For those of you not also on whiteblaze...we had a thread discussing
how my bag wet through when I slept on a CCF pad. I wanted to test
a SPE, mainly to see if using a quilt instead of a bag would
alleviate the problem.
I made a homemade SPE a few days ago and finally got to sleep in it
last night. Here's my review. Keep in mind it's my homemade
version, not the one Ed sells.
Youngblood (et al.),
Ah...now it comes into focus. :p
I slept in a homemade SPE for the first time last night. I made it
from DWR for a 19" pad with 5" wings on each side. Wings were 18"
long, and with a small space between them covered the area from my
shoulders almost to my knees.
I used a homemade Speer-type and slept in a cotton shirt so I could
easily sense any moisture buildup. I used a quilt, so only the DWR
and T-shirt were between me and the pad. It got down to ~50F last
night, not much wind to speak of, and a [i]very[/i] little bit of
drizzle...I slept without a tarp.
I like it. I did feel a [i]little[/i] bit of clamminess that I
don't get with the underquilt, but I'm sure the cotton shirt
exacerbated that. I wasn't overheated...perfect comfort temperature-
wise all night once I got settled. Using a 19" pad meant it didn't
buckle much...I found a buckle or two when searching for it with my
hands, but I couldn't even feel any discomfort from it. I slept on
my back and side with no problems.
What I liked:
- It held the hammock open nice and wide
- CCF is waterproof and the DWR is almost waterproof. Underquilt is
- No worries about air gaps and cold spots under the hammock.
You're either on the pad or you're not.
- I think the weight would come in just under an underquilt with
suspension system (22oz), but I haven't weighed it yet.
- It's [i]a lot[/i] more comfortable on the wallet...$40+pad for SPE
vs $200 for the underquilt.
- It preserves your ability to cowboy camp or stay in a shelter
(even though I don't like shelters, there have been a few times I
would have liked to cowboy camp). Or even go to ground, though I
don't ever plan to be in a position to have to do that from the cold.
What I didn't like:
- It needed a bit more fidgeting than an underquilt to get
comfortable. This may be a learning curve thing, though. The
underquilt has a steeper learning curve than the SPE, though...the
SPE is just plug and play.
- It wasn't as comfortable as an underquilt. The clamminess might
be reduced with a synthetic T-shirt, but sleeping on a pad still
isn't as comfortable as being directly on the hammock, IMO.
- You still have to worry about staying on the pad. One time I
rolled over and my back got cold because it was off the pad. With
the SPE and quilt, it was easy to slide back on, but it still woke
me up for a second. It happened again when my knee touched the
hammock. I'm not a heavy sleeper so waking up a time or two isn't
really out of the ordinary for me.
- The pad is bulkier to pack than the underquilt.
- Since it doesn't fit in the snakeskins, setup took a bit
longer...probably only a minute or so, though. Minor issue.
- It's a bit less flexible than the underquilt. You can adjust the
underquilt's insulation performance in a few ways (shaking the down
around, loosening the drawstrings, etc). With a SPE, it's with the
pad or without...no in-between. Could be an issue depending on
environment...wasn't an issue last night.
In short, using the SPE and quilt performed [i]a lot[/i] better than
my last tests with a sleeping bag and CCF pad. I would recommend a
SPE over and underquilt if:
- Budget is an issue
- You want to preserve your ability to sleep on the ground or in
shelters. Maybe you'll be hiking in areas where you may not have
trees, like the desert or above timber line, or you want to stay in
shelters sometimes. This is a big issue for some people.
I'd recommend an underquilt if:
- You can afford to pay for the comfort
- You know you'll be in a hammock with no need to go to ground
- I want to see how it works in a HH
- I want to see how it works in different environments - humidity
level and temperature variation should have an impact
Of note, I haven't tested a PeaPod, which I think would perform
similar to an underquilt. I know Ed uses PeaPods with pads
inside...should get to some pretty low temps that way.