BooneDox Drifter Collapsable, Free-standing Hammock Stand
This is one stand that should be listed in my “definitive” work on portable hammock stands. The BooneDox Drifter is easy to assemble, has a handy carry case, and makes setting up a hammock just about anywhere a breeze. With its low profile and rocker base, it does have some tradeoffs, but for a light(ish) freestanding perch, it’s hard to beat.
- Manufacturer: BooneDox, Made in USA
- MSRP: US$239.95
- 8 separate push-button interlocking sections
- 44 × 7 in (111.72 ×17.78 cm) carry bag
- Optional extender poles available ($20), which allow another foot of width
- Made in the USA
- 1.75 OD silver powder coat finish, heavy-gauge extruded aluminum pipe
- 43 in (109.72 cm) long segments
- 8 separate push-button interlocking sections
- 400 lbs (181 kg) rated weight capacity
- Height: 36 in (91.4 cm)
- Length: 130 in (330 cm)
- Carrying bag: 12 oz (339 g)
- Aluminum stand: 22 lbs (10 kg)
The BooneDox Drifter Hammock stand is one of the only commercially available, freestanding hammock stands made from lightweight aluminum. Most freestanding hammock stands are heavy (made from steel) and don’t break down into easily portable sections as the Drifter does. Its eight sections have inner couplings that fit into each other and lock into place using a button. The pipe sections form rails that are linked together with a piece of webbing strap in the middle. This strap keeps the two rails from splaying apart. The rails are connected at each end by a metal link. A hammock connects to each metal link with an included carabiner, which is also the anchor point.
The rails are not completely curved. There are short flat sections at intervals that helps to stabilize it (slightly) in hammock mode and chair mode.
The entire stand can be assembled in a minute or two without any tools.
One interesting feature of this stand is also a liability. The rocker design allows you to shift the stand and convert it and the hammock into a sitting chair position, much like a chair hammock. When I was testing this stand, my kids went a little overboard playing teeter-totter over and over with the stand, sliding an occupant (a sibling) back and forth as they lifted one side, then the other. I eventually had to have them stop for fear of hurting someone (although they were having a blast). There is a potential of rocking one end up quickly, which could be a hazard if someone was nearby (we had several near misses ourselves).
The stand does set the hammock lower to the ground than if you were hanging off a wall or some trees. This is to be expected with the low-profile design, and actually has some advantage in the cooler months when you can pitch the hammock low and thereby cutting down as much air circulation around the hammock. Ground duff can easily and quickly be piled up to fill in air gaps around a hammock.
The low pitch does make it harder to get out of the hammock. This is by far the chief drawback of this stand.
I tested the Drifter stand with my 10 ft (3 m) long Therm-a-Rest hammock and it fit just fine, although it was as low to the ground as you can get without touching. Depending on the size and stretch of the hammock you use and your weight, you could touch the ground. Sleeping in this hammock was comfortable and worked fine, even with an under quilt, but there was no extra room beneath the under quilt (I used a pad to protect the quilt from scraping the ground).
The rocker design also has some play when entering and exiting the stand. The first few times can feel a little disorienting as you adjust and account for the movement. Hammocks are naturally more dynamic with the left-to-right swaying, but the stand adds additional front-to-back movement. Depending on how your weight is balanced, you could shift the hammock stand. Sometimes this can be a nice feature, and can mimic what some hangers prefer when they hang their foot end higher than the head end. The Drifter stand makes this possible, but it isn’t always perfect because the stand can move unless it is anchored in place.
Getting in a hammock using this stand is really no different than if the hammock was anchored to trees: spread the hammock fabric and sit in the center. This helps minimize any rocking when entering. Keep your torso centered as you swing your legs into the hammock.
Attaching A Tarp and/or Bug Net
BooneDox sells a hammock, tarp, and bug net that are all designed to go with the stand. I’ll have a separate review for these items, but I can confirm they work with the stand. The challenge with directly attaching a tarp or bug netting to this stand is the bowing effect.
Accounting for Flex
Because the Drifter lacks a top rail, the metal will flex and bow slightly inward. This isn’t really noticeable unless you try to connect a tarp or bug net to the stand. Once you get in the hammock, the stand will flex enough to bring the end points closer together, thus reducing the length between the ends, which will make the fabric droop and sag.
The one solution I’ve found for fixing this issue is to install a ridge line on the stand to pull the two ends together and take up any slack before the hammock is hung. I used some Spectra accessory line and tied a Trucker’s Hitch to really ratchet down the line and get the stand secure as if it had an occupant inside. Once this was done, I could connect a tarp or bug net directly to the stand and never experience any sagging.
Recommendations and Review
Suspension and Anchor System
The stock hammock that comes from BooneDox uses a simple carabiner system that clips easily onto the anchor post on the stand. There is really no additional suspension or anchoring system needed, unless your hammock is longer than the stand can accommodate out of the box. For longer hammocks, I would recommend purchasing the extender poles.
The stock design can accommodate any hammock under 9.5 feet long and up to 10 feet long without modification. Eleven-foot hammocks will fit if you buy the extender rails.
Construction and Craftsmanship
The pipe stand has a simple design, but the material and workmanship is very fine. The fittings and swaged pipes are fairly precise and fit together smoothly. Everything feels solid when assembled.
The brushed aluminum has a nice, modern look that fits any decor. It has clean lines and a sharp appearance. For car camping, I have no complaints except that you may have to deal with wiping down the stand before packing, to clean off any dirt.
Price and Value
You can pick up a freestanding steel pipe hammock stand for as little as $60. A nice stand with adjustable arms can be found anywhere from $150 to $200. Top-of-the-line designer stands start at $200 and have no upper limit. At $240, I think the stand is a little at the high end of the spectrum, especially since it compromises on stand height and length where other stands provide a much more traditional entry point and stability. The portability and lower weight are nice features, but Aluminum is also an inexpensive material. I wish the price were in the $100-range, as I think it would be accessible to more people.
I think the Drifter stand works best for low-profile car camping, base camps, and at events like scout camps or music festivals where there are limited or unavailable natural or man-made anchor points available. Hanging indoors is also a great option, especially when traveling and you want to set up a trundle bed in a hotel or if you want to skip the bed altogether.
The stand collapses enough that some canoe or kayak enthusiasts might consider bringing it, but you’ll need to have enough deck space to carry it. The weight may be an issue for some, and it certainly isn’t a great option for backpacking (I just know a few people will point that out for me, thank-you-very-much).
This stand was a perfect companion for our family car camping trip when I knew we would need a stand. It fit easily in the back of our van, but it was only one stand for one person.
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear. I was under no obligation to publish a review of this item.