I was going to post this right after getting all of the below items, but I felt that a thorough review was in order, so took a bit over a year to fully test them. Sorry for the delay, but I feel that everything has been tested in as many situations as possible.
A review of: the War Bonnet Black Bird, The Bear Burrito Oven & the Molly Mac Gear IX Hammock Sock.
The WBBB (I have the lightweight 2 layer one): It came with the ring buckles Brandon offers as one of the suspension options, so set up the first time was super easy. The triangular ring buckles hold VERY well! 1st night the straps stretched enough that I felt the need to tighten them up pretty aggressively, come AM the next day, I almost had to cut the straps to get them off, they held so well. Now I remember one of the reasons I switched to WhoOpies. So now the WhoOpies are on the Blackbird & the ring buckles & straps are on the repaired Grand trunk. Setting up the Black Bird was straightforward; the elastic tie outs for the shelf & the entrance are easily adjustable & pretty obvious as to where to stake them. I do not like the fact that my hammock no longer swings freely, but it is made up by the extra room provided, and as advertised, I CAN hang without staking out. The shelf, at first look, seems to be just a,,, I have to say, useless extra piece of material. BUT after about 200 nights using the WBBB I use that shelf A LOT. I now keep my nighttime water bottle there, along with a flashlight & some other stuff.
Entrance to the hammock requires just a little more effort than my other top loading hammocks, but not worth really worrying about: Instead of just getting in, I have to bend over & duck. After a few times doing this, I modified the “Door tie out” by attaching the elastic adjustment with a small carabineer (it’s a small split ring to a cord, the elastic is held to the ring & adjusted by a cord lock.) So IF I want I can detach the tie out within easy reach of me, then get in & re-attach with ease from inside the hammock. I mostly use this modification in conjunction with the BBO (see below).
Comfort: I’ll just say that I have now mostly retired the rest of my hammock “Fleet” to at home or work or loaner use.
One “Issue” I have is: I like to sit in my hammock sideways & use it like a lounge chair, the shelf side of the hammock has a very sturdy seam that, while not preventing me sitting like this, makes it pretty uncomfortable. There is a “sweet spot” that I can sit in relative comfort, but it is a VERY specific spot, and is not nearly as comfortable as my other hammocks. I have no suggestions for making this better as it seems that the seam is very structural & so needs to be where it is & as strong as it is.
Summary: after well over a year of use, I still love this hammock, after several hiking trips with it, I feel it suits me for short trips of less than 5 days or so as it is a large hammock using a LOT of material. My Black bishop bag when used with the Grand trunk SB Pro, will (Just) hold all of my insulation. With the WBBB, the No Sniveler TQ has to go in a separate stuff sack. So, for the short trips, not a problem in that I can cary at least 5 days food, on a longer trip, my food needs go up & sometimes I go 5 – 6 days between supply, & my pack is full at 5 days “Normal” backpacking food.
The Bear Burrito Oven: I have a hammock sock for my Skeeter Beeter UL, but it doesn’t fit any of the other hammocks, so I have missed it a lot this year. The BBO half way makes up for this loss.
It is a very breathable fabric, or at least seems to be. Not as loose a weave as netting, but much airier than that stuff they put in the top of 2 wall tents. Mine came in a woodland camo pattern that I like.
Attachment without viewing the video isn’t intuitive. In fact I could not figure it out on my own. After viewing the video, I had a Homer Simpson “DOH!” moment. When fully deployed, it is WAY too warm for me down to 60 or lower, but as it is lightweight & easy enough to put on / take off it will be a permanent year round fixture in my pack. I have found that it is easy to flip up the BBO to half coverage from inside the hammock (see “tie out modification” above) & get it back to being full coverage just as easily.
The BBO is made just for the WBBB & fits Perfectly. By itself, I would say it adds 10 to 15 degrees to your cold weather set up. In the colder temps, below about 20 or so, condensation seems to become an issue. At about 5 it IS a real issue, & at zero, yea, the frost builds up pretty quickly. My suggestion would be a bit of ventilation, or at least the ability to open up an area or two. I’m going to (I think) add a few vent holes over my face before the real cold hits.
