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Hands-on Gear Review
ENO SubLink Shelter System Review
Cons: Hammock is narrow, made of very thin material
Bottom line: For true hammock camping versatility this package can't be beat - take only a shockingly light hammock or all the pieces for a complete sleeping shelter.
The ENO SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 hammock is a fantastic package that could not go without recognition. We gave this system a Top Pick Award for Ultralight Versatility. ENO offers sleep system upgrades for all of their hammocks that include suspension, a bug net, and a rain fly, all packed together in a convenient stuff stack. When you upgrade the Sub7 in this way, you get all the lightest options ENO has available, making for a very customizable, versatile, and lightweight camping setup.
The Sub7 is impressive in its own right, weighing a mere 6.4 ounces including carabiners. And it's even comfortable, which is not something that a lot of thin, narrow, and lightweight models can say. We loved the versatility in being able to bring or use only the components we needed at any given time, specifically the bug net. All the other models we tested with bug nets had them attached to the hammock body and, while they can be rolled out of the way, for the serious ultralight-obsessed camper it sweetens the deal to be able to leave it behind altogether if you know you won't need it. All in all, this is a fantastic camping setup that we really enjoyed using.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
If you appreciate having lots of options and flexibility and love the idea of being able to have everything from the lightest possible hammock while trail running on a summer day to being sheltered from wind and rain and protected from bugs, the SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 might just be your new best friend. We chose this sweet package as our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility, and we feel it will fit the needs of a myriad of different kinds of campers and loungers.
For a narrow ultralight hammock, the Sub7 is decently comfortable. Because of the constricted space, it's hard for any super-light model to be extremely cozy, but we felt the Sub7 was a bit more comfortable than the Grand Trunk Nano 7 and about the same as the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter. The ultralight model that we found the most comfortable was the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker Asym Zip, but it's also considerably wider, so this doesn't come as a big surprise. More fabric generally means more comfort. It also means more weight.
Adding a pad for sleeping makes the Sub7 more comfortable and sleep-ready, though we do recommend using a thinner pad because of the limited fabric. We tried a thicker Thermarest (about 2") and it made us feel like we were laying up above the hammock instead of being nestled down inside of it.
For our comfort favorites, check out our Editors' Choice, the Warbonnet Blackbird, the plush ENO Reactor, or our Top Pick for Side Sleeping, the Warbonnet Ridgerunner.
The Sub7 absolutely took the prize for the lightest hammock we tested. At 6.4 ounces it was a full ounce below the next lightest model, the Grand Trunk Nano 7, which we didn't find as comfortable. If you purchase the SubLink Shelter System, as we did, you will still be below three pounds (44.6 ounces) including suspension, a bug net, and rain fly. This wasn't the lightest expedition-style setup we tested, but because this package included the lightest hammock and also offered the ability to leave all components behind if desired, we gave it our top score in the weight category. The Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker Asym Zip also includes suspension, fly, and bug net, and only weighs 33.6 ounces, but the bug net is attached and not removable. The hammock alone with the bug net weighs 22.3 ounces — almost four times what the Sub7 weighs. Granted, that weight includes Hennessy's suspension system, but the Sub7 with its Helios Suspension System still only weighs 10.8 ounces because of the ability to ditch the bug net.
Deciding between the SubLink Shelter System and the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker is tricky and ultimately will come down to your personal style preferences and how important separating components is to you. If you want the ability to streamline down to only a very light hammock, go with the Sub7 system. If you will primarily be sleeping in the backcountry - and especially if you prefer to sleep on your side — go with the Hennessy Backpacker.
Ease of Setup
Setting up this system is quite easy compared to other expedition setups we tested, especially considering how many separate parts there are. The Sub7 hammock by itself is a cinch to get pitched, especially with the whoopie sling-style Helios Suspension System that comes with the SubLink Shelter System upgrade. Wrap it around your anchors and clip the carabiners into the anchor loops and you're good to go. It's easy to adjust and re-tension at any point.
