The Warbonnet Blackbird is not just a hammock; it’s fast becoming my favorite portable shelter. (More about emergency shelters). I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have lots of experience with hammocks, aside from the kind that hangs in the sand pit next to my herb garden. But when I discovered that a lot of people use hammocks for camping and hiking, I was intrigued, and it didn’t take me long to see the merits. After several weeks of careful research, I ordered the Blackbird 1.7 Double-Layer made by Warbonnet Outdoors.
Watch the video showing how to set it up and take it down:
Summary of Warbonnet Blackbird 1.7 Double Layer hammock features
- rated for 400 lbs
- bugnet included — two zippers on one side, so you can open it to both ends
- breathable ripstop nylon — the tarp is silicone-impregnated, but the hammock is not; keeps you cool in the heat
- 2 square foot shelf on one side — keep your flashlight, wallet, and book very handy
- side tie-outs to expand the interior — you don’t have to use them, but it’s nice to open up the interior a little
- ingenious “foot-box” for extra comfort — a diagonal lie lets you sleep flatter, and the foot box keeps your feet from getting cramped; mine is unbelievably comfortable
- adjustable webbing straps are easy to set up — simple buckles make it super easy to set up and take down
Review of the Warbonnet Blackbird hammock
In hammock-camping circles, this hammock is called the WBBB, at least in writing. I researched at least half a dozen hammock makers before ordering this one. I ordered it with a Superfly tarp, adjustable webbing straps, a couple of carabiners rated for 1100 lbs, and some bright yellow line so I don’t trip over the tarp tie-outs. The total including shipping was US $346.00. I’ll show you the tarp in a future article — I’m still learning how to tie it out properly.
The Blackbird I ordered is a 1.7 double-layer. “1.7″ means the material weighs 1.7 oz. per square yard. This hammock is also available in a lighter material, 1.1 oz per yard, and both are available in single-layer builds as well. The one you see in the video is by far the heaviest they offer, and it still comes in at only 2.5 pounds (not counting the tarp). If you’re an ultralight or competition hiker, you’ll want something half that weight or less, but I’m not, and you probably aren’t either.
I bought this model for a couple of reasons: 1. I wanted to test it with both my wife and me in the one hammock without exceeding the weight rating (more on this in a moment), and 2. maximum bug protection. I read about people getting mosquito bites through the material, and I’m hoping two layers will deter them without needing a chemical spray. We’ll see.
A note about cold weather: You can’t just take your sleeping bag. The insulation will be compressed under your back, and then there’s nothing but cold air under you (instead of a mattress). People who use hammocks have invented sleeping bags that go on the underside of the hammock to keep you warm. I’ll show you more about this in the future.
Watch the video to get an idea of how you lie in the hammock. My wife and I lay in it together, and while it was doable, it is not the most comfortable option. We made it work by staggering our position in the hammock — she lay a bit closer to the head, and I slid down a bit to the foot, such that my head rested at about the level of her chest. We had room enough to wriggle into a fairly comfortable sleeping position, but it would definitely take some getting used to.
I haven’t bought any other hammocks yet, nor seen them in person, so I can’t do a thorough comparison. All I can do is tell you what I learned in my online reading and video research. I chose this one as my first hammock because it offered the right features at the right price. You can find cheaper hammocks, but I liked the overall combination of features offered in the Blackbird.
And another thing: I knew if I wanted to resell it, I’d have no trouble doing so at Hammock Forums. Of course, this is true of any hammocking gear, which takes out a good bit of the stress of pulling the trigger on some of this high-dollar equipment. They have a ridiculously active For Sale forum. I’ve seen used hammocks sell one minute after being posted, and I’ve rarely seen a good deal last an hour. Hammock people tend to hang together, and the Hammock Forums are a particularly well-run online community. They are exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge, and I learned very much very fast during my research. To get a glimpse of what I’m talking about, check out their DIY forum: I have seen manufacturers offer helpful hints to people who were reverse-engineering their hammocks for a garage project!
List of hammock makers
This list is certainly incomplete, but it includes the ones I researched:
- Clark Jungle Hammocks
- Hennessy Hammocks
- Speer Hammocks
- Eagles Nest Outfitters