THE COMMON HAMMOCK MISCONCEPTION
I always get looks of surprise and wonder when I pull out my hammock from my backpack. Even seasoned campers seem to be awe-struck. Hammocks aren’t associated with camping here. Moreover, hammocks aren’t really associated with good rest in general.
One of the reasons is that many of us have had uncomfortable hammock experiences. Most of our energy was concentrated on keeping the whole thing balanced and not being thrown unceremoniously to the floor – a short stint spent clinging to the hammock like some bucking bronco as opposed to relaxing with a good book after lunch and dozing off well into darkness.
WOODEN SPREADER BARS
But this wasn’t our fault. We were sold a lie. Many of the hammocks bought and sold for garden use include a design with wooden spreader bars at each end. These types of hammocks have dominated the market and our homes and have tried to throw us off at every given opportunity.
I discovered that hammocks have been used as beds for centuries and still are in many regions of Central and South America when I was travelling there. I’d never really seen hammocks in that light before I actually saw it for myself. The people of Central and South America who bed down in them every night wouldn’t recognise the wooden spreader bar versions that dominate the home and garden market.
The spreader bar was introduced to make them more accessible to enter and to give them more of a bed-like appearance. The widely used sleeper versions don’t have a spreader bar, making them marginally more difficult to get in, but much more stable. Once inside you can concentrate on relaxing and getting some well-earned shut-eye, instead of the white-knuckle rollercoaster ride you might be thinking of.
If you are worrying about toppling out of the hammock in the middle of the night, you are in the wrong hammock. Of course, you are bound to wriggle and shuffle in your sleep and you need a hammock designed to accommodate for that.
If you have ever fallen asleep on a hammock and woken up with a crisscrossed pattern etched across your face, along with your limbs caught in holes so you are wearing the hammock more as a straightjacket than a sleeping pod, rope was the cause, not the hammock.
The most comfortable hammocks are made of cloth or fabric for extra comfort. A basic understanding of gravity and the human circulation system will show that the cargo net design is not optimal for comfort. A hammock should be made of comfortable material, something that’s got a tight weave. It should not dig into your skin or leave any marks.
If you find an authentic hammock, without the treacherous wooden spreader bars and the cargo netting design, your hammock will be comfortable and accommodating for a whole night’s sleep because it is a bed. Falling out is not “part of the experience”.
What do you think? Have you got any hammock tips of your own? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.