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  1. #1
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    XLC Winter Cover Test

    Overnight weather: Clear 37 degrees, morning dew, 10 mph wind died to calm overnight
    Configuration: WBBB-XLC 1.1 DL with 23" wide Klymit Static V pad R1.9; 19 degree REI Radiant Sleeping bag
    Tarp: None
    Testing: Pad on top, not in sleeve. XLC Winter Cover

    Results:
    Pad on top
    I found that there are some benefits to having the pad on top vs inside the sleeve. The Klymit pad has large roll ziz-zag pattern that allows sleeping bag to fill the voids, effectively increasing the R value. When inside the sleeve, this won't happen. Also since the pad is raised, the bag can fill the edge void and provide side insulation. In addition. it is easier to verify that I am centered on the pad and adjust the pad and my position as needed. Another big benefit is that by extending my head barely over the end of the pad, my neck was much less strained. This worked great and I was very comfortable on both back and side sleeping. I had a few Cold Spot moments with my feet and CBS, but was able to quickly alleviate them by rubbing my feet together or rubbing the area that was cool. I was always centered on the pad. An insulated pad would solve this I am sure. Fluffing the bag hanging over the edge of the pad helped extend the effective width of lower insulation. It was cold enough that my face was chilled and I had to bury it in my bed.
    CONCLUSON: I think I would be fine with a SL hammock. More testing need for stuffing sleeve with clothing, etc.

    Winter Cover:
    THE GOOD: The XLC optional winter cover (WC) really looks nice. It ships as camo. It lets light in but keeps wind out. Since my tarp has not yet arrived, I went bare as a test even though I could have rigged up my Noah's tarp. At dusk, the temperature was dropping into the upper 50's and a 5-10 knot wind was gusting. It was cold with the net fly. Switching to the WC stopped that entirely and I was no longer cold. This was mainly due to wind blockage since my internal temperature gauge matched my external temperature gage. It lets light through, but you can't see in or out. It was very pleasant and comfortable inside. It was a nice night and I unzipped the WC at my head area and enjoyed the view of the night sky and bright moon. Later the temperature dropped to 37 degrees and I was OK, though not always toasty warm.
    THE BAD: The claimed 5-10 degree temperature increase inside the hammock did not happen. It was the same temperature inside as outside. To be fair, I did not have a tarp and cannot be sure if the surrounding air was completely still though I felt no gusts. This matches my earlier quick tests at a warmer OAT where I saw minimal temperature gains.
    The major problem was condensation like I haven't seen since my early days with a PVC cheapie tent with several breathers inside. It completely coated the lower surface of the WC. Since the cover is suspended on the ridgeline well above me, I was dry. There was no condensation on the pad or hammock lower portion. But when I got up at 4:30 AM for a nature call, brushing against the surface could not be avoided. My shoulder and hat got wet despite my best efforts to move the fly out of the way. I ended up finishing the night in my bed in the house since I didn't want any more water to get on my gear.
    CONCLUSION: The winter cover is not working for me so far and is a disappointment. I need to repeat the test when my Superfly comes next week and see what influence that has.

    Your Experience Please?
    I found sparse information on the web about the XLC Winter Cover. I think many, including me, would appreciate any feedback, tips and techniques based on your experience.

    Thanks for reading

    Mister S
    Last edited by MisterS; 05-05-2015 at 01:52.

  2. #2
    Herder of Cats OutandBack's Avatar
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    A tarp will not help you with inside condensation from your breath in these conditions.
    You need to learn how to vent your winter covered hammock when high condensation conditions arise.
    The XLC is limited in how to do that since it only has one zipper.
    You basicly have to leave an 18" opening and direct your breath out of it.

    My testing area:



    O&B
    There are three kinds of people in this world...those who can count and those who can't.

