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.
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.
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