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Dean
2003-01-30, 09:59
This bag solved my quest for keeping warm in my HH. I took a sheet of reflectix and a closed cell pad (3/8") and cut them to the shape of the sleeve of the Big Agnes. Then using them together I found that I was comfortable down to 20 degrees in wind and snow. I made two trips into the Washington Cascades, one in late September and the other in October and spent a total of four nights at elevations above 6200 feet and I slept well. Here is a link to a trip report I filed on one of the trips:
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1117

http://171.64.169.61/.sp/misc/gearskin/stuart.JPG This picture shows me wearing my gearskin pack with the two pads. This is Mt. Stuart during the Alpine Larch season (golden pine trees) This last picture shows the two pads and my pack up close:
http://171.64.169.61/.sp/misc/gearskin/Set_up_with_pads.JPG

Anyone one else using a Big Agnes Zirkle system?

SGT Rock
2003-01-30, 10:02
Try using vB code for links use "["url=your address"]"address name "["/url"]"

Take out the quotation marks.

Simva2020
2003-01-31, 04:57
I thought about Big Agnes-the Zirkel- but decided to go with the Arc Alpinist variable girth system instead. I thought it would give more adaptability in the HH, and would mate better with the underquilt I am fashioning for the HH...I really did not want to introduce a pad to the hammock and in my opinion ruin the sleeping comfort of the hammock with a rigid foam pad, though I had at one time thought that a sleeve-either in the HH itself of the sleeping bag was the way to go. Now I am convinced that an underquilt suspended below the hammock and snugged up to it, is the way to go. I envision different quilts of varying thicknesses and materail based on the temperature.
For regular tenting the Big Agnes seems perfect, but alas the Arc Alpinist can do both---now what am I going to do with the collection of WM bags?

Dean
2003-01-31, 10:52
Actually Simva, the pad system that I use doesn't create a comfort problem (it enhances it) and the Big Agnes was the perfect answer for my needs. Your underneath solution sounds interesting but I'm afraid that in the rainy northwest that anything slung underneath the hammock would end up wet. The beauty of HH camping is the innovativeness and different styles everyone brings to the table.

I thank you Sgt. Rock for getting me interested in the HH (Tom H. should be giving you a commission)and I have converted three other people to the HH so this thing grows. The HH has totally changed my way of camping (for the better). I do occasionally camp above timberline and I've found that the HH works in this situation too (trekking poles) but I carry a small ground cloth to put under the HH as a little protection for the fabric. Thanks also for introducing me to the gearskin pack. I've had mine out now on three backpack trips and I keep tweaking it and it just keeps getting better and better. Sgt Rock, you are in my Hall of Fame. This promises to be a wonderful addition to the internet hiking world. Thank you.
Dean

Simva2020
2003-02-01, 00:47
and agreed that hammocks are intriguing to say the least.
In my plan the 'underquilts' bottom will be sil-nyl so an errant splashes should be negated. Also am currently investigating the use of a tube tent I already have. It was made of sil-nyl by Moonbow gear and should work nicely to close up the HH bug netting from cold wind and further protect the underquilt.
Also agreed that Sgt. Rock is the ruler of the world, if not for him and Hammock Hanger I would not be an HH owner...Sgt. Rock also did incredible things in keeping our site (Whiteblaze.net) up and going while there was subterfuge afoot. Enerst I would love to meet you someday!
Simva

Dean
2003-02-02, 10:07
This area is in the Enchantments of the Washington Cascades. The golden trees are Lyall Larch, one of only two pine tree species in the world that drop their needles but go through a golden blaze prior to doing so. This photo shows a 'stealth' camp that I used on Sep 26 and 27th. The temps dropped into the teens and the wind blew heavily on the night of the 27th. Windchill probably put it into single digits. The Big Agnes and the pads I mentioned allowed me to sleep toasty all night.http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/download.php?id=1209

A week later, I overnighted in this area http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/download.php?id=728&order=user_id and a snow storm blew in along with gusting winds and my HH and Big Agnes combo did the job again. As you can tell from the pics, I really love hiking during golden Larch season in the Cascades. It is a spectacular time of the year. How about it Sgt. Rock, want to join me sometime?:) You'd love it.

djdurham
2003-02-05, 18:12
Dean,

Thank you for an excellent post on the Zirkel and the trip. Great photos.

