Warbonnet BlackBird 1.1 Double-Layer Extended Field Test
I've been lurking on here for a couple months now. After a bit of searching, I haven't found any posts that have a fully documented, multi-part field test of this hammock. While I may not be the right person to do this, I'll give it a shot nonetheless.
The Plan: I'll give my first impressions of the hammock. Then, I'll do a series of overnighters and report back with the results (3 - 5, or until further testing is redundant). I'll wrap it up with a multiple-night test.
About Me: I'm 30, hike mainly in south-central Indiana (karst-style, rolling knob terrain), am 5'9", 180 lbs, and have little camping/hiking experience. I hike with a dog (45 lb shepard mutt). I tend to be a cold sleeper, and usually need something underneath me below 70*. My previous hammock was an ENO DoubleNest.
My Equipment: Besides the hammock, I've got a no-sew PLUQ, and a PLTQ, and I usually carry a cut-down CCF pad for backup insulation and as a frame for my pack (50L GoLite Jam). My tarp is currently an 8.5 GearGuide Diamond Tarp. My pack weight B.W. (Before Warbonnet) was about 16 lbs base.
Alrighty, here we go! Initial impressions coming up.
Bishop Bag: Lighter weight material than the hammock itself; but sturdy enough for its purpose. The bag does not compress the hammock a lot, but this is actually a plus. By leaving it loose, the user is able to choose to compress it lengthwise or widthwise, depending on packing preferences. I don't see myself replacing the bishop bag.
Adjustable Webbing Suspension
Straps: Sturdy and lightweight. I think I may have gotten ripped off when I bought my straps for the ENO. The vendor said they were nylon straps, but the ones supplied by WB are far less stretchy than mine. I was able to let out the straps about 4 feet on each side with no noticeable sag after 2 hours of hanging. I didn't get the biners from WB, so I just used the heavy clunkers from my ENO.
Triangle Buckles: These things are CRAZY lightweight! They can be a pain to let out (I know about pointing them to the ground and sky). However, the upside is that you don't have to tie a slippery half-hitch to hold them in place.
Suspension Thoughts: I'm inclined to replace the suspension with my whoopies. I'm not a weight-wienie, but I do value space in my pack, and those straps seem to take up a lot.
Body: Slick material. At 180lbs, I did not have any noticeable stretching after two hours of hang. My backside seems to get cooler faster than my ENO, which is surprising given the two layers. The two layers are very accessible through the head and foot ends of the hammock, with a 8 - 12 inch line in the middle where the layers are stitched together. I thought it would be easier to mistakenly lay in one layer, but I don't see that being a concern. As for the color (grey), is it just me, or does this thing appear more brownish-grey? I like natural colors, so a thumbs up for this. I can see this being VERY stealthy.
Footbox: Fantastic feature. Doesn't add much bulk to the hammock.
Shelf: Held my clunky kindle and my brick cell phone without sagging much. Didn't lay against my side when tied out.
Bugnet: Seems pretty sturdy, as if it would be fairly difficult to rip. I could see this adding a few degrees, but further testing will be needed. There are two ribbons of fabric on the right side of the hammock that I assume are there to tie down a rolled up bugnet, but will report on this during an overnight test. When staked out to the opposite end, it doesn't fully move the bugnet out of the way, so there will always be a bit of a canoe effect on the shelf side of the hammock.
Stitching and Zippers: Perfection (I really don't use that word lightly). Beautiful, even stitching with some very strong thread. I don't see myself popping a seam accidentally. Zippers are smooth and consistent. Can pull them open or closed from many different angles.
Tieouts: Nice and stretchy. Pulls the ends of the hammock out nicely for maximum space, yet still allows the hammock to swing freely without pulling the stakes out.
Ridgeline: I like that it's made out of Amsteel. I'll probably add a ridgeline organizer. Brandon's video, as well as Raul's review, shows that they are able to torque the ridgeline nearly 90 degrees. I've fiddled with the hang a little bit, but haven't been able to torque it more than 45 degrees, so it seems a little tight. Further testing needed to see how this affects lay.
