For purposes of discussing the different types of hammocks, I have chosen eight different styles to compare. These cover the basics and will give you an idea of things to look for when considering the purchase of a hammock.
I have divided them as follows:
Rope Spreader Bar Hammocks – American & Caribbean
Rope Non-spreader Bar Hammocks – Mayan (Mexican) & Nicaraguan
Cloth Spreader Bar Hammocks – Poolside & Quilted
Cloth Non-spreader Bar Hammocks – Brazilian & Camping
Spreader bars are the bars at the ends of the hammock – usually made of wood – that keep the hammock open. This makes it easier to get in and out of the hammock and a hammock with spreader bars “looks nice” when hanging in your back yard, but not being used. Children should never be left unattended when they are around or using a hammock, but the hammocks with spreader bars are a safer choice as they are much easier for them to get out of.
Here are the two options of Rope Spreader Bar Hammocks
The American Hammock is the traditional rope hammock that is very popular in North America. The spreader bars keep it open so it looks attractive sitting in your yard. Quite often they are made of 100% cotton, but they can also be made of polyester rope.
The cotton rope is much softer than the polyester rope but it is also more susceptible to rot, mold and mildew which means that a cotton rope hammock should be taken down when not in use and kept out of the elements as much as possible. These can be an excellent choice for indoor use if you have the room to leave it hanging up.
The polyester rope would be a better choice if you have concerns about high humidity. A variant of the polyester rope hammock is the soft-spun polyester. Created from spun polyester fibers, it combines the best of both materials. It is soft like cotton but is resistant to rot, mold and mildew like polyester. One thing to keep in mind is that with these benefits comes a slightly higher price tag.
Rope hammocks can be found in various colors, with natural or white being the most common. There are even some that come in a multi-color version. The colors of dyed cotton rope will fade more quickly than the polyester versions but the price on cotton hammocks is lower so, depending on where you are using it (indoors or out) and what your budget is, you can decide which will work best for you.
A final consideration of the rope hammock is the weave. This style of hammock has a very open weave which provides lots of airflow for a cooling effect – not such a good choice for cooler climates but excellent for the warmer southern areas. Also keep in mind that the more open weave means more chance of getting buttons, zippers and such caught in the weave and possibly doing damage to your hammock.
The Caribbean Hammock has evolved over the years from its early days when it was used to provide a cool, yet comfortable bed for sleeping in the hot climates. The hammocks were hand made of natural fibers, such as sisal and then cotton.
The main difference between the American rope hammock and the Caribbean rope hammock is the weave. The Caribbean one was designed to be used as a bed and therefore had a much tighter weave than the American style. This tighter weave provides plenty of flex while still providing exceptional support, something that is important if you are using it for a bed. Even though it has a tighter weave than the American hammock, it still allows for generous airflow to have a cooling effect.
Today’s Caribbean hammocks are still hand-woven but, besides cotton, can be found in polyester and soft-spun polyester as well. Once again, the cotton is a softer, more comfortable choice, followed by the spun polyester and then the polyester. Like its American counterpart, the cotton is more susceptible to damage from the elements and the colors fade more easily.
The Caribbean rope hammocks are also available in a wide range of colors for you to choose from. As with all spreader bar hammocks, the spreader bars are an important consideration. They keep the hammock open for easy entry and exit and for a nice looking addition to your space. The spreader bars are coated with marine varnish or similar products to protect them from the elements and keep them looking nice for years.
Next weeks post: Rope Non-Spreader Bar Hammocks