Hammocks are the ultimate relaxation device. Sling one between two trees, tether it to your balcony or hook it onto a hammock stand, and you've immediately got a cosy sanctuary for reading, napping or catching some rays.
Most hammocks conform to the same basic idea and shape, but there are a few main types to choose between. 'Spreader bar' hammocks have a crossbar (usually made from wood) at each end of the fabric, to keep them taught and make them easier to climb into (and get out of). Camping hammocks don't have bars, instead sticking with the traditional fabric-and-ropes shape, to be as light and compact as possible.
Hammocks of all kinds are selling out fast as spring turns to summer, so in our recommendations below we reveal the best hammocks still in stock. First, here are some tips on choosing the right hammock for you.
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Spreader bar hammocks have two wooden bars at each end that keep the fabric in the middle tight. The design is open and inviting, allowing you to lie relatively flat as compared to other hammock designs.
Classic hammocks are based on the traditional design used first by Native Americans, and they're considered the comfiest and easiest to use. They tend to curl up and have a bigger dip in the middle than spreader bar hammocks, though, so make sure you tie them high enough.
Camping hammocks tend to be made from lightweight durable material, and can be tied to trees or any suitable support.
Chair hammocks are handy for families with children, because they're more stable and less prone to flipping than traditional hammocks. They only require one support point, and often come with their own stands.
Cotton is great for lazing in the garden on summer days, and it conforms comfortably to your body shape. It may also be machine-washable at high temperatures. But it's not mould resistant, so don't leave a cotton hammock out overnight.
Polyester is lighter and more durable, so it's used for most camping hammocks. Most commercially-sold hammocks have polyester ropes, which are strong, durable, and resistant to mold and mildew.
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Price: From £112.08 | Buy now from Amazon
This stylish cotton hammock comes in oodles of colours (prices vary, up to £160), from bright red stripes to wistful lacy white. The one in our pic is Denim, priced at £140. Whichever pattern you chose, you get a beautiful carry bag and super-sturdy steel stand included for free. It's easy to assemble and the whole lot weighs about 13kg, so it's light enough to shift into the garden or onto the balcony. The steel frame is coated with zinc, so it won't come a cropper if you leave it outside (take the canvas off, though), and the legs have rubber end caps so it's also safe to use indoors if you prefer. I mean, who needs sofas?
At 160cm wide the canvas is big enough to accommodate two, and the lack of spreader bars at each end means you'll roll together cosily, whether you like it or not. The hammock can hold more than 200kg, so the pair of you are unlikely to go crashing to the ground.
Key specs – Canvas size: 239x160cm; Canvas material: Cotton (hand wash); Capacity: 204kg; Stand included: Yes; Colours available: 18
Price: £44 | Buy now from Amazon
Climb in and out of this lovely sunny hammock with ease, thanks to the curved wooden spreader bars at each end. Unlike some spreader bars, these ones don't pull the fabric completely taught, so there's still plenty of fabric to get cosy in and even wrap around yourself when the air starts to cool in the garden. A carry bag and inflatable pillow are included for free.
Key specs – Canvas size: 220x120cm; Canvas material: Cotton; Capacity: 300kg; Stand included: No; Colours available: 3
Price: £25 | Buy now from Decathlon
At just £25, this hammock from camping experts Quechua is a superb buy. It's one of the biggest and most robust canvases in our line-up (no less than 3.5 metres long, with a weight capacity of 220kg), but its dinky 1kg weight makes it much easier to carry than a camp bed. It can be folded up completely into its own attached pocket, a bit like a kagoule, and has a mesh pocket for holding electronic devices, books, snacks and so on.
Set-up is really easy. Sturdy but lightweight carabiners are included with the hammock, to ensure safe hooking and tethering (up to 6 metres apart). The soft, comfortable fabric is ripstop polyester, designed for ultimate durability in whatever conditions you encounter, and it'll last for years. The makers are so confident it'll last, they've thrown in a free two-year guarantee.
Key specs – Canvas size: 350x180cm; Canvas material: Polyester (hand wash only); Capacity: 220kg; Stand included: No; Colours available: 1
Price: £112 | Buy now from La Redoute
Hang the solid end loops of this cool fringed hammock on a pair of hooks or a stand, or tether it to your balcony or nearby trees, and you'll be instantly transported to the Hollywood hills of 1969. It's entirely made from thick, black-dyed cotton, and although you can't machine wash it, it is relatively easy to clean (and let's face it, it won't show the dirt as easily as cream cotton). It's on the small side (just 100cm across) but looks the absolute business, and is currently on special offer at £112, down from £140.
Key specs – Canvas size: 190x100cm; Canvas material: Cotton; Capacity: Not given; Stand included: No; Colours available: 1
Buy now from La Redoute
Price: £36 | Buy now from Amazon
Another fringed cotton number, this super-sized lacy rope chair is a fantastic buy that'll add a touch of bohemian luxury to your garden, balcony or front porch. There's a single but strong hanging point above a sturdy 100cm top bar, which has grooves at each end to keep the fabric in place. The hammock itself is a generous two and a half metres of gorgeous woven cotton, so you can wrap yourself in it – feet included – for ultra-cosy suspended bliss. It’s also available in grey and blue, but this summery off-white version is our favourite.
Key specs – Canvas size: 240x80cm; Canvas material: Cotton; Capacity: 150kg; Stand included: No; Colours available: 3
Price: £118 | Buy now from Wayfair
Is it a hammock? Is it a camp bed? Is it a rocking chair? This clever hammock is all those things in one. It's brilliantly comfy for sleeping on (it even comes with a pillow) as well as for relaxing in the garden, and its lovely rocking action will help you achieve maximum zen.
OK, so it's not the prettiest hammock we've ever seen, but it's very practical, with a canvas made from all-weather PVC-coated polyester and a stand made from durable lightweight steel. Buyers report that it's especially popular with kids, although you might want to discourage them from using it as a trampoline!
Key specs – Canvas size: 212x174cm; Canvas material: PVC-coated polyester (wipe clean); Capacity: 100kg; Stand included: Yes; Colours available: 1
Price: £250 | Buy now from Wayfair
Yes, it costs a bomb. But this beautiful hammock is a quality piece of garden furniture, and will lend style as well as comfort to your back yard (or your front garden, if you'd like to wave smugly to the neighbours). The big 200x150cm canvas is stretched taught by the spreader bars and held in place underneath, so you can hop on and off with ease, and the hammock won't whip about in the wind. It detaches easily from its stand, so you can use the heavy-hanging loops to hang it from hooks, a balcony or from trees if you prefer. However it's hard to clean when it gets grubby, so you might want to invest in a tarp (or shed) to keep the elements off.
Key specs – Canvas size: 200x150cm; Canvas material: Cotton; Capacity: 180kg; Stand included: Yes; Colours available: 1
Price: £79 | Buy now from Made.com
We absolutely love this leaf-print wipe-clean hammock with its sturdy spreader bars and handy end loops, and it's a good price at £79. Just a shame you have to wait up to six weeks for delivery via Made.com, which is the only place it's currently available.
Key specs – Size: 198x140cm; Capacity: Not given; Material: Polyester (wipe clean); Stand included: No; Colours available: 1
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