Review: Blackbird Hammock from Warbonnet Outdoors

Aug 22, 2014 View Comments by

Review: Blackbird Hammock from Warbonnet OutdoorsHammocks can be great for camping, particularly if one is a motorcyclist traveling alone. They tend to be much smaller and lighter than tents, so they save valuable space on storage-challenged bikes. They’re usually easier to set up and leave more time to enjoy the outdoor experience (with less frustration to boot). Hammocks also have the potential to be much more comfortable than sleeping in a tent, and often they cost less too.

Review: Blackbird Hammock from Warbonnet OutdoorsI recently tested Warbonnet Outdoors’ Blackbird hammock and came away very impressed. The hammock itself is compact (about the size of a loaf of bread when stored in its stuff sack), and it weighs a little more than two pounds. To set up the hammock, first find two sturdy trees between 13 and 20 feet apart. The included webbing (a fancy name for straps) and buckle suspension attach to a carabineer (not included) at each end. Simply loop the strap around the tree and hook the carabineer back around the strap. The webbing should form a 25-to-30-degree angle with the tree. Once both ends are attached to the trees, simply adjust the straps until the hammock is at an optimal height and the ridgeline is parallel to the ground. Next, pound in a couple of stakes (not included) five feet or so off to each side and attach the side guidelines. The guidelines serve to expand the hammock laterally and make it roomier inside. Once the guides are in place, that’s it. You’re all set up. The first time I set up the hammock it took me less than 10 minutes. As soon as you’re familiar with it, the Blackbird will go up in five minutes or fewer.

Once the songs have been sung, the fire is flickering out, and the time has come to turn in for the night, the Blackbird becomes your own personal cocoon in the woods. The hammock is completely enclosed by a zippered mosquito net that keeps out all unwanted critters. There’s plenty of room inside, and there’s even a shelf that, at about two square feet, is perfect for a pair of shoes, some clothes, or other sundry items (just don’t keep snacks around unless you want a visit from a bear). The Blackbird version I tested, the double layer 1.7, is constructed of two layers of 70D Nylon and has a load capacity of 400 pounds (there’s also a single layer version). Warbonnet says the Blackbird is designed for someone up to 6-feet tall, but at 5-foot-11, I can’t imagine needing any more room even if I were six inches taller. Still, Warbonnet offers an XLC version to fit users up to 7-feet tall!

There are two drawbacks to hammock camping (that I can think of). The first and most obvious is that you’ve got far less room in a hammock. The second, and less obvious, is that hammocks can potentially be colder than tents because they allow airflow both over and under. However, much like a tent, your warmth will depend more on having a good sleeping bag than anything else. The flip side of that argument is that the hammock will generally be cooler on hot and muggy summer nights. I found the Blackbird to be far and away more comfortable than any tent I’ve ever slept in. I’ve never found it easy to sleep on hard ground, even with a pad, while the comfort of the Blackbird is comparable to my bed at home.

One thing to note is that the Blackbird does not come with a rain fly, though Warbonnet does sell them separately. I do consider this an essential upgrade in order for the hammock to replace a tent because rain and wind are an inevitable part of camping. By itself, the Blackbird retails for a relatively affordable $175, however, adding a tarp ($110) considerably hurts the bottom line. Even at a total just shy of $300, the Blackbird is still priced competitively with other hammocks and most tents as well. Dollar signs aside, the Blackbird offers outstanding comfort and utility in a package that’s easy to fit on a motorcycle, which makes it a compelling option for those on the trail.

Warbonnet Outdoors Blackbird 
Hammock (Double Layer 1.7)
Hammock: $175
Tarp (various models available): $110
www.warbonnetoutdoors.com

 

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About the author

There’s something relentlessly romantic about riding a motorcycle. I’m blessed to know that feeling. With a background in photography and a love for motorcycles, I’m interested in the beauty and honesty of the open road. You’ll find me riding Carolina’s roads on my Suzuki SV650.