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  1. #1
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Speer SPE and sleeping bag gymnastics

    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.
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 11-11-2008 at 22:35.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  2. #2
    Whoooo Buddy)))) Shug's Avatar
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    Great write up BillyBob......
    I too have gotten out my ol' SPE for some pad testing. They DO WORK!!!
    Shug
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  3. #3
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    There's no doubt that an SPE will keep you warm, sometimes a bit too warm, but after spending a couple of nights with an underquilt, I'm hoping to never again use a pad. While warm, the pad never fit/set well in my toploader -- every time I got in it shifted. I never did figure how to prevent this, but the problem goes away with an underquilt. I found the enhanced comfort/coziness of an underquilt relative to a pad was almost as great as the comfort/coziness gained by moving from the ground to the hammock.

    If I were doing some cold weather hanging and needed the pad in addition to an underquilt, would it work to place the pad between the underquilt and the bottom of the hammock? Would it not shift as much this way?

    Shug, you're obviously comfortable in your half underquilt. Do your legs ever get chilled in cold weather? Or do you put your JRB down sleeves on your legs?

    I enjoy your videos, by the way. Informative, entertaining, and great scenery.

    FarStar

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    Quote Originally Posted by FarStar View Post

    If I were doing some cold weather hanging and needed the pad in addition to an underquilt, would it work to place the pad between the underquilt and the bottom of the hammock? Would it not shift as much this way?
    The pad's stiffness is a problem and will usually create air gaps when you place it between an underquilt and the bottom of the hammock because the suspension on the underquilt will not pull tight enough to contour the pad to your body. You will not get the warmth you seek with those air gaps.

    You can put a thin, flexible vapor barrier between a breathable underquilt and the bottom of the hammock and get some additional warmth. This works if you aren't using something else for a vapor barrier. The vapor barrier is typically a plastic drop cloth, a space blanket, or silnylon and is light enough that the suspension on the underquilt can hold it to the underside of the hammock.
    Last edited by Youngblood; 11-22-2008 at 05:51.
    Youngblood AT2000

  5. #5
    Whoooo Buddy)))) Shug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarStar View Post
    There's no doubt that an SPE will keep you warm, sometimes a bit too warm, but after spending a couple of nights with an underquilt, I'm hoping to never again use a pad. While warm, the pad never fit/set well in my toploader -- every time I got in it shifted. I never did figure how to prevent this, but the problem goes away with an underquilt. I found the enhanced comfort/coziness of an underquilt relative to a pad was almost as great as the comfort/coziness gained by moving from the ground to the hammock.

    If I were doing some cold weather hanging and needed the pad in addition to an underquilt, would it work to place the pad between the underquilt and the bottom of the hammock? Would it not shift as much this way?

    Shug, you're obviously comfortable in your half underquilt. Do your legs ever get chilled in cold weather? Or do you put your JRB down sleeves on your legs?

    I enjoy your videos, by the way. Informative, entertaining, and great scenery.

    FarStar
    Hey FarStar,
    I usually use the 1/2 UQ with a footpad in cool to cold weather with great success. In the deep cold I have always used a DIY SPE with 2 pads, one ccf and one either BA insulated or a Thermarest ProLite along with my full DIY UQ.
    This winter I am going to try different combinations of pads and UQs.
    'Preciate the kind words on the vids.
    Whoooo Buddy)))) I Love Onions, Grits, Greens, Livermush, NC Style BBQ, Potted Meat, Anchovies, 'Naner Puddin", Peanut Butter Pie, Red Velvet Cake and Cocoa and Straaaaaawwwwberrrry Milk and Coffee Crisps....
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  6. #6
    Rockdawg69's Avatar
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    Ok. This is a good discussion. Can we relate this to managing pack weights for long distance hiking.

    BB58 and I have done these gymnastics with the mummy bag and a pad. It works once you figure out how to do all the moves. I have a HH Asym ULB and use a BA insulated air core and inflate it partially so that it is flexible enough to bend easily in the hammock. Now I find that I need a SPE for colder than about 40 degrees since the cold spots are shoulders and neck/head with the rolling around in the hammock. Also, I found that the one night I was out in Oct with temps below 40, the BA contracted due to the colder air temps (cold air takes less space than warm air in the pad, i.e.,less insulation). I recently bought a JRB Nest UQ but have not had opportunity to use it yet this winter.

