Hammocks Aren’t Just for Backyard Lazing Anymore

They’re the hottest way to chill on hiking trails, college campuses, and campgrounds.
Photographer: William Mebane for Bloomberg Businessweek

For an object so closely associated with laziness, the hammock has been busy recently. Far from the cumbersome, macramé-style cradles strung across backyards of yore, the modern hammock is portable, easy to set up, and a favorite of hikers, campers, and do-nothings alike.

“Hammock” became as much a verb as a noun (as in, “If you need me, dude, I’ll be hammocking”) in the late 1990s. At music festivals such as Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair, listeners hammocked as they jammed to G. Love & Special Sauce and Shawn Colvin. From there, the hammock migrated into the camping world, where it became a warm-weather alternative to a tent.

Now the hammock is found on college quads and in parks, a current-day version of the picnic blanket. From 2013 to 2015, sales more than doubled, from $26 million to $53 million, according to NPD. The market researcher reports that the largest demographic buying them is teens. That’s probably because hammocks provide instant gratification. One of the hottest brands, Austin-based Kammok, is making a sling with bark-friendly straps. The lightweight, durable hammock can be hung in minutes and supports as much as 500 pounds.

Kammok, which began with a Kickstarter campaign in 2011, sells a $128 kit; sales from 2014 to 2015 were up 120 percent. “It’s portable adventure,” says Haley Robison, Kammok’s chief operating officer. “You can create different spaces within existing environments that give you renewed perspective and allow for a moment of relaxation and reflection.”

That’s one way to put it. Or you can grab a beer and sack out, telling yourself that you’re not being lazy—you’re engaged in some serious hammocking.

Set Up
The Kammok is embarrassingly simple to set up. Two Python straps wrap around trees, fence posts—just about whatever. Then you clip the cradle to the straps with Kammok’s carabiners, and just like that, you’re staring at the sun.

Get In
To get into the Kammok without looking like a fool, do what you do when climbing into a tiny sports car: Put your bottom in first, then swing over your legs. To egress, do the reverse. 

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