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Hands-on Gear Review
Warbonnet Blackbird Review
Cons: Carabiners and stakes not included, bug net is not removable, can take time to find the "sweet spot"
Bottom line: The Blackbird is an amazing design that will give you a superior hanging experience in all kinds of weather and terrain.
The Warbonnet Blackbird successfully defends its title and is our Editors' Choice winner once again! If you want more than just a simple backpacking hammock, something that offers extra comfort and a truly innovative design, this is the model for you. The Blackbird boasts a number of features that make it a stellar all-around choice, such as a storage shelf, integrated bug net, and an innovative footbox area. On top of that, setup and adjustments are simple and comfort is A+.
Whether in a campground or out in the backcountry, this model is a winner. Available from Warbonnet Outdoors with two different fabric weights and single or double layer construction, you can choose the perfect combination for your needs.
This time around, we tested the Blackbird with a couple of accessories, the Mambajamba Tarp and the Yeti Underquilt. While this entire package isn't cheap, it sets you up for practically any terrain or weather report. Get camping and hanging in comfort and style with this amazing ensemble.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
No hammock we reviewed slept as well or was as heavily loaded with useful features as our Editors' Choice winner, the Warbonnet Blackbird. From an integrated footbox to a side shelf/storage area, this innovative hammock has everything needed to transform a dull tent camping experience into an amazing hang under the stars.
Generally, the best and most comfortable way to sleep in a hammock is diagonally, and while a handful of products on the market come with an asymmetrical design to create more space for this, the Blackbird is the only one reviewed that also comes with a footbox. This feature allows the user to fully use the extra fabric in the foot area and extend the body without restriction from the bug netting, resulting in maximum leg room. We found the best angle to sleep in it was with the feet slightly raised, which is also what the manufacturer recommends. The design of the suspension system allows for quick and easy adjustments, making it a breeze to achieve this perfect angle.
Another reason the Blackbird has so much available interior space is that on either side of the head-end there are elastic guylines to pull the netting away from the face. Additionally, there is a storage shelf near the head that measures roughly two-feet square, a great feature that allows a book, jacket, or shoes to be tucked out of the way but still inside the hammock with you.
Comfort was our most heavily weighted rating metric, and we found that no other hammock slept as comfortably as the Blackbird. So it's no wonder this hammock easily won the Editors' Choice Award yet again.
The only other models we rated as favorably for comfort, but for different reasons, were the ENO Reactor and the Warbonnet Ridgerunner. The Reactor has an incredibly soft double layer of fabric and the Ridgerunner is the only model we tested with spreader bars to create more of a cot shape and allow for easier side sleeping and even stomach sleeping. The least comfortable models tested were some of the ultralight models, like the Grand Trunk Nano 7. While fantastic for saving pack weight, the minimalist design doesn't equate to as much comfort.
While the Blackbird beats the competition in most categories, it is not the lightest hammock reviewed. However, when you consider that it comes with an attached bug net, that changes the perspective a bit. At 20 ounces for the 1.1oz/30D fabric model, it's a competitive weight. Warbonnet also offers thicker fabric (1.7oz/70D) and a double layer floor if you need more protection and a little added weight isn't an issue.
We tested the Blackbird with the Mambajamba Tarp that weighs 16.9 ounces and the Yeti Underquilt that is 12.6 ounces. The weight of the full package is 49.7 ounces, or just over three pounds. This is more in the range of a backpacking tent, and all three stuff sacks are rather bulky. However, reducing pack weight is not the only reason to camp in a hammock; the comfort and convenience of this model can definitely make up for its bulk. Do consider, however, that you will most likely also need a sleeping pad and sleeping bag if you plan to sleep out overnight.
Those looking to get the lightest hammock possible should check out the Grand Trunk Nano 7 at 7.5 ounces, or the ENO Sub7 at a mere 6.4 ounces. We tested the Sub7 as part of the ENO SubLink Shelter System that was our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility and weighs 44.6 ounces for hammock, tarp, bug net, and a stuff sack that converts into a pillow.
