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Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter Review

The Ultralight Starter is a very affordable and easy to use hammock that provides a great entry point to try out hammocking without breaking the bank.
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Price:  $30 List | $22.45 at Amazon
Pros:  Affordable, lightweight, comfortable
Cons:  Limited durability and protection, cheaper fabric
Manufacturer:   Grand Trunk
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2018
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 18
  • Comfort - 40% 6
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Durability and Protection - 20% 4
  • Ease of Set Up - 10% 9
  • Versatility - 10% 4

Our Verdict

For a truly lightweight inexpensive introductory hammock, the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter is a natural choice. Made from simple polyester this isn't the softest or coziest model, but it is a great option for anyone on a budget or anyone who wants to try out hammock camping without a huge investment. While not our favorite backcountry hammock, for $30 it might be worth giving a try! It's on par with our Best Buy award winner, the (much heavier) Kootek and is a full $40 cheaper than any other lightweight model we tested. If you find yourself falling in love with hanging under the stars in the wilderness, you can always upgrade to something warmer and fancier and still have the Ultralight Starter around for a lightweight camp chair, gear sling, or general warm weather companion.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $22.45 at Amazon$155 List$210 List$64.93 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$220 List
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Pros Affordable, lightweight, comfortableSpacious, comfortable, easy to set up and use, integrated bug net, customizableThe comfiest/flattest sleeping surface, optional integrated bug net and double layer bottom, large gear pocketsLightweight, spacious, easy set up, versatile for day use or backcountry shelterAsymmetric design for an easy diagonal lay, lightweight, includes suspension, tree straps, bug net, and rain fly
Cons Limited durability and protection, cheaper fabricSuspension sold separately, can't remove bug net completelySuspension sold separately, not for the lightweight crowd, vulnerable to tippingAll components sold separately, can only use branded suspension system, pricey for the full systemMore complicated to set up, bug net isn't removable, smaller tarp
Bottom Line The Ultralight Starter is a very affordable and easy to use hammock that provides a great entry point to try out hammocking without breaking the bank.All the features and comfort in a lightweight package.The Ridgerunner is a luxurious and innovative hammock with spreader bars for a super flat lay, an integrated bug net, and lots of storage.Not willing to sacrifice on versatility in a comfortable, lightweight hammock shelter? The Pro Double is an excellent balance of all three!A fantastic combination of lightweight and backcountry features, the Ultralite Backpacker from Hennessy provides a unique and versatile hammock camping experience.
Rating Categories Ultralight Starter Warbonnet Original Blackbird Warbonnet Ridgerunner Sea to Summit Pro Double Hennessy Ultralite Backpacke...
Comfort (40%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
Weight (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
Durability And Protection (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
Versatility (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
5
Specs Ultralight Starter Warbonnet Original... Warbonnet... Sea to Summit Pro... Hennessy Ultralite...
Capacity (weight) 200 lbs 350-400 lbs depending on options selected 200-250 lbs depending on options selected 400 lbs 200 lbs
Hanging Straps Included ? No no, can add onto purchase for extra $ No, can add onto purchase for extra $ No yes
Hammock Size 9.5' x 4.5' 10' x 5.25' 10'1" x 3' 10' x 6'2" 9'10"x4'11"
Size Compact 7.5" x 5" 10" x 4" 15" x 7" 4" x 6" 4"x6"x9"
Connectors Nautical grade carabiners Whoopies/straps or buckle/webbing (sold separately) Whoopies/straps or buckle/webbing (sold separately) Buckles Webbing straps and spectra ropes
Material King Rhombic RipStop Polyester 40D or 70D Nylon (depending on options selected) 1.1oz/30D Nylon Double Layer 70D nylon ripstop 70d Nylon Taffeta
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. Ripstop nylon, double interlocking stitching End gathered, asymmetric hammock, integrated bug netting and suspension system
Sizes / Colors 1 size, 3 color options 27 colors, 3 fabric layering configurations 12 colors, 2 fabric layering options 2 sizes, 4 colors 1 color
Measured Weight - Package (ounces) 12.8 oz 27 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension 36 oz hammock, whoopie sling suspension, bug net 16 oz 24 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension, stuff sack)
Measured Weight - Hammock Only (ounces) 9.6 oz 26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension 35 oz hammock, whoopie sling suspension, bug net 16 oz 22 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension)
Measured Weight - Hammock and Suspension (ounces) 26 oz hammock, bug net, webbing/buckle suspension 35 oz hammock, whoopie sling suspension, bug net 19 oz 22 oz (hammock, bug net, suspension)
Measured Weight - Shelter System (no stakes) 42 oz with Mini Fly tarp 52 oz with Mini Fly tarp 42 oz (hammock suspension, bug net, tarp) 32 oz with included tarp
Capacity (height) Not stated 6' Up to 6' 4" Not stated Up to 6'
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, gear sling, wider tree protection straps, Longer webbing straps (free upgrade), Larger Rainly, hammock pad, insulation system, hanging pockets, snakeskins
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 Tree hugger tree protection straps, suspension cord, rainfly, bugnet (integrated), stuff sack, rainfly guy lines, hanging storage pocket, rain collectors
Extra Accessories Tested none Mini Fly tarp, webbing with buckles suspension, Mini Fly tarp, bug net, double layer fabric, whoopie slings, tree straps Rain fly, ultralight suspension straps, bug net Snakeskins

