Warbonnet Ridgerunner Review
Cons: Suspension sold separately, not for the lightweight crowd, vulnerable to tipping
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Sleeping in a hammock can be a no-brainer for a back sleeper, but for those who aren't able to sleep in that position, things can get uncomfortable after a couple of hours. Most hammocks allow you to get into a diagonal position and achieve a decently flat side lay, but this usually only works on one side. If you want to turn over, you may find your face smashed against the fabric, and you can forget about laying on your stomach. But with the Ridgerunner, you are essentially in a floating cot, and a plethora of sleeping positions are readily available.
To sleep in style and in almost any position you want, take a close look at the Ridgerunner, our Top Pick for Side Sleeping. Setup is quick and easy, an optional double layer floor creates a sleeping pad sleeve, and an integrated bug net means you'll be safe from pesky insects. The Ridgerunner's use of spreader bars brilliantly marries the old school patio hammock design with cutting edge lightweight camping material, changing the game for die-hard side sleepers who want to hang under the stars.
The Ridgerunner easily achieves top scores for comfort and is so special that we had to award it our Top Pick for Ultimate Comfort. The only models that come close to its comfort levels are the lay-flat ENO Skyloft, the lightweight version, Skylite and the large and asymmetrical Warbonnet Blackbird. The Skyloft and Skylite have spreader bars like the Ridgerunner, achieving a similar flat lay. The Blackbird is extremely roomy and utilizes a diagonal lay and a unique footbox to get a pretty flat sleeping surface.
However, only the models with spreader bars allow you to lay easily and comfortably on either side and, in the Ridgerunner, you can even lay on your stomach! It feels more like being in a floating tent or cot than a hammock. The only position that doesn't work quite as well is the fetal position. Our smaller testers have enough width in this narrow hammock (3 feet wide), but folks over 6' may not have enough space for a full fetal position.
Some people will still prefer the asymmetrical design of many expedition camping hammocks but, for those that don't mind carrying the extra weight of spreader bars, the Ridgerunner is a comfortable way to change up hammock camping and allow for some additional versatility.
As with all hammocks, if the suspension isn't appropriately tensioned, some odd things can happen. Hanging the Ridgerunner too tightly results in a less stable hammock. Sitting up facing lengthwise can be tipsy and disorienting at night. You can improve this feeling by giving the hammock a little more sag and bending a leg (i.e., not sitting with your legs straight). Regardless of how you set it up, changing clothes in this model will likely result in some ground time.
Ok, the Ridgerunner is comfortable. You get it. But is there really that big of a difference? Yes, and here's why — the details of construction. At the head and foot end of this model, Warbonnet built in loose fabric. Typically in a hammock, you will find that the fabric gets tighter and tighter as you get to the ends. With the loose material in the Ridgerunner, you have room for a pillow or to rest your arms above your head. It also gives the hood and footbox of your sleeping bag room to keep its loft and maintain warmth.
To sleep in a hammock without your feet feeling pinned is a glorious experience for anyone used to end-gathered hammock camping. Even in the Blackbird, which also has a footbox to give your feet more space, we still felt a little of the foot squeeze. There is absolutely none in the Ridgerunner. Warbonnet even sewed this model with tension in just right places to give you slight neck support while letting your head lie back in a flat position.
Another common point of discomfort in end gathered hammocks is the calf ridge, that spot when you get your diagonal lay on and are nice and flat, yet the tension is pulling a ridge of fabric up behind your calf. It's something that most hammock campers get used to but never love. The Ridgerunner completely eliminates the calf ridge!
So no calf ridge, no hyperextended knees, no squeezing of the head, feet, or arms, and a comfortable side and even stomach position… are you beginning to see what makes the Ridgerunner so special?
This is not a light hammock. While not exactly heavy, and still lighter than many one-person tents, the Ridgerunner weighs 35 ounces with its bug net and suspension. It's one of the heaviest of the hammocks we tested. Its full shelter weight with the Mini-Fly, whoopie sling and Dynaweave strap suspension, bug net, and double-layer fabric comes to 52 ounces.
