8 Main Types of Hammocks & Differences – Thoroughly Explained

main types of hammocks

What is a hammock?

A hammock is a piece of strong sling made of rope or fabric which can be suspended between two points above ground by cords or straps for sleeping, relaxing and swinging. It often shapes in saging-banana or flat-bed two appearances, different types of hammocks have different purposes and functions for indoor or outdoor, lounging or camping use.

If it’s your first time getting started to know hammock or preparing to choose one, you might be confused about multiple types and styles among them.

This article is here to help guide you through different types and help you know the basics of hammocks.

8 main types of hammock on the market

Hammocks can summarize in three general categories by material: rope, string and fabric, each one comes with two subcategories: spreader bar or non-spreader bar (also known as “gathered end”).

From the above criteria, there are 8 types of hammock popular and common seen on market:

  1. Rope hammock – classic beach style
  2. Mayan hammock – most comfortable
  3. Nicaraguan hammock – most luxurious of all
  4. Brazilian & Colombian hammock – best for sleep
  5. Camping hammock – durable and lightweight for outdoor
  6. Quilted hammock – for cold weather lounging
  7. Poolside hammock – water and UV resistant
  8. Hammock chair -new invented special type

Rope hammock

rope hammock
Rope hammock

Rope hammocks, which are also known as American Style hammocks, are categorized in rope hammock with spread bars.

Loosely knotted by rope in netting form with widely spaced holes, often come with wooden spreader bars at each end to flat the surface in a bed-like appearance. This type of hammock is popular and dominating the market in the US, can be found in beaches, backyards, and other tropical locations.

Rope hammocks are often made of cotton or polyester. Cotton is more comfortable and flexible than polyester, but does tend to absorb moisture and get mildew when in outdoor use, while polyester is mold resistant and durable to avoid it.

Because of the grid pattern surface, if you lie in a rope hammock for a long time, the gravity pressure against the rope can leave a criss-crossing “tattoo” on your skin, called Human Waffle Effect. Besides, if kids lie in this type of hammock, their arms and legs are easily caught in big holes, which is dangerous.

Wooden spread bars at ends flatten the surface and offer a horizontal view when lying in it, but it might be the only pros of these bars, actually the spreader bars make the hammock unstable to sleep in, easy to flip over and to dump you on the ground.

The rope hammock usually has different sizes, suit for single, two person or family resting.

In conclusion, the rope hammocks are good for recreation and a short time relaxing, not suitable for napping or sleeping.

Mayan hammock

mayan hammock
Mayan hammock

Mayan hammocks are also known as Mexican hammocks, are categorized in string hammock without spreader bar.

Mayan hammocks were first made by people in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico around 1000 years ago, and it was believed the birthplace of the earliest hammock. Then it was introduced to Europe in Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage, but in the form of spreader bar style for flattening like a bed.

Mayan hammock is tightly woven by thin strings, the individual threads are not tied in a knot but simply crossed against each other, when you come close to look, they are featured in tiny cells like fishnet on the surface (much smaller than rope hammocks). It’s suitable for summer or hot locations for its good air ventilation.

Traditional Mexican hammock is made of cotton or nylon material, renowned for its bright colors and diamond woven pattern. As it can wrap around the body to create a “cocoon” effect, Mayan hammock is considered as the most comfortable hammock.

Yet, mayan hammocks still have cons, you should be careful for not to snag or break the thin strings, and avoid using cotton ones in a moistured environment. So, a little extra care is needed for this type of hammock.

Mayan hammock is suitable for one person lounging or sleeping.

In conclusion, Mayan hammock is a good choice for your first hammock for indoor or backyard relaxing, especially in the hot season.

Nicaraguan hammock

Nicaraguan hammock
Nicaraguan hammock

Nicaraguan hammocks are categorized in string hammock with spreader bars.

Like Mayan hammocks, Nicaraguan hammocks are woven by cotton threads in small mesh net form, good for air flowing. But it uses double-woven skill with medium gage yard, which is thicker and more durable.

The most distinguishing features of Nicaraguan hammocks are beautifully adorned fringe ornaments and wooden spreader bars. Hand woven from quality cotton which is soft and fairly strong, it’s praised as the most luxurious of all hammocks.

Nicaraguan hammock with spreader bars can spread flat like a bed for 1-2 person lounging together for both indoor and outdoor, also needs some care when hanging outside due to cotton’s water-absorbing and moldy characteristics.

In conclusion, Nicaraguan hammocks are less “floaty” than Mexican hammocks but have an overall upgraded experience, more durable and lavish.

Brazilian & Colombian hammock

Brazilian and Colombian hammocks are all categorized in fabric hammocks without spreader bar (gathered end).

brazilian and colombian hammock
Brazilian hammock (left) and Colombian hammock (right)

These two types of hammocks are almost the same, except two obvious differences to let us distinguish:

  1. Traditional Colombian hammocks have cotton plaits extended from hammock body-self to distribute the weight, called cadejos. So, Colombian hammocks are more durable and unique-looking.
  1. Colombian hammocks have an open-end loop, while Brazilian ones have a closed-end loop. Open end loops are more stable and easy to hang than the closed end loops.
open end loop
open-end loop

Because Brazilian hammocks are more commonly seen in daily life and have a higher market share, the following section will use the Brazilian hammock as an example to introduce this type’s hammock.

