Underquilt questions

Discussion in 'Hammock Kit' started by Bob-W, May 8, 2020.

  1. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    OK, just received an Exped Travel Hammock to try things out. Considering an underquilt, will use a Thermarest Ridgerest pad for now, but as ever there are so many options that as soon as you settle on a choice there's something else that catches your eye or makes you question your decision.

    Usage will mainly be in the garden and either bikepacking or backpacking so bulk is important.

    The first option is temperature rating. I think temperature wise -5C +/- is about right - reading the US hammock forums they reckon take your expected overnight temps then subtract 10F or about 5C. I'm only going to be out in summer and you'd be unlikely to get freezing overnight temps in the UK if you select your site.

    The next option is full vs 3/4 length: I'm 1m80 tall (5' 11") so looking at the Cumulus underquilts their Selva 250 is 1m80 whereas the 300 is 2m20. I could just fit on the 250, in fact definitely if I have the top of the quilt at shoulder height rather than above my head. Then of course it isn't really a full length, more a 7/8ths! The hammock is fairly short, 2.7m rather than the 3.0 or 3.3 metre that the Americans seem to recommend, so I'm not sure a full length UQ would actually fit as it would extend quite a way along the gathering. The Americans tend to use a short pad under the feet with a 3/4 UQ but looking at the Hammockgear Phoenix as an example of a 3/4 length it's only 1.37m long

    Bulk/weight wise I think the 3/4 has it.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?
  2. craige

    craige Thru Hiker

    I have a 20° hg Phoenix and a full length 0° ugq whatever it's called. I like both and don't have any issues using either. A pad (2 sections of zlite knock off) in my quilts footbox works a treat for keeping my feet warm and doubles as a sit pad/pack frame.

    Something to note with the cumulus 1.8m length is that you'll sleep slightly diagonally on the quilt as well so it'll feel slightly longer.

    In terms of bulk I don't think you'll see a big difference between 3/4 and full length because down compresses so well.

    I haven't done any more than a local overnighter in my hammock for a couple of years though. There just isn't usually enough tree coverage to reliably find a camp :frown:
  3. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    Shorter UQ's are fine and do help reduce pack bulk and weight. For ease of use, comfort, and bang for your buck a full length is always best, but you are unlikely to go wrong with either. It depends on your priorities. For bikepack, I say go for the short one.
    Backpacking in the UK with a hammock is tricky. You will find yourself not camping very high and so the extra weight and bulk will likely not be carried as far as our HF cousins and their huge forested mountain ranges and peaks.

    Preferred hammock length is individual and related to your height. I'm 6ft (183 cm). I have a few 2.7's, but dont use them much. 11 ft is where it starts to get very comfy and my stash of full timer hammocks are 13ft long. For bikepacking, I'll take my 200g 1.1 ripstop 11.5 ft that packs to the size of an apple.

    1.37 m long? That is more like a 2/3rds for me. I have one and it's fine. It covers from my knees to neck. I need a warm pillow and foot pad for anything below 0c with that.

    A full length hammock for me, is one that extends from just above you head, to just below your feet. To insulate the hammock body is pointless. The 180 should be ideal for your height. FWIW, I sleep in a 190cm at home as a full time hammocker and that's the length I use for my winter Arctic hammocking trips.
  4. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    Thanks for the replies.

    I realised that the Exped is somewhat short before I bought it but it is a toe in the water sort of purchase and can be used for general dossing around in the garden - as per the photo, we've a few mature apple trees to hang from. We are on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales so accessible stands of trees are in short supply and those that do exist are pretty exposed and the wind whips through them :cautious: I don't think I'd head somewhere unknown/unseen and rely on a hammock system, I'd want to check things out first and make a mental note of "that wood's sheltered and out of sight of houses" sort of thing.

    For some reason UK/EU made hammocks (or at least the ones I've come across) are 2.7-3.0m whereas the US made ones start at 3.0/3.3m. The American models - Warbonnet and the like are also pretty expensive over here so quite an investment if I didn't take to what is a pretty niche market in the UK. One advantage of the shorter hammock is that my Alpkit Rig7 tarp set up as a simple A-frame covers it completely, so no need to buy another tarp ;)

    There's €25 and 75g difference between the 3/4 and full length Cumulus quilts so no big deal either way, I've actually seen the 3/4 for €174 so more like €45 cheaper. If the 3/4 had been similar to the American ones it would have been an easier choice but I'm right on the boundary of the sizing, a bit like being between medium and large (which I also am) so you've to choose between figure hugging and baggy! The 3/4 would suit my wife, who's 1.65m, as a full length UQ.

    @Teepee -One comment I saw was that a full UQ should be your height plus 50-100mm at either end, so for me that would be 1.90-2.0m which falls bang in the middle of the sizing of the two Cumulus offerings. So, yeah, 2.2m would be insulating 40cm of hammock most of which would be over the gathered area on my hammock, not an efficient use of resources.