Flatness: Much better than the ENO. The greater length and the footbox really make the difference. Less fiddling required. No pressure from the hammock on my ankles. However, if I lay too far forward, this elevates the middle of the hammock and puts pressure on the back of my knees. Further testing required, but I believe I'll be most comfortable if I really elevate that foot end. When I turned onto my side, the hammock really fought me with some pinching. Further testing required.
Head Support: This is something I never even knew I wanted with my ENO, but the non-shelf side of the hammock seems to be tensioned perfectly so that I can rest my head on top of it while laying diagonally.
Chair Mode: Better back support than my ENO. Easier to stay somewhat upright and enjoy the view. I'm not tall enough for that ridgeline to really get in the way.
View: On the shelf side, not a whole lot. I don't anticipate this to be a big deal most of the time because I usually pitch one side of my tarp lower for wind-shielding, privacy, etc. However, the non-shelf side has a GREAT view. No canoe effect here. Also, because of the head support on this side, it's nice and easy to lie in the hammock and turn my head left and get a nice view. Should also be nice for cooking breakfast from the hammock.
Hopefully, I'll be able to get out to the Deam Wilderness in Hoosier National Forest this weekend to do an overnight test.
Thanks for this. Keep it coming, I recently swaitched my HH for a WWBB 1.1 Dbl. Having trouble getting it dialed in. Find I am getting alot of pressure against my heels and my knees are hyper extended much more than in the HH.
Lay on more of a diagonal
Increase the sag
Raise the foot end
Move your lower torso away from the foot box
Move closer to the head end
I'll supplement this once I get more testing in.
Solid report. I have about 6 nights in my WBBB 1.1 Double and like it a lot. I noticed the "wings" (tied out portion) help keep my UQ in place. But, I also found my UQ sagging a bit. So, I added some prusiks to the TARP ridge-line and found that works well enough.
Any plans to test pads? I would be interested in a review of closed cell pads verses inflatable pads.
I don't have an inflatable pad, but since it's on my radar to include in the testing, I'll keep my eye out for a used one.
Finally, my initial thought was that if I can get a good fit from a PLUQ, then it'd indicate a good fit for almost any UQ. However, I'm in the market for a 30-20* down UQ, so that should make it into the report as well.
The other things are important too. I just found huge differences when I raised the foot end. I have found that raising the foot end helped a lot with my DN that I recently purchased too.
The above have helped me as well. Seems that slight changes can make for big effect.
Sort of an update
I tried to get out for an overnight this weekend. Unfortunately, the drought hitting Indiana is doing something to the trees where they're dropping some decent-sized branches, even though there's still green leaves attached. With some storms blowing through, I'd rather not be hanging underneath any widowmakers-in-disguise.
That said, I did get to do a fair amount of lounging around in the BB this week. So here is a small update.
SUSPENSION: I swapped out the AWS suspension for whoopies and tree straps for several reasons. First, the weight savings. I didn't get the fancypants biners from Warbonnet, so I was using the heavy ones that came with my ENO. The swap saved me 6.5 ounces. Second, the space savings. I'd say I gained about a softball's worth of space in my pack. Thirdly, I found the AWS to be clumsy compared to a whoopie, particularly when it came to letting out the webbing.
COLOR: I know in my previous pictures, it looks as though the hammock had a brownish tint to it, even though it's technically grey. Either my eyesight is going prematurely, or this hammock tends to take on a hue of the surrounding objects. It still looks kinda brown. I like this because it's a lot stealthier than I expected.
LAY: Raising the foot end really does seem to cure any comfort problems with this hammock. In fact, when I found what works for me, I got out of the hammock and wasn't sure if it could be right. The way I like it, the foot end is a good 8 - 12 inches higher than the head. Any lower, and I find I end up sliding toward the footbox (it's a very slick fabric). As I got closer, the hammock would become less comfortable.
WARMTH: Amazingly enough, even with the double layer, I'm going to go ahead and say this hammock definitely feels less warm than my ENO doublenest. I don't think I'd take either one on an overnight without bottom insulation, but if I were lounging around the apartment or lake on a windy afternoon, I might opt for the ENO.
So that's that. I'm hoping to get an overnight in on this hammock some time in the next week.
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