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  1. #1
    New Member Vela A.'s Avatar
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    Last minute second thoughts

    I'm all set to buy a Warbonnet Blackbird. Can't wait! But every now and then I see a $20 hammock an wonder why I'm not just getting one of those and a bug net. I'm sure they aren't a comfortable and amazing. I would appreciate it if you would all tell me this too. Because I'm cheap and I would rather only spend $20. But I want a great hammock for my AT thru hike! So.... why shouldn't I buy a cheap hammock?
    Don't think, just go

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    $20 is a good try to start with, you might actually like it and stick with it for a while. If you don't like it, you lose not much, in my experience, cheap (correction-> inexpensive) one also serve as my poor man's UQ once I progress to other model before I invest a real UQ, and then they(yes, multiple of them) became loaner, gift.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Womble's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Geneva, Switzerland
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    Last minute second thoughts

    My first reflection would be 'you get what you pay for'. If you get a hammock including suspension for $20 it can only be industrial made in far east. Cottage-made in Far West will cost abt 40-50$. I'm not American, but I generally think that if one can support local production at an extra cost of 2-3 fastfood meals, it should be done...

    I would love to support local productions - if they'd exist...

  4. #4
    hutzelbein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Womble View Post
    My first reflection would be 'you get what you pay for'.
    This. The $20 hammock is just a rectangular piece of fabric with channels on both ends. I have never seen one in that price class that came with a usable suspension system. Adding a comparable suspension would mean spending at least another $20. Most parachute hammocks have less than ideal dimensions (meaning they are short and often too wide), and are quite heavy for what they are. You would also need to add a bug net, which will add more $$$ and oz.

    Compare this to the Blackbird, which is a real camping hammock and comes with a very good suspension. The dimensions of the Blackbird are ideal for most people - long enough unless you're tall, and just wide enough to provide comfort but not too wide to add unnecessary weight. You can pick the fabric strength depending on your weight - not a one-size-for-all solution. You have the option of a double layer. Personally, I love the footbox and find it adds comfort - I wish I could get a no-net hammock with footbox. Then there's the shelf, too, which is very nice to have. No ridgeline organizer can hold what I put on my shelf - and the shelf is much easier to use. And of course there's the integrated bug net, which saves you weight over a bug sock.

    In my opinion, the Blackbird is a great deal if you compare it to other hammocks with similar features. But if you don't need the features, a $20 hammock will of course suffice.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bubba's Avatar
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    May 2010
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    I can understand the concern over cost but my take is if you are going to be using it on a thru hike you'll want something comfortable and well made. A good night's sleep goes a long way towards the next day's hike. If you were only going to be a casual hammock camper a cheaper hammock would be fine but the cost of a BB weighed against 150 nights on the trail is worth it IMO. Good luck on your decision.
    Last edited by Bubba; 02-02-2015 at 07:53.
    Don't let life get in the way of living.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Moel Siabod's Avatar
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    I made lots of expensive mistakes in my early hammocking days. If you can resist these urges it is very easy to DIY a hammock (even without sewing) and excellent suspension system for even less than $20. That way you can learn what you really need/want and then spend your hard earned where it really matters.
    "Live like you will die tomorrow, but learn like you will live forever." Gandhi

  7. #7
    Senior Member cataraftgirl's Avatar
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    I think it also depends on what your needs are, and what weight you want to carry. If you're doing an AT thru hike, your needs will be different than someone who strictly does weekend hikes, or camps out of a boat like me. Getting the lightest, most versatile system may be more important to you. On the flip side, there's nothing wrong with a less expensive modular system. Less expensive doesn't always mean cheap or cheaply made. I started several years ago with a Trek Light hammock that I bought at a local sportsman outdoor expo. About $50-$60 if memory serves. The Trek Light website lead me to HF, where I learned all about hammocks. Over the years I've tried several other brands and styles of hammock, including the WBBB. Each time, I sold them and went back to my Trek Light because it just fit me the best and was the most comfortable. I've invested in quality TQ and UQ, and after more trial and error got a decent bug net. I don't winter camp, so I don't need an overcover, but maybe an UQ protector at some point?

