Jacks 'R Better "No Sniveler" Quilt
20 Ounces (591 grams)
Peter Pan and Smee are two members over at www.WhiteBlaze.net who are hammock enthusiasts and retired Army officers. Using the military's analytical approach to problem solving, they applied it to the problem they were experiencing with trying to stay warm in their Hennessy Hammocks and started experimenting with quilt designs. But instead of coming up with a single function item for under the Hennessy Hammock, they came up with a remarkable system that has the flexibility to server multiple roles.
Their first Under Quilt design is the "Nest". This quilt met many requirements - it could be a light sleeping quilt in warm weather, it could be clothing for camp, and it could also serve the purpose of non-compressing insulation for under a hammock - specifically designed for the Hennessy Hammock because it was designed with a slit to go from the center of the quilt down to the foot end.
Trying to set up their idea as a new product, they asked for feedback about the design on www.WhiteBlaze.net. Based on some of the comments, they came up with a new prototype and let me have the concept model to play with. Honestly, their initial design met just about everything I ever wanted in an under quilt, except that I would rather have just a head hole rather than a slit. So as to changes, this is basically the only change they made in their initial design to make the "No Sniveling" quilt was to loose the slit and just make it a sealable head hole. The name comes from some website's front page.
The "No Sniveling" and "Nest, basically follow the same design, so I will talk about them in general. They are both 78"x48" with 1.5" baffles for 1.5" of loft.
The shell is made from green 1.1 ounce nylon with a DWR finish to handle any possible splash that may hit the quilt when suspended under the hammock. I absolutely love the color since I prefer to have a subdued appearance to my campsites. The inside of the shell is also 1.1 ounce nylon with DWR shell, the black was chosen because it absorbs any IR heat and also facilitates better drying in the sun when you might need to do so. In a sleeping quilt, I generally prefer a 0.8 ounce down proof nylon-taffeta lining for better comfort, but the Jacks said that they have tried this and found that for the under quilt, the 1.1 ounce nylon works better for this particular application.
The interior of the quilt uses no-see-um net to construct the baffles and +750 fill down as insulation. The quilt I received was made using +600 since this was only a concept quilt, so to get a better feel for what the real production versions would be like, I bought some +800 fill down and swapped out the fill. The weight difference between +750 and +800 is so negligible that the tested weights should be about the same as the production model. By the way, after swapping out the fill, I never want to do that again.
The design details include a head hole that seals using non-snagging Velcro (that means there is no rough hook side), pull cords with cord locks on both ends for shaping the quilt, and a strip of no-snag Velcro on the bottom ends to form a foot box. The corners have webbing loops for attachment to the hammock, as well as similar loops along the sides that are in the correct positions for attaching to the bottom of the a-sym hammock.
The accessories that come with the hammock are two shock cords with lightweight snap-links to connect the quilt to the hammock, and a sil-nylon stuff sack.
Initially I set the hammock with quilt up next to my house. As always with new gear, I wanted to see how it worked and see if there were any show stoppers that I couldn't foresee, and to work out the bugs.
The set up is so simple; anyone can do it in the dark. There are absolutely no modifications to make to the hammock to attach the system. Simply use the supplied cords on the ridgeline of the hammock and loop the side tie-outs through the plastic rings on the sides' pulls of the hammock. The only issue I had initially was pockets of space between the hammock and the quilt, but by moving the end tie cords further out on the main hammock line, these were easily eliminated.
To make the under quilt work best as an under quilt, the end cords should be shortened to about 18" to give the quilt the correct shape for fitting the hammock bottom. Then after you have the right shape, shift the down so that the majority of the down settles under the bottom of the sleeper.
To form the quilt into a sleeping quilt, I tried this one out a few times before heading out. The bottom end is synched all the way down, and Velcro is used to form the foot box. Then just lay down with you feet in the foot box on top of a pad. To use the quilt for clothing, simply let out the end cords and put your head through the head hole. You can use one of the included ties that secure the quilt to the hammock as a belt.
This was the first real trip with the quilt. I used it in the Appalachian Mountains in early May hiking from Highway 19E south to Erwin, TN. I didn't have a thermometer, but I assume that the temperatures in the mountains never dropped below the 50's F (10's C).
The first night I didn't know what to expect, so I set up the hammock without a pad (I brought my pad just in case) and went to bed. Overnight I got a little cool, but not too bad. In the morning I found that the lighter shock cords (I tried cutting down to 1/8" cords) were not strong enough, and one broke. For the next few nights I used only the quilt as under insulation and 1/4" shock cords with great results. By great, I mean I got too darn warm to sleep in the hammock with my Nunatak BCB and the "No Sniveling" under quilt. One morning I even used the "No Sniveling" quilt as a serape (cold morning on Roan Mountain) and it was overly toasty.
My conclusion was that the "No Sniveling" Quilt did exactly what it was supposed to do. It was warmer insulation for a hammock than most any pad option, and it served double duty as camp clothing, eliminating the needed weight of insulated clothing for colder weather.
At Trail Days, I was testing out the new Hennessy hammock insulation prototype, so I didn't need the quilt as an under quilt, but since I had been sweating in the hammock using this quilt and the BCB, I decided to try it as a sleeping quilt. Since I was used to the BCB, figuring out which side was the "inside" when getting ready to sleep in the dark was sort of confusing with the NSQ (No Sniveling Quilt) but it wasn't a show stopper at all just a nit-noid minor issue based on my habits. Again, the temperatures probably weren't below the 50's, but I was warm in the quilt and the new Hennessy Rig.
After Trail Days, I hit the trail again. Since I was overly hot using both quilts, I decided to try going a little lighter and trying something different. This time I took my new EvazoteŽ pad from Oware, and used the NSQ as a sleeping quilt. Again, even this combination was warmer than I needed, but I like sleeping extra warm (I consider myself a cold sleeper) and this lightweight option was VERY adequate for the task. Imagine using a 9.6 ounce pad and an 18.2 ounce quilt in a hammock and getting a great night's sleep! Less than two pounds and I was good!
This winter when the temperatures drop, I intend to put the hammock to a real test. Based on the experiences I gained from this spring, I am looking at the following system:
50˚ F and above - I will carry the Oware pad and the NSQ.
30˚ - 50˚ F I will carry the NSQ and the Nunatack BCB.
Below 30˚ F I will use the pad and quilt under me and the BCB above. In the case where the temps get way too cold for this system, I can always use the hammock as a bivy, and use both quilts over me.
I haven't finished the review yet, so take the recommendation with that caveat. Overall I would have to recommend this to any Hennessy Hammock user that is looking for a bargain. the $199 price is a steal to get something so light, so versatile, and something that absolutely works as promised for hammock insulation. The quality of construction is superb and on par with companies like Nunatak. To buy something similar like a Ghost Blanket with the same options would cost you a lot more and it would still need to be modified to attach it to a hammock. With this set up, the bugs are all worked out by people that stand behind their product and use it the way it is intended.
Besides these two quilts, Jacks 'R Better offer other custom stuff for hammocks like larger tarps, larger 'skins to cover the rig, 2.5" loft down quilts, and custom compression sacks.