View Full Version : Speer Hammock and PeaPod have arrived:

05-12-2004, 01:14
The Speer Hammock and PeaPod have arrived. Brown cardboard UPS Priority Mail Box very well taped. Of note, the PeaPod was not shipped stuffed but loose/fluffed within the box.
First off to the post office with the contents for weights:
The Speer Hammock: 1lb 6.2oz. including sil-nyl stuff sack green
The PeaPod 1lb 14.3oz including sil-nyl stuff sack blue
Note these weights are true to advertised weight.
Nice to see different colors for the stuff sacks too.

Note that I did not order the fly/tarp from Speer Hammocks simply because of too many extant fly's.

{white at the post did an official weighing of these:
MacCat: 13.9oz including stuffsack provided and too much cordage
Equinox 8x12 sil-nylon fly: 15.4oz
4 titanium stakes and stuff sack 1.2oz}

Then off to setup (backyard in the city...no trees, had to use T-posts that were once used for laundry (does anyone still use these).
The Speer hammock uses webbing straps-black nylon- for its support ropes. So in that vain they are inherently tree huggers since they are the same width as tree huggers supplied by Hennessey.
I went around each T-post several times and then deployed the well known Steincamp knot (video on his site http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/gear/shelter/hknot.htm)
Rain was threatening so I added the Equinox 8x10 fly to the mix thinking that Speer recommends and sells an 8x10.
The setup of the Speer compared to:
HH Backpacky A-sym-- slighly easier because it is much easier to pull the thick webbing straps tight than it is the thin spectra cord supplied with HH's
CrazyCreekCrib-- identical, these hammocks are so similar it is of great interest for anyone trying to emulate one for the other, but there is a major difference in weight with the Speer being much lighter than the CCC, also the construction is different in that the webbing strap of the Speer hammock is intertwined into/around the hammock fabric at the ends, into a knot. The CCC has a channel sewn for the webbing and its radius contracts to 'almost nothing' as the hammock is tightened into a sleeping position.
Bottom line weight is that the Speer 8.5 for >6' and 250lbs weighs what an HH Extreme Light Racer weighs with fly...of course you have to add the bug netting to the Speer weight and that adds 3-4oz. So weightwise I wouldnt make a decision one for the other.

Fly deployment: I believe in separation church and state, and of fly and hammock support lines. With that said know that I have taken off the 'integral' fly of the HH Extreme Light Racer, and when using the HH Backpacker A-sym I do not connect the fly to the support lines of the HH. So with the Speer or the CCC the intent from the manufacturer to not connect fly to hammock lines is inherent in the setup.
With that said it is obvious that the Speer and CCC take longer to set up than an HH because the fly is a separate step in itself. A step I think worthwhile for several reasons already discussed on this site and others.
Fly coverage: as mentioned, as I was setting up rain was threatening and even before I had the PeaPod on the skies opened up. The 8x10 fly is beyond adaquate for protecting the hammock, and it should be since far smaller flies do the same job. The benefits of this size have also been covered on this site and others. There is no reason a smaller fly could not be used with the Speer as with other hammocks.

The Laying: knowing from past hammock use that I would have to lay in the hammock, stretch it, then get out and retighten I was dreading getting out from under the hammock in the now downpour to do so....ok so for testing I did it anyway.
This is probably the most important experience for anyone interested in hammocking because these hammocks lay differently. But know that the CCC and the Speer lay the same. La Aqua came to see the setup and was asked for her impressions so here are two different opinions:
La AquaNa found the 'lay' to be confining and she used the word claustrophobic, yet she spent almost 20mins in the hammock as I felt around for insulation that was compressed (and could create cold spots) and took pics.
I found the 'lay' identical to the CCC. To me it is not confining but 'cradling' in a strong way. Bottom line, for potential users of these or any other hammocks is best to try before you buy. I'm lucky and can sleep in either and lover either, you or someone else though may not be so inclined. These hammocks lay differently-know this.

