Ian asked me to trial his new invention and report back to him with my findings, he asked me to be as critical as I could so we could resolve any issues or faults. Well here is my honest opinion on this item.
As per the hammock under blankets and quilts the Cocoon is another invention and design of Ian Dent-Willoughby. Again it has been made by SnugPak to a very high quality standard using their latest lightweight but very insulating materials and contains a thermal reflective layer too.
The Cocoon is designed to be used in cold weather to keep hammock dwellers warm, it basically goes over your hammock to form an all round layer of insulation. (Ian will be posting some pictures I have sent him after this review).
The set up is very simple indeed, there is a head end and foot end, the head end is wider giving you more space at the shoulders and chest whilst being narrower at the foot to help keep those little piggies warm. You simply slide your hammock through the openings at either end of the cocoon and rig it up as you normally would. I set my hammock up first then unclip the hammock at the carabineers to slide the cocoon over.
The cocoon has a full length double sided zip so you can have easy access and it is easy to open and close from the inside. Once in you simply zip up the cocoon either all the way or just up to your face, the choice is yours, lie back and enjoy the warmth. After testing it a couple of times I found it beneficial to run an additional guy line through the cocoon, this was for a couple of reasons.
One, it lifts the cocoon away from your face so it does not feel as constricting or claustrophobic, (my wife said she felt a bit hemmed in without the guy line in), two it helps aid the ventilation of the cocoon when you have it fully zipped up. As you are enclosed your expelled air needs to be allowed to escape so as not to cause excessive condensation inside the cocoon which could lead to dampness and a reduction in efficiency of the cocoon, this escapes via the head end vent hole. It also allows you to hang small items such as a torch inside the cocoon with you.
So how does it work, well as you will see from the pictures Ian will be posting, I set it up without a tarp so you can clearly see all the details, it works extremely well, it is very easy to set up, get in and out of and it sure is warm. In the pictures we were out in fairly cold conditions, however I tested it out this Saturday (22/11/08) and it was a very clear cold night, at 01:30Hrs I had to answer the call of nature. When I unzipped the cocoon I felt the blast of cold hit me, I was only wearing boxers and a T shirt, there was a good frost on the grass too, but inside all zipped up I was extremely toasty. This was without any other form of cover, no sleeping bag or blanket, very impressive.
So my opinion, this is an excellent bit of kit well worth investing in. Even if you already (as I do) have an under blanket or quilt. This is a great bit of kit on its own, it could even be used as a sleeping bag for ground dwelling too, but if you fancy stopping out in really cold temperatures I recon this way out performs the quilt and blanket option, how about combining them together for mega warmth, cocoon over your under blanket and quilt, (my god you would melt unless you were in sub arctic conditions). In my wifeís opinion, she would prefer using the cocoon than a quilt and under blanket as it offers some privacy for a lady as it is enclosed, allowing her to have some degree of privacy when disrobing for sleep.
Did I have any dislikes about it, well the only comments I gave back to Ian on a negative were that I thought the colours should be reversed, i.e. green outside black inside as I thought it warmed up quicker with the black inside, also I like green as the outer colour as opposed to the black. We discussed fitting a line to lift the head end away from your face, but the use of a ridge line inside solved this issue so I donít think additional lines are needed. Other than that no, nothing negative about it. Apart from the fact I have to give it back
But my name is now on the group buy list.
It packs down to the size of a medium sleeping bag and when carrying this you donít need carry a sleeping bag, thermarest mat, under blanket or quilt.
So hats off to Ian for coming up with another great bit of kit and I look forward to receiving my own ready for this winters trips out. Cheers Ian.