Byer of Maine Paradiso and Barbados Hammocks
Byer of Maine appropriately describes the Paradiso as the “crown jewel” of their Amazonas hammock line, and I would agree with them. This traditionally-handwoven hammock is the epitome of elegance in traditional hammocks and offers superior comfort. The Barbados hammock is only rivaled by the Paradiso in overall dimensions, but is equally as comfortable and serviceable. Both feature a fabric made from 85% recycled cotton and 15% polyester.
- Manufacturer: Byer of Maine, Made in Brazil
- MSRP: US$129.95 (Paradiso); US$89.95 (Barbados)
- Hardware: None
- Material: handwoven 85% recycled cotton and 15% polyester blend
- Recommended load: 400 lbs (181 kg)
- Accessory rope supplied as a suspension aid
- Weight: 6 lbs (2.7 kg)
- Clew length: 25 in (63.5 cm)
- Dimensions: 142×68 in (361×172.2 cm)—Measured: 152×66 in (386×168 cm)
- Bed Area: 101×68 in (256.5×172.2 cm)—Measured: 102×66 in (259×168 cm)
- Available in Naturalesa, Orange, Terracotta, and Tropical color patterns
- Weight: 3.6 lbs (1.7 kg)
- Clew length: 23 in (58.4 cm)
- Dimensions: 134×58 in (340×147 cm)—Measured: 140×58 in (356×147 cm)
- Bed Area: 89×58 in (226×147 cm)—Measured: 94×58 in (239×147 cm)
- Available in BlueSky, Cappuccino, Mocha, Rainbow, Sorbet, Sunset, and Black color patterns
In all my hammock demonstrations and presentations, I refer to the traditional Mayan or Brazilian hammock style as the birthplace of modern hammock camping. It’s ironic, actually, that “modern” hammock camping is so reliant on such a simple, traditional, and ancient design. Yet, truthfully, this style of hammock is the standard by which I measure modern designs. The main tradeoff between these traditional hammocks and their modern descendants is size: camping hammocks are tiny in comparison (it’s a trade-off for overall pack weight and shelter requirements).
The Paradiso and Barbados, like other traditional designs, are not really designed for backpacking, although they are highly recommended for sleeping, primarily at your casa. Sure, you can lug the 6+ lbs (3 kg) of hammock, plus a super-sized tarp, bug net, and suspension, but it’s not what I’d recommend.
The most comfortable, luxurious traditional hammocks are sized like the Paradiso—generous dimensions (the full length includes the rope clews or end ropes), a large “bed” area (the fabric area), looped clew attachments, and finished with a nice macrame eye loop. Many Mayan and Brazilian hammocks are as long as 13 or 14 feet (4 to 4.2 m), with each clew about half the length of the main bed area. The Paradiso and Barbados are short these ideal dimensions, and if there is one thing I would recommend would be to make the clews slightly longer. The hammocks, as designed, doesn’t suffer much from this small shortcoming.
The fabric is one of the signature features on a Brazilian hammock. The tight weave is what really differentiates a Brazilian from a Mayan hammock (Mayan hammocks use a loose, triple weave, more like a fish net). Unique patterns are woven near the ends that create unique impressions in the fabric. The handwoven blend is very comfortable. Be prepared for a little more stretch, thanks to the cotton fibers, but it stretches in a way that is different than a nylon hammock. For example, you’ll find more flex for calfs and heels, thus reducing some oft-complained leg hyperextension.
The end clews and looped clew attachments are another way to differentiate traditional Brazilian hammocks from the mass-produced copies. Each clew nettle attaches to two corresponding loops that are woven through the hammock. The finished look is classy and elegant.
Recommendations and Review
Suspension and Anchor System
These hammocks don’t really come with any suspension system or anchoring system to speak of, as they are designed to attach directly to a stand or hook system. The hammocks are traditionally hung with two lengths of rope that are middled and attached to a wall hook or anchor. The two loose ends are then brought through the clew eye loop and adjusted and attached by tying a simple Becket Hitch. I’m so taken by this simple method that I often use it in the field when hammock camping.
Price and Value
You can find Mayan and Brazilian hammocks for dirt cheap these days, but it’s hard to know whether the quality is good and whether the artisans are well compensated. I can attest that the Byer of Maine hammocks are authentic and of the highest quality I’ve seen. I’m not privy to the inside business practices at Byer of Maine, but if their pricing follows traditional economics, than the hammocks are priced well for the quality and labor.
The Paradiso is the hammock my wife has “claimed” when she wants a comfortable sleep in a hammock. It’s ideal for indoor hanging, especially those looking for a permanent bed replacement. It’s also great for outdoor lounging, beach snoozing, and recreation. I’ve taken the hammock car camping, but with the cotton fabric, it isn’t really a good idea to keep this hammock out in the weather for prolonged periods.
The Paradiso is big enough for two to snuggle up in, although I normally do not recommend sleeping doubled up inside. This hammock can be hung with a 30-degree angle, but it performs a lot better with a larger angle, around 40 to 50 degrees. If the clews were longer, you could hang with a deep sag and lay perpendicularly.
The Barbados is a perfect single hammock for sleeping, especially with a smaller room, stand, or space to hang in. I found the dimensions of the Barbados great for one person. It wasn’t too small or too big, so there wasn’t any extra fabric when laying down. I found that a 30 to 40 degree hang angle is ideal.
Construction and Craftsmanship
As I mentioned before, this hammock represents the highest quality in craftsmanship. It’s handmade on a loom, and you can feel it in your hands. And while the end clews are high-quality, I have seen some macrame designs with a little more ornamentation (e.g., Shoulder Sword Mat weaves, different eye loop cockscombing).
This is probably the most comfortable hammock I’ve ever tried. I can hang the Paradiso with a 45+ degree hang and scan lounge almost perpendicular (if the hammock were wider, I could). The clew design keeps the sides of the hammock from getting too tight, and the cotton fabric and weave means that the hammock conforms to my body better than synthetic fabrics can. It’s truly a delight to sleep in. The real trick is finding a place to hang it!
I spent a week testing the Paradiso and Barbados hammocks on the beach at Lake Powell. The hammocks were a blessing in the 100°F (38°C) degree weather.
- Look for authentic “Made in Brazil” hammocks. There are a lot of look-a-likes made in China.
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear. I was under no obligation to publish a review of this item.