Hammocks hang above the hard ground, so insulation isn’t mandatory, right? Not quite. At least not if it’ll be cold. Even if you’re sleeping without touching the cold, hard soil, you will probably need insulation with a hammock. Even on warm nights, a light breeze can make you feel cold as the air streams above and below you.
Hence, when sleeping in a hammock, especially in cold and medium weather, you should have some insulation above and below. With hammocks, there are plenty of different types of insulation equipment you can get. The key is picking the right one for your average camping trip. But which one should you get – Hennessy Super Shelter or Underquilt?
Unlike the Super Shelter, underquilts come in different dimensions. And even though the Super Shelter is an all-season item, you might find that an underquilt better fits your needs. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
Keep reading to learn more about Hennessy Super Shelter and underquilts.
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Insulation for Hammock Users
Hammocks are perfect for outdoorsy types who are into wild camping. They are lightweight, easy to pack, and easy for setting up. However, in some cases, you’ll have to think about adding some insulation to your favorite camping gear.
Picking the perfect form of insulation to use is not an easy task. It would be best if you had something that will keep you warm in the cold and won’t make you sweat too much in the summer or high humidity weather.
Underquilts are the most common option and many people’s favorite. They are lightweight and provide good insulation while protecting you from the wind when hung under the hammock. Most underquilts work with all kinds of hammocks. That complicates the choice. The most popular and commonly used means of insulation are goose down and Climashield synthetic material. Both have their upsides and downsides, but that’s a topic for another day.
Underquilts hang directly under the hammock, each allowing some method of adjustment. It’s typically a little shock cord and some cord locks. The main point of the underquilt is providing insulation to the exposed underside of your hammock and protecting it from the wind. When hung close and cozy, right against the bottom of the hammock, the underquilt works wonders.
Underquilts offer such excellent insulation because the user’s weight doesn’t compress them. When you enter your hammock, the underquilt will move and extend under your weight due to the adjustable shock cords. If, on the other hand, you used just a sleeping bag for insulation, the sleeping bag would get compressed between you and the hammock. The cold air is still allowed to move freely right under you, minimizing the insulation effectiveness. When using an uderquilt, you won’t have this problem.
On top of that, underquilts typically come with a compression sack. They can be squeezed and packed tightly. When backpacking and hiking on long treks, saving storage room in your pack is crucial, and underquilts excel at it.
So underquilts are light, easy to compress, easy to hang, and easy to carry. On top of that, they give you excellent protection from wind and cold. They also let you enjoy the soft fabric of your hammock without having to fidget around and adjust during the night, as you may with a sleeping mat.
All in all, underquilts are one of the best ways to protect yourself from the elements when hammock camping.
Much like the names suggest themselves, quilts are the opposite of underquilts. They are also attached to the hammock with the task of giving you spaced protection from the elements. But they go above the hammock, the quilt and underquilt making a sort of cocoon around your hammock and offering 360-degree protection.
If you have a 6 or 7 foot long Hennessy model hammock, another option for you is the Hennessy Super Shelter. It features a 4-season insulation system that Hennessy makes especially for their hammocks. The Super Shelter consists of a waterproof undercover that works similarly to an underquilt. A half-inch open-cell foam underpad and a mylar blanket (also called a “space” or “emergency”) blanket are also included, along with attachment clips.
Hennessy Super Shelter or Underquilt – Which Should You Use?
The Super Shelter undercover does the same job as an underquilt. It has an open-cell foam pad, which allows fluids to seep through. As a result, any accumulated condensation or sweat will flow through it without hindrance. Further, you can use the mylar blanket for additional reflective protection against the elements. However, unlike the Super Shelter, underquilts come in different dimensions. And even though the Super Shelter is an all-season item, you might find that an underquilt better fits your needs.
If you have a 6 or 7 foot Hennessy hammock, buying the all-in-one Super Shelter might be the easier choice. Still, if you find an underquilt that suits you just as well, it all comes down to personal preference.
