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Underquilt for the Sierras
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Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Underquilt for the Sierras on 02/01/2014 12:39:54 MST Print View

Hello all, I just purchased my first hammock, and I can't wait to get it and give it a shot. After seeing Doug I's Warbonnet Blackbird at GGG, I fell in love with it. I'd been on the fence about a couple hammocks before that, and seeing the WBBB in person completely pushed me over the edge.

I've been spending a lot of time on, and learning a lot. There are two reason I'm asking this question here on BPL, instead of The first is that is a bit of information overload. There is simply a ton to read. The bigger reason, however, is that I want to get answers from people with the BPL mindset.

I got this hammock for one purpose in mind, summer backpacking in the Eastern Sierras. Not three season, not winter, not motorcycle get the picture. I might start hammocking even more if I love it, but right now I plan on summer use only while backpacking in the sierras. The reason I'm making such a big deal about this is that I'm looking for quilt recommendations as far as temp ratings are concerned. Primarily underquilt, but top quilt as well I suppose.

If I'd asked this question on, I have a feeling that many people would suggest a quilt temp rating much lower than what I actually other words the "worst case scenario mindset", which I can identify with all too well. What I'm actually looking for is the minimum I can comfortably get by with. It seems that underquilts come in 0, 20, and 40* ratings. I never see them in 30*, which is what I'd probably lean towards. So between a 20 and a 40, which would you folks suggest? Or maybe a 40* with overstuff?

I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but the hammock I ended up going with is the WBBB single layer, in 1.9 (multicam).


Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Underquilt on 02/01/2014 13:33:03 MST Print View


I have a spreadsheet somewhere (geek alert..) where I imported historical weather data from a bunch of the eastern Sierra weather stations (e.g. Bishop Pass, Charlotte Lake) for about a ten year period. I don't have it in front of me now, but I remember the average overnight low being around 38F with a 95% low value of around 22F for the month of September (a little colder than true summer e.g. early August). So most of the time you'd be fine with a system good to 30F but maybe one night in 20 you'd be cold. That reflects my personal experience as well... I bring a 20F quilt and most of the time I'm toasty and every once in awhile it gets cold and I think I'm glad I don't have a 30F quilt. 40F would definitely be too cold for me except on the warmest nights.


David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Underquilt on 02/01/2014 14:31:55 MST Print View

Hi Doug,

Andrew's post seems spot on. It may also be worth considering that you are unlikely to be camping at the highest and coldest elevations with your underquilt since you will be in forested areas where it should be slightly warmer. I am still figuring out my hammock system but if it were me I would go with the 20 degree 3/4 UQ. The weight difference on a 3/4 UQ when comparing between 40,30,20 seems marginal.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Re: Underquilt on 02/01/2014 14:58:06 MST Print View

Thanks Andrew and David, that helps a lot. I'm starting to realize how lucky I've been on my summer Sierra backpacking trips. On my last trip, I took my 40* synthetic quilt that I just used at GGG with a Synmat 7, where it got to around 50*, and was too cold at GGG. At 10,000' in the Sierras, I was toasty warm in it, with only a Thermarest Ridgerest. And as a 40* rated quilt, it is super optimistic, it is really closer to a 50 or 55*.

Which means in a nutshell that I shouldn't expect to be as warm in an average summer as I was on my last trip up there. I'm normally a cold sleeper, so I'm thinking I should follow your advice and go with a 20* under quilt. I'm not convinced I can go with a 3/4 length though...I won't be carrying a pad for under my legs, and my feet are always the coldest part of my body (poor leg circulation).

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Underquilt on 02/01/2014 16:42:27 MST Print View

Go with the 20, and get the full length! It's worth the minimal extra weight.

I bought a Hammock Gear under quilt (Incubator 20) and really like it.

Edited by idester on 02/01/2014 16:44:04 MST.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Quilts on 02/01/2014 17:19:23 MST Print View

Enlightened equipment and Katabatic have 30 degree quilts ... The big question in the Sierras is always 20 or 30 because while you will get away with 30 most of the time when temps are in mid 30s, it only takea a night in the 20s and some wind to have a miserable night / trip ...

Unless you want to mess with pads for your feet and legs with little to no weight advantage and more hassle, I'd go with the full length UQ ... nothing worse then messing with cold spots when pads move around ...

My 3 season strategy: A 30 degree tq and uq setup means you've got more flexibility so that you're not sweating bullets on warm nights, have less weight then 20 degree stup and if you know you're going into a colder stretch, you can get a Warbonnet travel sock that reports to create a micro environment increase of about 15 to 20 degrees.... Haven't used a travel sock personally yet but plan on using it if needed this season .... If you're a cold sleeper and don't mind a paltry 6 or so ounce increase (what I saw when comparing EE and katabatic options) then you can get a 20 degree setup and be pretty solid .... I would do this myself but I also hang when sailing, Hawaii and all over the place, so want to be able to use 30 degree setup in warmer temps, which is a bit of a stretch, but an even bigger stretch with 20 degree setup ...

After experimenting with hanging last year, I finally committed to an all new setup and my hammock / quilt / tarp setup is only a few ounces heavier then my previous hexamid / sleeping bag / sleeping pad setup ....

