Hammocks are becoming the number one choice among many backpackers for overnight ventures. Frequent campers are also turning to hammocks to get a comfortable night’s rest. There are a few advantages of sleeping in a hammock as opposed to setting up a tent and perhaps a sleeping pad of some sort. Over the years, hammocks have gathered a near cult-like following who swear by them as the best night’s sleep in the wild. Whether you are a mileage driven backpacker or a casual camper looking for a lounging chair we’ve selected some of the best hammocks to take a closer look. First we will discuss the concerns and benefits with using a hammock as a sleeping system.
When it comes to finding a great hammock, there are 3 things that really matter. So read up and get ready to start calling in sick to work more often, as a nap in a comfortable hammock on the patio during a warm, sunny afternoon is really quite preferable than a dreary office space. What are the best hammocks available? It depends on where and why you are using it.
Whichever hammock you end up choosing, just remember to relax. Grab your favorite drink, a good book, and ditch the cell phone. You’re here to take a load off, and there’s no better way to relax than from a beautiful hammock on your patio!
- 1 The Best Hammocks of 2018
- 2 Hammock Guide Part I: The Benefits of Owning a Hammock
- 3 Hammock Guide Part II: Types of Camping Hammocks
- 4 Hammock Guide Part III: Double, Gathered End, Asymmetric Hammock Designs
- 5 Hammock Guide Part IV: How to Find the Best Hammock for You
- 6 Hammock Guide Part V: Most Important Hammock Features
- 7 Hammock Guide Part VI: Best Types of Hammocks for Sleeping In
The Best Hammocks of 2018
After weighing the key factors such as price, size, material, and ease of use, we’ve selected the most well rounded hammocks of 2018.
In our list here’s some of the best bridge and gathered end hammocks.
Hennessy makes some of the highest quality hammocks on the market for those serious about the outdoors. The Expedition is their most popular model. It is an all-purpose model that can be used for backpacking, camping, kayaking, and motorcycling. It is on the spendy side, but the good news is that Hennessy packs everything into this kit. You get an attached mosquito net, detachable rain fly, support ropes, a stuff sack, and a trusty manual with set up instructions which you will likely be needing your first couple setups. Other cool features include a mesh pocket located on the ridgeline and webbing straps to protect tree bark. The weight limit is 250 lbs and the height limit is about 6 feet. It will fit most individuals but if you’re a gangly person you may want to opt for something else like the DoubleNest.
- Gathered-end style hammock
- Material: oxford nylon and 30D polyester netting
- Packed Weight: 2lbs 12oz (1247g)
- Stuff Sack
Eagle’s Nest is one of the most respected names in hammock kits. The DoubleNest by Eagle’s Nest Outfitters is a fairly large hammock that can fit up to two people. It is a spacious, luxurious relaxation and sleeping pod for a single user. It’s great for lounging at a camp site or even setting it up in your backyard. Thanks to its heavy duty, triple stitched seams it has a maximum capacity of 400 pounds. Backpackers will be happy that it comes with a compression stuff sack which condenses the load down to a backpack friendly size. The only thing we don’t like about this hammock is that it does not come with straps to anchor it to trees or poles so you’ll have to purchase those separately. Of course, Eagle’s Nest offers those as well, and, fortunately, both of them combined are still a pretty good price. They’ve also got a bazillion color options so you can find one that fits your fancy. If you’re looking for a smaller, lighter weight option the SingleNest is a great hammock. Due to it’s light weight, this is one of the best backpacking hammocks around.
- Gathered-end style hammock
- Fits up to two
- Packed Weight: 1lb 6oz (624g)
- Compression packsack
If you’re opposed to hammock sleeping and/or had a bad experience with one in the past, you may want to try out Lawson’s Blue Ridge. This is a bridge style hammock with a roomy interior. It has been featured in many top magazines as one of the best sleep out there. The collapsible spreader bars keep the hammock sleeping surface flat and wide—no more banana curve. One tester exclaimed “Off the ground, there are no pressure points, so it’s like you’re sleeping on air!” It also doubles as a tent so if you want to pitch it as a solo tent that is an option as well. It has an integrated rainfly that can simply be detached when not needed. The bug netting is no-see-um for a bug bite less sleep. The weight capacity is 250 pounds. The downside is that it’s a bit heavier than most other hammock options and even some solo tent kits.
