Here's my detailed report. Sorry for the delay. No photo unfortunately. I had it all moved to the basement to thoroughly dry before I remembered I was going to take a beauty shot. Oh well, senior moment and I'm not even 50 yet!
What went well:
- Bottom insulation. Stock Super Shelter was fine for the bottom for these temps and wind. I had no cold spots whatsoever. If I stretched my legs out to the very end where they were off the portion covered by the ocf and space blanket (but still inside the footbox of my bag), I did notice a significant change in temperature, but it wasn't too cold for comfort. At colder temps this probably would not be the case. Also, while the down on my bag was surely very compressed, it did contribute some insulation, so I don't know if I would have been comfortable lying directly in contact with the bottom of the hammock. Further experimentation will tell. Also, the ocf pad and space blanket stayed in place all night long. I used one of those thicker, less noisy space blankets, so except for the initial few minutes in the bag, the thing was silent for the rest of the night.
- Top Insulation. Overall, I would say my 20 deg F bag was fine, although getting into the bag with the bottom entry on the HH was a struggle. It wasn't bitter cold and I was patient, so I writhed around a bunch trying to get the bag situated under me, but the micro-fleece lining on my bag kept grabbing onto my fleece shirt and kept it from laying out all the way. As such, I was mostly
in the bag, but not entirely. My shoulders and head were out, but given the mild temps and low wind, this wasn't a problem.
- Moisture. Except for things being ever so slightly damp inside and out due to the cold damp weather, I had no other condensation anywhere else on the whole rig. I checked in and under the bag, between the hammock and space blanket, and between the space blanket and the ocf. Dry.
- Auto tarp tensioners. The auto tensioning guy-lines I bought from Opie worked great. Tarp was taut when I pitched it and it was still taut 16 hrs later. The shock cord and UCR combo worked great. Easy to adjust, and kept good tension.
- Whoopie sling suspension. Worked great. Easy to adjust. No knot tying.
What didn't go so well:
- Tarp/Wind Protection. Well, it's clear I need a bigger tarp. The stock HH asym tarp just wasn't cutting it. It set up fine and the separate ridgeline I strung had the tarp down close to the hammock, but even with steep angles on the sidewalls, I couldn't get good wind protection on the windward side. It would have been fine for precip as long as it wasn't blowing excessively, but a slight breeze was blowing on and off all night. That probably helped keep condensation down, though.
- Bottom entry on hammock. During the bug seasons, I'm sure bottom entry will keep more skeeters out of my rig, but during the winter when I'm geared up in clothing and geared up in the hammock itself, getting in and out of the bottom was a major pain. As a test, I got out of the hammock at about 2 am to simulate a nature break (although once I was out, I decided not to simulate it...TMI, I know...
). I'm glad it was dark because the neighbors couldn't see me wrestling out of my bag, wrestling to get the velcro slit open, squirming out the opening with the velcro grabbing onto anything on me that was fuzzy and then repeating the whole affair when I got back in. Here's notice to 2Q and ZQ: I will be getting the zipper mod!
- Hammock tension, pitch, etc. I had the hammock hung to have the feet ever so slightly higher than the head. I'm not sure that is to my liking, but I think it might have been affected by the fact that the trees I used were probably too far apart and the angle of the hang was too shallow. This put quite a bit of tension on the hammock ridgeline and I found that the laying diagonal gig, while better than laying lengthwise, was not as comfortable as I would have liked.
Lessons learned/future actions:
- I'm getting a zipper mod. Nuf said.
- I now understand the attraction of top quilts. It would beat trying to get in and out of a sleeping bag, but for those of you who are quilt users, is sleeping directly in contact with the nylon hammock underneath you all night comfortable? I'd like to get some feedback if possible.
- Get/make a bigger tarp. I just got a new thread injector and I'm looking for a big project. A big tarp might be it. Will be surfing the DIY threads for tips.
- Hang the hammock with steeper angles on the suspension and less tension on the ridgeline.
The Big Conclusion:
- Hanging from the trees in the winter beats sleeping on the ground. While I didn't get much sleep due to a rooster (that's right, I live in a subdivision - not sure who has a rooster, but it announced the coming of dawn from about 2 am to 7:30 am), I had no sore shoulders or hips in the morning. I had no messy groundsheet to deal with and I stayed warm and comfortable all night!
Thanks to all for the encouragement and advice - you helped me have a fun and successful first hang!