I too own a Zirkel and will soon have a HH Explorer UL Asym. I agree that the pad in sleeve approach of Big Agnes provides a simple and effective way to stay warm in a hammock.

May I ask one question? I have seen some arguments that reflective screens are effective and some arguments that they are not that effective. Is there any way for you to tell whether you would have been as warm without the reflective pad? That is to say, can you tell if the reflective screen made a difference?

I plan on trying the Zirkel with and without just to see.


Thanks.

Douglas Durham

Dean
2003-02-05, 20:07
Hi Doug:

You commented:
May I ask one question? I have seen some arguments that reflective screens are effective and some arguments that they are not that effective. Is there any way for you to tell whether you would have been as warm without the reflective pad? That is to say, can you tell if the reflective screen made a difference?

Actually, I used reflectix (can buy it at Home Depot) for extra insulation since I knew the temp's would be in the teen's and twentie's (they were) on the two late fall hikes I did. The material is very light and added with the regular closed cell foam pad, together they kept me warm. I didn't try taking either one of the pads out of the sleeves as I'm certain it would have made a difference. I will try one without the other on the next trip I go on, using just the reflectix for a bit and then just the closed cell pad. In the summertime, I'll probably just take the closed cell foam pad and leave the reflectix pad at home. If you are referring to the car reflective screens, I can't give you an answer. The reflectix is easy to cut to shape for your Big Agnes.

SGT Rock
2003-02-06, 09:32
The Hamock, and specifically Hennessy Hammocks, are great. I'm amazed at the people that say they tried one and hated it. They really must have done something totally wrong. Tom doesn't need to send me a commission either, just send me all his hammocks a test and keep giving me a reason to go hiking.

The Big Agness is a cool sounding bag. If you wouldn't mind, can you put a review under the gear reviews section? That way I have a good place to point people too if the ask about hammock bag reccomendations.

I love my Nunatack Backcountry Blanket. I had some problems with the foot box since it leaves a hole if you simply pull it closed with the drawstring, but I can make it work and have done so down to 21* so far. I've thought about getting one of the Arc Alpinist. It would have been the bag to get at the time I ordered my blanket, but they didn't have that model yet.

About the Gearskin - ABSOLUTLY RIGHT ON! I'm amazed they haven't taken off like the Hennessy Hammock. It is the coolest gear idea in a while. I gotta say this to y'all out there: If you trusted me on the Hennessy Hammock and got one, or you found the hammock and realize how much of an improvement it is over a tent or tarp, then you better look at the Gearskin next! A Gearskin is so light, versitile, and comfortable even at heavy weights it makes the other ultralight bags look like kids book bags, and the backpack offerings of the major companies look like 7 pound Wal-Mart tents compared to a hammock. When I tested the Gearskin, I was never let down and I was constantly amazed at how heavy I could go in something so simple and still have ultra comfort. I even had the chance to try some of those other brand name bags while on my Ozark trip and I yerned for my Gearskin even though it had MORE WEIGHT in it.

Tree Swinger
2003-02-23, 18:28
Dean,

What was the reason you chose the Zirkel? I am looking into a Lost Ranger because it has more wiggle room. The LR is quite a bit less money but is 11oz heavier plus the extra weight of a rectangulr pad opposed to a mummy pad. Is there another reason that I'm missing or is weight the gritical factor? Just curious.

Dean
2003-02-24, 17:45
I chose the Zirkel based on the fact it was rated down to 20 degrees, was around the 2 lb weight range (2lb 4oz), it had an envelope for putting a pad into and a great hood set up. I've found it to be very roomy despite the mummy shape and it is well thought out. My only complaint was that I thought it was manufactured in Colorado but found out when I got the bag that it was made in China. One of the things I like about Western Mountaineering bags is that they are made here in the USA. I'm hoping that WM will put out a bag with an envelope. I've heard rumors that they were thinking about it so maybe someday. I had found the Zirkel on sale (???) for about 30 bucks under listed price. All in all, I am very happy with my Zirkel.

As to overall backpacking weight, I try to watch every ounce. Most of my gear is lightweight (Hennessey Hammock, Gearskin pack, Zirkel, etc) and believe me, it helps to save on aging knees.

