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Underquilt or Pad?
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Justin Nelson
(jnelson871) - MLife

Locale: CA Bay Area
Underquilt or Pad? on 10/03/2012 22:43:48 MDT Print View

Just a little pole from the hammockers here. Do you use an underquilt or a sleeping pad and why? I have been bouncing back and forth lately and while I admit my underquilt is far more comfortable, it hurts a little when I look at the difference on my gear list.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Underquilt or Pad? on 10/03/2012 22:48:49 MDT Print View

Underquilt. If I'm well rested the weight difference is acceptable.

My underquilt and large Neoair weight the same.

William Roddey

Locale: Southeast
Re: Underquilt or Pad? on 10/04/2012 03:55:58 MDT Print View

I have used both and find the uq to be far more comfortable.

If you are hiking in an area where you may have to go to ground, the pad is a much smarter choice.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Underquilt or Pad? on 10/04/2012 07:59:51 MDT Print View

I tried using pads but once I tried an underquilt I never went back. Part of the reason is that my pads are all 20" wide (to fit in my pad holder on my backpacks) and 20" wasn't enough to insulate my shoulders when I was on my back. I bought a "Segmented Pad Extender" from Speer Hammocks that worked okay to insulate my shoulders

I have a couple of underquilts that I swap out depending on the expected temperatures. It might be psychological, but I find that the UQ's seem to be warmer than expected...I have a Te-Wa Summer Breeze (a 3/4 down quilt rated to the 40's) and was comfortable in it to just below freezing.

One thing I've found about switching from a pad to an underquilt: I have frameless packs (a GG Murmur and a SMD Starlite) and I'm struggling to find something to give the pack some shape and stiffness in the absence of a pad. I'm currently carrying a GG Sitlight pad in my Murmur that I don't really need. It's got me looking at the new ZPacks Arc Blast to get the advantages of the frame without carrying a pad of any kind.

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Pad on 10/04/2012 08:10:58 MDT Print View

When I first started to use a hammock I hated using my pad. But that was in a gathered end and the pad was constantly slipping around as I shifted. Once I started making DIY bridge hammocks I built in a pad pocket which helped tremendously. I now have a Warbonnet Ridgerunner DL and the pad sleeve works very well to keep the pad in place. With the pad only partially inflated it is like laying on a cloud.

I like a pad as it works both for my hammock and when on the ground with my wife, who does not like the hammocks for lack of "togetherness". I've never broke down and bought an underquilt so I have no direct comparison.

Edited by BER on 10/04/2012 08:13:39 MDT.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Never had a quilt on 04/08/2013 12:51:45 MDT Print View

The pad is so much more versatile. If you go to ground or have to sleep in a shelter as is required for transiting the Smokies, the pad works. I use a three quarter length Neo-air under my torso and my pack (z-packs arc blast) under my feet.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Underquilt or Pad? on 04/08/2013 13:19:53 MDT Print View

Pads are the lightest and by far the least expensive option. You will need a wide pad; 20" wide pads won't work. The large one from Gossamer Gear is a good option, and you can get 25" ones from WallyWorld or Big 5 stores if you are in the West. I trimmed the corners of a 25" pad to get a smoother arrangement.

The problem with pads is getting in the hammock and getting it all arranged. It takes some squirming and practice, but it can be done.

Underquilts allow you to enjoy the smooth supporting surface of the hammock fabric and can provide more insulation. They are expensive, can add more weight and they do add more strings to the mix. Properly suspended, they give wrap-around warmth.

Search YouTube for "shug hammock" and you will be entertained with his excellent videos on hammock camping and his -26F winter hammock trip. He has a lot of info on insulation, needless to say!

I use a clone of the Hennessy SuperShelter system, with an undercover and the Hennessy open cell foam pad, along with a space blanket sandwiched in between. It is good to the mid-low 40's F and makes a great summer combo. My undercover can also be used as a poncho. Hennessy has some demo videos on his website.
Jacks R Better adapts the DriDucks poncho for use as an undercover/weather shield too. 2QZQ makes ripstop nylon and silnylon undercovers too.

I'm waiting for someone to come out with a truly integrated hammock and insulation system. I think it is a major sticking point in the development of using hammocks for shelters. I really don't understand why someone doesn't just sew a differential-cut quilt to the bottom of a hammock and be done with it.

