Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

Backyard Gear Test - DownHammock v2

First sub-freezing test of the DownHammock v2. Here are the vitals:

Environmentals

  • Location: On my covered deck in Hope Mills, NC
  • Bedtime: 11:30p, 30 F, no wind
  • Low Temp: 28 F
  • Wakeup: 7:00a, 34 F, no wind

Gear:

  • DownHammock v2
  • 3/8" Target CCF torso pad, folded in half, for my lower body
  • JRB No Sniveler for first half of the night
    • Fleece beanie, ear warmer, gloves, and Serius neofleece face mask
  • SD Wicked Fast for second half
    • Neofleece facemask
  • No tarp or hammock sock

Clothing:

  • Midweight thermal top and bottom. Shirt is a zippered turtleneck.
  • CoolMax T-shirt
  • Cotton boxers
  • Thick socks...they almost feel like fleece but they're not
  • The headgear mentioned above
The Rundown:

The DownHammock had time to fluff, but the down was all under my butt when I got in so I had to push it up to my torso. Takes only a few seconds. Over time, the down migrates away from my shoulders though...a few times I had to unzip the bag and push the down back up to warm my shoulders. It takes only a few seconds, but I still have to unzip the bag or remove the quilt and lose my heat. I think baffles are needed for the next model. I also noticed that the down would often collect at the head end of the down compartment...I think this is because the hammock isn't as wide at the top, so the chamber pooches out (technical term) and can keep the down from sliding down. Once I noticed this, I slid my body higher in the hammock and it was much easier to stay warm. I've noted before that the down chamber needs to start lower on the hammock (probably 25" from the hammock's head end instead of the 19" on this model), and I think that would solve the problem. And save the weight of 6" of DWR.

  • Bottom Line: Except for the migrating down at my shoulders, I was comfortable at 28 F. My next model will be wider, with baffles, and the down compartment will start ~6" lower.

I started with the JRB, but had the Wicked Fast sitting in a box beside me in case it got cold. I fluffed the JRB so most of the down was in the middle. It was acceptable, but not toasty, at 30 F - so the bottom side insulation is the weak link for me in the 3 Season Set. I was comfortable on my back and when I rolled onto my side. Most of the heat loss I felt was around the shoulders and head. I slept for a few hours, getting a chill now and then that required a small adjustment (chills mostly came from the DownHammock, not the NS). The first time I had a small shiver I changed to the Wicked Fast. Using the JRB, I found it very easy to adjust the pad if I rolled over b/c I could just grab it and move it (it was only under my legs b/c the DownHammock is only insulated to my knees). As with all quilts, the JRB had much better freedom of movement than the sleeping bag.

  • Bottom Line: Great product...I'll probably use it for all of my above-freezing camping, but below freezing I think I like the integrated hood of a sleeping bag. But I'm sure I'll keep testing this since I'm a gearhead.

After switching to the Wicked Fast I immediately felt a difference in the heat retained around the head and shoulders. Had to remove gloves, beanie and ear warmer but I left the face mask on. Because of better draft protection and the integrated hood, the SD was much warmer than the JRB (and ~4 oz heavier), but freedom of movement wasn't as good and it was more difficult to adjust the pad and pillow. Still not a problem, and although it isn't as easy as the top quilt I didn't have any trouble getting in the bag. I slept soundly for another few hours until sunrise.

  • Bottom Line: Great bag for the weight. As I said in the BGT reports, the lack of ventilation restricts the temp range, but for this temp range (around freezing) it works great. The bag is rated to 30 F but I would have been comfortable to at least 25 F last night.


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