Aside

The Warbonnet Outdoors Ridgerunner Hammock

a first look

Article and photography

by John Pavoncello/pho-tac.com

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Back in October my buddy George and I took off to the mountains for a few days. It was my first real experience camping with a hammock. I’d had an Eno Singlerest for about a year, but only used it in the yard and on family camping trips as a place to take a nap or read.

George has been using Warbonnet Outdoors hammocks for years, and when he got a call from the company asking if he knew someone who would be interested in trying out a new hammock, George told them he had just the guy.

Unfortunately, the Warbonnet didn’t arrive until the day we got home from our three day adventure and with the holidays, work, and just plain lousy weather, I haven’t had a chance to camp with the new system. I have, however, been able to set up the hammock and get a first impression.

John A. Pavoncello photo

The Warbonnet Outdoors Ridgerunner Hammock is what they call a ‘bridge’ style hammock. Unlike most hammocks that just gather material at the ends and create sort of a banana shape, the Ridgerunner has two expansion poles that, when placed in position at the head and foot ends of the hammock, square up the shape, creating a lot more room on the inside of the hammock space. These poles come at a cost in weight, the two add about 9.9 oz to the 27 oz hammock system for a total of 36.9 oz. (2.3lbs). Certain hiking poles can be substituted for the expansion poles,which reduces the overall weight.

John A. Pavoncello photo

Using the expansion poles also causes the system to be a bit more unstable than a traditional gathered-end hammock. Getting into and out of the Ridgerunner can be a trick, especially if you don’t remember to grab both sides while climbing in. The traditional, turn-around-and-sit-down method just doesn’t work with the Ridgerunner, and you may just end up on your backside under the hammock, as I learned the first time I tried to climb in. Once you’re in, the hammock is quite comfortable, and people who don’t care for the cocoon feeling of a traditional hammock will appreciate the open space inside. There is a bit more sway than I’m used to, and I haven’t played around with getting into and out of a sleeping bag while in the hammock yet, but I’m sure that with use, I’ll get the hang of it.

One of my favorite features of the Ridgerunner is the integrated bug net. In the northern woods of Pennsylvania, the mosquitoes can be downright horrifying on some humid summer nights, but I hate the feeling of netting hanging loosely around me. The Ridgerunner’s bug net is well thought out. It has two shock cords, one at the foot and one at the head, to keep the net up and secure, and has a three-sided zipper that allows the user to unzip and store the net in a pouch on those bug-free spring and fall evenings.

The Ridgerunner is available in both single and double layers. The one provided to me is a double layer and features an opening at the head end to insert a sleeping pad or under-quilt – a big plus in my book. I tend to wiggle around a lot when I sleep and I’ve found that I tend to slide around even more if I put a sleeping pad under my sleeping bag. While a lot more comfortable and warmer, I haven’t been using a pad because of problems with sliding. The new Ridgerunner’s double layer will keep your sleeping pad right where you put it.

Other features include two external storage pouches on each side, called ‘saddlebags’ by Warbonnet, that are accessible from the inside when the netting is zipped closed. These spacious pouches have plenty of room to store your flashlight, keys, knife, etc. that you may want close at hand at night time. I tried putting my 1000L Nalgene in one of the pockets, and while it fit fine, the weight really made the hammock off-balanced so I would avoid putting heavy objects in them. The hammock also features built-in head and neck support, so a pillow really isn’t needed.

John A. Pavoncello photo

According to the Warbonnet Outdoors website, the Ridgerunner is designed for people 6’6” and shorter. I’m 5’9” or so and had plenty of length with room to spare around my feet. The hammock is available with two different suspension types  – an adjustable strap system, or a line and strap system.

Mine came with the adjustable strap system, and setting up the hammock couldn’t be easier. Each end of the hammock has a 14-foot piece of webbing attached via cinch-buckle with a loop at one end of the strap. Attach a carabiner to the loop, go around the tree and clip the carabiner back onto the strap. It’s that easy. Go to the other tree and repeat.

The slack, or lack there of, can be adjusted on either end via the cinch-buckles. Warbonnet includes a nifty stuff sack for the hammock that opens on both ends, which allows you to keep the hammock off the ground while hooking up the first end.

Overall, I am very impressed by the quality and design of the Warbonnet Outdoors Ridgerunner hammock. I’m sure that after a few overnight outings, I can make an honest assessment, but on a first look, the Ridgerunner is a winner.

John A. Pavoncello photo

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