Decisions, Decisions…

I love fall and everything that that comes with it, changing leaves, cooler days and nights, fall festivals, kettle corn, deer season, high school and college football, boiled peanuts and fresh picked apples just to name a few. No wait…make that almost everything. I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice ANYTHING…but that’s a different story.

Fall is also my favorite time of the year to go camping. Doesn’t matter whether its car camping with the family at one of our state parks, camping along a backwoods trail or just in the back yard with the kids, it’s my time to be outside. In the not too distant past fall family camping was pretty easy…just pitch the big family tent, blow up the air mattresses or set up the cots, roll out the sleeping bags and crawl in. Back country camping was even easier, pitch the tent and roll out the sleeping pads and bags…done!

However, since we’ve gotten into hammock camping things have become a bit muddier. Summer and winter aren’t too difficult to plan for – simply use hot weather gear in the summer and cold weather gear in the winter and add or shed layers of clothes as necessary for fine tuning. Fall and spring nights, when it’s not quite cold and not quite hot, are a bit trickier and usually require various combinations of top quilts, under quilts and clothing to be comfortable.   As far as gear goes, we have top quilts made of fleece, converted sleeping bags, army surplus poncho liners and 5 oz. Climashield Apex and underquilts made of poncho liners and 5 oz. Climashield Apex to choose from. Decisions, decisions…

This weekend the low temperatures were forecast to be in the mid 50s. Since our house is in a low place and cold air sinks, it’s often two or three degrees cooler (assuming the forecast was somewhat accurate to begin with).  So what gear combinations did we end up using?

Jenna settled on the converted 40 degree sleeping bag top quilt and her poncho liner underquilt while wearing a t-shirt, long sleep pants and a pair of socks.


I ended up using a poncho-liner top quilt and my full length Climashield underquilt while wearing a long sleeve cotton t-shirt, a pair of sweat pants and a pair of wool socks.


So how did we fare? As it turned out, the overnight the temperature Saturday night bottomed out around 50 in our back yard.  As I write this post Jenna is still sacked out so it pretty safe to assume that she stayed warm. Me? Well, I stayed plenty warm and toasty. No complaints at all here. Guess we both made good decisions.

Oh yeah, thought I’d throw this out there. Until recently we used little mini carabiners and NiteIze S-biners to attach our underquilts to our hammocks. I picked up some Quilt Hangers from Dutchware a few weeks back that do the job much better. Easy on and easy off and quilt suspension lines split and go to the sides of the hammock body where they’re supposed to go instead of somewhere that they’re not. Check ‘em out…

Hanger 2

This entry was posted in Backpacking, Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hex Tarp, Make Your Own Gear, MYOG, Top Quilt. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Decisions, Decisions…

  1. Katheryn says:

    Is the underquilt necessary to be outside the hammock or could you line the inside with a quilt type thing and get the same results?
    We agree with you on the whole concept of fall being our favorite time of year, but, pumpkin rocks!


    • mrbream says:

      Short answer: Yes and no.

      Longer version: Most types of insulation (think sleeping bags, down comforters, etc) lose most of their insulating properties when compressed, meaning if they’re placed inside the hammock and you sleep directly on them. Underquilts are outside the hammock so they don’t get compressed.

      If you were to use something like fleece or wool blankets, folded over into multiple layers you could probably do OK in fall and spring but you would run into the challenge of keeping everything in place. You also add a LOT of weight and bulk. No big problem for backyard camping or car camping. Another possibility if you want to use something inside the hammock is a closed cell foam sleeping pad that backpackers use which you can get fairly cheaply at wallyworld. Again, its a bit challenging to keep them where they’re supposed to be.

      A good, inexpensive underquilt can be made from an army surplus poncho liner. I’ve made half a dozen. A warm sleeper can usually be pretty happy with one into the low 40s or maybe a little lower. Jenna and I have taken them near the freezing mark and been fine but we both sleep HOT.


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