Dream Hammock is a backpacking hammock maker that provides a wide range of customization options for all of the hammock models they sell, ranging from 4-season hammocks to minimalist, ultralight, and net-less models. If you want custom colors and stitching, underquilt hooks, a special fabric, a different suspension or dozens of other options, these are the guys that experienced hammockers get their gear from. Dream Hammock also provides fantastic customer service and can answer any questions you have about the gear they sell, especially as you spec your hammock.
The Dream Hammock Thunderbird is a 4 season hammock, that I purchased for use in early spring and late fall when nighttime temperatures dip into the 20’s and 30’s at night. For me, having a solid overcover and underquilt quilt guides were the key features. Dual zippers, so you can enter and exit the hammock on other side area also a nice feature missing from many other backpacking hammocks. I also opted for a double layer bottom because I like the option of using foam pads for bottom insulation as well.
Here are the complete specs of the Dream Hammock Thunderbird Hammock I had built:
- Length: 11 ft
- Layers: Double
- Zippers: Right and Left hand side (standard)
- Outside Fabric: 1.6 oz HyperD Dark Olive
- Inside Fabric: 1.6 oz HyperD Dark Olive
- Overcover: 1.1 oz Blaze Orange
- Asym Lay: Right
- Suspension: Cinch Buckle (head-end Orange, foot Silver)
- Tree Straps: 12 foot webbing
- Overcover: Vented
- Internal storage: Side mesh pocket
- Grosgrain Loops: Blaze Orange
- Actual weight:
- Hammock, with cinch buckles but no straps: 27.2 oz
- Overcover: 4.8 oz
- Mesh cover: 4.6 oz
Granted, my Thunderbird is not the lightest configuration I could have specked out. Not by a long shot, since it’s configured for shoulder season conditions, when the daylight hours are much shorter, and where sleep and staying warm are the priority. If there is one thing that backpacking hammocks give you over other shelter types, it’s much better comfort and better sleep, which more than justifies some added weight over ultralight minimalist sleep systems.
The Thunderbird is a gathered-end, diagonal-lay style hammock, which means you lie flat in the hammock without being bent like a banana with hyperextended knees. Instead of lying along the hammock’s centerline, you plunk your feet to the right or left of it and then rotate your body until it’s oriented at about a 30 degree angle to the centerline. This creates a flat surface that makes it much more comfortable to sleep on, making a hammock a good option for side sleepers as well as back sleepers.
A hammock overcover helps prevent a lot of the heat loss you experience through the top of a hammock covered with bug mesh in cold weather and can raise the internal temperature by about 10 degrees. When purchasing a Thunderbird you have the option of just getting a overcover, just getting netting, or getting both the overcover and the netting (I chose both). You can also use the hammock without either, if you don’t need any extra thermal or bug protection.
Dream Hammock also gives you the option of adding mesh to the top and bottom of the overcover, which is helpful to prevent condensation and ice build up on the underside of the overcover in cold weather. Overcovers with mesh openings still retain plenty of heat, while also blocking any heat-robbing wind that sneaks up under your hammock tarp.
But overcovers have their limits in cold weather and don’t provide any wind protection to prevent heat loss from a underquilt. If you do opt for a overcover, I’d still recommend getting a underquilt cover from another vendor or using a combined overcover/undercover solution like Dutchware’s Vented Hammock Sock (see review) instead. I learned this the hard way on an AT trip where cold high winds stripped the heat out of my underquilt several nights running.
The Thunderbird, like many of Dream Hammock’s other models, includes extra hooks along the sides that help keep the suspension of your underquilt in place at night and prevent the quilt from slipping over to the other side and leaving your bum exposed. They really simplify the process of hanging a underquilt and keeping it in place, a key requirement for sleeping in colder weather.
There are many different kinds of hammock suspension systems available today, but I like cinch buckles because they are so simple and intuitive to use, and because I can use the same webbing and suspension hardware across multiple hammocks. Simply pull the webbing through the buckle to tighten or loosen to lengthen. Dream Hammock gives you a choice though and you can specify continuous loops or whoopie slings instead.
The Dream Hammock Thunderbird is a 4 season hammock that can be customized and configured with a wide variety of different options to suit your preferences and trip requirements. Whether it’s the color of your hammock or options you can’t get anywhere else, Dream Hammock is uniquely qualified to make the hammock of your dreams. Just be conscious of the fact that the Thunderbird is designed to be a cold weather hammock, where added comfort and convenience features may well be worth some extra weight to endure long and cold nights.
Visit Dream Hammocks for more information about their products or the myriad customization options they offer.
Disclosure: Philip Werner purchased all of the products mentioned in this review with his own funds.