Monday, July 20, 2015

WARBONNET OUTDOORS, RIDGE RUNNER HAMMOCK Review, by Terry Craig - The Disabled Hiker

Trail Journal Entry: July 12, 2011. 3:25 AM
Once again talked myself into bringing the hammock on a backpacking trip. Once again drawn in by Imagining blissful breezes blowing across me on a hot summer night. Now I'm in horrible pain and have abandoned my hammock for the comforts of the hard, jagged, rocks below at 3 AM in the morning. Why is my hammock trying to crush me to death. When will I learn to leave that Damn Thing HOME ?!?!!!

When filming episode-1 of The Disabled Hiker, I had made several mistakes that ended up on the cutting room floor in the editing process. The worst of which would end up being the reason I never again filmed me using another backpackers hammock after that outing. Whereas the majority of people I've met with back problems and other physical handicaps, highly endorse this style hammock, I have found nothing but inevitable pain there.

Being that the ends of these hammocks were either whipped or channeled, (i.e. gathered at both ends,) I found that only after a few hours, the compression of the material around my shoulders and ribs would soon be increasing my pain levels and restricting my breathing. Eventually this would lead me to abandon my hammock for the preferred comforts of the rock covered ground.

The popular solution is to lay diagonally across the hammock so that you flatten out. But my physical issues made this near impossible to achieve for any length of time, much less maintain throughout the night.

Hammocks are one of the lightest ways to go when accessing the back-country. There is a harmony to it. A harmony where one can pretty much set up and sleep anywhere as long as there are two trees to hang between. And that can be exciting. And today, I'd like to get back some of that freedom I used to have.

As I pursued this thought, I thought about the back yard hammocks that have heavy wooden or metal spreader bars that would spread the material so that the hammock was less like a bean pod and more like an actual bed. Surely someone had to have adapted this idea by now for the modern backpacking hammock enthusiast.
After a little research, I found what I was looking for in the bridge style hammock being made by several manufacturers. However I quickly noticed, that most bridge style hammocks would not meet my specific needs or pain concerns. So I decided to write them down.

When identifying my specific needs, I found these five requirements soon took shape.
1. It needed to be extremely lightweight, including the spreader bars. 

2. It needed to have a relatively flat sleeping surface. 
3. It needed to be easy to get in and out of, even when using a sleeping bag. 
4. It was essential that the hammock did not wrap around me in any way. 
5. And, if that wasn't bad enough, I needed to be able to determine these things without actually purchasing the hammock itself via YouTube videos and online information.

I found the Ridge Runner Hammock by Warbonnet Outdoors relatively early in my search. Soon I found myself comparing the Ridge Runner to every other bridge style hammock I could find on the market. I'm sure these other bridge hammocks were not inferior in any way, but they didn't seem to fit my particular list of specific needs.

As only irony would have it, this hammock would get more of a trial on one of my expeditions, then I could have conceived of planning. After becoming incredibly ill due to the insect repellent I was using, I found myself exiting the hammock no less than eight times throughout the night to go throw up in the woods. Each time when exiting or returning to my hammock, I found myself completely amazed at how comfortable the Ridge Runner was to not only get in and out of, but the best of all was how comfortable it was to sleep in.

As you know, here on The Disabled Hiker we have a five-star rating system. I am extremely happy to bestow all five of these stars on the Ridge Runner hammock by Warbonnet Outdoors.
Here's what I found.

* Pack weight – 2.62 lbs. total.  Spreader bars = 0.75 lbs.

                                                    hammock body = 1.87 lbs.
* Pack size –  hammock body, 13.5 inches long. X 6 inch wide, cylindrical

                spreader bars, 20.25 inches long. X 2.25 inches wide (gathered)
* Max. weight capacity – 250 lbs. 

1. Initial appearance and impressions upon delivery –
* Appears to be in perfect condition and all parts accounted for.
* Love the double ended stuff sack.
* Curious that there was no bag for the spreader bars.

2. Comparative price –
* The Ridge Runner has an extremely competitive price when compared to other hammocks with spreader bars. However ...
* To be honest though, the Ridge Runner seemed to be in a class of its own, as I could not find a bridge style hammock that offered such a flat and level sleeping area. Therefore it seems silly to compare the price with these other bridge style hammocks. In my opinion, when keeping in mind the comfort level of the Ridge Runner this forced me to compare it to sleeping platforms many times its price. Such as the rigid sleeping platforms made for rock and mountain climbers.

