Kootek Portable Review
Cons: Not the lightest, sticky carabiner
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Take a few yards of fabric, tie a rope to either end, and you've got yourself a spot to swing. Honestly, there isn't much more that goes into an end gathered hammock at first glance so what's the difference and how did we select the Kootek as our Best Buy for Day Use?
For a mere $26, Kootek provides a well constructed 'mock with triple interlocking stitching, soft parachute fabric, and a voluminous 9.8' x 6.5' of lounging space. The included heavy-duty webbing straps have the most adjustability, allowing for both long and short tree spans. Need to know more? Read on for the nitty, gritty details.
With end-gathered hammocks, comfort equates to size, which relates to how you pitch it. The Kootek hammock in the large size that we tested is one of the best (by some narrow margins because honestly, a lot of the basic end-gathered hammocks are very, very similar.) It is the widest hammock we tested at 6.5' beating the competitors by anywhere from 1 to 5 inches. It's also one of the longer hammocks we tested measuring a whopping 9.8'.
The fabric of the Kootek is the same soft parachute fabric that we found in every other similar model. Even the higher-priced ENO Doublenest seems to be made of the same material. When you get into the lightweight end-gathered hammocks, you start to see more fabric variation. They typically save weight by using thinner material and smaller cuts. We like this parachute fabric for its soft feel on our skin and quick-drying ability.
Like with most hammocks, the most comfortable reclined position is found on the diagonal line rather than end to end. With a large hammock like the Kootek, it is easy to find many comfortable spots. In smaller hammocks the limited length confines your feet and shoulders.
In our tests, we had plenty of room to relax sideways, add in a friend, or two, or three kids! The width of this model allows the user to sit sideways with head support and plenty of fabric to spare. Many models are similar in their wide swaths of fabric but don't always include straps as nice or keep the cost as low.
The Kootek was nothing special weight-wise, at 23 ounces (not including straps) it was on par with the other similar models.
We probably wouldn't throw the Kootek in our packs for a multi-day backpacking adventure but will happily tote it around on day trips, down to the river, and even on overnighter where weight isn't as critical.
Durability and Protection
An open, day-use model is never going to rank as high in protection as an expedition hammock that comes with bug netting and a rain fly, but there are a few factors to consider. The hammocks like the Kootek with wider fabric allow you to cocoon up inside giving you some protection from bugs and maybe a drizzle.
Thicker fabrics can cut the breeze a little bit. The parachute fabric of the Kootek is thicker than that of some ultralight models but is still pretty thin and breathable. On summer days, the way the breeze comes through the fabric is a great respite, but in cooler weather, you may want to add in a blanket or pad to cut the chill.
If you are looking for a hammock to use as a shelter in anything but the perfect weather, you'll probably want to add a bug net and tarp. Kootek doesn't offer any accessory options, but those from many other brands will work just fine.
We carefully inspected the stitching and construction in the hammocks we tested, trying to determine a difference between the end-gathered day models. What we found was very little difference. We expected to see more durable construction in the higher-priced models but, to our eyes, they were the same. The Kootek and similar models all share triple interlocking stitching and parachute fabric that feels and appears to be of the same quality.
We felt secure in these hammocks, but it's important to be cautious about sharp belt buckles, keys the might fall out of pockets and any other item that could poke a small hole. Once a hole is poked in a parachute fabric under tension, your bum is hitting the ground! For increased durability, we tested some models that used a rip-stop fabric.
We noticed when unpackaging the Kootek that the cord tied to each end was loosely tied, with the ends floating free. Upon first use, the knot tightened up just fine but could just as easily have come undone altogether. You should always use caution and inspect knots to ensure they are tied properly before use.
Ease of Set Up
One thing that makes us stoked about the Kootek is the inclusion of straps. And not just a piece of rope but high quality, heavy-duty webbing straps with triple bar-tacked loops. No other tested model had straps of this quality included in their price. For day use hammocks, this type of strap is our favorite; quick to set up and adjust, durable and confidence-inspiring, and wide to protect tree bark.
Kootek's included straps have 18 loops to attach the hammock to, compared to ENO's Atlas Strap at 15 loops, giving the Kootek slightly more adjustability. However, Kootek's straps are 59" long compared to ENO's Atlas Straps which measure 62". A few extra inches in strap length increase the versatility of your hang more than a couple of extra loops because it allows a greater range of tree size and distance.
Kootek uses a carabiner on either end to connect the 'mock to the straps. The 'biner included is a cheaply made steel carabiner. It's heavy compared to the lightweight climbing grade 'biners and the gate would often stick open, and we had to close it manually. You could easily replace it with a nice wire gate carabiner from any climbing shop to further improve the ease of set up, but it's certainly not necessary. We like the Black Diamond Oz for an uber light and strong, high-quality carabiner.
A large end-gathered hammock is always a versatile camp item. Many times they are used for lounging and reading a book, watching a sunset with friends, or even sleeping at camp. The 550-pound weight capacity makes this 'mock versatile for a few friends or the kids to all pile into.
Once you add in a tarp and bug net to the Kootek you would have a pretty heavy system that wouldn't be ideal for carrying on a backpacking trip but has excellent potential for car camping and other trips where weight is not critical.
Even if the Kootek weren't so inexpensive, we would still rank it up there with well-known brands. Its quality and size are on par with other tested models we tested. It's one of the few day-use models that come with tree protection straps included, and you can't beat the price.
One unique thing about the Kootek that may add value for some is the surprising absence of any labels. Nowhere on the stuff sack, hammock, straps, or carabiners will you find any logo or name dropping.
If you're looking for a hammock to give you a comfortable place to chill, the Kootek is one of our favorite options. Maybe you are considering a hammock but don't know if you'll like it or how much use you'll get out of it. If that's the case, you can't go wrong giving the Kootek a try for the price of a couple of 6-packs of craft beer.
— Elizabeth Paashaus