Home / Gear Reviews / The Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock by Jim Bradley

The Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock by Jim Bradley

Warbonnent Blackbird Hammock

When I first learned about the possibility of sleeping in a hammock in the back country I was in awe.  I loved my backyard hammock and fall asleep in it all the time so this seemed perfect. Being a bigger guy, sleeping on the ground never really worked for me. I’m a side sleeper and always woke up with a sore hip or back. A hammock seemed like the obvious answer.

I stated taking a simple parachute travel hammock on day hikes, setting it up on summits and along the trail for nice lunchtime breaks. Sometimes, very long lunchtime breaks.  I fell in love, it was easy to set up, comfortable, and relaxing. I decided it was time to take it one-step further and start looking for a hammock for overnights. I had a few “must haves” in my new hammock.  First it had to be built tough and able to hold 300 pounds plus. Second I needed a bug net, built in would be better. I also needed a tarp I wanted something big and light.  I don’t have a bunch of extra money to spend on gear so when I make a purchase I have to do a lot of research, I can’t afford to buy something else if my first choice doesn’t work out so I have to try my best to get it right the first time.

In my research, I found a company called Warbonnet Outdoors.  They specialize in hammock and hammock accessories and are well respected. The Blackbird hammock seemed to fit the bill of exactly what I was looking for.  The double layer 1.7 holds 400lbs. It is a bit heavy at 40oz but extra weight is worth it to me for the durability. They also offer single layer in 1.7 and 1.1 weight nylon for you lighter folks. I in addition opted to get the superfly tarp, a huge 132″ x 120″ tarp weighing in at 20.5oz.

When I first received the hammock, I was very happy with the quality.  Great stitching, no loose threads, top quality work here.  I could not wait to try it out.  I went car camping that weekend to try it out.  Setup was easy I had the hammock up in less than 5 minutes and the tarp up in a couple more.  When bedtime came, I crawled into my new hammock and quickly realized I was going to be cold. It was in the high 50’s low 60’s, normally I would be warm in this weather.  Having open air all around you makes a huge difference, and a compressed sleeping bag does not offer much warmth. I learned that stuffing a sleeping pad in between the layers of the hammock is a good cheap way to keep warm.  Another option is an under quilt something I could not afford at the time.  Sleeping with the pad in place, I have had the hammock down to about 30 degrees comfortably. The double layer holds the pad in place perfectly.

Hammock and Tarp

Lying in the hammock is super comfortable; side tie outs pull the hammock open giving you plenty of room.  One tie out pulls a ‘shelf” away from the hammock giving you a place to store light items for easy access inside the hammock. At the foot end sewn in is a foot box giving you a place to put your feet helping with a flat lay or just giving you place for your feet without pressure on them.  I think one of the most interesting things about hammock camping is that if you lay diagonally in the hammock you can produce a relatively flat bed like lay. I am a side sleeper and lying at the diagonal makes for a very nice nights rest.

I love the hammock camping because:

  • It is comfortable.
  • I can set up almost anywhere, hillsides, muddy areas, rocky areas, etc.
  • It packs small.
  • It seconds as a camp seat.
  • Set up and tear down is quick.

Things that I am not so fond of:

  • Keeping warm takes some work.
  • The need of trees for set up.

About Jim Bradley – Husky Hiker has been hiking Western Massachusetts for over fifteen years.  Jim is also the author of Best Easy Day Hikes: Berkshires.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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25 comments

  1. If anyone has questions about the blackbird or hammock camping in general, I'm more than happy to answer them…

    • I have the Blackbird XLC double-layer. I was using it on a 2 night/3day hike near Flagstaff Arizona USA two weekends ago, and the temps were just below freezing. I was using my Thermarest NeoAir pad sandwiched in between the two layers, and also an MLD Spirit Quilt as my underquilt. I’m thankful the underquilt kept me toasty because I simply could NOT keep the NeoAir pad in place underneath me. It kept sliding off to the side of the hammock, which then blocked my ability to kick my feet out into the footbox or even access the shelf on my right side. The first night I inflated the pad completely, that was the worst night, the pad would simply not stay under me. The second night I only slightly inflated the pad, and it stayed put longer, but still by morning , it was off to the right side. Any experience with this problem?

  2. I have been hammock camping for a while while and I have owned a Blackbird for a little over a year now.

    I have to say it's my favorite hammock that I own and I have used.

    I would highly recommend the hammock as well as any tarps that Brandon sells on his site.

  3. I've been curious about trying out hammocks for camping for quite some time. I think this summer I'll finally borrow a friend's hammock and try it out. Especially on the east coast, hammock camping makes so much sense! We have tons of trees, but very little flat and even ground. Still… I'm a little reluctant. I guess I'll just have to try it out and see how it goes.

    Any tricks for beginners about how to keep water from running down the lines and into the ends of the hammock?

    • A SectionHiker reader

      Clark hammocks sells aluminum rings which give water a place from which to drip and thereby keeps it out of your hammock. I’ve also read about carabiner clips being used the same way.

  4. I love my JRB Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock. Really expands the places you can set up camp

  5. I still haven't tried sleeping in a hammock, but more of my hiking friends are doing so. I'm told that it's now second nature for them and they have no desire to sleep on damp, crooked ground.

  6. About the water dripping down most hammocks will have a metal ring or buckle which will stop most if not all water. If you want even more security you can tie a string around the line between the buckle and the hammock to act as a drip line.

    I fully agree about the east coast I have never had a single problem finding a place to setup. I also find it's much more comfortable for me than sleeping on a pad on the ground.

