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SGT Rock
2005-02-28, 00:27
Here is a small update of the JRB Weather Shield system: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/index_files/Weather Shield-v2.htm

Reviewer: SGT Rock

Age: 37

Height: 68”

Weight: 165

Similar Products Used: Hennessy Hammock Supershelter.

Locations/conditions tested: GSMP 25° F and dry, Camp Shelby, MS 33° F and rain.

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Weight (advertised): 7.7 ounces (bottom), 6.7 ounces (top) 14.3 ounces total.

Weight (as tested): 7.7 ounces (bottom), 6.8 ounces (top), 0.5 ounces (stuff sack) 14.9 ounces total. Note: the JRB shock cord suspension system is also needed if you don’t already have that – weight is 2.0 ounces.

Price: $45 (bottom), $25 (top).

Manufacturer web address: www.jacksrbetter.com

Phone Number: (757) 209-7240

E-mail address: jacksrbetterquilts@cox.net

Material: microporous polypropylene, which is the same material that some of the more light weight rain gear such as Frogg Toggs and ProVent are made from.

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The Weather Shield system has the same quality of workmanship that I found in the No Sniveling quilt. The main material is a beige microporous polypropylene. The bottom shield is 78”x50” and has a reinforced edge and attachment loops made from black grosgrain nylon ribbon with green parachute cord as the drawstrings on the end – the parachute cord seems to have the interior strands removed which cut the weight and allow for a little stretch when needed. The stuff sack is sil-nylon with a very light cord for the drawstring.

Microporous polypropylene is a very lightweight material that feels like Tyvek that has been repeatedly handled or washed. I have had some experience with this material and know that it is easily penetrated by hot sparks since my ProVent pants are made from the same stuff and I have a few pinhole burns in them. It also does not hold up well to repeated extreme stress because I have also had to patch the rear end of those same pants. As an under shield or quilt cover for a hammock, it should never endure this sort of treatment, but this should caution the buyer that this material must be taken care of if it is to last. In fact, the JRB website cautions the buyer not to try and use the Weather Shield as a ground cloth except in emergencies because it would probably deteriorate rapidly if it were regularly used for this.

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Background:

Recently on a hike along the Appalachian Trail I experienced very cold conditions with snow and ice, and wind. At the time I experienced some biting wind blowing in from the side. I was using my JRB No Sniveler under quilt and a pad with my Nunatack BCB, but the wind would occasionally get in and cool me down as I tried to get that initial heat generation going in the hammock. At the time I started thinking that maybe in this weather; a hammock might need a second layer outside the quilt to control this.

I had tried the Hennessy Hammock Supershelter (the first model) that was both a bottom and top, and it seemed to work well, and I thought about moving up to this system after that winter trip. The newer version has a separate top and bottom which is probably a better design for various reasons. I also looked at the JRB Weather Shield system because it provides similar bottom protection, but the main differences between the bottom systems were the material, price, insulation options, and attachment system. Interestingly enough was that about the same time I got an opportunity to test the Weather Shield.

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Initial Tests:

My initial test was simply practicing attaching the Weather Shield. To do this you simply loop the suspension system over the main line and hook it to the corners of the bottom. Then you can either pass the side ropes of the Hennessy Hammock through the side attachments or pass the side attachments through the plastic rings of the hammock and push a small stick into the ribbon so that it is held on the opposite side of the ring. To ensure a proper “hammock to shield weld” you move the suspension cords out or in on the hammock main line it is so simple! If you are already using a JRB under quilt (Nest or No Sniveler) then you basically attach it the exact same way. To get into the hammock with the bottom shield on, simply push it off to the side and climb in, once you are in and you pull your feet in, the shield will slide back into place.

The top shield is simply a cover that slips over your bag or quilt. It has a deep foot box so that the cover will not slip off the bottom of your bag or quilt; it is even more simple than the bottom.

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Trail Test:

My first trail test was done in the GSMP on a night that got down around 25° F with very little wind and fairly dry conditions. That night I slept without any pad, just an under quilt, over quilt, and both shields; all I wore a long sleeve top and shorts. I slept VERY comfortable and there was absolutely no repositioning of the pad that I often have to go through when using a pad. I don’t know if I was any warmer, but it was easier to get into bed and it was more comfortable to me without the pad.

The next trail test was done on a wet, windy, and somewhat cold day in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. I must start by saying I didn’t get a full nights sleep, more like a couple of cat naps between simulating rocket attacks on the unit I was there training. The temperature was about 33 degrees and it was raining and windy, so I assume the humidity would be considered about 100%. The second time I went to bed, it was getting very cold and I was wearing poly-cotton pants that were wet though and a damp polypro top. I warmed up quickly using the same quilt/shield system as before. By the time I woke up two hours later I was completely dry and comfortable. Again, I might have been just as warm using a pad – but it was nice not having to spend the time messing with a pad and it was more comfortable that way.I didn’t want to get out of bed.

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Conclusions/Recommendations:

So far my major complaint is the color. I am used to subdued, darker colors for my hammock so I blend in better. The Weather Shield color catches and reflects light a lot more than most of my other stuff. If possible I would like to see some color choices like dark green.

I am still testing the Weather Shield. I am interested in finding out if at warm temperatures I can get by with just the Weather Shield top instead of a quilt. I would also like to see how low I can take the Weather Shield bottom without the No Sniveling Quilt as bottom insulation.

I will say that it is nice going without a pad, although a pad is still a good, low cost option for insulation when compared to buying a quilt if you are just getting started. My intent is to take the pad out of my three season kit since I have proven to myself that the under quilt/weather shield system meets most any weather conditions I normally hike in. It may be a little heavier than my pad, but it is nice. The only thing I am leery about at this time is loosing the option to sleep with the pad in a shelter when necessary, but I avoid that in almost all situations whenever possible anyway.

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When I get back to Tennessee, hopefully I can wrap this up and put it into the regular pages instead of the forum.

SGT Rock
2005-02-28, 22:51
I'm heading out again tomorrow night to test the JRB Weather Shield again. The weather forecast is for 33F and clear with 75% humidity, so I intend to test using the same No Sniveler/Hungry Howie quilt and Weather Shield set up.

OK, some corrections and further observations:

1. There is a set price of $65 when you buy both the bottom and top weather shield which is $5 off when purchased as a set.

2. Apparently JRB doesn't remove the center cords of the 550 cord for the drawstrings. Maybe they could to save 0.1 ounces :D

3. Something Peter Pan pointed out to me and I think I ought to expound on a little more... when I dried out in the rig while wearing wet poly pros in two hours, well that should tell you something about the warmth of the system and the moisture management since there was absolutely no moisture in either the under quilt or the over quilt, nor was there any on the inside of the Weather Shields. The microporus polypropylene really breathes well and passes warm moist air well. The only condensation present was a little on the bottom of my tarp.

4. Comparing a pad to the Weather Shield: just the bottom at 7.7 oz and the 2.0 ounce Suspension System are already in use,that comes out at about 9.7 ounces. There are very few, if any effective full length & width pads at that weight that could do the same thing.

5. Final point, if you are trying to save money, the Weather Shield bottom is $45 plus the suspension system at $7.50 total cost $52.50. Add a pad (something like a $8 Wal-Mart closed cell foam pad at 24"wide)to create a very low cost alternative to summer comfort and the Hennessy Hammock Super Shelter option. If you aren't fully committed to always sleeping in a hammock, this gives you a back up for shelters and such.You might even figure out how to hold the pad in place between the hammock and the Weather Shield bottom to make the hammock more comfortable.