Friday, May 21, 2010

Hammocks 101: A Mini-Course in Getting it Right

Here in Puerto Morelos, we live in the land of hammocks!  The Yucatan is the heart of the hammock making world and there is great opportunity to purchase beautiful hammocks here in town.  Check out Mauricio's hammock store in the Mayan Handicraft Center.  He has a great selection and prices!

I have hung hammocks, fallen out of hammocks, crashed in hammocks, and flipped out of hammocks.  Luckily, I have sustained little damage other than to my ego at times.

Every house needs at least one by the way.  I am pretty sure it's a law ;)  [And if it's not, it ought to be]  So if you don't have one -- figure out where you can hang one!

So, I thought I would share some practical advice about hammocks...


Hammocks come in various shapes, sizes, and materials:
  • Shapes:  There are standard hammocks to lie in.  There are also hammock chairs and while they are not the focus of this blog post, they're very comfortable as well!
  • Sizes:  Hammocks come in single person to family size.  For most cases, I prefer the double size hammock.  It's roomy, but not gigantic.
  • Materials:  Hammocks are made from both natural fibers  (cotton or other natural rope) and synthetic fibers (acrylic/polyester rope).  The main consideration in choosing materials is the placement of the hammock.  Natural materials, especially the soft cotton or sisal fibers are the most comfortable, but will degrade fairly rapidly unless they are in a covered area.  Some hammocks also have spreader bars that stretch out the hammock.  I strongly prefer hammocks without these for sleeping, but to each his/her own...
  • Weave:  In general, the tighter the weave, the more comfortable your hammock will be.

  • Obviously, hang your hammock from two sturdy points.  Don't hang them from something that could break from the weight.
  • Distance between Hanging Points:  The minimum distance between two points is the length of your hammock from end to end.  Ideally, distance is somewhere between your hammock's length to it's length + 3 feet.  (If your hammock needs shortening, a simple knot one or both ends will take up some of the length.)
  • The standard hammock will hang approx. 11 feet from end to end and about 6 feet from hammock ends to the ground to give the hammock a comfortable curve.  (See Figure Below.)
Photo Credit:

  • Hanging the Hammock with Rope:  Me, being a visual learner, have taken lots of photos of how to properly hang a hammock.  I think that it's much easier to see, rather than read!  This method is great because it uses only 2 pieces of rope, unties easily, is strong -- as it uses the weight of the person in the hammock for its strength, and minimizes friction to extend the lifespan of the hammock fibers.:
Hanging the Rope:

Hanging the Hammock:


  • Getting in and out of your hammock is simple -- if you do it correctly.  Simply, stradle the hammock, spread it open, and lay back.  Don't try to get in from one side or the other -- this is how you tip!
  • You'll find that laying on an angle is more comfortable, than laying exactly straight in the hammock as well.
Good Luck!  Happy Hammocking!!


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