History

The hammock was developed in Pre-Columbian Latin America and continues to be produced widely throughout the region, including among the Urarina of the Peruvian Amazon.

Though it is unknown who invented the hammock, many maintain that it was a device created out of tradition and need. The English language derivation of hammock and various European equivalents is borrowed from the Spanish hamaca or hamac around 1700, in turn taken from a Taíno culture Arawakan word (Haiti) meaning “fish net.” Hammocks were first introduced in Europe by Christopher Columbus when he brought many hammocks back to Spain from islands in the present day Bahamas.

Mayan hammocks are made on a loom and are hand woven by men, women and children. Hammocks are so symbolically and culturally important for the Yucatecans that even the most humble of homes have hammock hooks in the walls; in rural El Salvador, a family home may have multiple hammocks strung across the main room, for use as seating, as beds, or as sleep-swings for infants.

Styles

Current popular hammock styles include Spreader-bar and Mayan Hammocks. Each style is distinctive and has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Many hammocks come in a variety of colors, patterns, and sizes ranging from a one person (250 – 350 lbs) to two or three person (400lbs – 600lbs).

Common dimensions for hammocks fall in a range between 11′ to 14′ across and 6′ to 11′ wide. The spreader bar hammock is easily recognized by wooden or metal bars at the head and foot of the hammock, spreading its width and allowing for easy access. This style is generally considered less stable and less comfortable for sleeping than other styles.

The Mayan is are similar in form, but differs by material and construction. The Mayan hammock is made from either cotton or nylon string that are woven to form a supportive net. Mayan hammocks are considered by some to have the potential to be more comfortable than others.

Set-up / Use

For the non Spreader-bar styles, the way in which they are hung is critical for comfort. Generally, a higher attach point is preferred as well as sufficient length between points, though these two dimensions can be adjusted to compensate for a lack in one or the other. The optimal angle of the attaching lies to the post / wall / tree is usually about 30 degrees.

Though one can lie in a hammock lengthwise or across its width, the most recommended position is diagonally as it provides the most room and support. Users with back and joint pains often report some relief from these problems when sleeping in a hammock in this manner.

Caribbean Hammocks

Hanging, use and care instructions for Caribbean Hammocks.
Hanging Instructions: If you are hanging the hammock from a tree, as a rule, the tree should be a minimum of 12inch diameter. If using a post, 4X4 is the smallest size we recommend using. Be sure the posts are in good condition, without cracks or rot. Trees and posts both should be hardwood, not soft, and whatever posts chosen would be treated lumber, or a type of wood resistant to rot, from exposure to moisture. Posts should be cemented in the ground a minimum of two feet, deeper if the soil is sandy. Place post in the center of the cement filled hole and let dry 48-72 hours before use. The minimum distance required to hang your hammock will be equal to the overall length of the hammock. If your hammock is 13 feet from end ring to end ring, this is the minimum distance required to hang your hammock. Hammock end points should be hung 4-6 feet high. If the two hanging points for the hammock are farther apart than the overall length of the hammock, use either rope or chain to extend your hanging points. The same would apply to a stand. We recommend extending the hanging points in equal lengths on both ends of the hammock. We also suggest extending the hanging points no farther than 18 inches on each end for a total of an additional 3 feet. The more it’s extended past 3feet, the more unstable it will become.

Entering Your Hammock: Stand beside the hammock, near the center. Step towards the hammock forcing it to tip 45 degrees with the edge of the hammock at your knees. Turn your back to the hammock and sit down as close to the center as you can. Lean to one side using your elbow as support. Lift first one leg then the other onto the hammock and recline. Place your hands behind your head, close your eyes, and enjoy!

Exiting Your Hammock: Prop yourself up on your elbows and lean forward. Swing first one leg, then the other over the edge of the hammock and move to a sitting position. Plant both feet firmly on the ground, lean slightly forward and stand.
Cleaning your Hammock: The first thing to try is beating your hammock like a rug while it is hanging, the second way to clean is to hose it off with a garden hose, the 3rd method of cleaning is to bring the hammock inside, slide the wooden bars up on either end and drop the body into a bath tub with a small amount of light detergent.

Mayan Hammocks

Hanging, use and care instructions for Mayan Hammocks

Important – Read before hanging your hammock:

Carefully remove hammock from packaging. Lay hammock on flat surface and carefully unfold. Always handle your hammock by the end loops to avoid tangling. Avoid wearing footwear and beware of buttons, zippers, buckles, and any sharp protruding object which may snag or break the individual strings of the hammock bed. Avoid keeping your hammock in direct sunlight and rain for long durations; this will give your hammock greater longevity. Fading may occur. To preserve the life of the hammock, we recommend taking down the hammock in inclement weather. The more often you are able to do this, the longer the hammock will last.

Hanging Instructions:

1. String up your hammock between any 2 solid points, including fence posts, trees, garage, house, 4” x 4” x 8’ post, etc., using heavy duty screw hooks and / or high test marine nylon rope for larger distances. When hung, a Mayan hammock should have a gentle curve with the center about 2’0” – 3’0” above the ground. For indoor applications, be sure the hooks are inserted directly into the wall or ceiling studs.

