The initial setup below follows these directions, which were included with the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock. A few comments are added for clarification.
Updated April 2016
*many of the links will take you to a trusted retail site where you will find additional product info and can purchase the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock, if you like.
Hammock projects you might like:
- How to make an Insultex Hammock UnderQuilt (UQ)
- How to make a Hammock UnderQuilt (UQ) from a poncho liner
- How to make a No-Sew Hammock UnderQuilt (UQ) from a poncho liner
- How to make a camping hammock tarp
- How to make a DIY camping hammock
Setting up the Lawson Hammock Blue Ridge Camping Hammock for the first time:
1) Assemble the spreader bars. There is one at each end of the hammock body.
The next 3 pictures show one of the spreader bars split as it was for storage, spread out to assemble, and assembled. Do you see the assembly error in the last picture?
One of the end ropes was wrapped around the spreader rod. It was easy to separate the 2 rod sections, unwrap the rope, and reconnect the rod sections
Repeat spreader bar assembly for the other end of the hammock just like the first one.
2) Attach rope to ends of hammock and hang the hammock between 2 anchor points 3-4′ above the ground. I had a couple of bundles of 7/64″ Amsteel in the Gear Report Lab. So, I attached one to each end of the hammock via a bowline loop and a quick Larks Head knot around the suspension connection loop on the hammock.
The teal rope loop is what Lawson provides as the attachment point for the end user to attach their preferred hammock suspension. Honestly, it looks like the really cheap rope that they sell at chain stores with the warning “not intended to support body weight” or “not for climbing” on the package. It may be plenty strong, but I will change out my loops for Amsteel because it is lighter and I KNOW it is PLENTY strong.
One thing I’ve learned about various types of hammocks is that how you hang it makes a HUGE difference in how it feels when you are in it.
- String a hammock too tight and the fabric won’t give enough, so it will create uncomfortable pressure on some contact points on your body.
- String a hammock too loose and you fold in half like a taco shell when you try to lay on it.
Through trial and error I’ve found that most hammocks do best when hung with about a 20-30 degree angle on the suspension lines. However, the instructions for the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock only say “Tie 3-4′ off ground, keeping rope & hammock taught.”
I think there is a big opportunity for some editing to the directions to help Lawson hammock owners set up the hammock with enough sag that the suspension lines hang about 20-30 degrees below horizontal. For more info on how to hang a hammock at the correct angle click here.
The directions could also describe what characteristics to look for in the suspension ropes, since they are not provided. I have seen people use rope that stretches too much which makes adjusting for the correct hang angle very difficult, and also seen rope used that is not sufficiently strong for the application. I also think that the reference to hanging the hammock without tree protectors/tree straps/tree huggers should be removed. As a Leave No Trace supporting company, I would expect Lawson to only direct people how to hang a hammock so that it doesn’t harm the trees… which requires use of tree straps.
Following the directions I hung the hammock “taught”. Notice the tree hugger straps I added to protect the trees. Click here to see how to make tree straps. 🙂
3) Install the arch poles
Here are the shock corded arch poles as they are stored in a bag that is rolled up inside the hammock when stored
To install, you feed each arch pole through a pocket that goes from one corner of the hammock to the opposite corner on that end of the hammock. Each end of the arch pole has a fitting that slides into a grommet in a nylon strap at each corner to hold it
Here is the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock with one arch loop installed
When installing the arch pole at the other end of the hammock I realized that I could start one end, then simple flip the hammock along it’s long axis to get to connect the other side without having to walk around to the other side of the hammock.
In this case, it was important to NOT walk around to the other side of the hammock to connect the 2nd arch pole because there was a “land mine” lurking near that corner and I didn’t care to risk stepping in it. And yes, that is dog poo.
Once the arches are secured you find the little tiny bungee cord loop that is woven into the very end of the hammock ropes and attach the clip to the arch poles at the very top. While the clip works, it seems like a pretty big chunk of plastic for this application. I was surprised a smaller clip wasn’t used.
4) Install the included tarp or “rainfly” over the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock
Next you wrap the corners of the tarp around the black hammock end ropes and clip the bungees to the appropriate rope from underneath. You can see in this picture that the clip near the left end of the spreader bar is clipped over the second rope from the left. In the picture below, I suspect that this is too loose and that it clipping to a rope closer to the center of the hammock may be required. It might even be possible to pull both corners of the tarp close enough underneath to attach one corner’s clip to the bungee of the other corner, making the second clip redundant.
Each corner of the Lawson Hammock has a spreader bar end sticking out. The tarp has a loop of bungee cord attached near each corner, so you simply stretch the bungee loop of the tarp over the spreader bar end on the hammock. The Boy Scout in me cringed when I saw the way the bungee was tied. I promptly untied it and retied with a proper square knot. (picture is of the incorrectly tied square knot before it was retied)
The final tarp setup instructions were to attach the velcro patches on the tarp to the matching patches on the bottom of the hammock. I found that the velcro only stayed attached until I unzipped the hammock to get in.
And that was it. As far as camping hammocks go, the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock was relatively quick and easy to set up for the first time. The most time intensive part was trying to find rope to make the suspension. Then, since we didn’t have any spare whoopie slings in the Gear Report Lab, trying to attach the slick amsteel suspension lines to the tree huggers without tying a knot that would permanently kink and weaken the rope took too long. I was surprised that the Lawson hammock did not have any sort of suspension ropes at all.
Once the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock setup was complete a quick test showed that it was hung too tight. Too tight makes it really tippy. Loosening it a bit made it MUCH more stable and MUCH more comfortable.
After the initial setup photo session the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock was moved to one of our indoor hammock hang locations in the Gear Report lab for further inspection, measurements and testing. Look for more reports as we get the Lawson out of the Lab and into the woods.