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View Full Version : Hennessy Supershelter Tested; 28F



Trooper
01-10-2010, 10:03
Taking advantage of unusually low temperatures in Alabama, and inspired by BillyBob58's recent thread (http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=13454) on the SS, I gave mine a test run. Just as BillyBob58 mentioned, I didn't spend the entire night either, but I did ensure that I endured the coldest hours of the early morning. It seems the SS will provide some excellent heat retention, but only if the user is in full contact with the pad and Space Blanket (SB).

The thermometer read -4C (28F) when I started the test at about 2300 hrs and remained steady until 0400 hrs when I ended the experiment. Because I wanted to test the Supershelter and not my clothing, here is what I used:


BDU pants (http://www.atlanco.com/PublicStore/product/BDU-TROUSERS,203107550,203314707.aspx)
UnderArmour Coldgear shirt (http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/mens/tactical/tactical/tops/pid1005512-Men-s-ColdGear-Tactical-Mock/1005512-001)
LL Bean Down 650 vest (http://reviews.llbean.com/1138/IG97709/reviews.htm)
Wool socks (SAM's Club; 12 years ago)

Hennessy Supershelter (OCF pad, SB, and silnylon undercover), Hyperlight, and Hex Tarp.


In preparation, I wrapped the OCF pad with the SB and secured it with tape. This proved invaluable compared to my previous tests, as the SB and OCF need to be one unit. Thinking I wouldn't need the SB for my feet, I only wrapped the top portion of the OCF pad-cover the whole thing. Again, because I wanted to test the SS and not my other gear, I didn't use any insulation on top of me until just before ending the test, but the Gore-Tex jacket I draped over myself was adequate. My biggest problem from above wasn't the cold, but the wind. The OCF pad provided enough insulation, that I believe I could have endured much colder with it, but the positioning wasn't easy.

The first complication I encountered was how the hammock setup. I continually slid to the entrance, which is where the least insulation is provided by the SS. After an hour of this I readjusted the tree huggers which had somehow became lower on the foot end. Now I was low in the hammock with a taut ridgeline, but excessive sag-go figure. The SS was set up per HH instructions, but with my sliding problem I wasn't able to take full advantage of the OCF pad. The OCF pad didn't fit as tightly as I thought it should have. I'm sure this would have been rectified if the hammock were suspended better, but I'm still fearful of snapping my ridgeline. The OCF pad managed to slide to either side of me, making the asymmetric position nearly impossible to maintain.

My conclusion is that the SS will work at freezing temps alone if an overcover is used and the pad and hammock are positioned properly. More work on this today in daylight conditions...

BillyBob58
01-10-2010, 15:56
See PM. Is yours the old style or new style with zip tie/mitten hook attachment?

I always try to cover every thing in the UC with the space blanket.

I slide to the foot in a HH unless I hang the foot a few inches higher than the head.

What temp did you end the night at?(never mind, I see now...28) Not bad results for the 1st time, especially with no TQ or bag! You started at 28F. The SS, for me anyway, is best used at the 30s and above by itself with just the one pad and space blanket. You may already be doing better than me.

Trooper
01-10-2010, 21:14
Thanks for replying with the PM. I have the newer style with the mitten hooks, but I should have an older version and overcover this week. I am also trying to do this without a zipper modification. I decided to scrap the flimsy space blanket and ordered the heavier, but more durable style. This should give me a double layer with full length coverage of the pad. Only covering the torso was definitely a poor decision.

I should clarify that I wasn't cozy without the insulation above me, but I'd surely get a few minutes of sleep without going into hypothermic shock. When I say that this system could be used for colder weather, I'm assuming top insulation or the overcover would be used to made the temperature comfortable rather than survivable. The warmth from the pad was so noticeable that I think I wouldn't need any additional insulation underneath for another 10-15.

