Can You Use a Blanket as an Underquilt?

A person using a blanket as an underquilt, enjoying the outdoors.

You might already know this, but internet forums and message boards are crowded with various ideas on underquilt alternatives. Forums and message boards that revolve around hammock camping, that is. Therefore, it’s not so unusual to spot a question such as: can you use a blanket as an underquilt?

Okay, so what’s all the fuss about finding a substitute for an underquilt? For instance, are they so expensive? Or maybe they’re just a so-called necessity that you can very well do without? In the text you’re about to read, you’ll find the answers to all those questions. As always, here at Outdoor Is Home, we’ll expand our discussion beyond the main question: can you use a blanket as an underquilt?

Yup, you’re able to use a blanket as an underquilt. Just make sure that it’s made of reflective material known as mylar. Also, you can create a DIY underquilt using a wool blanket, 10 ft. worth of shock cord cut in two pieces of the same size, and four tarp clips. 

If things were so easy that you could learn everything just by reading 2-3 sentences, we wouldn’t even bother to talk about today’s topic. That’s right, there’s more to it than just the preview!

Table of Contents

What is an underquilt? (and other info)

First things first, we’ll need to define the term we’ll be using quite a lot in this article: what is an underquilt?

An underquilt is just your average hammock camper’s version of a sleeping pad. However, let’s provide you with something you’d call a more standard definition: an underquilt is an insulated quilt that hangs under your hammock and its purpose is, of course, to prevent heat loss.

Why did we compare this item to a sleeping pad? Well, it’s fairly simple to understand: a regular sleeping bag, as you probably already know, has a loft down fill (or some kind of synthetic insulation, if you will) that compresses under your body. Therefore, it enables the chilly ground to direct the warmth away from your body. A similar thing happens while you’re sleeping in a hammock, the bag will also compress under your body, which will eventually result in the cold air stealing your body warmth like a subtle thief.

What’s that got to do with a sleeping pad?

Okay, so here’s where the sleeping pad comes into the picture. The thing is: a sleeping pad will resolve the issue of heat loss by forming an insulated air space between you (inside your sleeping bag) and the ground. Now, a sleeping pad might do just the same for a hammock camper, however, underquilts are designed with the intention to be used with hammocks. In other words: they’re made to fit various hammock models; some of them enable you to adjust them to fit a good number of different hammock models. 

All in all: an underquilt is your hammock camper’s sleeping pad. It’s cleverly designed to fit most hammock models. Some folks that have used a sleeping pad instead of an underquilt with their hammock note that it ain’t such a pleasant thing (just like the so-called swinging hammock). Therefore, by using an underquilt – you’ll enjoy the best hammock sleeping experience possible.

Do you need a top quilt with an underquilt?

First of all, let’s see what exactly is a top quilt? To be completely straightforward, it’s essentially a blanket. Also, you’ll find a lot of top quilt models that strongly resemble the material sleeping bags are made out of. However, top quilts aren’t supposed to wrap around your body. Lastly, one of the main arguments why should a person opt for a top quilt instead of a sleeping bag is that top quilts are easier to carry (lightweight). 

To answer the question in the title: a top quilt ain’t such a necessity since your underquilt plays a more important role in keeping you warm throughout the night in the outdoors. Also, you’re able to easily find an alternative to a top quilt in the form of a sleeping bag or a blanket.

Let’s keep that last sentence in mind: a blanket could use as an alternative to a top quilt. But, are you able to use a blanket as an underquilt? That’s what you’re about to find out!

A person wearing a cap and holding a cup, resting inside a hammock, covered with a blanket.

Can you use a blanket as an underquilt?

Okay, so know a person can use a blanket as a top quilt, but how about utilizing it as an underquilt? Let’s consider this and the other options (if there are any)!

There’s a chance you can’t afford a top-quality underquilt at this very moment. If that’s the case, finding a cheap, yet good-enough alternative solution until you reach some financial stability is a definite must. Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that you can make a DIY underquilt out of a blanket. The best thing about it is that this process will cost not a cent over $10.

A quick guide to making a DIY blanket underquilt

Here are the things you’ll need to make a DIY blanket underquilt:

  • 10 feet of 1/8 inch shock cord (cut into two pieces of the same length).
  • 4 tarp clips.

The first item will cost you about $2 (since a foot of shock cord’s about $0.20), while a single tarp clip costs about $1.

Okay, so what then? The first thing you’ll want to do is to tie a tarp clip to the end of each piece of shock cord. Next up, you’ll want to secure its place by tying a loop in the center of each. Lastly, clip this onto your blanket and that’s about it. You won’t have to give up your blanket for an underquilt since you’ll be able to detach it and use it in its original form once again.

Now, keep in mind that this isn’t a long-lasting solution. As soon as you’re back on your feet financially-wise, obtain a top-quality underquilt. Trust us, it’s worth every penny invested!

What about a mylar blanket?

Good question! Using a reflective (mylar) blanket might be a good alternative to an underquilt (click here to see if Hennesy Super Shelter can also be considered as such). The thing is: having this type of blanket placed beneath your sleeping bag will, of course, as its name suggests, reflect the heat back at your body. That way, you’ll avoid waking up to the so-called “ice-butt” syndrome.

Also, mylar blankets aren’t so expensive. They’re the preferred option of many outdoors enthusiasts that simply love to travel lightweight. Here are some specs: mylar is a thin, plastic material that acts as a heat shield beneath your sleeping body. If you’re on the lookout for max protection, just wrap the whole blanket around your and your sleeping bag. Another way to use a mylar blanket is to create a DIY rain fly since the material does well in battling light rain.

Oh, and we’re not finished yet. Nope. It seems that we’ve got a couple of other questions to answer!

What can I use instead of underquilt?

Okay, so here we’ll consider your other options when it comes to alternatives to an underquilt. What else can you use instead of an underquilt?

Option #1: A sleeping pad (of course)

Here’s the thing: you’ll just place a sleeping pad beneath your sleeping bag before you head off to sleep and that’s about it. However, the main disadvantage of using a sleeping pad instead of an underquilt everyone’s talking about is this: it can be quite an irritating and discomforting experience since the sleeping pad tends to “move around” during the night. So, is there a way to make it less unpleasant or are we stuck in place without a solution?

We’ve got a suggestion: just put the sleeping pad inside your sleeping bag. That way, you’ll enjoy a warm and cozy hammock experience, regardless of the fact whether you toss and turn while you’re asleep. Oh, and another suggestion: opt for a foam sleeping pad since they’re cheaper and more durable.

Option #2: Utilize your car’s old sunshade instead of an underquilt

Got a retired reflective sunshade you’ve had a hard time throwing into the trash? If that’s so, you can utilize it as a cheap (virtually free) alternative to a sleeping pad, and therefore – an underquilt. So, we mentioned the material known as mylar a while ago. You’ll want to know that the material the sunshade is made of will act similarly. Now, of course, it doesn’t possess a thick layer of foam just like a regular sleeping pad, but it’ll work quite well. All in all: it won’t cost you a thing to try it out and the result may very well satisfy you!

If you’re, by any chance, wondering how to keep ants off your hammock… Yeah, simply click on that link.

The bottom line

And that’s that, folks! These were some of the tips and various other info surrounding the question of whether or not can you use a blanket as an underquilt. Hopefully, you’ve learned a couple of new tricks you’ll utilize in your upcoming outdoor adventures.

For additional hammocking tips and lots of helpful info, don’t hesitate to follow this link.

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