This is my first post so I will open w/ a bit out how I got here before I get to my point (title). Also - thanks to the operator(s) and active members of this place for a great resource / community!
I'm VERY new to hanging-out and see this as becoming me latest addiction. I just spent my first night outside in a self-hammock I put together. It reached 39* F w/ light winds. I was hanging about 24 inches above mother earth and directly below a heavy depot style tarp. Under me was a 3/4 length self-inflating camping pad. I was inside my Kelty 15* F bag. I was rather warm most of the night but whatever part of me pressed up against the exposed hammock quickly compressed and got a little chilly.
This got me thinking about under-quilts. Man... I really want an under-quilt - that would solve my problem totally - I just know it... And I'd REALLY like a DOWN under-quilt... but MAN - down is expensive! So I started doing some research and found some vague references to the Native people and their use of CATTAILS as insulation. I happened to have some cattails drying for another purpose so I took a medium one that was starting to go to seed and pulled it apart. WOW... This stuff looks REALLY promising! To boot, you get quite a bit from a single mature cattail. I'd say 40 or 50 would make a nice sized under-quilt.
I don't have any down to compare this with but I really think it has to be pretty darn good as far as FREE insulation goes. In addition it is a natural material and therefore renewable. A plus for the animal lovers - its a plant!
Cattails live in marshes so I assume this material is pretty good at dealing with humidity but a quick test (dunking some under water) revealed that it appears to clump up if you REALLY soak it. I'm still waiting for it to dry out to see how well it recovers... But still - down can't be much better (if at all) w/ regards to this (from what I've read wet down is next to useless - gotta shake it out and let it dry forever(?))
So... I come to you - the combined experience of the forum - to ask if anyone here has ever heard of using such a thing in a quilt, sleeping bag, or item requiring insulation.
Any experience or input on this would be great!