Get out and Celebrate National Hammock Day! Here’s how…

Yes, the day you’ve been waiting for all year is finally here: National Hammock Day! Possibly my favorite day of the year. I’m what some call a hammock enthusiast. Wherever I go, a hammock usually follows. In fact, one of my favorite ways to unwind is laying in a hammock and listening to a podcast.

Interestingly, I’ve found that relaxing in a hammock is something everyone enjoys in theory, but only a few in practice.

Why is this so? After giving it some thought, I’ve come up with three reasons people don’t find themselves hanging in a hammock more often.

  1. Too hard to setup
  2. Don’t know what kind to get
  3. Afraid of falling out

I want to look at each of these and show you why there’s no reason to let these concerns prevent you from becoming a hammock enthusiast. So in honor of National Hammock Day, let’s get into it!

1. Too tricky to set up!

Hammocks have been around for a good while, and thankfully have only become more popular. (There’s been at least six new hammocks pitched on Kickstarter in the last two years!). This means they’ve gotten much easier to set up and take down. So instead of fancy knots and long rope, now all you really need are a pair of tree straps with daisy chain loops, like this:

With these straps, all you do is feed one end through another loop and tighten around your anchor point (a tree, most likely); then, just snap a carabiner through the loop. No knots required.

Eno and Kammok make some excellent straps for about $30. Personally, I prefer Kammok’s: they’re longer (10 ft instead of 9 ft), hold more weight (500 lb instead of 400 lb), the loops don’t catch on other loops when you’re pulling it through, and they’re easier to stuff in the sack they come in (Eno’s requires them to be folded up) — o yeah, and they have reflective stitching so you don’t clothesline yourself at night. It’s a no-brainer to me.

While this setup can be executed almost anywhere, there are some limitations. What if there’s no tall sturdy objects around? Well, there are ways around that too, but my favorite is the Handy Hammock Stand. This hammock requires no trees, just wide open space. It can be set up on a beach, a mountainside, or your treeless backyard. And the whole setup is only $99 (and weighs just over 3 lbs!).

With that said, you can see there’s really no reason you can’t hang your hammock anywhere, even if there’s nothing to hang it on.

Just last week I was on the Oregon coast for a wedding and had the chance to string up my hammock on the beach. That’s why I never leave home without it. You never know where you’ll find yourself, wishing you could be swaying in the wind.

2. Which hammock do I pick?

This question — like many — depends on the person asking. But among all the different types of hammocks out there, they basically come down to two types: 1) camping, and 2) leisure. The former can be a little hairy to get into, so I’ll just give you some tips on the latter. It’s the leisure hammocks anyway that everyone enjoys — backpackers and enthusiasts, alike.

  • Pick your size. Hammocks generally come in two sizes: those that hold one person and those that hold two. Most people opt for a double because you never know when a friend will want to join (or that special person will want to snuggle up beside you). :) But even if there’s no one around to join you, who’s going to complain about a little extra space?
  • Choose your hanging style. Do you want a hammock chair or recliner? Do you want to be wrapped up by the hammock walls or have an open view? Can’t decide? Lucky for you, the standard hammock allows for any of these options and is probably why it’s the most popular. (In the first 50 seconds of this video you’ll see 5 different ways to sit in a hammock).
  • Decide on a color. What are your favorite colors of the rainbow? There’s so many to choose from — especially with brands like Eno (though Kammok has some really vibrant options too). In any case, you’re bound to find a color scheme that screams your favorite hues.

Beyond these factors, there’s really not much else to consider. Just like hanging in a hammock, there’s nothing too complicated about picking one out. Just decide on the size of your company, how you want to lay, and the colors you want wrapped around you.

3. The fear of falling out

Once you find your hammock you might find that you’re a little afraid to get into it. Don’t feel bad. That’s understandable. We’ve all seen enough home videos of people being ejected from a hammock.

Now what you must keep in mind, is that it’s actually quite hard to fall out of a hammock if you’ve set it up right. Here’s a few tips that should keep your feet in the air and head off the ground.

  • Make sure there’s a good sag in the hammock. Remember, it’s a hammock not a tightrope. Don’t set it up so tight that the hammock walls are sealed together. If you want to get technical, you want about a 30º hang.
  • Make sure you’re feet can touch the ground. You can get a little more adventurous later, but for starting out, don’t hang the hammock so high that you’re feet can’t touch the ground when you first sit down in it. This will allow you to enter and exit the hammock more safely, as one part of your body will always be able to touch a fixed anchor point if necessary.
  • Opt for the diagonal lay. Many people try to lay in a hammock lengthways, assuming this is the best way since it matches the natural shape of the body. But if you do this, the hammock swallows you whole and you can’t see out. Similarly, others just walk up to the hammock and sit down perpendicular to it. But this is an easy way to fall out the back. Laying diagonal is the safest and most comfortable route as it provides you with the flattest lay (this is Option #4 “Brazilian Style” in the How to use your Kammok video above).
  • Smooth out a landing zone for your rear-end. Don’t just plop down into your hammock. Your hands should be the first thing that touch your hammock, followed by your tush. (Leading with your feet is a bad idea, as you learned from the home videos above). Make sure you’re bum is going down in the center of the hammock. This is probably the most common reason people fall out of hammocks: they sit too far back into them. Ensuring a good landing zone is the difference between relaxation and regret.

Now that I’ve dealt with the three most common excuses of not getting in a hammock, I hope you’ll see there’s no reason you shouldn’t get out and celebrate National Hammock Day in one! But preferably, not like these guys…

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I write for a leading digital software company and enjoy taking complex issues and putting them simply. When I’m not writing, I’m probably laying in a hammock, or wishing I was in one. Although sometimes, I find a way to do both.

Follow me on Twitter @KristopherLyle or read more of my casual writing on LinkedIn or my blog.

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