The Warbonnet Wookie is a down-filled hammock underquilt that’s super easy to set up and eliminates the need to adjust with a underquilt suspension system, which is the nemesis for many first-time underquilt users. That’s because the Wookie doesn’t have a traditional underquilt suspension, but works more like a fitted bed sheet.
Hammock Underquilts 101
If you’re new to underquilts, it takes a little experimentation and a few cold butt nights to learn how to prevent drafts from sneaking between your hammock and underquilt and stealing your body heat. Most cottage underquilts have a rectangular shape that wraps around the bottom and partially up the sides of a hammock. They also have what’s known as a primary and secondary suspension system, really just elastic cords that run around the four sides of the underquilt and must be tightened “just so” to regulate the amount of warmth retained. The “just so” depends on your hammock, its length, width, etc., which can vary widely.
However, once you dial in the amount of tension on the elastic cords for a specific hammock/underquilt combo, you rarely have to change it afterwards. If you’re too warm at night, most people vent by adjusting their top quilt inside the hammock instead of fiddling with the underquilt. High winds can still rob your underquilt if it’s perfectly fitted, in which case people augment their sleep system with a hammock sock, which blocks all wind that makes it past your hammock’s tarp.
The Wookie is a underquilt that’s been sewn to a piece of fabric that wraps around the bottom of your hammock and only needs to be attached at the foot and head ends. There are no elastic cords to adjust or fiddle with. The part that you lay on is insulated, while the rest of the fabric helps block drafts from entering the ends, between you and the quilt, and to prevent the wind from stealing your heat. It’s a lot like using a double-layered hammock, only that the outer layer has a quilt sewn into it. While you can buy a hammocks with a fully integrated underquilt (Superior Hammock, BoneFire Gear, and others), the Wookie is more flexible because it gives you the ability to use other underquilts or pads with your hammock during the year as temperatures change.
Available in 40, 20, 0, and -20 degree (fahrenheit) temperature ratings, the Wookie is insulted with 850 fill power waterproof goose down with a 20 denier nylon cover, also treated with a DWR coating. It’s designed for use with Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock, (winner of SectionHiker Gear of the Year), the Blackbird XLC, Traveler, and Traveler XL models (see Warbonnet for product specs). Using a Wookie with a non-Warbonnet Hammock is possible, but will require a greater knowledge of hammock sizing and fiddling to get a good fit. You’d be better off with getting a regular underquilt in that case, which has a full suspension system and provides maximum fit adjustment.
The Wookie connects at the foot end of your hammock with a mini-biner, which simply clips over the base of the suspension, and a small string that slips over whipping at the head end. There’s also a ribbon of fabric on the Wookie’s right side that’s useful to tie to the corresponding ribbon on your hammock to keep the underquilt positioned correctly, so it doesn’t get pulled around underneath you at night. There’s no need for any adjustment after that because it’s already perfectly sized for your hammock. Brandon, the owner of Warbonnet does a great job of explaining how the Wookie works, so I’ll let him show you how the set up is done.
A Closer Look
The quilted section of the Wookie is oriented at an angle, running left to right, and doesn’t wrap around the entire hammock. This forces you to become a diagonal sleeper, which is how you get a flat surface to sleep on in a hammock, instead of sleeping curved-up like a banana. However, if you don’t lay directly on top of the insulated portion of the Wookie, which is sized like a twin bed, you’ll feel a chill.
Weighing 20.85 oz, a Wookie weighs pretty close to what a regular 20 degree down-filled underquilt weighs with a full primary and secondary suspension system. Where they differ is in the size and area of insulated coverage. While a 20 degree Wookie is 44″ x 76″ in total size, the size of the insulated portion is 39″ wide at the shoulders, tapering down to 30″ at the foot end, and 75″ in length.
A more conventional, but custom-made underquilt like the UGQ Outdoor Zeppelin (for example) is completely insulated throughout and more rectangular in shape with a 44″ width and 77″ length (although you can pick an alternate length). That extra width gives you the ability to lie at any angle or in any direction while staying warm. It makes the underquilt more tolerant of a less-than-perfect hang, since the sides of the quilt can run higher up the side of the hammock over your left shoulder or higher up the side of the footbox.
It took me a few nights before I got the hang of using the Wookie, because I move around a fair amount in my hammock when I sleep. I found that positioning a stuff sack of clothing to the right of my torso helped keep me in the proper diagonal orientation all night. Raising the foot end of your hammock substantially can also help keep your feet from sliding out of the insulated Warbonnet foot box.
However, there’s a gap between the hammock and Wookie at the left shoulder, where drafts can rob heat. Unlike the right side, which is attached the hammock with a ribbon, the left shoulder relies only on your body weight and precise body positioning to maintain a flush contact. I can’t help but think a snap, fold, or velcro strip would be better there to provide a better seal between the components. I’ve slept with the Wookie on a cold and very windy night, where I wished I’d brought a winter sock to cut the wind. I wasn’t cold, but I wasn’t as warm as I’ve been on other nights, in even colder weather, when there wasn’t any wind.
Modularity vs Specificity
I don’t want to imply that the Warbonnet Wookie is a bad product. I think that’s quite brilliant because it completely eliminates the frustration that first-time underquilt users experience when it comes to fiddling with and configuring a conventional primary and secondary underquilt suspension. If you own a Warbonnet Blackbird or Traveler hammock and want to upgrade to a underquilt, the Wookie is a hassle-free solution that works out of the box. That’s a huge benefit to would-be hammockers, where nothing works out of the box. However, more experienced hammockers, especially those of us who’ve developed bad habits, may well prefer to stick with their existing full-size underquilts which are better at absorbing sloppy form and bad hangs.
The bigger issue with the Wookie is the interplay between modularity and specificity. The Wookie works as well as it does because it’s tailored for use with Warbonnet-sized hammocks. That’s fine if you’re a dyed-in-the wool Warbonnet junkie, but constraining if you like to buy new hammocks and mix and match components for different trips and weather. A modular, multi-vendor approach to sourcing hammock gear lets you get best of breed components, but is always going to require some adjustment and fiddling overhead. If you enjoy that kind of “gear hunt”, suck it up and get good at fiddling. If you don’t, get yourself a Warbonnet Wookie. It’s an excellent Warbonnet-specific underquilt that will let you focus on the outdoors and your friends, instead of worrying about whether you’ll be warm at night.
Disclosure: The author purchased and owns this product.