PeaPod and installation:
The PeaPod at first appears to be a down quilt intended to fit a king size bed-it is almost that big, and of course to completely envelope a hammock/hammocker it has to be. Construction of the PeaPod is top notch with all seems intact and closely sewn. No loose threads to be found and the fabric choice (like the Nest by PeterPan) an excellent blend for durability and lweight control (though I would love a UQ or PeaPod out of the same material WM uses in their extremelight bags). The outer PeaPod surface is an olive green and the interior surface a baby/sky blue.
When laid flat you will note the PeaPod is not a rectangle and that a bias is constructed on the concentric- this is not so obvious when you first spread it out but after installation and the appearance of the 'boat' shape, it then becomes striking.
The PeaPod is sewn through box construction. I can't imagine the cost to construct on with baffles. No loose down was detected and none could be found poking through. 700+ fill is used.
Speers rating of 45F could no be determined yesterday, it was hovering around 78F when we climbed in--- soon the sweat was rolling.
Attaching the PeaPod is a simple matter of cinching down the drawstrings on both ends of the hammock, beginning by reaching around the hammock and pulling up one side of the PeaPod and mating its velcro to the velcro on the other side. This can easily be done while feeding the PeaPod out of its stuff sack IF you remember to stuff it so that one end will be at the top of the stuff sack. (this is important when breaking camp and setting up over wet ground).....

Note that the Speer Hammock has bug netting attached by circumferential velcro the entire length/circle of the hammock body. I simply undid one side of the velcro and stuffed the bug netting inside the hammock for PeaPod testing.

Speer hammocks are top entry..you will have to undo the bug netting to get in, and as mentioned above remove when deploying the PeaPod (but cold and flying critters are mutually exclusive, so you can save 3-4oz by leaving the netting at home.

Once inside I reached up and velcroed the PeaPod together (at this point the foot end and top end were already velcroed)....not hard to do at all, and since the Speer hammock is more cradling, read you can more easily grab material to assist oneself in sittingup by pulling on the sides, you can even attach the PeaPod from a sitting position within the hammock (some flexibility required)..At 78F it didnt take long before I was seeking an air hole....Air holes are important when using the PeaPod because moisture will accumulat within and soak the down (to what degree depends on if you are a wet breather or a dry breather, how cold it is, humidity,etc.)....now here is a problem within the PeaPod, a problem I have already written Ed Speer about, and a problem that is easy to deal with. When you lay in the PeaPod you will be wrapped firstly by the hammock material, then wrapped by the PeaPod. the hammock material is stiff (that is the cradling part I mentioned) WHEN the hammock is tightened, your head lays on the bottom and there is a valley created above your face, a space of 6-8 inches between your face and the PeaPod material/velcro area. This space you breath into and this space if an air hole is created in the PeaPod allow cold air to come in....solution: put a pillow under the head to raise it closer to the air hole, stuff your top quilt around your head to block cold air from getting down further into the hammock, or simply dont worry about it (again depending on how wet you breathe {bagpipers can relate to this in a big way} and sleep/breathe with the PeaPod fully velcroed...the amount of moisture built up may be burned off the next sleep cycle before it begins to build up again.

{I experienced this same problem withe the CCC/Ponderosa setup and solved it by using a balaclava and pullin up the top quilt to my neck to block any air from going further down the tube}

Once in the complete setup-Speer Hammock/PeaPod I asked La AquaNa to pad around the perimeter of the Pod for compressed areas...none were found and there is plenty of room to add even more insulation underneath the PeaPod. Where you attach the PeaPod on each end determines how much 'slack' and free space there is underneath. Speer Hammocks recommends you tie (via the cinch cords that go around the perimeter of the head and foot ends) the PeaPod inside the knots (knots formed of the hammock material and the webbing support strap).....I tied the ends down beyond the knots and still had room for more insulation.
On the inside the 'valley' between the user and the PeaPod varies from 4-8 or 10 inches, so plenty of room to add varying thicknesses of top quilts or 1-2top quilts depending on thickness.

Something new: Though the experience is similar to the Ponderosa/CCC experience there is something I did in the Speer I never tried/never thought to try in the CCC and that is sitting! With the Speer one can sit in the hammock with the chest, arms,head out of the PeaPod and depending on flexibility do tasks while remaining in the system. If you are lucky in your campsite selection you may have a rock or stone adjacent to the sleep system and can sit very comfortably and attend your alcohol stove.