The Molly Mac Gear IX Hammock Sock: Mine has a black nylon outer cover. MacEntyre sent me the prototype for the hammock sock designed to be used on the WBBB & with the BBO. It is THIN, seemingly providing no insulation, or at least not much more than regular fabric. I was SO WRONG! Yea, I cannot use it above 75, at all. Like the BBO above, it’s instillation is not fully intuitive, but I did manage to figure it out after about 45 minutes of playing.
When installed, there is (at least on mine) a 3” to 4” gap under my hammock. But as (I think) it is designed to supplement an UQ, this allows for putting in a rather thick Quilt without compressing it. In fact my 2” thick RayWay quilt fits nicely.
The Sock does not fully mate up with the BBO, but so far I don’t feel this is an issue. I did find out that the outer fabric is water proof, as 1st night I got WAY hot (70 degrees, both the sock and my UQ) & I sweated enough that, OK this is gross: I left a puddle of sweat in the sock. Yea, about ½” deep.
Once the sock is in place, assuming I did it right, removal means I have to un hook a WhoOpie & slide it off, takes about 4 seconds from getting out of the hammock & back in as I only take one end out then drape the sock over the end still attached. Like the BBO above it will be a permanent year round fixture in my pack. In fact for summer use, I’ll leave the UQ at home & just carry the IX Hammock sock. With the BBO I believe I can easily get down to the lower 60s or cooler. Add a light Fleece TQ & I have gone to the mid to lower 50s. I’ve been using my RayWay as a ¾ UQ & the combination gets me easily to 30 degrees, with one night to 29 & no tarp, it was just too pretty out to cover up.
“ALL IN” test at Grayson highlands in Virginia at the annual Mt Rogers hang out. Nights 2 & 3:
As mentioned above: The BBO could use just a bit more ventilation as it clogged (that’s the only word I could come up with to describe it) with frost from the moisture I put out at night.
I added my New River UQ between the Ray way & the 1X, & it worked reasonably well for the cold temps we had. Basically 3 under quilts. BUT, when I got home, I tried something a bit different, I put the New River OUTSIDE the 1X & it was WAY warmer then in side the 1X. This test was done at about 20 degrees when I got home & about a week or so after Mt Rogers. I suspect that un-noticed by me, I was compressing the Ray Way & the New River by putting them both inside the 1X, & as the NR was easier to adjust, it didn’t compress so I was warmer.
During the test at Mt Rogers, I was wearing (toes to top of head); 1 pair wool hiking socks, fresh from the pack (ie: dry) & a knitted over sock. Panty hose. Nylon tights & my rain pants (that have never been worn as rain pants) Poly pro: short sleeve tee, & 2 long sleeve tees. Fleece Vest & nylon vest. Poly pro liner gloves. Nylon knit hat. Over me was my synthetic “Down” coat & then a JRB No Sniveler Down TQ.
I did get cold both nights, but I think only because I got too warm as both nights I found myself shivering without the top quilt on, & when you are cold, a cold quilt will not warm you up at all, so I opened a large heat pack & went back to sleep. IMHO it was not a failure of the system, but of my metabolism.
On night #1, I slept about half the night dressed as above, but without the top quilt on & only covered up after answering the call for the 2nd time “Just because”
The WBBB is way comfortable & will be my go to hammock for the foreseeable future.
The BBO could use some ventilation, at least for the extreme temps I put it to. At least around the face area. Maybe a circle about 6” diameter about 2 – 3’ from the head end. Down to about 25 or so this didn’t seem to be a problem, but below about 15 it was (to me) a major concern, to the point of I was getting snow on my face every time I moved, or the wind blew.
The 1X: for the weight & bulk to temperature rating, all I can say is WOW!
I think that covers everything. But, knowing me, I'll figure out something I left out right after posting, or more likely, right after I can no longer edit.