Sleeping Bag to TQ Conversion
The DIY bug strikes again. I've been using a regular old rectangular sleeping bag for top insulation the past few months. Zipping the zipper was an exercise in aerobic aggravation that I just didn't need at bed time and when I zipped it part way down to use it like a top quilt I usually ended up pushing the zipper the rest of the way down. Managed to stay warm just fine the first couple of times but not so much the last time out. At that point I decided it was time to do something different.
I really didn't want to mod that particular sleeping bag and I'm not quite brave enough (yet) to take scissors and thread to my Kelty mummy bag...so what to do? I remembered someone mentioning last week or the week before that Wally World has some of their store brand sleeping bags for about $10 on-line with free shipping. I looked at their bags at the store and found what I thought was the same bag. Looked reasonably small and not too terribly heavy (for a synthetic rectangular bag anyway) but cost a bit more than twice as much as what I saw on their website. I figured I could save a few bucks by ordering one. Also figured if I ordered one and ended up screwing it up I was only out 10 bucks, so why not?!
When the bag arrived last week the first thing I noticed is that it wasn't the same bag...the bag I received was definitely heavier and bulkier...but for $10, what the heck...if nothing else it would make a good car camping quilt.
As I was getting set to do the demo work and remove the zipper I noticed that the zipper was sewn to the exterior shell and not into one of the side seams...cool, zipper demo just became a bit more tedious but it left me with a clean side seam that i didn't have to repair...
My intent was to taper the foot end and install a channel and drawstring to close up the foot. With the zipper out of the way I marked off the tapers and sewed a line of stitching along each taper line to keep the guts together once the tapers were cut...
As I usually do when working on a project in the floor, I had some help...
After the tapers were cut I finished the edges and made the channel with 1.5-inch grossgrain ribbon. Looking back, I should have used 2-inch as it would have covered the rough edges a bit better and would have been a bit easier to sew...so I mentally stored that tidbit away for for next time. I decided not to sew the bottom side shut in case I ever decided I wanted to use the quilt as a blanket (May eventually change this) so I added some 1/4-inch grossgrain ties to secure the footbox.
The drawstring in the channel was some utility cord that I had on hand. All in all I was pretty pleased with the result...
And then I gave it a test drive in the den floor...
...and was quite pleased...now I need to give it a proper test drive outside in my ENO...
Hope this will help someone who doesn't have a lot of sheckels to spend on a TQ but still would like to stay warm and comfortable in their hammock...
Almost forgot...I salvaged the zipper. Haven't measured the length but I would guess 8 to 8 1/2 feet. Anyone interested in a trade. Would like to swap for a Venom alky stove or similar...
So I took the TQ out for a test drive in the back yard this aftrenoon. Temps were in the mid to high 50s in the shade and there was a nice breeze. I knew there wasn't much chance of being overly cold but In general I was quite pleased. I didn't seem to get any of the breeze coming in the hole at the bottom of the footbox and even though there was a lot of material around the top, that just meant there was plenty to wrap around my sides and over my shoulders.
The test drive lasted nearly 3 hours...oddly enough, I can only recall about 30 minutes...maybe I should check my watch batteries...
Here are a few more pics...
In the bag...
All tucked in...
You'll have to let us know what temp it is good for. Looks nice, congrats.
It looks like you did a good job and now it might be time to try it on a better sleeping bag.
Temp tests are definitely on my agenda as we cool down here over the next couple of months.
Jason, I'm already thinking about modding a better bag...something lighter and less bulky...but...thats on the back burner for now unfortunately. Got to save up some more sheckels and there are other things higher in the priority list just now.
A while back posted a description of a cat-cut hex tarp I made from a blue WallyWorld tarp for less than $20 and someone mentioned that I may have done a great favor to folks interested into getting into hammocking but are on very tight budgets these days (me being one of them). That got me to thinking about ways to acquire or make serviceable gear at a very low cost. Sure, there will be tradeoffs in weight and bulk vs cost but even heavier and bulkier gear will get one out of the house, into the piney woods and off the ground, even if the campsite is just a few yards from the car. This TQ, whose total cost was about $15 and 3 or 4 hours of time, is another installment on that theme.
There are a few things I've figured out that I'm going to change on this and future versions...
On this quilt I'll probably add a flap of fleece on the inside to cover the gap in the bottom where its cinched up. I'll decide for sure after I've managed to figure out how low it will go temp-wise and see if my feet get chilly in the process. Heavier wool or fleece socks might be a simpler and equally serviceable solution.
I may also permanently sew in the footbox. The ties work fine but I don't care for the idea that one or more might work its way lose at an inopportune moment. I'll also sew the box up another 6 inches above the last tie if I do.
On future versions I'll probably make the footbox at a little smaller...I made it to be 15 inches in diameter (my feet don't like to be squished together). I could probably go down to 12 inches and have adequate room and could extend the taper further up the sides...cutting off a little more bulk and weight without losing substantial insulation. I'll also use 2-inch grossgrain ribbon instead of 1 1/2 inch just to make binding up the edges a little easier.
Going cheap is a big thing for a lot of people that don't have the money to spend on the lightest and greatest things. I look forward to seeing any other project or improvements that you work on in the future.
I have a Venom Alky Stove that I won in a raffle that you are welcome to have. I will bring it to the Hang next weekend at James Floyd State Park if you are going to be there. Don't worry about the zipper, I would not know how to sew anything even if I had to.
Hey GH, I'll take you up on the stove. If you don't need the zipper let me swap you some flies for the stove and I'll offer the zipper up here as a freebie for someone. How does that sound?
I can't make it up to Sloppy Floyd next weekend...we're doing birthday stuff for the kids. If I PM you my address can you ship it my way? Send me a return for your flies.
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