Edited by dwambaugh on 04/08/2013 13:21:13 MDT.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Underquilt or Pad on 04/08/2013 13:56:15 MDT Print View

When I was trying to get my pad to work as insulation I found that having a pad pocket was really the only way it would work for me. I just didn't like the extra weight of a pad pocket, but I kept wondering why nobody put straps (say 5-6 1" straps) on the bottom of the hammock, equally spaced, to hold a pad in place.

That would give you the benefit of holding the pad in place underneath you without the weight of a second layer of material.

I think I'll have to weight until someone adopts Dale's suggestion of the integrated hammock/underquilt system.

On a side note Dale...I accidentally tried something like that late one night after answering nature's call...I sat down on the underquilt rather than on the hammock. It wasn't good - the end ripped right off the UQ and I hit the ground and had to rig something up to get me through the night. Not a happy moment.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Integrate hammock and pad with snaps? on 04/08/2013 14:16:23 MDT Print View

Has anybody tried adding a few good snaps to their hammock and underquilt and using that to attach them to each other directly? It seems like that could be both lighter and more reliable than the shock cord systems I usually see. Seems like it couldn't be easier using something like this snap fastener: You could add the snaps to multiple hammocks as well. I can't imagine the tensions on either quilt or hammock would be too damaging. Am I missing something here? Seems unlikely that nobody has had this idea before.

In answer to the original thread: I frequently use both. Most of the time I find a pad (I now have the GG doublewide CCF pad, but for a while I used z-lites modified into a T shape to wrap around my shoulders) to be the simplest solution, but since I have a JRB Sierra Stealth that can work as an UQ I'll sometimes use that in addition to a pad to get my hammock setup down to significantly lower temps without having to buy a dedicated UQ.

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 04/08/2013 14:19:59 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Integrate hammock and pad with snaps? on 04/08/2013 18:02:12 MDT Print View

Snaps may do the trick. I've considered zippers or Velcro too. Most of the issues are trying to eliminate gaps at the ends and the current designs get into all kinds of drawstrings and bungee cords. Velcro or zippers on the ends would seal better.

My dream setup would be an an asymmetrical hammock with an integral zippered side-entry bug net, just like a Hennessy. There would be a quilt sewn to the bottom in an asymmetrical pattern, with a good overlap for the user-- no point in going all the way to the ends, IMHO. The entry side of the quilt would have a 2'-3' zipper, so you could add more insulation like a small quilt or foam pad. You could make that quilt insert wearable for a camp puffy, like a vest or serape. You could still mount a regular underquilt for colder weather, or have a full length underquilt and integrated top cover for colder winter camping, with the top cover aiding the support of the second outer underquilt.

Clark hammocks have an interesting approach to the issue, with pockets sewn to the underside and accessory bats, like pillows that stuff into the pockets (Z-liner system). There are triangular bats that cover the ends. There is a fellow with a Youtube video that shows off the features on a Clark:

I think the Clark makes a good illustration of how the camping hammock market has developed. It started out with basic gathered end hammocks and continued to more complex designs like the Warbonnet Blackbird and the Clark. My assumption is that the cottage hammock makers were more oriented to the main hammock and suspension components and not as interested, skilled or tooled for making baffled quilts and the rest. Clark has a fully integrated system of hammock tarp and insulation, but a North American model plus Z-liner is going to set you back about $550. A Hennessy will run $170-$240 for a hammock and tarp, but you still need to add insulation and that is buried on another page and you can add another $150 so the total is more like $320-$390. And Hennessy says the SuperShelter is a 4-season package, but there's no way you're going below freezing with it.

So the market is really a piecemeal arrangement of hammocks, tarps, quilts and suspension. Jacks R Better has bravely taken the issue on by offering a complete hammock camping package--- to the tune of $799 and I think that is why many other makers haven't gone there: the price of a real coordinated system in one gulp scares people off. Of course many already have a tent, sleeping bag and pad and they may have paid more than very nice hammock system, but they got there piece by piece in an evolutionary kind of process. I think it rarer for someone to go out and buy a spendy tent pad and bag all in one gulp. So dropping another $800 for the privilege of sleeping 18" off the ground is daunting, but you're going to end up going there anyway if you want to use a hammock north or south of the Tropics.

So some poor sap buys something like a $20 Grand Trunk Ultralight thinking that can go camping with it. They then proceed to nickel and dime themselves, buying workable suspension, bottom insulation, tarp, bug net, etc, etc. KA-CHING, KA-CHING!!! Surprise, surprise, surprise: the hammock body is the cheapest part of the deal. And not one major hammock manufacturer will tell you up front that you can't do squat with a plain hammock body below 60F. Walk into REI and you'll see Hennessy or ENO hammocks, but nothing else to go with them. I don't think it is a scam or conspiracy, but it is a little messy. Even the ultralighters have found out that their existing 20" wide pads aren't useful, nor are most of the tarps out there, unless you have something bigger than 10' on one dimension. Ooops!

