Tips to Choose the Right Hammock

Tips to Choose the Right Hammock

A good hammock must be comfortable, should withstand 200 lb of weight, allow the sleeper to lie down straight, provide ample weather protection, repel insects, and not flip over. Along with keeping these important pointers in mind, Gardenerdy provides handy tips to choose the right hammock.
Gardenerdy Staff
Did You Know?
It is widely believed that Christopher Columbus introduced hammocks to Spain from Bahamas.
Hammocks have been around for several centuries and were originally used as regular beds by the Native Americans and people of Brazil and West Indies. The hammocks used in the past were mostly made of cloth and offered greater protection against snakes, insects, cold, moisture, and diseases. However, modernization etched the image of netted/roped hammocks in our minds. These hammocks were extensively used by the media and in brochures, so much so that people sidelined cloth sling hammocks to a large extent. Before you decide on buying just about any hammock, there are a few key points to consider. This Gardenerdy guide discusses how to choose one and what to look for.
Rope or Cloth Hammocks?
Perhaps the most popular and commonly used among the lot, rope hammock weaves are extremely breathable because they allow air to circulate freely. Such hammocks are excellent for being used in tropical weather, especially when it is humid as well as hot. The intertwined rope allows air in, which ensures that your clothes do not become damp with sweat. The airflow prevents heat from trapping between two fabrics.
The biggest disadvantage of using rope hammocks is that rope in itself is not the most comfortable surface to be sleeping on. Gravity works against the individual's weight and causes the rope to press against the skin. This causes it to rub against the rope, leading to itching and stinging. Secondly, ropes tend to leave marks on the skin and interfere with blood circulation to the skin.
On the other hand, a hammock that is made entirely of tightly woven cloth (Brazilian hammock) or parachute material (camping hammock) not only provides absolute comfort, but also does away with the unnecessary discomfort caused by rope hammocks. Secondly, hammock fabrics manufactured today, such as cotton or polyester, are not only breathable, but are also soft, weatherproof, exceptionally strong, and durable.
Which Material Makes More Sense
Hammocks can be found in either cotton or synthetic material.
✦ Cotton Hammocks: 100% cotton hammocks are exceptionally comfortable, soft, relaxing, and are suitable for being used during mild summers.
While going in for a cotton hammock may seem tempting at first, bear in mind that this fabric in itself has a limited life and is vulnerable to damage from weather conditions such as moisture and sunlight. If left out in the rain or humid conditions, cotton hammocks will develop mildew and gradually start to rot. If left out in the sun for a prolonged period, the fabric will start to wither and the strings of the hammock will begin to snag.
✦ Synthetic Hammock: On the other hand, hammocks made of synthetic fiber, such as nylon or polyester, tend to last for several years and do not require much maintenance. Hammocks made of nylon or polyester are able to withstand humidity, UV rays, and the abrasiveness of saltwater. As compared to polyester, nylon tends to be stronger, more stretchable, wick more moisture, and are anti-rot and anti-mildew. These materials are also extremely breathable and durable. The durability of the hammock can be determined by the material used for making it as well as the strength of its seams. Therefore, go in for hammocks that have triple-stitched seams.
Are Spreader Bars Necessary?
As compared to fabric hammocks, spreader bars are commonly found in rope hammocks. These bars were introduced with the intention of preventing the hammock from engulfing the individual while lying down. Stretching both the ends of the hammock with the bars prevents the hammock from cocooning the sleeper. This feature is extremely helpful for small children who find it hard to get out of hammocks that do not have spreader bars. The biggest disadvantage of using hammocks with straight spreader bars is that it makes the hammock so stiff that the person lying on it is always in danger of flipping over.
A good hammock should never flip, twist, or cause the person to fall over while sleeping. Unless you can find a hammock with curved spreader bars, it would be advisable to avoid using such a hammock for sleeping. On the other hand, one without spreader bars would allow you to simply slide into the hammock. The rope/fabric will cradle you from all sides, fit your body, and act like a trampoline that does not toss you around. Since an individual is bound to shift positions while sleeping, a hammock without bars will ensure that you get to sleep without having to worry about falling or sliding off.
Size and Weight Capacity
Firstly, the size of the hammock chosen by you must be appropriate for your height and weight. The hammock must be wide enough for you to lie comfortably without having your shoulders or hips feeling exposed. An ideal hammock should be at least 60" wide x 120" long (5 feet wide and 10 feet long). The hammock must be long enough, at least 10 ft or 11 ft long, to help snuggle your entire body, including your feet. Go in for a hammock that has a minimum weight capacity of 200 lb. or more. Depending on your need, you can also consider going in for a 2-person hammock.
How Many Layers: Single or Double?
Single-layered hammocks are thin and suitable for being used in warm weather. Such hammocks can be fitted with sleeping pads to retain some insulation during windy nights. However, for outdoor camping in colder weather or terrain, you will need to opt for a hammock that provides greater insulation.
Double-layered hammocks can hold more weight, offer better wind and abrasion resistance, insect protection, and greater insulation. The two layers are stitched along the sides of the hammock, thereby, leaving the middle section free. Such hammocks provide ample space for fitting sleeping pads inside.
What About Under Quilt and Over Cover?
These are additional features that hammock campers can use for keeping themselves as warm as possible during colder weather.
The under quilt is usually made of down and is fixed on the underside of the hammock. It works by blocking your body heat, thereby, preventing it from escaping from underneath the tarp. Secondly, it provides greater protection from moisture and cold air flowing under your suspended hammock. Go in for hammocks that are equipped with hooks for fixing the under quilt.
Another useful feature to have in a camping hammock is the over cover with or without netting and zippers/Velcro. The over cover is sewn along one of the sides of the hammock. This feature helps trap insulation by deflecting it back into the hammock. Secondly, it provides privacy to the sleeper. Thirdly, it helps block out wind and sunlight. The net is excellent for keeping insects at bay. Go in for one that has a removable over cover/netting so that you can use it as and when needed.
Hammock Accessories
Your hammock must come with some basic accessories such as wide loop webbing straps that don't damage tree barks, hammock ropes, carabiners, aluminum toggles, and long whoopie slings. You may also need to buy continuous loops and a tarp for additional protection against wind and rain. Whether or not to go in for a hammock stand is a matter of personal preference. That being said, carrying a stand and fixing it on uneven terrain may prove inconvenient and affect the portability of the entire gear.
Reputable Brands
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