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Dutchware Chameleon Review

This extremely customizable hammock is the perfect fit for even the pickiest hammock camper
Dutchware Chameleon
Photo: Dutchware
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $160 List
Pros:  Versatile, ultra customizable, comfortable
Cons:  Can get pricey depending on options, ridge-line not removable
Manufacturer:   Dutchware Gear
By Elizabeth Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 2, 2019
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Comfort - 40% 8
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Durability and Protection - 20% 8
  • Ease of Set Up - 10% 7
  • Versatility - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Dutchware Chameleon stands out in our tests not only for its comfort and versatility but also because of the abundant options for customization. As one of the two longest hammocks tested, it gave us plenty of room to stretch out, and we enjoyed the integrated zippered bug net that not only opens up on both sides but is also completely removable and reversible, a unique feature to the Dutchware Chameleon among models we tested. Read on to learn about all the ways you get to design your hammock with the Chameleon.

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Dutchware Chameleon
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award 
Price $160 List$155 List$159.95 at REICheck Price at Backcountry
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$21.99 at Amazon
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Pros Versatile, ultra customizable, comfortableSpacious, comfortable, easy to set up and use, integrated bug net, customizableComfortable asymmetric design, budget friendly, package includes full shelter systemVery comfortable flat position, easy to set up, durable material and construction, attachable pillowComfortable, large, easy to use, versatile, surprisingly low cost
Cons Can get pricey depending on options, ridge-line not removableSuspension sold separately, can't remove bug net completelyMore complicated set up, small rain fly, bug net is not removableBulky, heavy, narrow for sharing, suspension straps sold separatelyNot the lightest, sticky carabiner
Bottom Line This extremely customizable hammock is the perfect fit for even the pickiest hammock camperSuperior comfort with a dedicated footbox, spacious fabric, and all the features needed for many nights of cozy sleepThe trimmed-down design of the Expedition offers a comfortable asymmetric shape and keeps both the weight and the price lowReady for kicking back with a cold one or napping alike, the Skyloft is a durable and comfortable hammock for relaxing at the park or cragA great way to save money but still find all the comfort, simplicity, and webbing suspension straps that you expect from top hammock brands
Rating Categories Dutchware Chameleon Warbonnet Original... Hennessy Expedition... ENO Skyloft Kootek Portable
Comfort (40%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
3.0
5.0
Durability And Protection (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
7.0
7.0
4.0
8.0
9.0
Versatility (10%)
8.0
5.0
4.0
4.0
5.0
Specs Dutchware Chameleon Warbonnet Original... Hennessy Expedition... ENO Skyloft Kootek Portable
Measured Weight - Package (ounces) 37 oz (double layer hammock, bug net, suspension) 27 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension 42 oz 44 oz 23 oz
Measured Weight - Hammock Only (ounces) 25 oz (dbl layer) 26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension 30 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension) 42 oz 23 oz
Measured Weight - Hammock and Suspension (ounces) 25 oz (dbl layer, webbing and beetle buckle suspension attached) 26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension 30 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension) 54 oz with atlas straps 37 oz
Measured Weight - Shelter System (no stakes) N/A 42 oz with Mini Fly tarp 42 oz (hammock, bug net, tarp, suspension) N/A N/A
Capacity (weight) 350 lbs 350-400 lbs depending on options selected 250 lbs 250 lbs 500 lbs
Hanging Straps Included? No no, can add onto purchase for extra $ Yes No Yes, 10' straps
Hammock Size 10'8" x 4'10" 10' x 5.25' 10' x 4.92' 7' x 3' 9'10" x 6'6"
Size Compact 12" x 6" 10" x 4" 9" x 7" x 4" 18.5” x 4.5” x 4.5” 9.8" x 7.4"
Connectors Beetle Buckle with webbing straps or whoopie slings with tree huggers (sold separately) Whoopies/straps or buckle/webbing (sold separately) Polyester rope Aluminum carabiners Steel carabiners
Material Hexon 1.0, 1.6 or 2.4 40D or 70D Nylon (depending on options selected) 70D Oxford Nylon NewWave nylon 210D nylon
Construction 1.6 oz Hexon, end gathered, continuous loops End gathered, asymmetric hammock, single or double layer fabric, zipper along 1 side, integrated bug netting. Storage shelf and foot box Single panel double-stitched seam connection to zipper and 30D polyester No-See-Um netting. 3mm integrated ridgeline. 5mm cord connected to hammock anchor point to tie around tree strap. Dual stretch cord attachments to pull hammock body away at sides. Durable ripstop nylon with aluminum spreader bars Triple interlocking stitching
Sizes / Colors 2 sizes/9 colors/3 fabrics, 31 printed patterns 27 colors, 3 fabric layering configurations Multiple other sizes/configurations available under other Hennessy product names 1 size, 4 colors 1 size, 5 colors
Capacity (height) Not stated 6' 6' Not stated Not stated
Accessories (compatible, not included) Suspension straps, rain fly, bug net, top cover, side car pockets, ridgeline pockets Rain flies, bug net, carabiners, fish hooks, under quilts, top quilts, suspension systems Tree straps, larger rain flys, insulation, "snakeskin" stuff sacks Suspension straps, rain fly, bug net, top quilts, under quilts, insulation pads, permanent anchors None
Accessories (included with hammock) Continuous loops, ridgeline Guylines, bugnetting, storage shelf, continuous loops (for attaching suspension system to), stuff sack Tree straps, 70D polyurethane coated polyester ripstop rainfly, integrated bug net Aluminum wiregate carabiners Tree straps, steel carabiners
Extra Accessories Tested Body layer 2, Beetle Buckle suspension, asym bug net Mini Fly tarp, webbing with buckles suspension, None Atlas straps None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Dutchware Hammocks began with a Kickstarter campaign and took off with great success in the hammock camping community. We tested it side by side with other popular hammocks to see how it held up and are impressed by its simple-yet-comfortable end-gathered design, its inclusion of all the features a hammocker wants, and the nod to the discerning nature of diehard hammockers who want to select just the features they want and leave the others behind. The Dutchware Chameleon wins our Top Pick for Customizable Hammock because it is a true chameleon, allowing you to swap components out to adapt your hammock to your environment. If you're intrigued by the Dutchware Chameleon, we also recommend taking a close look at the Dream Hammock Sparrow, an almost identical hammock that we found performed just as well and had close to the same level of customization available.

