If you’re planning on taking a hammock on a camping or backpacking trip, then you’ll want to consider whether you should get an underquilt or sleeping bag.
One, is far superior to the other when it comes to camping in a hammock on a chilly night.
Let’s get into it, hammock campers.
Underquilt vs Sleeping bag, which is better?
An underquilt hangs below your hammock, its material provides insulation that prevents heat from escaping while keeping you warm. A sleeping bag placed between you and your hammock will compress throughout the night, the compression process leaves you with little to no insulation.
When it comes to hammock camping, especially in cold weather, the underquilt although more expensive is far superior to a sleeping bag, there is little competition here.
Does this mean you shouldn’t bring a sleeping bag at all? Not really. In fact, you should bring both.
Your underquilt will be the main thing protecting you from the coldness below you, while the sleeping bag is best used to protect yourself from the coldness above you.
Plus, if you already own a sleeping bag, you can save money by not having to purchase a top quilt.
If given the choice to choose one or the other, it’s a no-brainer to go with the underquilt despite its bulkiness and extra cost. The advantages far outweigh those of a sleeping bag.
But if given the option, combined, they create a complete layer of protection between you and the cold air around you.
Underquilt vs Sleeping Pad
Compared to an underquilt, a foam sleeping pad is more versatile and will allow you to switch from a hammock to a bivvy or even a lean-to shelter in no time at all, whereas an underquilt is strictly for hammock camping.
While in the hammock, a sleeping pad can often times be uncomfortable as its shape doesn’t usually fit the natural grooves of a hammock, leading to some awkward tossing and turning to find a comfortable position.
Unless of course your hammock comes equipped with a custom sleeping pad layer which restricts it from moving around by design, then they are pretty awesome.
Unlike a sleeping bag, the sleeping pad will not compress as much throughout the night, costing you valuable insulation you need to stay warm.
Sleeping pads are an excellent option for the summer, fall and spring hammock camping, especially foam sleeping pads for that extra comfort. But when winter rolls around, nothing beats an underquilt.
Is an underquilt necessary?
An underquilt is only necessary for hammock camping in the winter months or once temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Not in warmer weather.
Between 60 °F and 70 °F, it will be up to you and how your body reacts to different temperatures.
People who enjoy sleeping on the colder side and generally have no issue staying warm can usually get away without the need for one until the temperature drops below 60 °F.
Whereas, people who get cold easily and do not thrive in colder weather will usually need to equip one once the temperatures drops below 70 °F.
In general, it’s mainly only necessary on cold nights, when you need to really focus on keeping all of your body heat inside your hammock setup.
Do I need Underquilt in summer?
No. You do not need an underquilt in the summer. In fact, many people who use one in the summer hang them looser to allow more cool air in and prevent overheating.
Chances are you will be fine with just a sleeping bag in your hammock during the summer. But It does really depend on if you are the type of person who gets cold easily vs the type of person who gets warm easily.
If you are a person who gets cold easily, you can bring one in the summer months and adjust it to your liking.
If you are a person who overheats easily, it’s best to leave it at home in the summer.
Are hammock underquilts worth it?
Hammock underquilts are definitely worth it. They protect you from the cold draft underneath your hammock and provide warmth better than any sleeping pad or sleeping bag.
My first year hammock camping in colder temperatures, I went with just a sleeping pad. I thought it was doing its job, I was still cold but warmer than I would have been without a sleeping pad.
But the following year, my buddy let me try his out and the difference was night and day. It feels like you are in a cocoon of insulation, you are completely warm throughout the night.
Since then, I have never gone hammock camping without one.
Do you need a top quilt with an underquilt?
Yes. You need a top quilt with an underquilt because the underquilt only protects you from the cold beneath you, while the top quilt will protect you from the cold above you.
A top quilt is your blanket, and you can easily substitute one for a sleeping bag you already own rather than going out and buying one.
If the weather is cold enough to where you require the use of and underquilt, you will most certainly need a top quilt as well.
Can you turn a sleeping bag into an underquilt?
Yes. It’s entirely possible to turn a sleeping bag into an underquilt for your hammock. Turning your sleeping bag into an underquilt will save you money. However, it will also end up weighing more than the average underquilt.
I would only recommend doing this for use in the fall or early winter before your area reaches freezing temperatures. When winter camping, purchasing a real one that was professionally made is highly recommended for keeping you safe and warm.
If you’re interested in learning how to create your own DIY hammock underquilt, I suggest giving this video a watch.
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Hey I’m Josh! I have been practicing Bushcraft for a little over 6 years now! I Started this website to review awesome bushcraft gear that I love as well as share information I have learned along the way!