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 a mere $30. 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.

Performance Comparison


Keeping things light leaves not a whole lot of space to lay any other way in the Grand Trunk Ultralight
Keeping things light leaves not a whole lot of space to lay any other way in the Grand Trunk Ultralight

Comfort


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 $30.

A thinner sleeping pad is a must if you're planning to camp in the Ultralight Starter! We had a hard time staying balanced on this 4" thick Big Agnes pad.
A thinner sleeping pad is a must if you're planning to camp in the Ultralight Starter! We had a hard time staying balanced on this 4" thick Big Agnes pad.

Weight


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 the Sea to Summit Ultralight is substantially lighter at 5.8 ounces (4.8 without its stuff sack), and the Sub6 is only 5.7 ounces, 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 Nano 7, Sea to Summit Ultralight, or Sub6, giving it an edge in the comfort department.


If you're interested in saving ounces, you might want to check out the Sea to Summit Ultralight, which practically blew our minds with its 4.8-ounce weight (without stuff sack or suspension). The ENO Sub6 (tested as part of the ENO SubLink System) was lighter as well, at just 5.7 ounces. The Grand Trunk Nano7 was also lighter than the Ultralight Starter, at only 7.5 ounces. But if you're willing to carry just a few more ounces, we think you'll appreciate the extra space and comfort they provide.

The Ultralight Starter hammock packs down very small! But don't forget this size doesn't include your suspension system.
The Ultralight Starter hammock packs down very small! But don't forget this size doesn't include your suspension system.

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!

The Grand Trunk Ultralight is held together at the ends with a knotted rope attached to a carabiner.
The Grand Trunk Ultralight is held together at the ends with a knotted rope attached to a carabiner.

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 has just one simple seam running down both sides of the hammock.
The Ultralight has just one simple seam running down both sides of the hammock.

Versatility


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.

While there's not a lot of inherent versatility in ultralight open models  the Ultralight Starter is a bit wider  which provided us with enough room to get a comfortable diagonal lay.
While there's not a lot of inherent versatility in ultralight open models, the Ultralight Starter is a bit wider, which provided us with enough room to get a comfortable diagonal lay.

Best Applications


Backpackers looking to save weight or campers looking to get started hammock camping on a budget will enjoy the simple setup and great value of the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter. It will serve you best in fair, clear weather and is recommended for only one adult at a time, as the weight rating isn't very high.

Value


The Grand Trunk Ultralight is an incredible value, at only $30. Though it used to be our Best Buy winner, with the influx of so many hammocks on the market, it's less competitive than it once was. However, 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, and an average price for that component from Grand Trunk or another manufacturer is $20-30. So you will be paying as much for the suspension as you paid for the hammock!

Conclusion


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. For $30, what have you got to lose?

We thought this single hammock from Grand Trunk made a comfortable seat to enjoy a fine spring day in the Sierras!
We thought this single hammock from Grand Trunk made a comfortable seat to enjoy a fine spring day in the Sierras!

Other Versions and Accessories


Grand Trunk makes a variety of hammocks. From regular double and single hammocks to the more intense Nano 7 and even a Junior option for the kiddos! Many of their hammocks come in lots of colors, and exciting patterns and a lot of them are cheaper than the competition.

Grand Trunk also sells accessories to accompany their hammocks. You can add a mosquito net and rain fly, upgrade to lightweight aluminum carabiners, purchase trunk straps, and even get a stand to enjoy your hammock where there are no trees (like in your living room!).


Maggie Brandenburg