First Cold Weather Sleeping System Test

On Friday, January 13th 2012 the weather forecast was snow and a low of 14 F through the night with a predicted wind chill of around 4 F. Excited about the low I decided to do a test hang on some of my newly acquired gear. Knowing that last year I used a similar setup as far as my insulation & clothing goes along with a 3 season top & bottom quilt successfully into the lower teens, I had faith in my new winter quilts. Not enough to head out into the deep wilderness though, I’m not that crazy. So I headed out into the woods near home. I took along all the gear in the video I did showing everything fitting into the ZPacks Exo backpack with a couple modifications. First knowing I wasn’t going to be hiking very far I started out with my mid & heavy weight bottoms, mid weight top & Montbell UL Down Inner Parka. This would keep me from taking my mukluks & pants off to put on my heavy insulation once reaching my destination, wise choice by the way.

Yes, I said mukluks. MacEntyre from Molly Mac Pac made me a pair of mukluks to fit a set ofย  Sorel Glacier Thermoplus Liners I found on sale at a very good price. I am going to stop myself at this point and give you a quick summery on how this part of the trip went. I will do a more in depth review after getting a couple more tries in these. My feet stayed nice & warm, they are very comfortable, & you can slip your feet out at night with the boot liners for a warm pair of booties, & warm shoes in the morning. A warm pair of shoes on a cold morning is fantastic!

Onward we go. I found me a spot that was windy, on purpose, to really test some things. I set my tarp up high with the bottom of my hammock exposed to the chilling wind, again on purpose, this is testing, and close to home. After getting everything setup in plenty of time I decided to test out a new piece of cooking gear, a multifuel stove, the Bushcooker LT1 by Fourdog Stoves. You will notice in the video I had my Bushbuddy & Snow Peak 900 pot, I have used it on many occasions & can use it well (This is my stove, there are many like it but this one is mine. Yeah I know). I was wanting something a little smaller & lighter though, that’s where the LT1 came in. The stove, wind screen, burn plate, alcohol stove, fuel tablets, & 2 oz bottle of fuel all nests inside a Snow Peak 600 mug nicely. Since this is more about my sleeping system I will do yet another review on the LT1 in the future, hopefully. In summary, I need to practice with it a little more, the Bushbuddy & SP900 kit will continue with me for now.

Getting tucked in. As I said earlier, I removed my feet along with the boot liners out & used them as booties in the top quilt. I slid the JRB down sleeves over my lower legs, took off the Montbell Parka and changed into the heavy weight top. Placed the Western Mountaineering Flight Vest under my knees, and the arrowhead down booties next to my kidneys, then settled in for a bit. Feeling nice and warm with the wind trying to push my tarp all the way in against me, the inevitable happened, I had to pee. Taking care of that little business I settled in again, this time for good. Instead of waiting to get cold I decided to put a few more pieces on, the first was my light clava then a piece of gear I did not mention in the video, a cold avenger mask. I had this thing last year & used it more for cold weather hunting, it does a very good job at keeping you warm by breathing warm moist air. With that in mind, if you get dry throat or nostrils in winter, these work great.ย  Anyway, I found it rifling through some stuff to get ready for an upcoming hang at Mt. Rogers this weekend coming. I used it a couple times last year while hanging out and noticed, but didn’t pay that much attention, that it kept the condensation down on my top quilt some. Figured I would give it another try this year refreshing my memory. After putting on the light clava & cold avenger makes you look cool mask, I added my Black Rock down hat, & JRB hood. I am officially toasty. Laying there really warm I noticed I forgot my pillow, which is a Cocoon Air Core (3.7 oz.), so I used the Montbell parka. I got a little reading in on the Kindle, which by the way is lighter than most books, thinner, and has really good battery life, I fell off to sleep. The first time I woke up I was a little warm, some quick venting took care of that & fell off to sleep again. The next time I awoke was to adjust the parka under my head, it slid down under my back. This would not be the last time for this, it was the one thing that kept me awake the most, that and the wind blowing.