The extra weight is due to the 12-ounce spreader bars. These are not optional — without them, you'd be curled up in an oddly tensioned taco. You can use certain hiking poles in place of the bars but only if they have a tripod mount on top where you can screw in a little tip to attach them to the hammock. Be warned though, while we didn't try this, during our research, we read about snapping or suddenly shortening trekking poles, which aren't designed for this type of force.
Hammock weight and comfort are almost always inversely proportional, and this case is certainly no different. Most full shelter system hammocks we tested weigh at least 10 ounces less than the Ridgerunner's complete system but the comfort really doesn't compare. You can drop a few ounces by purchasing the single layer Ridgerunner, but if you're already committing to the weight of spreader bars, you might as well have the luxury of a sleeve for your sleeping pad.
Durability and Protection
The Ridgerunner is available from Warbonnet with a single or double-layer bottom. We tested both. The double-layer provides increased weight capacity and a sleeve for your sleeping pad so that it doesn't slip around and keep you up all night adjusting it, a feature we really appreciate.
Additionally, the Ridgerunner has an optional integrated bug net, so right out of the bag, you're protected from skeeters. The bug net stores away easily in a dedicated pocket if you don't need it. It doesn't come with a tarp but Warbonnet offers a variety of tarps of varying sizes.
We tried out the Mini Fly and are big fans of the size and protection. It offer's more protection from wind and rain than any other rainy fly in our test. In an effort to save weight, hammocks will often use smaller tarps that leave the user vulnerable to drafts and blowing rain. The beaks on the Mini Fly do an excellent job of keeping out blowing rain and the tarp is a good size, helping to block gusts of wind from the sides. The Ridgerunner needs a wide tarp to cover the surface area created by its spreader bars. To prevent any abrasion, you'll need to stake out the sides of your tarp far enough that the pole tips won't rub up against the tarp's fabric when the hammock sways.
One small complaint we had is with the quality of the plastic clips used to clip up the bug netting. These appear to be glove clips but with one end cut off. The cut leaves a rough edge that we are concerned will catch on the lightweight material and tear it. Given the quality of every other element on the hammock, we were surprised that Warbonnet didn't grind down this sharp edge. We looked into it on the hammock forums and found that others noticed the same thing, so we don't think it was a one-off mistake.
While the Ridgerunner is constructed from relatively thin 1.1oz/30D nylon and requires attention and care the same way a good quality tent does, we didn't feel the need to baby it. When purchasing the hammock, you can select a heavier fabric and a double layer option to increase durability; this also increases weight capacity. This hammock is well constructed, sturdy and, with proper care, should last years.
Ease of Set Up
The Ridgerunner is easy to set up but requires a few extra steps. This hammock has a convenient double-sided stuff sack, allowing you to easily get pitched while keeping everything out of the dirt. The stuff sack is large, making it easy to pack the hammock away and giving you the option to stuff your tarp in with it. Simple straps and buckles make tensioning a breeze, and you can upgrade to whoopie slings if you want an even lighter suspension option.
After the hammock is hanging, you have to insert the spreader bars. The bars are comprised of two poles, a longer one for the head and a shorter one for the foot. The head pole breaks down into three pieces, and the foot pole into two. They are color-coded to make it easy to figure out which pole sections go together. From there, you insert the pole tips into steel buckles on either side of the hammock. While this is all very simple and straightforward, it is more to contend with and adds five separate pieces to your rig that you need to avoid losing.
Warbonnet offers two suspension choices, both are quick and easy to adjust and include 12 feet of material, giving you a wide range of set-up spans. The webbing system is the heavier of the two at 6.7 ounces and is almost dummy-proof in its simplicity — just reach around the tree and clip the carabiner back to the webbing.
The whoopie system is less intuitive, but once you get the hang of how to adjust them, it is a flash to hang and adjust. It weighs only 2.3 ounces, but we are disappointed in the Dynaweave tree strap's performance. After only one use it crumpled widthwise, rendering it unable to protect the trees any more than a rope would.
