I'll be going up to the mountains either this week or next, but as this winter is especially cold I'm beginning to question my gear, in particular my sleeping bag.
I've done overnight trips in the mountains during winter before, half a dozen times or so. The temperature never got down below 20F though.
All of these trips I've used the same gear: My hammock, my crappy zero degree synthetic bag and a cheap fleece sleeping bag I use as a liner inside my bag. Oh and a long air mat.
All this does fine, but lately I've looked at the temperature in the mountains where we camp and it is hovering from 8-12 degrees at night.
I've hiked in that low of temperature, but never slept overnight in it so I'm wondering if I should stick with my normal set-up for sleeping.
Maybe I should get a cheap-o tent instead of using my hammock cause its colder sleeping in the air than on the nice insulating snow. Maybe I should get like a wool liner instead of a cheap fleece liner to up my warmth. That would sure beat buying a whole new sleeping bag. Or maybe, that is exactly what I need.
I'm not sure really. I would just like to hear some suggestions from people who have slept in these conditions I've spoken of.
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Whether a new sleeping bag would help depends on your hammock setup. What do you use for insulation under you? Pad, underquilt, both? The under insulation is frequently the limiting factor. The bag won't do much to help there.
Phat is known to hammock at those temps with pads and a poncho slung under him as like a Garlington taco so it can be done. Myself I tend to go to ground when it gets below 20.
I've slept down to about -18C in a hammock. If you were comfortable at 20F, you may be fine at 8-10.
Ensure you hang your hammock low, with your tarp well covering it. Site yourself such that wind is minimized if possible.
In cold weather I use a silnylon poncho rigged under my hammock as an insulation holder/windblock - I then put stuff in there, space blankets and/or wally world insulation batting, or even another small sleeping bag. I then have a blue foam pad in the hammock. at -18 I was sleeping in a full fleece, with a toque and balaclava on.
I wonder how well that sili-nylon works around the bottom there. All the sili-nylon at my local wally world's sells out way to quick from the kite flyers in the area.
The point of this thread was to figure out simple ways to improve myself in the colder temperatures. Simple being like, maybe adding a few more pieces of gear or dishing out the $$ to actually get a good sleeping bag.
I'm pretty sure I'll be fine if the mountains stay around 10F, but every day is different. Yesterday was about 9F, but today it was -18F.
Phew. I can't forecast the weather that far out so I'm thinking I should prepare for the worst.
Silnylon works well as a windblock, - but the trick is to have some stretch to it to get it to conform a bit to the hammock bottom.
The poncho I'm using is basically a big rectancle of silynlyon, 5x8, with a shockcord (stretchy) sewn in one of the 5 foot lengths on the bottom. this lets me tie the other 5 foot lenght at one end of the hammokc, and the shockcords at the other, giving some stretch to it. I can then stick some stuff in between the poncho and the hammock bottom. Works pretty good, esp with a blue pad or two in the hammock.
My only other suggestion would be remember fleece clothing. puffy insulating layers compress under you, and you get cold. Fleece does not nearly as much, so you stay warmer.
You can ditch out the $$ for a new sleeping bag, but I find for warmth in a hammock, what's under me matters as much or more.
Well, like I said before I shouldn't be able to find any sili-nylon so that idea's out.
I've camped in a hammock a lot and yeah, the usual deciding factor for staying warm is what pads to bring and how many, to put inside the hammock.
But, I reached a point where pads were not enough to keep me warm so I had to put a fleece liner inside my sleeping bag and that cranked the heat up enough for me to be comfortable.
If it gets seriously cold though, like below 10F, I can't see a simple fix other than dishing out for a new bag or trying out a tent or something. I don't want to do either, but if it stays pretty cold on the mountain I don't see any other choices.
I second the hammockforum recommendation. I would also suggest that you do some trials in your yard. Test out different systems at different temps to see what works for you. When I started winter hammocking, I would watch the local weather forecast and if the night was supposed to be 5* colder than my previous low makr, I would sleep outside and see what my hammmock system did. I am now down to a low of under -10*F and still quite warm. Like Phat,I use a poncho underneath, however i keep it loose and away from the hammock body and put and few large leaf bags with a tiny bit of air trapped in them. (google garlingon insulator) is amazing how well these work.
That sounds familiar, I think I've tried something similar with my hammock but ran into some bad luck. Also, I have a hennessy hammock so whenever I try attaching things over the bottom of the hammock everything just becomes a hassle, ugh.
Oh and I don't have any trees in my backyard so testing is a no go. I did build a a little hammock stand, but since I've moved I didn't take that with me.
I so wish I had a few trees in my backyard cause it gets really windy and nasty sometimes. Would be great to test the worst conditions.
Forester Well just to give another path to follow... I would "go to ground". Yeh I know the whole hammock camping cult will be waiting to jump me, but the extra stuff required for winter colder hammock camping could be more than just sleeping in a tent with an extra full length blue foam pad and an extra cheapo sleeping bag used as a quilt, or a light synthetic quilt from home just might be enough to keep you warm. I also wear only fleece in the winter as I shy away from compressible insulation layers, or wool because it does hold moisture that will end up in your sleeping bag. I want to be able to wear my day ski clothes inside my sleeping bag at night and I wear fleece to ski because it breathes, doesn't hold water, doesn't compress in a wind or under more fleece and my body heat moves through it so the inside of my sleeping bag is warmer and my hands don't freeze. I highly recommend a spare pair of light fleece sleeping glove that are NEVER ever used for anything else so they stay dry. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Heh. Card carrying member of the hammock mafia here, and I actually won't jump on it.
I might also suggest going to ground. I do this in winter, because at some point for me attempting to insulate a hammock in subzero weather is definately counterproductive.
A big agnes insulated aircore mattress, topped with a blue foam, on the ground in cold weather, while not as comfortable as a hammock, is easier to keep warm on. This is what I switch to in very cold weather.