Should I Choose Hammocks with Spreader Bar? – Pros & Cons Explained


There are many different types of hammocks on the market, one common style – hammocks with spreader bars, must have once attracted your attention when you were going to pick one. Compared with hammocks without spreader bars (also known as Gathered End Hammocks), which style should you choose?

The answer is:

It depends. Hammocks with or without spreader bars, both have advantages and disadvantages. For hammocking occasion and purpose, spreader bars hammock is better for people who enjoy a short period of time relaxing, such as full sun exposure at the beach, poolside and garden; non-spreader bars hammock is greater for those who use it for lounging, napping, sleeping, and pursue a long-lasting comfort for home recreation or outdoor camping.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of spreader bar hammocks, and help you know more about this style of hammock.

What is a spreader bar hammock?

The hammock comes with wooden or metal bars at both ends, which serve to spread the hammock to its full width, make the surface flat and open, to allow the user to lay straight. Typically, there are drilled holes along the length of the bar, suspension ropes go through the holes to attach the hammock and fixed anchors.

Pros of hammock with spreader bars:

● Spreader bars pitch the hammock surface tight and open, good for people who have a little claustrophobia when being wrapped around, and desire to get clear surrounding views.

● Bed-looking appearance, suitable for side sleepers, can effectively reduce calf ridge pain and shoulder squeeze, which happens in gathered end hammocks in a diagonal sleeping position.

● It can dry faster than other style hammocks when hitting water due to its tight surface.

● Aesthetical, colorful and tropical looking, more inviting and stylish in beach or garden.

Cons of hammock with spreader bars:

● Spreader bars raise the gravity center of the hammock higher, which is prone to flip over when the occupant rolls to the side, and need more balance control when lying in.

● Spreader bars usually weigh 2-6kg and can’t fold up, adding the extra weight to the hammock system. Make the whole hammock bulky, more difficult to pack up, and less portable.

● Not good for using as a bed replacement, primarily taking a recreational role in daytime relaxing.

● Less comfortable and body support than traditional non-spreader bar hammocks.

History of spreader bar hammocks:

The first hammock was created in Central America around 1000 years ago, people in Mexico initially made hammocks of tree barks and gradually upgraded to fiber thread. Due to business trade, the hammock using was brought into warmer South America region like Brazill, all hammocks in ancient time didn’t have spreader bars, all in gathered end style, so non-spreader bar style is also called traditional style or Brazilian style.

Then, in the 15th century Columbus’s discovery of America, the Spanish first used hammocks on aboard to fit more crewmembers, as they are narrower and taking less space than beds. When hammocks were later introduced into Europe, the curved and sagging shape wasn’t accepted by European culture, so people added spreader bars into the hammock to keep it flat like a bed. From then on, the rest of us have the chance to enjoy this style of hammock for centuries to come.

What type of hammocks have spreader bars?

1. Rope hammock

rope hammock
rope hammock

Rope hammocks are knotted by rope look like a fishing net, have big holes on the surface. The rope is made of cotton or polyester, the former one is soft and flexible, the latter one is durable and more weatherproof. Supported by wooden spreader bars at both ends to make the hammock open and flat, rope hammocks are iconic decor at the beach or tropical location.

2. Nicaraguan hammock

Nicaraguan hammock
Nicaraguan hammock

Nicaraguan hammock is considered to be the most luxurious hammock for its double sprang tightly string woven and crochet fringe ornaments, it’s definitely a gorgeous relaxing spot in the backyard, and much welcomed in the US. Made from quality cotton, with spreader bars supporting the hammock open, this type of hammock is cozy for 1-2 people lounging at the same time both indoor or outdoor poolside.

Poolside hammock, as its literal meaning, is a type of spreader bars hammock placed near the pool or seaside for its special PVC pre-treated polyester fabric can withstand water splash and sun bleaching. As a recreational hammock, spreader bars add more seaside and tropical vibe for resting.

3. Quilted hammock

quilted hammock
quilted hammock

Quilted hammocks are made of two pieces of tightly woven polyester fabric stuffed with soft pads between, spreader bars keep the surface taut for lying flat. This type of hammock is soft and warm for winter and cold weather, and often comes with a pillow sewn into it, so it is thought as a hanging mattress.

4. Bridge camping hammock

bridge camping hammock
bridge camping hammock

Bridge hammock is a special type of camping hammock (more commonly seen in a gathered end style). Different from recreational hammocks listed above, bridge hammock does not have a 100% flat lying surface, it’s more like half of a bucket, the occupant can relatively lie flat in it compared with curved shape camping hammocks, it is especially friendly for side sleepers.

5. Hammock chair

hammock chair
hammock chair

Hammock chair or swinging chair is a new variation of the hammock family, with only one spreader bar attaching the chair and suspension rope. This hammock-style swing is designed for one person who prefers to staying upright in the hammock with back support instead of lying down, often made of rope or fabric for comfortable reading, watching TV, or having a cup of coffee.


From the above detailed explanation, you ought to have a clear understanding of spreader bar hammocks’ advantages and disadvantages and have a preliminary decision of whether or not to choose this style, and which specific type is suitable for you if your answer is yes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add a spreader bar to a hammock?

Yes, you can!

For this question, usually referring to add spreader bars to a gathered end hammock for a flatter and tighter lying surface. Instead of adding the wooden bars with standard length and correct number of drilling holes, which is hard to complete; you could add a mini-bar to the ends of the hammock with a little sewing while getting the same effect.

DIY mini spreader bar hammock
mini spreader bar (source from:

If you have some talent at DIY and basic sewing skills, you could sew both ends of hammock in a U channel shape with some extra fabric, then drill out two holes at the ends of a PVC pipe or a wooden stick as a mini-spreader bar. Put amsteel or other strong rope through the U channel and the mini-bar holes to attach the hammock and spreader bar, done!

In this way, you can convert your camping hammock into a flat surface recreational spreader bar hammock for daily indoor and backyard use.

How do I adjust or replace the spreader bar on a hammock?

If you want to adjust the distance between the spreader bar and hammock, or replace a new spreader bar, you should loosen the spreader bar knots first. These knots usually are bowline knots hold the spreader bar from slipping to the hammock, easy to undo and retie. Then, directly adjust to the correct length or run the rope through new bar’s holes, tie the knots again to finish it.

Can more than one person lie on spread bars hammock at a time?


Spreader bar hammocks often have double size and king size options, width from 43 to 55 inches. Designed to safely support 1-2 people lying in it at the same time.

Can I take a spreader bar hammock camping?


Except for bridge style camping hammock, all other types of wooden spreader bar hammocks are not portable and lightweight, no one will take backyard spreader bar hammock to outdoor camping. Gathered end nylon camping hammock is the first choice for most campers and hikers.

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