M Speer Hammocks PeaPod and Top Blanket REVIEW
by Carol Crooker
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Hammocks can be a wonderfully comfortable way to sleep while backpacking. When sleeping on the ground, a pad provides cushioning from the ground and also insulation under the sleeper. Cushioning is not required in a hammock for comfort, but some type of insulation is, in all but the very warmest conditions. In fact, more insulation is required under a sleeper in a hammock than on the ground largely because of convective heat loss from the exposed hammock bottom.
The Speer PeaPod is an innovative way to provide insulation under a hammock sleeper. It is large enough to completely surround the hammock and, with the aid of attached Velcro strips that run the length of the PeaPod, it can be completely closed over the top of the hammock and sleeper (but leave an opening above your face). Both ends have a drawcord and toggle so they can be cinched closed once the PeaPod is in place around the hammock. Since insulation is under the hammock, it is not compressed by the weight of the sleeper. The PeaPod is a dual use item - it can also be worn for in-camp insulation.
I tested the Speer PeaPod along with a companion piece, the Speer Top Blanket, with the Speer 8.0 A Hammock. The Top Blanket is a simple, 1-pound (0.45 kg), very reasonably priced down blanket. Velcro strips at the end of the Top Blanket can be closed to create a generous sized foot box when the Top Blanket is used as a quilt. The Hammock, PeaPod, and Top Blanket are sold separately but are designed as a system. The hammock is used by itself in very warm weather. The PeaPod is added as the weather cools. As it gets even cooler, the Top Blanket is added as a quilt inside the hammock. When more insulation is needed, the Top Blanket can be used under the hammock and inside the PeaPod either in a single layer or doubled for more loft. Another Top Blanket, quilt, or sleeping bag of the appropriate rating is used on top of the sleeper.
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