Buyer’s Guide: Hammocks
Are you looking to kick back in a hammock this summer? Before hitting the stores, check out our guide to learn more about styles, sizes, and structure.
During the summer months, nothing beats kicking back in a hammock and swaying gently on a warm breeze with a paperback novel and iced beverage. These hanging seats provide a comfortable and portable option for lounging and sleeping. First developed by the Mayans more than a thousand years ago, they’re now used by campers who desire a functional sleeping space, as well as by those seeking a little R&R on a beach or in the backyard. When selecting the best hammock for your outdoor activities, consider a few key factors, like style, size, weight, and suspension system. Whether you want a sturdy sleeping platform for your next backpacking adventure or a laid-back seating option for your backyard, check out our guide for the top-rated hammocks on the market today.
BREAKING DOWN THE DESIGN DETAILS
Before making a purchase, consider the following factors that distinguish options available on the market today to choose the best hammock for your needs.
Size: Hammocks come in various sizes, and most designs accommodate one or two people. Typically, hammock beds range from 48 to 102 inches in width and are generally 96 inches in length—although some camping models are smaller in both dimensions to save space and weight.
Weight: If you’re purchasing a hammock for hiking and camping, weight is an important consideration. Campers won’t want to tote anything too bulky or heavy. Ultra-light camping hammocks constructed with synthetic materials can weigh as little as seven ounces, and they can be compacted into an area about the size of a softball. Rope or fabric hammocks, often designed for home use, generally weigh a few pounds more. As the heaviest option, quilted fabric hammocks can weigh up to six pounds, depending on the fabric. Make sure to also consider the weight of your chosen suspension system, since straps, slings, ropes, and carabiners will add 10 to 15 ounces to the system’s total weight.
Weight Capacity: All hammocks have a “carrying capacity,” with weight limits ranging from 150 to 500 pounds. Solo hammocks usually top out at about 250 pounds, while couples hammocks are designed to hold 350 to 500 pounds. Weight limits only apply for static weight capacity; jumping, swinging, and other vigorous activity will lessen the total weight capacity, as well as shorten the lifespan of your hammock.
Suspension System: Many backyard or lounging hammocks have wooden spreaders (or poles) along the length of each end, which keep the hammock open after it’s suspended from trees, poles, or hammock stands with hanging hooks and chains. Camping hangers, on the other hand, don’t have spreaders; instead, they’re suspended with webbing straps, synthetic tree slings, or nylon ropes attached to the hammock with carabiners. Hammocks with multiple attachment points allow for more flexibility and adjustability in hanging. When hanging a hammock, try making the rope have a 30-degree pitch for the best support.
Accessories: Think about how you plan to use the hammock, and look into its compatibility with various accessories. One popular item is freestanding metal hammock stands, which allow you to place your hammock anywhere—even in places without trees. Other accessories include sleeping pads to add comfort to rope hammocks, pillows, storage or carrying bags, hammock canopies designed to shield you from the sun’s rays or the occasional rain shower, and mosquito netting to keep pesky bugs at bay.
SELECTING STYLES AND MATERIALS
The style and material of your hammock will also differ based on your desired usage. Even so, consumers will find a wide variety of options available at the store. Here, we’ve described seven popular styles of hammock.
• Everyone who grew up watching “Gilligan’s Island” is familiar with the most common type of hammock: an open-weave cotton rope variety. These hammocks, which are typically the least expensive, allow for maximum air flow. Hammocks made of cotton ropes are comfortable and breezy, and the ropes will stretch to match the contour of a body. But since cotton absorbs moisture, they are more prone to mildew.
• Open-weave polyester rope hammocks are more durable, less prone to mold and mildew, and better able to withstand high humidity, salt air, and ultraviolet rays. However, polyester rope is less flexible than cotton rope, and therefore may not be as comfortable. Both cotton and polyester open-weave hammocks typically are constructed with wooden or metal spreader bars.
• Quilted fabric hammocks, which also feature spreader bars, have two layers of fabric with cotton or polyester padding sandwiched in between. These types of hammocks typically are reversible, with a solid color fabric on one side and a patterned fabric on the other. Since fabric hammocks don’t have holes or gaps on the surface, they’re a safe option for families with children.
• Constructed of thin cotton or nylon thread, Mayan hammocks don’t have a spreader bar. The flexible and lightweight design allows users to “cocoon” themselves inside of the fabric. Taking a cue from their traditional roots, Mayan hammocks are often bright and colorful.
• Brazilian hammocks are hand woven from cotton fibers, which are crafted into cozy thick fabrics accented by bright colors and an ornamental fringe. Most Brazilian hammocks do not have spreader bars. The thickness of the fabric makes it suitable for cooler climates.
• Poolside or seaside hammocks resist moisture, fading, ultraviolet rays, and exposure to salt. In addition, they’re durable, long-lasting, and easy to clean with warm water and liquid soap. Consumers can find these with or without spreader bars.
• Typically made from lightweight nylon or polyester, camping hammocks are characterized by their light weight and portability. They can survive most weather conditions, and some even come with mesh screens to protect from bugs.
If you want the comfort of a hammock but have limited space, consider purchasing a hammock chair. Offered in rope or fabric styles, hammock chairs can be hung from a sturdy beam, branch, or pole
THREE BEST BETS
Regardless of the material and style, a hammock can help you chill out, kick back, and relax in the comfort of your own backyard. Here a three of the best hammock options on the market today, based on consumer reviews and expert opinions.
Vivere Double Hammock with Space-Saving Steel Stand ($101.53)
A classic Brazilian-style hammock, the Vivere Double Hammock received 4.7 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers, who praised its durable construction, high comfort level, and easy assembly. The double bed measures 63-by-94 inches, and the hammock comes with a nine-foot-long space-saving steel stand and a carrying case. The Vivere hammock accommodates up to 450 pounds, and it’s available in a choice of three fabrics: 100 percent vegetable-dyed cotton, woven polyester, and weather-resistant Sunbrella. Available on Amazon.
ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters – DoubleNest Hammock ($69.95)
The DoubleNest Hammock, a lightweight and portable option for camping, received 4.8 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers. The backpack-friendly fabric–strong and breathable nylon taffeta with triple interlocking stitching–can safely support up to 400 pounds, and compacts to the size of a grapefruit. Buyers will also get aluminum wiregate carabiners and nautical grade line for easy setup. Available on Amazon.
Algoma 11 Foot Cotton Rope Hammock with Metal Stand Deluxe Set ($130)
This 100 percent pure cotton rope hammock comes with a steel frame stand, polyester pad, pillow, and holders for drinks and an iPad. The set received 4.6 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers, who praised its comfort, easy installation, and high quality. The double-lounger hammock measures 150-by-35 inches and holds up to 275 pounds. Available on Amazon.