    I like to keep my pack to less than 30 lbs with 3 to 4 days food included. With all the stuff to keep warm below 35 degrees, it takes space which may require going to a larger pack. Not from weight, but for volume purposes (UQ, pad, bag/OQ, hammock, etc.). For info, I sleep somewhat cold. Also, I like to keep the pad for going to ground if required and/or when hitting a hostel for weekly cleanup - I like flexibility/options on long trips (more than 5 days)

    So now to the question: What would be the minimum/best combo of sleep items to be comfortable below 35 degrees and still keep pack weight below 30 lbs? Suggestions appreciated. Summer camping is not a problem for weights.
    Rockdawg69

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  7. #7
    Whoooo Buddy)))) Shug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockdawg69 View Post
    Ok. This is a good discussion. Can we relate this to managing pack weights for long distance hiking.

    BB58 and I have done these gymnastics with the mummy bag and a pad. It works once you figure out how to do all the moves. I have a HH Asym ULB and use a BA insulated air core and inflate it partially so that it is flexible enough to bend easily in the hammock. Now I find that I need a SPE for colder than about 40 degrees since the cold spots are shoulders and neck/head with the rolling around in the hammock. Also, I found that the one night I was out in Oct with temps below 40, the BA contracted due to the colder air temps (cold air takes less space than warm air in the pad, i.e.,less insulation). I recently bought a JRB Nest UQ but have not had opportunity to use it yet this winter.

    I like to keep my pack to less than 30 lbs with 3 to 4 days food included. With all the stuff to keep warm below 35 degrees, it takes space which may require going to a larger pack. Not from weight, but for volume purposes (UQ, pad, bag/OQ, hammock, etc.). For info, I sleep somewhat cold. Also, I like to keep the pad for going to ground if required and/or when hitting a hostel for weekly cleanup - I like flexibility/options on long trips (more than 5 days)

    So now to the question: What would be the minimum/best combo of sleep items to be comfortable below 35 degrees and still keep pack weight below 30 lbs? Suggestions appreciated. Summer camping is not a problem for weights.
    Morn' rockdawg69,
    As a winter camper I can relate to the bulk ... not necessarily lots more weight, but some. I will try my ULA Catalyst pack this winter but will have to strap some gear to the outside. With my Kelty Coyote I have 6500 sq. inches of pack room...more than enough for all my winter gear and food for a 4 to 5 day trip. The ULA is 3 lbs and the Kelty is 5 1/2 lbs. The Kelty also has a removable lid for use as a day pack. Winter is the only time I ever use a feature like that. Mainly for snowshoeing off to explore and such.
    My pack weight is always below 30lbs. More like 26 to 28 lbs with hammock, winter tarp w/ flaps, UQ, two pads in SPE, 0 REI bag, weathershield (may skip this winter), all my clothing which includes extras for winter: down parka, extra hood, winter gaiters, snowshoes, MSR Whisperlite and extra fuel (instead of alcohol or canister) extra candles for candle lantern (long, dark days), light snow shovel, down booties for camp, extra pants and socks, more food than other seasons, bottle insulators, serious gloves, face mask for sleeping and blizzards, goggles (really handy), snow baskets for hiking poles.
    It all adds up but really not too much extra weight. Winter does require a bit of a hump!!
    Thats about it.
    Whoooo Buddy)))) I Love Onions, Grits, Greens, Livermush, NC Style BBQ, Potted Meat, Anchovies, 'Naner Puddin", Peanut Butter Pie, Red Velvet Cake and Cocoa and Straaaaaawwwwberrrry Milk and Coffee Crisps....
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  8. #8
    Rockdawg69's Avatar
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    Thanks Shug. Seems like a lot of stuff but the weights are right. I use a Mountainsmith Boundary at 4 lbs (about 4500 ci) but have a Gregory Shasta (old one at 7.5 lbs and about 6000 ci with external pockets). May need to look at something else packwise to get space but lower weight.
    Rockdawg69

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  9. #9
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarStar View Post
    ..............................................
    If I were doing some cold weather hanging and needed the pad in addition to an underquilt, would it work to place the pad between the underquilt and the bottom of the hammock? Would it not shift as much this way?

    ..................

    FarStar
    For reasons stated by Youngblood, I think it would be unlikely to work. But there is one specialized type of UQ for which it will not only work, but is recommended by the manufacturer, i.e. the Speer PeaPod. This combo top quilt/UQ not only suspends on the ends of the hammock, but seals along the top by Velcro which supports the pod weight along the full length of the hammock.So between the adjustable tension on the ends and the top full length velcro, it will support about anything you are likely to throw into the bottom with out much difficulty. All while maintaining a perfect seal on the sides so that cold air can not sink down into the bottom.

    Of course, just like with a regular UQ, you have to consider the weight of whatever you put down there compressing the down and possibly negating the boost. So, especially with a CCF or inflatable pad, I would think that the lighter and more flexible, the better.