- Bridge style hammock
- Packed Weight: 4lbs (1814g)
- Material: nylon and polyester
- 1-year warranty
Grand Trunk’s ultralight is a great, lightweight budget option. It only weighs 12 ounces and it can support up to 200 pounds. It dries extremely fast and makes for a quick setup with the included S hooks. It comes with the stuff sack contributing (along with its low weight) to making this great option for long hikes. There are only a couple things we hold against this hammock. Grand Trunk’s design is that it is not nearly as durable as the other options we have talked about, but it does come with a two-year warranty for peace of mind. Other than that, you’re not getting a rainfly or bug netting with this model.
- Gathered end style hammock
- Packed weight: 12oz (340g)
- Stuff Sack
- Material: polyester taffeta
- 2-year warranty
A really high quality hammock here, and easily the best camping hammock on our list. Really light and compact, this is great for travelling or using on the go. Probably the best portable hammock available on the market.
Put simply, this is an awesome hammock. This hammock has a canopy roof, and is one of the best hammock tents around. It also features some of the best hammock straps, which will keep your hammock tent in place all night long.
Wise Owl is one of the best hammock brands out there, and from the quality of this hammock it is easy to see why. The canopy keeps you dry and keeps out the bugs, which makes this one of the best outdoor hammocks you can buy.
The Grand Trunk is, quite simply, the best parachute hammock available anywhere. Premium build quality and construction make this an awesome option for anyone looking for the best double hammock they can find.
Hammock Guide Part I: The Benefits of Owning a Hammock
There are many benefits of choosing a hammock and we emphasized some of the most important in the following list.
- Comfort. Comfort cannot be highlighted enough. Many avid hammock users will argue that sleeping in a hammock is more comfortable than on a sleeping pad, even the inflatable “sleeping beds.” If you’re a backpacker and you’re used to sleeping on the ground, you can kiss those rocks and roots that gouge your body every time you move goodbye. Unlike with a tent, you won’t end up all the way to one side trying to find the perfectly level spot.
- Multi-Purpose. You can’t transform a tent, it’s always a tent. That is not the case with hammocks. They can serve many purposes. They can be used for lounging, a chair, a loft for gear, or can even be set up to be a tarp or makeshift tent. Depending on which you buy, there are other adaptions that can be performed such as using the hammock as a poncho.
- Rejuvenation. A well set up hammock will support your back, reduce foot swelling, and relax your body. A gentle rocking will help lull you to sleep and reduce muscle tension. By elevating your feet slightly above your body, it will aid in decreasing the swelling that is caused by a hard day of hiking.
- Impact. Hammocks have one of the lowest environmental impacts of any sleeping system available. Instead of having to clear and groom an area for a tent, you are above ground. Trees and their bark can be protected by using flat straps or a rope system that distributes the weight evenly. These methods will prevent the ties from digging into the trees. This allows you to align yourself with the practice known as Leave No Trace (LNT).
- Location. Site selection is only limited to your imagination when it comes to hammocks. All you need to find is a few trees the right distance apart. When selecting one for a tent or tarp, you are limited to areas that are not affected by rocks and roots, unleveled ground, water, and must be large enough to support your structure. You can get really creative and sleep on mountain sides or like this guy and set up above a swamp (insert picture).
- Weight. This pretty much explains itself. Anything that reduces weight is a boon for hikers or even campers looking to cut down on some bulk. The lightest hammock available is one pound, try getting under that with a solo tent. It’s not going to happen. This is not to say they aren’t some pretty heavy hammock kits out there, there are. But the choice is yours to make.