    Looking more and more like the 3/4 is for me.

    Anyway, I'm going to try sleeping in the hammock tonight, under the apple blossom in our garden you understand :biggrin:
  5. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    Enjoy. :)

    Apologies if you know this, but watch out for weakness on fruit trees. It's quite brittle wood. Choose an overly thick bit to hang from and have a little bounce.
  6. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    No problems with the trees - they are pretty sturdy specimens and I'd done a test daytime hang during the week.

    Obviously this being my first night in a hammock there were one or two teething problems, namely having one end way too low so I kept sliding that way. The night's revelries didn't help me figure things out as to why my head (or feet once I'd turned round) were crammed up against one end whilst there was masses of room at the other! A bit of midnight fettling was in order, a lot better but still wasn't right, would have to do.

    I used the Ridgerest but because of the incorrect set up it was a bit crumpled. I'd taken both my Cumulus 150 quilt and my PHD Minim but it was warm enough that I just used the quilt.

    Come sunrise, I'm woken by the bumble bees getting to work on the apple blossom above my head. Then it was the turn of the local blackbird to pipe up before I was checked out by a robin and a great tit. Then the curlews, a cuckoo, a couple of pigeons and some gulls decided to get in on the act so by now there was a right racket going on.

    Looking down at my feet I suddenly realised the solution to my asymmetric weight distribution - an extra wrap of the webbing around the tree and things are much better. Only now it's time to get up!

    Definitely a learning curve!
    WilliamC and cathyjc like this.
  7. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Feet should be higher than your head in a hammock Bob

    The sliding problem is fixed by laying diagonally across the hammock :thumbsup:
  8. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    Feet were higher - one way round they were about 50cm higher! I was also laying diagonally. I'd just hung the hammock incorrectly, half a bottle of wine didn't help me in sorting things out in the darkness :giggle: The mat didn't help matters as it had a semi-mind of its own.

    Need to read the relevant section in "The Ultimate Hang" again but I think the hammock should be slung level or slightly, maybe < 10cm, higher at whichever end you've designated as the "foot end". TUH also mentions different angles for sleeping on the diagonal depending on the length of the hammock and different suspension angles.

    Here's what I ended up with:


    I started with an inflatable pillow (just visible at the back) but it was more comfortable with a scrunched up jacket for pillow, again another bit of learning.
    gixer and MartinK9 like this.
  9. Keith

    Keith Trekker

    I have used my Cumulus 150 quilt as an underquilt successfully. It is the newer version that opens up fully at the footbox, and I attached loops to the small webbing tabs at each corner. The suspension was a length of elastic attached to each end with a mini biner, doubled back at one side with a cord lock for adjustment, and this was looped either over or through the continuous loops on the hammock.
    The same type of connection is on the MLD Spirit quilts, that are listed as underquilt compatable.
    I have the same set up on an EE Enigma quilt as well, so can use them as top or underquilts without buying extra gear.
    The Cumulus 150 packs pretty small, works well for minimal summer bikepaking loads.
    Bob-W likes this.
  10. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    Ah, my Cumulus 150 and my wife's 350 are the older style with the sewn footbox. I'd been thinking of buying the 250 so might be possible to kill two birds with one stone as it were. I'll have a look at the MLD quilts to check the suspension on them.
    Keith likes this.
  11. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    My wife and I swapped pitches last night - this time I got the Gatewood and she got the hammock. Like me the previous night it was her first night in a hammock.

    She's a bit shorter than me, 1.60m, and was comfy all night so I suspect it's a body height to hammock length problem. At 1.80m I've only 900mm extra length of fabric so just 450mm at each end if everything is set up correctly. There was a strong breeze overnight and even though she was using her 350 quilt she still felt a bit chilled at times. I was in my 150 and was fine.
  12. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    A (sort of) update - a friend uses an Alpkit Cloud Cover quilt https://alpkit.com/collections/sleeping-bags/products/cloud-cover as his underquilt. Needed a bit of modification by sewing grosgain tie-outs at each corner for the suspension. The draw cord/cinch system on the quilt serves the same purpose when used as an underquilt.

    In other news - SWMBO isn't against the idea and we are looking for suitable material to make a hammock :smile: (she's into sewing ATM) - I think between 3m & 3.3m (10-11ft) would be about right for me.
    MartinK9 likes this.
  13. Meadows

    Meadows Section Hiker

    Check out Blue Sky Lavender on Ebay, he makes top and under quilts and is reasonably happy to do custom work.

    Try these folks for fabric, keep Google translate open.

    Or AdvXpert have some UL fabric 20d and some 70d for hammocks but you'll struggle to find something wide enough, I like 160cm minimum for hammocks.
    Sellers, Tough Textiles and Tough Fabrics on Ebay sometimes come up trumps with parachute fabrics.
    Henge Hammocks for cords and tree straps etc.
  14. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    A bit of an update.

