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  1. #1
    Senior Member XexorZ's Avatar
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    Cattails - A free alternative to down?

    Hi Everybody,

    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!

    Thanks again,

    XexorZ

  2. #2
    HappyCamper's Avatar
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    Question: How well does it compress for backpacking?
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  3. #3
    Senior Member animalcontrol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XexorZ View Post
    Hi Everybody,

    TSo 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.

    XexorZ
    I have no idea if Cattail would work....but I'm looking forward to you testing it and letting me know!
    "Every day is a new day to a better future"
    "Of all the things that matter, that really and truly matter, working more efficiently and getting more done is not among them." ~ Mike Dooley
    "What if I told you that you couldn't have anymore of anything... No more friends, no more money, no more anything, until you first got happy with what you have?"~ Mike Dooley
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." ~ Socrates

  4. #4
    if you compress it does it fully spring back?

  5. #5
    Senior Member XexorZ's Avatar
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    Hi all - thanks for the input thus far - keep it coming!

    AnimalControl - No problem and no worries :-) I hope this works out cause it would be really neat to bring something with potential cool-power to a community like this. You guys are great here - I've been lurking for quite some time.

    HappyCamper - not exactly sure... looks like something around 20/1 compression but I haven't done a volumetric test... I'm not sure how much you would pre-compress it in a piece of clothing etc first either - can someone give me some test guidelines and I will try to test it here.

    Warbonnetguy - not sure if it does or exactly how to test that.

    I will put together a youtube video and post it here. After you see it let me know if you want to see any other tests (let me know how to test it since I'm not sure if there are standards etc ).

    Thanks,

    XexorZ

  6. #6
    Senior Member TiredFeet's Avatar
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    if you can put it into a container and measure the volume and the weight, that would be good info.

    Also, it seems that if you are camping near cattails, they would be good to fill a Garlington insulator. If they aren't too heavy, carry to the next camp.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Darrel's Avatar
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    A quick Google check netted me this:
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Moder...ke-Cotton.aspx
    Sounds like a great idea!

    Cheers,
    Darrel

  8. #8
    Senior Member XexorZ's Avatar
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  9. #9
    Senior Member angrysparrow's Avatar
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    First, welcome to the forum XexorZ! Fantastic first post...

    This is the first that I've heard of cattails being used for insulation. From your video, it does indeed look like full loft is returned after a period of short compression. Can we trouble you to compress it again and leave it overnight? Then see if it will fully loft again?

    I wonder how the weight compares to a comparable uncompressed volume of down?

    From your description of the bugs and seeds, it sounds like it could use some processing. Perhaps if it were processed similarly to the way down is refined and sanitized?
    I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It dont move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt. - Cormac McCarthy

  10. #10
    Senior Member Darrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel View Post
    A quick Google check netted me this:
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Moder...ke-Cotton.aspx
    Sounds like a great idea!

    Cheers,
    Darrel
    Everything you ever wanted to know about Cattail Cotton but was afraid to ask...
    Darrel

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