Everyone loves a hammock. That’s why, when I started searching for a backpacking tent, I chose the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock. Sometimes it’s hard to find a nice flat place to pitch a tent and sleep on the ground — over a full night, even big smooth bumps under a sleeping pad can result in pain come morning. On the other hand, hanging blissfully from a hammock is pretty much always good. Plus, the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is more than just a standard hammock — it’s versatile enough to work even when you can’t find a pair of trees to hang it from.
Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock Review
The Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is particularly versatile because it can act as a tent or a hammock because of two features: The first is two arching support poles for the mosquito netting and rain fly. The arched poles are attached at both ends and lift the top of the hammock up like a elongated dome tent, which gives you enough room to sit up and rummage around easily.
The second key feature is the spreader bar system, which is attached to the ropes at the ends of the hammock and spread the support ropes over a flatter area. This keeps the floor more stable in the air as well as helps remove some of the sag that every hammock has.
When pitched on the ground, it all comes together to create a small bivy tent.
Best Backpacking Hammock?
The big question when it comes to backpacking is all about weight. The Blue Ridge hammock weighs in at 4.25 lbs. That may seem heavy at first compared to some 1-man bivy tents, but in warm weather you can ditch your sleeping pad, saving weight. As for pack size, the hammock packs down into a 22″ x 6″ roll that easily fits into its own stuff sack. The interior’s floor space is 86″ x 42″. I’m about 6′ and 200 lbs, and the hammock felt plenty roomy.
Used as a hammock, it’s definitely a solo thing, but I can see a very cozy couple fitting into it on the ground as a tent in a pinch. As a hammock, the Blue Ridge has a capacity of 250 lbs. so keep that in mind when using it. No one wants a sudden three feet midnight fall to Earth.
Aside from backpacking, I like to take a hammock camping even when we’re staying in a tent or RV — a hammock is always great for a nap or a teenager who is ready to sleep a bit farther away from the rest of the family.
Best Features of the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock
1. No major sag. There is no way I can sleep more than an hour on a sunny day in a traditional cocooning, banana-type hammock. With the Blue Ridge, you get some inevitable sag, but it felt like the right amount. You can sleep on your side and you can sleep on your back and feel good about it (stomach sleepers will always have a hard time with any hammock). One great tactic to give you an even more stable bed is to pair the hammock with a good inflatable pad, which can also help you retain body heat on colder nights.
2. Easy to set up, easy take down. Easy to stow. Did I say easy?
3. Full-coverage rain fly. The included fly covers the entire hammock, velcros to the bottom, and extends past the ends, keeping all rain out. At the base of Mount St. Helens, the weather was rainy the entire night I spent in the Blue Ridge on this trip, and I was 100% dry in the morning.
4. The arched pole system gives you ample room to sit up.
5. Built-in netting. The no-see-um netting is perfect for a bug-free night of stargazing and sleeping.
6. Great build quality. The hammock is stitched well and solidly built. I had no fear of the stitching tearing out.
7. Easy in, easy out. If you have to take a pee break in the middle of the night, you an get out groggy and get back in groggy. Simply sit up, rotate feet over the side, and stand up. Reverse the process to get back in.
Blue Ridge Camping Hammock Cons
I think a couple add-ons would make the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock perfect.
1. Would be better with tree straps. The hammock doesn’t come with tree straps. You have to buy some separately. I recommend cinching straps like the Hammock Bliss Deluxe Cinching Tree Straps or at least something you can also use to adjust tension. I used rope my first night because I didn’t open the tent before trying it out (rookie mistake) and ended up with a lot of stretch in the rope. If you don’t end up getting tree straps like I did, plan on setting this up and spend some time inside of it to stretch the ropes before you call it a night.
2. O-rings made out of rope. The hammock uses two blue-colored O-ring-shaped bits of rope that ties the hammock ropes together. It works, but it just doesn’t look that tough, and I suspect that over time, it might wear through. I replaced mine with a couple of strong, lightweight carabiners.
3. Twist when not in use. When pitching the hammock, you can get a little twist in it that will make it want to flop sideways when you’re not inside of it and putting tension on the whole system. It doesn’t affect its usage, and there’s just some issues with balance and rope tension here, but it looks stupid when your nice and inviting hammock is hanging sideways while you’re standing around your campfire. Tree straps and carabiners help reduce this twisting/tensioning problem, but recommend that you plan on using some paracord or a bungie cord to hold it in alignment when not in use — especially if you’re going to be out and about and it starts raining.
All-in-all, I’m a fan of the Blue Ridge Camping Hammock — I won’t be going back to traditional tent camping any time soon. And if I’m going into the backcountry, I’m confident that the versatility and comfort more than offset the extra pound you might save over a standard backpacking bivy or 1-man tent.