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Warbonnet Blackbird Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Hammocks

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: August 6, 2014
Street Price:   $185
Pros:  Incredible features and killer comfort
Cons:  Heavier construction and time consuming to set up, fly is not removable
Best Uses:  Backcountry camping in a variety of conditions where comfort and space are desired
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Warbonnet Outdoors
Review by: Greg Davis ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ April 9, 2014  
Overview
Of all 11 hammocks tested, none are as comfortable or as feature heavy as the Warbonnet Blackbird, our Editors' Choice award winner. Whether in campgrounds or out in the backcountry, this model turned heads with its innovative foot box, storage shelf, an integrated bug net, and double layered bottom for holding a sleeping pad in place.

The Blackbird comes with many options, and we tested the 1.7oz/70 denier double fabric, the heaviest option available, which was still under 2 pounds total weight including the whoopie sling suspension. This is comparable to the lightest single person tents available, yet substantially more comfortable, making hammock camping in the Blackbird an absolute dream.

The Warbonnet can be ordered directly from Warbonnet Outdoors.

If the Warbonnet is a little too expensive for you or too hard to find, the runner up for camping hammocks is the Hennessy Expedition Asym, which is the only hammock we tested that comes with its own rain fly in addition to an included bug net.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

No hammock reviewed slept as well or was as heavily loaded with useful features as our Editors' Choice winner, the Warbonnet Blackbird. From an integrated foot box to shelf storage, this innovative hammock has everything needed to transform a dull tent camping experience into an amazing hang under the stars.

Performance Comparison
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The Warbonnet Blackbird was far and away the most comfortable of all hammocks tested thanks to the integrated foot box and asymmetrical design.
Credit: Greg Davis

Comfort
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, the Blackbird is the only one reviewed that comes with a foot box. We found the best angle to sleep in it was with the feet slightly raised, and because of the double layer bottom there was no problem staying on the sleeping pad in this spacious hammock.

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The Warbonnet Blackbird was the only hammock reviewed to come with a double layer floor to hold a sleeping pad in place, an awesome feature for squirmy sleepers or slick pads.
Credit: Greg Davis

Another reason the Blackbird has so much available space is that either side of the 'head' end of the hammock has elastic guy lines to pull the netting away from the face. This also provides room for a storage shelf near the head, a great feature that allows a book or jacket to be tucked out of the way but at the ready.

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The elastic guy lines give this hammock a uniquely large area to camp in.
Credit: Greg Davis

We found that no other hammock slept as comfortably as the Warbonnet Blackbird, and as the most important rating metric we tested for, this boosted this hammock up in our ratings to win our Editors' Choice award as the best camping hammock.

Weight
While the Blackbird beats the competition in most categories, it is not the lightest hammock reviewed not by a long shot. At 31oz for the 1.7 oz/70D fabric with double floor, it is not an ideal ultralight hammock. Add in a rain fly and the weight comes close to that of a backpacking tent. However, reducing pack weight is not the only reason to camp in a hammock, the comfort and convenience of this model can make up for its bulk.

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At 31oz, the Warbonnet Blackbird was the second heaviest reviewed, though it comes in lighter versions and has enough comfort features to make the weight worth considering.
Credit: Greg Davis

If looking to reduce weight for a backpacking trip, consider picking up a Warbonnet Blackbird with 1.1 oz/30D nylon fabric, an option that can cut 7 ounces alone, or a version with single layer floor instead of the pad-securing double. The 1.1 oz/30D single layer design drops drastically from 31 oz to 18 oz, making a reasonable ultralight hammock with almost all the features of the heavy duty Blackbird tested.

Those looking to get the lightest hammock possible should check out the Grand Trunk Nano 7, our Top Pick ultralight hammock, weighing a scant 7 ounces.

Versatility
Asymmetrical hammocks do not fit two people very well, nor does the ridge line running the length of the hammock make sitting perpendicular in it very easy. The hammock is too nice to use roughly, and even with the 70 denier nylon fabric we would not recommend it for families or a couple.

However, the Blackbird is VERY versatile in the climates it is designed for. The zippered bug net can be easily removed for desert camping and star gazing, and it can fit a multitude of rain fly options on the market. We would recommend bringing this hammock on any trip where hammocks are appropriate and anchors available.

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The Warbonnet Blackbird (front) upgraded with an inexpensive rain tarp and a gear sling compares well with the Grand Trunk Double (left, with ENO Guardian bug net) and the Henessey Asym Expedition (Back).
Credit: Greg Davis

Protection/Durability
The Warbonnet Blackbird comes in a variety of fabric options, all with a bug net and high quality construction. The seams are all single and double stitched and showed no signs of wear despite significant use. The hammock easily cut wind even without a tarp, and would be one of our preferred hammocks in poor weather, along with the Henessey Asym Expedition that comes with a rain fly.

The guy lines are made of very thin material and connected to white shock cord, and while we successfully avoided tripping over these in midnight bathroom runs, we feel that reflective cord could be helpful to see them, as a hard kick could likely snap the small and light materials used in this feature.

