Are you looking to buy a new hammock? Lucky you! Before you do, get informed about the types of hammock fabrics available, so that you purchase the hammock which works best for you and your lifestyle.
If you already own a hammock, you know how relaxing they are. If you are about to buy a new hammock, you are about to find out just how wonderful and relaxing they can be. Lounge, relax, swing, read a book, have a nap, or just cuddle with a loved one…all while getting fresh air in the great outdoors.
While there are many other pieces of a hammock, the fabric of the hammock sling portion is one of the most important of them all. Knowing the fabric types and their characteristics will help you in the choosing the perfect hammock.
The First Hammocks
Hammocks were originally designed for protecting sleepers from ground creatures by raising the bed / hammock above the ground – a very utilitarian purpose. Today, hammocks are used less for utilitarian reasons than for pure comfort and relaxation.
When purchasing a hammock, you should take into account various things – size, base material, cost, style, color and what this article is about, the hammock fabric. I will be discussing the other factors to consider when buying a hammock in another hammock related article…so, keep in touch for that.
Hammock fabrics available today fall into only a few groups – rope netting, cotton fabric, and man-made synthetics. Read on about the pros and cons of each type of hammock fabric so that you can make the perfect hammock choice.
Cotton Rope Netting Hammocks
One of the original designs of a hammock, a woven cotton rope hammock obviously has staying power. A rope netted hammock has most likely been woven with macrame art. And that is exactly the look you will get with this rope styled hammock – an artsy, bohemian look.
Some may find a rope net hammock less comfortable to lie on versus a solid fabric hammock. Sometimes toes and fingers get caught up in the netting.
Another factor leading to a less comfortable nap or swing session is that you may feel a slight discomfort on your back from the rope patterns. Some rope hammocks do come with an additional cotton cover for just that. So, you can have more comfort and less tangling of your fingers and toes in the rope netting.
Synthetic Rope Hammocks
While the original rope hammocks would have been made from woven cotton ropes, you can now buy hammocks made with braided polyester rope. These synthetic hammocks maintain the same open weave look but, may be a little more durable and less susceptible to sun UV rays and weather damage than their original cotton versions. The touch and feel of polyester rope versus cotton may also be a little rougher and therefore, a bit less comfortable.
Whether cotton rope or polyester rope, both are fairly easy care. Seeing that the mesh netting is open weave, if left out in the elements, it will not stay wet long – especially true for man-made polyester rope.
A cotton hammock sling will be, in my opinion, the most comfortable by far. The softness of cotton cannot be compared to any other synthetic hammock sling. You will not experience any skin irritation with a cotton hammock. It may feel like you are lying on a cotton bed sheet.
So, if comfort is most important to you, then a cotton hammock sling will be the choice for you.
However, as with most good things in life, there are some drawbacks to having a cotton hammock. The nature of this all natural fabric, while providing supreme comfort, will also be subject to Mother Nature’s whims – more so than a man-made fabric hammock.
Cotton Hammock Maintenance
If a cotton hammock is left out in the rain, it will absorb the water and will take a long time to dry. And if it doesn’t dry properly, you run the risk of mold and mildew infestation. For that reason, it is not recommended to leave a cotton hammock out in the rain – at all. The fact that you have to concern yourself with whether it will rain or not means – simply put – maintenance or extra care.
Cotton, as with any natural fabric, can also, when exposed to the sun’s UV rays be damaged more easily than a synthetic fabric. UV rays from the sun can cause fading of the colors as well as deterioration of the fabric itself.
Natural Fabric Hammocks
Another somewhat odd fact about natural fabrics, especially those which are used outdoors and therefore, will most likely not be stored indoors during cooler seasons is that little rodents tend to prefer to burrow and / or even eat natural fabrics over man-made synthetic fabrics. So, just be considerate of this fact when you put your hammock away for the season.
If your storage area is susceptible to mice, they may enjoy this cotton hammock fabric more than a synthetic hammock fabric.
Man-Made Synthetic Hammocks
There are a few variations of man-made materials used to make a hammock sling. Some of those are olefin mesh, polyester, acrylic, nylon and Sunbrella.
Olefin Mesh Hammocks
Another hammock material which is quite practical is mesh – usually made from a man-made synthetic fabric. Olefin is an example of a durable synthetic used in hammock slings. A mesh fabric sling will provide the needed stability and comfort while also requiring slightly less maintenance in terms of leaving the hammock sling outside in the elements.
Stay Dry Non Absorbent Olefin Mesh Fabric
Because it is mesh and water will not be absorbed by this type of fabric, it will not remain wet after some rain…allowing you to more easily leave it outside even in the case of a rain storm. And because it will not absorb the wet rain, it will most likely be dry when, as soon as, or shortly after the rain has passed…allowing you to enjoy it immediately.
A synthetic hammock sling, as with most quality outdoor fabrics, will also resist weather, rain, mildew, color fading and the harmful impacts of the sun’s UV rays.
Polyester, Acrylic or Nylon Hammock
Another man-made synthetic material used for making hammock sling bases, polyester may be slightly less irritating to the skin than a mesh olefin, while not as soft as a cotton hammock sling.
Because polyester fabric is man-made, it will not absorb the rain water as much as cotton fabric. As such, this requires a little less care than a cotton hammock. Because it will usually be treated with some type of UV protection, it will resist some weather elements. But because it can still absorb water, it will not be as care-free as a mesh olefin hammock.
It is still recommended to bring this polyester fabric hammock sling fabric indoors or be covered during inclement weather such as rain, hail, sleet or dare I say it, snow.
A special note for this man-made, brand name polyester outdoor fabric. Sunbrella fabrics have been designed and manufactured to withstand weather elements including damage from the sun’s UV rays. Expect to pay a little more for a hammock made with Sunbrella fabric but, you can also expect for this fabric to last longer with less worries of issues of mold, mildew and color fading.
So, essentially there are a few questions you need to ask yourself about the fabric type of your hammock before buying your new one:
How comfortable do you want to be? A cotton hammock is the most comfortable…period.
What style or look do you want? If you want a bohemian or natural look, a rope hammock may be what you are looking for. If you like a classic striped hammock, you can purchase a hammock in various fabric types – natural cotton stripes or man-made synthetic stripes.
How much time do you want to dedicate to caring for / maintaining your hammock? Natural cotton hammocks require more care and attention, and may fade and/or disintegrate faster. Synthetic fabric hammocks will generally withstand the elements better and therefore, will require less maintenance – and may look better longer.
So…enough hammock information…let’s get that hammock in our backyards now! Let’s go hammock shopping!