hammock tips for cold weather?
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May 3, 2006 at 1:22 pm #1218485
Hi guys. OK, the short story is that the loaner tent I had coming is not coming anymore, and I am heading to north Ontario for 4 nights over this weekend. Forecast is for nightly lows of -1 to -2 celsius, or about 30 Fahrenheit. I have a Hennessy UL hammock that I must use, and am a bit scared- I ‘ve never used it in anythig but summer weather.
My sleeping bag is light and crummy, so to compensate I think I’m goin to use my extra thick Therm-a-rest underneath me, and a reflecting emergency blanket over me. Of course, I will be sleeping in long underwear and a thick hat.
Keeping in mind that I have only 1 day to spare and that my budget is zero, does anyone have suggestions, or will I be OK?
Thanks for any help!May 3, 2006 at 2:02 pm #1355822Eric NobleBPL Member
@ericnobleLocale: Colorado Rockies
Rob, it is a real challenge to stay on a pad in a hammock. What has worked for me in the past is to put the pad and your bag in a bivy inside the hammock. It is not easy to get into that setup when you are off the ground, however. I now have two JacksRBetter down quilts that I use, and am very happy with the setup. One goes underneath the hammock on the outside, and the other goes over me on the inside.
Be sure to check out the excellent posts by Douglas Frick on this topic in the forums. Search for “Hammock warmth”. Also check out Carol Crooker’s feature “Notes from the Field: SuperUltraLight Tarp vs. Hammock in the High Uintas”
You might be able to rig something up by tying a rectangular piece of fabric under your hammock that could hold some insulation under you. The trick is keeping the insulation from being compressed. In a pinch, a twin size sheet could work as long as is doesn’t get wet since it is probably cotton.May 3, 2006 at 2:14 pm #1355825Dane FliednerSpectator
@dfliednerLocale: Orange County, CA
I agree with the posts recommended here at BPL. Also, when researching the same subject in the past I was directed to Yahoo!s hammock camping group (search archives), Just Jeff’s Hiking Page, Sgt Rock’s Hiking page, and Risk’s hiking page…you might want to check out Jack’s R better page, too (See articles, not just stuff for sale). Between these sites, you can learn a ton of info.May 3, 2006 at 3:08 pm #1355827Vick HinesMember
@vickrhinesLocale: Central Texas
Eric suggests suspending a rectangular piece of fabric under the hammock to hold pad and other insulation. I agree. You can get really cheap 0.6 ounce polyester lining material at Walmart. The last stuff I got was $1 per yard. For a simple rig, start with 3 yards of 45-48 inch fabric. Hem the raw ends and leave the selvage (factory edge) alone. Thread elastic through the hems. Use the elastic to suspend this sub-hammock under the main hammock.May 3, 2006 at 3:14 pm #1355829Douglas FrickBPL Member
>extra thick Therrm-a-rest underneath me
That should be sufficient insulation. It’s a bit tough to get it to stay under you _in_ the hammock, but if you work at it you should be able to get it all arranged (and doing so will get you warm :) The reflecting emergency blanket will significantly increase condensation and could cause you to wet out your sleeping bag after several nights. It would be better to put the space blanket under your pad.
If you have access to a second light and crummy sleeping bag, I would instead suggest that you get some of those big tarp clamps, zip the sleeping bag open, tie the clamps to the hammock suspension lines, and sling the sleeping bag under you. (You may need another clamp or two to make it fit better on the sides.) Try this at home first to see if you can get it to fit closely. This is a quick and dirty version of the Jacks R Better under quilt and JRB Suspension System. Look at their site to see how it looks. That will be much easier than arranging the pad in the hammock, and will definitely be warm enough for freezing temps. You could then unzip your sleeping bag and double it up on top of you, which would be even warmer.
>I will be sleeping in long underwear and a thick hat.
Add an insulated jacket and you should be warm enough, even with a light sleeping bag. I wear my pants/rain pants and a Micropuff jacket in my hammock at cold temps.
> Be sure to check out the excellent posts by Douglas Frick on this topic in the forums.
