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Top Quilts and Under Quilts

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  • Top Quilts and Under Quilts

    While sleeping in a hammock you will need some insulation to help keep you warm at night.

    Some folks think hammocks are only good for camping in warm weather. Not true...I have used mine down to 9 degrees and stayed toasty warm. The current record right now is -40 fahrenheit ( yes that is minus 40 degrees ) and that was in Minnesota. Here is a UTube video on that trip and no I was not there.. Pay attention as Shug shows some of the ways he stayed warm in his hammock during that trip.

    Lets go over some choices for insulation going over you....

    Blankets.... usually heavy and bulky and more suited for car camping. Some folks do use a wool blanket but once again they tend to be heavy.

    Sleeping bags....many folks use them in a hammock. The proper way to use a sleeping bag in your hammock is to leave it partially zipped up so you have a foot box for your feet and use the rest of the sleeping bag as a blanket. There is no need to crawl into the sleeping bag and zip it while in the hammock as the part of the sleeping bag under you is being compressed by your body weight and providing little if any insulation.

    Some sleeping bags can be opened at the top and bottom and are large and big enough to slip over the foot end of the hammock to create a pod surrounding the whole hammock. The drawback is that this will not work with a hammock with an integrated bug net and still requires some additional top cover to keep you warm. Usually this option is only used when it is very cold out along with additional insulation.

    TQ's or Top Quilts...think of a sleeping bag with out the bottom half. It saves some weight over using a full sleeping bag. They are available in many lengths and widths along with different temperature ratings. I will probably do a separate topic on the variations of TQ's.

    Lets get to the bottom of things now....

    Bridge Freezes before Road....we have all seen those signs but have you stopped to think what is means to campers ? Cold air moving under a bridge allows the bridge to get colder sooner than the road at either end of the bridge allowing the bridge to freeze long before the road at either end does. Air circulating under your hammock does the same thing and can result in what we call CBS or Cold Back Syndrome or Cold Butt Syndrome. Usually once the outside temperatures drops below 70 degrees you will need some type of insulation under you to keep you warm. I have only slept in my hammock a couple of times where I did not need some insulation under me to stay comfortable. If you sleep in a tent you can still experience CBS if you do not have some insulation under you as the ground can suck the warmth out of you; so don't think you are immune to CBS if you sleep in a tent.

    Pads....blow up/inflatable and or CCF ( closed cell foam pads do not absorbed water ) can be used in a hammock. These work best in a DL ( double layer ) hammock as placing the pad in-between the two layers of the hammock help to reduce the amount of shifting that will occur. Blow up pads should not be inflated to their maximum but just partially filled. Once potential problem with using a CCF pad is some folks ( like my wife ) experiences condensation on top of the pad. While my wife has had this problem I have not. I have not seen any scientific studies on this but I think it has to do with the amount of humidity in the air and your body temperature. While I have used pads, blow up and CCF, I prefer to use Underquilts as I find them to be more comfortable and easier to use.

    Vapor barriers... these are pads made of reflective material that helps to reflect the heat back at you. Think of those bright aluminum looking windshield covers. A problem some folks have is from condensation building up on the pad. I have not tried them. One thing I have read about is that it is not recommend that you use one over the top of you as you want your body's moisture that is released while you are asleep to be able to escape ( warm air rises ) and a vapor barrier on top of you allows the moisture to be trapped causing you to wake up damp, wet and cold. Still some folks claim great success using them so all I can say...test it first before you take it out into the woods.

    My favorite.....Under Quilts ( UQ's ). Think of the bottom of the sleeping bag. These go under the hammock. By placing the UQ beneath the hammock you do not compress the UQ and it will provide insulation. Like TQ's you can get them in a variety of lengths, widths and temperature ratings. Most hammock hangers who try UQ's agree that they are more comfortable to use than pads.

    There is one company that created what is known as the Speer Pea Pod which is a combination top and bottom quilt that surrounds the whole hammock and looks like...well as its name implies...a giant pea pod. While its a great idea, it is heavy and bulky ( along with $$$ ) so it is more of a car camping item. It also has a lot of air space inside to heat up so additional insulation is needed. I have only seen them in use two times over the years.
    Last edited by gunner76; 02-11-2017, 23:35.
    18 years old with 45 years of experience