Hammock Guide Part II: Types of Camping Hammocks
The main two camping hammock designs are the gathered end asymmetric hammock and the bridge hammock. The gathered end hammock is the most common hammock design. Its ends are gathered into a single bunch. The asymmetric shape enables the sleeper to lay diagonally in respect to its centerline. The benefits of the gathered end hammock are that they are lighter weight. In addition, many users feel that they are roomier and have a less constrictive feel to them.
Bridge hammocks are designed to have a flatter lie, the ends are not gathered and the length is reinforced with a spreader bar. These have a tubular shape to them and form more of a square rather than a banana shape. The benefits to the bridge hammock design are that it gives you a flatter surface to sleep on and you’ll probably spend less time adjusting your body to get into a comfortable position. The main drawback is that the spreader bar adds more weight to the kit and some users might find it feels too constrictive. One counterpoint is that many are designed to use a trekking pole as a substitute to the spreader bar.
We will look at a handful of the best in each of these two main categories.
Hammock Guide Part III: Double, Gathered End, Asymmetric Hammock Designs
The most common concern is whether or not you’ll still get a comfortable sleep. Side and stomach sleepers generally are opposed to hammocks because most of them think it is only possible to sleep on your back in them. This is a valid concern. However, a properly hung hammock will allow the user to sleep on their side without discomfort. It will also eliminate a prominent curve, retaining a secure center line for sleeping. Lying about 10-25 degrees off the center enables you to lay flat. This method is used by Central and South Americans who were the ones that invented the hammock.
There are a couple drawbacks to using a hammock. One of the common ailments of hammock sleepers is the “cold butt syndrome.” This describes the effect of heat loss over time when cold air is circulating under the hammock between you and the ground. Losing heat can usually be overcome with enough layers or a foam sleeping pad and/or quilt. The most obvious drawback is that you’re limited to environments that have trees, or something to anchor your supports down to. Unless you have a magic green thumb and can sprout up trees anywhere, there’s no solution to this. Another drawback is setting up or pitching hammocks. Some hammocks are more difficult than others. But there’s no easy shortcut, you’ll have to learn the hammock you pick and get familiar with how it lays. Oftentimes, once you master your hammock, you can set it up much faster than any ground system. Lastly, it’s important to consider if bugs or precipitation are going to be problems wherever you are going. A protective bug net and rain fly can solve these problems, but that’s more to pack and more setup time.
When you are looking for the best hammocks for your garden, yard, or patio, you will have several choices in design and style. While most people think that units are not too different, there are some major differences in how they are made, how you can use them.
Deciding on the location for your hammock will be important before you start comparing units. Slings are traditionally hung between two trees or posts, however, there are other ways to hang a hammock if you do not have these in your yard or garden. The units are very easy to store in the winter.
By rolling it and putting in an air-tight container or bag, you can keep the fibers in excellent condition and protect the hammock from winter damage.
When you do not have posts or trees to hang you hammock, a stand will be a viable alternative. Hammock stands are made from many materials and are normally very durable. The stand that you use should provide the height that is needed for the hammock to swing freely with one or two people inside the stand. There are some excellent stands made from steel. These normally have an enamel finish and come with the hooks and chains that are needed to hang the hammock. The stands are usually very heavy and you will want to place it in the location where you want your hammock to be located permanently in your yard. If you want to use a stand, you should look for the best hammock with stand included in the package.
Environmentally friendly units are a wonderful way to have a comfortable place to relax in your yard while keeping your carbon footprint low. The units are very Earth-friendly and are made using a robe that is made with recycled plastic bottles. The result is a very soft recycled rope. The units are usually about 84″ wide so two people can easily fit in them. These units have a wide weave that looks like macrame, and is kept spread apart by a bar at each end that it is attached to. This is an extremely durable hammock and can easily be hosed off without damaging the fibers.
