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  1. #1
    Señor Member wisenber's Avatar
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    Cold Wet Hammocking Advice

    I am pretty new to Winter hammock camping. I've gone a bit overboard on my purchasing in my first season ( 30 degree Speer PeaPod, JRB No Sniveller, JRB Old Rag Mtn, JRB Winter tarp, JRB Weather Shield, Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad). I also have a couple of synthetic sleeping bags one 15 degree and one 35 degree. My hammocks are Travel Hammock ATTH and a Skeeter Beeter Pro.

    To begin, all of my new gear seems to work great in given environments. My problem stems from my choice of environments. I've been backpacking in the Cherokee and Pisgah National forests. With all of the WET weather we have been having along with cold nights, it has been a challenge to make it more than a couple of nights without my gear ( down in particular) be so wet that it does not work so well. Using my 30 degree Peapod along with the No Sniveller and BA pad, I've stayed quite toasty down to 3 degrees F with 30+mph winds. However, here of late it has been between 20 and 35 at night with lots of fog and mist. The results for that situation have not been so great. I can weather the first night okay, but there is not enough time or the conditions to dry out my gear for the subsequent days of backpacking.

    I just finished a three day trip. The first night was at about 4800 feet, winds up to 45mph and temps in the mid 30's with rain. I stayed warm on this night, but my PeaPod and No Sniveller were damp and the rain and humidity did not allow for much in the way of drying the next morning. The second night was at Bob's Bald at around 5200 feet with similar conditions. The dampness of my gear almost made me commit the unforgivable sin of going to ground. I wound up using the BA pad with the No Sniveller (PeaPod was uselessly damp). I got up and forced a Snickers bar down three times to keep my furnace stoked, but it was still pretty cold.

    I normally cover 8-12 miles per day, and I'm struggling to keep my pack weight below 40lbs with food and water.

    Bottom line, any tips on cold AND wet backpacking hammock setups? I believe I have whatever gear I need, I just need some advice on how to implement it...

  2. #2
    Mule's Avatar
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    Along with the weather cover, you might try adding a vapor barrier as your first or second layer in you hammock. Read up on vapor barrier use because it can be tricky. I do not have a lot of experience with using a vapor barrier myself, but it would probably take half your moisture out of your down gear according to what I have read about it. Mule
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Just Jeff's Avatar
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    You'll never get the humidity in your insulation to be less than the ambient humidity w/o adding heat. Unless you dry it by the fire, this isn't easy in the field! And when it's 100% humidity outside b/c of fog, your insulation will suffer.

    Putting a VB between you and your insulation may help. 30s isn't generally considered VB temps, but with the right system it could work. I'm thinking your body would heat the insulation w/o adding additional moisture at night, which would help...or at least wouldn't hurt as much...haha. Not sure how much difference it would make in the long run but it's probably worth a try.

    Other than that, pick the right tool for the job. Down loses its loft more quickly than synthetics when wet. If your hiking is often multi-day in very wet conditions, maybe a synthetic top quilt would be a good addition to the BA pad for those trips. Ryan Jordan carries synthetics for that reason.

    I've noticed a loss of loft in damp conditions like that, but never enough to make me want to switch to synthetics yet.
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  4. #4
    Señor Member wisenber's Avatar
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    re: Cold Wet Hammocking Advice

    Thanks for the tips.
    As far as the vapor barrier goes, my Travel Hammock ATTH is PU coated polyester. That should mean that I am not the source of the moisture to the UQ. The JRB weathershield probably stops the driven rain and such, but the fog and mist seems to soak everything in it path.

    My 15 degree bag is a Mont Bell SS #1 long which weighs in at a beefy 72 ounces. (I don't even want to know the bulk of the thing even when it's compressed.) I went with the "petite" BA pad which is Primaloft 20X66 and 20 oz. figuring I could save some weight from a full length pad. I may have to resort to those two along with my DIY SPE, but I sure hate to give up the quality of sleep and rest that comes with the Speer and JRB down gear.

