Travel hammocks hang anywhere!
And go anywhere with your hammock
Imagine a chair/bed/blanket/swing/party that fits in the palm of your hand, weighs less than your housecat and has become the international symbol of relaxation. That’s right, it’s a hammock. A travel hammock to be exact. And it seems that every day there are new travel hammocks that are hitting the market.
What's a travel hammock, anyway?
And how does it pack so small and light?
The travel hammock is just that: the hammock you can easily travel with. There are lots of types of hammock you can travel with (camping hammocks are a great example), but the key word here is easily.
Setting up a travel hammock is easy. With straps or ropes one can easily string up a travel hammock between two trees, posts, poles, or even rafters of a roof. With many new travel hammocks, knot tying isn’t even required. Just pass a strap around a tree and clip in.
New hammock technology has allowed for an increase in load strength while cutting down on weight. Most travel hammocks are made with one of various types of nylon, many with fancy names like “ripstop”, “taffeta”, or “diamond polyester”. Those are mainly ways to differentiate various fabric styles, though it doesn’t matter much if you roll over on your keys while in your hammock. Ripstop won’t keep your hammock from opening up like a clam spitting your pearled butt straight down to the ground.
What does matter is the thickness of the nylon (the denier) and its strength rating. A good rule of thumb is that 1d (one denier) is the thickness of one strand of silk. So the thinnest hammock material on the market is generally 20d, while the heaviest (and therefore sturdiest) travel hammocks are 70d.
Standard nylon ratings:
Now, does that mean that your 500lb rated hammock is 100d nylon? Not likely. There are lots of tricks to squeeze more strength with less weight. Ripstop, for example!
"One sheet of nylon doth not a hammock make."
Hanging the hammock
Of course you can’t have the ham without the mock nor the nylon without the ropes. Which are, incidentally, making way for slings and straps, the next generation in travel hammock technology. Ropes are great; if you know how to tie knots. Slings are made of webbing (flat straps with loops sewn in) that can be easily slung around a fixed point once or twice and then passed though a loop on the end.
Then the hammock can be clipped into one of the sewn loops in the sling.
Straps are similar but generally lack the sewn loops. Both of them are very strong (think seatbelts), lightweight and packable. Some travel hammocks come with slings/straps and some don’t, allowing you to use what you may already have or to buy some longer or stronger ones.
The hammock has to attach to the straps/slings/rope somehow, and in the olden days that would have been via a knot. Knots are great…er, but they really are knot that great if you think about it. First of all, you have to know how to tie it correctly. Secondly, that takes time. Thirdly, most knots aren’t quickly adjustable and can be difficult to tie in the dark, rain, cold, etc.
Why you might be hanging up a travel hammock in the dark, cold rain is your business. Regardless, use a clip.
There are several types on the market. The most common clip used are carabiner clips. They are lightweight, spring loaded and very strong. Make sure your hammock comes with carabiners that have smooth or rounded edges so as to not damage the straps when clipping or unclipping.
Some companies also tout the usefulness of their adjustable friction systems such as hooks, double rings, buckles and these weird chinese finger trap sling things that supposedly hold more than your hammock ever could.
Last update on 2019-02-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ about travel hammocks
I never go anywhere. Can I use a travel hammock?
<rolling eyes> Ok so a travel hammock is called a travel hammock primarily because it’s small, light, and strong. That makes it the best choice of hammock to carry in the bottom of your backpack. Can you hang it up at home? Of course, in fact in a recent online poll, 92% of travel hammock owners did just that!
I like the idear of a hammock but I don’t like laying like a banana.
Ah yes, a hammock beginner. Do not fret, grasshopper, for we will show you the best way to lay upon the ancient Mayan bed, just as the people whom our ancestors conquered did centuries ago. The secret, young student, is to lay not from clip to clip, but diagonal, or slightly offset if you will, in a way that puts your back and legs straight.
Can I tie my hammock to a dead tree?
That depends. Will it or any branches above your head be at risk of falling on you? If the answer is yes, then no, please don’t.
Are travel hammocks waterproof?
That’s a great question. Many of them are highly water resistant, which is actually the worst of both worlds. If it rains hard and you hammock gets wet, eventually so will your back and legs. If you spill your beer while in your hammock, you can bet you will be sitting in a pool of stink until you get your lazy ass out to flip it over.
What are the primary causes of hammock failure?
Here are the top five causes of people falling from their hammock:
- Too top heavy. This is most common with spreader-bar hammocks. Travel hammocks typically do not have spreader bars, however if a hammock is strung up tight and one decides to step into the the thing feet first instead of backside first, they might hit the ground head first.
- Sharp objects in the back pocket. Rips start as pin points thanks to rolling over on keys or anything with a sharp edge. When your hip is pushing something sharp into the fabric of the hammock, a rip can start and often won’t finish until you are birthed from the womb of your hammock on to the ground. Go ahead and cry.
- Anchor point falls down. This is the number 1 cause of hammock deaths. Trees fall down, pillars collapse, rings pop out of the wall.
- Strap or clip snaps. Try to keep the loaded hammock weight well under the rating to prevent something popping off and sending you on a one-way trip to ouchville.
- Knots not knotted. Slip knots don’t cut it. If you are clove hitching, bowlining or sheep shanking, be VERY careful that your knots don’t fail!
How do I keep my hammock from wrapping me up like a burrito or taco?
Some people like that warm, snuggy hammock hug, others feel invaded and claustrophobic. Add to that, a too-tightly bound hammock that puts an ever-so-slight squeeze on the shoulders can leave them sore the next morning.
The answer to that is to sleep diagonal to open the hammock up more. Also, the wider the hammock the less it will squeeze you, though the more flap it will have to fall over your head. If that’s the case, lay down more diagonal. Some people even prefer to lay completely across their hammocks, perpendicular to the axis of hanging.
Hammock, check. Am I cool yet?
Depends. Are you still a virgin?
Can I use my travel hammock for camping?
That depends. Travel hammocks are generally limited to daytime use when neither bugs nor rain nor wind nor snow are going to be considered a problem. Those elements can be combated with mosquito nets, underquilts and rain flys.
Check out the camping hammocks to get a better idea of what you might need.