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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Extra Insulation

    I'll be using my hammock in temps lower than I ever have. As of right now, the forecast is saying 0-10 degrees. I sleep cold. This is what I currently have. Warbonnet Blackbird, Thunderfly tarp, Travel sock, 40 degree wookie, 20 degree incubator, 20 degree burrow and 0 degree Outdoor vitals bag. I'm planning on stacking my underquilts (wookie closest to the hammock?) and probably going to use the 0 degree bag and deal with the aggravation. I also have a pair of climashield pants that I made as well as smartwool baselayers and various down jackets. I'm still nervous that I'll be cold and want backup just in case I am. I don't want to use a sleeping pad because I move around a lot and it will probably end up on top of me at some point during the night. Is there something else I can use, under me inside the hammock, that would add a little more insulation? A wool blanket? I'm open to all options. It's an easy hike in to where I'll be setting up so I don't mind carrying some extra stuff.

  2. #2
    cougarmeat's Avatar
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    Hikergirl13 - you will get different options on this but there is a strong contingent of people whose experience with night clothes is “Less is More”. Think about this. When you are out hiking, and it gets cold, you put on more insulation - warmer jacket, climashield pants, etc. and feel warmer. Note that in that situation, you have constant air currents stealing the heat away from you.

    Now in your hammock cocoon, it’s a different environment. Your body makes the heat. Just in case you missed that, “Your Body Makes the Heat”. Your TQ and UQ keep that heat in. If you wear light night clothes, like cotton pj’s, light ankle socks, you will not be insulated from the envelope of warmth that wil surround you. If you wear heavier/thicker/more insulated clothes under your TQ, you are also insulating yourself from that envelope of warmth. I’m not saying you’ll be cold. It’s just different; for me, not as cozy.

    You have good ideas for stacking the UQ’s especially putting the wookie first because will snug up right to the bottom of the hammock. When you add the second UQ, be sure to have it loose enough so that you don’t compress the loft of the wookie.

    For the TQ, you could unzip your 0° Vitals and use it. A TQ - without that zipper, saves weight and buik. With a sleeping bag, the area you lie on doesn’t help much because your body has compressed it to the thickness of the nylon - that’s why you have a sleeping pad on the ground or UQ in a hammock. But its benefit is there are not gaps. With a TQ, you’ll be tucking it in on the sides and not moving around much so a gap doesn’t occur (it is does, you’d just tuck it back in).

    If you weren’t using the Traveler, I’d recommend an underquilt protector (UQP) but your sock will essentially be a single wall tent.

    An item that will help is a balaclava or at least a night cap for your head. I like the balaclava because you can get one that redirects your exhaled air by your nose - keeping it warm, or get one that is stretchy enough that you can pull it over your nose if need be. You can also read posts here about putting a bottle of hot - not boiling - water in your sleeping situation. Of course you’d want to be really,, really, sure the container will not leak. It can’t be a thermos because the thermos’s job is to keep the heat in. Something more like a Nalgene water bottle is used - often put inside a large foot sock so it isn’t directly against your skin.

    Now about that Traveler - a.k.a. single wall tent - at those temperatures you’ll get condensation that will manifest as frost. One of the challenges of winter camping is mimimizing condensation. You need enough ventilation so you have airflow but not so much that you loose all the heat. When I use the traveler, I have it unzipped, a little, near/above my head area.

    You didn’t mention if this was going to be a hike where you carry your gear or pull in on a sled. If car camping weight and bulk are not an issue. That’s another challenge with winter camping. Things aren't necessarily that much heavier - but the garments/quilts are bulkier.

    As usually said - if there is any way you can test your propsed configuration out at home first, DO IT.

    In today’s local paper, someone’s article about a xc skiing incident ended with, “… a bad experience is worth more than good advice.” - when it comes to learning. But I don’t want you to have a bad experience on your adventure. You should wake up, see your breath condense as you exhale, struggle to get out of your warmth coccon, fix a hot beverage of your choice, and marvel and winter’s wonderland.

    You mentioned cold but not snow. If you are on snow, pack it down around the area where you will put your hammock, then stay off it for about 15 minutes so it will re-bond strong and solidify. Also, if you might need to get up in the middle of the night, pack a similar path out to where you might “go”. - that’s not the time you want to be sinking up to your thighs in the snow.

    But you know, if this is your first winter camp, you are in a situation - 0° - where you want things to work. It’s like someone telling me they, with no experience, want to climb Mt. Hood. I’d suggest they do a few other “lesser” peaks first. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. The trick is, as you get older, that you hopefully don’t make the same ones more than a couple of times and the lessons learned are painful (i.e. embarrassing) enough to remember, but not so severe as to cause physical harm. It would be great if you could try all your proposed gear in something just below 32°. You’ll still be below freezing - so you have that. but also have a “bail out” plan if things go wrong.