Performance Comparison


The Chameleon is a great place to cozy up with a good book at sunset...
The Chameleon is a great place to cozy up with a good book at sunset but also has the high performance features to make it one of our favorite choices for extended overnight camping.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Comfort


The Chameleon is among the most comfortable hammocks we tested. Most essential to comfort in an end-gathered hammock is the size, and the Chameleon is one of the two longest we tested, measuring in at 10 feet, 8 inches. It is listed at 11 feet, but we may be measuring from different places. During our testing, all hammocks were measured from the point the fabric ended, and the suspension began. We found this length gave us lots of room to maneuver into just the right diagonal position to get very close to flat, so it didn't cramp our feet or heads in the fabric pinch at the ends.


Also very important to the comfort of your 'mock is the width. The Chameleon falls in the middle of the tested models for width at 58 inches coming in a bit narrower than the models that took top marks for comfort. Dutchware offers a wide version of the Chameleon that boasts an additional 10 inches in width. We didn't test this model but can't imagine it would be anything but comfier.

The next component that contributes to the comfort of a good overnight end-gathered hammock is symmetry. Any asymmetric hammock tends to give more room to your feet and head. Dutchware is different here; the hammock itself is symmetrical, but the bug net is asymmetrical. We found that when relaxing in "chill mode" (no bug net), we could lay either direction equally comfortably, but we noticed the fabric pushes your feet toward the center some just like any other symmetrical end-gathered hammock. When we put the bug net on, the tension of the hammock fabric and netting gave the hammock more of an asymmetric feel, with more spacious foot and head zones. Another model with this same design is the Dream Hammock Sparrow. The added asymmetry makes the Chameleon more comfortable for overnight sleeping than a basic end-gathered model. Still, it doesn't have quite the spacious feel that a true asymmetrical model with a built-in footbox.

The reversible asymmetric bug netting allows you to have the comfort...
The reversible asymmetric bug netting allows you to have the comfort of an asymmetric hammock without the commitment to one head direction.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Although most of your time in a hammock will be spent lying down, being able to sit up comfortably is a nice benefit. We couldn't sit up without our heads pushing against the netting, but we had the room to awkwardly change clothing and get the sleeping bag all arranged. For a netted hammock that you can sit completely up in, check out the Dream Hammock Sparrow. Its ridgeline length to hammock length ratio gives it the highest ceiling of any model we tested. The only thing we found a bit awkward with this hammock was when using it to lounge or sit in without the bug net; the ridgeline can end up right in your face.

Every time we sat up, the ridgeline was right in our faces.
Every time we sat up, the ridgeline was right in our faces.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

The Chameleon comes with tie-outs that can be easily snapped on or off the sides of the hammock to tie out the sides for added livability. Tying out the head and foot angles of the hammock makes it easier to keep your sleeping bag and pad in place when moving around. When they are not tied out, the loose fabric and netting can brush up against your face. The tie-outs aren't necessary for a comfy sleep, and ditching them at home can make pitching your hammock quicker and easier, not to mention slightly lighter.

