When someone mentions the word hammock, there are three immediate associations: tropical island castaways, convenience, or slapstick gags with people falling out of one. Of course, hammocks are much more than these things, and they have a history to prove it.
Nobody knows who invented the hammock or just how old it is, but it appears to have been invented separately by the Native Americans and possibly the Greeks (although some believe Europe’s version came much later).
What we do know is that it has been used extensively for exploration, ship life, and as a means to save space. In fact, this simple concept of a cloth suspended between two poles has evolved into a number of variations. Here are 17 of them.
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Types of Hammocks
1. Brazilian Hammock
Imagine having a comfortable hammock that not only feels good but looks opulent at the same time. The Brazilian hammock is a fabric hammock that features interwoven tassels, making it look like shawls were sewn onto the sides.
2. Canopy Hammock
This bizarre looking hammock combines a camping hammock with a spreader bar and stand to create a wide, flay hammock surface that shields you from the sun while also giving you all of the mobility of a stand hammock.
Of course, it’s bit bulkier than a stand hammock, but it makes up for this by being more stable, making it easier to get in and out of than a regular hammock with spreader.
3. Camping Hammock
Now here’s something completely different! The camping hammock is a highly evolved form of the basic design. Its durable fabric includes a netted layer so you can avoid mosquitoes. Even more important, it also has a cover that serves as a roof.
The cords tend to be long for a little less restrictive placement, and the whole thing can become nice and compact, making it perfect for backpacking trips.
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4. Colombian Hammock
This hammock is very similar to the Brazilian hammock but has two key differences in its design. First, the loops at the end are open instead of closed, making it easier to hang the hammock.
Second, instead of decorative tassels, the Colombian hammock has plaits that extend up the ropes towards the loop. These plaits, called cadejos, increase the hammock’s durability while also adding a unique visual accent.
5. Cotton Hammock
When you want something that has the strength of a rope hammock but the creature comforts of a fabric hammock, the cotton hammock is a perfect choice.
They’re more gentle than plastic or polyester and softer than rope, making them a great choice for people with sensitive skin. This is also one of the more traditional materials used in hammock making.
6. Fabric Hammock
A lot of modern hammocks rely upon fabric instead of rope for the main body. This feels more comfortable for many people and more closely emulates an actual bed.
They have rope ends that end in loops for hanging and can be rolled up into very compact packages, making them easy to transport. Some people even fold them up like blankets. While not as durable as some other options, there’s no doubt fabric hammocks are comfortable and functional.
7. Hammock Chair
One day, someone took a look at their hammock and said “I wish I could just sit in this”, and thus the hammock chair was born. These oddities usually consist of a cushioned seat and backrest that has ropes on the sides which attach to a single horizontal bar to create support.
Others are made entirely of rope with a single spreader bar. The bar itself can then be hung from a hook or tied to a sturdy tree branch. The result is a combination of hammock, chair, and baby swing all rolled into one.
8. Hammock With Spreader Bar
This is perhaps the most iconic type of hammock out there. Unlike early hammocks, a blanket, net, or cloth is laid out flat, then attached to rods at the top and bottom, often by rope.
These spreader bars ensure the hammock is stretched taut horizontally. The bars are then connected to your suspension poles to form a more or less flat bed that may be taught from head to foot or have a bit of give.
What makes these hammocks both useful and frustrating is the effect of brink kept taught at the top and bottom. The design makes it harder to get into but oh so much easier to get out of!
However, once you get the hang of it, this type of hammock gives much better back support and is far easier to use than a traditional hammock without the bars.
9. Hammock With Stand
Let’s say you want to enjoy resting in a hammock in the comfort of your own backyard but don’t have two trees to attack it to. This is where the hammock with stand design comes into play.
The stand, typically metal but can be wood as well, is a sturdy frame with two poles that you can attach the ends of the hammock to. The feet of the stand are wide enough to prevent tipping, while the poles are strong enough to bear your full weight.
Of course, the full beauty of this design is that you can move your hammock around as much as you want. Looking to read under the blue sky? Put it in your yard. Is it raining? Move it onto the porch. Want to enjoy your hammock indoors? Then bring it inside. The possibilities are endless.
10. Mayan Hammock
These hammocks use thin strings interwoven to create a fine mesh much softer and more compact than rope, taking on an appearance closer to fishnet. They are perhaps the single most comfortable hammock type out there with the possible exception of the quilted hammock.
However, while the quilted hammock keeps you warm, the Mayan hammock keeps you nice and cool and is flexible enough to wrap around your body if you so choose. They also tend to be quite colorful, resulting in it providing as much visual appeal as it does physical comfort.
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11. Nicaraguan Hammock
These cotton hammocks are well-known for their fringe decorations and overall comfort level. They’re very similar to the Brazilian hammock in basic construction but with very different ornaments and a spreader bar.
12. Plastic Hammock
Plastic hammocks aren’t as comfortable as other materials, but they’re extremely durable. This material is a popular choice for camping hammocks and makes for an excellent addition to your survival gear kit.
13. Polyester Hammock
When you need the durability of rope but the compact-ability of fabric, polyester is a perfect choice. This synthetic material is quite durable against the elements and can be rolled into a very small shape, making it the go-to material for many camping hammocks.
This is one of the small ironies, of course, since you can set up a polyester hammock and leave it outside all year long, but it’s also perfect for taking with you when camping or hiking.
14. Portable Folding Hammock
What happens if you take a stand hammock, add spreader bars, and give it a little canopy to shield your face from the sun? The folding hammock has a similar visual appeal to many folding camping chairs but is designed for laying around.
The stand is more compact and can be broken down for storage or travel. Meanwhile the top and bottom have short spreader bars that create more width without losing the sagginess of a traditional hammock.
15. Quilted Hammock
When comfort is the ultimate goal, the quilted hammock may just be the best choice around. They usually include a spreader and are plump and padded. Imagine lying on a cozy sleeping bag suspended in the air and you’re not far off from this experience.
In addition, they’re warmer and more durable than a fabric hammock while easily winning out against rope hammocks for comfort.
Due to the way these hammocks are designed, they’re not as compact as some other types. However, they’re often paired up with a stand as opposed to hanging between trees due to how addicted some people become after trying one out.
16. Rope Hammock
This is one of the oldest types of hammock out there. They were staple in many Native American cultures and remain popular to this day. Rope is durable and can hold a lot of weight. It can also be rolled up into a very compact package, making storage and transport easy.
Best of all, this material can last for years. The only downside is that some people may need to throw a blanket over the rope to make it more comfortable while others will love it as-is.
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17. Sari Hammock
Originating from the Indian subcontinent, the sari hammock is a very intricate cotton hammock that’s soft to the touch. They tend to have colorful, intricate patterns and are simply tied to trees or poles without the use of rope.
Sari cloth has many great qualities that allow it to stand out from other materials, and the sari hammock is an excellent example of how versatile this traditional fabric really is.