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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Warbonnet Blackbird XLC hammock > Owner Review by Robb Pratt

March 08, 2018


NAME: Robb Pratt
EMAIL: unicornv007 AT
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Canton, Michigan, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend long trips a year. I also "car" camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year where we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.


Outside - Spring
First night hang - Blackbird XLC with an underquilt

Manufacturer: Warbonnet Outdoors
Year of Purchase: 2016
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US$195 ($180 + $15 option for Whoopee Slings)
Listed Weight: 1 lb 10 oz. (737 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 11 oz. (771 g)
* Imperial Units: 11 ft by 62 inches wide with 112 inch fixed ridgeline
* Metric Units: 3.35 meters long by 1.57 meters wide with 2.84 meter fixed ridgeline
Product Description: While Warbonnet makes several different hammocks (such as a bridge design and a regular Blackbird that is a 1 ft (0.3 m) shorter in length), I chose the Blackbird XLC due to its longer length being more comfortable than the regular Blackbird as well as its lighter weight compared to a bridge hammock. For the Blackbird XLC, they offer three different variants - a single 1.7L layer, a heavy weight double layer and a light weight double layer. As I had long term plans of using only an underquilt, and again wanting the lightest weight hammock, I chose the single layer 1.7L which is made of 70D nylon fabric. It has a removable bugnet that is integrated into the design. It can also be ordered with a winter topcover that replaces the bugnet but I did not purchase that option. The last option that can be selected is the suspension method. I chose whoopee slings as they are the lightest weight and also do not depend on my knot tying abilities. It is designed for 250 lb (113 kg) max weight. Inside, it has a 2 ft (0.186m2) storage shelf. This version is a right-hand lay and it has an asymmetric angle that allows the user to lie nearly flat at a diagonal. The package included a bishop bag for storing the hammock.


I purchased this hammock in February 2016 and have used it on multiple camping and backpacking trips, accumulating 18+ nights of use. It has been used mostly in Michigan with temperatures between 30F to 80F (-1C to 27C), sometimes with sporadic light rain, strong winds (30 mph / 48 kph) or high humidity. As I always use a tarp, the rain has not been an issue but I have also not had it in a downpour (I did though tie drip lines to both ends of the hammock just in case.) Most of the trips have been walking a short distance to a campsite, but one was a traditional backpacking trip with 18 miles (29 km) completed. As it's a hammock, I have also challenged myself several times and set up on ridges, over small fallen trees and even a hill where the distance between the foot to the ground and the head to the ground was significantly different (something I can't do with a tent). This upcoming summer, I have plans already to accumulate an additional 12 days of use, 6 of it with backpacking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the Manistee River Loop trail and another 6 days at a base camp.


1. D-Bar-A Boy Scout Camp - Metamora, Michigan - April 2016 (2 nights, temps 40F to 45F (4C to 7C) with sporadic light rain that never accumulated more than 0.5 inches (13 mm) throughout the day)
2. Lake, Michigan - Private Property - July 2016 (3 nights, temps 50F to 70F (10C to 21C))
3. Kensington Metro Park - Milford, Michigan - April 2017 (2 nights, temps 33F to 40F (1C to 4C))
4. Cole Canoe Base - Alger, Michigan - June 2017 (6 nights, temps 40F to 80F (4C to 27C) with spurts of rain almost every day, but again no more than about 0.5 inch (12.7mm) on any given day).
5. Jordan River Pathway - Antrim County, Michigan - August 2017 (1 night / 18 miles (29 km), temps 60F (16C))
6. Camp Miakonda - Toledo, Ohio -- September 2017 (2 nights, temps 50F (10C))


I purchased this hammock to replace a DIY hammock that I made the previous year. When I first received the hammock, I immediately weighed it. It came in 1 oz (34 grams actually) over the listed weight, but I believe this is due to the bishop/storage bag. I know the gram counters will threaten me with tar and feathers for this, but I wasn't bothered by the additional weight.