Selecting The Right Underquilt
There’s no science to picking the right underquilt for your hammock. Go for the one that suits your needs – be that the weight or ease of setup. One important thing to be mindful of when buying an underquilt is picking one in the proper temperature range you will be using it in. Think about where you plan to go with your hammock and where you generally like to camp.
There’s no one perfect underquilt for all occasions, but buying one for every possible temperature range is expensive and probably redundant. Instead, you can do a quick google search for the average temperature of any place you want to visit. Find an underquilt designed for temperatures close to what you’re likely to face when camping.
Remember that you will neither freeze nor overheat if the temperature is slightly out of the range. You won’t start to feel the heat until the thermometer rises more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit above the designated temperature range.
CCF Sleeping Pads
Closed-cell foam pads are available in many sizes and editions across the market. You can get ones made by well-known outdoor equipment brands, as well as cheaper ones at your local Walmart, Target, or another seller of camping equipment. They are straightforward: The sleeping mat goes into the hammock, directly under the sleeper. The CCF then provides the sleeper with a thin barrier between them and the cold night air.
These pads are cheap, usually have good durability, and are always lightweight. Along with inflatable sleeping mats, CCF pads are the simplest insulation to set up with your hammock. Simply placing it down and laying on top of it is all you have to do. However, CCF pads are known to wrinkle up and move around when you sleep, which can be irritating. You might end up having a bad night’s sleep with all the fidgeting and resetting the CCF in place.
Also, they are entirely waterproof, which is, in this case, a false positive. Usually, something being waterproof can only be a good thing. But when you’re sleeping on it, it means that sweat and condensation are just going to pool on it. And even though CCF still insulates when it’s wet, nobody likes waking up in small pools of sweat. While CCF pads are very light, they are usually a little bulky when rolled up or folded. Despite that, many campers still use them for many purposes – from hammock insulation to sleeping or lying on the cold hard ground, since CCF won’t puncture – unlike inflatable pads.
When you consider the low price and the usefulness of the CCF mats, they are an excellent choice for a piece of inexpensive hammock insulation equipment. Not to mention, you can use CCF pads in combination with other means of insulation. Under quilts, inflatable pads, and sleeping bags can all be used with CCF, providing an extra bit of protection for camping in even the coldest weather.
Using a sleeping bag for insulation for sleeping in a hammock is also a standard method people use to stay warm at night. Most campers have a sleeping bag or two, regardless of whether they use a tent or hammock. So if you want to see if hammock camping is suitable for you before buying all the equipment you need (quilts, pads, and such), you can try using a sleeping bag. Some people have even managed to set a sleeping bag up so that it serves as an underquilt.
Typically, you would place your bag into the hammock and climb in at night. One problem is that climbing in is not as easy as it seems. Squeezing comfortably into the sleeping bag while trying to get up into the hammock is rarely easy. Usually, it feels more like a wrestling match, leaving your muscles tense and cramp if you even manage to get in a comfortable position. Sleeping bags are also sizeable and not easy to carry when backpacking. If you go car camping, of course, that’s not as big a problem, but still, something to keep in mind.
And even though sleeping bags are a good, affordable alternative for insulation to underquilts, they are far from ideal. The weight of the hanger rests on the sleeping bag, thus tightly compressing it with the bottom of the hammock. With the depleted fullness of the insulation material, cold air can chill the sleeper more easily. Even so, sleeping bags come in a multitude of sizes, types, and conditions. Suppose you can find yourself a modular insulation bag or one for extreme cold weather. In that case, you will be set even without an underquilt.
By the way, a modular insulation bag refers to a lightly insulated bag stuffed into a heavily insulated bag. These can have several layers of insulation.
Eventually, the Choice is Yours
While there are hundreds of combinations for insulation in a hammock it’s hard to make the right choice. You can get several pieces of insulation and make combinations from them, depending on the weather conditions. While you do that, you can even combine hammocks with bug nets and protect yourself from insects and elements. It is completely up to you whether you are going to add some insulation or not. The most important thing is getting the proper insulation for the temperature range you will most likely be using it in.