A celebration of Hammock Day

Authored By seanphippster

This day, July 22, has been dubbed Hammock Day across the nation.

You’re encouraged-if you don’t have to work-to spend the day in complete relaxation, suspended between two trees with a book in your hand and not a care in the world.

In this article, we’ll briefly explore the history of the hammock and learn why they’re making a comeback, especially among backpackers and hikers in Chattanooga.

History
The essence of the hammock is now associated with leisure, but originally, they were designed to serve as beds for Central and South Americans. Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing the hammock to Europe in the 15th century.

By the 16th century, hammocks were widespread throughout the world and used especially on naval ships. According to a Wikipedia article, an advantage of a slung hammock is that it “moves in concert with the motion of the vessel,” making it more difficult to fall onto the deck below.

Hammocks can be constructed out of a variety of materials. Cotton, canvas and nylon are the most common. In America, the most traditional hammock would be considered the garden hammock, found in many a backyard. These hammocks are typically made of a polyester blend and are readily available at big box retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Other variations of the hammock include the standalone “spreader”; the colorful “Mayan”; and “jungle” hammocks, which are considered the most “foolproof” in terms of not falling out while sleeping.

Of course, people still fall out of hammocks. And it’s still funny.

The travel hammock boom
These brightly covered cocoon-like hammocks have made quite a mark on a young generation of outdoors enthusiasts. They’re everywhere: in parks, in forests, on campuses and in backyards.

A company with local ties is right in the middle of the hammock whirlwind.

Color Cloud Hammocks is a company started by Chattanoogan Tianna Buckwalter and her friends, Laura Grazler and Stephanie Zito. The three women met while traveling on a hospital ship in Africa. When the three were back in the United States-all living in Washington D.C.- they realized that this type of “travel” hammock was unusual here.

Zito remembers some of the reactions she received when she would hang out in her hammock on the porch. 

“Our hammock seemed to have magical qualities,” she said. “People would stop to meet us, to chat, and to tell us that seeing our hammock brightened their day.”

These porch compliments sparked the idea to create a company that would “spread the joy of colorful hammocks,” according to Zito.

After a brief stint in D.C., the women went their separate ways. Buckwalter moved to Chattanooga, and Zito moved to Cambodia. Grazler stayed in D.C.

The company really took off after Zito landed in Cambodia. She spent time locally sourcing materials and employees.

“Each hammock is individually made by a team of women in Cambodia who are paid fairly for every piece produced, our fabric is sourced locally in the Cambodian marketplace, and a direct trade model supports this economy,” she said.

Color Cloud Hammocks now offers 37 different color variations, and each hammock comes with a “secret book pocket” for a book, phone or anything else.

The distribution of Color Cloud Hammocks is based here in Tennessee.

Hanging a hammock
Zito offers some advice on how to hang a travel or backpacking hammock.

1. Pick the perfect spot-most commonly between two trees 11-15 feet apart (called “treequidistance”)-but you can really hang a hammock from any type of post, railing or overhang that can bear your weight.

2. Test the weight-bearing ability before hanging.

3. To hang the hammock, loop one side of your hammock rope around the tree (or weight-bearing pole) one or more times and thread it through the opening of the attached S hook, then repeat on the other side.

4. The hammock may seem loose around the trees, but the weight of the person sitting in the hammock will pull the hammock taut.

5. Always sit in the backside first and give a quick bounce to test it.

6. Some variations on traditional hammock hanging are hanging the ends high and close together to create a U-shaped hammock chair, hanging one side higher than the other for perfect reading posture or hanging with a little slack in the middle to allow you to lie flat for sleeping at a 45 degree angle across the midseam.

A cartoon tutorial is also available on the Color Cloud Hammock website.