My next goal was to string it up in my basement and check comfort and design.

IMAGE 6     Caribeener
Connecting the Whoopees Slings to a Caribeener & Ring

Initially, I used a pair of climbing-strength carabineers to connect into the steel rings I had screwed into several structural beams in the basement. I clipped the whoopee slings into these and looked at the hammock lying on the ground. Time to cinch it up into a hanging position! I found the whoopee sling configuration to initially be very confusing. I had to give up and go watch some instructional videos online, but within 20 minutes, I finally figured it out. I was pulling too hard on the wrong end of the loose line - like a little kid at Christmas, I was just too excited to try out my new gear.

Getting into the hammock was easy but my basement did not have the anchor spots to tie down the two side pullouts. Statistics and complicated math books finally found a use after years of neglect - while I considered the satisfaction of driving a few stakes through them, instead I just rested a few of those bad boys on either tie out. From a comfort standpoint, the lie was better than my DIY but took some fiddling with to adjust things correctly. For me, the biggest trick was getting the head end lower than the foot end and not stringing it too tight. I continued to test it out in my basement over the next few months until our spring trip - usually lying in it while attending online meetings or watching TV.


For my first trip, I can remember the hardest thing was to find two trees the right distance apart. While I don't remember the exact distance, I had read of a simple trick to find two trees using my trekking poles. The trick is to extend the two poles to their maximum length, hold one in each hand as far away as possible. The right length is just touch two trees. With the two poles, my wingspan is 14 ft (4.3 m) so the distance was right around this length but it still took me 15-20 minutes just to find the spot. From there, it took another 10-15 minutes just to set the hammock up. While I had brought the carabineers, I still wanted to try using the actual instructions. I've summarized the instructions for pitching the hammock down to:
o Wrap strap around tree
o Put one strap end through hole in other strap end
o Tie Marlin Spike Hitch in loose end of strap
o Insert twig or other small item into knot and pull strap tight
o Hang whoopee sling off of knot (but not the twig)
o Adjust whoopee sling reasonably close to knot
o Repeat procedure on other side
o Adjust whoopees to final position to get roughly a 30 degree angle for hang

The instructions sound a bit daunting for someone who can barely tie his shoes correctly, but again, back to the internet. The Marlin Spike Hitch really is that easy. By summer time, I was teaching some of the local Boy Scouts how to hang their cheap, day hammocks with a few simple knots. I still struggle with my shoelaces though. The 30 degree angle is fairly easy though to guesstimate with making a gun-like symbol with your hand using the index finger and thumb. The angle between the tip of the index finger to the end of the thumb is roughly 30 degrees. There are online apps too but I prefer to not use them and I found it was pretty easy to get a good lie using this method.

Marlin Spike Hitch
Close up view of Marlin Spike Hitch

That being said, I did find using the carabineers fast and easy and defaulted to them from pure laziness after the first time. I may return back to the Marlin Spike Hitches though in the future to save weight and appease the gram-wienie gods (my two carabineers weigh just about 2 oz (50 g).

While that sounds like only a few minutes to setup, most of the time afterward was spent fiddling with the coverage to the tarp and making sure the head end was lower than the foot end. I also set it up with the entryway facing the wrong direction and had to flip things. Staking out the two tie-outs though was easy. Both of them have thick shockcords along with adjustable cordlocks and loops for the stakes. Once I found a soft piece of dirt to stick the stakes into, I just shorted up the cords to make it nice and tight. This both pulled out the shelf enough to make it useful and kept the bugnet off my face.
IMAGE 2               Under theTarp
View of the hammock hanging with tarp deployed

Over the next two years, I was able to use the hammock on multiple night trips, both car-camping sites and backpacking. After the first trip, I have continued to develop an understanding for how to set it up properly and now it only takes a few minutes to get a comfortable set up. I've also realized the flexibility of the whoopee slings and I don't struggle for finding a good site anymore. I also find that I look forward to the end of the evening when I can lie in my hammock and on some of the daytrips, have enjoyed climbing back in after breakfast just to relax and read a book.

