User Review: Warbonnet Blackbird Double Layer 1.7
Price Paid: $100
I had always been interested in trying out the world of hammocks, and I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy one. I was able to score a cosmetic blemish hammock for a bit less than the normal retail price. Using a hammock has proved to be one of the best decisions i have ever made. Using a hammock does involve a fairly steep learning curve to properly be able to hang your hammock and use the appropiate insulation to have maximum comfort. My hammock and tarp setup has proven to be a very versatile combination for backpacking. I am able to sleep through the night in extreme comfort compared to when i used to sleep on a pad on the ground. Using a hammock expands many camping options because they do not require flat ground for setup.
- fast and easy setup
- extremely comfortable
- ability to setup on uneven terrain or over other debris and obstacles
- ability to forgo a sleeping pad/under insulation in summer months (dependent on temps/location)
- use as a camp chair
- easy to setup on the trail during rest breaks
- no designated location to put your pack like with a tent vestibule
- not as much room as a tent interior(depending on the tarp you use)
- single person only
Warbonnet Outdoors, Blackbird 1.7 Double Layer Hammock
Weight Capacity: 375lbs
Suspension: Adjustable webbing
The Warbonnet Blackbird is made with top of the line materials and is made right here in the USA by a 'cottage industry' (Warbonnet Outdoors) in Colorado. Other than a cosmetic blemish in the bug netting of my hammock there are no other faults with craftsmanship (I purposefully purchased a cosmetically blemished product due to the price reduction).
The hammock is made of a double layer of 1.7 uncoated nylon, and is 65" x 120", and is stated to be comfortable up to a user height of 6'8".
The Blackbird is a mosquito hammock and has a noseeum netting over the entire upper portion of the hammock that is supported by the Amsteel 100" hammock structural ridgeline. This netting can be closed entirely with a full length zipper than attaches the free end of the netting to the body of the hammock. Or if you do not wish to use the netting it can be put back over the ridgeline so that it is out of the way.
The Blackbird also has a 'shelf' on the right hand side which is composed of a roughly 2sqft area of extra material which is handy for placing those esentials that you want to have nearby. The shelf has a tie out attached so that you can maximize the space and make it a bit more sturdy (I rarely use the tie out as I only keep a few small items in the shelf typically).
There is also a tie out on the left hand side of the hammock which is also optional but helps hold the mosquito netting off of you while in the hammock when the netting is zipped closed.
This version of the Blackbird has a double layer design for the body of the hammock which allows a sleeping pad to be placed between the layers for under insulation.
Overall I am very pleased with the design and construction of the Blackbird hammock. It is a very well thought out design, and has all of the features you could ever want without any needless gimmicky items found on some other hammocks.
I chose the Adjustable webbing suspension system. The adjustable webbing adds a little more weight, but the ease of setup and adjustability are worth the weight penalty to me. The webbing is run through a cinch buckle on each end of the hammock.
To setup the hammock is a very simple process, you take the webbing on one end and pass it around a tree and clip it back onto itself with a carabiner and repeat with the other end. Setup and adjustment of the hammock for me takes less than 1 minute typically (the first few times I set it up it took me 10+ minutes to find what angle etc was right for me comfort wise).
Field use and thoughts:
I have had the Blackbird now for about a year and a half, and have used it from late summer 2010 to present (Winter 2011). After I learned how to properly set up the hammock to always get about a 30 degree angle of sag on each end I have slept in blissful comfort every night I have used it. The hammock to me has been extremely more comfortable than any tent setup ever was.
I have used the hammock on many over night trips, and many multi-day trips thus far, and many more nights at home in my backyard. I have spent about 75 nights on the trail, and about 100 nights at home in the Blackbird. I combine the hammock with a Superfly Tarp (also from Warbonnet that I will review later).
I have been through almost any kind of weather you can think of with this setup and have yet to find any condition where my comfort was compromised in any way. With a properly rigged tarp I have always managed to stay warm and dry.
I have found that as long as the air temperature is above 65F or so that I do not need any insulation under me. For temps below 65F I needed some kind of under insulation. I started off by using a Therm-a-rest ProLite 4 pad, and continued to experiment with using a ccf pad, and also a NeoAir pad with much success.
Of all of the pad options I found a partially inflated NeoAir was the most comfortable option. I used pads through the winter of 2010 and was able to comfortably sleep at -10F using a NeoAir pad and a ccf pad, and a 15F sleeping bad with liner and some clothing layers. The double layer design of the blackbird was excellent at containing the pads and preventing them from sliding around in the hammock.
I have since delved into underquilts (which i will also review later) which is basically half of a sleeping bag suspended under the hammock as the under insulation.
I found that I had a literal palace of room under my tarp to sit in my hammock as a chair and relax during bad weather or just in general. I routinely rigged my tarp in a porch mode so that one side is elevated providing a nice view while still providing protection. The hammock has proved to be the best camp chair ever. During the summer months I do not use any under insulation and really enjoy the cool feeling on my back when sleeping in the hammock.
Setup of the hammock has proven to always be fast and easy. The longest part of the setup process is finding a set of suitable trees with no widow makers nearby. Ideally I would find two trees anywhere from 10-15ft apart. I have never had trouble finding a set of suitable trees and the longest I have ever had to look was about 10-15 minutes.
There is no need to find flat level ground or an area free of debris or rocks. I routinely set up on uneven or downright steep terrain and can set up directly over under brush, rock etc if needed. Though, I can usually find a suitable relatively flat and brush free area just as easy in most locations.
I am thoroughly happy with my Blackbird hammock and really wish I would have taken the plunge earlier. I sleep better in my hammock than I do at home in my bed. I strongly recommend if your thinking about trying out hammocks to do so, you may be pleasantly surprised.