Ease of Setup
The suspension system included with the Blackbird is pretty novel and lightweight. It uses a simple girth-hitched webbing/buckle system rather than the more complicated system of the Hennessy models or the uncertainty of a model that does not come with suspension at all. The buckle system is quick to install and easy to adjust to the proper tension or tweak at any point. This really helped secure the Blackbird's second Editors' Choice win.
The integrated bug net ridgeline is also a much more user-friendly system than the separate pieces of the ENO SubLink Shelter System (which comes with the GuardianSL Bug Net). Additionally, the accessories we tested were also easy to set up, though the Mambajamba Tarp does require you to have your own additional cord to set up a ridgeline. The Yeti Underquilt simply has elastic loops on each end that fit over the gathered endpoints of the hammock.
The only disappointment for such a well-executed hammock package is the fact that the Blackbird does not include carabiners or stakes for the bug net guy lines. The guy lines can be secured creatively with sticks or around rocks if you forget to bring stakes, and the suspension could be rigged by pulling the webbing out of the buckles, passing it around the tree and through the end loop, and then re-threading the buckles (as opposed to simply clipping a carabiner from the end loop to the webbing). It would be nice if everything was included, even if that upped the price a little bit, but the fact that the system is usable right out of the bag is a big plus.
Unpacking and repacking the Warbonnet is a breeze. The included stuff sack is very generous in room, and because the material is so light, there is no excessive bulk. On top of that, Warbonnet is the only manufacturer of those we tested that provides a stuff sack that opens on both ends, functioning similarly to the SnakeSkin accessory from Hennessy. This allows you to open one side, get the suspension set up, and then open the other side while you walk across to your second anchor, making it that much easier to keep the hammock off the ground at all times.
One issue to pay attention to is the fact that the delicate guy lines for the main hammock body have a tendency to get tangled up. The manufacturer recommends zipping the lines on one side into the hammock interior before packing it away to help keep them separated.
All in all, especially considering the asymmetric design and feature-heaviness of this model, the Blackbird is quite easy to set up. It's not as easy as open models that simply clip into an anchor, like the ENO Doublenest or the Kammok Roo. However none of those models include a suspension system, which is something to be considered. We found the most complicated models to set up were both the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip and the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker Asym Zip. These models involve learning a tie-off system that, while quick and easy to do once you've learned it, takes a bit of practice and is not as easy to adjust later.
Durability and Protection
The Blackbird 1.1 Single Layer balances itself pretty ingeniously between lightweight materials and burly construction. The suspension system imparts confidence when looking at it and, while there was a moment of wondering if the thin fabric would hold us up, it never failed to impress. It's not nearly as burly as the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip or as insulated as the ENO Reactor, but it's also considerably more robust than an ultralight model, like the Sub7 or Nano 7.
The thin fabric does mean that extra care should be taken to not damage it, and the 1.1oz/30D weight with only a single layer means that you will feel a breeze if you're not insulated enough. However, with the addition of the luxurious Yeti Underquilt and the large Mambajamba Tarp, you are good to go in almost any weather. If you'd rather spend less money, you could consider upping your fabric choice to the 1.7oz/70D weight and adding a double layer instead of getting the down underquilt, which isn't cheap at $200 for the three-season model (the torso-length model that we tested) or $235 for the full-body winter version.
Protection from bugs and mosquitos in the Blackbird is ample without feeling claustrophobic, in no small part because of the guy lines that help hold the net out at the sides. Of note, though, is the fact that these lines are made of very thin material and connected to white shock cord, and while we successfully avoided tripping over them in midnight bathroom runs, we feel that reflective cord could be helpful to see them, as a hard kick could potentially snap the light material.