Falling asleep is sometimes tricky and on the first night of any trip, it takes me longer to actually get to sleep. Once I do though, I rarely wake up in the middle of the night and sometimes sleep past sunrise. In contrast, with tent or shelter camping, I find I have to go to the bathroom at least once during the night and that I almost always wake at first light, usually complaining about various aches and pains in my back or legs. Not so in my hammock.

The hammock is also comfortable enough that I have given up on using a pillow with it. If I need my head elevated a little, I use my sweatshirt or some other piece of spare clothing. With tent camping, I still have to take a small pillow.
Nice Hang
The smile on my face says it all

From a design standpoint, the bugnet is kept far enough off of my face and body that it never interferes with lying in the hammock. I haven't actually removed it completely but I have zipped it open all the way and thrown it over the back a few times. There's also a convenient tie to lash it down, which turns the hammock into a very comfortable chair-like lounger. Part of the problem with completely removing the net though is that the storage shelf can't be used. I absolutely love that space and it was one of the reasons I originally bought the hammock. It is large enough for my electronics (phone and battery charger), a book, my wallet, a water bottle and usually some spare clothes. Honestly, the thing is like a junk drawer at home. The only problem is I have to unload it every time I want to take the hammock down and I have to make sure not to toss in anything too pointy.
Shelf View

Speaking of taking the hammock down, it's very easy to disassemble and quickly stores back into the bishop bag. After removing all my gear, I throw the hammock over my shoulder to support it and then disconnect the whoopee sling from the foot side strap. I stuff the strap into the bishop bag and tighten that portion of the bag so nothing falls out then I start stuffing the rest of the hammock into the bag, walking toward the head end. I still struggle though with occasionally dropping it on the ground - I'm getting better though. I do find thought that like most camp equipment after I take it out of its original bag for the first time, is a tight squeeze going back in. While I haven't ripped the bag, I'm always concerned it's going to tear. If it was just a smidge bigger in circumference, the job would be easier and it would be more shapeable into the space in my backpack. Either way though, my camp takedown - including tarp, bedding and hammock, now only takes about 15 minutes.

I really only have two small design-related complaints.

The first, is that the hammock lacks any clips for an underquilt. As the zipper is also only on one side, if the underquilt accidentally flips off the bottom of my hammock and to the far side, it takes some effort to get it back to my side. I haven't found a good solution for this problem but it doesn't happen very often. When it does though, I quickly know it because I will wake up, slightly confused and wondering why I'm cold. Once my brain thaws enough to send the proper signals, I'll unzip the bugnet and fumble around for the underquilt to pull it back into position. If it had zippers on both sides or tabs to snap in the underquilt, the problem would either be resolved quicker or wouldn't happen in the first place. Either way, it's a minor complaint and I've always fallen back asleep quickly.

The second issue is that when I am setting up the hammock, I'm not sure which is the head end as well as where the main entry is. At least twice, I've had to disconnect the hammock and reconnect it completely because I wasn't paying attention. It may sound trivial, but it's annoying when I setup at the edge of a beautiful clearing to find out that my entry into the hammock means I have to walk through the underbrush unless I flip the ends. I've fixed the problem by attaching a small red carabineer to one end, and constantly repeating the mantra that "Red is Head". I've also debated on adding a little red nail polish to the strap on that side to help with identification but haven't done that yet as the carabineer also works well to hang my pack from after setup.


Overall, I absolutely love my Warbonnet Blackbird XLC. Although there are a few minor complaints, it's quickly developed into my favorite piece of gear, whether it's for backpacking, "car" camping or even just taking a break and lounging around.


1. Incredibly Comfortable
2. Storage Shelf for Holding Loose Equipment
3. Speed and Ease of Setup


1. No Clips for Underquilt
2. Zipper Pull-Tab on Only One Side
3. No Indicator for Which Direction is Head
4. Storage Bag is a Bit on the Small Side

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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