Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock and XLC 2014 Review

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44 Responses

  1. Hangs4Fun says:

    I just made 2 diy WBBB’s and made some enhancements myself. I made the 8″ strip that goes on the “front” 2/3 noseeum so my view isn’t abstructed (though in one of the pictures it looks like that may be the case the WBBB too (can you confirm)?

    I added the lightweight aluminum Dutch quilt hooks to make hanging my UQ a breeze.

    I found that with my UQ attached and my backpack hanging from a Dutch gear hook, that I preferred to be able to adjust my ridgeline. So I made a really long Whoopie sling out of Dynaglide and marked inch increments from 95 to 115, so when I dialed in the perfect setting loaded, I could quickly reproduce it.

    Before I did any assembly of the cut pieces I did double folded hems around all edges for strength. What I discovered is I can forego the grosgrain in most locations now it I provides a great look.

    I also am in the middle of making a noseeum portal out the “back” under the shelf so I can see behind me (this will have a similar size hammock material that can be velcro’ed on/off, this location doesn’t seem to have the same stresses as the rest of the hammock body, so I feel a 12″ portal or so should be safe).

    I agree with everything you say about the WBBB design though, absolutely brilliant design by Brandon.

    I’m sure WB will continue to tweak the design of this great hammock.

  2. Adam says:

    Great review. I took my new XLC out for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it. Your two dings on the zippers were spot on; I had the exact same thoughts after spending a few nights with it. But by far the best hammock in my stable!

  3. Ed says:

    I’m completly new to the world of hammocks. In the process of building a rustic camp to get teens in the woods. I’d like to build small shelters large enough to accommodate with 6 hammocks.. Any help with dimensions and suggestions on durable hammocks would be greatly appreciated!

    • Derek says:

      Hammock Hostel

      Will this be an open-air structure or a closed cabin? If the beams are open, you can easily tie straps to connect hammocks to beams. At a camp in the Uinta Mountains, we spent the night in yurts and I hung my hammock between the beams and it worked great. If you build a cabin like a pagoda with a hexagonal shape and have a central beam, you can fan out the hammocks from a central point. Any sort of structure would work, you just need to make sure the structural beams are at least 10 feet to 12 feet apart (3 to 4 meters).

      As for hammocks and youth, I would pick up parachute nylon hammocks from one of the vendors such as ENO, Grand Trunk Goods, Hammock Bliss, Ticket to the Moon, Trek Light, Kammok, and a few others. They are very durable, easily washed and air dried, and will take a beating.

  4. David Robertson says:

    Yep… Pretty accurate. I have the updated WBBB as well. Uber comfy.

  5. I’m brand new to hanging. In fact, I’ve never slept in a hammock and am researching making the change over from backpacking tents. I have ordered your book, been watching shugemory’s vids on youtube, and doing other web-based research.

    I love your review. It’s particularly pertinent because I’m trying to decide between the WBBB and the XLC. I’m trying to use my crystal ball to anticipate complications. As a shorter than average person, at 5’5, I was wondering if the XLC would be too big? I like the removable screen/winter cover option. Do you think using the XLC could lead to calf pressure, leg hyperextension, or ankle strain because I’d be lying more on the hammock ridge than a taller hanger? Any other concerns come to mind?

    From a novice perspective, I am thinking that a larger hammock, when laying diagonally, would actually allow me to get quite flat. An extra bug in the ointment, when on the ground I sleep on my stomach. Not too sure how I’ll actually sleep in a hammock…

    • Derek says:

      I think you’ll be very comfortable and happy with the XLC model. You are a perfect height for this hammock and I don’t foresee any issues with leg hyperextension. You should be able to get quite flat in the hammock. When I sleep on the ground (or in a bed), I toss and turn a lot, often sleeping on my stomach or side. In a hammock, I nearly always sleep on my back the entire night. Let me know what you decide and how it turns out!

      • Thanks! I will let you know. On that advice I’m definitely leaning towards XLC since I do enjoy winter backpacking.

        Another question, but first a bit more background. I’m used to the Big Agnes sleeping bag system when on the ground. Not sure if you’re familiar, but the way it works is that the sleeping bags have no insulation on the bottom. Instead, there’s a giant pocket into which the 2″ sleeping pad slides. When on the ground, it makes the bag stay in place if you toss and turn as well as provide insulation.

        So, I’m trying to decide whether to get the double layer XLC and slide my pad in between as suggested on WB’s website, using the Big Agnes system inside the single layer XLC as I would on the ground with the pad in the bag pocket as usual but a bit less air, or switching to underquilts.

        My understanding is a lot of heat escapes through air pads because of the open space below the hammock (and lack of a hard surface to keep the heat in). Some people solve this with a closed cell foam pad beneath the air pad. Which I could put between layers of the double layer XLC and then Big Agnes system on top as described above.

        Thoughts?

