Originally Posted by Just Jeff
First of all - I love the PeaPod. In my experience, the PeaPod works better than underquilts on a Speer-type hammock. But obviously it can't be used on a Hennessy, and it's much more cumbersome to wear as a robe than the NS is to wear as a poncho. They both have their places.
Now the details.
- The PeaPod is pretty easy to fit and adjust on most hammocks. A full width hammock (over 60" or so) can compress the insulation a bit when the Pod is closed, depending on how you hang the hammock. But other than that, you really just cinch it on.
- The velcro works. It makes the Pod very adjustable...if you're warm, you can vent anywhere along the Pod. If you're cold, you can close it right around your head. The velcro is also more of a hassle to close than a zipper is...if the ends aren't lined up exactly, sometimes I end up with a "bubble" on one side and have to realign the edges. It's also a bit scratchy since it doesn't use omni-tape...which is why I made the PeaPod Hood. (This hood is much bigger/heavier than needed, but it sure is comfortable.)
- You do need a top quilt for lower temps (see below), but since the PeaPod completely surrounds the hammock you can get away with a much thinner top quilt. So if you add up the top quilt and PeaPod, it'll weigh about the same as the JRB 3 season set with support system. (The overstuffed PeaPod+quilt might be just a bit heavier but I think it's also just a bit warmer, so it's really a wash.)
Reasons you need a top quilt as the temp drops:
- The insulation on top is kinda thin...if I crawl inside mine during the day, I can see spots where it doesn't look like there's much down. More reason a top quilt is needed.
- At the very top where the velcro is, that's all the insulation above you...two layers of velcro.
- The hammock holds the Pod up off your body, creating an air gap that your body must heat...unless you fill the gap with more insulation (like a quilt). So you're correct about the space above your body...a top quilt is needed to get to low temps.
Personally, if I wanted the warmest system for the lightest weight, I'd base the decision on what kind of hammock I use rather than the insulation for it. If you're comfortable in the HH, JRB is the way to go. If you're more comfortable in the Speer, the PeaPod+quilt will work great.
Something to keep in mind is the multi-use aspect of the JRB quilts
(NS and Stealth). I save the weight of a jacket in my pack by carrying the JRB...so even though the weights are similar, my pack is ~15 oz lighter if I use the JRB.
BUT if the wallet allows (and you prefer a Speer-type), I bet a Stealth + PeaPod would be a **** versatile system temperature-wise, and still give you the benefits of wearing your quilt as a poncho around camp. (I haven't gone camping w/o my No Sniveler since I bought it, even when I use the PeaPod...the Stealth has the same head-hole.)
So there are my opinions. Don't forget that I have a business relationship with JRB...it has nothing to do with the quilts and (IMO) doesn't color my judgment on ways to insulate hammocks, but it's a relationship nonetheless. And I have some info on the Staying Warm
page and the Winnemucca trip
page on the website, if you haven't seen it yet. (I just saw my page for the first time w/ IE7...looks like crap!! The colors are all jacked up, so I'll have to fix that when I get a chance.)
I'm interested to hear your thoughts on why the Peapod provides a better fit to the Speer-type hammock. Reference my recent issues with underquilt fitting under the thigh-to-knee area.
I've thought about trying a synthetic Peapod (synthetic for price and ease of DIY) but kept coming up with flexibility issues. Not necessarily the wearability problem you mentioned, but more general. With top/bottom quilts, you can use the same piece of gear in different ways for different seasons. For warm trips, either nothing underneath or 1" insulation on bottom and something very light (clothing or a poncho liner) on top works for me. Down to about 30*, 1" on top and 2" on bottom. Below that, 2" on top and 3" on bottom. That's accounting for clothing but not for my hammock sock (right off the bat I add 10* to the ambient temp for the sock, especially after Rogers). Anyway, all this could be accomplished with a 2" dedicated top quilt, a 2" dedicated bottom quilt, and a convertible 1" quilt that could be used either way. And unless I'm mistaken, that's a flexibility the Peapod is missing out on.