Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter Review
Cons: Limited durability and protection, cheaper fabric
Manufacturer: Grand Trunk
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Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
|Price||$29.95 at Amazon||$155 List||$210 List||$160 List||$80 List|
|Pros||Affordable, lightweight, comfortable||Spacious, comfortable, easy to set up and use, integrated bug net, customizable||The comfiest/flattest sleeping surface, optional integrated bug net and double layer bottom, large gear pockets||Versatile, ultra customizable, comfortable||Lightweight, spacious, easy set up, versatile for day use or backcountry shelter|
|Cons||Limited durability and protection, cheaper fabric||Suspension sold separately, can't remove bug net completely||Suspension sold separately, not for the lightweight crowd, vulnerable to tipping||Can get pricey depending on options, ridge-line not removable||All components sold separately, can only use branded suspension system, pricey for the full system|
|Bottom Line||Break into the world of hammock camping and lounging without breaking the bank or the scale||This hammock gives you everything you want from a lightweight backcountry shelter||A creative design makes this model a great choice for folks who struggle to sleep in traditional hammocks||Design your own hammock and choose just the features you want for a versatile hammock that is comfy and adapts to any conditions||This hammock shelter is an excellent balance of versatility, comfort, and low weight|
|Rating Categories||Ultralight Starter||Warbonnet Original Blackbird||Warbonnet Ridgerunner||Dutchware Chameleon||Sea to Summit Pro Double|
|Durability And Protection (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (10%)|
|Specs||Ultralight Starter||Warbonnet Original...||Warbonnet...||Dutchware Chameleon||Sea to Summit Pro...|
|Capacity (weight)||200 lbs||350-400 lbs depending on options selected||200-250 lbs depending on options selected||350 lbs||400 lbs|
|Hanging Straps Included?||No||no, can add onto purchase for extra $||No, can add onto purchase for extra $||No||No|
|Hammock Size||9.5' x 4.5'||10' x 5.25'||10'1" x 3'||10'8" x 4'10"||10' x 6'2"|
|Size Compact||7.5" x 5"||10" x 4"||15" x 7"||12" x 6"||4" x 6"|
|Connectors||Nautical grade carabiners||Whoopies/straps or buckle/webbing (sold separately)||Whoopies/straps or buckle/webbing (sold separately)||Beetle Buckle with webbing straps or whoopie slings with tree huggers (sold separately)||Buckles|
|Material||King Rhombic RipStop Polyester||40D or 70D Nylon (depending on options selected)||1.1oz/30D Nylon Double Layer||Hexon 1.0, 1.6 or 2.4||70D nylon ripstop|
|Construction||mildew resistant, tear resistant||End gathered, asymmetric hammock, single or double layer fabric, zipper along 1 side, integrated bug netting. Storage shelf and foot box||Bridge style hammock made with one or two layers of 30D Nylon, bug net optional.||1.6 oz Hexon, end gathered, continuous loops||Ripstop nylon, double interlocking stitching|
|Sizes / Colors||1 size, 3 color options||27 colors, 3 fabric layering configurations||12 colors, 2 fabric layering options||2 sizes/9 colors/3 fabrics, 31 printed patterns||2 sizes, 4 colors|
|Measured Weight - Package (ounces)||12.8 oz||27 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension||36 oz hammock, whoopie sling suspension, bug net||37 oz (double layer hammock, bug net, suspension)||16 oz|
|Measured Weight - Hammock Only (ounces)||9.6 oz||26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension||35 oz hammock, whoopie sling suspension, bug net||25 oz (dbl layer)||16 oz|
|Measured Weight - Hammock and Suspension (ounces)||N/A||26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension||35 oz hammock, whoopie sling suspension, bug net||25 oz (dbl layer, webbing and beetle buckle suspension attached)||19 oz|
|Measured Weight - Shelter System (no stakes)||N/A||42 oz with Mini Fly tarp||52 oz with Mini Fly tarp||N/A||42 oz (hammock suspension, bug net, tarp)|
|Capacity (height)||Not stated||6'||Up to 6' 4"||Not stated||Not stated|
|Accessories (compatible, not included)||Trunk strap, aluminum carabiners, stand||Rain flies, bug net, carabiners, fish hooks, under quilts, top quilts, suspension systems||Rain flies, bug net, carabiners, fish hooks, under quilts, top quilts, suspension systems||Suspension straps, rain fly, bug net, top cover, side car pockets, ridgeline pockets||Suspension straps, Rain fly, bug net, gear sling, wider tree protection straps,|
|Accessories (included with hammock)||Stuff sack, carabiners||Guylines, bugnetting, storage shelf, continuous loops (for attaching suspension system to), stuff sack||Stuff sack, continuous loops (for attaching suspension system to)||Continuous loops, ridgeline||Continuous loops|
|Extra Accessories Tested||None||Mini Fly tarp, webbing with buckles suspension,||Mini Fly tarp, bug net, double layer fabric, whoopie slings, tree straps||Body layer 2, Beetle Buckle suspension, asym bug net||Rain fly, ultralight suspension straps, bug net|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Hammock camping is a great way to experience the outdoors in a totally new way, and the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter can help make that a reality for not a whole lot of cash. Grand Trunk has given the Ultralight Starter hammock a few updates, including new ripstop fabric and swapping out the old S hooks for nautical grade carabiners. Weighing only 12 ounces, this hammock is also a viable option for ultralight backpackers, though many may prefer something slightly more technical.