        • Derek says:

          When people use pads with their hammocks, I often recommend that the slide the pad inside their sleeping bag–kind of a hack way of how Big Agnes does their bags. If you use that bag, you won’t need a double-layer hammock since you can keep the pad secure in the bag. A double layer hammock is helpful in getting in and out, but I think you’ll be fine without a double layer.

          I think the better reason for a double-layer hammock is for bite protection in really buggy areas.

          Air pads work by creating a layer of trapped air that can then hold heat. Some pads are better than others in doing this. The NeoAir pads have reflective surface that helps. Some air pads have down inside. I’ve used a Thermarest multiple times in a hammock and have been fine without a second closed-cell foam pad, but when it gets below freezing, multiple pads can boost heat retention.

          Under quilts are the best solution for warmth-to-weight ratio, superior comfort, and packing.

          When I first started hammock camping, I kept thinking that there might be places or situations where I’d have to go to the ground, so I stuck with pads and even packed a separate ground cloth just in case. I eventually changed my thinking because I rarely found the opportunity to go the ground and even found myself planning my trips for hammock-friendly spots (e.g., hiking in a mountain and looking for camping spots with trees instead of camping on a bare knoll).

          • backpackguy says:

            Nice review, I Bought my Blackbird XLC DL with whoopies, top cover and Superfly tarp about a month ago, love it.. I used a 6′ piece of REFLECTIX (HVAC insulation) from the hardware store as a pad, and it worked perfectly plus that stuff is super light to carry, much cheaper than the commercial ones.

  6. Hanger says:

    Do underquilts work with the XLC?

      • Hanger says:

        Do you have any info/reviews on the Clark North American? I’m debating between the Blackbird and the North American. What are your thoughts?

        • Derek says:

          The Clark hammocks all have integrated baffles under the hammock, which act like a built-in under quilt without any insulation. In some conditions, the baffles work like a weather shield, preventing wind from robbing heat from under you. Insulation such as extra clothes can be stored in the baffles to create a modular under quilt. It has lots of uses. Of course, a pad or under quilt can be used with the Clark hammocks, so you have lots of options.

          The other things to consider between hammocks is weight, bulk, and price. The Clark hammocks are generally heavier due to extra material used in the baffles, tent poles, and heavy duty suspension systems. Some of these things can be swapped out or left behind. The Clark hammocks also come standard with a tarp, whereas the Warbonnets do not.

          I don’t think the two hammocks are really comparable in many ways, but hopefully you can research all the objective data for a better comparison as you do your window shopping. To me, weight and bulk are primary concerns since I do a lot of backpacking. But these concerns are not priorities for everyone.

  7. Pete says:

    I took my new XLC out for it’s maiden voyage. I found it difficult to get the duel 25 – 30 degree angle having the foot end higher than the head end. Can you have the same angle if the heights are different? And would it be possible for you to do a set up tutorial? WB guy AKA Brandon has one for the regular but not the XLC fro what I could find…

    • Derek says:

      Pete, no need to over analyze the set-up. Yes, hanging with one end higher than the other can mess with the hang angle, but it isn’t that important. All you need to do is first hang it level with the right angle on both sides. Next, simply raise the foot end about 12 inches higher. Done!

      • Jeff says:

        Derek, when you say “simply raise the foot end about 12 inches higher” I am assuming that this is accomplished by tightening the suspension on the foot end correct?

        • Derek says:

          No. Typically you set the suspension level, let’s say 5 ft. To raise the foot end, you raise that suspension up the tree a few inches higher than the head end.

  8. Julien says:

    Hello, I just ordered an XLC for a trip I’m going to make this summer in the south of France and I was wondering if the pad was mandatory to a have a good sleep in summer. Can’t you just sleep in your sleeping bag?

    • Julien says:

      BTW I’ll the temperatures there will be between 45 and 65 F at night more often around 50 I’d say. I’ll be using this sleeping bag http://sleepingbags-cumulus.eu/uk/categories/lite-line-300?vid=1 Would you say that’s enough or should I take a small pad anyway?

      • Derek says:

        I’d bring a pad. Unless you are using a thick synthetic sleeping bag, you will compress the insulation underneath you, rendering it useless. Only when temps are in the 60s°F am I able to get away with less insulation. Your own body also makes a difference. Hot sleepers can get away with less insulation. Also, in areas where there is only a small difference between day and night temps you can usually get away with less insulation.

      • Derek says:

        I might bring a small pad, just in case. A down-filled bag is nice and warm, but it compresses more than synthetic, so you’ll probably feel cool spots. If you can, I would try a backyard test first and see how cold you can take it without a pad.

        • Julien says:

          Thanks a lot for your answers. They’re greatly appreciated. As you wisely advised I will test it for a night before I leave. What do you call a small pad? Could you link one?

