View Poll Results: SS vs. Down Underquilts

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  • never used a SS, but I think a down UQ would be far superior

    20 52.63%
  • Used both, and the down UQ is clearly superior

    8 21.05%
  • Used both, and the SS is a good alternative

    7 18.42%
  • Used both, and have found the SS superior in some situations

    1 2.63%
  • I think the SS gives more bang for the buck than down UQs

    3 7.89%
  • Have not really used a SS, but I just don't feel that pad/SB would be warm to even 45* or higher.

    1 2.63%
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Thread: SS vs. down UQs

  1. #21
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birchbark View Post
    In the earliest days of my hammocking indoctrination, I bought and used the SuperShelter. It only took a July's week of section hiking in New York and Connecticut for me to learn the sad truths about the SS system. The sad truths, at least as I see them, are the following:

    -Thin foam underpad was too thin to sufficiently insulate my body in temps below 50! Also, even tightly folded, the pad takes up way too much space.
    -Undercover does indeed trap warm air under your back- unfortunately it also traps condensation. I hated needing to wring out the foam underpad every morning, hanging it out in the sun, etc.
    -The $150 I spent on the SuperShelter was a complete waste, considering that the following season I wised-up and bought a JrB Nest.

    The SS system I wasted my $$$ on is resting comfortably on the top shelf of my mother's second bedroom closet, six hundred miles away. It has been there so long, that if not for this thread, the memory of the damned thing would probably have passed out of my consciousness altogether. The sooner I forget, the better.
    AngrySparrow, on the other thread you asked me "who makes up the super shelter hater club". I think we have found the president of said club! but though I couldn't give you specifics from memory, I know in the past I have communicated with some folks who have absolutely zero regard for the super shelter. But most of them did not fit into this category. They were mostly people who had never used it, and just felt from looking at it that it was useless. But here is a person who did use it and clearly hates it.

    But is that not amazing, the 180 different opinions people can have about the same product? I have used my super shelter on two different week long trips. Plus numerous overnighters and back yard testings. Not counting all of the user error involved in the first (22) night which resulted in me freezing my behind off, I have used it quite successfully from 18 through the mid 40s, including a 27 night with an extremely high winds.

    And condensation problems had been virtually nonexistent! As I have reported here previously, the only night I ever had any significant condensation was the one night in the foggy, rainy super damp Olympic Mountains in Washington, the first night of the trip were I chose not to use the space blanket. I slept plenty warm without the space blanket with it in the mid-Hi 40, but I had some condensation in the foot of the over cover and on the foot of the pad. And the foot was definitely wet! But still plenty warm. But it quickly dried out pretty much all by itself. Every other night of the trip, all I would have is a few drops on the space blanket itself, which did not get in the hammock or down in the insulation or in the undercover. And I just read a post here by rpettit who also had no problems with condensation.

    And when I read about the Super Shelter drastically failing to live up to Hennessy's claim for it, I've gotten to where I always wonder if the space blanket was used as clearly advised by Tom Hennessy. Hennessy considers that two oz. space blanket an integral part of the system. But I have found most people loath to use it. I virtually always use it, and I see no drawbacks to it other than the initial hassle of getting it situated on top of the pad. But after I get it on there, it pretty much stays in place. Even after the entire system has been stuffed into a stuff sack.

    Using the space blanket as directed by Tom Hennessy, I have certainly never had to "wring out" the pad. Or actually, even without the space blanket. Sometimes I even had down vests and such down in the undercover or on top of the open cell foam pad, but of course all of it underneath the space blanket, and never had a drop of moisture get into any of this insulation. It kind of makes me wonder if this is related to how some people have a lot of trouble with sweat issues on closed cell foam pads, while other people don't seem to have much trouble. Either that or it's related to not using the space blanket as directed, or at all.

    I should add to my statement above about the temperatures that I have used the SuperShelter in successfully, I certainly did not use the basic system of just one pad and one space blanket down into the 20s, or at least not the low 20s. I can't exactly remember right now, but I'm thinking I was good into the high 30s without the space blanket in back yard testing. But I may have used the kidney/torso pad, just no space blanket, on that test. But I remember that at about 38 the backs of my calves were a little cold. Then I added the space blanket the next night it was okay, if memory serves, into the high 20s, but for sure into the very low 30s. Again, this was with the additional kidney/torso pads, which I always have in the system now unless I'm not expecting temps below 40. Then with the addition of insulated clothing and/or Garlington insulators or a ridge rest pad and SPE, I have taken it to about 18. I'm sure that with the pad I could have gone much lower.

    But for me the basic super shelter system (undercover/1 open cell foam pad/space blanket) is good to the mid-Hi 30s. I know that because I spent that week in the Wyoming mountains where except for the first 22 night and all the user error that went with it, I was just fine the rest of the week. And the temps ranged from mid 30s to mid 40. I did not have another cold night.

    But here we have a user who could not be comfortable below 50,and was soaking wet with condensation. And I do not doubt this user's word at all. But I'm always hard-pressed to explain the differences. And realistically, I'm pretty sure that most experienced users who have reported here have been able to do much better than that.

    But I do always wonder for the people that have so much trouble with condensation issues -- whether with super shelter's or with closed cell foam pads -- where does all that body moisture go when using a down under quilt? Shouldn't it still be condensing somewhere? Could it be condensing in the down? It just seems to me that this body moisture/vapor is going to condense when it hits a surface that is cold enough. That's why I don't hesitate to have a space blanket suspended underneath me whether in the super shelter or the Peapod, especially if it is really cold. Let the moisture condense on that surface and stay out of the insulation. For whatever reason, works for me.

