, and a rope system is significantly more versatile than a fixed daisy-chain strap system - rope offers increased adjustability and can also be used for a variety of other multi-use needs in many kinds of survival situations you may encounter in the wild.
There are many different ways to hang your hammock and if you prefer to use webbing straps by all means please do, we'll certainly offer a webbing strap option in our product line up in the future. With over a decade of use and testing of our Go Anywhere Rope system around the world there's absolutely no reason we would recommend against the proper, educated use of rope (with padding if necessary) to hang your hammock.
No matter what you use to hang your hammock, always make sure that the trees are healthy and have strong bark and be sure to get up and check after a very short amount of use to make sure you're not causing any damage to the tree.
Don't hang your hammock in the same spot on the same tree for too long without checking underneath for damage and as with any outdoor activity it's up to you to be smart about your impact - leave no trace!!