Ok, it really didn’t get all that cold, 18F, that is what I recorded on my electronic thermometer anyway. The wind was blowing and gusting all night though, with the local NOAA recorded gusts of just over 20 mph. That should have put the wind chill right around 4F or so, that’s what we will say anyway. I stayed plenty warm enough throughout the night & slept relatively comfortable, the pillow issue will not happen again. I had a cold spot one time during the night under my butt, CBS (Cold Butt Syndrome). After the pillow deal woke me up I noticed it, also noticed the odd way I was situated in the hammock, my butt check was at the edge of the under quilt. No doubt do to chasing the parka all over in my sleep. The cold avenger mask did in fact keep my top quilt dry but, a little part of my face and light clava that I had pulled up to my chin was wet. Anyone but me would have probably guessed that when lying on your back breathing warm moist air into a rubber cup would collect water and drain back down onto your face. No it did not soak my entire face or mask, nor did it freeze, nor did I get cold from it. I actually slept very warm, woke up with a nice warm moist nose & throat. I hate getting a cold dry nose. I’m going to continue testing this mask as it didn’t get anything what I would call alarmingly wet. The advantages I believe may out way that one disadvantage.

Test number one complete. With the temp at what it was I have complete faith down to single digit + temps. I would still like to test it out in those conditions or colder with a negative wind chill. I still had the Thermorest pad to use, the Marmot PreCip jacket, Dry Ducks rain pants, & down booties. I could have also put on the Montbell Parka, Flight vest & JRB sleeves to keep my upper body warm. All and all it was a very successful test run with a very important lesson. I shall never forget my pillow again.

9 Responses to “First Cold Weather Sleeping System Test”

  1. Good report! I had the jacket pillow issue my last hang too, bit of a goose chase as well.
    I tried to test my cold weather setup this weekend too. Got my friend to ‘suffer’ in the hammock while I made adjustments to the quilts. But I didnt get to sleep in it cause of this crazy horse with an identity crisis. It was part dog cause it would always hang around us and follow us around and it was part goat cause it tried to eat everything including my tarp. Couldnt have that, so I slept in the house. Oh well!
    See you guys this weekend at the hang.

    • Thanks ferret. Chasing that thing all night brought back horrible memories.

      Well it doesn’t look good for testing cold gear at Mt. Rogers either, with temps in the upper 30’s to lower 50’s predicted. They have wild horses also, you may live your whole situation over again :).

      I’m still looking forward to the trip though, looks like it won’t be a crowded as MAHHA was, maybe we all can get a better chance to chat more. You be safe on the trip down, & see ya there.

  2. BC you got an LT1 from Don – i have one too! wood fires have been a tough challenge – i feel we have had eternal dampness! but i’ve seen you and Oh-No make a fire when it was raining and i feel SO inadequate! lol! you’re the best! great report!!

    • Sure did, I wanted to go a little lighter with less of a pot. The 900 works, but is sometimes a bit much for just me. What the 900 does allow is two cups of coffee & breakfast with one boil. But seeing how the fuel is plentiful, I won’t mind enjoying that first cup while feeding the stove for the rest.

      I did have a tough time with the LT1 the first time out, but I also know what the problem was. I intentionally chose allot of wood that was laying close to on on the ground. Not ideal, I normally know what wood it takes, but this was testing. With the BB, once hot coals are established, even wet wood starts and burns well, just more smoke. It also has a larger fire chamber that I can lay wet pieces across the top for drying without block much of the current heat I’m using. The LT1 being allot smaller just created problems for me because I wasn’t used to it. I just need to use it a little more to get it down. I know it works well, just look a WV’s success with it.

      You should start taking it with you and playing with it each time. Bring it on our next trip, I’ll bring mine, and we can learn together. With hopefully WV’s help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Wait, is there going to be a clinic on bushcooker? cause I have one on the way to go with my SP700. Bushcooker 101 with WV?

    • This is a great product if you are cuouris about this style of hammock and are skeptical still because you don’t know if you will like it. My buddy has a high quality kind of the same style that he takes on every backpacking trip he goes on, that way he does not need to pack a sleeping mat or tent (he also has a rain fly for his that he purchased separately). I never tried his out but liked the idea so much that I searched for one of the cheapest hammocks of this style and this is the one I found. I actually love it, but the ropes it came with are not too practical because they are quite short which limits the versatility of where to put it up, but you can get any other length of rope for pretty cheap almost anywhere that will make this much more versatile.The first time I used it I set it up at a children’s park in between the play structures while my brother had baseball practice. I just wanted to test it by laying in it and reading a book, but when I sat in it something popped and it fell slightly. It ended up being because of the way the construction of the hook is attached to the hammock. I am 6’2 and 145lbs (so I doubt it will hold 300lbs comfortably but I could be wrong). When this happened it didn’t break, but it frayed the rope attached to the hammock a little bit. Since then I have yet to have a problem. It IS pretty comfortable and I actually carry it with me in my school backpack when attending college, that way I can kick back and relax or study outside whenever the weather permits it.I would recommend this item, like I said, to anyone who is skeptical about this style and doesn’t want to invest in an expensive one. I hope this was helpful to you, the other reviews were for me

  4. Hey BC – I wanted to ask you a quick question about the Yeti. What made you decide to go with that over something a bit longer like an incubator? I’m going to re-up on a Winter UQ before next year, think I may go with the Yeti, but I’m not 100% sure. My biggest concern is the length, but since I’m going to carry a pad for my legs anyway, I’m not sure it matters.

