Warbonnet RidgeRunner w. Sleeping Pad vs BMBH..First Impressions
I know there are some forum members out there who like to use a sleeping pad with there setup and are interested in how well the Warbonnet RidgeRunner works with one. I hesitate to call this a review, really they are just my initial impressions as Ive only spent the better part of two days and two nights in the RidgeRunner. And Ive only been "hanging" for a little over a year, so my knowledge and experience is limited, but I have used the Warbonnet BB, currently own the BMBH and now the RidgeRunner. It was nice to hang the JRB BMBH next to the RidgeRunner and hop from one to the other to make comparisons.
I have the Warbonnet RidgeRunner Double Layer with a woopie suspension system. I wanted a double layer because I like to use an air pad because of the added flexibility it gives me should I have to go to ground. In the RR I used a full length Neo Air All Season Pad. This pad measure 77x25x2.5 inches. I used a full length Neo Air "the original" measuring 77x25x2.5 inches in the BMBH. The JRB BMBH has been reviewed several times so I wont give my impressions on that hammock except has to how some components compare to the RR.
There are several things that I really like and appreciate about the RR and some areas that I see room for improvement.
1. Having a zipper that goes around the two sides and the head end makes entering and initial setup of the hammock much easier than the BMBH. I find myself swinging alot on the sides of hills with uneven terrain, so being able to get in from the uphill side while not being concerned with the initial setup orientation of the hammock is a big plus. Also having a storage area for the netting is a nice touch to keep it out of the way on those rare (for me) bugless nights.
2. The saddle bags are a bloody brilliant design. Having ample storage space is something that I really missed from the WB BB shelf, and having room to put things like your down jacket, extra clothing, book ect. and keep them out of the way is really nice. The JRB has two netted pockets on the head and foot end that do a great job for little items like your glasses or pocket knife, but its nice to have a place for larger items.
3. The head end dipped pocket is also a nice feature. Its easy to just take a piece of clothing off and throw it back behind your head and know that it will be there when you wake up. It might be nice if this pocket was a bit deeper to allow for bigger items, but its functional as is.
4. The Bug Net. When I first saw the design and even the youtube video Brandon put out I thought the bug net looked kind of gimmicky on the RidgeRunner. I really liked how the BMBH bug net worked and contrary to some, I found the bugnet to always be taut and a nice distance from my face. After using the RR, I have to say that the bugnet in practice works very well. There seem to be enough attachment points somewhere to hook the mitten clip to and it does a great job at pulling the net from your face in a taut, professional looking manner. The saddle bags have the added benefit of "pulling" the bugnet slightly outward so you have more interior space. The overall effect it that you feel more like your sleeping in a one man tent rather than in a "coffin" for lack of a better description...which also has to do with...
5. The view. The view while laying on this hammock if phenominal. I thought the view from the BMBH was pretty good, but I see what Ive been missing now. This is primarily because of the limited height of the sides of the hammock coming up vertically. Of course with a tarp deployed for rain purposes, the veiw is totally negated but I find myself putting up my hammock first thing when I get to camp in the afternoon and taking a nap. I love to just take in my surroundings from that position. The limited side height also makes...
6. Getting into and out of the RR is definately more graceful than with the BMBH. Even with alot of practice I felt like I was falling into the BMBH whenever I entered. I invariabley had to sit on a portion of the side which would cause the opposite end of the hammock to swing upward, a bad situation when the spreader bars would then make contact with the tarp. For whatever reasons, its much easier to grab the opposite end of the RR with your hand, stabilize the hammock and lay down with minimal movement of the spreader bars. I dont sit from my hammocks much, but I know that many others like to lounge from their hammocks. I definately see the RR being more comfortable in that regard.
7. The neck/head support. This is a bit tricky to describe but while laying in the hammock there is a supporting "ridge" of fabric that is somehow sewn to raise the level of the hammock where your head and neck would be. Im not overly fond of this, but it may grow on me. I like to use a nemo Filo pillow. Using the pillow with the ridge makes my head lie to high and not using one keeps my head too low for my liking. I also dont like the feel of my head or face on the hammock fabric so I need something underneath my head. Maybe a shallower pillow will do the trick.
