The next time you’re trying to decide what makes it into your suitcase and what gets left behind, there’s one thing you should definitely take with you: a hammock.

Seriously. Hammocks weigh next to nothing—many weigh in at barely over a pound. And they’re also the ideal relaxation mechanism, enabling you to soak in your surroundings in complete comfort. “They make already great moments even greater,” says Sam Dearden from Boston, Massachusetts, and longtime lover of travel and hammocks.

Yellow hammock

Despite being incredibly lightweight, hammocks are strong enough to hold multiple people.

For example, Dearden says he didn’t shy away from using his hammock in public during his internship in Madrid, Spain. But he was met with mixed responses. “Some people were like, ‘Hey, did they punish you?’” Dearden says. “And other people said, ‘Hey, that’s really cool. It looks like you’re living the life.’”

One Pound of Extreme Versatility

Aside from unadulterated lounging, hammocks, are ideal for reading, taking short naps, and even cuddling. “Hammocks are surprisingly social because you can fit more than one person in them,” Dearden says. But the fun doesn’t end there. Hammocks can also be used as a sheet or a pillow in times of need. The night Dearden got stuck in the Dublin Airport in Ireland, he found a spot to lie down, rolled up his hammock as a pillow, and fell sound asleep.

The Freedom to Lounge


Hammocks can be easily folded and stored for traveling, and then unfolded for versatile lounging.

Hammocks can be attached to anything from the trees surrounding your campground to the porch of your cabin. You can take your hammock with you to the park, to the beach, or even to the canyon. Many bring hammocks rock climbing, finding them to be the ideal seat to rest on while watching their friends scale the cliffs. “While everyone else was terrified climbing the mountain, I was the most relaxed down in the hammock,” explains BYU student Jill Smyth from Pleasant Grove, Utah. They also make for an excellent camping companion and are great to take backpacking for when you find that perfect place to stop.

Finding the Right One

From private outdoor spaces to public hangouts, hammocks can adapt to wherever you may be. Now the only question remaining is which hammock will you choose? Hammocks can be purchased new or used, and many outdoor companies sell hammocks designed specifically for traveling. Depending on the brand, size, and weight capacity, hammocks run anywhere from $15 to $200, and most hammocks come with a convenient stuff sack for easy transport.

—Cara Gillespie

Photo credits (from top):
Carol Blyberg
Andrew Hall