Edited by tracedef on 02/01/2014 17:23:31 MST.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Sierra Under Quilt on 02/03/2014 13:40:56 MST Print View

Full length is best answer given that may pads carried for the legs weigh more and have far more bulk than the "missing foot end" of torso legth UQ...

As far as 20-30 best to go with the 20*... far better to be secure when weather gets bad...Weight difference between 20-30 degree models is generally only an ounce or so.

Make sure you get both dual differential design and full radial baffles to ensur full loft under the compound complex curves of hammock bottoms...Only the JRB Mt Washington UQs have the radial baffles.


PS remember I may be biased... but these are simple facts.

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Sierra Under Quilt on 02/03/2014 19:41:22 MST Print View

"Only the JRB Mt Washington UQs have the radial baffles."

Because nobody else would use horizontal baffles on an under quilt.


Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Underquilt on 02/03/2014 20:55:17 MST Print View

Thanks everyone. It sounds like the consensus is for 20* full length, and that suits my needs nicely. I'd rather be too warm than not warm enough. I'll continue checking out the brands and features. I'm not in too much of a rush on this project, so I'e got plenty of time for research.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Underquilt for the Sierras on 02/08/2014 17:24:22 MST Print View

I had one recent discovery.

I had been using 20 degree top and bottom quilts and this worked well down to 20 degrees.

I tried a Warbonnet Traveler sock and found that it added a huge amount of warmth, especially in windy conditions.

I now only carry a 30 degree full length top and bottom quilt and because of the added splash and spray protection, a smaller lighter 8.5x11 tarp. I could even go with a smaller tarp, but that is the lightest one I have.

I have been plenty warm in 15 degree gale force winds with hail and snow. I feel I could go to even lower temps on a calm night.

It really adds to the comfort. No more cold nose or breathing problems from inhaling painfully cold air.

Although the sock weighs 9 ounces, I was able to stay around the same weight or less than I was before by using lighter quilts and tarp.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 02/09/2014 03:24:55 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Underquilt for the Sierras on 02/08/2014 20:43:10 MST Print View

Thanks for the comments, Steven. I've been looking at the socks as well, and it's great to hear more satisfied comments regarding them. From what I've read so far, everyone who has used one seems to really like it.

Cold nose syndrome is the bane of my camping experience. It comes second only to cold feet in the reasons why I don't sleep well when it's chilly. I'll definitely have to consider getting a sock.

By the way, I set up my WBBB single layer multicam today for the first time. It just arrived yesterday. What a great hammock! It has been raining on and off, so I couldn't sleep in it (no tarp or underquilt yet), but I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy "hanging". :)

Jeremy Mader
(JeremyNoVa) - M

Locale: NoVa
UQP on 02/10/2014 09:39:47 MST Print View

Even adding an Under Quilt Protector will add some warmth as well if you don't want a sock/or are in wet weather. Good call on the 20*. You can adjust it to vent more in the warmer weather. I've used mine in the 60's with a fleece liner and it's been perfect.

I have the HQ Incubator 20*. It's awesome and well made. I just ordered the EE 0* Revelation to use as a cold weather set up. Love the idea that it can be used as a normal quilt and an UQ. Might be worth looking into as well as a dual purpose item.

I picked up some down booties for my feet. They are always cold and make a world of difference when the temps are in the 20's.

Edited by JeremyNoVa on 02/10/2014 09:41:25 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: UQP on 02/10/2014 13:21:27 MST Print View

Jeremy, for some reason, with all the reading up I've been doing on various quilt makers, I skipped EE. After reading Trace's reply to this thread I looked them up. Now I've read more reviews of EE quilts on old threads from this site as well, and I think I'm sold. At least for the top quilt I'm convinced I'll get an EE, and possibly for the UQ as well.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: UQP on 02/10/2014 13:41:55 MST Print View

"At least for the top quilt I'm convinced I'll get an EE, and possibly for the UQ as well."

Can't go wrong with anything from Tim, but I don't think he makes full length UQs, only 3/4 length.

His Enigma quilts are the bees knees!

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
EE on 02/10/2014 13:43:39 MST Print View

EE makes full length, I have one on the way.

Edited by tracedef on 02/10/2014 13:55:18 MST.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Underquilt for the Sierras on 02/10/2014 13:52:44 MST Print View

My wife and I both have EE top quilts and we do use them as either bottom and top quilts depending on the situation.

If you do go for a full length EE top quilt to be used as a bottom quilt only, go for the narrow size. Anything wider than a narrow will be wasted when used only as a bottom quilt and the length shouldn't be much longer than your height.

A short is 6 ft long, perfect for me, since i'm just under 6'.

Of course, if you are going to use it as a top quilt for ground camping as well, you will want a longer and wider version depending on your size.

The EE top quilt works great as a bottom quilt as well. The choices in materials and price is a real plus.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
EE quilts on 02/11/2014 00:44:45 MST Print View

Thanks for the great info you guys. I think I'm going to have to get two EE quilts. The top quilt I want to get big enough to use for a ground camping quilt as well. In fact, I may end up getting both of them big enough to use on the ground. I'll be carrying a bit more bulk and weight, but that way my wife can use one of them when we go ground camping together. Hers can be slightly smaller and fill the UQ role for me when I'm hammocking solo.