ENO SubLink Shelter System Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, stuff sack doubles as a pillow, package includes suspension, bug net, and rain fly
Cons: Hammock is narrow, made of very thin material
Manufacturer: Eagles Nest Outfitters
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Our Analysis and Test Results
If you appreciate flexibility and love the idea of grabbing a featherweight hammock for a trail running break on a summer day or to fully protect yourself from wind, rain, and bugs, the SubLink Shelter System with the Sub6 might be your new best friend. This system was a close runner up for our Versatility award. We also recommend checking out the Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility Sea to Summit Pro shelter system.
For a narrow ultralight hammock, the Sub6 is decently comfortable. Because of the constricted space, it's hard for any super-light model to be extremely cozy, but we feel the Sub6 is a bit more comfortable than some of the other ultralight models due to its silky fabric. More fabric generally means more comfort so don't expect to easily lounge out in the Sub6. It's going to take some practice to get in a decent position.
Adding a pad for sleeping is a bit tough in a narrow hammock like the Sub6, but it can be done. We recommend a simple foam pad over an inflatable one. The foam conforms to the shape of the small hammock better, allowing you to keep it inside.
The Sub6 is almost the lightest hammock in our review. At 5.7 ounces it is barely something a lightweight backpacker would notice in their pack and certainly not something you'll blink an eye at throwing in for a day hike.
If you purchase the SubLink Shelter System, as we did, you will still be below three pounds (42 ounces) including suspension, a bug net, and rain fly. This isn't the lightest expedition-style setup we tested, but, because you can leave everything behind save the ultralight hammock, we gave it a very high score in this category.
The Sea to Summit Pro with accessories is the most similar set up to the Sublink that we tested. It offers suspension bug net, and tarp, all separate components like with the Sublink, stays just as light as the ENO at 42 ounces for the whole thing, yet it has a more spacious and comfortable hammock body.
Deciding between the SubLink Shelter System and the Sea to Summit Pro is tricky and ultimately will come down to your style preferences and how important comfort versus cost is to you.
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 5.7 ounces, you have to pay extra attention to keeping it off the ground, not using it with a sharp belt, etc. While this level of care is necessary to some degree for any camping gear, the Sub6 is more delicate.
The Sub6 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 the shelter system allows you to push into more variable conditions.
The ProFly Sil Tarp in the Sublink package is excellent — it has some of the best coverage of the tarps we tested and provides a very roomy and protective enclosure. The Guardian SL Bug Net does its job, but we aren't fans of sliding it on and off. The cinched ends are potential weak points. The gathered endpoints are also not as effective a barrier as a zipper.
Ease of Set Up
Setting this system up is quite easy compared to other expedition setups we tested, especially considering how many separate parts there are. The Sub6 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 bit of a weird 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. Getting in and out means lying in the hammock and pulling the bug net on like a sock. 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. This adds an element of difficulty for getting in and out of the hammock but it does retain the versatility that allows you to remove the bug net completely. Our favorite style of bug netting zips on but can also be completely removed and left at home.
The ProFly Sil Rain Tarp is simple to set up and doesn't require a separate ridgeline. 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 find it quite straightforward and user-friendly.
We gave this system high marks for versatility. The Sub6 shelter system provided us with a ton of great options. Our highest ratings for versatily were reserved for models like this that offer a rainfly that can be removed and pitched multiple ways, a fully removable bug net that can be left at home for weight savings, and suspension straps that can be swapped out for other styles.
A fun feature of this shelter system is the fact that the stuff sack 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 comes with this system is one of our favorites. It is easy to pitch and adjust, covers a nice large area, and even comes 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 like this system and find it extraordinarily versatile, because we can bring only the components we need or want at any given time and leave the rest behind.
The SubLink Shelter System will put you out $250, which is an investment but, for a hammock with suspension, bug net, and rain fly, is a pretty good deal. If versatility isn't as much of an issue for you and you still want a full backcountry shelter hammock, check out the Hennessy models we tested.
The SubLink Shelter System is a versatile and bomber setup that will allow you to be lightweight and 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. From a 5.7-ounce hammock to an entire backcountry setup under three pounds, this system has got you covered.
— Elizabeth Paashaus and Penney Garrett