Outdoor hammocks are the perfect way to relax and enjoy a warm day and a gentle breeze, but looking for a hammock to buy can raise a lot of questions. Do I buy a hammock with stand, or a hammock and hammock stand separately? How many people should my hammock accommodate? Is portability a factor I should consider? We’re here to help you sort out the pros and cons of each option so that you can start enjoying the best hammock for you.
Hammock With Stand: The go-to option for the backyard hammock lover
The first thing that pops into many people’s minds when they think “hammock” is the standard cotton rope bed hanging between two perfectly spaced trees, but what if mother nature has not provided the right equipment? Many yards lack the landscaping necessary for practical hammock hanging, and that is one reason why a hammock with a stand is a great option for outdoor home use. Hammock stands can be made from several different materials, including metal and wood. Metal hammock stands tend to be less expensive, and they are a durable, heavy-duty option. Metal stands are typically powder-coated to make them weather-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rust from the rain or snow. A metal hammock stand also tends to have a higher weight rating, so if you want your hammock to accommodate several people at once, a metal may be your best bet. Though wooden hammock stands tend to comply with less demanding weights, their biggest advantage is that aesthetically they are a much more attractive option. Wooden hammock stands tend to be made from pressure treated or naturally weather resistant lumber, and typically have an elegant, curved design that enhances, rather than detracts from, your backyard setting.
Hanging a Hammock Between Trees
If you’re lucky enough to have two sturdy trees eight to twelve feet apart in your backyard, hanging a hammock between them not only fits into your landscape more naturally than a hammock stand, but provides you with built-in shade as well. There are several ways to hang a hammock between two trees, the most common being using metal hooks anchored into the trunk of the tree. To use hooks to hang a hammock, first you must drill a pilot hole into the trunk of each tree and screw in the bolt end of each hook. Be careful to sink the hook deeply enough into the trunk, you want to get well past the outer bark for the hook to be sturdy enough to hang a hammock from. Then, using chains or strong rope to make up any distance between the hammock and the tree trunk, attach each end of the hammock to a hook. Using hammock straps is a more portable and eco-friendly way hang a hammock. Hammock straps make your hammock much more portable by giving you almost endless hanging point options. No longer limited to trees, you can hang your hammock between two vehicles, large rocks, two railings, the posts on a dock, and more. When selecting hammock straps, keep in mind that your hammock weight rating is only as strong as its weakest point. That means that even though your hammock is rated for 600 lbs, if your hammock straps are only able to support 200 lbs then that is the maximum weight you should put in your hammock. This is why it’s important to invest in a heavy-duty, weather resistant hammock strap option, some of which can support over 2,000 lbs (that’s a whole ton)! The best option for a portable hammock is a Brazilian or other “cocoon” style hammock (a hammock without spreader bars) and hammock straps to hang it with. This type of hammock and hanging system can easily fit into a backpack or tote bag so you can relax and swing on the go.
Hammock Types and Construction: Many Options
The other half of buying a hammock with stand package is, of course, the hammock itself! While a classic white cotton rope hammock has been a time-honored fixture on many a lawn, today there are numerous other options to contemplate for both comfort and style. The first consideration when choosing a hammock is the material. Traditional hammocks made of woven ropes are cost-effective options, and can be made of either cotton or polyester ropes. As you would expect, cotton ropes are more comfortable and forgiving, but more prone to environmental damage. Polyester rope hammocks are more durable, holding up well to rain and ocean air, but can be less forgiving when it comes to contouring to your body. Another option is a quilted hammock, which closely resembles a woven rope hammock, but is made from two solid pieces of fabric with some type of cushioning between them. The biggest advantage of a quilted hammock is comfort. No knotted ropes digging into your back means no awkward checkerboard pattern on your skin when you get up from napping in your hammock, and it probably means those Z’s will be easier to catch, too. Quilted hammocks are also far better suited for use with young children, as there are no holes for little hands and feet to get caught in. These hammocks come in many different fabrics and colors to complement your outdoor decor, and all of them will typically be weather resistant. This is not the same thing as weather proof, so to prolong the life of your hammock it is a good idea to bring it inside for the winter season or before a big storm.
Most hammocks today will have spreader bars that keep you comfortably resting on the surface, rather than rolled inside like a hammock burrito. The only disadvantage of buying a hammock with spreader bars for backyard use is that it can make the hammock more vulnerable to tipping. Single-bar hammocks are also an option, offering some of the comfort of an open hammock and some of the stability of a closed hammock, where your upper body has more room to move around while your legs remain more secure.