    At home, I sleep outside around 3 days a week. I have an Min/Max thermometer clipped the outside of my traveler. If I get too cold in my setup, I can always go inside. The next morning, I check the Min reading on the thermometer and assess how comfortable that combination of gear was for that temperature. It’s not “perfect” because, though I’m outside, I’m under a roof. But I suppose, “in the wild”, I’d be under a tarp. Sorry to go on and on (and on and on), but I want you to see that if you can get in some “learning, before you go”, it’s a really good idea,
    Last edited by cougarmeat; 01-29-2022 at 18:30.
    In order to see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone. And DO what few have done.

  3. #3
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    Caveat: I've only used this stuff in the backyard, i.e. I can't say anything about multi day performance in the field (I can dry it out each day inside)

    FWIW I sleep cold and I got my 0F last year w/ the following:

    HG Incubator 40F (i.e. down) and an SLD Trail Winder 20F (i.e. synthetic) for underquilts and a 0F synthetic Teton Sports bag and an old Outbound ~40F bag (6C actually, I'm in Canada this is synthetic as well). I had the Incubator closest to me w/ the SLD TW around it. I used the Teton 0F around myself (not zipped up but tucked under me - synthetic is a bit better w/ regards to compression and it did help and as mentioned, backyard anyway so no weight considerations) and w/ the hood over my head and then I put the Outbound bag on top of that because I sleep cold and wanted to make sure, sorta like what you mentioned. Balaclava and wool hat too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member WV's Avatar
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    Cougarmeat covered it really well. If you wear the climashield pants and other layers, you might overheat and risk getting wet. Better to have them close by to put on if needed. One supplementary layer I like is an alpaca scarf around my neck. That, along with some kind of head covering and an absorbent camp towel over my face to catch exhaled water vapor keeps my head and shoulders warm. The absorbent towel works like Shug's bib for me. I use "Zorb", a fabric used for homemade diapers. When I get up, I avoid bumping into the tarp overhead or there'll be a small snowtorm from the frost. Hang the tarp high if you have a sheltered spot where side breezes won't be a problem.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I take some of those disposable hand warmers as a backup. One under my waistband adds a lot of heat if I feel a little cold. Also if you can go to sleep warm, or at least not chilled it can make a big difference. Waiting until chilled to go to bed means it takes a long time to warm up again.

  6. #6
    Crazytown3's Avatar
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    Agree with those above, don't over-insulate at bedtime. It goes against your natural instincts, but the idea is to let the insulation around the hammock do it's job. I think you will be fine, and have a great time.

  7. #7
    FLTurtle's Avatar
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    I defer to Shug about stacking UQs:


  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Hikergirl,

    Ill piggyback on everything Cougar said. If in the woods, 0 degrees is not a temp, to be "testing" your system out. If it were me, I would make sure I had an "easy out exit plan" for the first attempt. Backyard is a great test spot.

    It only takes one mistake, at those temps, to find yourself in a life threatening situation.

    Have fun. Be safe,

    Bob

  9. #9
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Zero is getting dangerously cold.

    Ditto all the above — even the stuff that runs counter to my personal experience — because you never know what is going to work for you individually. And it has been observed with some regularity that women tend to sleep colder than men.

    Part of my clothing strategy, to help achieve minimal pack weight, is to use down parka and down pants to augment my quilt. This worked recently at -15°F using a +20°F rated quilt, although I admit it was marginal. A 0deg quilt would've been perfect.

    The most important thing while you're testing is a quick bail-out plan. IMHO even a short 1/2 mile walk into the woods might be too much, because packing up quickly and putting on boots can be dangerously difficult with frozen hands and feet, and judgement can become muddled at very early stages of hypothermia... and it only gets worse.
    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ~ Mark Twain

  10. #10

    Join Date
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    Down pants can be had relatively inexpensively on Amazon. You don't have to have high $$$$ if you're only going out occasionally. I think mine cost $60...you get what you pay for: they are not designed to be hiked in/bushwhacking, there's no pockets, zippers or anything, but they are nice puffy insulation.

    About testing locally: I took a day hike a couple of seasons ago to test my hammock camping rig. It had snowed the day before and was pretty cold. I got to camp and needed to remove a glove to manipulate some knots or something and that was it: my hands were toast and I couldn't recover. I had hot soup with me but it didn't help. It was a struggle to get the hammock taken down and repacked. It wasn't for another mile later of brisk walking that I was re-warmed.

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