If you go back and read my really old stuff, you will find my tale of my first hike, when I really didn’t know anything, and I spent a miserable night in the cold because no one really told me I needed insulation underneath me when sleeping in a hammock.
So after that experience I made my first under quilt and it worked like a charm. But I still decided there was no way in hell I was going to be cold again. I also really don’t like the feeling of laying directly on synthetic fibers like the nylon hammock or the top quilt fabric (which I think is nylon, too). I wanted something a little more like what I was used to in the bed. Besides, I always wind up with a little dirt or leaf bits in the bottom of the hammock that I can’t get rid of, and it’s nice to have something between me and it.
So, I made a sleeping bag liner out of a cheap fleece sleeping bag I got online for around $15.
It’s supposed to be a 55 degree sleeping bag, but honestly I wouldn’t trust it. It’s really thin, which makes it perfect for what I wanted to do. First I cut the zipper off, then tapered it to sort of a mummy bag shape, and finally sewed it together at the bottom to make sort of a foot box, and hemmed up the rest.
Why a closed foot box, you ask? The foot box helps keep your feet warm, and it helps you in the tent. You stick your feet in the liner and pull it up around you. I like to lay on top of mine, so it wraps around from underneath. When you’re all situated, then you open your sleeping bag and shove the liner in with your feet. Quick and easy, and you don’t wind up fighting an open-ended blanket that would likely just wind up bunched around your calves.
The bag liner worked just fine, until I had a problem. On one of my hikes, I got really wet due to a failed rain coat, and was trying to keep warm. I wound up stripping off my wet clothes and hanging around camp under the shelter with my bag liner draped over my shoulders. It helped, but it would have been a lot better if the blanket was opened up, like my top quilt will do.
Yesterday, my wife was gone all day so after cleaning up some stuff I pulled out my second bag (hey, for $15, when you plan to cut the thing up, you buy two just in case) and got to work making something different.
Walmart has little snaps that will tap on to fabric with a hammer and small socket. They don’t include a tool to do the work, but if you have a 3/8″ socket it fits the outer ring pretty well. Use the deep one so you have more to hold.
So I laid out the thing on the floor and cut the zipper off. I tapered it a little at first, and then laid down on it and guessed and tapered the feet end some more.
Next I ran a hem all the way around the blanket, twice, and cut off the excess. No, I don’t sew straight, I’m not a 13 year old vietnamese sweat shop kid. Besides, I was going for quick and easy. I used no pins, and just eyeballed everything, and my eyeballs don’t work that great anyway.
The hardest part was the snaps. I guessed about 4 inches apart or so, and whacked all the tops into place. Then I had to try and fit the bottoms in place and line everything up.
So, finally it comes together. Now I have a sleeping bag liner with a closed foot area, that I can unsnap and drape over myself if I start to freeze to death and need some extra in camp insulation. Total cost, at most maybe $25 by the time you buy the blanket and the two boxes of snaps. I know, with the white thread it looks like a pair of blue jeans or something, but I didn’t want to have to dig through the wife’s thread collection and find black or blue. Again, going for quick and easy…