The one other step required to set up the Ridgerunner is to secure the shock cord attached to the integrated bug net. If you don't do this, you will have a bunch of netting laying on your face. This is as simple as attaching the cord at the head end to your anchor, slightly above wherever your suspension strap is. The cord on the foot end attaches directly to the base of the suspension or can be left unused.
Alternatively, you can put up a separate ridgeline for the bug net, which could also support a tarp. Again, this is a simple procedure, but it does require an extra step in regards to the bug net that other models do not.
The key to a restful hang in any hammock is finding the proper angle, and the Ridgerunner is no exception. Warbonnet recommends a 25-degree suspension angle when the hammock is weighted. They also recommend hanging the foot end about 12" higher than the head end. Although it looks like you will be laying upside down, this angle keeps your torso flat and your body from slowly scooching down during the night until your feet are jammed in the end. With the easy to adjust straps and some practice, we found this relatively quick and easy to achieve.
The Ridgerunner is our Top Pick for Ultimate Comfort, and we find it offers the most versatility in positions in which you can sleep comfortably. It's delightful to lay on your back, super comfortable on both sides, and is even comfortable for stomach sleeping! Having this many position options in a camping hammock is practically unknown.
While the bug netting isn't completely removable so you can't leave it behind to save weight, it has the ability to be zipped all the way down and stowed away in a special pocket at the foot of the hammock. This is a really nice feature, as it allows you to clear your side views from netting completely.
The optional double layer of fabric is something we would like to see in any shelter hammock. Sleeping in a hammock with a sleeping pad usually results in a night of constant adjustment. When the pad is securely stowed in its own pocket, it stays in place and keeps you warm, allowing you to roll around all you want without losing it.
The rectangular underquilt we tested, the ENO Vulcan Underquilt, fits this model better than any other. While there are many underquilts on the market designed to fit many different hammock shapes and sizes, the simple rectangular shape makes the Ridgerunner easy for a DIYer to create their own.
Each side of the Ridgerunner has large saddlebag-like pockets. They hang on the outside of the hammock but are accessible from the inside when the bug net is zipped. The pockets are designed for users who want to be able to keep more than just the essentials at hand. You can fit books, Nalgene bottles, and shoes inside with ease. They are fully functional with or without the netting, though if the weight in them is unbalanced, it can flip the hammock over when you get out.
The Ridgerunner's versatility suffers somewhat due to its relatively low weight limits. At 200 lbs with the single-layer and 250 lbs in the double layer, this hammock is not for larger users, and our broad-shouldered testers felt a little confined. The hammock is long, listed as fitting folks up to 6'4" and our 6'2" testers felt like they had lots of space.
Except for the issue of weight and weight capacity, we found this to be a versatile hammock for camping. The only downside to the design is that it doesn't accommodate sitting sideways or sitting upright the way open, end-gathered models do.
No matter what options you select when purchasing the Ridgerunner, it's an investment, particularly since the suspension system is extra! But if you're serious about hammock camping and sleeping comfort is something that doesn't come easy to you, this is a small price to pay for countless restful nights in the backcountry. If side sleeping is critical for a good night's sleep and a happy back, you'll be happy you dropped the dough on the Ridgerunner.
The Ridgerunner, our Top Pick for Ultimate Comfort, is a solidly constructed hammock with an integrated bug net, large side gear pockets, and spreader bars to create a flat sleeping area conducive even to side and stomach sleeping. It's heavy for camping hammock, but if it means you'll sleep like a baby instead of waking up grouchy and with a stiff neck, we think it's worth its weight in ZZZ's.
With so many options available for modification from Warbonnet, we suggest watching their videos before making your purchase. They do a good job of breaking down their features and benefits to help you make an informed decision. These videos also provide helpful tips on setting up your hammock. You should see us stake out our tarp and coil our cord like experts now!
Below are a few we found especially helpful as we got to know the Ridgerunner.
Ridgerunner Set Up
Webbing & Buckle Suspension
— Elizabeth Paashaus and Penney Garrett