Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter Review
Cons: Limited durability and protection, only moderately sized
Manufacturer: Grand Trunk
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Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
$26.99 at Amazon
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$169.95 at REI
$28.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Affordable, lightweight, comfortable||Spacious, comfortable, easy to set up and use, integrated bug net, customizable||Lightweight, spacious, easy set up, versatile for day use or backcountry shelter||Comfortable asymmetric design, budget friendly, package includes full shelter system||Comfortable, large, easy to use, versatile, surprisingly low cost|
|Cons||Limited durability and protection, only moderately sized||Suspension sold separately, can't remove bug net completely||All components sold separately, can only use branded suspension system, pricey for the full system||More complicated set up, small rain fly, bug net is not removable||Not the lightest, sticky carabiner|
|Bottom Line||A very affordable and easy-to-use hammock that provides a great entry point to try out hammocking without breaking the bank or the scales||Superior comfort with a dedicated footbox, spacious fabric, and all the features needed for many nights of cozy sleep||This lightweight all-around model makes no sacrifices when it comes to comfort and versatility||The trimmed-down design of the Expedition offers a comfortable asymmetric shape and keeps both the weight and the price low||A 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||Grand Trunk Ultrali...||Warbonnet Original...||Sea to Summit Pro D...||Hennessy Expedition...||Kootek Portable|
|Durability and Protection (20%)|
|Ease of Set Up (10%)|
|Specs||Grand Trunk Ultrali...||Warbonnet Original...||Sea to Summit Pro D...||Hennessy Expedition...||Kootek Portable|
|Measured Weight - Package (ounces)||14.6 oz||27 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension||16 oz||42 oz||23 oz|
|Measured Weight - Hammock Only (ounces)||10.3 oz||26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension||16 oz||30 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension)||23 oz|
|Measured Weight - Hammock and Suspension (ounces)||N/A||26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension||19 oz||30 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension)||37 oz|
|Measured Weight - Shelter System (no stakes)||N/A||42 oz with Mini Fly tarp||42 oz (hammock suspension, bug net, tarp)||42 oz (hammock, bug net, tarp, suspension)||N/A|
|Capacity (weight)||300lbs||350-400 lbs depending on options selected||400 lbs||250 lbs||500 lbs|
|Hanging Straps Included?||No||no, can add onto purchase for extra $||No||Yes||Yes, 10' straps|
|Hammock Size||8'9" x 4'8"||10' x 5.25'||10' x 6'2"||10' x 4.92'||9'10" x 6'6"|
|Size Compact||8" x 4" x 4"||10" x 4"||4" x 6"||9" x 7" x 4"||9.8" x 7.4"|
|Connectors||Nautical grade carabiners||Whoopies/straps or buckle/webbing (sold separately)||Buckles||Polyester rope||Steel carabiners|
|Material||King Rhombic RipStop Polyester||40D or 70D Nylon (depending on options selected)||70D nylon ripstop||70D Oxford Nylon||210D nylon|
|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||Ripstop nylon, double interlocking stitching||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.||Triple interlocking stitching|
|Sizes / Colors||1 size, 3 color options||27 colors, 3 fabric layering configurations||2 sizes, 4 colors||Multiple other sizes/configurations available under other Hennessy product names||1 size, 5 colors|
|Capacity (height)||Not stated||6'||Not stated||6'||Not stated|
|Accessories (compatible, not included)||Trunk strap, aluminum carabiners, stand||Rain flies, bug net, carabiners, fish hooks, under quilts, top quilts, suspension systems||Suspension straps, Rain fly, bug net, gear sling, wider tree protection straps,||Tree straps, larger rain flys, insulation, "snakeskin" stuff sacks||None|
|Accessories (included with hammock)||Stuff sack, carabiners||Guylines, bugnetting, storage shelf, continuous loops (for attaching suspension system to), stuff sack||Continuous loops||Tree straps, 70D polyurethane coated polyester ripstop rainfly, integrated bug net||Tree straps, steel carabiners|
|Extra Accessories Tested||None||Mini Fly tarp, webbing with buckles suspension,||Rain fly, ultralight suspension straps, bug net||None||None|
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 lot of cash. Weighing only 14 ounces with the included carabiners, this hammock is also a viable option for ultralight backpackers, though many may prefer something slightly larger or more technical.
The Ultralight Starter is 8 feet, 9 inches long by 4 feet, 8 inches wide, which is larger than any of the other ultralight hammocks we tested. If you've been doing your hammock research, you'll realize that larger hammocks nearly always supply more comfort, and this was indeed the case with the Ultralight Starter. Because its size falls in the mid-range of end-gathered hammocks we tested, it's unsurprising that the comfort ranks there as well. The King Rhombic RipStop fabric was quite soft and comfortable — a noticeable improvement from the previous slippery fabric of the older versions.
As the name implies, the Ultralight Starter is a very lightweight hammock, weighing just 14.6 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 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. As with most basic end-gathered hammocks with a carabiner on either end, the overall ease of setup 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. When it's time to take it down, it stuffs easily into the attached stuff sack.
Durability and Protection
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. Without the addition of bug netting and a tarp, it is not a great hammock for bugs or severe weather, but these can easily be added on after the fact from many manufacturers.
With low weight and low price, and larger size than many ultralight hammocks, the Ultralight Starter is a legitimately viable option as a budget overnight hammock as long as you aren't expecting the comfort of expedition models. It can also easily be used as a simple sit and chill hammock that you bring with you to the park or a friend's barbeque.
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 the Ultralight Starter. 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.
— Elizabeth Paashaus & Maggie Brandenburg
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