The Guardian SL Bug Net is a unique design that fits over the whole hammock like a sleeve and cinches at the ends. It includes its own ridgeline that clips onto the hammock carabiners. This may not be as simple as having an integrated bug net like with the Warbonnet Blackbird or the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip, but it also offers more versatility as far as removal.
The ProFly Sil Rain Tarp is also simple to set up and doesn't require a separate ridgeline, as it is instead tensioned by six guy points (two that go to your anchor and four to the ground) and stakes are included. As with any involved system, there is a tiny learning curve as you figure everything out, but for how many components this system includes, we found it to be quite straightforward and user-friendly.
Durability and Protection
As with any high quality ultralight setup, this system requires that you take proper care of it. The tarp is substantial, but the hammock and bug net could easily be ripped or snagged if you're not careful. With an entire hammock only weighing 6.4 ounces, extra attention should be paid to keeping it off the ground, not laying in it when you have a sharp belt on or a knife in your pocket, etc. While this level of care is necessary to some degree for any camping gear, the Sub7 is definitely more delicate. If you want a burlier model, check out the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip.
The Sub7 by itself isn't very protective at all. And sometimes, like in the middle of summer in a location with no bugs, that might be perfect. But hammock camping doesn't have to be confined just to the summer months or non-buggy areas, and this shelter system allows you to push into more variable conditions.
The ProFly Sil Tarp is excellent — it covers a nice large area and provides a very roomy and protective enclosure. The Guardian SL Bug Net is also fantastic, though we did feel that the cinched ends are a potential weak point. The gathered endpoints do not create as effective a barrier as a zipper, and with a bit of moving around, tiny entry points become exposed. Also, due to the narrowness and thinness of the Sub7 hammock, there are places that aggressive mosquitos could potentially bite you through the fabric. We didn't feel the SubLink Shelter System was as protective as the Blackbird or the Expedition Asym, but it's not far behind.
We gave the highest score for versatility to this system. The Sub7 hammock by itself is not really versatile at all, but upgrading to the shelter system provided us with a ton of great options.
The neat thing about the Guardian SL Bug Net is the way you can partially or completely slide it out of the way. It can even be used as a shade for just your head. It is a bit tricky, however, to cinch down completely from the inside, and movement and changing tension of the ridgeline can cause the ends to open up a bit, allowing an access point for bugs. It's also a little bit of an ordeal to get out of when it's dark. You can trace the ridgeline back to the endpoint, but then you have to feel around for the strings to loosen it and wiggle the whole thing down to get out. We liked the design, but it's certainly not as easy to navigate as a zipper right down the middle, at least not until you're super used to it.
Another fun feature of this shelter system is the fact that the stuff sack for all the components is lined with soft felt, so you can turn it inside out and re-stuff it to make a pillow. This gives you a place to store some of your clothes overnight and keep them warm.
The ProFly Sil Tarp that came with this system was one of our favorite tarps. It was easy to pitch and adjust, covered a nice large area, and even came with stakes (stakes are only included when you purchase a shelter system, not when you buy a tarp a la carte). All in all, we loved this system and found it extraordinarily versatile, because we could bring only the components we needed or wanted at even given time and leave the rest behind.
The ENO SubLink Shelter System with Sub7 hammock is best for people who want the ability to be both ultralight and weather-ready. Do you sometimes need to go ultralight and, at other times, don't care about weight and just want to be cozy? If so this system is probably a great fit for you. Other great expedition setups to look at that are also lightweight are the Warbonnet Blackbird and the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker Asym.
The SubLink Shelter System will put you out $250 which, for a hammock with suspension, bug net, and rain fly, is a pretty killer deal. If weight isn't an issue for you and you still want an expedition-style setup for a bit less money, check out the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip for $170.
The Sub7 upgraded to the SubLink Shelter System is a versatile and bomber setup that will allow you to be ultralight and also ready for all kinds of weather. All the components are easy to set up, well made, and completely independent of each other, so you take only what you really need and leave the rest behind. Because of this, we awarded this package our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility. From a 6.4-ounce hammock to an entire backcountry setup under three pounds, this system has got you covered.
— Penney Garrett
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