Now where we're all done with it and we're ready to put up our hammock. Wrap the tree straps, attach with carabiner or toggles, set out a couple stakes and guylines if you have an asymmetrical model, get the tarp hung to the trees and and 2-4 more guylines and stakes, and hang your underquilt with yet more suspension lines and associated hardware. Add a bug net of you don't have a hammock with an integrated one. Then you can get in with your sleeping bag or quilt and tweak the underquilt into place, hoping it doesn't gap at the ends or shift as you move during the night. I think that is sloppy, especially on the underquilt part and I think the designers and makers can do a better job. SOMEBODY needs to find the fortitude to offer a hammock suitable for 3 seasons in North America that doesn't look like a backyard laundry line!

End rant.

Daniel Saunders
(Boulderman) - F

Locale: Front Range
Backyard laundry line on 04/08/2013 23:44:41 MDT Print View

I LOVE my Warbonnet backyard laundry line! ;-)

Rainbow lakes hammock

seth mcalister
(sethmcalister) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: Re: Underquilt or Pad? on 04/11/2013 08:08:27 MDT Print View


While I agree with you to an extent about pads being the lightest, what isn't considered as how low pads will take us. Most hammockers can comfortable sleep to about the 50's or mid 40's depending on the pad thickness.

I have a z-lite cut down for ground dwelling that comes in at 5.7 ounces but it's not wide enough for my hammock. For 40's I'd have to supplement something under my feet.

I will hopefully be getting my Te-Wa Breeze in soon. I'm having Mike make it with M50. I should be able to save at 1.5-2 ounces which puts it in the 8.5-9 ounce range making it very competitive with pads.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Underquilt or Pad? on 04/11/2013 08:46:37 MDT Print View

I consider 40F as acceptable for summer-ish weather. I typically don't use a pad and go with a SuperShelter clone or a synthetic UQ and I could use both together. The Te-Wa should serve you well.

Add a sit pad for you feet. I use a z-seat anyway and it's just enough to keep your heels and calves warm.

Do try rigging an undercover. For a trial, any retangle of light cloth that is gathered on the ends and hung on shock cord will do. Space blankets are a little small, but a full backpacking poncho should work. You can use that with a space blanket and your UQ and go a lot lower.

seth mcalister
(sethmcalister) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Papa Smurf on 04/11/2013 11:39:35 MDT Print View

Have you considered contacting Papa Smurf and having him prototype an all-in-one hammock/insulation setup based off his Darien UL or something of the sort?

IIRC, there was work on a cuben peapod of sorts at one point. I was following the thread over at HF for awhile but I haven't seen any updates. I know PS does custom work, haven't employed him (still saving for the Darien UL myself) but i would think it would be a start.

If it turns out to be successful, well, we have a cottage mfg. that can possibly start marketing.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Papa Smurf on 04/12/2013 10:25:45 MDT Print View

Papa Smurf is a great guy.What I need to do is to learn to drive a sewing machine and get to work.

Jeff Gray
(JeffGray) - F
pad on 04/14/2013 19:21:32 MDT Print View

Been sticking with a z-lite with scavenged reflectix type material for cost difference of buying an under quilt. The reflectix has kept me warm to 35 degree F so far.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: z-lite with scavenged reflectix on 04/14/2013 19:24:25 MDT Print View

Jeff, what does your setup look like? That sounds light.

Edited by dwambaugh on 04/14/2013 19:34:29 MDT.

Jeff Gray
(JeffGray) - F
Re: Re: z-lite with scavenged reflectix on 04/17/2013 17:51:16 MDT Print View

I use the small size z-lite. The reflectix is 6'8" long and about 3 1/2' wide. I'm 6'6" so it covers pretty well. The reflectix only has foil on one side. It was scavenged from my kids school (it was used to wrap a cookie dough delivery). it weighs about 8 oz. For real cold nights I brought another small piece of real reflectix to put in the footbox of my bag to keep my feet warm if they wander during the night.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Poll on 04/18/2013 23:34:49 MDT Print View

For your poll, mark me as an underquilt user- all the way.

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
UQ on 05/03/2013 18:58:32 MDT Print View

UQ. Hands down.