A low ridgeline means you won't have enough space to sit up fully...
A low ridgeline means you won't have enough space to sit up fully inside without pushing your head into the netting.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Weight


Dutchware scored high with a nice lightweight hammock but because the margins are so thin, score alone isn't necessarily the best indicator of how light the hammock is.


To look at weight differences between hammocks, we need to make sure we are judging side by side those with similar features and accessories, so we are getting a true apples-to-apples comparison. Here are the weights of the hammocks with bug netting and the suspensions we tested:
  • Dream Hammock Sparrow: 26 ounces
  • Dutchware Chameleon: 28 ounces
  • Warbonnet Blackbird: 26 ounces
  • Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker: 22 ounces
  • Sea to Summit Pro: 31 ounces

The Chameleon was tested using the heavier buckle and webbing style buckles. You could cut a couple of ounces by opting for the whoopie sling suspension when purchasing. The Chameleon's advantage is that the bug net can be completely removed when you don't need it, saving you 5 ounces on the Chameleon.

The Chameleon packs down small into its double ended stuff sack but...
The Chameleon packs down small into its double ended stuff sack but there isn't enough room to easily stuff your tarp in with it.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Ease of Setup


A hammock that is easy to set up typically means that it has an intuitive and quick suspension system. The Chameleon we tested used a quick-adjust buckle system, and the integrated bug net and ridgeline made the set up of accessories a non-issue.


The customizable nature of the Chameleon allows you to select their Beetle Buckle with webbing suspension (the type we tested), a whoopie sling suspension with tree straps, or no suspension at all if you want to build your own. Dutchware sells 10 types of suspension systems and all kinds of suspension components a la carte, so you can always get something different if you later decide you don't like what you have.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

We tested the Beetle Buckle suspension. It uses 1-inch flat webbing an easily adjustable buckle with little hooks on one end that allow you to connect and disconnect the continuous loop on the hammock quickly. The detached suspension allows you to set the straps in the trees and then connect the hammock, a helpful feature for keeping the hammock off the ground in wet conditions.

The Beetle Buckle has a small hole in the center that is designed to allow you to add a spreader bar between two hammocks so both can hang from the same trees. We didn't test this feature but like the prospect of added versatility.

The integrated ridgeline on the Chameleon is a feature that we find useful for a few reasons. First, if you have left the bug netting connected, setting up the hammock, ridgeline, and netting involves the single step of connecting the hammock to the suspension. Second, you can check to see if you have set your hammock up with optimal tension for comfort by feeling the ridgeline tension when lying inside. The ridgeline should be somewhat taut but not so tight you can't bend it easily with your hand.

With or without the angles staked out, we found the hammock to be...
With or without the angles staked out, we found the hammock to be equally comfortable and spacious.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Staking out the head and foot angles of the hammock is an extra step that some models don't have. As we mentioned before, it is an optional step, so we feel that rather than it being something that detracts from the ease of setup, it's a bonus feature that you can choose to use for added comfort.

We wish that the Chameleon came with stakes for tying out the sides, but we didn't really expect it to since they are geared towards customers who want to choose everything themselves. How would they choose a stake that everyone would love? Dutchware does, however, offer a selection of nine different stakes on their site.

Staking out the angles of the hammock keeps it spread even when you...
Staking out the angles of the hammock keeps it spread even when you aren't in it which helps your slippery sleeping bag stay in place.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Protection and Durability


The Chameleon's construction and materials gave us no reason to questions its durability. The 1.6-ounce fabric we tested is sturdy yet soft to the touch. The titanium buckles are beefy enough to impart confidence and light enough that we didn't think twice about their weight.


As with any lightweight equipment, you'll want to take good care of the hammock and avoid sharp objects. When buying the hammock, you can opt to use a lighter 1.1-ounce fabric or the burlier 2.4-ounce fabric, depending on your own priorities around weight and durability.

The zip-in bug netting will keep out all but the most industrious mosquitoes. The way the netting zips to the hammock, a small 1-inch hole is left at either end, but the hammock makers have protected this hole with a covering sewn into the hammock body itself. A mosquito would need to do some serious route finding to make its way inside with you.

We are a bit skeptical about the durability of the zipper in the Chameleon. It is a plastic toothed zipper that slides very smoothly but is more prone to snagging than a coil zipper. As soon as one tooth gets damaged, it will have to be replaced entirely.

