What was supposed to be a 4 night/70 mile hike thru Ocala National Forest turned into a 3 night/40 mile round-trip. I had plenty of equipment failures, but the Warbonnet was not one of them.
This was my first trip with the Warbonnet and outside of a few hours and one overnight in the side yard, it would be her maiden voyage. I was excited to find the pros and cons of this hammock. My only other hanging experience in the outdoors has been in my Hennessey Hammock (Explorer Asym UL) and I was anxious to try-out the new toy. Like anything new, I was a little nervous about how it would perform; I shouldn’t have been. I have no idea how to format a review, so instead you get to deal with me rambling on about stuff; sorry in advance. There are no pictures and I’m not at all happy about that. I have since added two words to my checklist: memory card. Momma always said “Stupid is as stupid does”.
I spent 3 nights in the Warbonnet and Mother Nature wanted to be absolutely sure that the Warbonnet got wet, so she sent thunderstorms all three nights. I used the tarp from my Hennessy for this trip, since I totally screwed my attempt at a BlackCat.
Going into the hike I had these concerns:
Bathtub Effect. The way the foot pocket of the Warbonnet sticks out, I was worried the Hennessy Asym tarp wouldn’t provide enough coverage to prevent this from acting like a water bucket.
Ventilation! This is Florida in July, not for the weak at heart. One side of the Warbonnet near the head is a wall of nylon while the other side is open bug-netting. The concern here is it would restrict airflow.
Durability. The entry slit on the Warbonnet makes me nervous; I can’t help it. It is basically a big mouth. The zipper is sewn into the body of the hammock and the netting is attached directly to the nylon hammock body. All of your weight upon entering or exiting the hammock is put on the corners of the mouth. There is obvious strain on the corners.
Comfort. OK, I wasn’t really concerned about comfort. However, with this being my first trip I paid attention to any discomforts.
Did I mention that it rained? It rained, a lot. Then it rained some more. I will stick to the review and not detail the hike, but it rained.
I set-up the first night with the entry slit facing west (windward) for no reason other than the view in that direction was better. I had perfect weather for the set-up portion, which was nice. I’m using ring-buckles with 1” polyester straps for my suspension and was paranoid about slippage during rain storms (I think I checked my slipknots about a dozen times before retiring for the night). I attached my tarp ridgelines to the trees below my hammock suspension in preparations for the incoming rain. I pulled the backside (side opposite the entry slit) of the tarp down low and tight, but left the front side open for dinner and the view.
First concern; durability: The zipper mouth! I intended to cook my dinner while sitting in the hammock. I was initially going to pull the bottom of the hammock body out (like I do in my HH) from the center and sit that way, but seeing as how I wanted to “test” the durability of the mouth corners I just sat right in the opening like I probably will when I’m tired and don’t care about anything but sleep. I stared at the corners daring them to give me a telltale sign of eminent failure. After feeling that I had just lost a stare-down contest, I proceeded to cook and eat my dinner as dusk came. It was a beautiful night and I was as content as I get. My view was an open field of waist-high scrub plants surrounded by tall pines. I sat there for the better part of an hour before realizing that it had gotten dark and the night-shift critters were starting their warm-ups. I dug my headlamp out of my pack and started examining each stitch of the corners looking for loose of torn threads. There was not a single thing out of place or any signs of wear at all! I had not really looked that hard at the stitching before now and I gotta tip my hat to Brandon, nice work. While I remained skeptical of the corners for the rest of the hike, this inspection served to greatly reduce my anxiety over the mouth corners.
The next item is one of those things you’ll only find out in the field, unfortunately. Before you read this, I understand that I am about to bad-mouth the most talked about feature of the Warbonnet. The built in pocket; I hate it. Sorry. It is just not in a good place for me. It’s great if you’re using it for some lightweight items, like tissue. If on the other hand you’d like to use it for storing other things (LIKE A WATER BOTTLE), forget it. The weight of the item combined with the fact that it is forced to fall against the wall results in the water bottle knocking you in the head as you’re getting situated. I hoped that once I got comfy the bottle thing would go away; it didn’t. I ended up pulling it out of the pocket and just letting it roll around in hammock. I think that this could be easily solved by lowering the point in the hammock wall where the pocket is placed. If it were lower, then it (any heavy item) would hang down as opposed to hanging into the wall. This was a surprise and not a very good one. I adjusted to and dealt with it, but I wasn’t happy about it.
