Hammocks have become the ultimate item to have for ’chilling out’. Whether that is for you to enjoy relaxing in your own backyard / garden or whether you plan on backpacking and spending the night under the stars, a hammock could be an exciting investment.
They are considered the perfect go-to bedding option for those going hunting or spending more than a single day in the wild.
While they don’t stock them, we were interested to know what hunters do, so we spoke to Palmetto State Armory to understand what options are available. They told us that “Many people ask us for hunting tips over the phone or in our stores for sleeping options. There and there are a lot of nasties on the floor - we would never advise you bunk down there. Off the floor is always the perfect option. You can stay warmer and safer - what’s not to like?”
Clever Hiker offers some nice options for those looking to see what is available, but you can just as easily head over to Amazon or other camping shops.
Most hammocks come in two sizes, single and double. People who choose a double often choose it for the extra room and comfort not necessarily because they plan to share.
The weight of a hammock will be a consideration if you intend to go hiking and backpacking. Double hammocks are usually approximately 5 - 6 ft wide, which offers a more spacious lounging / sleeping experience. Single hammocks have a width of between 4 - 5 ft.
Choosing a single size save’s weight, another important factor if you are backpacking. The length of hammocks varies less than the width, it is advisable to look for a hammock that is approximately 2ft longer than your height.
When a hammock is purchased it does not always come with instructions on how to hang it, most people think the answer is to find two trees, attach it and lay in it. But you do need a suspension system (straps) to set it up properly. All hammocks have built in loops or rings that attach to a suspension system, but most do not include tree straps, or a stand which will be needed if your garden doesn’t contain appropriately spaced trees !!
These items can be purchased separately or in a combination hammock-stand set.
The material a hammock is constructed from is described in deniers. Heavy duty fabrics have a higher denier number, 70 denier being the fabric of a strong robust hammock which is obviously going to be more hardwearing than the lightweight density.
Lightweight models come in at 30 denier. The most popular materials used range from cotton fabric, mesh, quilted material which offers a slight cushioning and rope. The material your hammock is made from should be a consideration when it comes to extending the life of it as cotton fabric or rope although more breathable than some synthetics,will wear more quickly and will be slower to dry.
Polyester is the most common synthetic fabric, although over time the colours will fade. The most weatherproof options are heavy duty synthetics such as Sunbrella, Textilin and Duracord and these are fast drying, easy to clean and UV resistant so that the colours don’t fade as quickly.
It is advisable to store your hammock indoors during the winter months, unless of course you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate.
Accessories will make your hammock experience even more enjoyable and they usually work with most brands of hammock. Most hammocks include carabiners that have a sufficient strength rating, and often purchased separately are a pair of tree straps - your suspension system.
A width of 0.75 is advisable as anything thinner may dig into the bark and damage trees. Further useful additions are a rain tarp which hangs above the hammock using guylines to maintain a taut pitch.
A Bug net with 360 degree protection which will hang underneath as well to protect your back. An underquilt . which can be expensive- but is considered essential for cold temperatures particularly if you plan on sleeping outdoors regularly, a further option is to slip a sleeping pad between your hammock.
If you are planning an outdoor adventure and plan to stay out overnight the decision on whether to take a traditional tent or a hammock tent will depend on which sleeping experience you prefer. Some people love the hammock experience of sleeping under the stars while others prefer a hammock tent.
Hammock tents and sleep systems usually include a hammock and all of the accessories needed for an overnight stay. It is also possible to create your own individual system beginning with a hammock and then adding accessories as and when you need them.
One of the advantages of a hammock tent is that it does not require level ground in order to set it up.
If you are not planning on hunting, then there are many garden hammocks to consider and generally come in two designs - a Brazilian hammock or a spreader bar hammock.
Brazilian hammocks are often competitively priced so therefore a good way to decide if a hammock is for you. The Brazilian model features a fabric sling that gathers together at each end.
This style is easy to pack making it easy to take along in your backpack or even to move around your garden.
The spreader bar hammock is a wide relatively flat design created by the addition of spreader bars. These bars are usually pieces of wood that attach to the hammock between the bed area and the suspension attachment points.
This design is often more comfortable than a Brazilian hammock, especially for two people, however it is prone to tipping, especially if the suspension is taut, so give it some slack and enjoy safely relaxing.
Obviously your hammock needs to be large enough and strong enough to support you and anyone else in the sling. The majority of backyard hammocks will fit two people in comfortably, and usually have a weight limit of 450lb.
There are also many single person hammocks if space is a consideration. If you prefer to sit when relaxing perhaps consider a hammock chair. Some styles have a pod which hangs from an overhead stand, while others have a smaller sling which suspends like a Brazilian hammock.