Suffice it to say, asymmetrical hammocks do not fit two people very well, nor does a permanent ridgeline running the length of a hammock make sitting perpendicular in it very easy. On top of that, lightweight fabric needs to be handled with a bit of care and attention. However, all of this aside, the Blackbird is very versatile in the right situations. The zippered bug net can be easily stowed away on the side when not needed for desert camping or star gazing, and the hammock can fit a multitude of rain fly options on the market (we tested ours with the Mambajamba Tarp, which is spacious, at 10 feet wide). We also tested the Yeti Underquilt, which allowed us to hang in much colder temperatures. But even without these awesome accessory additions, the Blackbird by itself can be a fantastic way to camp and sleep in the great outdoors. It can even be used as a bug bivy if you can't find anchors — just be sure to bring a ground cloth with you so as not to damage the bottom.
The only package we rated higher for versatility was the ENO SubLink Shelter System. The Sub7 hammock by itself was not nearly as comfortable or versatile, but when you combine it with the shelter system it allowed for the addition or absence of a tarp and bug net and a lighter total weight.
The Blackbird is an optimal hammock choice, offering comfort and efficiency for a plethora of outdoor adventures. It's high scores for versatility sealed the deal for the Editors' Choice Award. Whether you're laying around in your backyard, thru-hiking, or car camping, the Warbonnet Blackbird will serve you well and turn heads.
This is the go-to hammock for any camper or backpacker, as it is well-constructed, comfortable, relatively light weight, and loaded with features. It easily won our Editors' Choice Award for the second time as the best camping hammock.
With the upgrades we chose, at $485 this package is by far the most expensive of anything we tested. However, you can get the Blackbird 1.1 Single Layer by itself for $170. This is still quite expensive, but the price is more than reasonable, as it arguably sleeps better than any tent and is almost half the cost of a backpacking tent of similar weight. That said, an apprehensive camper looking to get started with hammocks may have reservations about the investment, though we feel they will not regret the purchase. For an introductory hammock at a much lower price, check out the Grand Trunk Ultralight Hammock, our Best Buy winner. Or for something mid-range price wise that is warm and decently versatile, check out the ENO Reactor.
The Warbonnet Blackbird 1.1 Single Layer, although a lighter version from the Blackbird we previously tested, was impressive enough to take home our Editor's Choice Award for a second time. If you're looking for a hammock that feels as at-home on a backpacking trip as it does in your own backyard, the Blackbird offers an impressive package worthy of your consideration.
Between the integrated features and package versatility that ensure you're covered in an array of weather and environments, the Warbonnet Blackbird would earn our purchase if we needed one hammock for all uses. Throw it up in your backyard for an afternoon chill session or put it in your pack without sacrificing your back on a lengthy backpacking trip. The Warbonnet Blackbird is the one hammock to rule them all.
Other Versions and Accessories
We tested our Blackbird with the Mambajamba Tarp, which was quite effective and easy to use, though you will need to provide your own ridgeline cord and stakes. This tarp, due to it's roomy 10-foot width, comes equipped with "panel pulls" — webbing loops in the middle of the panels to stake up and provide extra support in heavy wind or rain. The Mambajamba is considered a three-season tarp; if you'd like to upgrade it and be ready for all seasons, Warbonnet offers the Tarp Door Kit that closes off the ends of the a-frame, providing 360-degree coverage.
We also tested the Yeti Underquilt that loops onto the gathered end-points of the hammock and slides to adjust. It makes a huge difference in warmth and, unlike the down on the bottom of a sleeping bag, it isn't compressed below your body, so it stays fluffy and effective all night long. The Yeti is a torso-length underquilt; if you'd like an all-season full-length underquilt, check out the Wookie.
Warbonnet offers the Blackbird in a thicker 1.7oz/70D fabric weight and also with a double layer if you want a built-in sleeve for a sleeping pad (a nice addition to help avoid pesky sleeping pads ending up on top of you in the middle of the night).
If you are over six feet tall, consider the Blackbird XLC for extra length and room.
Many hammock campers like to upgrade to Whoopie Slings, an ultralight way to suspend yourself that allows for super easy adjustments. Warbonnet offers Whoopie Slings as a $10 upgrade for all their hammocks.
— Penney Garrett
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 24, 2017
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