Finding The Best Underquilt For Your Hammock: 2018 Buying Guide
A lot of people already have a hammock in their backyard, but outdoor enthusiasts often take things to the next level by bringing their hammocks with them on camping trips.
If you plan on going down that route, too, you need to make sure you have something to keep you warm, though. While a sleeping bag will do the job, opting for the best underquilt seems like a better option, overall.
Stick around to learn why!
Why You Need A Hammock Underquilt: Benefits Of Having One
When I was a younger I was used to carrying a sleeping bag or a tent with me wherever I went - during those days it was not a problem at all. I was young and spry after all, able to take on the world with ease! Over time, however, I started to see the practical benefits of things like underquilts and I see why my father preferred them. Here are just a few reasons for that.
How To Pick The Best Underquilt For Your Outdoor Adventures
Okay, so, you do, in fact, need an underquilt.
But how can you be sure you’ve picked the best underquilt for your needs?
Well, here are a few tips that worked for me and some that my father told me about once I finally relented and decided to go for an underquilt like he does. Pay attention to the following factors, and I’m sure you’ll be happy with your purchase:
The most critical choice boils down to these two options – synthetic and down. I won’t tell you one is better than the other because both work perfectly fine in suitable conditions. It’s a thing of personal preference - I prefer synthetic myself while my father swears by down.
That said, down insulation offers unmatched warmth to weight ratio, so if you want the lightweight option, down is the way to go. Alternatively, synthetic insulation underquilts are warmer in wet conditions.
When it comes to the fabric the underquilt is made of things are pretty straightforward – it’s vital that it’s waterproof and windproof, and that it will last. Everything else is just cosmetic and you shouldn’t be distracted by fancy colors or good-looking designs. I made that mistake more than once.
Overall, the light fabric should be enough in most cases, but if you’re worried about durability, opt for a sturdy, rip-stop material, instead.
The biggest question here is:
How much weight will you be able to carry?
Of course, picking the lightest underquilt would be the ideal solution, especially if you have to carry it on your back all day. However, that comes with drawbacks as I found out when one of my first underquilts just tore under me while I was sleeping! And I thought I got a good deal with the low price and weight - don’t make the same mistake.
Torso Or Full-Length
Another thing you’ll have to decide on before you purchase an underquilt – length. You have two options here: torso and full-length models.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, it all comes down to your preferences – folks that enjoy so-called „no-frills“ camping will find that a torso-length underquilt works fine. If, on the other hand, you prefer a more comfortable camping experience or your feet tend to get cold at night like mine do, a full-length underquilt is better.
Whether or not the temperature rating is a factor to consider depends on when you’re going camping. Most people think of summer as the ideal camping season, but true outdoor enthusiasts know that camping in winter can be a breathtaking experience, as well.
Most underquilts should perform just fine if you’re casual camper - if you’re more hardcore and enjoy camping in the winter, with snow falling on your head and the wolves howling in the woods, you’ll need to pay attention to the temperature rating. I fit in the latter category rather than the former.
Lastly, you should consider the cost of the underquilt you’re buying. I recommend you get your stuff in order and set a budget for yourself before you go shopping. You don’t want to be distracted and spend more than you can afford so you end up with no money to buy a hammock for your underquilt. Yes, I did that, sue me.
Here’s a little advice:
The price of an underquilt depends on the materials used, as well as any additional features it has. So, if you’re working with a reasonably limited budget here, synthetic underquilts are your best bet.
In Search Of The Best Underquilt: Detailed Reviews
I figured it would be nice to start this list with an affordable underquilt for an occasional camper – there’s no point in spending a small fortune on equipment if you’re only going to use it a couple of times a year, right?
That said, since this is a three-season underquilt suitable for temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use it not only for spring and summer outings but autumn, as well. Moreover, thanks to the water-repellent coating on the sturdy, rip-stop nylon shell, moisture isn’t something you should worry about.