Temperature regulation: While 78F out and quickly getting very hot inside, it is a simple matter to unvelcro the PeaPod to any degree you see fit to disapate heat. With the Ponderosa/CCC combo my options were to push the Ponderosa down fully exposing me and the hammock material-so either very warm or downright cold...with that said I agree that Speer has come up with a much more varied system. When I know it will be 20F and below the Ponderosa/CCC system will be taken for simplicity of parts (less topquilts to carry) but when temps are to be anywhere from 25F-40F the Speer system will be considered.

{of note, there are people who feel clastrophobic and want instant eggress, in the Speer System one can almost instantly separate the velcro and throw off the top quilt, in the CCC/Ponderosa system one can just as quickly reach up and pull the bag down to a level that would allow exit. In the HH's I feel that the only ones limited to quick exit are those zipped into sleeping bags. This is a moot point in my book because after many nights in a hammock I have never had to get out quickly but for some it is important, and for them I suggest a top quilt and an underquilt the combo which will also allow for quick exits}
Where does this leave the Underquilt? Well I find myself now with too many choices. Sometimes it is better to have one thing and just deal with it. For now the UQ has a definite place when temps will be 37F (37F is not an arbitrary number, it is that temp that I woke up too last week comfortably with the UQ) and up, but the Speer system with the addition of either more under insulation or a foam pad inside the hammock can also handle these temps.
(With all that said, in June when we section from Buena Vista to Rockfish Gap I will be in an HH Extremelite Racer, a thin foam pad, and an Arc Edge with a Thermawrap Jacket as insurance.)

Overall impression of the PeaPod? I love it. After using the available materials at hand and coming up with the Ponderosa/CCC combo I knew that the pod method was the true way to defeat serious cold (and by that I mean temps in the teens and lower). UQ's are lighter-look at CanoeBlues phenomenal UQ, but UQ's are more temperamental (sp?) yet the Nest by our own PeterPan and Smee has proven that UQ's can be light/affordable and more importantly deployable by the vast majority of HH users. I can't wait until Tom Hennessey unveils his cold weather solution so I can compare it to the solutions that we already have.

In closing let me remind all that the PeaPod and the Nest are multi-use products. On last weeks section hike from Buena Vista to Bearwallow I thoroughly enjoyed using the Nest as a blanket for the afternoon nap at Bryant Ridge Shelter. Yesterday I slept under the PeaPod in king bed comforter mode. Whichever you end up with remember it will work well on the couch too.

Pics will be posted later tonight when I get out of the hospital.


05-13-2004, 00:57
Excellent review! Thank you. Great pics also. Do you think the peapod could be used like an underquilt, with the bug netting in place? In Colorado the mosquitoes are active when it's quite chilly. I like a top entry hammock, the HH is to confining for me. I use a Byer Moskito traveler. It lays very nice on the diagonal.

05-13-2004, 11:08
Since the pod and the netting use the same velcro strip you could always drape the netting over the entire system....it might not drap down far enough for good coverage though will have to play with that one. In a way the pod itself would prevent most from getting to you when it is completely velcroed. It's interesting you find the HH more confining but I'm not familiar with the hammock you are using.
I'll be at TrailDays tomorow and will be looking closely at HH's proposed winter hammocking solution and be comparing it to what I know..will try to take pics and post them this weekend if any are interested.

05-13-2004, 12:49
Always interested in what's out there. As far as finding the HH confining, I beleive it is the stationary mosquito netting. I was not able to find comfort in the bottom exit HH. I like the top exit/entry.

05-15-2004, 17:29
Then off to setup (backyard in the city...no trees, had to use T-posts that were once used for laundry (does anyone still use these).
-Great review, I am eagerly awaiting my Peter Pan underquilt... I am really glad that you were able to provide such thorough reviews of three different cold weather set ups - it really helped me in making a decision.

Also, to answer your question about the T-posts -- We have a pair in our backyard that I use to tie my hammock to, and our neighbors have a pair that they actually use for laundry. :)

05-17-2004, 16:25
Sawwhetowl, last weekend I used my Speer system with the bugnet and the Peapod at the same time, so yes, you can do this.