Rate my overnight gear

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IrishmanInNY

Member
Jan 22, 2021
15
11
27
New York
Hello,
This is my first time posting here. I’m an Irish expat in New York and am active on the BushcraftUSA forum too.

I’m trying to get a sense of what to bring out for an overnight as spring approaches. Where I am in New York, temperatures are usually in the high 30s to low 50s in Winter into early Spring.

I use the LL bean continental rucksack (33l backpack with the ability to strap things outside), which somewhat limits space. My sleep system is as follows:

Ground blanket - Arcturus emergency tarp (reflective)
Pad- Thermarest RidgeRest Solite Large
Blanket- 90% 4.5 lb wool blanket
Shelter- 10*10 tarp
*Additional*
- ENO single nest hammock with atlas straps
- Mylar blanket

Aside from that, I have a cooking pot, cordage, knife, multi tool, hatchet, some food, a poncho, a change of socks and underwear, and an extra sweater.


I’m trying to limit purchases and to focus on items that are cross functional but I understand I may need to bite the bullet on certain items.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,424
1,385
Bedfordshire
Hello and welcome.

As a child I lived near Ossining, looking out on the Hudson.

Most of my experience with with hammocks...so that is where much of my thinking comes. It looks to me like most of your kit is ground based, with an option for a hammock. I would keep the hammock for the warmer end of your scale.

There is quite a difference between trying to sleep at 37F and 54F. I think that if you try going below 45F in a hammock you are liable to be cold. I am not really familiar with the insulation offered by a 4.5lb blanket, but I have trouble believing it can be equal or more than a 3lb synthetic sleeping bag.

On my hammock I have played around with pads, bags and underquilts and found that down to 45F (7C) was pretty easy, but my underquilt wasn't enough below that, and I didn't sleep well. You might do better on the ground, if you can get leaves under you, not just bare ground.

Humidity and breeze also make a difference. The wind really robs heat from hammocks and is hard to block.

I have a Ridgerest (not the Sol) version and its a good pad. I ran one in September in Norway when it got chilly at night, and I managed, but I had a 4.1lb synthetic sleeping bag, and wore a fair bit of wool. Temperature didn't get down to freezing, so high 30s is a good estimate. I know they say that reflective stuff boosts the values, but it depends where you put it. Mylar between a quilt and a hammock works well, but on top or under a closed cell pad, not so much. Might actually work over the outside of a wool blanket, not sure what the condensation would be like.

Whatever you do, you want a hat and warm scarf to pull over your nose at night. Amazing how much difference this makes. I have a couple of weights of fleece beanie hats and a Polar Buff that works well.

Where are you thinking of going to camp? I would try a cold night as close to home as possible, get an idea of where the limit is. It its miserable, you haven't invested a lot of time/distance. Crazy idea, but I have done it, closed a room off, turned off the heat, opened all the windows I can as wide as I can, and slept on the floor with my gear. I have a max/min thermometer next to me. Its really ideal conditions, no wind etc, but if I am a anything less than toasty I might safely assume I would be cool in the great outdoors. Know anyone with an unheated garage you could camp in? ;)
 

IrishmanInNY

Member
Jan 22, 2021
15
11
27
New York
Hello and welcome.

As a child I lived near Ossining, looking out on the Hudson.

Most of my experience with with hammocks...so that is where much of my thinking comes. It looks to me like most of your kit is ground based, with an option for a hammock. I would keep the hammock for the warmer end of your scale.

There is quite a difference between trying to sleep at 37F and 54F. I think that if you try going below 45F in a hammock you are liable to be cold. I am not really familiar with the insulation offered by a 4.5lb blanket, but I have trouble believing it can be equal or more than a 3lb synthetic sleeping bag.

On my hammock I have played around with pads, bags and underquilts and found that down to 45F (7C) was pretty easy, but my underquilt wasn't enough below that, and I didn't sleep well. You might do better on the ground, if you can get leaves under you, not just bare ground.

Humidity and breeze also make a difference. The wind really robs heat from hammocks and is hard to block.

I have a Ridgerest (not the Sol) version and its a good pad. I ran one in September in Norway when it got chilly at night, and I managed, but I had a 4.1lb synthetic sleeping bag, and wore a fair bit of wool. Temperature didn't get down to freezing, so high 30s is a good estimate. I know they say that reflective stuff boosts the values, but it depends where you put it. Mylar between a quilt and a hammock works well, but on top or under a closed cell pad, not so much. Might actually work over the outside of a wool blanket, not sure what the condensation would be like.

