Do You Use an Underquilt in the Summer?

A person hammocking with an underquilt in the summer sun.

With the summer already in full swing, one can’t help but wonder: should I keep my underquilt in storage until the season’s nearly over? Needless to say, that will be the focal point of the text you’re about to read: should you use an underquilt in the summer?

What’s your first thought about the issue? We’ll take a guess and say: well, you’re better off without an underquilt during the hottest season of the year. Whether your potential first guess is true, that’s what you’re about to find out. Let’s see if it’s possible (read: pleasant) to use an underquilt during the summer!

You’ll be totally fine without an underquilt if the temperature outside, during the night, won’t drop below 70°F (21°C). Always check your weather forecast for the area you’re planning to visit. Also, keep in mind that you should never forget to pack some top insulation in the form of a sleeping bag or a top quilt. 

Alright, so that’s that when it comes to the preview. We don’t have to emphasize the fact we’re actually counting on you to read the whole thing!

Table of Contents

What is an underquilt?

Don’t worry, we’re not going to discuss the underside of a kilt (the Scottish traditional clothing item), even though the title of this paragraph might suggest such a thing. Anyway, before we venture deeper into the depths of this article, it’s best we first define the central term of today’s story: what’s an underquilt?

Okay, so an underquilt is basically an insulated quilt that’s meant to be hanged underneath your hammock in order to “battle” heat loss during your night out in the open. It insulates the bottom of your trusty hammock without being crushed by your body weight, thus making sure that none of the warmth gets eaten away by the cold night air.

Let’s see if there are other questions that surround this fantastic piece of camping equipment.

Do you need a top quilt with an underquilt?

Good question! Don’t you need some sort of top insulation, even if you’re sporting a top-quality underquilt? You’ll probably need some kind of top insulation. An underquilt can’t keep you warm all on its own, even though that item will make the biggest difference.

While a top quilt might sound like a good idea, you’re still able to use a sleeping bag as a substitute for it. Also, sleeping bags are cheaper than top quilts. Not to mention the fact that you probably already got one somewhere inside your home. However, there are some downsides to using a sleeping bag instead of a top quilt:

  • Top quilts are lighter than sleeping bags. A solid sleeping bag will weigh somewhere around 3-4 pounds, while a regular top quilt is somewhere about 1-2 pounds. If you’re a so-called ultralight backpacker, this could really make the choice a bit easier for you.
  • Sleeping bags are too big for most hammocks. Here’s a suggestion: never zip the whole thing up since it can be a nightmare to get out of it. Oh, and if you’re wondering whether you actually need a sleeping bag if you’re sporting an underquilt, check out this page.

Okay, now that we’ve got this covered, let’s consider the central question of today’s article: do you use an underquilt in the summer?

A person chilling inside a hammock on a sunny summer day.

Do you use an underquilt in the summer?

You’ll want to know that this question can’t be resolved with a YES or NO answer. It’s more complex than that. The thing is: whether you’ll need to carry an underquilt in the summer will depend on the outside temperature. In other words, the main point is how cold it gets during the night in the surroundings you’ve chosen as the backdrop of your outdoor adventure.

We’ve browsed some hammock camping internet message boards and forums, and we’ve gathered the answers that will give you an insight into whether or not you’re able to use an underquilt during the summer season.

Anyway, hammock camping in temperatures that are below 65°F (18°C) will require you to use some sort of good insulation in order to keep your body warm. Another thing is that underquilts can put some pressure on your backpack (they also tend to take up some space), but that’s a whole other story now. Without further ado, let’s give our final answer on the issue: yup, you’ll be fine without an underquilt if the temperature outside, during the night, doesn’t drop below 70°F (21°C). However, don’t think you can get away without “wearing” some top insulation in the form of a sleeping bag or a top quilt.

Can you sleep in a hammock without sporting an underquilt?