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The guy lines are built with shock cord to keep hard tension off the hammock and allow space without constriction.
Credit: Greg Davis

Ease of Set-up
Despite being one of the trickier hammocks to achieve a perfect hang, the Warbonnet Blackbird comes with several features to aid in micro adjustments and poor weather set-up. First, the stuff sack has two openings, allowing the hammock to be set up in wet or rainy environments without touching the ground or being exposed for very long. This feature was very useful when we pitched the hammock in a rain storm, after rigging the fly first. While a bit tricky, this system is a great way to keep the hammock clean and mildew-free in extended wet backcountry trips.

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The stuff sack comes with two openings, allowing the hammock to be set up without touching the ground.
Credit: Greg Davis

Another great feature of the Blackbird is the option to upgrade to Whoopie slings. Those who have been camping in hammocks for a while may have come across this ingenious design, a friction sling that can be easily tightened and adjusted without unhooking carabiners or untying knots in webbing. This is far and away the easiest stock adjustment system we reviewed, and though practice is needed to get small adjustments dialed, all of our reviewers preferred this system over the basic cord or strap style suspension found on other hammocks like the spacious and comfortable Grand Trunk Double.

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When adjusting the Whoopie sling we found the easiest way to release tension from the hammock was to hold the gathered end in the crook of an elbow, unweight the whoopie sling, and allow more tension to be created in the ridge line.
Credit: Greg Davis

Best Applications
This is the go-to hammock for any camper or backpacker as it is durable, comfortable, relatively light weight, and loaded with features. It easily won our Editors' Choice award as the best camping hammock.

Value
With the upgrades we chose, this hammock is the most expensive in this review at $185. We feel the price is more than reasonable, as it 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 lower price, check out the Grand Trunk Ultralight Hammock, our Best Buy winner.

Conclusion
In our testing, there was no hammock as well designed for camping as the Warbonnet Blackbird. All the hype and excitement that came with it was well founded, and anyone who chooses to start their hammock camping adventures in this model will be rewarded with blissfully comfortable nights.

Other Versions and Accessories
The Warbonnet Blackbird comes in two fabric options, a 1.1 oz/30D and 1.7 oz/70D ripstop nylon, as well as a single or double layer floor for a sleeping pad. The suspension can also be upgraded from basic strap and buckles to light weight whoopie slings.

Greg Davis

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: August 6, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Aug 6, 2014 - 09:09pm


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Aug 6, 2014 - 08:42pm
Red Cinema · Backpacker · Princeton, NJ
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June, 2014, the West Rim Trail in PA: classic hammock advantage...note the not-flat ground on which it would have been impossible to pitch a tent!
Credit: Red Cinema
Hammock camping is becoming popular, and in large part that's due to the excellent work of small manufacturers or "cottage manufacturers" who have innovated the heck out of hammocks during recent years. The Warbonnet Blackbird (WBBB) is an excellent hammock. See Hammockforums.net for a wealth of information and outright amusement (just look up "Shug") about hammock camping and all the details that pertain to hanging.

I'm about 50, been backpacking since I was a teenager (and variants, such as motorcycle camping, including a summer-long motorcycling odyssey). Sleep has always been an issue. Let me count the anxieties and discomforts: condensation from breathing leading to damp gear, pass-through water transfer from touching the inside of a nylon tent when it is wet outside, water pooling or moving along the ground outside a tent (even one with a good "bathtub" bottom), slanted ground or that thing poking you in the back…you can finish the list yourself, fellow tent-campers. Or former tenters, as I am now a fully-fledged convert to hammock camping, and the WBBB I use is a big part of that conversion.

The WBBB is a full-featured hammock. It includes a bug-net, the opportunity to use a pad in between the two layers (two layers are also useful as protection against mosquitos), top-notch suspension options, a footbox to help improve diagonal lay comfort, and a terrifically useful gear shelf. The construction quality is very high. While hammocking in general is more fiddly than tent camping--figuring hang angle takes more practice than pitching a tent effectively--the result is well worth it. After a dozen practice "hangs" setup is at least as fast as pitching a tent--if not faster. The pictured setup, including tarp, required 10-15 mins (and I'm not particularly fast).

Included here is a picture of a setup from the West Rim Trail in PA. Note the ground is not flat, that's a good 30 degree angle--impossible to pitch a tent there. Another group had the convenient tent location in the steep terrain of the WRT. No problem for a hammock user! As I shared on Hammockforums.net, this proved to be the best night's sleep I'd ever had--out of hundreds of nights in the woods over 35 years. I slept eight hours, from 10pm through 6am. Best. Night's. Sleep. Ever--in the woods.

The WBBB is not the only option for high-end, well designed, cottage-industry hammocks. That it came out on top in Outdoor Gear Lab's recent side-by-side comparison is no surprise. But readers should not imagine it is the only way to go. There is lots of reading to do for those who want to know more.

My WBBB is the key to my backpacking gear. For those new to hammocking, hang responsibly--use tree straps! And read up on the topic.

PS in the photo that's another Warbonnet product, the Mamajamba tarp (with door kit slung out of the way). The tarp is pitched in "porch mode" granting me a full view of the nearby terrain. It has kept me totally dry in very wet conditions.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Warbonnet Blackbird
Credit: Warbonnet Outdoors
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