Hammocks have been used for sleeping and relaxing in the outdoors for hundreds of years. The root of the word comes from the Spanish word hamaca, referencing the rope hammocks Spaniards used in Florida in the 1500s. Comfortable and easy to travel with, the hammock keeps one off the ground away from creepy crawlies and can be equipped with tarps, nets and pads to increase their utility. Modern hammocks have developed a large following in the last few years and are rapidly becoming the preferred shelter for campers and backpackers. There are a range of hammocks and accessories to choose from these days and this guide will assist you in matching the right hammock and options to your specific situation.
We will limit our discussion to portable hammocks, there are many hammocks that are simply too large and heavy to easily be portable. These days, most outdoor adventurers choose the camping hammock due to its light weight and ease of use.
Simple Open Hammock
The simplest hammock is the Backpacking Hammock, made of nylon and simply suspended between two trees. It is uncovered and can have options added such as a tarp and mosquito net to make it suited to different environments. This hammock is the choice of day hikers and overnight campers interested in the least possible weight. Most often the hammocks come in one or two person, most commonly, people select a two person for the added weight capacity and roominess with little penalty in weight and size. There are a range of Backpacking Hammock available from budget priced single person hammocks made of low cost nylon with heavy steel hooks to two person, high grade, lightweight rip-stop nylon hammocks with high strength aluminum carabiners.
Integrated Enclosed Hammock
There are several camping hammocks available with integrated mosquito netting and tarps. These hammocks can be more complex to set up and heavier than a simple camping hammock, yet offer advantages. If your camping involves stays in rainy climates or areas with mosquito, no-see-um or other bugs, hammocks with integrated nets and covers are an advantage. The quality of these hammocks can vary widely, with budget models being heavy with low quality materials. The best will use rip-stop nylon fabric, breathable lightweight rain covers and durable netting combined with lightweight rope and aluminum carabiners.
There are convertible hammocks that can function as a simple camping hammock, a tarp tent up to a camping hammock with integrated netting and cover. These hammocks are the most versatile and offer the best of both worlds. While they can be complex and not as simple to use and just a touch heavier, they make up for these shortcomings with flexibility. For those considering using a hammock for backpacking and camping, and can handle the extra weight and complexity, the convertible hammock may offer the best option.
In conclusion, remember that the best hammock for you will depend on your needs and wants. When making your decision, keep in mind that the best value is not always the lowest price, but the best combination of features, benefits and quality for your situation.