ScouterSteve
2003-02-25, 17:07
Sarge,

I too have been VERY impressed with your website since finding it this past month. I am relatively new to the concept of light backpacking but since a three day hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains over the holidays with the heaviest pack between the adults or scouts in my son's Venture patrol... well ... lets just say I am becoming a believer!

My son wanted the hammock from REI for Christmas... after reading about the HH, I had initially thought I had done something right, only to get home and realize it was a Crazy Crib instead... any major/minor differences?

Thanks!:)

Yedi
2003-02-25, 20:21
Dean,
I think the WM bag you're referring to is the Pod. There are actually two bags, a 15* and 30* style. I think they're supposed to come out this spring sometime. Backpacker listed their specs:
15*: 875FP Down, 72"(Reg), 78"(Long), 62"Girth, 3lbs., $375
30*: 875FP Down, 72"(Reg), 78"(Long), 62"Girth, 2lbs., $280

Both styles have zippers, zipper tubes, and hoods. The 15* model also has a draft collar.

Great pictures. I'd love to see the trees turn sometime.

Yedi

Also, I wanted to agree with Simva, waited forever for my Arc-Alpinist, but what a bag. Beautiful, and works perfectly with an underquilt.

Dean
2003-02-27, 10:32
I should add that when I was sleeping in the conditions I mentioned in the first post on this thread, that I was wearing fleece tops and bottoms (Mountain hardware products) Rather than add fleece to the pads, I think it makes more sense to sleep in it since you carry the clothes with you in cold weather anyway.

Reflectix sells for a little over a dollar a foot (24" width) at a local hardware store not far from my office. So a 6' length cost me around 7 bucks. Others have listed problems finding it at some Home Depot stores so you might also check other stores besides Home Depot. My local hardware store has it in the area where they also sell fiberglass type of insulation for hot water heaters.:)

Tree Swinger
2003-02-27, 11:10
Dean,

Can you sleep on you side in the Zirkel in extreme cold conditions? In other words is there enough room in the design of the mummy's hood to rotate allowing your face to point to the side? Often when it's really cold I cinch up the hood where only my beak is poking out and curl up into a side fetal position. It doesn't sound like I could do this in the hooded Agnes bags

Thanks, Swinger

Dean
2003-02-27, 16:36
Tree Swinger:
I do a lot of sleeping on my sides and the hood hasn't been a problem. I probably don't cinch the hood up extremely tight as most of my face is outside of the bag but then I always wear is a watchcap type of head covering and this may allow me to not have to cinch the hood down real tight. I'll pay attention to this on my next trip out.
Dean

GrizzlyBear
2003-03-15, 11:12
Dean - You (and the sleeve concept) have convinced me. I just ordered a Big Agnes, last evening. My biggest gripe with using my older "Classic Series" Thermarest inside my HH, was the fact that I was always waking up with the blasted thing on top of me, or sticking up beside me like some great wall. The only thing that concerns me about the Big A is the areas where the pad meets the bag insulation - whether or not there are any cold spots. I can't wait to get it, and try it out. I just hope it comes while my wife is at work. She won't understand why anybody needs four sleeping bags.

Dean
2003-03-16, 18:46
Griz: Only 4 sleeping bags? ;) Why, you and I are tied. My wife gave up trying to count my BP'ing gear duplicates a long time ago. I've convinced her that no matter what, its still cheaper than golfing. I haven't experienced any cold spot problem with the Big Agnes set up and that includes three nights of below 20 degrees. I have been very pleased with how it has worked out. Please let me know how it works for you.
Dean

Nico B
2003-04-01, 14:24
Dean,

Saw your post at Thru-hiker, followed it here to Sgt. Rock's site (which, BTW, had also prompted me to get a Gearskin a few months ago), and thought I'd chime in.

I noticed that someone had asked how the car reflective pad worked. Here's my experience:

I spoke to Tom Hennessy, who was kind enough to give me some pretty solid ideas on how to develop a pad for the HH. I took spray adhesive and glued a 3/8" foam pad to a car reflector pad. Per his suggestion, I then attached some inexpensive fleece on the reflective (silver) side of the pad on the opposite side of the 3/8" foam pad. I took some quilting stuff to finish the edges (so they wouldn't separate)and punched in 2 brass grommets kitty-korner from ea. other so I could anchor the sleeping pad to the interior ridgeline of the HH if needed.

