The Different Types of Hammocks

Just as there are many types and varieties of beds and mattresses, there are also many types of hammocks.  For me, the difference between the two is that there are no uncomfortable hammocks.

A testament to my belief is the fact that hammocks have been around for hundreds of years and still going strong.  Even in today's modern world, where choice abounds in regard to what to sleep on, hammocks still sway in many breezes. 

There are several types of hammocks out there, and we will look at a few here:

String or Rope Hammocks:

Most of us have seen a rope (or string) hammock.  It looks much like a net and is made from either cotton or polyester.  While cotton might be the most comfortable, polyester is the more durable of the two fabrics.

Cotton can retain water from the rain or even moisture on a humid day.  This might lead to the netting becoming mildewed. This won’t happen with polyester fabric.

A rope hammock will include a spreader bar at each end of the rope netting to assist with keeping its flat shape. I would not recommend using a rope hammock that does not have the spreader bar.  A spreader bar is the friend that keeps you aloft and swaying, rather than flipping over onto the terra firma.  

Fabric Hammocks: (quilted, cotton, nylon, canvas)

Quilted

The quilted hammock will have an internal soft filling layered between fabric.  They might be comfortable, but not the most practical for using outdoors, unless it is on a covered porch or lanai.  This, again, goes back to the material getting wet and not drying properly. 

Cotton

Made of cotton or nylon strings, Mayan and Nicaraguan hammocks look much like a cocoon when a person is nestled in them.  While the Mayan has a looser weave than the Nicaraguan, both of the hammocks are handmade are usually very colorful.

There is no spreader bar on these hammocks which make them more portable.

Canvas

Favored by the Navy and used in space travel, canvas hammocks are made from a heavy cotton or canvas material with grommets sewn into either end of the material.  Strung through the grommets, ropes are then attached to a ring at each end and are used to hang the hammock.

Camping and Travel Hammocks:

Lightweight, and extremely portable, a camping hammock can go anywhere you go.  Most often made of nylon, they come in their own travel case. These hammocks can be equipped with a mosquito net, rain fly and a padded insert.  

When camping or traveling, a hammock does not leave the same impact on the environment as a tent does. “Leave no trace” proponents love hammocks for this reason. 

Gaining in popularity are hammock tents, which were first developed in the 1950’s and used by mountain climbers.  Today’s hammock tents serve the same purpose, providing a place to sleep in extreme areas.

Hammock Tents are specifically designed for backpacking in tough terrain. Being pitched on a  mountainside, jungle, the wild, alongside and over river beds, these tents are designed for those brave at heart.

Designed for extreme camping they can be used on a steep incline and are held from a single point.  At the other end of the sport of extreme camping, and the only one I would participate in, hammock tents are a favorite to be used on a beach.  Maybe not the definition of extreme, but they provide a great night's sleep. 

Parachute Hammocks:

Shaped like a boat, these hammocks are made to accommodate one or two people. The two person, or double, parachute hammock are wider and longer than a regular camping hammock.  

While, two people will fit in the hammock, the best way to lay in a hammock is diagonally. This is not always the most comfortable proposition for two people in a hammock.

As the weight difference between a double and regular hammock is negligible, many campers prefer the double, even when going solo, as it provides more space and comfort.

Benefits of a Hammock

The first and foremost benefit of a hammock is that they are comfortable.  Your body is completely supported with no pressure points. Chiropractors recommend that patients try sleeping in a hammock to reduce pressure on their backs. 

The gentle sway of a hammock is relaxing and comforting.  Some studies show that you can achieve a longer and deeper sleep in a hammock.  Research studies from the University of Switzerland states that insomnia might be lessened by sleeping in a hammock. 

Hammocks have been proven to help you relax faster, and this means that the stress in your body is also reduced.  If you have had a busy, hectic day, lying in a hammock will help you to relax and unwind, 

The position that is assumed in a hammock raises your upper body and allows for better circulation. It can help with congestion and improve your blood pressure. 

Much like rocking a baby and the comfort it brings to the child, the swaying motion of a hammock synchronizes brain waves.  The swaying motion triggers the prefrontal cortex of the brain and improves your focus. 

Best of all, a hammock is affordable, lightweight, portable and you don’t have to tuck in the sheets. 

History of the hammock

Way back when, in the early 1500’s, Spanish colonists saw hammocks being used by native peoples in the West Indies.  

Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, who assisted in the Spanish colonization of the Caribbean, made this entry in his journal describing the hammock:

"The indians sleep in a bed they call an 'hamaca' which looks like a piece of cloth with both an open and tight weave, like a net ... made of cotton ... about 2.5 or 3 yards long, with many henequen twine strings at either end which can be hung at any height. They are good beds, and clean ... and since the weather is warm they require no covers at all ... and they are portable so a child can carry it over the arm."

Columbus can be credited with taking hammocks from the Bahamas and introducing them to Europe.  Weavers in Europe began making hammocks, with some being sent to the New World.  

The American Navy started using hammocks during the Civil War, continuing through the Vietnam conflict.  Previously, sailors had been hurt or even killed when they were thrown out of their bunks when in rough seas, and using hammocks solved that. 

Frontier farmers in America found a hammock to be an inexpensive sleeping option.  During the building of the Panama Canal, netting covered hammocks kept workers safe from a yellow fever epidemic. 

Today’s hammocks are affordable, and with the variety, there is one to suit your needs.  You never know until you try one how a nap or two in a hammock can improve your life. 

Interesting and weird facts

Mayans were probably the first people to make the comfortable suspended bed we call hammocks.  They had been woven from the bark the Hamack tree, hence “hamacas”.

North Carolina is home to the largest hammock in the world.  It spans 42 feet and is woven from over 10,000 feet of rope. Bring your friends, as this hammock can hold 8000 pounds.

An incredible cafe in Tokyo has only hammocks, no chairs.  Mahika Mano will serve you the most relaxing cup of coffee you have ever had. 

A recent Kickstarter campaign has hammock lovers everywhere excited.  This campaign would combine the relaxing nature of a hammock with a bath. Their $50,000 goal has already been reached, meaning that hydro-hammocks will become an item you can purchase in the future. 

Korean manufacturer Connect Design, has their own form of hammock call the Fuut.  It fits only one part of your body, your feet.  A simple canvas sheet hangs from the underside of a desk and is height adjustable. 

While the Fuut hammock is neat,  it is overshadowed by the Schnap, the mother of all at-work loungers.  Aqil Raharjo, who was 19 at the time, came up with the idea for a hammock bed that can be suspended under your desk.   The Schnap, at this point, is in a research and design phase before it can be developed commercially. 

Swaying in a hammock is a wonderful, lovely way to fall asleep, meditate, or just watch nature go by.  Another fun thing to do in a hammock is to watch the video below.  

Funny Hammocks Fails Compilation