Detail Man and I head out to Pisgah National forest for my coldest overnight yet. With 20F as the low and some new gear to test I enjoyed a hang outside my comfort zone. The first day was 11 miles of travel and the second day was around 8 miles. This is not the deep winter kind of trip that those guys in MN or the Rockies have, but it was a great southern "winter" shake down trip for me. I learned a lot.
I boiled a Liter of water and put it in my "Nalgene Cantene" to warm the hammock up before I got in it. Once in the hammock I used one of my fleece socks as an insulator for the bottle so I wouldn't get burned and so the heat would last longer. Detail Man liked this and will be doing it next trip he says.
My gear is currently only adequate to 20F. I have two options: more puffy clothes or Vapor Barrier Liner (VBL) Clothing, which I think is the way I will go. I've been reading a lot of Andrew Skurka and others on this topic to gain some knowledge. I will be discussing this in length with Fronkey upon his return.
I also tried something else different on this trip. I used a trash compactor bag rather than dedicated cuben stuff sacks for keeping my down TQ/UQ and clothes in. I found that it made my pack much more comfortable to wear, the Ohm "talked" less, and my down came out the poofiest it's ever been. I love it! And buddy was it cheaper than going with a big cuben sack (which I might eventually go with when I have the money). On my last trip out solo, my Foothills Trail journey, my cuben stuff sacks leaked some and my pillow got damp, though my quilts did not since they go on top of the pillow in the sack. I didn't want to risk that in the winter. I'm glad I didn't. I would have missed out on the simplicity and expediency of using the trash compactor bag. Time will tell how I like it or a similar system, but hey, one more thing to beaver over while at home.
One thing I keep coming back to is the importance of looking at your compass. Even if you have it with you and you've been looking at your map, things can still happen. It's better to use both items and not just the sun to guide you. I know this, but on the last day of our trip DM and I got off on a side trial that was not on the map and had to change our plan (which ended up for the better, but still). Basic skills like map and compass reading can save you a lot of heart ache and back tracking. Just because I'm knowledgeable of these skills doesn't mean I can have them in my back pocket. I need to use them. I can only at myself. I'll learn.