    If you want to do more research into the subject make sure you check out http://www.hammockforums.net

  7. Nice post…I have been intrigued by hammocks recently. They would be a great, and light, way to go! I am also stoked that there is no chance of sleeping on a root or sharp rock with a hammock. If there were no trees could you still rig this thing up as a bivy sack with trekking poles or something?

    • While there are ways that hammock camping can be lighter than tent camping, it’s usually not going to save you any weight. And if you’re cooperatively packing (splitting a tent between 2), it’s necessarily going to be heavier.

      The payoff is comfort and flexibility in site selection.

      “Going to ground” in a hammock will likely require a sleeping pad of some sort. If this is a consideration, you have a couple of options. A 3/4-sized underquilt (I think the one Warbonnetguy is selling looks really appealing, with baffles and a cut designed for hammock use) paired with a bit of closed cell foam for use under your feet (doubling as a sit pad, and emergency insulation going to ground).

      Depending on where you go to ground, however, you may damage the delicate fabric of a hammock like the Blackbird. The only benefit you’re getting out of it is the bugnet. You might consider getting a different hammock with a separate bugnet for this purpose, and perhaps a tarp with this in mind.

      I started my “hammock journey” with a Hennessy. The tarp that comes with it is too small, and the bottom entry is annoying. I didn’t mind the straps, except for ease of adjustment. My second camping hammock was the Blackbird 1.0 double layer. I really like the footbox. It’s a great total package, sans tarp. I also recently hit my 2 year mark for indoor hammock sleeping, with a Seaside Hammocks Jewel Double.

      • As I’m reading over what I posted, I realised that I never mentioned the second option for going to ground.

        Instead of using an underquilt, you can go strait CCF pad. Again, Warbonnetguy has some great recommendations there. While you can use a regular sized pad (like a Thermarest), I think you’ll find that it’s a little too small width-wise. This is because the hammock will come up around your sides, rather than staying flat. Go wide (30″ is often recommended) and you should be fine.

        If you’ve got room in terms of weight and pack size, using both a full sized CCF and underquilt will give you a lot of flexibility: going to ground, comfort, and a range of temperatures.

  8. I made the switch to hammock camping last spring and so far I have no regrets. In that time I’ve covered roughly 250 miles and have always found places to hang the hammock. If anyone is interested, the spring hang for the mid Atlantic area is coming up here in PA at Pine Grove Furnace SP the weekend of May 30th. There will be demonstrations and a lot of information on all the logistics involved with hammock camping as well as how it relates to ultralite camping. 2Q’s who is handling all the logistics also has people lined up to talk about freezer bag cooking, first aid, and so on. Here is the thread for the Spring MAHHA on hammock forums. http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2808...

  9. @Guthook if you tie some cord to the lines the water will stop there drip from that point… this method works surprisingly well.

  10. @Grant it is not ideal to do a ground setup but it can be done. The tarp can be set up like a frame style with trekking poles easily…

  11. I started using a Hennessey Hammock about 18 months ago. I love the hammock for comfort as someone who doesn't stay in one position all night. I live in South Carolina and keeping cool durring the hot summer months is great in a hammock, however, you are correct that staying warm in colder temperatures is a problem. Underquilts are too expensive and using a sleeping pad inside the Hennessey is not easy because of it's bottom entry and tiny foot-space. I have been interested in the Blackbird because I like the double layer and side entry, which seem more practical for using a sleeping pad for warmth. Your article confirms my assumptions about this. Also, I like the cinch-straps better than the lashings of the Hennessey. Thanks for the review.

  12. @George If you get one you will love it… I was surprised at how well the pad stays put between the layers.

  13. My insulated air-core wouldn't stay put at all until I took it out and laid it on top. I'll try my 24" wide cc foam pad next time but I don't care to pack that thing. I'll probably end up with an underquilt.

  14. Like the article. Im a bigger hiker too and I was wondering if you've had the chance to try out a clark hammock? I was wondering about them and how they compare to a hannessy and/or a warbonnet. I have heard alot about all three and so I went with a hennessy, I like it BUT I bought it with the velcro underneath entry and it is not advisable. Difficult to get in and out of and very difficult if using in the winter or colder temps while using a sleeping pad or mat.I even went and bought a super shelter.

  15. @lostalot A cc pad works well but can be a bit uncomfortable, I know a underquilt is in my future…

  16. @Rico I have never tried any of the Clark hammocks. I did look into them when I was shopping around and the ones that have a high load limit are kinda expensive…

  17. Just spent a night with my big 3/8" cc pad and it was much more comfortable and stayed in place but it wasn't quite up to the 35F low with my 20F Alpinlite.

    With no pad the blackbird is downright cozy but I'm a little disappointed that it won't rock in the breeze like my old Lawson.

  18. To keep water running down the rope, just tie a little string on the main rope and let it hang down a few inches. the water will follow the string and drip before it gets to the hammock

  19. keeping warm is of little trouble with a properly fitted underquilt. pads reduce the comfort which you are trying to attain w/ a hammock in the first place. there is little doubt that a UQ is more comfortable. te-wa

  20. Great tread on hammock and I appreciate hearing about the Blackbird's versatility. I've been usimg a hammock for three seasons now and love it. It's nearly perfect for stealth camping and it opens all kinds of possibilities when you don't need to contend with rocks and sloping ground. I went with the Hennessy mostly because of its light weight, but keeping warm below 50 is challenge! A couple of guys recommended using a trimmed down mylar coated auto shade as an under pad inside the hammock. Damn if it didn't work and was comfortable to the mid 30s. Hennessey makes an after market underpad. It's not too heavy and simple enough to add, but it's bulky. I won't know how well it works until latter this fall.

  21. I have a converted Hennesy,side zippers added.
    Inside I use a Big Agnes sleeping bag that has a pad slot.

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