    But having said that, I'll say I was impressed with this approach used by my friend on my recent Wind River trip in September 08. Using a PeaPod rated at only 55*F , he remained quite toasty every night ( lows mid 20s - low 30s plus wind/rain/hail/sleet/snow) by using an inflatable Thermarest down in the PeaPod along with a top quilt. Comfort wise,he never knew the pad was there except for the added warmth. Once he was tucked in, he would just reach over the sides of the hammock and adjust the pad position perfectly under him. I don't think he had any trouble with it shifting, but if it did it was easy to readjust it. He discovered this during experiments in NC sleeping out in his backyard, when he got cold on his back and butt at about low 30s*F, shoved the pad in there and was instantly more than warm enough. So that is now his standard layering system, summer weight PeaPod plus pad on bottom and quilt on top for colder weather. Plus, as his pad is with him, he is all set if he has to go to ground. Good system. He is 100% happy with it. He hated pads inside the hammock.

    Now, so that y'all don't think I am the total PeaPod evangelist, I think it has it's cons as well as pros. Though I still think it is probably about the most bombproof/easy/efficient way of keeping warm in a hammock, it has it's drawbacks. For one example, broad shouldered claustrophobics won't be happy using it at it's limit where you have to mostly close it up around the face, especially in a narrow hammock. Which will allow the pod to lay down close to your face( super warm, but a bit confining like a mummy bag). But once again, this same (pad using) friend is a bit in that clautrophobic category, and he finds the pod ( in his system) his least claustrophobic approach. First, he uses a bit wider hammock, so that holds it up off his face even if he does mostly or completely close it. Since he uses a light top quilt , most nights he is able to leave it mostly wide open around his face and shoulders and still be plenty warm.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  10. #10
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockdawg69 View Post
    Ok. This is a good discussion. Can we relate this to managing pack weights for long distance hiking. ..............

    I like to keep my pack to less than 30 lbs with 3 to 4 days food included. With all the stuff to keep warm below 35 degrees, it takes space which may require going to a larger pack. Not from weight, but for volume purposes (UQ, pad, bag/OQ, hammock, etc.). For info, I sleep somewhat cold. Also, I like to keep the pad for going to ground if required and/or when hitting a hostel for weekly cleanup - I like flexibility/options on long trips (more than 5 days)

    So now to the question: What would be the minimum/best combo of sleep items to be comfortable below 35 degrees and still keep pack weight below 30 lbs? Suggestions appreciated. Summer camping is not a problem for weights.
    Well, again refrring back to that recent 5 day Wind River trip which had plenty of cold/wind/rain/snow and lows to mid 20s, my son and I both had packs in the very low 30 lb category ( I really think barely over 30 lbs, 31 or 32 max). This included food for 5 days, 5 plus pound 6000 plus ci packs ( McHale and an old Dana Terraplain(sp?)), and 1 1/2 lbs of fishing gear. So, with lighter packs and no fishing gear, we could get easily down below 30 for a week. But, saving a couple of lbs on the pack might cause a lot of trouble with room, which is no trouble at all now. Plus these packs carry light loads like a dream. But we both could come down some on pack weight, no doubt.

    I had a Speer 20*F PeaPod to be layered with my Bozeman Mountain Works Polarguard Parka (14 oz) and pants (8 oz) as my sleep system. Plus a 9 oz down vest just in case. All of this instead of a separate summer weight top quilt.

    My son had my Warbonnet short UQ with 3 layers ( ~ 17 0z), some Montbell ultralight down sweater and pants, a hat and neck gator. And his 3 lb PG Cat's Meow used mostly as a quilt( Clearly some weight could be saved here).

    We both had a 1/2 length WM blue pad in case we had to go to ground, plus my son needed a pad under his legs. And a double layer Claytor No Net, which was 22 ozs I think. ( A single layer would save 6 ozs or so).

    We were both abundantly warm. Though pack weights were slightly above 30 lbs( still the lightest I have ever gone on this trip), we had fishing gear and a few other things which could lower weight if left behind, without decreasing warmth.

    If I were going again today and had every thing I wanted, I might add the weight of a JRB Stealth as top quilt in the PeaPod, but leave behind the the down vest and/or possibly even the 14 0z BMW PG parka. Leave either one or possibly both and using the Stealth as my jacket.

    So, that is one way to approach it and stay near or even slightly below 30 lbs. I'm sure there are several others, including UQs and top quilts or just pads with SPEs. Oh, I almost forgot Super Shelters.
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 11-22-2008 at 15:46.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

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