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View Full Discussion I recommend this book by a longtime hammock forum contributor and illustrator:
Continuing the discussion below ( https://www.massdrop.com/buy/lawson-hammock-blue-ridge-tent-hammock/talk/1670573 ), this book has a mention of the very hammock in this drop. I have the first edition of the book in Kindle form:
Note that he says that spreader-bar camping hammocks exist, not that they are any good. Read the rest of the book for more details.
This is an area where you cannot trust your gut intuition. You might think that more complicated "flat" hammocks are better, but normal gathered-end hammocks are flatter than "flat" hammocks. There is some graduate-level topology involved, but for non-math majors, when you lie at the right angle in the right length gathered-end hammock with ropes at the optimum angle to level, you are absolutely, positively flat. By adjusting things, you can also get any non-flat parabolic curve you want, if that is your preference.
There is no way on earth that you can get a spreader-bar hammock or a bridge hammock absolutely flat, even if it is made out of Kevlar and you use steel cables and a winch on trees that are three feet in diameter. It's a simple question of physics and materials science. It's possible that some people do not want to be flat. A previous commenter's nick is @Fatguy, and he said that he can "sleep on [his] belly" in a bridge hammock. Maybe for people with ample bellies who sleep face down, non-flat is better. I sleep on my side or back.
Again, I recommend the book. The author and the forum participants whose knowledge is contained therein cover every question you might have.
Thank you for contributing. You are correct, you'll never get it absolutely flat and that's the case with any hammock, even when laying diagonal in a gathered end hammock. However, the Lawson does lay very flat and there is room to lay at an angle as well if that's desirable. Most side sleepers love it and find it much more comfortable than a gathered end.
I highly recommend Derek's book, The Ultimate Hang as well and the updated version is great. I've communicated with Derek multiple times and he's extremely knowledgeable with everything having to do with "hammocking." He actually reviewed our hammock awhile back and made a clear distinctions between our hammock and typical "spreader bar" hammocks. See excerpt below and full review is on his site. Thanks again. Wes (owner Lawson Hammock)
From Derek Hansen's review:
The Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is Different
On the surface, the Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock appears structurally similar to a modern woven spreader bar hammock. Yes, the Lawson uses spreader bars, but the similarity stops there.First, the spreader bars on a Lawson are short—they do not extend the entire width of the hammock body. This is an important distinction because it plays into the way the fabric interacts with the bar, the tautness of the fabric, and the lay.The fabric at the end of the hammock is also gathered and pleated, creating a pocket that helps lower the center of gravity further.In addition, the Lawson doesn’t suffer from the sometime extreme tippiness from modern rope hammocks. What really spreads the fabric apart in the Lawson isn’t the bars, it is the tent poles used to open up the bug netting. The poles have some flexibility, so there is some “play” in the lay of the hammock.I literally took the Lawson apart and rebuilt it numerous times, and worked with different hang angles and other options. What I found is when the Lawson is hung with a typical 20 to 30-degree angle on the suspension lines, it acts much like any Brazilian-style hammock in terms of overall lay, comfort, and stability.When empty, the Lawson hammock appears to hang with a tight pitch, but appearances are deceptive.The spreader bars on the Lawson achieve what some are finding with mini spreader bars on gathered-end hammocks: the elimination of bunched up fabric that can cause a ridge running under your legs, contributing to calf strain and hyperextension.The Lawson hammock can be a little tippy based on how you pitch it, but overall I find it a viable competitor in the all-in-one camping hammock category.