Though I've sunk to a new low, PeaPod still rocks
We finally got some temps forecast to be the lowest in a couple of years. So it was time to try out the PeaPod. Although, I was also tempted to test the SuperShelter using all of the tricks I've learned over the last couple of years. Maybe if we get some more cold this year I can put the SS through some more testing.
So, it was 11PM by the time I got to bed, and already 19*. That right there would have been within 1* of a record for me. I'm not sure, but I think I used a pad/SPE on my 18* day. I'd have to look it up. There was also a slight wind chill of 5 or more degrees.
I hung the PeaPod by head lamp, at the same adjustment as I had used previously when playing around with it. Since the temp was already below the lower rating of the pod, and there was a slight wind chill, I placed my space blanket, previously removed from my SS setup, down inside the pod and adjusted it it so that it came up and around the sides of the hammock (Speer 8.5). I put my 1-1.25" single layer loft, 24 year old Quallofil(sp?) rectangular summer bag ( 40*? 50*? not sure, but least warm bag I own ) in the hammock, along with a small pillow and and another small pillow for under my knees. Then I put my tarp up. By the time I had done all of this, I was starting to get a pretty noticeable chill, even though it didn't take all that long.
I had on thin long johns, wool socks, neck gator, hat and Cocoon Polarguard pants ( 8 oz ) and parka( 14 ozs ). I crawled in, pulled the bag up quilt style, and sealed up the pod Velcro, leaving about a 6" diameter gap above my face.
Before I closed the Velcro all the way, I felt around from the outside. Once again, it did not feel like I had full loft under my butt. I'm going to have to work on that some more. But for the sake of simplicity, and looking towards days on the trail when I would be too tired to fool with it, I just let it be, even though this was going to be one seriously cold night.
After about 10 or 20 minutes, I was plenty warm on the bottom, starting to worry about over-heating on top. I was very warm, so I lowered my jacket hood, and was still plenty warm but not overheating.
I slept fitfully, with some weird dreams. In fact, I think I was often dreaming I was awake. After what seemed like a few hours, I was no longer " really warm", and was just barely "cool", top and bottom. So I pulled my hood back up, and fooled with the "quilt". I was having my usual problems with draft around my neck/shoulders when I would move or turn briefly to my side. The hood helped, but after a while I realized I was still not quite warm, and I figured it was 2 or 3AM and probably 15 or 16*. Since I was not actually cold but no longer particularly warm, I decided I would bail out, feeling I had basically established the "comfort" level. So I turned my head lamp on and was amazed to see it was already 0430! I had not even been up to take a leak, while 5.5 hours had gone by! ( I drank a full glass of water right before sack time hoping hydration would help me stay warm, so I was expecting to be up) Since it was that close to get up time ( work day ), I decided I would just ride it out, since I was not actually cold. But, since I would be up in an hour or two anyway, I decided to try closing the pod all the way. That really helped, and I warmed up significantly on top, remaining just adequate ( no discomfort, barely "cool") on the bottom. I did not see any loft loss after this brief closure. Amazingly, my feet were fine all night with just one medium layer of socks.
But some noise in the distance woke me up again at 0500, and this time I realized I did have to take a leak now, so I just got up and stayed up. That gave me 6 hours total. I checked my thermometer near the hammock. It read 10*! Plus a small wind chill, maybe 5* worth or more all night, according to the local weather folks. The official lows in the area, a few miles from me, were 12-13*.
So, not bad overall, in my opinion, considering it is only rated for 20* bottom. I guess the space blanket helped. I did feel a cold elbow once or twice or some other protruding part when I would get positioned wrong. But not as long as I was near the center, even with a diagonal lie.
A little thicker quilt or bag, and a GG pad or some clothing along with the space blanket down in the pod, and I suppose you could do zero with this setup. Great product, especially for those who prefer down.