Whatever you do, you want a hat and warm scarf to pull over your nose at night. Amazing how much difference this makes. I have a couple of weights of fleece beanie hats and a Polar Buff that works well.

Where are you thinking of going to camp? I would try a cold night as close to home as possible, get an idea of where the limit is. It its miserable, you haven't invested a lot of time/distance. Crazy idea, but I have done it, closed a room off, turned off the heat, opened all the windows I can as wide as I can, and slept on the floor with my gear. I have a max/min thermometer next to me. Its really ideal conditions, no wind etc, but if I am a anything less than toasty I might safely assume I would be cool in the great outdoors. Know anyone with an unheated garage you could camp in? ;)
Thanks for the response. I am considering getting a bag which might help with the colder temperatures but I take your point on using the hammock in colder temperatures. Funnily enough, my wife is from Ossining so I’m very familiar with the area!
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
1,013
Berlin
Hallo!
In the American forum I recommended to you to get a Snugpak Special Forces 1 sleeping bag and a Special Forces bivvy bag.
But as we talk Celsius here, you probably just need a thin cotton bed sheet and a large water bladder, for example a 10 litres MSR Dromedary.

;)

 

IrishmanInNY

Member
Jan 22, 2021
15
11
27
New York
Hallo!
In the American forum I recommended to you to get a Snugpak Special Forces 1 sleeping bag and a Special Forces bivvy bag.
But as we talk Celsius here, you probably just need a thin cotton bed sheet and a large water bladder, for example a 10 litres MSR Dromedary.

;)

Hahaha very good. I like snugpak and will check that out. I forgot to revert to Celsius!!
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
1,013
Berlin
I have no Idea about the weather in New York. Is it approximately like Ireland or how is it?
If you compare the weather you currently live in with a European area, you probably will get better recommendations here.
 

IrishmanInNY

Member
Jan 22, 2021
15
11
27
New York
I have no Idea about the weather in New York. Is it approximately like Ireland or how is it?
If you compare the weather you currently live in with a European area, you probably will get better recommendations here.
That's a good point - the weather in New York is most similar to Lower Scandinavia and Northern Germany. Usually at or below freezing most days in winter. Can get to -10C. Summers, however, can get to high 30sC during the day and in the high teens to low 20sC at night

Ireland is much different as it doesn't get as cold or warm and is guaranteed rain 200 days a year - pretty much the same as Britain!
 
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C_Claycomb

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Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,424
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Bedfordshire
Added C for centigrade to temperatures in previous post. Best to include C or F since earlier posts used F.

Another thing, the Hudson Valley can be horribly humid in summer, air you could cut with a knife, right through into September. In the winter if used to be that the air could be really dry, much dryer than we get in the UK. Climate change may have altered things, but one year we had 6 inches of snow at the start of November and snow on the ground (or piles) till March. I remember late winter and spring as having quite a different tempo to that in the UK. Here, spring starts in February, or earlier, we had bulbs starting to come up in December! When I was living in New York, late winter dragged on as grey and rather lifeless into March, then when spring happened it was like a switch was thrown and it all happened at 3X speed.

IrishmanInNY,
Are you up to speed on ticks and Lyme disease? Your corner of the US used to be a real hotspot and I would imagine it still is. Between those and the poison ivy, one needs to be a little more attentive wandering in the woods than we do here. I miss the Fall colors, and the woods with rocky outcroppings, but I do not miss the leaves of three.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
1,013
Berlin
In my impression you really should have a look at the Snugpak Special Forces complete system. I mainly mean you should understand it, I mean less that you should buy it now.

The SF1 fits perfectly to the summer conditions and 3 seasons use, the SF2 fits perfectly to the winter conditions in New York.

Both in combination, connected with the adapter, would work in really cold winter conditions too, if you would for example go more northern for winter holidays.

The combination is a bit heavier but more comfortable to regulate than a real winter sleeping bag that you probably would use very seldom. The combination keeps the option open should you become interested in winter camping in Scandinavia or more northern in America.

But as you own that wool blanket I think you should start slowly and just get the SF1 and the SF bivvy bag for the beginning, because we don't know if you will enjoy winter camping, but because I can tell you for sure that you will be able to fit a 3 seasons equipment, based on the SF1 sleeping bag, SF bivvy bag and other modern lightweight items into your 33 litres rucksack.
(A down bag would fit too of course, but that's no good idea in whet cold conditions.)

