Hammock Comparo: Warbonnet Blackbird/Conclusion

Just hanging out with the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Just hanging out with the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

For the last two days, we’ve been checking out camping hammocks. Today is the last installment in the comparo.

Warbonnet Blackbird

For many serious hammock geeks, Warbonnet hammocks are the top of the line. It’s easy to see why – they’re made in the USA, and they’re put together with a fair bit of thought.

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For instance, when you get inside the Blackbird 1.7 hammock (the one they shipped to me), there’s not just a little mesh pocket to stow a few belongings – there’s a gear shelf on the side of the hammock, which works very well for a whole host of small-to-medium items.

The Blackbird is a gathered-end hammock, like the Hennessy, but the adjustable strap system they sent me is much easier to set up (buyers can pick and choose between an adjustable strap suspension, or a line suspension). Although I hadn’t used it in a couple months, when I camped out at the CSBK races at Shubenacadie, I had it out of the saddlebags and hanging in the trees in barely any time at all, and that was in the dark.

The gathered-end design puts you in the same basic sleeping position you get from the Hennessy; your butt slides to the lowest spot in the hammock, your feet rest in an elevated position in one end, and your back, shoulders, neck and head are supported by the other end of the hammock. It’s extremely comfortable, especially if you get a very light breeze blowing that sways the hammock back and forth.

The hammock has almost a manta shape when viewed from overhead. The entry zipper runs the full length of the hammock.  You enter by first placing your backside in the hammock, then swinging your feet in. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
The hammock has almost a manta shape when viewed from overhead. The entry zipper runs the full length of the hammock. You enter by first placing your backside in the hammock, then swinging your feet in. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Like the Hennessy, the absence of frame means it’s light (around three lbs) and easy to pack. It comes with its own stuff sack that’s open in both ends, meaning you can easily hang the hammock, like the Hennessy, without dropping it on the ground. It’s likely a little easier to use than the Hennessy’s Snake Skins, and in my opinion, much easier to store.

The view from inside the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
The view from inside the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Also like the Hennessy, you can use the Warbonnet hammock as a ground-based tent, but also like the Hennessy, I’d advise against it, unless it’s unavoidable. You should use a ground cloth underneath it when using it on terra firma, as the fabric itself isn’t waterproof, and this is also a good way to put a hole in it.

The Blackbird is going to cost you more than either the Hennessy or the Lawson hammocks, by the time you tally up the total; the hammock itself doesn’t come with a waterproof cover, as the other two do. You have to buy it as an accessory, and they cost from $85 on up.

There are other options; I mixed-and-matched a Hennessy tarp with the Blackbird, with no issues, and some users even make their own. If weight/space wasn’t a concern, you could even use a standard tarp from Wal-Mart.

There are two tie-outs on the hammock, one on each side. They make the hammock more comfortable, but they’re not necessary to use.

The Blackbird packs handily into an open-ended stuff sack Warbonnet includes with the purchase. The helmet is shown next to it, for scale. This shelter packs up very small - you could likely take it on a tank bag, if you had to. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
The Blackbird packs handily into an open-ended stuff sack Warbonnet includes with the purchase. The helmet is shown next to it, for scale. This shelter packs up very small – you could likely take it on a tank bag, if you had to. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Warbonnet also has a fairly wide selection of other accessories available for the Blackbird, including underquilts and topquilts. These blankets are made to replace your sleeping bag, and cut windchill. They’re not cheap, but they’re lightweight and if you want to camp in a hammock in all seasons, probably necessary.

Conclusion

Instead of a sleeping bag, users will likely want to purchase an underquilt for cold weather. Photo: Black Scout Survival
Instead of a sleeping bag, users will likely want to purchase an underquilt for cold weather. Photo: Black Scout Survival

If I had to make a choice between all three hammocks, it would come down to criteria: If I wanted an affordable, basic hammock that still offered a fair bit of versatility, and only planned on light usage, I’d go with the Lawson.

However, if I was planning to take a hammock on a longer trip, I’d have to choose very carefully between the Hennessy and the Warbonnet. I suspect the Warbonnet Blackbird has slightly better accessories available than the Hennessy hammocks, which could go a long way towards keeping you comfortable in the forests of BC or the jungles of Brazil.

The Hennessy’s accessories are aimed at solving the same issues (warmth, weatherproofing), and some of them are a little less expensive. However, it seems some of the Blackbird’s accessories (underquilt) would be a little more packable than the Hennessy’s (reflective thermal pad).

Want to camp on the side of a railway enbankment, with a view of a river? No problem. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Want to camp on the side of a railway enbankment, with a view of a river? No problem. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Some users would obviously prefer a product from a Canadian-based company (Hennessy), but others would want made-in-America quality, so that’s a wash as well.

The Blackbird's straps are very easy to set up. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
The Blackbird’s straps are very easy to set up. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Ultimately, I think if a user carefully examined their usage criteria and the amount of packing space they budgeted for their hammock, they could be happy with either the Warbonnet or the Hennessy. The cost difference might seem a bit steep at first, but over the hammock’s life, the amount of money you’d save on accommodations would make it worth it in either case.

For me, though, if I’m headed out on a trip, I prefer to pack the Warbonnet, for its ease of use.


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

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Instead of a sleeping bag, users will likely want to purchase an underquilt for cold weather. Photo: Black Scout Survival

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The view from inside the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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You enter from the side of the hammock, just like the other two I tested. Photo: Warbonnet/YouTube

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The Blackbird packs handily into an open-ended stuff sack Warbonnet includes with the purchase. The helmet is shown next to it, for scale. This shelter packs up very small - you could likely take it on a tank bag, if you had to. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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Want to camp on the side of a railway enbankment, with a view of a river? No problem. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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The Blackbird's straps are very easy to set up. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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There are a few different tarps available for the Blackbird. They didn't send me one, so I used one from my Hennessy hammock. Photo: Black Scout Survival

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The Blackbird's colour means it works well as a stealth camping option. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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Just hanging out with the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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The hammock has almost a manta shape when viewed from overhead. The entry zipper runs the full length of the hammock. You enter by first placing your backside in the hammock, then swinging your feet in. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Instead of a sleeping bag, users will likely want to purchase an underquilt for cold weather. Photo: Black Scout SurvivalThe view from inside the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac KurylykYou enter from the side of the hammock, just like the other two I tested. Photo: Warbonnet/YouTubeThe Blackbird packs handily into an open-ended stuff sack Warbonnet includes with the purchase. The helmet is shown next to it, for scale. This shelter packs up very small - you could likely take it on a tank bag, if you had to. Photo: Zac KurylykWant to camp on the side of a railway enbankment, with a view of a river? No problem. Photo: Zac KurylykThe Blackbird's straps are very easy to set up. Photo: Zac KurylykThere are a few different tarps available for the Blackbird. They didn't send me one, so I used one from my Hennessy hammock. Photo: Black Scout SurvivalThe Blackbird's colour means it works well as a stealth camping option. Photo: Zac KurylykJust hanging out with the Warbonnet Blackbird. Photo: Zac KurylykThe hammock has almost a manta shape when viewed from overhead. The entry zipper runs the full length of the hammock.  You enter by first placing your backside in the hammock, then swinging your feet in. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

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