While I was unable to make it out to the Afton State Park hang this weekend, I did at least get a chance to test some gear below freezing out in the yard. When I headed out it was about 24*F and dropped a few more degrees as the night went on. I was nice and cozy in my synthetic mummy bag with a SPE underneath. Everything was fine until around 2am when I realized my blue pad had slid and was threatening to dump my feet overboard I got up and tried rearranging things but when it had slid again a half hour later I called it quits and headed inside.

Clothing:
  • Light weight poly base layer
  • Sweatpants
  • Sweatshirt
  • Down vest
  • Wool socks


Bottom:
  • Poncho Liner UQ
  • DIY Blue Pad SPE
  • Reflective Sun Screen


Top:
  • Swiss Gear Crevasse 0* Mummy Bag


Lessons Learned:
1) My big test was the new Mummy Bag - it cost a whopping $25 on sale at KMart . It claims to be rated to 0*F but I was understandably skeptical. It weighs 4lbs 9oz, so it's not exactly light weight but isn't horrible either. Quality seems pretty good. In the low 20s I was plenty warm, not sure if it'd really handle 0* but I think I could probably handle down into the teens alright. In all I'd say it compares favorably to the Marmot Trestles 15* I've previously borrowed from a buddy - and it costs 1/4 as much. For anybody starting out and looking for a cheap cold weather option I'd recommend it.

2) Pads can be troublesome. I've slept with the DIY SPE several times before and been just fine, but for whatever reason last night it was sliding like crazy on me. It's kinda funny I started out thinking gee I really like the pad for insulation, no fuss just toss it in and you're good maybe I don't need a "real" UQ and a few hours later I was cursing it. I was plenty warm - thanks mostly to the generous wings I had put on the SPE which prevented me from ending up off the pad even with the shifting. I'm thinking if I'm going to stick with pads I'll have to make a double layer hammock to more reliably keep the pads where they belong and maybe make it a tad longer then my Grand Trunk UL.

3) Pad + PLUQ compo - mixed here. I think it probably helped a little but not a ton, I had plenty of coverage with the SPE anyway. Further, once the pad had started sliding over the edge of the hammock it actually caused the PLUQ to slide completely off to one side.

In all it was a fun and valuable experiment. I learned that even with my cheap bag I can handle sub-freezing temps alright. Pads might work for me but I need to refine my setup a bit to avoid the sliding.