    But, if I tall fella’ like yourself can use one, maybe length isn’t that much of a concern after all…. How has it worked out for you?

    Take care,


    • Normis, glad to hear from ya man. How you been? Good I hope.

      Well the reasoning behind the Yeti is that my first UQ choice was a HG Phenix 3 season model. I have had such good luck with that UQ, even in winter with additional layers, that I decided to stick with the smaller UQ’s. Less weight, less bulk, and never let me down. I did choose the winter Yeti over a 0 deg. phenix because of Brandon’s design. He uses the draft collars with no bungie in the ends (I believe Adam is using this same concept now. He has had my 3 season doing mods to it). Brandon uses a smaller diameter shock cord for the parameter that is strung up pretty tight and pulls that thing right up against your back. I have a couple UQ theories at the end of this reply. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As far as the length goes. The Yeti comes almost to my knees. The HG goes at least to my knees, maybe an inch or two past. Seeing that I too carry a sit/kneel pad, I use it if I need it. So far I have not really needed it to keep my lower legs warm. Couple things I do in cold temps is, put a spare article of clothing under my knees or lower legs, sometimes zip a jacket up around the lower part of the hammock over my feet. So far this is all I have needed down in the teens. The sit pad stays in the pack or on the ground beneath me if I need it.

      My so called theories on UQ’s. Thinking about the design of the hammock and how the underside looks when you are laying in it, which parts are the widest. Shoulders and hip area right? Well a partial UQ’s ends stop around these areas. When that suspension shock cord is pulling it up against you, the widest parts of your body is spreading that quilt out sealing it against you. Now think of a full length UQ. It goes all the way up to the narrow sections of the hammock. Not much shock cord pulling that area up, its more the less pulling it straight toward the gathered ends of the hammock, not up against it. So to combat this, you have shock cord in the ends to try to seal it up the best you can around this narrow area. That in itself is sometimes hard to do without the help of someone else. Then you get in the hammock and start moving around, and who knows whats going on up at the ends, more than likely gaps. I believe for a full length UQ to work properly the ends need to be pulled upward against the hammock more. That’s why triangle thingies are so popular with FL UQ owners. I have seen more FL UQ owners fiddling around with their quilts than any others. When I go to setup, I put my UQ on, get it close, and get in. Last thing is to move it to my shoulder area and I’m done. The only time I have really had any problems with a partial UQ is if I shift around on my side a certain way. I will sometimes get a cool spot around my hip. A slight move of my leg to flatten the hammock material out, and I’m good.

      My last theory. Not exactly on an UQ, but more the material of the hammock. I have a Warbonnet BB 1.7 double layer, I also have my DIY Knotty Stretch side made out of a single layer of 1.1. I have been using the DIY hammock through this winter because it’s allot lighter & I don’t need a bug net. As you can imagine, a single layer of 1.1 is going to stretch more that two layers of 1.7. To me, and this is just what I have been noticing, the 1.1 single sleeps much warmer. I’m thinking my body weight is stretching the material down into the UQ more allowing it to be against me better with no air gaps. I can stick my hand between both hammocks and the quilt while in the hammock and feel the difference. The 1.7 has a gap between it and the UQ, the 1.1 is right against it.

      By the way, I find a little more comfy sleep in the 1.1 hammock. So what did I do, purchased a 1.1 single layer Blackbird also. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I have a light 3 season hammock with bug net.

      Norm, stay safe and see ya soon. I’m heading out the door shortly on my way to Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll answer any more questions you may have when I get back.


  5. Thanks Mike – I apppreciate the quick reply.

    Your theory is interesting and makes a lot of sense. I DIY’d a FLUQ with 20 ozs of down and took it wout last weekend. I expected to be sweating, but really wasn’t at all. I bet a shorter UQ would work a ton better. I think I’m going to give it a try (any excuse to buy more gear!).

    Have a blast in PC! I hear it’s awesome.

    See you out there soon –


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