And while it’s true that it’s lightweight, I have some reservations about its dimensions – even with the stuff sack, it feels a bit too bulky to be carried in a backpack.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that the underquilt is too tapered at the ends, which makes a diagonal lie practically impossible. Furthermore, when combined with a deep midsection, it does leave room for drafts.
Overall, though, I’d say it’s a decent and affordable option for a casual camper.
As I previously mentioned, true outdoor enthusiasts know how beautiful winter camping trips can be. That said, they also realize that, if you plan on embarking on such an adventure, you have to have the proper equipment for it – and that's where ENO Ember 2 comes to play.
This ENO underquilt makes camping a four-season experience. However, it has 50 degrees Fahrenheit temperature rating, so take that into account before you go step out into the cold winter air.
Another thing worth mentioning is the user-friendly setup. With adjustable shock cords at both ends of the underquilt, you’ll set everything up in a matter of minutes.
A considerable advantage of the Ember 2 is its weight – or lack of it, that is. The underquilt is a perfect choice for backpackers that like to keep things light because it weighs only 25 ounces.
I was surprised at how much space it takes, though. Who knew a hammock underquilt as lightweight as this one could be so bulky? For most backpackers, weight is the deciding factor, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the size.
Here’s what makes their Aerie underquilt stand out in the bunch:
It’s not an underquilt!
I mean, it is, but it’s more than that, too. The five-in-one design reserves a spot for it in every camper’s backpack. You get an underquilt, a technical blanket, a hammock pod system, a sleeping bag – or a double sleeping bag, for that matter. Five in one!
At first glance, it might seem way too thin to you, but trust me, the water-repellent coating, and down insulation are more than enough to keep you warm, even when the temperature goes as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
I have to be honest about the zippers, though – at this price point, I expected way more out of them. I know this might sound like nitpicking, but trust me, there’s nothing more frustrating than a stuck zipper when you need to get out of your hammock – and these things seem to get caught on everything!
If you’re working with a tight budget, pay attention to the Chill Gorilla underquilt – it’s, by far, the most affordable model on this list. Don’t let that fool you, though – just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s of inferior quality.
One thing, in particular, caught my attention – the shape of the underquilt. Being a bit wider in the shoulder area, and narrow around your feet, the underquilt is designed to fit around your hammock like a glove. You know what that means – no draft and cold spots!
And speaking of keeping you warm, the nylon shell is windproof and water-resistant, and with a 40-degree Fahrenheit temperature rating, it will serve you throughout the three seasons – spring, summer, and autumn.
However, the underquilt isn’t without issues. One thing that caught my eye about this particular model is that it doesn’t compress very well – even with a stuff sack, it seems a bit bulky.
While it might not seem like a big deal, backpackers know that every inch of space in your backpack counts, so you can’t afford for a hammock underquilt to take up too much of it.
Thanks to the water-repellent finish, the underquilt is more than capable of withstanding moisture. Furthermore, the PrimaLoft Synergy insulation and the cocoon shape that adapts to your body shape will work together to keep you warm and safe from all the cold, harsh winds.
Another thing worth mentioning is the ease of use. The shock cord suspension is fully adjustable, which makes setup a breeze, even for less experienced campers.
However, if you’re around (or over) 6 feet tall, I’ll have to disappoint you – there’s no way this model will fit you unless you’re willing to leave your feet out in the open. I’m not sure this counts as an issue with the underquilt itself – it’s more of a size-related problem – but I thought I should mention it, anyway.
Other than that, I didn’t notice any other downsides of the ENO Vulcan underquilt, so I have to say I’m pretty pleased with this one.
Final Thoughts On The Best Underquilts
Here we are at the end of yet another article, and as you probably know by now, it’s time for me to announce the winner of the round-up.
So, which one of these models is the best underquilt for your hammock? Well, in my opinion, the Eagles Nest Outfitters ENO Vulcan Underquilt takes the cake, but any of the models you’ve seen today will do the job, too.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Let me know which one’s your favorite in the comments below!