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How to choose the right hammock can be tricky. There are so many different types of hammocks available these days that it can be hard to figure out what’s what—and better yet, what’s best for you.
This hammock guide will walk you through the main types of hammocks so you can make an informed decision about what will best serve you and your needs.
Things to consider—which we outline in greater detail below—include:
- Use/functionality — how will you use the hammock? hiking, overnight camping, backpacking, etc.?
- Comfort — this is mostly determined by size and material
- Weight — are you taking it backpacking or hiking?
- Ease of setup — does it come with straps or will you need to tie knots?
- Portability — how easily do you need to be able to transport it?
- Versatility — how far apart can the trees be? this comes down to hammock length, strap length, and strap adjustment options
- Accessories — do you need a bug net? attached or detachable? what about an underquilt?
- Price — what’s your budget?
There are several different types of hammocks intended for different uses, such as:
Hiking. The best hiking hammocks are portable lightweight hammocks you can carry in a daypack; often called parachute hammocks because they’re made with the same high-quality material as parachutes. Check out our complete list of recommended portable hammocks.
Camping. Hiking hammocks make for great camping hammocks, and if you want to completely ditch the tent and sleep in a hammock overnight, consider a hammock sleep system that comes with a tarps and rainfly, a hammock tent hybrid (aka tree tent), or a freestanding hammock with a frame. Read our guide to hammock camping to learn more.
Backpacking. If you’re taking a hammock backpacking, look for an ultralight weight, small hammock. Some may provide shelter, like a tarp, since you’ll be sleeping in it.
Backyard. These larger, leisure hammocks are made from weather-resistant materials, including canvas, rope, and quilted hammocks, as well as traditional Mayan, Brazilian, and Nicaraguan style hammocks. Check out our roundup of the best backyard hammocks to see what’s right for you.
Inside the house. Hammocks are a great addition to the interior of your home, too. We love the form of hanging hammock chairs in bedrooms, living rooms, dens, or basements.
Most hammocks are made for single or double person use. Single hammocks are typically 4-5′ wide, whereas doubles are generally 5-6′ wide.
Most people prefer double hammocks even if they’re flying solo. It’s just more comfortable to have that extra space to move around in (or pull over you), versus being cocooned into a tighter, smaller area. It’s also suggested that you should lay/sleep in a diagonal position to alleviate any pressure on your low back, so wider hammocks more easily allow that. Furthermore, some hammocks are made with asymmetrical shapes for optimal comfort—Hennessy Hammocks and Warbonnet, specifically.
However, it is worth noting that even “double” hammocks vary drastically from brand to brand. For example, let’s look at three of the top hammock manufacturers, comparing their standard double hammock:
- Grand Trunk Double Nylon Hammock: 10.5′ x 6’6″
- Kammok Roo Double Hammock: 10′ x 5’7″
- ENO DoubleNest Hammock: 9’4″ x 6″
These hammocks vary pretty widely. Of course length matters—especially for tall people—but width matters more. The wider the hammock, the more space to fit two people but also for one person to lay diagonally, the preferred position for sleeping in a hammock.
As far as length, as long as the hammock’s at least two feet taller than you, you’re good.
There are also hammocks specifically designed for kids.
If you’re wondering why prices vary so much from hammock to hammock, it’s probably quality. Look at what the hammock is made of. For example, on our hammock comparison chart, sort by material. You’ll see things like 20D, 30D, 40D, 70D. The D stands for denier, and the higher the number, the heavier the quality of the fabric. You want something sturdy that’ll hold up to people climbing in and out, unless you’re looking for a backpacking hammock, which will naturally use lighter weight material to cut down on ounces and therefore have lower denier numbers.
Ease of setup
How will you hang your hammock? Does it come with straps, or do you need to buy them? Does it use carabiners or buckles? Maybe you need a hammock stand? We have dedicated posts to these topics, so dive in and find out everything you need to know about setting up hammocks.
Some hammocks are very portable. They’re small and lightweight and pack down into a stuff sack that’s sown into its side. They’re perfect for popping into a backpack for a hike or bringing to a friend’s BBQ.
Others are less portable. The hammock itself may be made of canvas or yarn, therefore larger and heavier, or it may require a hammock stand. Some hammocks come with folding frames that collapse into themselves like a quad camp chair. Or, you may opt for a hammock with a heavy duty metal stand that requires a bit of assembly. This wouldn’t be impossible to transport—and some come with carrying bags—but they’re much heavier, bigger, and time consuming.
How versatile a hammock is depends on how many places you can hang it. This is determined by its length, but more so by the length of the straps. Another thing to consider is how many loops the straps have. This will allow you to more precisely choose the height of the hammock. Some straps use buckles, which are even more versatile.
Check out Everything You Need to Know About Hammock Straps, which dives into all this and more.
While there are endless fun—and functional—accessories you can add to your hammock game, a few staple to consider include:
Suspension system. This is just a fancy way of saying straps. Most hammocks come with carabiners attached to the ends, and you just need a pair of straps to attach them. Most hammocks don’t come with straps, though some do, so double check what’s included.
Rainfly or tarp. This is especially useful if you’re hammock camping and need protection from wind, rain, or snow. You can buy a hammock with these pieces or easily hang something over a ridgeline above the hammock and secure it to the ground using guylines to keep rain and wind out.
A mesh bug net. If you’re anywhere near bugs, you’ll want to make sure you have a 360-degree bug nuts that covers you front, back, side-to-side. Check to make sure it’s no-see-um netting, so even the little suckers can’t get in. One thing to consider is if you want an attached bug net or detachable. Some people really prefer the attached bug net if they’re hanging in climates with bugs or mosquitos all the time. If not, perhaps the detachable one is better, so you can remove it when there aren’t bugs. It’s less to mess with and makes for a lighter load.
Underquilt or sleeping pad. If it’s cold outside, there are ways to help stay warm in a hammock. Read our complete guide to winter hammock camping and ways to stay warm day or night in a hammock.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a nice, comfortable hammock, but that may mean you end up skimping on quality. If you plan to use your hammock a lot—and bring it on a lot of adventures—you will likely want to invest in something that will last. Well-made hammocks could mean the difference between getting in and tearing at the seam, or using your hammock for years to come without any hint of rips.
If you don’t plan to use it that often, you can probably get away with something on the cheap end, but like most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for. This is especially true when it comes to outdoor gear. Since we know you will want to use your hammock any chance you get, we suggest investing in something you know will last (and handle a little abuse).
If you’re on a budget or just getting into hammocking and want to start small, we get it. Check out this list of the very best hammocks under $50.