Home / Gear Reviews / Dream Hammock 4-Season Thunderbird Hammock Review

Dream Hammock 4-Season Thunderbird Hammock Review

manufactured by:
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
300.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On July 18, 2016
Last modified:August 26, 2016

Summary:

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.

The Thunderbird is a 4-season hammock with an overcover
The Thunderbird is a 4-season hammock with a overcover (shown with down underquilt)

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.

The Thunderbird has an internal ridgeline. Interior view with top quilt inside hammock and underquilt attached. JPG
The Thunderbird has an internal ridgeline. Interior view with top quilt inside hammock and underquilt attached. JPG

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.

Diagonal Lay

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.

The head-end of the overcover is mesh which helps eliminate any interal condensation
The head-end of the overcover is mesh which helps eliminate internal condensation

Hammock Overcover

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.

Side quilt clips help suspend an underquilt and keep positioned properly
Side quilt hooks help suspend a underquilt and keep it positioned properly

Underquilt Hooks

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.

Cinch Buckle Suspension system is very easy to adjust
Cinch Buckle Suspension system is very easy to adjust

Cinch Buckles

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.

Thunderbird configured without overcover or bug mesh
Thunderbird configured without an overcover or bug mesh.

Recommendation

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. 

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11 comments

  1. Like that blaze orange top! I assume you got that for off trail trips?

  2. the underquilt hooks are a great idea, makes me wish I could sew

  3. The titanium cinch buckles and dynema straps from dutchware are a nice upgrade if you are looking to lighten your load.

  4. I thought it sounded good but that Blaze Orange will give me nightmares for sure, such a visual abomination in the Wild and so ugly when you look out over a lake an see all these visual distractions of pure ugliness. Like Telephone and Power Wires always seem to ruin the picture.. Then when I clicked on the link and they did not list the Price until you placed an Order… I said no way…. I do not like that type of Marketing…..So No….

    • Eddie I’m not sure what you’re referring to regarding pricing. When I click on their hammocks page they show the models the offer and base price, but maybe they’ve changed the format, or you were in a different area. They make a great hammock. I currently have an UL Darien and love it. It has all the features I need and weighs 1 pound total with bishop bag and tree straps with cinch buckles. I had a heavier Roaming Gnome in the past and it was an excellent hammock as well. You won’t be disappointed in the quality or service of Dream Hammock.

  5. I’ve been eyeing a custom dream hammock for a while now. My only question is how does it feel when sitting in it? Is the zipper in the way or does it bite into your leg while sitting?

  6. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed when looking into hammocks the first time.
    With a tent it’s pretty simple. There’s not many things to consider.
    Material?
    Free standing?
    1 or 2 walls?
    # of people

    But hammocks there’s the suspension which is an entire post by itself, cinch buckles, whoopie slings, soft shackles, carabiners, paracord, climbing rings, etc

    Then there’s insulation, top quilt and under quilt, foam pad, sleeping bag.. what do you do from X temp to Y temp

    There’s the hammock itself: length, width, single layer and double layer. Then there’s fixed or adjustable ridgeline. there’s the hammock material itself, nylon, polyester, rayon, argon, etc.. which one to use?

    There’s bug netting to consider, do you want it attached to your hammock permanently, or do you want to be able to remove it in the winter when it’s not needed?

    Then there’s the tarp, tarp material, tarp dimensions, hanging the tarp. Do you want a continuous ridge line, do you attach the ends of the tarp to the tree, what about drip lines (for continuous ridge line and suspension), etc..

    Man, when I first got into hammock camping I was so overwhelmed it wasn’t funny.
    I watched Shugg’s vidoes, I bought and read the Ultimate Hang book.
    I bought the first thing I saw thinking it would work and changing my mind several times throughout. I frankensteined my setup but I like it for what I do.

    I like how the Dream Hammock system lets you buy the complete hammock package, all you would need to get or to figure out is tarp and insulation and you’re good to go.

  7. Any opinions out there on the Clark Jungle hammocks?

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