If you want to take your hammock on the road, but are still worried about finding those two perfect trees, consider buying a portable hammock stand. Though they have only about one third of the weight capacity of a metal stand, they fold down into an easy-to-carry package that you can take to the beach, on camping trips, to music festivals, children’s sporting events, or anywhere you want to be comfortable and relax a little. When buying a portable hammock stand, you don’t necessarily want to choose the cheapest or lightest option. Look for an accordion-style steel frame, rather than a tripod-style aluminum frame which may be lighter and seem more portable, but which can cause you headaches in the long run. If you choose a portable hammock frame over a free-standing one, just be sure to buy one for everyone, as portable hammocks are designed to hold only one person at a time.
Hammock Chair Stand or Suspended: A New Take on a Traditional Design
A relatively recent alternative to the traditional, supine hammock is the hammock chair. A hammock chair looks very much like it sounds, with a small version of a hammock hung on one spreader bar, creating a chair effect. Like other hammocks, hammock chairs may be made out rope or fabric, and natural or manufactured fibers. They can also be constructed out of wicker or wood, and in these iterations are more commonly known as hanging chairs. One major benefit of the hammock chair over a traditional hammock with stand is that there is zero chance of tipping out, making the hammock chair a safer option for kids and those with reduced mobility. Hammock chairs are great options for both indoors and outdoors, as their size and hanging options make them more versatile. Hammock chairs are easier to fit into tight spaces, and can be better options for places like enclosed porches where square footage is at a premium and options for overhead hanging are plentiful. You can even hang a hammock chair in your bedroom or a favorite indoor reading nook for a playful and comfortable seating option. If you want to hang your hammock chair inside, all you need to do is make sure that you are securely attaching it to a ceiling joist and using an appropriately weight rated hook or hanging kit.
If you don’t have a ceiling, pergola, or sturdy tree branch to attach your hammock chair to, you will need to invest in a hammock chair stand. Hammock chair stands typically have a heavy base with a curved arm that reaches up like a crescent and suspends the hammock chair directly over the base for stability. Like a portable hammock stand, you will want to invest in a heavy-duty hammock chair stand that won’t break or tip over when you’re climbing in and out. When considering your backyard hammock layout, hammock chairs offer the option to have multiple people reclining casually at once, while still being able to carry on a conversation, and use both hands to eat, drink, or read comfortably.
Other Hammock Accessories
More suited to the comfort and permanence of a backyard hammock setup than a portable hammock on the go, hammock accessories can enhance your enjoyment of and protect your new purchase for years to come. One accessory to consider is a hammock stand cover, which can protect a wooden or metal hammock stand from inclement weather and deter rust, water stains, and discoloration from UV rays when your hammock is not in use. This is definitely something to consider for those who live in climates with harsher winters, who may not have a large shed or out-building to store a bulky hammock stand in for months out of each year.
Hammock stand wheels are another handy accessory to add to your setup, allowing one person to easily move their hammock with stand around a yard to alternately catch some rays or some shade, or just to make it easier to put the stand in a safe place for Winter.
Hammock pillows are a must for those who choose a backyard hammock with a spreader bar. These specially designed pillows are made out of weather resistant fabric and stuffing, and attach to the end of your hammock with Velcro or clips that keep them in place, and keep your head comfortable and protected from the hard, wooden spreader bar. Some quilted hammocks come with a pillow in a matching or complementary color, but if yours does not don’t worry, they can always be purchased separately.
Depending on the climate you live in, one of the best accessories you can buy to enhance your enjoyment of your hammock is a mosquito net. If bug protection is important to you, there are several options to deter flying pests while you swing in style. If you already have a hammock set up on a stand or between two trees, you may choose a mosquito net that fits over your entire hammock setup, and even has a built-in floor to completely encapsulate you from the flying fiends. If you’re buying a hammock with insect deterrent as a primary goal for your time outdoors, you can choose a hammock that has a built-in mosquito net. Usually in a cocoon-style, these hammocks have an attached mosquito net that zips open and closed, and has a secondary suspension system to keep the net off your face. Whether built-in or an add-on, mosquito nets are a great way to enhance your hammock experience, and allow you to relax without fear of unwanted insects sharing your nap with you.
No matter what hammock, hammock stand, or hanging system is right for you, get ready to enjoy the outdoors in a whole new way. Relaxing while you sway in a gentle breeze, listening to nature or smelling something delicious sizzling on the grill, there’s no better way to enjoy summer than from a hammock.