Hammocks have been used as a place to relax or sleep for so long that no one can be sure where the first ones were employed. They are frequently staple sleeping arrangements in warm climates, and they were long used in sailing ships as bedding for the crew. They were a traditional part of the Victorian garden, especially with soft pillows and a crocheted blanket. Modern hammocks come in all sorts of fabrics, from simple mesh or cotton right on up through parachute fabric. With a supporting stand, they can be hung almost anywhere, including indoors. They can even serve as a spare bed.
Hammock Buying Guide
Hammocks are usually a mesh or a length of fabric that are hung either horizontally or suspended from above. They are usually porous, either because they are a woven mesh material or because they are made from cotton or a similar material that will breathe. They can be for one person, or two. They might have a wooden or metal "spreader" bar that will make the hammock lie flat instead of rolling up. Some models have a spreader bar at both ends, some only at one end.
Spreader bars have the unhappy characteristic of making the hammock "tipsier." One way to get around this is to attach tethers to the ends of the spreader bars to stabilize the hammock and keep it from flipping over. Another way is to invest in a hammock that does not have spreader bars. The latter tend to cocoon the occupant, but correctly hung, have more "give" and yet more support all at the same time. A third type is really more of a suspended chair. The ends of the hammock chair are suspended from above, allowing it to be used as a chair.
Hammock frames are usually long affairs that allow the hammock to be fastened at two points so as to allow people to anchor each end of the hammock. The frames might be made of a weather resistant wood such as larch or cedar but are frequently made of metal. The metal is often powder coated for extra weather resistance. Some of the frames have special fasteners to help prevent hammocks from flipping over. Others, constructed for hammocks without spreaders, have more than one hook per end for the hammock to be fastened at variable heights, and U rest for the support threads at the end of the hammock.
As you might guess from the name, hammock chairs are primarily intended as seats rather than a place to nap although some of them are sufficiently large to stretch out on. They usually are suspended from a C-Frame that allows them to be placed in different locations without difficulty.
There are many fabric choices for hammocks. Some are no more than a woven mesh, some are cotton, some are more durable versions of cotton such as cotton duck or canvas. A popular fabric for hammocks without spreaders is parachute cloth, which is durable and often colorful, as well as being light.
Purchasing a Hammock
When purchasing a hammock, there are many things to keep in mind. One of the foremost is its purpose and whether you will be using it for more than one season. If you only need it for a short while, such as a single camping trip, you might easily be able to get away with an inexpensive emergency kit hammock. But if you hope to reuse the hammock or if it will be prominently displayed in your garden, patio or sunroom, then you will probably want something a little more upscale and comfortable. That is where the beautiful wood frames come into play, or even the more modest metal ones, along with colorful cotton or synthetic fabrics.
Always check the weight allowances on hammocks, especially if you hope to invite a second person to share it. It can be pretty embarrassing at the least to have your hammock tumble down because you subjected it to more weight than that for which it was rated. Check the feet if you plan to use a frame and hammock indoors. Some are better suited to indoor use than others. Hammocks are not recommended sleep platforms for infants, even though they can be a fun place for an older child to relax and play. If you want to use your hammock for winter camping, you will want a good insulation layer on top of the hammock and under your sleeping bag. A woolen blanket folded in half lengthwise will work well. It is a good idea to bring cloth hammocks indoors for the winter, even if they are rated weather resistant. The fabric will last longer and will be less likely to fade. If the frame is too large or heavy to easily put away, covering it for the winter is a good idea.