Remarkably, the hammock has been around since the thirteenth century in the Caribbean and in Central and South America. Columbus returned to Spain from the Bahamas with a load of hammocks and a later explorer, Pero Vaz de Caminha, in 1500 explained how the natives used hammocks for bedding. Most would have a fire burning beneath them for heat and to repel insects while they slept. Vasco Nunez Balboa also reported that every Central American village that he visited used hammocks as their primary source of bedding. Hernan Cortes noted that hammocks were also the primary bedding source in the Mexican Indian tribes.
Housing of the time consisted of primarily open huts with dirt floors, making the people especially susceptible to varmints and potential muddy conditions. The hammock, essentially their suspended beds, offered a functional way to be up off the ground and safe from unsanitary conditions as well as snakes, spiders, and mosquitoes as many had protective netting. Most of the early hammocks were woven from fibers of the “Hamak” tree; however, the material and design varied among region. In fact through trade, the use of hammocks had spread to today’s North America where the settlers began using the indigenous cotton to sew a more comfortable hammock. Naval forces around the world soon began using hammocks as their beds because it was almost impossible to fall out of the hammock and easily storable.
It was the navy men or merchant marines that carried their hammocks from ship to land as it made them feel like they were still at sea. People began to take notice of the quick, portable bedding as a way of relaxation. This continued and Captain Joshua Ward invented the standard “American” hammock of cotton rope and wooden spreader bars. Today, many suburbanites use this pre-Columbian bedding source as a backyard luxury. The modern style of hammocks varies greatly by material and function. For instance, the Renetto Zero Gravity portable hammock is a great option for backpackers and hikers. On the other hand, the Hatteras hammock is a perfect option for a backyard must!