Lately I’ve been working on making my 50 Mile GHB sleeping arrangement as comfortable as possible for 4 seasons without moving into a huge pack.
Before I had no system and carried only an E-Bivy with the plan of sleeping on a debris bed if possible or hard ground.
While the temps here in the PNW are rarely below freezing, the humidity is often over 90% and unlike the “dry cold” of my previous home of Elko, NV. which is at 5280ft, the cold does not leave you here and penetrates deep to the bone in the PNW even at much higher temps.
If it get’s down to 40F in the Winter, it’s cold! Especially if you can’t get out of the wind.
Not wanting to rely on a fire for warmth and knowing that it’s likely several days to complete the 53 mile trek home from work, I had to add a more substantial sleep system if I didn’t want to be miserable. A good nights sleep or even a semi-comfortable one makes a world of difference in the field.
I decided to add my Hennesy Hammock and while testing it overnight at 40F / 98% humidity, I found that with my fleece jacket, a poncho liner and the E-Bivy pulled up to my waist, it was still cold after a few hours. I even added a hot water bottle to the mix and for warmth (using a 32oz Nalgene filled with boiling water) but it still got cold on my upper body after a few hours.
The 32oz Nalgene “hot water bottle” trick worked for hours perfectly though and it’s now a part of my sleep system. If you have not tried this long known trick, you owe it to yourself to do so.
While I could have pulled the E-Bivy up over my head and been warm enough to sleep the night out, I know that the end result is sweat soaked clothes in the morning. 😦
After testing at 40F and being uncomfortable, I knew the worst case scenario of 30F would be miserable to say the least.
The next step on the road to cold weather sleeping bliss, was to add a small super-lightweight sleeping bag and use the poncho liner as a PLUG to get that needed heatable air gap between the hammock bottom and the cold air.
The only thing needed to use a liner as an under quilt is a way to scrunch the ends up to close the gap it naturally creates when just hung off of it’s corner ties. To do so you just thread a piece of shock cord or 550 through two “nips” (be sure to melt the hole opening a tad) made on each end of the short side of the poncho and add cord-locks to scrunch.
I found removing an inch of inner cords and super gluing the outer sheath to a small stick worked perfectly for the task.
After scrunching, you still use the liner’s end ties to secure it to the ridge line. Using shock cord is recommended to hang and adjust via Prusik knots as to not over stress the shoestring ties on the liner when getting in and out.
One down fall of the bottom entry Hennesy is that you have to strike a balance between ease of entry / exit verses more coverage with the quilt at the foot end. The picture angle above exaggerates this and was actually taken at the same time as the one below.
I’m amazed at how much better this system is compared to just wrapping up inside with the poncho liner.
The air-gap and ensuing warm space it creates is a huge difference in comfort and all gained from a simple technique change.