8. The double layers. Ive always wondered why the BMBH didnt have openings from both sides. It was fairly time consuming to thread a 25 inch pad through the sleeve system from just one side while to trying to keep everything in position as the pad moved forward. The RR does have an opening on both sides and it makes putting in a sleeping pad very easy. Start it through on one side and pull it into position from the other-very quick. Also the head end sleeve is much wider so starting the pad through the sleeve is simple. The RR does not have a way to keep the pad from sliding out when not is use. I have come to appreciate the little velcro tab on the BMBH that keeps the pad from sliding back out, as I have had this happen when I forgot to velcro the tab and came back to find my pad missing on a windy day! Im sure this is an easy fix, but I really wish it was there to begin with. I will also say this, and I dont know if it makes a difference in use or not, but the top layer seems to hold all the weight of the person, as the second layer is somewhat loose if a pad is not inserted. When a pad is inserted, it fills the inside between the two layers very nicely. Maybe this is so your bottom insulation is not as compacted as much when in use? But for those heavier forum members hoping that a double layer will hold more weight as compared to a single, I would think not.
For those planning on buying the single layer to save weight, and laying an air pad on top, I would say that its doable and comfortable but not as good if used in the sleeve. Maybe the single layer is cut differently than mine, but when I layed the air pad on the top, I felt less stable. I suppose that was from a higher center of mass and would probably depend to some degree on how thick your pad is- agian mine is 2.5 inches and probably inflated half way. Remember that the sides are very shallow on this hammock so raising yourself a couple more inches doesnt leave much to keep you in the hammock.
9. Suspension Triangles. Im not very happy with the design of the triangles as compared to the BMBH. The line from the two ends of the spreader bar form a very large triangle where they meet some distance from the hammock itself. This makes enclosing the door ends of a tarp problematic if you are hoping for full enclosure without using a very, very, big tarp. In my opinion, the biggest draw back of a bridge hammock are the trials assoicated with finding and deploying a tarp to fit the bridge style hammmock and its wide spreader bars. The triangles further add to that complexity. Sure it can be done with the tarp rubbing against the suspension triangle, and maybe its not a big deal, but its definately not an ideal situation. Im not a math major and wouldnt know where to begin with the geometry involved and weight bearing forces should the triangle be shortned. Im sure there is a reason for the size that they are, but maybe something can be worked out to decrease the triangle to something more manageable like the BMBH. Im currently using a superfly and it works, but I may be refining my setup in the future if I decide to keep this hammock.
10. The lay. I have been a big fan of the lay in a BMBH. Im 6'2, 205 lbs and I found that with a 25 inch pad inserted there is no shoulder squeeze for me in the BMBH- in fact the fabric would not even touch the sides of my shoulders. But there was a bit of what I call a "cupping" sensation, that seems to curl your shoulders inwards like what you would think of as sleeping in a half pipe. Also with the BMBH, for me it always felt like I was sleeping on one side of the hammock or the other. What I mean by that is if you were to draw a line down the middle of the hammock length wise, it would seem like you were either on the left side or the right side depending on how you positioned your weight while lying down. I am happy to report that shoulder squeeze with the ridgerunner is non existant for me. Also the "cupping" sensation and the side to side issues I have had are much less. If I had to put a number on it I would say 50%. The lie in a ridgerunner feels more like laying on a cot to me, whereas the BMBH felt more like laying in a slightly curved bottom casket. I dont mean that negatively for the BMBH, as it truely is a great hammock, but thats the best way I can describe it. The wider header spreader bars on the RR really make a difference, especially for those that like to sleep with their arms up my their heads like me. I even found that I could lay on my stomach with my arms up by my head and was comfortable. One nice thing about the higher sides on the BMBH was that when laying on your side, it was comforting to have an edge for your rear end to lay against, giving me more confidence that I would not be falling out anytime soon. That ledge does not exist to the same degree on the RR, again think cot, so sleeping on my side was a bit more disconcerting but as comfortable, maybe slightly moreso, as the BMBH. So I would say that for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and side sleepers, especially those that need more room around their head area, this is definately a hammock to try out.
Remember that I have only spent two days playing with and two night sleeping in the hammock, and admittedly my experience in nowhere near what some on hear have. But thats my impression of the hammock so far for those that are on the fence about upgrading or buying one, especially if you are planning on using an air pad. I will continue to fiddle with mine during the next week- and then make a decision on which to keep but right now Im leaning towards keeping the RR.