Hammock Underquilt Showdown - Gear Review

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

It's officially fall and temps are starting to drop, but that doesn't mean you need to pack your hammock away just yet.  If you've ever camped in a hammock before, you probably know keeping your backside warm when it gets chilly can be an issue, enter the underquilt.  The problem is, sleeping bags lose all of their insulative qualities when smashed between you and the hammock, leaving your underside freezing in the breeze.  By taking the bottom half of your bag and having it outside the hammock you have solved the issue, or at least that's the thinking.

We spent all spring and summer testing underquilts from a variety of makers, here is what they have to offer. Whether you like to be toasty when nighttime temps are in the 50's, or if you plan to brave a winter's night, there is a quilt with your name on it.

Blaze UnderquiltENO - Blaze Underquilt:   ENO may be the 500 pound gorilla in the travel hammock space, but that is for good reason.  They simply put out some of the best gear money can buy for the hammock camper.  Having used the OneLink Shelter System as my go-to option for a couple of years, having the Blaze UQ to add to the mix when things get a bit chilly has been a revelation.  No more shivering at night on our early spring trips when temps drop after the sun sets, it's just cozy sleeping as I sway in the breeze. Full length coverage means even my legs are warm and the 750 duck down maintains the heat all night long.

Temp Ratings: 35-40 degrees
Weight: 24 oz.
Material(s): Nylon Ripstop w/DWR shell, Nylon Taffeta inner
Unfolded dimensions:   6' 6" x 4'
MSRP: $299.95




Enlightened Equipment - RevoltX 30 Degree Down UQ and RevolationX Top Quilt:  If you are looking for something lighter, less expensive and still amazing quality, you need to check out the options from Enlightened Equipment.  Made right here in Minnesota, and just down the street from our buddies at Sanborn Canoe in Winona, Tim makes some amazing quilts.  Not sure what you need, he will walk you through the decision making process and help you get what you need while staying within your budget.  Pair up a top quilt with the underquilt and you can weather anything from a 40 degree chill to 0 degree mid-winter outings.  To save on cash you can opt for the X line which utilizes factory 2nd rip stop nylon.  That's what we tested and with 6 guys examining the quilts, not one of us could find any issues with the material.  Trust me when I tell you, you can't go wrong with Tim and the crew at Enlightened Equipment.  They know their stuff and are happy to help.

Temp Ratings: 30 degrees
Weight: 16.25oz. UQ and 22oz TQ
Material(s): Shell Fabric: Cosmetic 2nds 1.1oz 30D Ripstop Nylon
Down Fill: 750 Fill Power Duck Down overfilled by 20-30% (up to 20-30% more loft than specified)
MSRP: $150.00 UQ and $200 TQ.




Underground Quilts - Zeppelin 20 degree:  Very similar in design to the Enlightened Equipment quilts, but with a few more options.  You can build your own quilts, exactly the way you want them, right on their site.  Want a color other than grey or black, no problem, green, blue, purple, yellow and even tangerine are all options.  We gave this quilt to our resident freeze-baby on this year's BWCA gear test trip...  For the first time since converting to hammock camping our man Greg weathered two 30-something degree nights without issue.  A full length, 850 goose down 20 degree quilt kept him toasty warm.  Erring on the side of too warm rather than not warm enough is always a safe bet when it comes to back-country insulation, but with the underquilts, it is even more so.  Having your backside exposed to the breeze makes keeping any sleep system warm a challenge.  Beyond your average down, Underground Quilts uses ARD+ Down, where the feathers get a hydrophobic chemical coating after cleaning making them more water resistant than your average down.  We have seen this technology show up in the down world more and more over the last couple of years, and they usually carry a hefty price tag to go with it...

Temp Ratings: 20 degrees
Weight: 29.75 oz.
Material(s):  Illume15 - 15d 0.9oz DWR Ripstop Nylon
Down Fill: 850 Fill Grey Goose Down treated with ARD+ hydrophobic coating.
Unfolded dimensions:  77" x 47"
MSRP: $249.95 as tested


Warbonnet 3-Season Yeti Underquilt:  The Yeti is a great 3-season quilt built to be fast and light.  A 3/4 length quilt, that's overstuffed with 850+ goose down.  The quilt is rated down to 20 degrees, but I think that may be a stretch.  You won't find me in a 3/4 bag once the temps drop below freezing.  Constructed in an asymmetrical design to better fit the diagonal sleeping style most hammock campers have adopted, it just seems to fit really well.  Built to pair with their Blackbird or Traveler hammocks, I suggest that if you are in the market for both, do buy them as a package.  Attaching the quilt to it's designed partner makes life really easy. On the super upside this quilt is crazy light, weighing in at a miniscule 12.5 ounces.

Temp Ratings: 20 degrees
Weight: 12.5 oz. including stuff sack.
Material(s):  DWR Ripstop Nylon
Down Fill: 850+ Fill Goose Down
MSRP: $190 as tested

With the exception of the ENO, all these quilts are built to order, so give yourself 2-4 weeks from ordering to when you are gonna need it.  I love these things...  Forget sleeping on the ground, now I can bust out the hammock pretty much whenever the fancy strikes me.


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