The image of a hammock often invokes ideas or feelings of leisure, relaxation, simplicity in living, and serenity. Hammocks originally come from the native peoples of the West Indies, and were later adopted by South Americans, Navy men across Europe and eventually, The United States. Thus, to date, there are various incarnations in hammock styles and purposes. Which types are best for your needs?
Hammocks can be used for sleeping, sitting, or swinging. They can be a nice touch in making your outdoor space seem more relaxed, and can be practical at the same time, as they can add seating space without as much effort on your part.Otherwise, they can be fun to go camping with, or otherwise save space, energy, and money in temporary living situations.
Central American Hammocks are generally Mayan, Nicaraguan, or Mexican style hammocks, characterized by its bark and palm material, and was/is mostly used within the home for seating, sleeping, or even infant sleep-swinging. Venezuelan or "jungle" hammocks are designed to protect against fungal infections caused by high levels of humidity, as well as against snakes, scorpions, and insects.
These are canvas swing hammocks that wrap around the sleeper like a cocoon. They make for ideal bedding in small spaces within a ship, not only because they're less labor intensive and less expensive than bunks, but they're more comfortable and prevent potential falls within a constantly moving environment. These may be a good and fun idea if you own a boat, but are on a budget.
These hammocks are used as an alternative to tents in camping or traveling, are usually made of nylon, can have mosquito nets and storage pockets. Sometimes there is an entrance slit at the bottom, and may come with special straps specifically used for attachment points to trees.
The way your hammock is hung is key in terms of the level of comfort for the occupant. Hammock points should be hung at a 30 degree angle to achieve optimum comfort, but generally, the higher the attachment points, the better.
Spreader bars are metal or wooden rods at both ends of a hammock. This feature can be found in many of the various types of hammocks, though it's most common in ones intended for casual backyard use. These bars, however, aren't ideal for sleeping, as the bars alter the center of balance, making it less stable and less comfortable overall.
Inline hammocks are those in which occupants sleep lengthwise across, rather than across its width. Most naval and Venezuelan or "jungle" hammocks can be characterized this way.
In some travel or camping hammocks, there are special webbing straps, sometimes called "treehuggers", that allow for an easier hammock attachment to trees. Usually, the straps will be shaped in order to loop around tree trunks themselves.
When purchasing your hammock, make sure that your purposes will be well-met in terms of how much weight you're expecting it to support. A 1-person hammock should be able to hold 250 to 350 lbs, whereas a 2-person swing should be able to hold 400 to 600 lbs. Generally, hammocks should be at least 14 ft. across, 6 ft. wide, and 11 ft. long.
Though palm leaf materials characterize Central American hammocks, you can also find this style in cotton or nylon. Nicaraguan netting weaves are generally tighter than Mayan weaves, though both types are typically made on a loom. All of these, in general, tend to be the most comfortable.
Venezuelan or "jungle" hammocks are usually made out of breathable nylon or polyester and are usually of the "inline" style. They're one of the most secure types of hammocks, especially when protecting against water, insects, or animals.
A simple knotted hammock is a type of loose weave characterized its diamond shaped pattern (aka Josephine knot pattern). This type of weave, as mentioned, can be found in more Mayan style hammocks, and most commonly used in casual backyard use. Advanced knotted hammocks are of a tighter weave
An advantage to solid cloth hammocks (usually in the naval style) is that there isn't any weave knots to dig into your skin. However, cloth generally doesn't breathe well and can thus require more maintenance. Weaved hammocks also fold up smaller than ones made of cloth.
One generally thinks of a hammock as being hung between two trees. However, if this isn't a possibility, another option for hammock suspension is hammock stands. They're essentially 2 posts from which to suspend your hammock, the advantage being that you can move them around to anywhere you want.
An alternative for a traditional hammock is a hammock chair or swing, particularly if you'd prefer to use it indoors or on a porch. Both are smaller than an average hammock, and should come with a chair stand that is fairly easy to assemble. Otherwise, they can be hung from the ceiling or a wall mount. Hammock swings, though are generally larger and look like a normal hammock folded in half, with a basket in the center. Some even come with footrests and other comfort features.
Once you're all set up with your hammock, what's the best way to lie down? Of course, lying directly lengthwise or even widthwise are the most intuitive ways to do it, but actually, lying diagonally at an angle to the centerline allows for the most support and room.
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