A parachute hammock is made from the same nylon that parachutes are made from. These units are often the most affordable of the hammocks available because they are light, weigh less than a pound, and can be hung easily. There are no bars keeping it in place and a person is enveloped in the hammock when they get into the sling. These types of units are also very popular for mountain climbers because they can be hung from pitons when scaling mountains and are very easy to carry in a back-pack.
Benefits of a Double Hammock Design
Bigger is often better, and two is usually better than one. The best hammocks are no different. A large “double hammock” is better than its regular size cousin for several reasons. Here are four of them. Without further ado: 4 good reasons why the best hammock is the biggest you can find. Unless you’re camping, travelling, or in 2nd grade there’s no reason to go small, and every reason to go big! Happy napping!
- More Room to Move. Just as a King size bed is more comfortable than a twin, a large hammock offers a more relaxing stay than a smaller one. With the extra space you can move around until you find the most comfortable position. While small hammocks force you to lie straight in a banana-like cocoon position, larger models let you lie sideways to achieve a flatter, more bed-like familiar feel. You can even stretch completely sideways, if there’s room, and playfully swing away.
- Double the Hammock = Twice the Friends. If you’re willing to share that extra space you can often fit two, or even 3 people into a large hammock. The key is to always lie, or sit, sideways. The most comfortable hammocks are woven hammocks from Mexico or Nicaragua, and the larger sizes can hold up to 800 lbs! So unless your friends are an NFL lineman and an adult gorilla, you should be safe.
- Use it as a Hammock Bed. Because of the comfort factor, double hammocks work great as hammock beds. You can lie straight for short naps or to read a book; the straight position will cause your back to be supported in a reclined position and the sides of the hammock will form a cocoon that serves as an armrest for holding a book. When you’re ready to fall asleep you can stay as you are or move diagonally until you’re most comfortable. And there’s plenty of room for a pillow and blankets if you need.
Note: Some of the best hammocks include fringes on the sides which can work great as makeshift blankets on a cool night.
- Durability. As long as you take good care of your hammock the extra strength provided by a bigger size will allow your hammock to last for years, or even decades. Just avoid sharp objects and don’t leave out in the sun and rain too often and it should last just short of a lifetime.
Hammock Guide Part IV: How to Find the Best Hammock for You
Not surprisingly, comfort should be treated as priority numero uno when looking for the best backyard hammock. What most people don’t realize, however, is how to find a comfortable hammock. That really comes down to the weave and material. Open weave is the most comfortable. Not only does open weave breathe much better and keep you cooler than a solid-fabric hammock, but they are also able to stretch and flex and conform perfectly to your specific body weight and shape.
Look for Mexican (Mayan) or Nicaraguan hammocks if you are looking for the best hammock for sleeping. American rope hammocks have an open weave but are woven in such a way that the diamond patterns don’t stretch, but instead remain rigid and aren’t very comfortable at all. Also cotton and nylon are both good materials, with nylon resisting the weather a bit better than natural cotton.
Size is important when selecting a hammock. The best hammocks are the large, or two-person size ones. Even if you don’t plan on sharing your napping haven, the extra room gives you space to move around and to lie at an angle or even sideways. Lying at an angle gets you into a flatter, more bed-like position and for many people this is the preferred way to enjoy a hammock. Look for a large, double, or two-person hammock as they’re often described.
Equally as important, but often overlooked is the style, or appearance, of a hammock. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that a hammock has to be a white roped American hammock with two spreader bars. It doesn’t. Oh, and ditch the spreader bars by the way, they make the hammock both ridged and unstable; which is why you probably always felt like you were going to fall out every time you climbed into one.
Getting back to style; the best hammocks for your patio, as long as they’re comfortable and large enough, should be beautiful looking. You probably spent a lot of time looking for the right colored bed set, carpet, and wall paint to evoke a certain look or theme in your house. You can, and should, do the same with your hammock. Those Nicaraguan and Mexican hammocks mentioned earlier come in a myriad of different colors; so take the time to find one that compliments your current décor or makes your patio “pop.” Lazy Bandido offers some very bold, yet tasteful designs. There’s a decent selection of others on Amazon as well.