    The only way to find out what you need, and what you like is to experiment. Maybe you'll hit the nail on the head the first time. Maybe not. Most quality hammock gear is easy to sell if you find that a particular product isn't for you.
    "We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love.... and then we return home."
    Australian Aboriginal Proverb

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    I haven't ever heard someone say they regretted purchasing a WBBB. It's a well made, respected piece of gear that's priced nicely for what it is. If you try it and decide you don't like it, they're easy enough to sell for near what you pay for them new.

    I generally like to mention that there's a few other cottage vendors that make hammocks with integrated bug netting and you might find that they offer the ability to customize in ways that warbonnet doesn't. For example, Hammeck and Dream Hammocks both offer some nice setups that are worth comparing to the blackbird but give you a ton of customization options for size, color, material, etc.

    One thing to think about is whether you what you want to carry when hiking vs sending in a bounce box. Do you want something with a bugnet that is permanent or would you rather be able to remove it and mail it ahead? I can say that my 1.1 dual layer WBBB packed bigger and heavier than my 1.6 single layer Dream Hammock Thunderbird or my 1.4 single layer Hammeck Envy. My single layer $30 Dutch NylonD hammock packs even smaller and lighter since it has no zippers and no bugnet. If I wanted small, light, and comfortable I might consider something like that Dutch hammock and mail/pack a separate bugnet to use when it gets buggy. Less wear and tear on it since I won't be digging it out when I don't need it and less weight/bulk if I am mailing it when I won't need it.

  9. #9
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Womble View Post
    My first reflection would be 'you get what you pay for'.
    And you pay a lot more for Swiss-Army knife hammocks, loaded with features that I don't want or need: peak bags, ridgeline organizers, gear shelves, overcovers, hammock tie-outs and zippers. Some people think those features increase their comfort, but I just think they increase my pack weight. Swiss-Army-knife hammocks also define the way you lay, and if you don't wanna lay that way, then it's time to buy a new hammock. I frequently loan my hammocks to friends and family who are new to hammocking, so a simple, gathered-end lets them lay the way they want. I especially hate zippers because they make me feel claustrophobic, do not allow a quick escape, and stuff always seems to get caught in them. I've also experienced calf ridge in every hammock I've tried with an integrated bugnet, but have never experienced it in a simple, gathered-end.

    I won't do cheesy, made-in-China $20 hammocks (usually too short), but I'll do an 11 ft. Dutch PolyD 1.4 hammock or a BIAS Hiker Lite for $33. Add a Dutch Fronkey-style bugnet for $45 and I'm set. I'm much more interested in which fabrics are comfortable than which features are, and I can try new fabrics affordably with a modular approach. Replacement cost is also considerably lower.

    The majority of hammockers prefer integrated bugnets because the zipper makes them feel more secure against bugs, but I've been using Fronkey-style bottom-entry bugnets and feel they're much more effective. With integrated bugnets, I'd get in the hammock and the mosquitoes would get in with me, then I'd zip up and try to kill them before they got me - I don't have that problem with bottom-entry bugnets. Bottom-entry bugnets are also easier for beginners to use. Nobody's ever damaged a bottom-entry bugnet I loaned them, but they've damaged my integrated bugnets by sitting on them or getting the fabric caught in the zipper.

    Finally, the majority of my camping is done outside of bug season, which means I can leave the bugnet at home.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10
    Senior Member dragon360's Avatar
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    Not sure I would buy a cheap hammock but I've made a couple I love and have used a great number of times. That said, making it also helps me design it as I wish it to be. I have a WBBB - a couple actually and they are fantastic. But I was lucky enough to have the money. But my DIY's have served me just as well (and I think total cost was about $10 in material for me including suspension but not my dutchware!).
    The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering. - St. Augustine

    Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.
    - Bob Marley

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