Turned out I didn't need to anchor the pad.

I used my HH and pad while staying somewhere where the accommodations would've been the ground and a sleeping bag this past winter and was perfectly comfortable using my REI Subkilo (20* bag) outside as a blanket (it got in the low 40's that night).

The problem? Although the pad works, it weighs 36 oz.--yup, 2 lbs. 4 oz. OUCH. All that work to find out this bad boy was way heavier than I wanted it to be.

I go to the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite regulary, where the nights get down to 30-40* range in the summer. I will probably need a pad for my HH on most trips I take during any season.

I need a solution, but can't spend lots of $$$$ (which is why I was willing to make my own). I already own a 2 lb. 20* sleeping bag, so I'm not really interested in duplicating equipment by getting a Zirkel.

I saw (and copied) some plans on Thru-hiker for an outside the HH underquilt, but am hesitant to undertake such an effort because: 1) it looks involved; 2) down, no matter where purchased, is never cheap; and 3) there's no guarantee that it will work (yes, other people have made it successfully, but that doesn't mean that I sew that well).

Reflectix is not available in the Sacramento-area Home Depots.

I LOVE my HH--it's the bomb! I expect I will be backpacking with it for a long time to come--but I desparately need insulation underneath me almost all year long.

Any other folks out there with limited incomes who have found a solution they're happy with?

Thanks,

Nico

GrizzlyBear
2003-04-01, 15:27
Dean - While I was reading your post, I had an epiphany. I bought my Big Agnes bag for reasons that went beyond the pad-sleeve - my other bags were too short for me; didn't have adequate hoods; etc., so the Big Agnes was what I consider to be perfect for my needs. However, what hit me while reading your post seemed to be - almost - a no-brainer. Why not have the best of "both" worlds, and without spending a lot of extra money.

Why not simply sew a sylnylon, or plain ripstop nylon sleeve, to the bag you already have (in Big Agnes fashion). You probably already carry some kind of pad, anyway, as a back-up. You wouldn't want to sew "through" the bag, or you would be comprimising the insulation, all along the seam. (Big Agnes tackles that with a baffle all along the seams, but Big Agnes doesn't use insulation in the bottom sleeve area - the pad takes over, there. But - it certainly wouldn't comprimise the insulation/fill, if a sleeve were sewn only to the outer shell of the bag. This would require some hand-sewing, or perhaps a good seamstress (is that a sexist word? Lord, if anyone is that gender-sensitive - pleeeeze forgive me - but, "a person who seams well" is so cumbersome) would know how to do it on a machine.

This past weekend, Winter tried to make a comeback here in my part of Pennsylvania. The temp. dropped to 24 degrees F on Saturday night, and 28 on Sunday night, with 15-18 mph winds, both nights. I slept warm, both nights in my Big Agnes "Encampment" (rated at 15 degrees) with only my full-length Thermarest self-inflating pad in the sleeve, and all I was wearing were REI mid-weight poly, long-johns, and Smartwool socks. Monday morning (sometime before daylight) I woke up and unzipped a couple of feet from the bottom, because I was too hot.

Dean
2003-04-01, 20:58
Hey GrizzlyBear:

Wow, you had an "epiphany". Isn't it amazing how much this HH concept of camping has changed our way of thinking about things.
Your ideas
Why not simply sew a sylnylon, or plain ripstop nylon sleeve, to the bag you already have (in Big Agnes fashion). You probably already carry some kind of pad, anyway, as a back-up. You wouldn't want to sew "through" the bag, or you would be comprimising the insulation, all along the seam. (Big Agnes tackles that with a baffle all along the seams, but Big Agnes doesn't use insulation in the bottom sleeve area - the pad takes over, there. But - it certainly wouldn't comprimise the insulation/fill, if a sleeve were sewn only to the outer shell of the bag. This would require some hand-sewing, or perhaps a good seamstress (is that a sexist word? Lord, if anyone is that gender-sensitive - pleeeeze forgive me - but, "a person who seams well" is so cumbersome) would know how to do it on a machine.

I think you've got a good idea there. I may consider something like this for my light summer bag. My wife is a pretty good seamstress and she could either help me pull such a thing off or might take charge and do it for me.