Thanks Eric. Here’s the thread link.May 4, 2006 at 6:10 am #1355854
Thanks everyone! Doug, your idea about the double sleeping bag is great… I’ve read about the “pea pod” but didn’t know I could ‘do it myself’ in this way. I’ll give it a try. At any rate, I am sure that what I have with me will suffice. And yes, I saw that other thread with loads of info – thanks to all who contribute to us novices here!May 4, 2006 at 12:07 pm #1355875AnonymousGuest
I haven’t found it too hard to sleep on a pad in a hammock, but you will have to readjust periodically. It’s easier to readjust if you use your sleeping bag as a quilt with a footbox. That way you can reach down to your pad and move it around with your hands.
If you really are thinking about using the hammock in near freezing temperatures, I would highly recommend bringing along one or more foam pads to be place cross-wise, under your torso. These will provide much needed padding by your shoulders. The hammock will wrap around you and crush all the insulation around your shoulders, so you need a foam layer between you and the universe.
Also your thick thermarest will need to be a full-length pad, because at near freezing you will feel cold seeping into your feet.
And keep your head warm, but that’s obvious.
So… Shoulders, Feet, and Head! Once you have that taken care of, then it is just a matter of layering on the clothing, which is easy to accomodate if you use your sleeping bag as a quilt.
Hope that helps!May 16, 2006 at 5:09 pm #1356486
Well, thanks to all. I had a great trip up in Algonquin park – and I slept warmly, but not comfortably with the pad and reflector blanket plus sleeping bag – who got together and turned into a furious ball near my ankles as I slept… I awoke the first morning to a snow storm, so that was a first for me in a hammock. But I made it alive, and the other 3 guys who where hauling massive tents were so jealous of my pack weight that it was almost worth the discomfort!!
end result:: I am looking at buying or making an underpad to prevent further discomfort.May 16, 2006 at 7:51 pm #1356500Douglas FrickBPL Member
>But I made it alive
Glad that worked out ;-) The first time I used my hammock was at +27F with only a space blanket underneath me. When I awoke in the middle of the night with my teeth chattering I wasn’t so sure I was going to make it.
> I am looking at buying or making an underpad to prevent further discomfort.
Yeah, that’s the conclusion I came to as well. I tossed and turned so much trying to put the space blanket under my sleeping bag that I actually rolled completely over in my Hennessy Hammock. It’s a an indication of HH construction quality that I didn’t rip through the mesh and hit the dirt (actually, a blowdown with sharp broken branches was only inches below).
For freezing and above I’m going to use the HH UnderPad/UnderCover since that will be warm enough and waterproof in case of rain (with the Jacks R Better Nest as my top quilt), and for well below freezing I’ll be using the JRB Nest as an under quilt (with my Ray-Way quilt as my top quilt). If it’s going to be around and below freezing, I’ll go with the second configuration and add the Jacks R Better Weather Shield bottom cover to keep rain and/or wet snow off. The JRB Weather Shield is waterproof/breathable, which will reduce condensation underneath. I need to do more testing below -5F next winter to figure out what works there (probably the JRB Nest, HH UnderPad and JRB Weather Shield combo).Jun 30, 2006 at 8:02 pm #1358790Richard HenryMember
I’ve taken my HH Ultralight Backpacker down to zero and have been out multiple times in 20 and 20+ nights. I use a Thermarest 3/4″ Ridge Rest pad along with a truck sun screen (layer of fleece sewn onto it) inside my sleeping bag for the really cold weather. I am not sure if the reflective heat theory works with the pad inside my bag, but the extra insulation surely helps.
I also multi layer clothing and am not shy about bringing extra clothing for this purpose. At zero, I was uncomfortable a little bit during the night, but not to the point of “suffering.” Can’t say I was toasty warm, but not chilly, either. Usually I am good for the 20’s, unless I have misqued on some aspect of preparation, and I have done that. Sleeping warmly in a hammock does indeed require a learning curve. Likely we all have our stories about that. The coldest night I spent in my hammock was the very first night, when I went without a pad and the nightime temp got down to 54. Whoa, was I cold!
Good (hammock) camping!Jul 5, 2006 at 6:43 pm #1358998Robb StanekSpectator
@rstanekLocale: Southeast, Atlanta, GA
One of my earliest experiences in my HH was in January where the temps were in the twenties.
I used a full length Thermarest with a 20deg down bag inside a 40deg synthetic (4lbs). Also wore long underwaer and my puffy jacket with a hat, and slept quite comfortably.
I’ve since purchased the HH underpad and covering, and I’ll tell you, it’s makes a nice wind barrier. Usually leave the pad behind and stuff it with forest duff.
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