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Rope vs. Fabric Hammocks – Which is Better?

September 16, 2019 4 min read

rope hammock that has spreader bars hangs between trees with the beach in the background

Choosing the Best Type of Hammock for Your Backyard

So, you’ve been standing on the sidelines watching all your friends enjoy their high-quality hammocks in their backyards or cottages this summer, and now you want one of your own for next season. But how do you know which type to choose – rope or fabric?

No matter which hammock you choose, you'll always get the promise of comfort and relaxation. However, each has different features and benefits you should take into consideration before making a decision.

woman wearing a beanie lies on a rope hammock in the woods

Rope Hammocks

Rope hammocks are made of loosely woven cotton or polyester ropes, offer both support and flexibility, and give off a classic tropical, bohemian look.

They also have spreader bars on each end of the hammock.

Rope hammocks are the quintessential beach hammocks and are perfect for ultimate summer relaxation under a couple of palm trees.

Whether you go with a cotton or polyester rope hammock, each has its own advantages.

Cotton rope hammocks tend to be more flexible and comfortable than polyester.

Recommended Product:Cotton Rope Hammock - Double

However, polyester hammocks are more durable and far less susceptible to humidity, mildew, and mold.

Recommended Product:Polyester Rope Hammock - Soft-Woven Deluxe

Mayan Hammocks

The Mayan hammock is a variation of the rope hammock but does not have spreader bars and has a tighter weave than most.

Mayan hammocks are unbelievably cozy as they are made from soft, woven cotton in a diamond weave pattern.

This makes it easy for a Mayan hammock to conform to the curves of your body, resulting in complete relaxation. Since this type of hammock does not include a spreader bar, it easier to pack and transport than other rope hammocks. 

Other main selling points of a Mayan hammock include comfort, durability, aesthetics, and the fact that it can hold a lot of weight.

Recommended Product:Mayan Hammock – Double

Nicaraguan Hammock

Similar to Mayan hammocks, Nicaraguan hammocks are also more tightly woven than other rope hammocks and do not have spreader bars. However, Nicaraguan’s are made with double-weaved soft cotton cords, resulting in a thicker, heavier fabric than the Mayan. As a result, this hammock is softer, more luxurious feeling, and cozier.

Pros of Rope Hammocks

  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Flexibility
  • Perfect for hot weather
  • Low maintenance
  • Low cost

Cons of Rope Hammocks

  • Can leave impressions on the skin
  • Cotton rope hammocks take longer to dry and are susceptible to mold and mildew
  • Not suitable for cooler climates
  • Are not strong enough to hold multiple people (With the exception of Mayan and Nicaraguan)
  • Spreader bars make them more difficult to pack and transport

man sits upright on a fabric hammock drinking out of a mason jar

Fabric Hammocks

Fabric hammocks tend to be stronger and more durable than rope, and come in many different variations, colours, and materials.

Like rope hammocks, fabric hammocks are incredibly comfortable, but are better suited for cooler weather than rope as they have a tighter weave.

There are several variations of fabric hammocks, the most popular being quilted, Colombian, and Brazilian hammocks.

Colombian Hammock

With traditional tight Farolito cotton weaving, the Colombian hammock is particularly soft, light, and breathable, making for a truly amazing experience. They do not have spreader bars.

Brazilian Hammocks

Brazilian hammocks are similar to Colombian, but have a sturdier and tighter weave. Made from cotton and polyester threads, Brazilian hammocks are comfortable, yet very strong and durable, and can be used as a replacement for a traditional bed. They are also very lightweight and can be easily transported as they do not include spreader bars.

Recommended Product:Deluxe Brazilian Style Double Hammock

Quilted Hammocks

Quilted hammocks made from layers of polyester and polyester foam are among the most durable of the fabric hammock variety. However, they are not usually as flexible and easily transportable as other fabric hammocks as they are made from thicker fabric and have spreader bars.

However, quilted hammocks make up for this in strength and comfort. These luxurious hammocks are ideal for relaxation and perfect for outdoor use.

Pros of Fabric Hammocks

  • Soft, comfortable, and durable
  • Lightweight (with the exception of quilted)
  • Low maintenance
  • Good for travel (Colombian and Brazilian)
  • Can be used in any type of weather

Cons of Fabric Hammocks

  • Susceptible to mold
  • Not as breathable as rope
  • Certain fabrics may not be as ideal for hot climates

comparison of fabric hammock with no spreader bars and rope hammock with spreader bars

Non-Spreader Bars Vs. Spreader Bars

What is a spreader bar?

A spreader bar is a metal or wooden bar that helps keep your hammock’s fabric spread out, flat, and taut.

There are a lot of benefits of spreader bar hammocks, as they are easier to get into, and tend to dry faster than non-spreader bar hammocks as the fabric is pulled tightly. They also look more aesthetically pleasing when on display out in the yard.

A downside is that the spreader bar makes it more difficult to pack your hammock up and take it with you to the beach, cottage, or on a camping trip.

Also, hammocks without spreader bars tend to be more comfortable, as they have more sag, and allow you to be cocooned by the fabric. Plus, they are more portable and lightweight.

At the end of the day, the decision over fabric, rope, and spreader bars all comes down to personal preference. What one hammock enthusiast loves might not be as appealing for another for a variety of reasons.

But regardless of which type of hammock you choose, we can guarantee you will have an amazingly relaxing experience for many years to come.