    When the temps stay below freezing, I'm fine with the exception of a little frost on the tarp. However, being the mountains in the Southeast, the weather can turn on a dime. I'm getting reacquainted with backpacking, and I'm new to hammocking, so it is making for some interesting lessons learned. I was just glad that I was able to get my tarp and hammock set up with it being dark, cold, foggy, raining and heavy winds. The fog was so dense that the white light of my head lamp only reflected the fog back at me. I had to use the red lamp to see.

    Maybe I'm just stupid for being out there in those conditions, but I sure do enjoy the satisfaction of having met the challenge when I get back.

    In short, do you think the MontBell with the BA pad in an SPE is my safer bet albeit less comfortable and heavier?

    BTW Skinner and Jeff, I admire the advice and postings that you contribute to this community. I've found it quite valuable.

  5. #5
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    I've stayed warm near freezing with a Ray Way Alpine synthetic topquilt (28 degree rating) and two 1/4in Oware evazote pads on a very windy night. I had a synthetic jacket I used as a pillow and never needed it. Bearpaw just posted good results with a homemade KAQ UQ (synthetic), a pad, and a Speer winter tarp. The weight penalty for synthetic UQ's and top quilts isn't bad, the bulk can be an issue. With a KAQ/Ray Way OQ combo you have to have a 4000ci pack minimum, 4500 if you are carrying 5-6 days food.

  6. #6
    Señor Member wisenber's Avatar
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    re: Cold Wet Hammocking and pack size

    I've already discovered the bulk issue for Winter gear. I bought a GoLite Pinnacle think that I could save 5 easy pounds over my Deuter 75L pack. I discovered that once my load went beyond the internal foam pad into the "bonus section", the top portion of the pack flopped around like and elf hat. I tried using my SPE "wings" to lend more support up top, but it did not do much of a job. I just went back to my 6lb 10 oz Deuter and endured the weight penalty in order to gain the support benefit.

    I wish I were more adept at DIY. If I could make a Singer sing, I'd be all about a synthetic UQ. When I made my crude SPE, I realized why I had kept my day job.
    Last edited by wisenber; 12-28-2008 at 22:56. Reason: more thoughts and a few typos

  7. #7
    2Questions's Avatar
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    Just a comment and may not apply to your situation but....sometimes the location has a lot to do with the fog/cloud problem. In PA, I often pick up water and head to the hills to make camp versus down in the hollows, near the water. Doesn't always pan out, but sometimes it does and I know I've missed the foggy mornings that would have otherwise soaked me. I've got great pictures of the PA Grand Canyon covered in fog and I'm sitting pretty in the sunshine looking down over all of it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by skskinner View Post
    Along with the weather cover, you might try adding a vapor barrier as your first or second layer in you hammock. Read up on vapor barrier use because it can be tricky. I do not have a lot of experience with using a vapor barrier myself, but it would probably take half your moisture out of your down gear according to what I have read about it. Mule
    Steve, I was thinking that wisenber got moisture on the outside of everything where it was in contact with the high humidity. While this was happening he stayed warm because the down insulation was mostly dry and still lofting with the moisture on the water repellent nylon that has DWR treatment. Packing it up into stuff sacks likely forced (or allowed) the moisture to get to the down insulation while it was compressed and got it pretty wet. Then it wouldn't loft back up when he took it out and was wet as well. Does that make any sense?
    Youngblood AT2000

  9. #9
    Senior Member tomsawyer222's Avatar
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    Maybe instead of just a weather cover for the bottom using a whole hammock sock? The sock would get wet but you could pack it away seperate and save the pod from the moisture? Also as i have been spending more time in the foothills in SC i have had this probblem too but i do still use a rather large pack as i like the support but not oly does it offer support but bigger packs tend to be taller this allows me to hang half of my underquilt outside of my Pack from the top while i walk. If it is nice during the day and the fog rolls in at night like around here it will allow the quilt to dry. I just flip which end hangs out during the day. Looks quite ridiculous but it allows it too dry and stay fully lofted if need be. Also helps to have a dark colored quilt (not bright elf green)

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    I'll second the bit about using synthetics in that type of environment. I do really love my down stuff, but synthetics are always an option if I'm heading into the great damp. The only other thing you can do is use every ray of sunshine you can find to dry out the gear. It's the challenge that makes it fun!
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