The main problem was maintaining contact with the pad. It kept sliding to either side of my body, or I would sink too low in the hammock to enjoy the full use of the pad. A couple of times I noticed it had actually folded in half lengthwise. When it did stay under my body, it seemed to sag which allowed the cold air to creep under me. Of course, when I sunk to the Hennessy opening, I was in full contact with the pad, but it was the narrower portion. When it worked it was great, but getting it to stay in place was an adventure in itself.

I'm planning another experiment this weekend, so I'll probably just add to this thread. Thanks again for your suggestions.

bonsaihiker
01-10-2010, 22:06
Sounds like you need to adjust the pad suspension tighter. I do this by just tying an overhand knot at the point I want it to hang from the prussik hook. The pad should definitely not be so loose that it folds in half. Are you threading the hammock tie-outs through the pad loops? that, along with adjusting the suspension, should keep the pad in place very well.

Congrats on the low temps! My record low with the SS alone was 34 degrees. I went to a mylar-faced windshield reflector instead of a space blanket, as it is a small layer of closed-cell foam. I've found it is much warmer than the regular space blanket, and far easier to set up and keep in place.

BillyBob58
01-10-2010, 23:40
Thanks for replying with the PM. I have the newer style with the mitten hooks, but I should have an older version and overcover this week. I am also trying to do this without a zipper modification. I decided to scrap the flimsy space blanket and ordered the heavier, but more durable style. This should give me a double layer with full length coverage of the pad. Only covering the torso was definitely a poor decision.

I should clarify that I wasn't cozy without the insulation above me, but I'd surely get a few minutes of sleep without going into hypothermic shock. When I say that this system could be used for colder weather, I'm assuming top insulation or the overcover would be used to made the temperature comfortable rather than survivable. The warmth from the pad was so noticeable that I think I wouldn't need any additional insulation underneath for another 10-15.

Wow, that is better than I have ever come close to without adding something extra, either the HH kidney/torso pads, insulating clothing down below, or both. But a few others have also done better than me with the basic system. ( some have not done near as good). I'm wondering if you are getting some good extra insulation from some relatively incompressible clothing? Regardless, sounds like your doing pretty good.

I don't know how adjustable that newer suspension ( mitten hook) is. Again, kWPapke does not adjust at all, and has done super low temps. I suspect that the pad he puts in the UC causes just enough sag to allow the down insulation he adds to loft up fully and contact his back and the HH pad. But I'm just guessing.



The main problem was maintaining contact with the pad. It kept sliding to either side of my body, or I would sink too low in the hammock to enjoy the full use of the pad. A couple of times I noticed it had actually folded in half lengthwise. When it did stay under my body, it seemed to sag which allowed the cold air to creep under me. Of course, when I sunk to the Hennessy opening, I was in full contact with the pad, but it was the narrower portion. When it worked it was great, but getting it to stay in place was an adventure in itself.

I'm planning another experiment this weekend, so I'll probably just add to this thread. Thanks again for your suggestions.

Yeah, I don't know. I have never had any problems quite like that. I have had the pad not be quite far enough to the left sometimes, causing a cold shoulder. Which is why I love a no net or zip mod with the HHSS. So I can just reach out and move it as needed, then it usually stays in place. With the net in place, I would just reach out the bottom opening and push to the left.

And like Bonsahike rasked: you are runnning the tie outs through the pad loops and UC holes, right? As well as running the pad end shock cord/ elastics through the UC end openings and attaching to the hooks, right? I'm sure you are, but just checking all possibilities.

Trooper
01-11-2010, 00:21
The starboard and port elastic was run through the loops on the pad, out through the undercover, and then tied to the ring on the tarp at that respective corner. In retrospect, this may have contributed to the problem because this was the first time I tried this with the Hex Tarp which creates a greater angle. All of my previous testing was done with the stock fly. I used to tie the overhand knot to shorten the elastic on the head and feet ends, but just didn't try it this time-really don't know why I didn't.