The Ultralight Starter is 9.5 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, which is larger than any of the other ultralight hammocks we tested. If you've been doing a ton of hammock research, you'll realize that larger hammocks nearly always supply more comfort, and this was indeed the case with the Ultralight Starter. The King Rhombic RipStop fabric was quite soft and comfortable — a noticeable improvement from the previous slippery fabric of the older versions. We were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable we could get in it this relatively small hammock. Adding a sleeping pad and bag made it even comfier.
We found it more comfortable than the Grand Trunk Nano 7 or ENO Sub6. All in all, we were pleased and more comfortable than we thought we would be for the
As the name implies, the Ultralight Starter is a very lightweight hammock, weighing just 12.5 ounces including the relatively heavy nautical grade carabiners. Those alone weigh 3 ounces! Swapping them out for lighter carabiners can make this already lightweight hammock even more competitive. While some of the other ultralight models are half the weight or less, we feel the value of the Ultralight Starter helps offset the small amount of additional weight. It also has 6 to 7 inches more width and length than the other ultralight hammocks in our test giving it an edge in the comfort department.
Ease of Set Up
The Ultralight Starter does not come with a suspension system, so that's something you'll need to purchase from Grand Trunk or elsewhere. What it does come with are two marine grade carabiners that are crazy easy to use, and much more secure than the previous models sporting S hooks. The overall ease of set up will depend on the suspension system you ultimately decide to use, but with your average trunk straps, the Ultralight Starter goes up in no time.
The small size of the Ultralight Starter fits comfortably between a variety of trees and anchors, providing more options for set up than some of the larger models we tested. It stuffs easily into the attached stuff sack — be careful of the sharp edges on the clasps of the carabiners so as not to puncture the fabric. Overall, it's hard to beat a set up this easy!
Durability and Protection
Since Grand Trunk has upgraded the Ultralight Starter from its previous polyester to 100% King Rhombic RipStop, the durability of this hammock is much higher. We poked several pine needles through this hammock and even the end of a ballpoint pen to see how well the thin material would hold up. Once we retracted the weapon, we could hardly even see where we had stabbed it so viciously!
As an ultralight hammock, this model doesn't give a ton of extra protection, as you would expect. It is wider than all the other ultralight hammocks we tested, so the sides can offer some additional security, but not much. And while we were much happier with the new ripstop fabric and triple-stitched ends, the side seams were just one lonely line of stitching, making us wonder about the lifespan of such a design.
The Ultralight Starter is at home on ultralight backpacking trips and as part of a campsite during warm seasons. It is not a great hammock for bugs or severe weather, and with a low weight capacity of only 200 pounds, it is certainly not meant for more than a single person at a time.
However, with low weight and low price, the Ultralight Starter can easily be used as a simple sit and chill hammock that you bring with you to the park or a friend's barbeque. You're sure to be the envy of everyone NOT in a hammock, and at a measly 9.6 ounces, you've got no excuse to not bring it everywhere. Though this hammock may not have the protection or capacity to offer versatility in the elements, its size and price offer versatility in other ways.
The Grand Trunk Ultralight is an incredible value. With such a modest price and low weight, there is little reason not to take this product along on the next backpacking or camping trip simply to try it out. Do remember, however, that suspension isn't included.
A skeptic can try out basic hammock camping with very little investment by trying out this hammock. And with such a low price, it's less of a big deal to later upgrade or replace this hammock with a more serious and protective option if you plan to sleep out in varied weather. However upgrading won't make this one obsolete - keep the Ultralight Starter around for backyard lounging, an easy extra camp chair, or as a gear sling to hold your pack while you're sleeping in something else.
— Maggie Brandenburg