Hammocking has always intrigued me, and no more so than the Lawson Hammock. I had met with them at the 2015 Summer ORShow, but didn’t connect again to work together until UintasHike16, when they provided Josh (Raw Trails) and I hammocks to test out.
The immediate difference between a Lawson Hammock and others is that the Lawson has an integrated bug netting system and also features spreader bars, similar to what you might see on a backyard hammock. These bars make the Lawson keep its shape, making it wider and more flat than other hammocks. Shock-corded poles keep the netting off one’s face, and a rainfly allows for foul-weather comfort.
The first night, I found a beautiful little grove of trees right besides a stream, a perfect place to spend the night with the white noise of the water rushing by. Deployment of the hammock is simple – snap the spreader bars to gather to form the hammocks “floor,” then hang the rig between two trees, using tree straps and carabiners (not included). Insert the shock-corded poles into the sleeves, and use attached bungee cords to adjust tension as preferred. The rainfly goes over the entire thing, attaching with hooks and bungee cords – we were expecting rain, so I attached the rainfly, leaving a corner exposed, then easily drew it down for full coverage when the rain started. No issues with leaks or condensation – this is a great set up.
The second night we lucked into an idyllic campsite next to a lake, making it an ideal opportunity to test out the Lawson as a ground tent. Set-up is similar to the hanging of the hammock, replacing the tree straps and carabiners with two tent stakes (not included). After the quick and easy set up, I was sold on this as a ground tent. One caveat: since the floor is designed to sag a bit while hung as a hammock (which makes the netting airy and roomy), the lack of sag means that this tunnel tent has minimal headroom when set up as a tent. I’m used to sleeping in a tunnel tent, so this was no problem for me, but people with space issues might feel confined. I did not need the rainfly the second night, so keeping the corner open allowed for a well-ventilated night’s sleep.
Cons: At over 4 pounds, this is not a lightweight shelter to carry – this is mitigated by its all-in-one design and availability for use as a tent. Even though this covers most of the bases in its design, the lack of tree straps, carabiners, and ground stakes in the kit seems a bit of an oversight.
Overall impressions: I really thought the design, ease of set-up, and subsequent performance were top-notch. If you think that you want to try hammock camping, this is a great product to start with, as it allows for comfortable entry into that world, while also giving one the option to use as a tent. At $170 MSRP, this is fairly priced for essentially 2 pieces of gear, a hammock and a tent.
*This product was provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.