Comfort in a hammock has a number of aspects.
One is the "flatness" of the lay. This depends on how severe the diagonal you can lay on is. In the extreme you might lay 90 degrees w.r.t. to the suspension lines, and (depending on the width of the hammock) be as flat as possible. This is what Mayan hammocks do for you. TeeDee has pointed out several times that this essentially is what a bridge hammock does, by putting the suspension at your sides rather than your head and foot. I haven't tried (yet) but the ENO double is 6'8" and might actually work this way.
So I digress, but not really. The point is that in an ENO double you can hang with the same diagonal angle as in a BB, and essentially the hammock beneath you is as flat as in a BB. In this single aspect of comfort I think it is a wash between them.
But comfort is not just the lay. Comfort includes your perception of your interior hammock environment. The shape of an ENO double is a honking great rectangle. IN PARTICULAR, when you hang at a sharp diagonal your feet and head are not in any kind of danger of falling off the hammock. There is fabric beyond both head and feet. This means that in order for the hammock to be wide enough so that you can lay at a sharp diagonal without feeling like you're about to fall out, you get all kinds of fabric above you in places you don't need it. People that comment on the flappiness of the ENO double hammock are referring to that.
Brandon's insight is to have the "base" rectangle narrower than you would have with an ENO double. If it didn't have the extra fabric panels, then when you'd lay at the same diagonal angle your feet and head would seem to be in danger of popping off the hammock---you're at as sharp an angle as you can be without spilling out. But he put the extra panels in to give you more fabric---and keep you from falling out---at only the places where you really need it. And then, to keep that all from flopping in on you, the side pull-outs pull it all away from your body. In this dimension the BB is clearly different from an ENO double.
The shelf is a brilliant touch made possible by the extra panels.
That's my take on it anyway, and I'm sticking to it!
The lay of a BB is very similar to an ENO double and the amount of fabric in the "bed" of the hammock is probably pretty close, but it seems like there is MORE room in a BB because of many factors, including the "cut" of the fabric, and the way it spreads when you lay inside the hammock with the wings pulled out. The ENO just kind of flops around you and you are always pushing against a floppy edge somewhere. The BB, when you extend your foot into the footbox, opens up like no other hammock. Be Gone, Hammock Claustraphobia! For a hammock with a bugnet, there is no other that feels as roomy. The flatness is similar to a BMBH, but without the confinement of the edge wall in the bridge. I love both my BB and my BMBH, but you notice which one I lent you, and which one I kept to sleep in at home. The largest drawback and biggest advantage to the BMBH, IMO, is the removable bugnet. I love the BMBH without the bugnet. I hate the omnitape connection for the bugnet to the hammock. Being in nasty mosquito territory for 6 months out of the year, a tight fitting bugnet is extremely important to me.
Originally Posted by Roadtorque
The wing "shelf" is also a huge advantage. Having that place to throw your hat or your gloves, or your book, or your flashlight, etc., etc..... without having the extra ridgeline storage is a huge plus in my book. Plus, it is the coolest looking hammock out there (Tree Boat might be as cool, but way too heavy for packing,) and it is made in the USA, and made very well.
That was a nice analysis Grizz, definitely summed up a lot of my thoughts about the blackbird. A lot of it is definitely perception, like you describe - the blackbird feels like it's wrapping around you without smothering you, which is the feeling I sometimes get in an ENO style hammock.
I'll also add that the double layer versions of the BB at least have the potential to stretch less than the ENOs, which might account for some of the perceived differences folks feel.
Thanks for all the replies. It is starting to fall in place for me.
I went from an HH ULB to the Blackbird. Some differences between my two hammocks that make me happy:
The fabric is different. I like the 1.1 sil better than 70D nylon taffeta. The ULB weighs in at 1 lb 15 oz, or 31 oz. The Blackbird (double layer, 1.1 sil, ie my version) weighs in at 24 oz. plus 4.5 oz for the line/strap suspension. The sil feels better to me.
The HH bottom entry didn't bug me much, but sometimes it was a nuisance, particularly when I hung lower for whatever reason; we don't always get optimum tree spacing or the absolute best location. The Blackbird is easier to get out of when hung low to the ground. I have also found random stuff (gloves, socks, hat) that sometimes ends up floating around in the hammock with me will wind up on the ground underneath the slit on the HH. That stuff goes in the shelf in the BB. I suspect that were I to use the hammock as a bug bivy on the ground, I would be happier with the zipper than the slit. Once in a while, rolling around in my sleep, I would put my foot through the slit and wake up abruptly with a cold spot under my legs and the velcro stuck to my sock.
