Under Quilt or Sleeping Pad – Hammock Camping Tips & Advice

Today I am going to real quickly go through under quilts vs. sleeping pads and why you might choose one over the other.

First up is the foam pad. Now this is the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Pad. It’s a very good pad. It’s a very lightweight pad, and not a very expensive pad. Whenever I’m laying on the pad, I am pretty comfortable, and I do stay pretty warm. But some of the places that you can have cold spots is right here at your arms and shoulders, where they’re actually touching the sides of the hammock and they’re not being insulated from the cold by the pad. Not to mention, sometimes at night, if you’re on a pad, you can kinda roll off the pad, or if you like to roll over onto your side like I sometimes do, you can get off the pad, and then once you’ve off the pad, you’re gonna feel it really, really cold. Like I said, a cold spot there.

But another drawback, I think one of the major drawbacks, is your body is not able to breathe, so you’re gonna form condensation, or I don’t know, maybe it’s even sweat, between yourself and the pad. It is never fun to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, or wake up in the morning or whatever, and just feel all wet and sticky and just slippery all on this pad. It’s just not a good feeling to be sweating while you’re sleeping. Granted you won’t be so hot that you’re sweaty; it’s just that your body can’t breathe. So sweat just gets between you and and the pad, and it’s not very fun.

Next is an inflatable pad. This is an old, old Therm-a-Rest self-inflating pad. It’s an XL, so it’s a little bit wider than your typical pad and maybe a little bit longer. Now, this is extremely comfortable, I’ll be honest with you there. This is nice and comfy, very soft, and it’s easier to get on and off this versus the foam pad. The foam pad, you kinda stick to it, and it sticks to the hammock, so it’s kinda hard to slide it into place because one of these pads, you have to kinda get it just right so you don’t fall off of it and so it stays in place throughout the night as best as it can.

I can kinda slide it and move it to find my sweet spot in the hammock. But again, we have the same major drawback that we have with the foam pad. You’re just not able to breathe through this, so you’re still gonna develop the sweat and the condensation between you and the pad.

Next up is an underquilt. These are my favorite option, I think because you don’t build up that sweat between your body and your insulation. This allows you to breathe and things like that, and also it can keep you warmer, and it will, as you can see, it kinda curls up the sides. So as you roll around, you don’t fall off it, and you have that insulation around the sides of you, so if you like to bend your knees and things like that, you can still benefit from the insulation and not feel as many cold spots.

One of the drawbacks to an underquilt, though, is it’s kinda tricky to get it set up. Like, right at the ends, if you have a hole or a little gap in there where wind or cold air can get in, you’re gonna experience a cold spot. So you have to play with it with your positioning, and as you can see, it has a bunch of shock cords and bungees all around it. You can adjust it to how you want it so that it is touching you, you know, that it’s up snug against the bottom of the hammock so that you do benefit from that insulation and you don’t have any cold spots.

Another slight drawback to underquilts is they’re typically pricier than a foam mat, or a foam mat … than a foam pad or a inflatable air mattress. This is the Arrowhead Equipment Jarbidge Underquilt, a synthetic quilt. It’s one of the less expensive ones that you can get. It’s a synthetic quilt, not a down quilt. But, you know, there are a lot of other companies out there that are making quilts these days, but this is a really good one for the money. This is actually a three-quarter quilt as well. I’m not a super tall guy, so I can use this and it’ll come up all the way to my shoulders, and then about maybe to my knee or so. Then I can use some other sort of insulation, like a piece of reflectix or something else to get that extra warmth.
But you can step your game up to some down underquilts that keep you super toasty warm, and they can full-length, they can be three-quarter length, but they’re lightweight, they compact down really, really well. I would love to have one. I hope to have one in the next year or so. Whew man, it’s hot against my back. These things do keep you warm. Whenever it’s touching that hammock, it really does keep you warm.

I think the underquilt is gonna be the way to go, but you can do your own research. I suggest going over to hammockforums.net. Those guys know their stuff. I was a member over there. Well, I still am; I’m just not active anymore, but they really know their stuff. And if you want to find out what underquilt you should get and things like that, go there.

Alex Kafure

Alex Kafure

As South Floridian native, my first camping experience was right along the beach in the Florida Keys. Since then, it's been nothing but exploring what the rest of the world has to offer. From moving to the Pacific Northwest to now residing in Costa Rica, I've had the chance to experience all kinds of environments. The question that always lingers in my mind is, "where to next?" I can't wait to find out.

One Response

  1. Very good article. I certainly appreciate this website. Keep writing!

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Camping Is Easy® was founded by lifelong friends who shared a passion for both the great outdoors and the gear required to enjoy it to the fullest. Erik & Alex now travel the world searching for the best camping spots all while reviewing the products they use along the way. Thanks for visiting!

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