          • Derek says:

            An inexpensive way to get a short pad is to make one. I’d pick up one of those blue closed-cell-foam pads (in the states, Walmart sells them for about US$7) and just cut it in half for a good torso-sided pad. Military surplus stores often sell a similar pad, which can sometimes be found in slightly wider widths. Going up the scale in price, Gossamer Gear sells a few great pads that can also be cut down or folded/modified to your liking. They also sell smaller torso pads.

    • Derek says:

      I would test your system first, just like any outdoor adventure. You don’t want to get stuck under equipped.

  9. Julien says:

    I ended up ordering a topquilt from Warbonnet I’ll use with an inexpensive mat I found http://www.decathlon.co.uk/m100-foam-sleeping-mat-id_5591048.html I’ll get myself an underquilt for fall. Waiting to receive your book to learn more about the hammock way :) Thanks again for answers!

  10. Rob says:

    Great informative review, many thanks.

    I’m looking to get into hammock camping in the UK, and thinking of buying my first hammock.

    I was wondering how, with the new upgrades, you’d rate the Blackbird XLC alongside the UKHammock’s Woodsman X? I’m a 6’1 side-sleeper, but really unsure of the subtle differences of these two hammocks.

    Thanks!

    • Derek says:

      I’d probably get the Woodsman X. The XLC has a zip-off bug net but that isn’t necessary for some folks unless you want to get the winter cover too.

  11. Ben Bowen says:

    Derek,

    I’m looking to purchase my first hammock. I’m 5’3″ and about 180lbs. I like the convertible feature and the better visibility of the XLC but I’m worried it will be too long for me and that I’ll be lost in a see of fabric! Also, I’m concerned about being able to reach high enough on the tree to set the straps.

    Any advice for short people? Thanks.

    • Derek says:

      You won’t drown. :) longer hammocks are arguably more comfortable. You’ll be fine. Height is relative, and is also based on sit height and distance between the trees. You will be fine.

    • Paul B says:

      I’m 6’4″ so I can’t comment on life for the vertically challenged;-) but my sons and wife are closer to 5′. What I’d suggest is finding a stout stick or one of your trekking poles. Set everything up at the height you can reach, then use the pole to push the webbing up the tree. you might try tying a look of parta on the looped end of your tree strap so you can snag it with your pole for pulling it down. Obviously this will be an issue with rough bark trees.

      I’ve used this method when hanging a 30′ distance between my kids’ playset and a large cotton wood though I used a rock in a sock tied to the tree strap to get it over a limb high enough then tied a rope on so I could loosen and retrieve it later. Used the pole to push it to the height I needed and I was good to go.

  12. chris says:

    Hi Derek, Im new to hammocking & have just recieved the XLC 1.1 single double layer & superfly. I come from the land down under, Oz and we have yet to really take off in the world of hammocks. This purchase has caused a stir amongst friends. Im a little concerned as some heavy fiends really want to try it out and I am yet to find out its weight tolerance. Do you know as I cannot find the specs on the warbonnet site?
    By the way I ordered your book and its been read several times over even before trying out the XLC. LOVE IT! Thanks for an awesome site too and your generous offerings.
    best chris Adelaide South Australia

  13. Jesse says:

    Hey Derek,

    Did you by chance weigh the XLC net? Just curious how much it weighs compared to a full net.

  14. Sandra Wong says:

    Hello Derek! I am looking for the best hammock for urban indoor/outdoor hammocking in downtown Toronto, ON Canada. I would be suspending the hammock from the ceiling/staircase and am looking at the XLC (a) mainly because of the fully removable netting and because I want to fit my husband, me and my 3 + 6 yr old girls in it at times. (b) double layer … it gets cold hanging in the double Ticket To the Moon hammock I’m currently testing in my living room (c) versatility to be able to take my hammock outside for real camping, outside on the rooftop deck, down to the park, or indoors in our living room.

    Can you tell me if I can put an airpad with velcro sides in the double layer? Will the open velcro damage the hammock. The airpad has velcro because it allows for 2x single airpads to velcro together to form a larger double sleeping area.

    In an earlier thread you alluded to a parachute hammock being possibly more durable. Is this really the case? Can you wash a warbonnet? Which is more comfortable, the Warbonnet or the Ticket To the Moon double parachute? Is the Warbonnet noisy/crinkly?

    If I try to use the XL Warbonnet without the side ground stakes, will the netting fall/drape all over us … touching our skin? The kids will hate that. Also, the idea of ground stakes around little kids or outside on the deck just sounds difficult/dangerous.

    Oh, and do you know what the MultiCam XL is? It costs more.

    Thanks lots for your insights!
    Sandy

  15. Tim says:

    Hey Derek,

    I’m 6′ exactly and am wondering if the regular BB will be OK for me lengthwise. When it says OK for 6′, does that really mean right up to 6′ or should I get the XLC to be sure? I don’t really need the zip off bug netting in the XLC.

    Thanks,
    Tim

  16. ericfine50 says:

    Thanks for the great write up. New to Hammocks and love the idea of the Bug Netting being off of the face. Will have to check out the WarBonnets for sure.

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