When Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba around the end of the 15th century, he found people sleeping in nets suspended between the walls of their houses. As European explorers spent more time in the Caribbean and Latin America, they found more styles of hammocks—variations on a theme. The Mayans of the Yucatan peninsula wove sisal slings, while deeper in the jungles they found hanging beds between trees—an environmental adaptation inspired by the human survival instinct. In a swamp swarming with deadly creatures, where better to sleep than up off the ground?
one sling + two supports = hammock success!
The concept of the hammock spread around the globe, carried by sailors, traders, explorers and soldiers. The designs changed dramatically, depending on the location and the context, but the basic premise remained the same: sling + supports = hammock success. Inside a house? Attach it to the walls, then climb in and nod off. No room in your living room? Head outside, find two trees, and you’re swinging. No trees close together? Build a post-and-beam structure, known as a palapa, and you’re good to go. No walls, trees or beams. Getting desperate? With a few poles, a few lengths of rope, some pegs and some engineering know-how, you can still manage to string one up.
But what about when there aren’t any supports at all or when you can’t rely on what’s available? What about those unlucky folks living among gentle rolling hills, flat farmland or barren deserts, without a support post in sight?
Answer: the hammock stand
Deceptively simple, the hammock stand represents a radical paradigm shift in hammock thinking. Rather than pulling down from above, as traditional hammocks were designed to do, the hammock stand reverses the equation, supporting the entire structure from below—a stroke of genius, really.
Composed of a wide base and two ‘arms’ that extend up and out in either direction, the hammock stand allows the user the opportunity to hang suspended between the arms. By redirecting the force from a downwards pull to an outwards push, the hammock stand spreads the weight of the occupant out across the base, providing exceptional stability.
So…above or below? The low-down on hanging vs. standing
Which hammock-hanging method is right for you? The answer comes down to a mix of the following: climactic concerns, strength of available supports and space constraints.
The weather can play a role in your decision, since any natural supports will naturally be located outside. If it’s a summer day and you’re standing between two perfectly-placed pine trees, we don’t have to tell you what to do: hang your hammock and climb in. However, if all you’ve got are two scrawny drooping bushes, then give a hammock stand some serious thought.
Strength of available supports
If you’re going to hang a hammock inside, it is crucial to assess the strength of the available supports—in this case, your walls. Often the beams behind the walls are sufficient to bear the weight of a hammock, but best proceed with caution and common sense. Suppose you live in a rental apartment: is it worth drilling holes and risking damage to the interior supports? In this case, the hammock stand wins hands-down since there is no possibility of damage.
With a hammock stand, you are not constrained by distances between natural supports like trees or built structures like decks, porches or walls. The downside, of course, is the space required: even the shortest hammock stand will extend at least 3.25 meters in length and 1.25 metres wide, so you’d better have plenty of room … or no other furniture.
There are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?