Woman smiling while lying in a hammock

There’s something magical about a hammock. The rest of the world seems to melt away the minute you climb in. No wonder so many people want them for their backyards, porches and balconies! But what happens if you don’t have two logical points to hang a traditional model? We have some good news: Hammocks come in all kinds of designs, with innovative and flexible installation options. There’s sure to be one that will work for you, your space and your budget.

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1Types of hammocks

When you hear the word “hammock,” one style probably comes to mind: a fabric panel with gathered ends hanging between two trees. But before you start figuring out how to plant trees big enough for your dream relaxation situation, discover the main types of hammocks to learn which one might be the right type for you.

Traditional hammocks

Woman reading and lying in a hammock

Made of sturdy fabric or netting, this classic hammock option—sometimes called the Brazilian hammock—is suspended between two trees or posts to create a sling for lounging or sleeping. If you have sturdy trees in your yard or are willing to invest in having posts installed, a traditional hammock is a great choice.

Best for: travel and camping due to portability and low cost.

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Spreader-bar hammocks

Spreader bar hammock in between 2 trees

Like traditional hammocks, spreader-bar styles are also suspended between two existing points. The difference? A wooden or metal bar at either end keeps the hammock flat to allow for more stability and comfort because the bar prevents the fabric from bunching up around you. The bar also helps to give you an unobstructed view, as opposed to traditional models that cocoon you and limit your sightlines.

Best for: anyone new to hammocks or for kids who want to take their turn in the family hammock. The bar makes this style easier to climb into.

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Free-standing hammocks

Free standing hammock in living room

This all-in-one option gives you the ease of a traditional or spreader-bar hammock without the challenge of finding an appropriate place to hang it. Free-standing hammocks come with their own stands made from metal or wood and can be placed anywhere you have enough space and level terrain.

Best for: yards, terraces and balconies that don’t have trees or posts for anchoring each side of the hammock. They aren’t as portable or easy to store as other styles, but they’re great next to an above-ground pool.

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Chair hammocks

Chair hammock with patio furniture outdoors

Chair hammocks are made from similar materials to traditional hammocks, but they’re constructed to look like a seat. The major advantage is that they hang from a single point, rather than two points, making them a more suitable option for many spaces.

Best for: porches or balconies with ceilings. Just screw in an anchor, adjust the height of the chair and you’re done.

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Tent hammocks

Tent hammock by the lake

Part hammock, part tent, this product is all awesome. Just as it sounds, it’s a traditional hammock designed with a zippered cover to keep out flying insects. Tent hammocks—sometimes called camping hammocks—can be used with or without the tent and are a cinch to install and easy to pack up.

Best for: camping in the great (bug-filled) outdoors.

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2Size and weight capacity

Mom and 2 kids smiling and laying in a hammock

Hammocks come in single and double sizes. Check out the size and weight specs on each option before you buy.

  • Single: A single hammock usually has a minimum fabric width of 140 centimetres (4 feet 7 inches). When hanging a single hammock, you need a minimum distance of 270 centimetres (8 feet 10 inches) between your two suspension points.[1] Most single hammocks can hold between 300 and 450 pounds.[2] If you’re not looking for snuggle sessions in the hammock, a single will work fine; if you think you’ll end up sharing with a friend, partner or kids, consider sizing up.
  • Double: A double hammock has a minimum fabric width of 160 centimetres (5 feet 3 inches) and requires a minimum distance of 310 centimetres (10 feet 2 inches) between the two suspension points.[3] These hammocks are great for relaxing on your own but they’re also roomy enough for someone else to join you. Most double hammocks have similar weight restrictions to single hammocks at 300 to 450 pounds.[4]

Note: Some manufacturers make king-size or family hammocks that are wider and may support a slightly higher weight capacity.


Foot in hammock, close up on hammock and back of woman sitting in hammock outdoors

Hammocks come in all kinds of different materials and styles. Most tend to be woven cloth or rope nets that are made from these fabrics:

  • Cotton: Cotton is breathable and lightweight, so it makes for a comfortable hammock. It may stretch out relatively quickly and isn’t as durable as polyester or nylon.
  • Polyester: Polyester is hard-wearing and tends to be quicker drying than cotton, but it doesn’t breathe as well so might not be the best choice for hot, humid weather. Polyester also tends to have a rougher texture than cotton.
  • Nylon: Nylon is lightweight and quick-drying, making it resistant to mould and mildew. It’s very durable, too, so it makes for a great camping companion. It may not feel as supportive as other materials, though, which may affect your comfort.[5]

4Hammocks vs porch swings

Hammock vs woman sitting in hammock

Hammocks and porch swings both have advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Style Pros Cons
  • Portable and usually easy to assemble and take down
  • Often machine washable
  • Available in both suspended and free-standing models
  • May need to be replaced more often than swings
  • Aren’t great for use in group settings
Porch swing
  • Perfect for adding additional seating
  • Can be purchased in a variety of sizes and materials
  • Available in both suspended and free-standing models
  • Permanent or semi-permanent features of a home
  • Tend to require more protection from the elements
  • Used more for entertainment and bonding and less for relaxation

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A traditional, single hammock made from lightweight polyester can cost as little as $25, while a free-standing, double hammock made from luxury materials can run into the thousands. If you’re looking to invest in something you’ll enjoy for many years, consider the advantages of a pricier model made from quality cotton or a cotton blend with durable nylon stitching. Accessories will also factor in. If you want straps for packing, a separate stand, pillows and more, the cost may increase.


The installation steps for your hammock will vary depending on the model of hammock you pick. Free-standing models come with their own stand (and their own directions!) so set-up is easy. For traditional, spreader bar, chair and tent hammocks, it’s not as straightforward.

Hammocks that need to be suspended from trees, posts, walls or the ceiling usually come with installation kits (with ropes, wall anchors, S hooks or J hooks) and instructions. It may still take some trial and error to figure out the suspension system, knots and even the height and distance between points.

Once you know where you’ll be hanging up your hammock, look for resources for your specific scenario.

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