Very, very interesting thread, Catavarie! And seems to be confirming some experiences I have had and posted about, though I don't think I had yet thought " Hmmm, could a smaller hammock be better?".
First your thought on Big Red and " it is so wide that I can go completely to one side of it without much maneuvering": how often I have posted the same thought about the HH Safari! When I stay far enough to one side, the ridge hits me mid thigh where it is of no consequence. It can't seem to put pressure on a nerve as happens with some other hammocks causing calf pressure. I think yours is the 1st other post I've read stating a similar opinion, though about another hammock.
Another hammock with mostly no calf pressure problems has been my Claytor No Net. It is not all that long at 10 ft, but is also my most narrow hammock at 48". As well as my best hammock with a Pea Pod. I have always meant to try the shorter Claytor model, both for comfort and pod use, but have not yet done so.
Finally, my old Speer 8.5 ( probably actually a 9 footer the way most folks measure) is my shortest hammock though wider than the Claytor. And I am always surprised that it consistently equals or exceeds any non-bridge I have tried for lack of leg ridge misery. It is not my favorite hammock overall, because I might have some slight knee hyper-extension ( way easier to deal with than calf pressure )and side sleeping with my legs straight is not so great ( fetal is fine ). But otherwise very comfy, and a match for any in the calf pressure wars.
So, what's up with these short or shorter hammocks?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.