SGT Rock's Hiking H.Q.


Wing Pad


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Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links
Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links


Over time I have been playing with how to stay warm in a hammock. I have tried various pads, reflectors, clothing, etc. Over time I have learned a few things:

1. Heat reflectors are snake oil (see hammock hiking tips), but people stay warm using them, not because they are actually reflecting radiant heat, but for some other reasons I'll not get into on this page.

2. A pad does keep you warm. Mainly because it doesn't compress like your sleeping bag does under you. Dense is as good as thick, thick and dense is even better. A dense pad doesn't compress, and it takes the heat more time to soak through. The more layers or thicker, the longer it takes.

3. Most pads are too narrow. These days, Thermarest, Mt Washington, and others are only 20" wide. In a hammock, these allow the hammock sides to curl up around you, thus compressing the sides of your bag and causing cold spots on the side as well. a 24" wide pad is about the minimum pad you need in a hammock.

4. Following 2 & 3, special attention needs to go to the pad under your butt and shoulders, where the pad compresses the most, and the first cold spots appear on your body. Also, your shoulder/arm area is the place where your sides are most likely to get compressed because (at lest on men) that is where you are the widest.

I've been going back to basics with my Army closed cell foam pad, and truck windshield sunscreen. The width has been great, and the single layer worked well down to 26˚, but bottomed out there when my shoulders started to get cool. I went to two pad layers in 21˚ weather with 12˚ wind-chill (important to know in a hammock), but the pads were hard to keep in place, the extra pad layer under my legs wasn't needed, and the sides started to get too compressed as my sides and shoulders got cool.

So what I needed was a pad that was twice as thick under my butt and shoulders only, and a little wider under my shoulders and sides by may arms. Hmmmm...

What if I got another pad of the same material and cut another pad that just went but to shoulders? I could make it wider so it stuck out the sides! But that pad only comes in 24" widths, not wide enough. I could turn the pad sideways and cut it the width I needed, but then it wouldn't be long enough. I need a pad 32" x 32".

What if I cut two pads, 16" x 32", then glued them on the back so that they made my panel? But I have tried Velcro and glues before, and they never lasted. Maybe if I sewed them together, better yet, stitched with something easy and big - then I could take the wings off in milder weather when I didn't need them!

This is starting to sound like something Tom Hennessy said he had thought of making once. I must be on the right track!

Very cool. But my sunscreen doesn't like to stay in place. Wait, I have some left over Tyvek, what if I sew the Tyvek to the sunscreen and make a pocket on each end, well better yet, a pocket at the top, and just a sleeve on the bottom - easy to put on and remove. YEA!

So a little time invested, and begging my wife to sew a little, I got this:

The plan. Take two army pads and make them into Frankenpad - well, a wing pad anyway. End result - back side. Note that I used the old straps from one pad to make the laces. Top side - the wings are sticking out for my shoulders and arms, and by butt and shoulders get extra pad.
The plan II. I brainstormed this as I was looking at the pads together. Figured it would work better than that Velcro I tried once. Here is the sunscreen after my wife sewed the Tyvek to the top and bottom panels. It still folds up normally by the way. Here is the wing pad and the sunscreen mated. Frankenpad, and bride of Frankenpad.

The pad weighs 28.1 ounces, and the sunscreen weighs 5.2 ounces.

I must thank Sharon for the ideas. She had a great post, here is our conversation on this.

Hall of Honor recipients for this page
Tom Hennessy