Let’s take a look and see if there are ways you can “survive” a night in the outdoors without an underquilt. We’ll show you some useful tricks to keep yourself warm without sporting the item this article revolves around.

#1 Sleeping pad to the rescue

They say that sleeping pads are the absolute best alternative to using an underquilt. Because? Because they’re cheaper, they’re not so heavy on your backpack, and they’re pretty easy to use. The thing is: you’ll just need to put them underneath your sleeping bag before you say good night to the beautiful nature that surrounds you.

We can differentiate between:

  • Foam sleeping pads. They’re a lot cheaper than their downstairs neighbor. However, they’re heavier and will add some weight to your outdoor cargo. Still, we shouldn’t forget that you could also utilize closed-cell foam pads, a version that’s more lightweight and all. Their only downside is that they’re a tiny bit uncomfy.
  • Air sleeping pads. Outdoor enthusiasts say that these are definitely a better option. Also, they’re more expensive than foam pads and provide outdoor sleepers with comfort that folks say is uncomparable.

Here’s a friendly suggestion when using this option instead of an underquilt: try to place the sleeping pad inside your sleeping bag. That way, you’ll prevent your sleeping pad from moving a lot during the night. Also, keep in mind that some hammocks you’ll find on the market come with double layers. If you’ll be opting for one that has that attribute, simply place the sleeping pad between the two layers to say warm.

#2 What about mylar blankies (space blankets)?

Here’s some info for the so-called geeks: mylar is actually the better-known term for biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (try saying that again). Basically, it’s plastic with some metal inside it and it’s used by NASA in their space (does it count as outdoors?) missions. Therefore, you’ll find folks nick-naming them as space blankets.

You’ll want to know that mylar or space blankets are fantastic when it comes to reflecting heat back to your sleeping body. It would be good to note that they’re also known for their trait to prevent the unfortunate condition knowns as hypothermia. Not to mention they’re pretty lightweight and easy to use. You’ll simply need to wrap the (waterproof and windproof) mylar blanket around yourself or your sleeping bag.

Lastly, mylar blankets are used by marathon runners since our human bodies (poor things) lose about 80% of heat while they’re heavily sweating. For more info about mylar blankets, check out this article we’ve published just recently.

#3 Layering is key

When camping during the coldest months of the year (and here’s an article on how to know when it’s just too cold for hammocking), layering your clothes becomes something of a necessity. It’s like the most obvious solution out there. Anyway, just keep some additional pieces of clothing inside your hammock, just so you don’t have to leave it once the outside conditions turn a bit too cold.

#4 Steer clear of wind

Okay, this we can’t call this an alternative to sleeping with an underquilt. However, it would be pretty unfair not to mention this little trick. While you’re out hammock camping, it’s very important that you always keep the wind direction in mind. Our friendly suggestion is that you should always be on the lookout for the so-called natural windbreaks such as trees, various rock formations, or hills. 

You’ll always need more insulation to counter the effects of the wind. That being said, you should avoid setting up your hammock at a place where winds rule. Unless, of course, you’re bringing your underquilt with you.

#5 The last trick up our sleeves

We’ve got one last trick to show you before we say goodbye. Here’s what’s the catch: a sleeping bag typically has two zippers, right? Right. So, if your sleeping bag’s spacey enough, you’ll want to open the foot zipper and pass your trusty hammock through there. If you like it that way, you might be able to totally wrap your hammocking in your sleeping bag. 

This kind of setup is a pretty difficult one, so there’s a good chance that you’re going to need some assistance from another person. Also, you’ll have a rough time getting out of your hammock. Since we’ve mentioned sleeping bags so much in this article, try not to avoid reading this piece on how to restore loft to your sleeping bag.

The bottom line

Okay, folks, so that’s all there’s to say about the issue of using an underquilt during the summer (and related info). Hopefully, you’re now equipped with some solid outdoor knowledge that will help you enjoy your outings even more than you’re used to. For more tips on hammock camping, pay a visit to this page.

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