> Couldn't you have put the UnderPad between the hammock and the Nest and saved the weight of the UnderCover?
Yes, and also possibly the Nest between the hammock and the UnderPad, since the UnderPad has its own tensioning cords. Next time I set it up I will test whether either or both of these configurations stay sufficiently close to the hammock bottom. The Underpad is 4" shorter than the Nest and 11" narrower at the middle. The ends are tapered, more so at the foot than the shoulders, but probably no more tapered than the Nest with its cords pulled.
My reason for using the UnderCover is to protect the Nest/UnderPad from exposure to precipitation. The UnderPad, although it is open-cell foam, doesn't appear to be very absorbent (the condensation that I found on it just beaded up) so perhaps it might be sufficiently weatherproof on its own. The Nest has DWR treatment, but I'm hesitant to expose a down quilt to blowing snow or rain even if it isn't critical-path for survival (if it got soaked I could go to ground, assuming I was also carrying a groundsheet and winter pads).
I do not know how much warmth is held in by the UnderCover, although I suspect it is probably in the 5-10F range usually claimed for bivies.
> If you pulled the tarp down tight against the hammock wouldn't that do what the OverCover does?
Mostly. I have staked the tarp down tight against the hammock in 25-30F weather (when I had nothing more than the hammock and a down sleeping bag--brrr!) and it did make it warmer inside (compared to the first night, when I staked the tarp out wide) with some condensation (frost) on the tarp in the morning. It didn't work nearly as well when there was a wind: during the night a breeze came through several times which rattled the tarp, dropped condensation on me, and let out a lot of warmth. Similar breezes came through when I was using the OverCover and those problems didn't occur. The OverCover is breathable nylon, so it lets the moisture out.
> Do the JRB Shield and the UnderCover do roughly the same thing?
Yes. The Weather Shield is about the same size as the Nest, so it doesn't cover the entire hammock bottom. The UnderCover does cover the entire hammock bottom. The UnderCover has an entry slit but it isn't particularly convenient, since you still have to push aside the UnderPad. The Nest has a slit and the Weather Shield doesn't, which seemed to me to be easier to rearrange after entry. (I sealed the Nest's slit to itself rather than to the hammock to improve insulation, so my Nest was configured like your No Sniveler.)
> If you had to choose one would it be the Undercover for its added protection, or the Shield for its cost and weight?
I'm still thinking about that. The Weather Shield has the advantages of being breathable and a bit thicker, so it might be a better solution especially with the down Nest; I wasn't happy to find condensation(?) in the bottom of the UnderCover. (I'm a fan of the Weather Shield material, having relied on a DriDucks jacket in unexpected cold blowing rain.) The price difference is significant, while the weights are almost the same. The UnderCover has the advantage of covering more of the hammock bottom, although at these temps that doesn't mean much since the UnderPad doesn't. At warmer temps with strong blowing rain and the standard small HH tarp, the UnderCover would provide more protection to the ends of the hammock. That is the main reason I bought both: to use the Nest with the Weather Shield when it's cold, and the UnderPad with the UnderCover in warmer, wet and exposed conditions. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) there are a lot of combinations to test with five pieces of gear, not to mention the option of adding pads inside the hammock or other layers under the hammock.
I still need to check whether the UnderCover/UnderPad compresses the Nest when it is sandwiched in there; the Weather Shield definitely doesn't, in fact, it might have left the Nest hanging a bit loose. These would be even more of concern, both ways, when using two under quilts. I'll post more info soon.
> Is the JRB Suspension System necessary when you are using the UnderCover?
Yes, otherwise the Nest will just pool underneath you. Even the UnderPad, which is stiffer than the Nest, has tensioning cords on each end (which go on the tarp connector hooks, along with the UnderCover and OverCover tensioning cords).
> And finally, is the UnderPad large enough? I am 6 foot 4, 210 pounds, and usually sleep on my side.
Probably. I'm 6 foot 2, 230 pounds, and also sleep on my side. I poked and prodded through the sides of the hammock to see where the UnderPad was located, and it appeared to cover the sides well enough. I need to test further to see if it covers my toes and head, although this is less crucial in the warmer temps (40-60F) where I plan to use the UnderPad alone rather than the Nest. (The Nest will then become my top quilt.) You might want to take especial consideration of my comment about frostbite and be sure your No Sniveler is long enough to cover your feet!
>I can see the theoretical benefits of the OverCover and UnderCover, but wonder if your practical experience showed that they were worth the weight and cost.
The UnderCover is very expensive, especially compared to the Weather Shield, and is about the same weight. For cold weather, it appears to me that the Weather Shield is better not just because it's cheaper but because it is breathable, is big enough to protect the Nest and/or UnderPad, and the extra coverage of the UnderCover won't matter as much since it won't be raining. However, the Weather Shield probably isn't necessary to keep the Nest from getting wet when it's cold and just blowing dry snow, although it might be worth the weight if it added sufficient warmth or allowed you to add more insulating layers if it's colder than the Nest can handle by itself. The Weather Shield or UnderCover are probably most useful in very cold (below 0F) or warmer temps (near and above freezing) than in the range between.
The OverCover is fairly cheap and light, and I think it is worth its weight when it's really cold. It's cold enough in the hammock as it is (enough to freeze a bottle of sports drink a few inches above my face) and if it got windy you might find your eyeballs freezing (you could wear your ski goggles to bed, I suppose).
I hesitate to suggest in this forum that any piece of gear is worth its weight, since you could just try to survive without it. But having frozen my butt (literally) by sleeping in a hammock below freezing without any under-protection, and having slept in -30F colder weather comfortably with, carrying the additional 3 pounds of gear in Wyoming winter is a no-brainer for me. Since I've had three successful nights out, I'm going to start removing various pieces until I get cold.
> I reposted this to get your attention. I am guessing you missed it the first time as it happen over a weekend.
I did indeed miss it. One of the shortcomings of BPL's forum software is that it doesn't keep good track of messages you have and haven't seen near the times when you are reading messages, which is what most likely happened here. I was wondering if anybody was still following this thread!