I slept warm, both nights in my Big Agnes "Encampment" (rated at 15 degrees) with only my full-length Thermarest self-inflating pad in the sleeve, and all I was wearing were REI mid-weight poly, long-johns, and Smartwool socks. Monday morning (sometime before daylight) I woke up and unzipped a couple of feet from the bottom, because I was too hot.

That is awesome, just shows how well the concept works that you've got working. Congratulations, that is great news.

Dean

Dean
2003-04-01, 21:08
Nico:

Good to see you over here. I've read many of your posts at the AYCE thru hiker site which have been enjoyable. Before I bought my Big Agnes Zirkel, I used my Marmot Arroyo, rated to 30 degrees and simply used my UL Thermarest pad, which had actually worked fine the previous year in temps that dropped into the 28-32 range in the Washington Cascades. My son in law and I were camped at a lake at 7100 feet and I stayed warm despite the wind and cold. Most people have a problem with the thermarest popping out from underneath them during the night but the Thermarest company used to sell a product which you could spray on the thermarest to make it less slippery. Well, I had a can of that stuff (called Slip Fix) in my gear closet so I sprayed my thermarest AND the inside of the HH. Voila, problem solved. The thermarest pad stayed under me and I stayed warm. I don't think they sell the product I used any more but you may stumble across some (Slip Fix by Thermarest) in some gear store that is hidden on the top shelf :) Here is a thread about solving the slippery pad problem and the answer was to put seam sealer on the pad in a swirly pattern. http://www.backcountry.net/arch/at/9609/msg00322.html http://www.backcountry.net/arch/at/9609/msg00363.html

I just don't want to mess with something hanging underneath my HH. My son in law went this direction and it was less than effective (visible in the attached pic) for him and i also don't blame you for not wanting to get into a complex sewing project. I believe in keeping things simple.

The fact that your pad system weighed in at 36 oz would be cause for concern but I had to consider the aspect that the UL Thermarest full length weighed in at 24 ozs and was on the heavy side too but the one advantage of having the thermarest is tht you can also use it on the ground if you end up camping at a place with no trees. I always carry a groundsheet (visible in the attached photo) that I use for sorting my gear out on but which also can double is I have to use the HH in bivy mode.

Anyway, great to hear from you and see that you share the HH passion.
Dean

Nico B
2003-04-02, 14:05
The fact that your pad system weighed in at 36 oz would be cause for concern but I had to consider the aspect that the UL Thermarest full length weighed in at 24 ozs and was on the heavy side too but the one advantage of having the thermarest is tht you can also use it on the ground if you end up camping at a place with no trees.

Along with all the time that it took for me to make my HH pad, what also makes ditching this pad more difficult is that it will work on the ground--it's probably close to 2/3" thick!

But, playing devil's advocate for a sec., haven't you ever slept over someplace and used blankets as a mattress pad before? I did this for my daughter at my mother-in-law's last year for Christmas and, when I laid down with her to read her a good night story, I fell asleep. Wouldn't you be able to use an under-the-HH style insulator as a mattress pad if you needed to in a pinch? (Esp. the "Down Underquilt for Hennessy Hammocks" listed at Thru-hiker?)

I LOVE GrizzlyBear's idea of sewing a Zirkel-style bag to the bottom of my Sub-kilo. Matter of fact, the same thing had occurred to me when reading this thread. BUT, the material on the outside of these new down bags they're churning out nowadays doesn't seem like it could withstand a lot of stress and shearing (though the sub-kilo, in its defense, is made out of some lightweight rip-stop material on the bottom).

Couple of thoughts/questions:

1) if you were to sew a pad pocket onto the bottom of a modern down bag, could the material withstand the stresses involved in containing a sleeping pad underneath you while rolling around all night? I just can't help but wonder that if I take a sewing needle out of my wife's sewing kit, and start sewing them together, am I going to weaken the material on the bottom of the sleeping bag at all if, for no other reason, than I'm poking new holes into it?

2) what pad should I use? The reason Tom Hennessy thought that it was necessary to have a reflective layer insulated by another pad isolating it from the cold air underneath the HH was because of condensation problems caused by contact of body heat/water emmanating from your sleeping bag getting caught between the sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Do both of you (i.e., Dean and/or GrizzlyBear) feel that just a Z-Rest stuffed into a pad pocket underneath your sleeping bag would be sufficient insulation w/o resulting in any significant build-up of condensation between bag and pad?