After cursing the pocket for a few minutes I settled in. The view from the Warbonnet is fantastic (from one side). The bug netting on the entry-side comes down several inches lower than my HH and provides a wide open view of the world. I had a difficult time falling asleep only because I was fascinated watching the daytime critters scurrying home to make way for the evening shift. I counted 11 deer, 2 skunks, and an armadillo in about 20 minutes the first night alone. I heard an owl symphony; something I’ve never experienced. I could make out 6 very distinct owls. I never realized they each have their own “voice” and it is pretty easy to distinguish between them. I guess they were talking about the weather because about 10 minutes later the rain started…again.
Second concern; Bathtub Effect: Like I said, the backside of the Warbonnet is the side that the foot pocket protrudes from. I was careful when I set-up the tarp that it was covered, but it was barely covered. I sat there (being lazy) with the tarp in it’s half closed position (front open to the view) wondering if I would be able to get away with the tarp’s current configuration. Wanna guess the answer? After about 5 minutes the warm-up was over and the rain started coming down with some authority. Almost immediately I felt that familiar feeling on my feet of water beginning to pool. Out of the hammock into the rain I went to configure the tarp for stormy weather. A tuck here and a tuck there; a little tightening over here and a yank over there and I’m all set. The rest of the night passed without my supervision as I broke the silence of the forest with my snoring.
Third concern; Comfort: Soooooo, not an issue. The overnight temps never fell below the mid 70s so insulation was not a concern. I slept directly on the nylon with a light top sheet and can’t remember sleeping any better outdoors. I already miss sleeping in it. I intentionally sleep in different positions (back, side, stomach) and was comfortable on my back and side. I’m not a stomach sleeper normally, but I still don’t think this is the right hammock for it if that’s your thing. Otherwise, it was very comfortable. In fact, I caught myself sleeping a little later than I intended only because I was too comfortable to get up and put on hiking boots and my EVIL backpack. Two of three nights I never even adjusted for the stretch, if there was any.
Fourth concern; ventilation: OK, so I caught a huge break with the weather in regard to temperatures. Due to storms, day & night, the temps stayed fairly low (low 90s during the days) and there was a nice breeze to keep the humidity under control. Even so, I expected to be much more uncomfortable at night in the hammock. With the one side blocked by the nylon wall near the head and my tarp pitched low and tight I didn’t expect the Warbonnet to “breath” very well in the Florida heat. I was stupefied, but happy to be wrong. It wasn’t until my last night that I discovered why I was staying cool. I didn’t realize it when I was doing it, but I was setting-up every night with the open side of the hammock facing west (the wind was blowing east). I guess I’m just in the habit of making camp on the right side of the trail; helps me remember which way to walk in the morning. The last evening as I was literally bouncing up and down on the entry slit there was a good stiff breeze blowing. I leaned back to relax and continue to be amazed at the quality of work on this thing. As I sat there, I felt a draft and started paying attention. The nylon wall has a damming effect on the breeze. As long as the open side is facing any breeze, the hammock wall will cause the breeze to hit the vertical wall and vent upwards. This provides a tremendous amount of ventilation. The key will be to remember to reverse the set-up during adverse weather so that no wind-blown rain takes the same route.
One thing I noticed (with the help of the evil pocket) is that I tend to stay put where I get in the hammock. This resulted in my feet being almost to the end of the hammock and my head to be a foot or so short of where it should be. A simple “scoot” fixes the problem. I think it’s just a result of entering to the left of the tie-out and being comfortable right away. I guess you could sleep this way if you wanted to, just beware that whatever you put in that pocket is going to be bonking you in the head all night.
All in all, I had a great time in a fantastic hammock. My concerns about this hammock were put completely to rest and yes, I’m still looking at the stitching on the entry slit. I wish I was still out on the trail, but I had to come back to perform an exorcism on my backpack then light it on fire and offer it to the gods of pain and suffering.
Sorry if this is a poorly written review; it’s my first. I’ll be happy to answer any questions that I didn’t answer here, just let me know. Brandon, you make a great hammock, I love it…except that dang pocket.