Hammock Guide Part V: Most Important Hammock Features
The world is full of different varieties of hammocks. There are beautiful and intricately woven Mayan hammocks with over 500 years of weaving tradition, cheap, yet colorful Brazilian hammocks and the ubiquitous white American rope hammock. But a top hammock store online may not carry them all. They may just specialize in one variety, so it helps to know what you’re looking for. Here are some hints to find the best hammock from the best hammock store.
1. Type of Hammock:
A hammock should be comfortable above all else. Flashy colors are great and definitely catch your eye in a crowded market. When it comes to comfort, however the top hammock in the list is the Mayan (Mexican) or Nicaraguan model. They are both hand-woven using a intricate “spring weave” that allows the hammock to stretch and conform to your body type. Solid fabric hammocks can’t do this and as a result feel much more rigid and unforgiving.
Cotton tends to be the most comfortable but can easily weather if left outside. For indoor use they are great. Nylon hammocks, especially after a few uses, tend to soften up and can be very comfortable in the Nicaraguan or Mayan weaves mentioned above. They also handle the elements much, much better and you’ll find they last much longer and hold their color better than cotton, which can fade. Sunbrella, canvas, and other such synthetic materials will offer the ultimate in durability and resistance to rain and wind; but they tend to made in solid fabric (not woven) construction, which is much less comfortable.
3. Hammock Store:
The best hammock stores, which tend to be online will offer a few things. First, they should guarantee their products. There is a huge range of quality out there; from the very cheap and frail to intricately woven, carefully designed models that will stand the tests of time and comfort. Also, they should give clear descriptions of the quality and origin of their hammocks. Look for a website that is easy and simple to order from. If just buying a hammock is complicated, try to imagine what returning one might be like. Also, a good hammock company should offer some diagrams or tips on how to use or hang their hammocks. This is a good indication of a company that knows its stuff and is trying to be helpful.
And lastly, when you find that perfect hammock online, write a review or share your purchase on Facebook or Twitter, good companies deserve the recognition and your sharing will ensure that more people get a great nap at a fair price!
Hammock Guide Part VI: Best Types of Hammocks for Sleeping In
Comfort is king. This may be obvious, but many people have never owned a hammock, and therefore don’t know what makes a hammock comfortable. Follow the steps below and you’ll want to replace your traditional mattress with a hammock bed in no time.
First is the weave. Open weave hammocks are the most comfortable. You may have seen a lot of solid fabric, all-weather hammocks online. While these are great for resisting mold and mildew and surviving the hurricane season, they’re equally great at resisting relaxation and comfort. Why? The solid design means they can’t stretch or conform to your body shape.
A Mexican (often referred to as “Mayan”) or Nicaraguan hammock, on the other hand, will feature a “double-spring weave” that allows the hammock to stretch and conform perfectly to your individual weight and shape.
Second, on the comfort priority list is fabric. With the proper weave nearly any fabric is comfortable. Cotton will be the softest and therefore generally most comfortable but it also requires more maintenance than synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester. One benefit of those synthetics? They won’t grab the fabric of your clothes as much as cotton, which will allow you to move around easier.
Lastly on the comfort subject: Ditch the spreader bar. Why? It makes the hammock rigid and unstable, and don’t allow for the natural cocooning effect that makes a hammock so great. If you’ve ever wondered why that lakeside hammock is so darn tippy and hard to get into – the spreader bar is to blame. Take it out and it’s much, much easier to use and you won’t fall out if you try. The people who make them in Nicaragua and Mexico don’t use them, and neither should you.
Where to hang the hammock you ask? You don’t need trees or even a hammock stand. All you need is a pair of lag screws (eye screws or “S” hooks will work fine), a pair of spring links and two 10 ft. lengths of 3/8″ nylon 3-strand rope. You can pick this all up at your local hardware store for about $30. Better yet, if you’re buying hammocks online chances are that same website will sell an optional wall hanging kit along with it.