Put a quilt on the HH, I can't sit in it like a chair without worrying about the quilt - you have to fold it over on itself and lean against the bugnet. With the full length zip this is not a problem on the Blackbird, nor do you end up with your head in the netting. All I worry about then is sitting so low that the quilt brushes the ground.
The netting flips out of the way. It's also easy to fasten out of the way.
The tie outs are adjustable with cord locks and have reflective cord. The HH tie outs are black, you must move the stakes to adjust, and in the dark the shock cord is a pain in the shins.
The HH is 100 x 64. The Blackbird is 101 x 72. (101 is ridgeline length; the hammock is 120 total according to Brandon's site.) The Blackbird feels bigger/wider (feels bigger than 72", if you ask me) and the bugnet does not lay as low overhead as my HH net did.
Hennessy claims the ULB is for folks up to six feet tall. I'm 5'6" and I find it on the cramped side. The Blackbird doesn't feel too short.
that spot that gets uncomfortable under your calves - very prominent in the HH, not really noticeable in the BB until you try to lie end to end instead of on the diagonal.
To adjust the quilt or anything else on the HH, you get in and out a lot of times. to adjust anything on the BB, you reach out and do it.
Overall, I can tell the BB is put together very well. At times I did things in the HH like push myself off the pad to roll over (no double layer, polypro stuck to my pad!) and heard seams creak. I am a very active sleeper and that made me nervous. The BB doesn't appear to have limits so far as what position you're in. Sitting or lying down with the bugnet wide open, putting my feet to the left instead of in the footbox, getting into my usual semi-fetal back and side sleeping half twist - whatever, I don't notice any seam stress and have yet to hear it complain. I like that I don't have to sleep in one direction all the time.
I never liked the pockets on the ridgeline. The shelf is better. I don't smack my head on something in the morning before coffee.
The quilts I have were easier to adjust on the BB. They were a pain on the HH. Which is funny, as JRB seems to make them for HH users. I kept having cold spots on the HH - on the BB it took one adjustment to get it right. I could feel around between and under the hammock, reach up and tighten the head end without getting out, and it took moving the prussick from the strap to the line above the knot... and it was warmth and bliss, all night long, except for when I rolled over in my sleep and knocked the top quilt askew.
I much prefer the strap and tri rings to the Hennessy suspension. While it's certainly possible to DIY different suspension or add a zipper to the HH, I didn't feel sufficiently capable. I was thinking of getting a zipper mod when the BB started to appear on the forums. When people mentioned how roomy it was, my claustrophobia started rationalizing the purchase.
I can certainly appreciate your confusion about the differences, but those subtle little differences make the experience totally enjoyable, versus mostly enjoyable. The last thing - Brandon will do custom work within limits. If I wanted the footbox on the other side, he'd very likely have done that. Not many mfgers will do that. Brandon also spent time answering questions in email, and he makes them right here in the US. All of this adds up to a package I can endorse without reservation.
Just another hanger
Wow Lori you covered it all and very well I might say. I own two ULB HH's and I will never sleep in them again. In fact once I get organized around the house here I will be putting them up for sale in the forums with some other hammock gear I have used in the past.
I will stick my neck out and say that once a HH user lays in a Blackbird they will imeditatly see the difference and will want one.
I didn't mention the zipper is in the fabric, not along the edges of the netting, and doesn't seem to compromise the way the hammock works.
Originally Posted by attroll
The last thing I was going to say and have trouble putting into words: The Blackbird works with you. The fabric of the HH is workable, but sometimes I felt like I was fighting with it. I try to explain to someone trying it out for the first time to think of it more like you're wearing the hammock, not just lying in it; tents don't adjust to you but the hammock will adjust around you. People would get in the HH and end up looking like cord wood. I had a first timer get in the BB and he immediately loosened up and worked with the hammock to get comfortable.
I missed this post on the first read and didn't even think about where you were located Roadtorque.
Originally Posted by Rushthezeppelin
I would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give you a night in the mighty Blackbird during the AZ hang. You can try my double 1.7 and decide for yourself if there is a noticeable difference in the ease of use and the lay of the BB. Maybe I should have Brandon give me one for an auction at the AZ hang after everybody that hasn't tried one gets to do so.
Last edited by Cannibal; 03-18-2009 at 09:33.
Reason: Spelling....what else?
Minor point, but the blackbird is NOT made from silnylon. A waterproof hammock would make you sweat like crazy
Originally Posted by lori
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