On the one hand, the down underquilt (11 oz.) would seem to insulate while passing through any condensation from your body. BUT, it seems a little on the pricey and complicated side.

On the other, a pad pocket (weighing what, 2-3 oz. in material and thread?) with either a Cascade Designs Z-Rest (15 oz.) or a High Country Outdoor Products Mt. Washington Pad (7 oz.) would represent a VERY sizeable weight reduction to my present system, would guarantee that I never roll off of my pad, and would be much simpler and cheaper to implement than the underquilt. That being said, would sewing anything else onto the underside of my sleeping bag compromise its integrity?

What do you think?

n

GrizzlyBear
2003-04-02, 16:48
Nico - I can't speak for the materials, since I'm not at all familiar with the differences in what manufacturers use for different types of bags. It is something to consider, though. I would think that a double row of parallel stitching (with 3/16 to 1/4 inch between them) would probably solve the potential problem. That would place the stress on the inner row of stitching (toward the pad, hence always inside)and should eliminate the stress at the outer part of the hem. Some others (Brian and DebW come to mind) seem to have done a good bit of playing with ripstop and sylnylon. Maybe we can conjure them up and pick their brains on this subject.

Regarding the moisture problem. That may be a concern with down bags. If you noticed in my prior post, I said I was wearing poly long-johns. The reason I wear the johns is not for warmth, but because I do get clammy when lying against the Thermarest, with only the nylon sleeve between it and me. That may (probably would) dampen the down. With synthetic filler material, it probably wouldn't cause a problem, since it would dry pretty fast. Even the first couple of nights, before started wearing the polys, I didn't see, or feel, any moisture on the nylon or the pad cover, when I got up in the morning, and have not seen nor felt any since - and I did look, because this concerned me right away, due to the fact that I sweat a lot, and because of the moist feeling I first experienced. The first thing I do when my eyes open, is slip my hands between my back and the sleeve/pad, and the only time I've noticed moisture, was when my bare skin was against it, and that was only my skin. The two nights, in the twenties, there was no dampness under me, at all. Those of you out there who do the sub-frigid camping, will have to do your own experimenting. When it's too cold for me to be cozy in Big Agnes (without a bunch of other stuff) ol' Griz will be hanging in his room - "reading" about hiking and backpacking! My mama didn't raise no damn Polar Bears - only a grizzly.

What I've decided to do is sew-up a narrow fleece blanket, with a foot-pocket at the bottom. When it's cold enough for the Big Agnes, I won't carry the blanket, and just use the long johns, as I am now. In warm weather, I probably won't carry the pad, unless I know I'll be needing to bivy on the ground with my Hennessy. I think (don't know, yet)that if the blanket were slipped over the Thermarest, before inserting it into the sleeve, it would take care of the clamminess, without the long-johns. Otherwise I'll just sleep "on" Agnes, and cover up with the blanket. If I need a little more warmth, I'll get in the bag, and put the fleece undeneath, if I don't already have my long-johns on. I sweat like crazy, and I can't stand sweat running down my body, so I normally wear - at least - poly bottoms, and a poly short-sleeve shirt - even in the Summer - so I always have them with me. The old sourdoughs weren't stupid when they wore their woolies, year round. I always feel much cooler from evaporation off my polys, than with rivers of sweat soaking my shorts, and filling my boots.

Hey, these are just "my" thoughts. I'm pretty much a newbie to the hiking trail, but I have learned a few things in nearly 2/3 of a century, that seem to cross over into nearly every adventure. I'm still experimenting, just like the rest of you.

Ain't it fun, doing all this experimenting with gear? And - it keeps us off the streets.

Bill Phillips
2003-04-15, 16:49
Hi Dean,

My Sierra Designs Power Nap has a pair of very light straps to hold a pad in place. I haven't bought an HH yet... I also pack in the Sierras where summer nights can easily freeze. So, I am watching these threads closely so I only buy once. Anyways, this might be simpler and lighter than a full sleeve for someone modifying their bag. They are removeable also. I am curious myself if they will work as well as the the big agnes system has worked for others.