Brazilian hammocks are tightly woven by hand or loom from cotton fabric, with no small nets on the surface. Eye-catching for multiple bright colors and some have crocheted fringe as beautiful adornment. People in Brazil have used hammocks as beds for centuries, nowadays millions of people in South America still sleep on this type of hammock every night. Gathered end design offers cocoon feeling without any pressure points, Brazilian hammock is recognized as the best replacement of bed.

Due to cross-woven fabric material, Brazilian hammocks are less air ventilated than the string varieties, such as Mayan or Nicaraguan hammocks. Also less susceptible to snagging, more durable and warmer.

Brazilian hammock is pretty suitable for winter and colder climates, home decor, and relaxing spots for both indoor and out use. But be assured to store away from humidity and direct sunlight when not in use.

This type of hammock also has two person size for casual resting, but you must not feel comfortable when sharing hammock with another for sleeping.

In conclusion, if you want a hammock for bed replacement and use all seasons around, Brazilian hammock will definitely not disappoint you.

Camping hammock

camping hammock
camping hammock

The most prevalent camping hammocks are categorized in fabric hammock with gathered ends. (Some have spreader bars, like bridge hammock)

Camping hammocks are made of nylon or polyester material. Nylon is widely used by all-sized manufactures, it often takes a reinforced cross-woven process resulting in a grid pattern called ripstop, to prevent rips or tears. Polyester is used less than nylon in camping hammock, but it stretches less and has more abrasion resistance, also has a softer feel to the material than nylon. Two materials are both durable and lightweight but less comfortable than cotton material, suitable for more weather-concerned outdoor use.

The Camping hammock takes little space in the backpack, popular for outdoor hiking and camping. Many people use it as an alternative for bulky tent, as it is easy to set up, perfect for rocky and steeply sloping terrain, and can effectively avoid insects or bugs when you sleep 16-19″ from the ground.

Camping hammock is often accompanied with extra accessories for supplements, like suspension system for easy hanging, tarp for rainy and windy days, topquilt and underquilt for keeping warm in cold weather, bugnet for mosquito protection. Some hammocks come with these accessories, some you need to buy additionally.

The camping hammock is used only for one person, although has two person size.

In conclusion, camping hammocks are the best choice for outdoor backpackers resting and sleeping, which any other type of hammocks can’t compare to.

Quilted hammock

quilted hammock
quilted hammock

Quilted hammocks are categorized in fabric hammocks with spreader bars.

It’s made of two layers of tightly woven polyester or cotton fabric stuffed with soft padding between, some comes with a bolstered pillow sewn into the body. With two different patterns and colors design on both sides, more appealing in a visual perspective. Wooden spreader bars open the hammock flat, so it’s usually reversible.

This hammock type is comfortable and warm to cozy up, you can use it as a comfortable bed to lounge and enjoy a book in the yard or even in your home, especially in cold weather. It provides superior support for 1-2 person lying on it simultaneously, safe for children using since it doesn’t have big holes or gaps on the surface.

But due to supportive wooden bars and quilted stuffing, the quilted hammock is a little bulky to move and store. When using it outdoors, you also should avoid it from rainy or inclement weather.

In conclusion, this type of hammock is a good choice for killing time in cold weather both indoor and outdoor.

Poolside hammock

poolside hammock
poolside hammock

Poolside hammocks are categorized in fabric hammocks with spreader bars.

Made from special PVC-coated polyester fabric, which is water resistant, allows water to quickly move through it, fast-drying, UV and mold resistant. Treated polyester is more durable and lightweight, but not as soft as cotton.

This type of hammock is commonly found near pools or seaside in summer time, often features in striped patterns, can be hang by tress or stand. After splashing saltwater, less maintenance is needed, simply scrub with a scrub brush, detergent, and water, hose it off and allow it to air dry.

Bring your poolside hammock indoors when not in use, especially during inclement weather. This will help keep the color from fading and will keep the hanging rope intact so it lasts through many seasons.

In conclusion, the poolside hammock is always your first choice for lounging beside the pool in summer.

Hammock chair

hammock chair
hammock chair

Hammock chairs (hanging chairs) are categorized in rope or fabric hammocks with spreader bar.

It’s a special type of hammock, a new modern substitute for traditional hammocks, for those who have difficulty climbing into or don’t like to lie down in the hammock, yet still can feel a sensation of floating.

Hammock chairs are made of cotton rope or tightly woven polyester, with a wooden spreader bar on the top to hang. Different from traditional hammocks hanging on the two points, it’s hung on one point from indoor ceiling, porch, hammock stand to outside tree trunk. It’s designed for one person to sit upright and stretch into preferred lounging position, also takes up less space than conventional hammocks.

The hammock chair often has a backrest cushion, or you can put your own one in it to fully support your back when reading, watching TV or studying in a soothing swaying motion. It’s lightweight and portable to move from the indoors to the outdoors, suitable for all-season using.

In conclusion, hammock chair is a good replacement for a regular-style one if you want to experience a new sitting and swaying feeling.

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