So over the past couple weeks it has finally started to feel like winter here in Central North Carolina. And given that I had finally gotten off my duff and finished my DIY UQ and TQ I decided that I needed to test them out. You know for safety reasons.
Well last week we had the temps drop down to 21F with clear skies and not a bit of moisture in the air, we're talking desert dry. I happen to be home on such a lovely night for a change, so I rush out side and set up my hammock for a lovely night of gear testing. My wife asked me why I was outside in such cold weather and though I tried to explain to her that I wanted to be sure that I would be safe, you know for her, she just rolled her eyes at me and let out a exasperated groan. I had my hammock setup with DIY Fleece UQ and DIY Down UQ underneath me. On top I had a fleece blanket and DIY Down TQ. I wrapped everything in my old 6lb sleeping bag. I slept with base layers and a fleece insulating layer over that. I slept wonderfully and awoke around 5am to the sounds of traffic on the road behind my house. The sleeping bag had a layer of frost over it, but I was toasty warm inside everything. While I had hung my tarp I left in the snake skins since there was no forecast for precipitation and the skies were clear with nearly no breeze I felt safe going that route. Of course I have no pictures of that night's setup, so believe me if you wish.
So last night we had this odd thing happen. There was white stuff falling from the sky. I think its called snow.
We don't get it very often here and when we do it seems to bring out the hysteria in people. (Quick hide your bread, milk, and eggs! )
Well being the rough outdoors man I am, (Hey! No laughing!) I decided that I needed to test my tarp's winter effectiveness. And well if I'm going to hang my tarp I might as well hang the hammock, so I can be comfortable, you know while I'm testing the tarp.
(Guide Gear 12x12 in hunker down/winter mode. And yes that is a power pole on the left. I had the power company move the lines as they weren't feeding to my house. They were nice enough, read lazy, to leave the pole in the ground so that I have a great place to test hang in my back yard. )
Of course I needed to protect myself from hypothermia while testing the tarp so I grabbed my quilts and snuggled in for some long hard hours of gear testing.
(Fleece blanket being used as a make shift pillow.)
I awoke, I mean observed, this morning a build up of frost on the inside of my tarp.
And the outside of my tarp had iced up.
Last night's temps were just barely below freezing and I actually awoke at one point feeling damp and cold. I had obviously underestimated how warm all of this gear would keep me and I had to remove a layer of sweat soaked clothing and let the cold air dry me off before I slipped back into the warm embrace of the hammock.
(Obligatory Hammock shot. Note the horribly heavy sleeping bag being used pod style.)
My DIY Fleece UQ and my DIY Down UQ (filled with 8 oz 800FP down and constructed of 1.9 Ripstop from Hancock Fabrics.)
Left: DIY Down TQ (filled with 9 oz 800FP down and constructed of 1.9 Ripstop from Hancock Fabrics, Karo Step)
Center: Fleece Blanket
Right: Down blanket I picked up from Walmart around 10 years ago, no idea of the FP, but its warm.
Showing sleeping bag fully zipped in pod mode.
How the Sleeping bag connects to the hammock.
And finally a picture of my backyard alarm clock. Not nearly as pleasant as birds chirping or a creek babbling, but I never oversleep when the traffic starts up at 5am.
I had a Walmart blue CCF pad and reflective fleece waiting inside for me but never needed them. The tarp kept the snow and ice off, as well as the rain that had preceded the snow. The quilts kept me cozy warm even below freezing, and the whole setup, including the sleeping bag pod, would likely keep me warm down to 0F. So while I would hate to carry all of this gear in/on my backpack. Need to replace the ancient heavy sleeping bag with something in the 2 pound range with better compression, maybe then I'll be ready for some really cold backpacking.