View Full Version : JRB 3-season set impressions - long post

12-27-2004, 13:38
OK, so after much reading and a few experiments in the backyard, I ordered a 3-season set from Jacks R Better. Here are my impressions and a question or two after two nights of trials:

For clarification, I have both HH Ultralight Backpacker and UL Explorer. I used the Explorer both nights this time around.

I got the 3-season set from JRB which includes the Nest (which is designed primarily as an underquilt), the No Sniveler (primarily as top quilt), a stuff sack (I got a bonus one as well from a special holiday offer on the JRB website), the suspension system (for attaching the underquilt - no hammock mods necessary), and Python Skins (sil-nyl tubes for packing the hammock and underquilt). I have no connection with JRB and paid the price stated on the website. I will attempt to describe and post my questions about each in turn.

Nest: This is pretty much what folks around here say it is, which is really quite good. I had tried to clothespin a comforter to the bottom of the hammock and tried putting my Therm-a-Rest in the hammock in the past. I had decided that the underquilt idea was probably better. Having this underquilt from JRB which is lighter and fits MUCH better than my comforter experiment made a HUGE difference for the better.

The Nest looks to be of high quality in materials and workmanship and the multi-functionality makes good use of its ~20 oz. (I have not personally weighed it - weights are from JRB website). I did have a couple of cold spots and tried to adjust the fit and down placement as described in the product info on the hang tag and the website. This mitigated things, but I was not able to eliminate the cold spots entirely. I was testing at the lower limits as stated on the website as the temps were unusually cold for Arkansas winter at about 28 degrees F. On the second night, I added a space blanket between the underquilt and the hammock and this helped. The temp was about the same. I was wearing wool socks, a T-shirt and cotton sweat pants both nights. I also napped in the hammock one afternoon (when temps had come up into the middle forties) and was totally fine - quite toasty in similar clothing with no cold spots.

No Sniveler: This is much the same as the Nest with a few minor differences, the most noticeable being the addition of the velcro-sealable neck hole in the middle. This allows one to wear the quilt as a down-filled poncho-type coat. It is very warm worn this way and would probably be best suited to being worn while eating or sitting around camp as any activity would generate lots of heat and I wouldn't want to risk damaging the quilt while doing chores or anything.

It works quite well as an overquilt while sleeping. The footbag configuration works as advertised, too. Very versitile piece of equipment for the same approximate weight as the Nest, which is ~20 oz.

Stuff Sack: It took me an attempt or two to really get the best compression out of these sacks, but once I did, they can really get either quilt down to a small size. The sacks look well-made also. What else can one say about a stuff sack?

Python Skins: These function very similarly to the "Snake Skins" offered by Hennessey. These are of a larger diameter, however.

They are two Sil-Nyl tubes about 1 inch diameter on one end and increase to 4.5 inches in diameter on the other. Each is long enough so that one skin can cover each half of the rolled-up hammock. Rolling the hammock and quilt and tarp so that the resulting bundle is small enough for the skins to slide over takes some practice, but can be done if remembering to "bias the roll away from the center" (as Shane Steinkamp says - see http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/gear/shelter/hhsnakes.htm).The hammock support ropes, one on each end (on a HH) are fed through the skins. You simply push them back onto the ropes when hanging the hammock. A pic is worth more than my best description: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/index_files/Products%20List_files/Snake%20Skins.htm

Summary: I guess my only questions about the whole set would center around the adjustment of the underquilt. Perhaps others could help by relating experiences with underquilts, perhaps even with the Nest in particular. For instance, how does one know if the UQ is positioned too tightly under the hammock. How loose is right and how loose is too loose? I ask these because I had the UQ drawstrings tightened pretty well and the shock cords moved several inches up the ropes from the hammock knots after starting the cords at the knots. I *may* have had it too tight under the hammock.

Thanks to everyone here for posting in the past. The information here is very helpful and since it comes from fellow hikers, it is free of marketing fluff.

Smee and Peter Pan of JRB were very helpful and their turnaround was great in the ordering and shipping times. I recommend them and their products to any hammockers looking to warm up.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Sims

12-27-2004, 15:27

Thanks for the unsolicited comments.

Cold spots usually result from a under quilt that is too taut. To find the optimum set up for each hammock solicit the help of a buddy/spouse. After hanging the hammock as gently as possible, look at the space between the bottom of the hammock and the Nest. Personally, mine is 6-9 inches below the hammock bottom before weighting the hammock. Get your partner in crime into the hammock and evaluate the fit. Pull back the sides and look in. It should barely touch in the center. Put in an ungloved hand, make sure the Nest material is not tight against the weighted hammock. If it is, loosen the end suspension on one or both ends. You may have to use the second ladder loop on one or both sides based on whether or not you have it tied high or low or even your weight and hammock stretch when weighted. Read the articles on our site about keeping warm and Nesting tricks.

Note, below 30 degrees shake down to the critical areas first. Below 20 look at double quilting...the real beauty of the three season set....With your existing bag you can achieve 4 season hammock comfort... Again, see the suggested start points of the," So You want to be warm" article.

12-27-2004, 15:57
Great write up, Goalkeeper'. Thanks for the contribution. And thank you too, Peter Pan for your many posts. Stuff like this sure helps with the decisions...


01-02-2005, 21:05
Spent an overnight New Year's Eve out on the trail (Ouachita Trail Section 10). Took the HH Exp UL and the JRB Nest and No Sniveler.

Temps were in the mid 60's dropping down to lower 50's. This is more typical of Winter here, as opposed to my earlier test detailed above where it was much colder.

I tried attaching the underquilt a bit looser by putting the attachment shock cords more on the hammock knots (rather than above them) and I didn't close the drawstrings so tightly on each end.

This set-up was toasty warm with the No Sniveler on top. I was quite comfy in capilene long underwear bottoms and a silkweight capilene shirt - no socks. It was mildly breezy with little gusts about 5 or 10 MPH. No cold spots with a minor adjustment to the head-end drawstrings.

I feel confident with this set-up even down to about freezing, which is adequate for where I hike. Were I going to the AT (judging by what I've read here and in various hiker's journals) or something, I would look to carry more clothing or a second underquilt to add to the Nest perhaps. For the weight, you might get a tarp / pad / bag system to work about as well. I prefer sleeping off the ground myself as I find it more comfy. We *DO* have shelters on some of the OT and hammocking beats that for comfort, too, IMHO.