  2. #22
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpettit View Post
    I didn't vote. My category wasn't there. I use the SS. Never used an underquilt. The original SS underpad did not keep me warm and is too narrow. I use an OCF bedding pad from Wallyworld. I cut it to the pattern of the underpad, just wider in all areas. It allows me to spread out in the hammock without cold spots. The pad is around 1" thick and is convoluted on one side. I place the convoluted side up against the hammock bottom. I use it down to around 40*, then a pull a 3/4 CCF pad inside the hammock. Have never had any condensation issues with the SS, always dry when I get up in the morning.
    Yep, I'm afraid I screwed up the poll, leaving out some categories. I would have been in your category, at least until it dawned on me that my beloved PeaPod qualified as an UQ! I'm trying to figure out how to edit the poll.

  3. #23
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghost93 View Post
    It seems to me that if Hennessy would replace the silnylon with something with a good DWR and a good windbreak effect (like the material of a wind shirt) the SS would elimante or possiable serverly reduce the condenstaion factor. Perhaps a good DIY project would be to repleace the Silnylon with, oh say, Momentum90 or 1.1 oz rip w/ a good DWR, and instead maybe use ccfp instead of the open cell pad (ie gossamer gear 1/4 thinlight wide or other brand of your choice). Just a thought.
    That probably would work, but I have essentially NO condensation problems when using the space blanket as directed. Of course, that's just me. YMMV.

  4. #24
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Well, the results ( so far ) are actually not quite as lop sided as I thought they might be. There are actually 2 people who have used both and find the SS a viable alternative, and 1 person who has used both and thinks the SS can be superior under some circumstances. And none of those 3 is me. If I had not screwed up and failed to vote in several areas in this multiple choice poll, I would have also voted for both of the above.

    Does anybody know how to edit a poll? Can it be done?

  5. #25
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    I'm actually surprised at the number of people who have never used one and think a down UQ would be better, myself included. I suspect the magic word there is "down". To me, down means comfort and pads, or pad systems, not so much.

    Still surprising that such an relatively inexpensive alternative hasn't been more widely sampled. I wonder if it's because people just assume it is going to be a similar feel to a ccf pad? In my case, and defense, I got away from the Hennessy stuff before it was cool enough in Florida to start playing with insulation.
    Trust nobody!

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by angrysparrow View Post
    An inch and three quarters worth of pad? How do you pack that much bulk?
    What I meant by the 3/4 CCF pad was length of the pad. It is one of those blue pads from W-Mart. It covers froms shoulders to butt, extra insulation where you need it most. The OCF pad packs down to about twice the size of the original SS underpad, I put the CCF pad inside my pack and shove all my gear inside.

  7. #27
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannibal View Post
    I'm actually surprised at the number of people who have never used one and think a down UQ would be better, myself included. I suspect the magic word there is "down". To me, down means comfort and pads, or pad systems, not so much.

    Still surprising that such an relatively inexpensive alternative hasn't been more widely sampled. I wonder if it's because people just assume it is going to be a similar feel to a ccf pad?.......
    I think that is part of it. And I also equate (dry) down with warmth and comfort. But I can testify that my HH SS OCF pad/UC is 100% as comfortable as my PeaPod. (Actually, just a tad more comfy because I slightly prefer the "lie"("lay"?) of the HH and I can spread my arms out better, with more shoulder room. ) Which is to say, both are very comfy underneath, nothing at all like a CCF pad.

    I'm not all that surprised at the large % who have never used one yet feel the 2.5" loft down UQ will be far superior. Many of us SS shelter users have said that we are surprised how warm we can sleep in it. To us as well as yall, this thing does not look very warm.

    But appearances can be deceiving, eh? I'm not the only person here or on WB who has reported success with the SS in the 30s or a bit lower. And there have been at least a few who have reported having trouble staying warm with a down UQ in the 30s unless they added a pad in the hammock. But I admit, the quilts look many times warmer.

    And in the case of my "UQ", my PeaPod is easily 10 warmer on the bottom than my basic SS. But, it costs a lot more, the SS has better wind resistance and I don't have to worry about strong winds collapsing the loft, and it provides some additional rain resistance, and it will probably loose less warmth if wet, and if it does get wet it will probably dry much faster. Not an insignificant group of "pros". But it all amounts to nothing if your experiences with it are like Birchbarks.

    But despite all of the above, I'm still crazy about my PeaPod. Did I mention I really love my dark green fluffy Pod? Did I mention how warm it is with just a thin blanket/quilt or even just warm clothes? And it's just plain peaceful snug inside the Pod on a 10* night, swaying in the wind!
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 02-07-2008 at 14:44.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyBob58 View Post
    Did I mention I really love my dark green fluffy Pod? Did I mention how warm it is with just a thin blanket/quilt or even just warm clothes? And it's just plain peaceful snug inside the Pod on a 10* night, swaying in the wind!
    Well sure it's great when your sittin in it eating a slice of your wife's blueberry pie!
    Trust nobody!

  9. #29
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannibal View Post
    Well sure it's great when your sittin in it eating a slice of your wife's blueberry pie!
    Well, I do like to cheat, it's true!

  10. #30
    Senior Member Lost's Avatar
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    I have a SS I used at 17 degrees. Lots on insulation in there - the stock pads, a Z pad and insulbrite fabric. Stayed nice and warm, but I definitely needed all of it. (wind chill around zero). Lot of bult to carry. One of my sons used his Potomac, the other used my Speer Snugfit. Both were very comfortable, and didn't have nearly the bulk to carry that I did. My vote would be for the UQ - less stuff to carry!

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