Warbonnet Blackbird

I have been curious about camping with hammocks for a couple of years. Their supporters claim many advantages over more conventional tent camping methods including:

  • More comfortable for sleeping
  • Dual use as a chair
  • Lighter weight
  • Quicker to set up
  • Easier to find a spot to set up camp

Read on to see what I thought of hanging.

A recent flurry of interested on the Bushwalking Australia Forums prompted me to have another look and after some (fairly brief for my standards) research I ordered a Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock in double layer 1.1oz/yard ripstop nylon. I ordered it with the adjustable webbing suspension and picked up a pair of Petzl Ange biners to get it up and running. This hammock comes with built in bug netting and a structural ridge line to aid in set up. I also ordered a ZPacks Cuben Fibre Hammock Tarp which is still on its way.

I received it at the start of last week and was burning to get out and give it a test run somewhere for the rest of it. My back yard is lacking any strong enough supports to do this easily. The picnic area at the base of Flinders Peak provided the perfect spot to do this and I had it up in no time (copping a few wierd looks from onlookers in the process). I’m sure there is plenty of room for tweaking, but getting it up and hanging was very easy.

Hanging in a creek bed
Note the storage shelf on the left and diagonal (flatter) lie

My initial responses to the above listed supposed benefits on hammocks for hiking:

  • More comfortable for sleeping:
    I will have to reserve my judgement here until I get a chance to actually sleep in it overnight. It was definitely comfortable enough for me to give it a go though.
  • Use as a chair:
    Very handy and an absolute luxury for overnight walking.
  • Lighter weight:
    This depends very much on your current set up. Compared to a bivy, tarp and groundsheet it is heavier (at ~750g plus tarp). However, compared to a standard lightweight single person tent it is probably a bit lighter. This depends on the type of tarp you use with the hammock as well. There are also lighter suspension types compared to the webbing such as “Whoopie Slings”.
  • Quicker set up:
    This would come down to practise and the type of tent you are comparing it to. I can definitely see the hammock being at least as quick as if not quicker than most of the tents that I have used with enough practise.
  • Easier to find a spot to camp:
    This would depend on the type of area that you camp. Most of the sites that I’ve camped in around S.E. Qld recently would have had plenty of options for hanging. The biggest advantage is that the ground doesn’t have to be flat.

So as you can probably tell, my initial thoughts on the Blackbird are very positive and I look forward to giving it a go properly. More information on hammock camping can be found at the Hammock Forums.

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