3. How easy is the product to set up and use? –
* As instructed by the manufacture, the Ridge Runner has a slight learning curve to its set up. But once mastered, it's set up goes much faster than any other hammock I've used in the past.
Hats off to Warbonnet Outdoors on this one. By the time I'd set it up for the third time, I was in love with how fast the Ridge Runner sets up.
* I was extremely impressed by the suspension buckle system. Although it took a bit of getting used to, once I mastered it, I was impressed by its

simplicity and its strength. To make it even easier for those who struggle with pain in the fingers and hands, I found a trick to make it easier for those who still struggle with the buckles. (ref. #6 below for more)

4. Product Pros –
* As I used the Ridge Runner hammock, I was amazed at how easily I was able to get in and out. I always hurt myself getting in and out of my other hammocks, especially when getting into a sleeping bag at the same

time. It's a sure thing every time. Added pain I just don't need. Yet every time I've used the Ridge Runner, I've noticed it causing me no added pain or discomfort whatsoever. It's not exactly like getting into my own bed, but it's pretty close when compared to other hammocks.
* After spending years fighting with other hammocks and then ending up on the ground anyway, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the nights I've spent in the Ridge Runner hammock have given me the most comfortable nights sleep I've had in the woods since before my disability. And that goes for above and on the ground.
* The suspended bug netting gives an almost tent like quality and feel to the Ridge Runner.
* The double saddlebags are perfect for storing items you want to keep

close to you, such as bear spray and a headlamp. I even kept my lightweight camp shoes in them so I could find them in the middle of the night.
* The past through under sleeve for the sleeping mat is a godsend, keeping the sleeping mat in place and where it needs to be at all times.

* The adjustment buckles on either end of the Ridge Runner are a sheer stroke of genius. I've not noticed them slip even the slightest bit. And I have been watching very closely.
* The attention to detail and craftsmanship is superb as is the choice of materials. I could not find one corner cut in the making of this hammock.
* In view of all the features packed into the Ridge Runner, I was extremely impressed by the light weight nature of the entire system.

5. Product Cons –
* To be completely thorough, the only downside I can find to the entire

Ridge Runner is the absence of a bag to contain the spreader bars. 
NOTE: If this was done to save the consumer money, I'm all for it, along with the recycling of old equipment bags whenever possible.

 6. Possible medical concerns –
* Arthritic pain concerns: When operating the height adjustment buckles, I did notice the possibility that those with arthritis in their hands might have a serious issue with this type of buckle. The buckles consists of two, five sided plates of metal that must be separated in order to adjust the height of the hammock. However, this is easily circumvented with a little

sliver of wood found on site, or carried with you from home. Whittled flat, and then inserted between the two buckle plates, the sliver of wood separates the two metal plates making it easier to slide the strap threw the buckle. Although this takes some getting used to as well, doing so made it much easier to separate the plates and adjust the height of the Ridge Runner. 
(This will be demonstrated in episode 4 of The Disabled Hiker, to be released in the coming months.) 
 * As instructed by the manufacture, it is extremely important that the Ridge Runner be set up correctly to avoid injury. Therefore I join with Warbonnet Outdoors in strongly suggesting a few trial setups under controlled circumstances, before using the ridge runner in the field.

 7. Medical benefits of the product –
* The Ridge Runner offers a superior platform and proper support for a good nights sleep. If there's anything that's important for hiking or backpacking, it's the quality of sleep you get while staying in the woods.

* Thanks to the spreader bar design, I was able to lay not only on my back, but my side as well, without discomfort for the entire night. This simply amazed me. Besides myself, over the years I have met many chronic pain sufferers who have had issues with the typical backpacking hammocks. And it all seemed to focus on the gathered ends. But I could not imagine a single one of them not thoroughly enjoying this hammock. The Ridge Runner is the first hammock that I feel really levels the playing field and offers a viable solution to those of us in pain and dissatisfied with the comfort level of the standard backpacking hammock.

* The bug netting creates a wonderful shelter from mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and other diseases that could further complicate our lives. For this reason alone I would recommend the Ridge Runner to even a backyard hammock lover.

 8. Clinical Observation and Suggestions –
* This is a tough one for products like Warbonnet's Ridge Runner Hammock. How do you improve upon perfection? With the way this beautiful thing is built and works, any doubts or criticisms I had went out the window the first night I slept in it. Even the bag for the spreader bars seemed completely trivial by the following morning. Therefore the only thing I could suggest to improve the Ridge Runner would be to add a music chip that would activate a chorus of angels singing when you open the box. In other words, Great job Warbonnet Outdoors. Five stars.

Ridge Runner Hammock review
by: Terry Craig - The Disabled Hiker  ©2015

Does your company make a piece of backpacking or hiking equipment that you feel would help the physically challenged to enjoy the wilderness with more confidence and ease? If so, I would love to review your product for my audience. We all deserve a little piece of the wilderness, and The Disabled Hiker is committed to helping everyone find that peace and tranquility that only the woods can provide. If you would like to help, please e-mail me, Terry Craig - The Disabled Hiker, at

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