Just got my new Warbonnet Blackbird on Friday and had a chance to string it up in the back yard today. My last hike I was feeling cramped (though admittedly would have been tolerably comfortable in my frugality if I had not just read several rave reviews of the BB before the hike) in my Claytor Expedition. Even at 5-8 I was always trying to releive my heels from digging in on the Exped, and found myself wishing for some place to put “stuff” – cellphone, beanie, headlamp, etc. So as soon as I got home I got on the e-horn with Warbonnet and ordered one.
Wait time was only 2 weeks~ish – I was expecting a lot more due to the buzz on Hammockforums.net, so I was pleasantly surprised. My Claytor took just as long but it ships from southeast asia. Ordered on the 7th, shipped on the 21st, arrived on the 24th. Sweet deal.
I love the double ended stuff sack. I went ahead and tied a second knot on the head end drawstring after initial unpacking, just so I’d know which way to point it when hanging. Initial impressions lying in it: Comfy! I never could seem to get flat enough in the Claytor, without feeling like I was forcing the hammock into an asym line with pressure on my heels, or having to curl up in a ball on my side. In the BB you are enveloped in a billowing cloud of ultrasil wombness. And I can get pretty flat, or at least much more comfortable. And there is so much material! If not for the shock-cord tie outs, it feels like it would wrap in on you. The inside structural ridge line could also be handy for clipping gear to. My model has the double bottom (Claytor bias). I like how the inner lining is stitched on the zipper side. There is so much material, it would surely bunch up in the bottom of the hammock if not secured this way. Installing the pad was no problem.
If I had to pick one point to dock, it would be that the sides are so high, it blocks most of any breeze. This probably comes from the Henessy end of the design influance spectrum (just from looking at pics of the HH). The BB is more like a nylon bowl with a mesh lid, where the Claytor was more like a pea pod with a nylon bottom half and a mesh top half. But for a backpacking hammock, most hang time is spent in the cool/cold night hours studying the backs of your eyelids, not hot afternoons swinging in the breeze. Field report will follow up on that. But so far I like it.
To backtrack a bit, the Claytor Expedition is a fine hammock. The fact that it is half the price of the BB almost puts it into a diffferent category for comparison purposes. The best features of the Claytor (the features that initially convinced me to get a Claytor) are available in the BB (double bottom for pad instertion, zip-off/open mesh) . The BB incorporates some of the best features of other designs and DIY mods as well – asym, tie-outs, gear storage, ring buckle straps.