  3. #3
    Herder of Cats OutandBack's Avatar
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    In hammocks that offer multiple zipper pulls you can taylor your venting for those high condensation nites. It's a trial and error thing until you get a system going.
    In some cases I have had to open the hammock top cover as much as 50% to prevent condensation from collecting on the interior.
    Last edited by OutandBack; 05-03-2015 at 16:34.
    O&B
    There are three kinds of people in this world...those who can count and those who can't.

  4. #4
    Member
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    I only have three nights in my XLC so take this for what it is worth...
    Two nights with the winter top cover installed, one in the low 20's and one in the mid-30's.
    One night with the bug net installed in the upper 30's.

    My setup is a XLC 1.7 single layer using a HG incubator 20 and Kelty Lightyear down 20 deg bag. Also using a superfly tarp.

    As far as the temperature increase, I've never taken this to mean a literal increase in temperature inside the enclosed winter top cover. I have interpreted this to mean you will have an approximate 5-10 degree increase in the comfort level of your particular sleep system.

    For comparison sake, on both nights in the 30's I was wearing lightweight base layer bottoms, a lightweight long sleeve top and lightweight smartwool socks. On the night with the top cover installed I woke up warm and unzipped my bag all the way and took one foot out of the foot box to be comfortable. On the night with the bug net installed I had my bag zipped up about half way and was fine through the night. I don't know exactly what this equates to in terms of a temperature increase but for me, in my sleep system, using the top cover does add some degree of 'boost' to the temp rating. I tend to be conservative in my projection but I would say 5 degrees is a safe statement.

    In any of those nights I had no problems with condensation. Granted this is very dependent on conditions, temp, humidity, dew point, etc. I think everyone is different in this regard and likely even cardiovascular condition plays a roll in terms of how heavy one breathes at night. Even as a ground dweller for many years I have only had issues with condensation a handful of times. Even in fairly muggy conditions where others did experience issues.

    I have also noticed quite a bit of discussion about the position of a sleeping pad and how that can effect condensation. Hopefully someone who is knowledgable on the subject can comment.

    At this point I am a bit nebulous about the winter cover. My plan is to go to a HG burrow 40 for a top quilt and if the winter top cover allows me to get that setup, with appropriate clothing, comfortable into the 30's while saving a good deal of weight over my 20 deg bag I will be happy that I purchased it. Additionally, in the grand scheme of things the additional cost of the winter cover is not a significant added expense and is just another component to my shelter & sleep system that I will be using in a wide variety of conditions.

  5. #5
    Member
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    Great feedback and suggestions. Thanks for taking the time for quality feedback

    I think you are absolutely correct about opening the zipper to let your breath go outside. I did that for a bit to enjoy the view of the night sky. The zipper opening is perfectly placed to allow my breath to escape. I'll have to give that a try, maybe tonight.

    I also think the comment about 5-10 degree comfort rating makes sense. The shielding from the wind alone makes it more comfortable with still air inside. I also discovered by accident that it is an excellent summer cover if you are fortunate enough to have the hammock positioned with one side open to see the sky and the other side blocking the wind and shading from the sun. I am laying in my hammock right now with those exact conditions and it is awesome.
    Last edited by MisterS; 05-03-2015 at 22:37.

  6. #6
    Senior Member 1csleptonkayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMBdevotee View Post
    As far as the temperature increase, I've never taken this to mean a literal increase in temperature inside the enclosed winter top cover. I have interpreted this to mean you will have an approximate 5-10 degree increase in the comfort level of your particular sleep system.
    I think this sums up what you should expect from a thin piece of nylon in winter temps. There are hundreds of hours worth of internet discussions and experiments on ways people have attempted, and failed, to boost temps by modifying shelters without adding significant weight to their loads. The only expectation of your shelter system should be to block precipitation and wind/drafts, although a certain level of air circulation is necessary to avoid condensation, especially in humid conditions. On multiple day outings when insulation can be degraded by accumulating moisture, a little breeze moving through your shelter is actually going to benefit you in terms of staying warm.