Most of us surely prefere camping in summer times. I for example tend to clean up my writing desk during the winter.
So I don't recommend to a beginner to buy immediatly a winter sleeping bag like the SF2. But I think you should keep the option open.

You can of course also just start with your blanket in the summer. But I guess if you like trekking, hiking and bushcraft you would buy a sleeping bag in Autumn anyway.

I know that American bushcrafters often swear by woolen blankets, but I guess most of them live in warmer and pretty dry weather conditions.

Would I live in Italy I probably would also just own a wool blanket, but I have to tell you that even southern of Lyon it can become pretty fresh in Spring. Last year in May I decided that I will leave next time my Snugpak Jungle Bag at home and take the SF1 for sure, even for Spring along the French Mediterranean coast line.
 

IrishmanInNY

Member
Jan 22, 2021
15
11
27
New York
Added C for centigrade to temperatures in previous post. Best to include C or F since earlier posts used F.

Another thing, the Hudson Valley can be horribly humid in summer, air you could cut with a knife, right through into September. In the winter if used to be that the air could be really dry, much dryer than we get in the UK. Climate change may have altered things, but one year we had 6 inches of snow at the start of November and snow on the ground (or piles) till March. I remember late winter and spring as having quite a different tempo to that in the UK. Here, spring starts in February, or earlier, we had bulbs starting to come up in December! When I was living in New York, late winter dragged on as grey and rather lifeless into March, then when spring happened it was like a switch was thrown and it all happened at 3X speed.

IrishmanInNY,
Are you up to speed on ticks and Lyme disease? Your corner of the US used to be a real hotspot and I would imagine it still is. Between those and the poison ivy, one needs to be a little more attentive wandering in the woods than we do here. I miss the Fall colors, and the woods with rocky outcroppings, but I do not miss the leaves of three.
Haha, yes that is very true. Seasons tend to be quite distinct here.

one of the reasons I got the hammock was for summer use to avoid ticks but for the colder spring, autumn and winter, I can get away with sleeping on the ground away from leaves and grass.

I like the wool blanket as it gives me the ability to sleep nearer to a fire.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
1,013
Berlin
You can cover the sleeping and bivvy bag with the wool blanket in order to protect it against sparks.

You also could protect bivvy and sleeping bag with a similar shaped US army cotton sleeping bag case.
Should you get it, I recommend to freeze it for 3 weeks in a plastic bag, then wash it and impregnate it with a water repellent but fire retardant special cotton tent fabric impregnation.

The weight is approximately 1 kg but in winter times you haven't so long day light and will not walk so horribly far anyway.

It's quite bulky though and surely will not fit with all your other stuff into a 33 litres rucksack.
As you surely have 1 kg of cotton clothing in your wardrobe you can just roll that up tightly and see the size.


Regarding ticks it is less a question of grass and leaves. You mainly have to avoid the sleeping places and walking paths of wild and domesticated animals.

If you keep a distance of just 100 metres to those you usually get already rid of the problem. Drinking a few drips of clove oil each morning outdoors also seems to help a lot against this problem. If you got this into the blood you seem to smell irritating for them.
Clove oil is sold in pharmacies as it helps a bit against toothaches.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
713
437
Ceredigion
Haha, yes that is very true. Seasons tend to be quite distinct here.

one of the reasons I got the hammock was for summer use to avoid ticks but for the colder spring, autumn and winter, I can get away with sleeping on the ground away from leaves and grass.

I like the wool blanket as it gives me the ability to sleep nearer to a fire.
Why not just get a winter underquilt for the hammock and use that? :)
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
1,013
Berlin
Does it fit with the other equipment into a 33 litres rucksack?
I thought they would be pretty bulky, isn't it?
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,424
1,385
Bedfordshire
....

Regarding ticks it is less a question of grass and leaves. You mainly have to avoid the sleeping places and walking paths of wild and domesticated animals.

If you keep a distance of just 100 metres to those you usually get already rid of the problem. ....

Not sure if I am reading this the right way, but there are a LOT of animals in the woods. Lots of white tail deer, I doubt you could stay 100m from deer trails in most places, but the eastern black leg tick, aka Deer Tick, picks up the bacteria from feeding on mice. I wouldn't want to rely upon being able to stay 100m away from mice in the woods ;)
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
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Berlin
My brother owns a little farm and some sheep that live in some kind of electric fence that needs to rotate over the terrain.