    I came across this on Cumulus' site about the Selva 250: "¾ of the hammock length is insulated" which sort of explains why it's so long compared to the US 3/4 underquilts.
  15. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    So in the end I went for the Selva 250. It should be arriving in a few days' time.

    @Meadows - see my thread in the MYOG forum, got 5m of material from extremtextil.de and made up a 3.3m hammock, much comfier :)
    Meadows likes this.
  16. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    Well the "few days' time" turned out to be a month :woot: So more down loveliness :)

    Comments I've seen about the weight of the supplied shock cord are justified - almost the same weight as the underquilt itself!
    Meadows likes this.
  17. Meadows

    Meadows Section Hiker

    They do look great.
  18. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    Well got to use it in anger this last weekend in mid-Wales with some bikepacking. Two nights with overnight lows of about 5C.




    I had a Cumulus 150 quilt on top and was toasty warm both nights. The second night was a bit more uncomfortable as I hadn't got the hammock set up right - there were too many branches on the tree with the bike leaning on it so the hammock was level rather than feet high. More learning to come no doubt!
    Meadows, Rmr and Shewie like this.
  19. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    A colder weather test.

    In the garden obviously - we are in tier 3. Temps hovered around freezing all night which is about five degrees colder than my previous nights in a hammock but not as cold as the previous night when it got down to -5C. Generally still but with a few gusts that would billow the tarp and the occasional light shower. The moon and the snow lying on the ground meant it was pretty light all night.

    Had the Cumulus Selva 250 underquilt underneath with my wife's Cumulus 350 quilt on top. I was toasty warm! I had to remove my jacket within a minute or two and headwear only a few minutes after that. I'd obviously not got the underquilt correctly set up as an hour or so later one of the wind gusts caused a cold spot in the middle of my back, a bit of adjustment and I was fine the rest of the night.

    At some point during the night I'm woken by some soulful howling. The cat arrives wondering what the hell's going on then decides he's going to join me so jumps up and after a bit of that paddling that cats do and fidgeting around snuggles down on top of me! He wasn't bothered by my fidgeting and only stirred when the local blackbirds started their usual bickering clattering through the trees. It wasn't long before I was getting up anyway.

    Surprised just how warm I was - the underquilt is rated to -4C and the recommendation is to have a 5C buffer so I was within that. I suspect that if it had been windier then I'd have felt cooler. Not sure how much lower will be fine with this setup, at least with garden tests I can head indoors if I get it wrong.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
    Meadows, gixer and Keith like this.
  20. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    That’s good going, I take it the Selva 250 only has 250g of down in it?
    I’d be cold at those temps and probably opt for my 20f Incubator which has around 370g of fill I think
  21. Bob-W

    Bob-W Trail Blazer

    Yes, whereas most of the Stateside companies aim for a temp rating then see how much down/insulation is needed for that rating, Cumulus go for specific amounts of down then see what temperature it works at. All, I think, their products are of the convention "Name XXXg of down".

    I'm a warm sleeper though so unless it is really warm, as in 20C+, I always wear a set of merino base layers. Remember that the Selva 250 is a "three quarter" UQ though again Cumulus' definition of 3/4 is different to most other companies and they take it as 3/4 of the length of the hammock not a person. The full length version at the same rating has 300g of down. The Selva 250 is long enough for me at 1.8m tall to comfortably cover from below my feet to my neck so I just need to have something as a pillow and I'm good to go.

    20f is -6C (I think) so only a couple of degrees difference to the -4C rating of the Selva. One of my projects is to make an underquilt protector - my wife bought an "offcut pack" from Hillebrandt which contained some large lengths of material of varying weights one of which is either 7D or 10D ripstop and there's enough to make a UQP from that. While it won't provide much if any insulation itself it will act as a windbreak so potentially makes that 5C buffer a bit smaller.
  22. Ed the Ted

    Ed the Ted Ultralighter

    Thanks for posting all this and your experiences, it's really helpful. I'm thinking of an underquilt for starters to permit some long walkabouts in forest areas in the spring and summer and autumn (southern europe so warmer than UK), really wondering if I should get a 250 long (I'm 185cm), normal 250 or even the 120. From your posts I'd guess the 250 would cover the biggest range, but I'm worried I'd be way too hot once the nights are above 10 degrees, but too cold without when they're below 20 or there's a breeze or whatever, in which case the 120 would be a better choice. Maybe the shorter 250 and simply regulate with different thickness sleeping bags/quilts?

    I also have a thermarest that is really comfy in the hammock (the standard self inflating type, can't remember the name), maybe a 120 for summer and then add the thermarest for colder nights.

    I like the idea of saving a bit of cash on the underquilt and then getting one of these basic aegismax down quilts, a good, light, compressible summer combo for round these parts.

    Any thoughts or advice much appreciated!

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