2. Hanging your hammock in a space at least one to two feet (30 cm – 60 cm) shorter than the overall length of the hammock is important. The end hanging points to attach your hammock should ordinarily be mounted six to eight feet (1.8 m to 2.4 m) off the ground. You may wish to hang it higher or lower depending on the distance between your supports and on your personal preference. If you have less space, try hanging the hammock higher.

Entering Your Hammock

Center yourself with your back facing the hammock. Grasp the bottom one-third of the hammock and gather enough string so the center is exposed and flat. Sit down gently in the center. Lie back, lift your legs and place your feet on the edge of the hammock. Stretch out and enjoy! To be “Dangerously Comfortable”, lie in the hammock diagonally or perpendicularly. This allows you to take full advantage of the hammock design, and is the ideal siesta position to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Exiting Your Hammock

Prop yourself up on your elbows and lean forward. Swing first one leg, then the other over the edge of the hammock and move to a sitting position. Plant both feet firmly on the ground, lean slightly forward and stand.

Cleaning Instructions

Holding the two hanging rings in your hands, bring them together, folding the hammock in half. Tie the hammock together with string just below the hanging rings. Tie the hammock together again, at the opposite end, and once more in the middle of the hammock. This should prevent the metal rings from becoming entangled with the string bed of the hammock. In a large sink or bathtub, immerse the hammock in water mixed with a mild detergent. It’s important to not use bleach. With your hands, agitate the water until the hammock is clean. After washing, carefully untie and unfold the hammock. Hang up hammock and spread out to dry completely.

Storage

1. Always store hammock when clean and completely dry. Avoid damp moist areas. Preferably, hang up your hammock inside. When storing in a bag or sack, fold the hammock as done when cleaning. Store in a breathable waterproof bag if possible. Folding your Mayan Hammock: Folding your hammock is the best way to store it for travel or for longer term storage in a small space, such as a boat locker. Follow these instructions to learn how to fold a hammock like the weavers that make them! 1. To fold your hammock for storage or travel, first stretch it out along the ground in an area cleared of dirt and leaves. The woven middle section should be in a flat bundle about 12-15 inches wide.

2. Take each end one at a time and put a couple of twists in it. A few twists in the ends will help to keep the strands together for folding.

3. Take each loop one at a time and drag it gently to the center of the hammock. Then, in the same motion move the loop away from the center, stopping at the first fold. Your hammock should be half the length that you started with.

4. With the scissor-like fold done on both sides, the hammock will look like a rectangle lying flat on the ground in three folded layers. Next, fold a few inches of the long sides in to cover and protect the end strings.

5. Fold the ends of the bundled hammock back to the middle.

6. Fold the bundle in half again and tie with a couple of shoestring knots so it will be easy to re-open.

General care tips:

1. It is very important to always hold the loop ends when handling a hammock. Improper handling could tangle your hammock and make it less comfortable.

2. If you are using a cotton hammock we highly recommend treating the fiber with Scotch Guard. This will help keep your hammock clean and make it more resistant to moisture. Two cans will sufficiently treat your hammock and greatly increase its useful life.

3. If the end-strings become tangled, fix them right away! Single out the tangled strings and move them up and around the loop end and in line with the majority of the strings. Repeating this process over and over can save even the most tangled hammock.

4. Be very careful with clothes that have buttons and jean rivets. If one of these catches a string, it could snap it.
5. If a string pops, try to weave them back through the hammock as best you can and tie them back together. You can do this many times before you will have to retire your hammock.

6. Fold the bundle in half again and tie with a couple of shoestring knots so it will be easy to re-open.

7. If you need to wash your hammock, you can do it by hanging the ends on a hook with the body in a bucket. Add a little mild detergent, hand wash, rinse well, and hang up to dry.

8. To use a washing machine to wash your hammock you will need to tightly bundle the end strings together in about 5 places like a ponytail and put the hammock inside a pillowcase. Wash on gentle cycle with a mild detergent like Woolite or Hammock Jungle’s super mild hammock cleanser. DO NOT wash other articles of clothing with your hammock. Colors may fade over time but not severely.

Storing your Mayan hammock on a hook

To hang your hammock you will need a hook about 7 feet above the ground. If the distance is shorter the body of the hammock will touch the floor. If your hook is less than 7′ and you don’t mind the hammock touching it is ok, the main concern is to keep the unwoven section and loops straight and untangled. Hang the hammock by hooking both loops on the hook. If you notice any small tangles fix them right away before they become a problem. (See de-tangling instructions in General Tips section.)

Folding your Mayan Hammock

Folding your hammock is the best way to store it for travel or for longer term storage in a small space, such as a boat locker. Follow these instructions to learn how to fold a hammock like the weavers that make them!

1. To fold your hammock for storage or travel, first stretch it out along the ground in an area cleared of dirt and leaves. The woven middle section should be in a flat bundle about 12-15 inches wide.

2. Take each end one at a time and put a couple of twists in it. A few twists in the ends will help to keep the strands together for folding.

3. Take each loop one at a time and drag it gently to the center of the hammock. Then, in the same motion move the loop away from the center, stopping at the first fold. Your hammock should be half the length that you started with.

4. With the scissor-like fold done on both sides, the hammock will look like a rectangle lying flat on the ground in three folded layers. Next, fold a few inches of the long sides in to cover and protect the end strings.

5. Fold the ends of the bundled hammock back to the middle.