I looked at the undercover and noticed for the first time that the elastic can actually be adjusted. Unless you really inspect the UC, this feature is very easy to miss because the ends of the elastic nearly disappear into their sewn channel. Now with all the inter-dependent adjustment possibilities I can really mess things up!

The windshield reflector sounds like a great idea, but how easy is it to pack? I ordered one of the casualty blankets, which I hope will be easier to keep in place than the thin mylar. I think it is 10 ounces heavier than the Space Blanket, but I'll carry more weight if it gives me a noticeable difference in warmth. The SS I bought from 2Trees should be arrive this week, and he tells me the pad has some "wings", so it sounds better than what I'm using now.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514M112JDZL._SS500_.jpg

More to come after the long weekend!

bonsaihiker
01-11-2010, 10:46
The windshield reflector packs (folds) to approximately 6 inches x 14 inches x 1.5 inches. It's an accordion fold like usual that I then fold in half. I don't mind the bulk because it is so much more effective at keeping me warm and is far and away more easy to manage. I just unfold it, lay it on top of the HH pad, and I'm good to go. It doesn't move around. Weight is, let's see...OK, 3.7 oz.

I don't tie the hammock side pull-out elastics to the Hex fly tie-outs. You can do that with the asym fly, but the hex fly tie-outs aren't positioned in the right place. I always tie out to a separate stake or whatever. If you tied it to the fly, that could explain coverage/gapping issues.

bloomgorge
02-02-2010, 11:51
Okay - just joined, been hanging out @ backpacker.com forums but must migrate over for the real discussions and the fact I've been band @ home from talking gear, damnit!
I've been comfortable down to 18F just using a base layer from patagonia cap4's, a REI kilo -20 and the SS w/HH explorer deluxe. Recently I was @ Tahquamenon Falls in the upper penninsula of Michigan and tried that set up @ 2F. I was okay until 2am when the wind picked up and the arrrz got a little numb. That's when I stumbled over to the tent - which I really dislike now.
So now I'm on a mission to make it down b/w 0-5F. I'm considering changing out the space blanket to what Trooper is going to use and I'm now in search of a cheap but good down bag I can hack up into a quilt. I also found some silnylon @ wally world and made my own top cover for $9. I can give details on that if anyone is wondering.

Ta - bloomgorge

BillyBob58
02-02-2010, 14:11
Okay - just joined, been hanging out @ backpacker.com forums but must migrate over for the real discussions and the fact I've been band @ home from talking gear, damnit!
I've been comfortable down to 18F just using a base layer from patagonia cap4's, a REI kilo -20 and the SS w/HH explorer deluxe. Recently I was @ Tahquamenon Falls in the upper penninsula of Michigan and tried that set up @ 2F. I was okay until 2am when the wind picked up and the arrrz got a little numb. That's when I stumbled over to the tent - which I really dislike now.
So now I'm on a mission to make it down b/w 0-5F. I'm considering changing out the space blanket to what Trooper is going to use and I'm now in search of a cheap but good down bag I can hack up into a quilt. I also found some silnylon @ wally world and made my own top cover for $9. I can give details on that if anyone is wondering.

Ta - bloomgorge

If you made it in a base SS at a windy 2*F with nothing worse than cold butt syndrome(CBS), you are doing great! Probably all you need is to add a small sit pad right under your butt, in the hammock.

Another item you might find really helpful is the HH kidney and torso pads- a lot of extra warmth right where you need it most. Otherwise, throw any small, very light extra insulation you are not using(extra socks, hats, balaclava whatever) on top of the HH pad. Throw anything bigger you might have, if not needed for your top insulation, into the HH under cover. For example, if you have a down parka that you don't sleep in, try putting it in the UC, especially under your butt. That can get you a whole bunch of degrees extra warmth.

Finally, do a search for Garlington Insulator. These work great in a SS.

As the numbers increase, many of you guys continue amaze me with what you are able to do with a basic SS. Many of you get far more out of it than I was ever able to. I still always thought it was worth the money if it could take me into the 30s by itself, which it did many times.