Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thermolite Sleeping Bag Liner

An open site across from us on the bank of the lake.

Day 3:  The storms were to pester us all week.  The good thing was that they usually came in late afternoon to evening, and left the days sunny and clear.  It was 9p.m. when I zipped the tent shut, and there was an immediate terrible, and much too close, simultaneous blinding flash and terrible crash of thunder.  That was the opening rangefinder shot, and once my position was bracketed, the fire and rain and wind continued unabated until 4a.m.  The storm’s method of the attack was something I hadn’t seen before.  The wind came in waves as steady and regular as waves hitting a beach.  The wind came in a rushing squall from behind me.  It rolled over the trees on top of the hill, over me and across the adjoining field, down the hill and into the trees to the south of us.  Just then another wave of wind could be heard approaching from the north, through the trees and over the hill, across the field, and so on.  It was a regular march that continued for an hour or more.

The wind also had the tent kind of breathing as it passed me.  It would first come from the west and mash the tent in.  Immediately after that the tent seemed to exhale as it puffed outward as though it had suddenly been fully inflated.  I know this routine will sound familiar to those of you accustomed to living in tornado country, but the tent and I stayed on the hill.

Obviously, since I was lying there noticing all of this, I wasn’t getting any sleep.  I was very pleased and thankful that the tent was staying dry in spite of the constant downpour.  The other thing keeping me awake was the forecast for golf ball-sized hail.  With the car, truck, and RV sitting there, I certainly didn’t relish waking in the morning to find them all sporting a new hammered metal look.  Every new wave of intensity had me laying there cringing in dread.  Of course as soon as you have one thought fixed in your mind, everything changes.  Even though I had resealed all the tent’s seams, a couple stitches began to weep and drip ice water on my left shoulder.  The next drip joined forces with its predecessor so they could then roll down my chest and onto the sleeping bag.  I reached into the pack and pulled out my Cabela’s Guide foulweather jacket and draped it over my upper body to shed the continuing drip, drip, drip.  My thought was then that trying to sleep under a raincoat would be too hot and stuffy to make sleep possible.

With that thought, the wind picked up more and the temperature suddenly dropped.  That seemed to herald the approach of the ice storm, but solved the problem of being too hot.  I waited in anticipation of the hail, but it thankfully didn’t materialize.  With the colder air, I pulled the sleeping bag liner over my legs, checked the time on my phone and saw that it was 4a.m., fluffed my pillow, and dozed off until the birds started singing at 7a.m. in earnest and right over my head.

The packing sack laying on the liner itself.

A word is needed about the Sea-to-Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme sleeping bag liner.  That’s a long name for something that only measures 3 X 5 inches in its little stuff sack.  I found it at a national sporting goods store on my way to Old Forge, NY, last spring or winter (unable to distinguish between the two).  I about choked on the $70 price tag for the little thing, but Jean insisted I get it, or it would have stayed on the rack.  Made of their insulating, Thermolite, hollow-core moister-wicking polyester fiber, it opens up to a large 36 X 84 inch sack that is supposed to add 25-degrees F (14-deg. C) to the warmth of a sleeping bag.  It is made in a mummy shape, but is so stretchy, that it will envelope you no matter what size or style of sleeping bag you are in.  Besides adding warmth, it can be used instead of the sleeping bag in those intervening temperatures between being in a bag or not.  It also helps to keep the sleeping bag clean.  I did things backwards with this purchase, and read the reviews on it when I returned home.  Yes, it has received great acclaim because of its comfort and warmth, but is pricey.  Since it works well, and can almost disappear in your pack, it’s a nice piece of gear to add, especially if you can find it on sale.

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