His employees displace regularly the fence and don't get ticks on 35 pieces of meadow. But because they don't care about what we tell them, they get the ticks regularly when they put the fence in the corner where two roe deers live in the hedge. The deers also cross this piece of land in order to reach the open landscape and the forest behind it or to drink in the trench.

7 cats, two dogs, two children didn't get a big tick problem last year on the terrain, my nephew was attaced once, two we did find on the cats that are allowed to enter the sleeping room too, like the dogs.

But always if the employees go to the Special corner they get a tick. (They are obviously too stupid to wear theyr rubber boots in that corner for half an hour and to tuck the trousers in. If I am there I don't get attacked of course, I just wear military boots with trousers tucked in and that's it.)

We obviously have a tick corner but no general tick problem on the terrain. And this tick corner is the living room of these two roe deers!

Would I come along there and look for a sleeping place, I would be able to see immediatly that roe deers live in this corner, because there is a deer way through the grass and the drinking place at the trench.
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,424
1,385
Bedfordshire
Not really wanting to divert the thread any further from discussion of kit, but,

Erbswurst,

Sounds like your brother is most fortunate. I don't think he would be so lucky with a similar situation in Scotland, for instance. I know someone in New York who was bitten by an infected tick while sitting on their suburban lawn. I picked mine up in a small suburban park. To be sure, your brother's farm with its two roe deer (which are not great travellers) and its very localised ticks is an interesting data point. However, you should be very cautious using that situation as basis for advice regarding a different environment, with different, more mobile deer, and different ticks. I think our New York Irishman has a pretty good grasp of his local situation.


"Of the 4,230 black-legged adult ticks in all counties outside New York City, 2,164 of them, or 51 percent, tested positive for the Lyme bacteria. Of the 3,168 nymphs collected and tested, 869, or 27 percent, carried the bacteria.

The highest concentrations were found in the Hudson Valley; in Orange County, more than eight of every 10 ticks tested carried the bacteria. The lowest for which a significant number of ticks was collected was the Western New York county of Wyoming, at 22 percent.

Equally important in a person's chances of contracting Lyme disease is the sheer number of ticks in a given area. To calculate that number, called "tick density," researchers count the number of ticks that cling to a 1-meter-square cloth dragged through high grass or brush for 1,000 meters.

The Hudson Valley has the greatest tick densities in the state, too. Westchester County is the highest, with a density of 177.6. The lowest is Chautauqua County, with 0.4 ticks."
Note, 1000 meters sounds an awful long way to do a tick drag, and the density doesn't sound high for something that should be. I wonder if the reporter added a zero.
 
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IrishmanInNY

Member
Jan 22, 2021
15
11
27
New York
Not really wanting to divert the thread any further from discussion of kit, but,

Erbswurst,

Sounds like your brother is most fortunate. I don't think he would be so lucky with a similar situation in Scotland, for instance. I know someone in New York who was bitten by an infected tick while sitting on their suburban lawn. I picked mine up in a small suburban park. To be sure, your brother's farm with its two roe deer (which are not great travellers) and its very localised ticks is an interesting data point. However, you should be very cautious using that situation as basis for advice regarding a different environment, with different, more mobile deer, and different ticks. I think our New York Irishman has a pretty good grasp of his local situation.



Note, 1000 meters sounds an awful long way to do a tick drag, and the density doesn't sound high for something that should be. I wonder if the reporter added a zero.
Yes, like you said, ticks in my part of the world are a major issue which is one of the reasons many favor the hammock in the warmer months.

Again, I appreciate both of your inputs. It helps to have wiser heads than me chip in.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,639
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Berlin
In the tick question I am no expert.

They don't like me so much.

Our deers probably behave unusual because there seems to be a wolf in the wood behind our farm.
 
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Dingo

Nomad
Jan 7, 2005
424
0
leicestershire
what i can say about overnight gear is;
ignore it at your peril, the odd uncomfortable night through either cold, wet, insect or just general disturbance in any way you can put up with, however poor nights make for poor days in my experience, i would rather carry an extra 4kg and be comfortable when i choose to set up than tough it out just so i don't have the extra carry weight.
i do need to say i don't tab far and as i am maybe an older member i prefer my comforts, i have done my time on minimal kit over manoeuvrability ;-)

i like to get out there and get a smile on! tough to do when your cold, wet and have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get fuel for your fire just to keep warm, and your supplies have took a hammering because you want some warm comfort.
 

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