Annie's thread made me want to pull out the old SPE and play with it. What with PeaPods and WB Uqs and such, I have not had much use for it lately. For at least the first year of my hammock life, it was always with me. I used my HHSS, and I always took enough pad to get by without too much suffering if I had to go to ground. Always a possibility in the Rockies, what with timberline and all. So, I always took a full length 20" wide Ridgerest pad plus a small Thermarest torso UL even with the HH. And an SPE allowed me to stack them for use in the hammock. Which I figured would get me down to nearly Zero, in addition to the SS. So the SPE was part of my standard kit.
So for old times sake, I put pads in the wings, a RR in the middle, and went out in the 50* rain and placed the pad in the HHSS bottom opening, diagonal. Definitely more involved than with a top loader, but doable. I pushed about as far towards the head as I could get it, and hopped in. Much as I remembered, really not bad at all. I went from back to L side to R side, and it would stay nicely under me. I would grab one or both sides of the wings or pad when I moved. It was easy to keep the pad in place while I shifted my body. I took my mummy bag out to use as a quilt. And within just a few minutes, boy was my back toasty warm. Really, that only happens quickly to, me to that degree, with a pad. But I suppose for some folks that also quickly leads to sweat, but that usually is not a problem for me.
But in my case, it still seemed to me like I would need the 4x4 if I hoped to keep my elbows warm. Might have been barely OK with a 2x2 in a side position.
After a short nap, I started playing around with my bag. I had gotten fairly skilled at getting inside my mummy bag inside my HH. But what with using my top loaders and PeaPods and such, I had zero need to use a bag in mummy mode for the last year. Plus, lately I had found a way to use my mummy bag quilt style, with hood over my head, at least when on my side, and I had gotten much better at getting a draft resistant seal while using the bag quilt style.
But I decided to give it a try for the heck of it. So, I left one leg in the bag, down to the foot pocket(don't know if this helped or not) and one leg out. Then I pulled the bag up over me quilt style, putting the hood over the top of my head, kind of in the bag facing backwards. Then I rolled way over on my right side, almost on my stomach. Then with my left hand I tucked the bag down as much as I could under my right side. Then I rolled WAY over on my left side and with my right hand pulled the part I had just tucked out free and clear towards my right side. That took care of most of it, but I went ahead and sat up to get weight off of the bag torso area, and pulled the bag up nice and snug over my back and head, and laid down and zipped up.
That is a lot of words, but it was really quite quick and easy, believe it or not. Within a minute or two max I was zipped up in a mummy bag with collar and hood, and within a few more minutes I was roasting.
I'm not sure, but I suspect that the pad, with the SPE keeping it in place, made it a bit easier.
So newbies, it can be done. It is just another technical skill which can be learned with a little practice. And it is really not that hard when you figure out how. Now a quilt is much easier, and it is probably more comfortable most of the time, not having your arms restricted inside a bag. But, if you have a mummy bag rated at 20*F, and you are using it quilt style, and it is 20* or 15* and you just can't stay warm on top or are suffering from drafts when you turn over, you may want to use it as a bag. I have more than once been cold using my mummy bag as a quilt in a hammock, at a temperature well above it's rating. Usually aware of the cold around my shoulders and neck/head, especially if I turn over or move in my sleep. Then I finally break down and get in and zip up and "Oh yeah, that feels great- warmth in abundance, no drafts!".
Of course, this is mainly for any newbies who will be using their mummy bags, who can not yet afford a nice quilt or who just prefer a bag for whatever reason. Some will say that these bags are even warmer when used as a quilt, and that is no doubt correct in their experience, but not in mine. When I have been pushing the temp ratings quilt style, and I get cold, I warm up quickly when I go mummy style. However, I have gotten much more skilled at using this bag quilt style, especially at benefiting from the hood when I am on my right side. So maybe I can also be at least or nearly as warm, this winter, using this bag quilt style.
But if you're cold quilt style, I suggest getting in the bag as designed, and wrap that 2 or 3" of hood and collar loft around your head and neck, with a total seal at the neck and sides. Which means you might want to practice this before you need it on a 15*F night.
But regardless, if you are going to use a pad in a single bottom hammock, I highly recommend the SPE. It makes using a pad in a hammock almost as easy as in a double layer hammock, and can probably save you some weight re: how wide your pad needs to be. For one thing, you can stuff something you already have with you into one or more sleeves if you are not wearing it to sleep in.