    If you are looking for ways to stay warmer, your efforts and money will be better spent on your insulation - i.e. sleeping bag/quilt and clothing, or some sort of heating system like a stove. Camp site selection, including shelter orientation, is another skill to develop that will help.
    Last edited by 1csleptonkayak; 05-04-2015 at 07:58.

  7. #7
    Member
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    I told my wife I was so concerned about this condensation problem, I was going to hang myself. She said, "Not Again?" So, last night I slept with my head completely out of the hammock to test the theory. Had the mosquito netting on. Same condensation problem! Wait a minute. There was also condensation on the stuff sack hanging outside away from the hammock! There was condensation everywhere. The problem: It wasn't my breathing. It was Mother Nature breathing. Heavy Dew. I live in a coastal area near Seattle. There is lots of moisture in the air. It is really bad on my boat when moored overnight. In the morning all the seats and canvas are dripping wet with a LOT of water. In the driveway, my truck looked like it rained on it. Windshield wipers must be used on a nice clear morning with not a cloud in the sky for days prior! Though a pain, it is always a sign that a really nice, sunny day is about to happen which is good news and welcomed with joy.

    On my boat on nights like this, it is important to get the canvas up early the night before. The dew starts forming at dusk. The canvas is loose and well above the seats. If I don't, wet butt will happen in the morning if I sit on the seats. But with the canvas over them, nice and dry. I once again did not have my tarp up and slept out in the open. (Thanks, Brandon for informing me it has been shipped!) I think similarly, the dew problem will disappear if the tarp is set up, even in porch mode. In drier climates this phenomena probably won't occur, so you guys hanging in Death Valley are good to go, if you can find a tree there.

    That said, the previous night when I hung myself and had all the condensation on the inside of the winter cover, it was definitely coming from me. Otherwise it would have been on the outside of the winter cover. I predict a new problem in the morning that will delay a quick departure: dew all over my tarp! Mother nature doesn't play fair, but I love her anyway.

    Once again, thanks for the informative replies. Still looking for folk's experiences, good and bad, with their XLC winter cover. My love/hate relationship has turned to all love so far.
    So I am a moist, happy camper and my learning continues.
    Last edited by MisterS; 05-04-2015 at 09:49.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    I've used the XLC with top cover for several hundred nights outside, all 4 seasons. During colder months I get a regular temp increase of 12 degrees as measured by an Accurite Thermometer. The cover also significantly helps as a wind break. I almost never vent and don't find condensation to be a problem. If it happens, I get a little frost in the colder months. No big deal. Shake it out and I'm good. I am a cpap user but I don't think that changes things much. When it is damp outside or the conditions are generally favorable to condensation, I will get it on the underside of the tarp but the inside of the XLC top cover is no where near as bad as the tarp. Any time there is a little bit of moisture, I open up the cover and hang the top quilt for a quick dry. I've slept outside in the woods with steady rains for a week plus and condensation was the least of my worries. If I really thought it mattered, I'd add some venting zippers but I don't think it's worth it.
    Have sherpas, will travel...

    Peace

  9. #9
    Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratdog View Post
    . I am a cpap user but I don't think that changes things much. .
    Excellent feedback. I have only used my winter cover once so I hope my temp increase experience mirrors yours. There are lots of CPAP campers out there including a couple of my close friends. Isn't a CPAP an external unit that fits in your mouth with the main pump thingy on the ground outside the hammock? Is the exhaled air exhausted outside or inside the hammock?
    Last edited by MisterS; 05-05-2015 at 01:55.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    I hang my CPAP from the ridge line for convenience. During colder months I absolutely want those extra 12 degrees warmth, especially in sub 20 degree temps. The forced air is that much colder and every little bit helps. As a result, both intake and exhaust, in my case, are within the micro climate created by the to cover.

    You notice and appreciate the temp difference created by the to cover particularly when exiting the hammock. Stepping out from a 38 degree down insulated cocoon to a brisk 26 degree morning is invigorating at the very least.
    Have sherpas, will travel...

    Peace

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