Well, I just got back from my first overnight in the woods in my DIY hammock. It was a great success. I began and ended the trip with a soak in McCredie Hot Springs. The air was too cold (35F-40F) for most, it seems, because I had the run of the place.
I drove up into the mountains on a logging road and followed some elk tracks down a ditch, tromping about 1/2 a mile through about a foot of snow just before sunset. If it weren't for the time, I probably would have stopped to improvise some snow shoes. As it was, my boots and pants got a bit soaked. It wasn't forecast to go below freezing, though, so I wasn't too worried about it. The elk trail passed through a corridor of fallen and young pines. I set up parallel to the tail and to a fallen tree. It was very windy, and I hoped the fallen tree would help block the breeze. Setup was quick and easy, except that the ridgeline for my tarp wasn't quite long enough to span the 25' gap between the trees I had selected. Luckily I had some spare cord. I tied an Army surplus wool blanket under the hammock as an underquilt and put a self-inflating pad in under my unknown-rating-but-warm synthetic mummy sleeping bag. I also had half a blue walmart pad under my shoulder area. I hung a string of LED lights (from dealextreme.com) on my hammock ridgeline for light. I bought these intending to use them in my tent, but this was way better--lights up the entire interior of the tarp.
I expected to be disturbed in the middle of the night by passing elk, but I guess if it happened I slept through it. After a while my feet warmed up and I slept like a log all night. It was WAY more comfortable than sleeping in a tent and I even got warm enough that I needed to vent a little. Although, I did experience a some calf-pressure and shoulder squeeze (didn't really feel squeezed, but my chest did feel tight in the morning). I think I may have made my hammock a little short... I'm 6'6" and I went with 10' because that was supposedly the length of the Blackbird (which I heard being recommended for tall folks). I think I might give this one to the GF and make another one 11' or 12' long and see if that improves the comfort any.
Here are a couple of crappy cell-phone videos:
Any colder or windier and I really would have to say that a tarp with doors is a necessity (seemed a like a luxury before I actually got out there in the snow). I'm definitely tempted to buy/make one. If I do lengthen my hammock any, I'm sure to need a longer tarp anyway. I also think I'm going to ditch the synthetic bag and try making a 'sock' out of an old down bag. Worst case, I make it into a topquilt and use the excess down filling to make an underquilt.