The triangle panel of netting covers the small gap where the bug net...
The triangle panel of netting covers the small gap where the bug net zips on to the hammock, letting in only the mosquitoes that really earned it.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

You can add a second body layer onto the hammock. This second layer can give some protection against wind on its own, but the real intended use is as a sleeping pad pocket. Our testers much prefer using sleeping pads in their hammocks when the hammock has a pocket. Otherwise, the pads slip all over the place. For new overnight hammockers who already own a sleeping pad, this second layer of fabric can make starting to hammock camp in cooler weather much less of an investment. For protection from rain, Dutchware has a selection of ultralight tarps made of both Dyneema and sil-nylon fabrics.

If you don't have an underquilt, a double layer hammock is the next...
If you don't have an underquilt, a double layer hammock is the next best thing, keeping your insulation where you need it.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Versatility


A chameleon adapts to its environment with ease, which explains the naming of this hammock. Dutchware clearly puts a lot of priority on creating a versatile hammock that can be used in any scenario.


The fully removable, zip-on bug netting is unique to only the Chameleon and a couple of other models we tested. It has the lighter weight and easier in/out access of zippered netting as compared to the sleeve style netting that is more finicky to get in and out of. It retains the versatility that these sleeve styles offer in that it is completely removable. We love this feature for trips in the early and late season when you don't expect many bugs or if you just want to take your hammock to a slack-lining session at the park.

Another unique feature of the Chameleon is the reversible bug netting. You can opt for a symmetrical bug net if you choose, but we tested the asymmetric option and learned that you can change the lay direction by flipping the netting over. The zippers are double-sided and open on both sides of the hammock and in both directions. For someone new to overnight hammocking, deciding which direction you want your head to go before you ever lie in the hammock is like trying to select the most comfortable shoe before trying any on. How would you ever know until you try? The Chameleon lets you change your mind in the head direction as often as you like. This is one difference we found between the Chameleon and the Sparrow; the Sparrow is not reversible, and lay direction needs to be selected when purchasing.

Zippers that open up both directions on both sides of the hammock make it easy to get in and out regardless of which way you set up. When using a hammock as your shelter, it can be frustrating to walk up to your system after a midnight pee and duck under the tarp just to realize the zipper is on the other side and have to navigate tarp guylines in the dark as you walk around the other side. Don't ask me why I can't remember what side of the hammock I just got out of.

The zipper pulls are easy to feel for and grab even in the dark with...
The zipper pulls are easy to feel for and grab even in the dark with gloved hands.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

We aren't sure if this is a pro or a con; there is no endpoint for the zippers. This means you have to remember where along the hammock you closed them together. We like that we can choose where the zipper closes and make it close to our heads for easy reach. We realized in the dark; we don't always remember whether we put them at our heads, feet, or in the middle and if we positioned them in the same places on both the right and left sides of the hammock. A small glow-in-the-dark pull could solve this problem if it became an issue for you.

Much of the versatility of the Chameleon is in the ordering and the ability to add and subtract components. You can choose to purchase the hammock, bug net, tarp, and suspension separately or buy them together. You select fabric weights and colors as you make your online purchase. Only with Dutchware Hammocks are you able to choose from so many options: two sizes, three fabric weights, nine solid colors, 31 printed patterns, single or double layer fabric and in which fabric for each, whoopie sling or webbing with buckle suspension, type of bug net, top cover for cold weather, integrated sidecar pockets, and a whole variety of other accessories. It can be hard to make all these decisions if you are new to hammocking but for the discerning hammocker, being able to customize your hammock to this extent is a luxury one doesn't often find.

Though not quite as wide of some of the end-gathered hammocks we...
Though not quite as wide of some of the end-gathered hammocks we tested, our tested still had decent space to sprawl out and the 11 foot length allows the fabric to spread out more easily than in a shorter hammock.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Value


We feel that although the Dutchware Chameleon isn't cheap, but with the included hammock, netting, and suspension, it holds enormous value. Because of its versatility and the fact that you can buy exactly the components you find useful, it can truly be the only hammock you need. A tarp can be added on from Dutchware or many other brands for whatever price suits your budget.

If you are on a tight budget, you can purchase a Chameleon without the netting and add a cheap tarp until your funds are in place to upgrade. Because the comfort of the hammock is the most important thing to get dialed in, we like the idea of spending the money on the right hammock and skimping on the accessories if you need to cut costs.

Conclusion


If you are looking for a suspended backcountry shelter but are too, shall we say discerning, to accept the features chosen by anyone other than your superior mind, the Chameleon is sure to please. A hammocking connoisseur's dream, the ultra customizable Dutchware Chameleon hits the sweet spot for features, comfort, and versatility.

As with all hammocks we tested, hanging the head end a bit lower...
As with all hammocks we tested, hanging the head end a bit lower keeps your body flatter and gives your feet more room to spread out.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Elizabeth Paashaus