The Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is my first hammock that uses spreader bars. I’ve slept in several gathered end hammocks but never a bridge hammock that uses spreader bars at the end. The owner of the Lawson Hammock Company says the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is a hybrid tent hammock because in some ways it is different than a typical bridge hammock. Not only can the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock be hung between trees but it can also be set up as a bivy tent. I’ve seen gathered end hammocks with integrated bug nets that offer a form of bivy setup, but the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock seems to just naturally go to ground. As a bivy, the hammock doesn’t offer a lot of headroom but that is what a bivy is all about after all.
The Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock has an integrated bug net held above the camper by two arched tent poles. A rain fly fits over the bug net and attaches easily. Of course, we men never read instructions, but I purposely avoided the instructions. Even with no instructions, setup of the hammock is easy. Any arrangement of straps, tree huggers, whoopee slings or other suspension can be used. Next, slide the arched poles into the bug net and poke the ends into metal grommets. A hook and shock cord pulls the arched poles toward the ends and holds up the bug net. Shock cord loops at the corners and Velcro strips along the sides hold the rain fly in place. The ends of the rain fly are sealed up by more plastic hooks on shock cord. First setup took less than ten minutes, and it got easier from there.
So just how comfortable is the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock? Well, it is very comfortable to sleep in as a hammock and it is one of if not the most comfortable hammocks I’ve tried. The spreader bars hold the hammock open relatively flat just like a bed. Sleeping with arms over your head, on your side, or stomach are all possible. Unlike a gathered end hammock that wraps up around your sides, the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is more like a cot. I found a tighter setup between trees made for the best comfort. Don’t make the suspension what I would call “guitar string tight” but the setup is much tighter than a gathered end hammock. The lay of the hammock can be customized by tightening individual ropes at the spreader bars. No adjustment of these ropes was needed for me. My rear end did sag down a bit but for the most part, I slept flat.
At first, the hammock seemed a bit tippy and I think it is tipsier than a gathered end hammock. I shared the hammock with my 8 year old and even my dog a few times and was never dumped out or ever worried about it. While sleeping, I turned over enough to get the zipper of my sleeping bag underneath me but didn’t know until the next morning. Rolling over to get the zipper accessible was no trouble. If needed, guy lines may be attached to the four corners of the hammock to hold it in place, but I never needed those.
The Blue Ridge Camping Hammock strengths are ease of setup and comfort. Interior storage pockets, O-rings on webbing to hang lights or other gear, and loops on the floor of the hammock are provided. Getting into a sleeping bag is easy compared to gathered end hammocks, and sleeping pads work as well as underquilts. Weight and packed size get the short end of the stick. The test hammock weighed 4.9 pounds on the scales and it packs down to 21 by 6 inches.
The Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock has an MSRP of $169.99. This hammock offers a lot of bang for the buck since everything needed except insulation is provided. For car camping, backyard lounging, easy going backpacking trips, this hammock could really fit the bill. Ultra-light AT thru hikers maybe not so much.
I’d like to thank Lawson for providing a Blue Ridge Camping Hammock for testing and review. Hopefully everyone will benefit from the information passed along about this uniquely designed hammock shelter system.