Staying Warm in a Hammock Without an Underquilt

Written By Matthew Cordero

Having an underquilt is a widely popular way to stay warm while hammock camping. However, not everyone has one, which leaves many to wonder how else you can stay warm in a hammock.

Using a sleeping pad, mylar blanket, closed-cell foam (CCF) pads, or sleeping bags will help keep you warm in a hammock, even if you don’t have an underquilt. Layering your clothes, placing your hammock away from the wind, and keeping a hot water bottle helps too.

hammock with a blanket

To better understand how each of these can help you stay warm in a hammock even without an underquilt, read on the article below.

How to Stay Warm in a Hammock Without an Underquilt

Anyone who’s ever slept on a hammock during the winter or in near cold conditions can tell you that it isn’t a pleasant experience.

Hammock camping is fun, but it’s also important to be comfortable and feel protected from the elements, including the cold. That’s why campers have devised numerous tools that keep you warm, with the underquilt being one of them. However, not everyone has an underquilt but the good news is you can stay insulated with other tips and tricks.

Sleeping Pad

A sleeping pad provides terrific insulation simply by placing it under your sleeping bag.

There are air and foam sleeping pads in the market, both of which work well in a hammock. If you are on a budget, foam sleeping pads are the more affordable option and they are also more durable compared to air or inflatable sleeping pads. On the other hand, inflatable sleeping pads are known to be more comfortable though for many experienced campers, hammocks are already comfortable so the choice between the two boils down to finding the right size and the right price.

Sleeping pads are great ways to stay warm especially if you already have a camping pad. It’s easy and straightforward to use, and will keep your backside warm while sleeping in a hammock during cooler weather. Most sleeping pads cost less than underquilts, too, which is why they do have a loyal following of their own.

Some hammocks are already designed with double fabric layers on the bottom, and a great way to use sleeping pads is by sliding it in between the layers. This prevents a common issue of having the pad slide around while you sleep, which some campers experience. It’s also good to note that if you intend to use sleeping pads, having extra layers of clothing or a blanket is recommended because you can still experience cold shoulders and elbows, since the pad only keeps your backside warm.

Mylar Blanket

Reflective blankets, also known as mylar blankets or space blankets, can be placed underneath your sleeping bag or wrapping it around your body. They work by reflecting the heat towards your body and thus insulate quite effectively as long as you have a source of warmth or heat such as a fleece blanket, because when used by itself it won’t insulate alone.

Mylar is the commercial name for biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BoPET), which is essentially a thin plastic with aluminum or another kind of metal in it. This metallic film is what makes it shiny. It was invented by DuPont in 1950, though NASA occasionally gets credit for it as they use it in space missions.

Mylar blankets are inexpensive and they are easy to find, so it’s no surprise why they are commonly used by outdoor enthusiasts. They are lightweight too, weighing just a few ounces, so you can always keep one in your camping backpack for emergency purposes. In fact, they have been referred to as survival blankets because of their amazing efficiency at preventing hypothermia.

Today, mylar is widely used and is renowned for its ability to reflect heat unlike any other. In addition, mylar reflective blankets are a good hammock camping accessory to always have because it’s windproof and waterproof, which is beneficial for preventing heat loss caused by evaporation. For this reason, marathon runners tend to use mylar wraps after a run because the human body loses over 80% of body heat from sweating due to evaporation.

Here’s how to use a mylar blanket to stay warm while in a hammock:

  1. 1
    Wrap it outside an insulating blanket, though you can also wrap it around you if you are already wearing a wool or fleece jacket.
  2. 2
    Use duct tape to secure a mylar blanket between two fleece or wool blankets. Pairing a mylar blanket with an insulating blanket is an extremely efficient way of preventing a great deal of heat loss.
  3. 3
    Create a debris shelter to block strong winds and reduce heat loss, especially if you are hammock camping in the winter and it’s snowing. Lining the top of your hammock shelter with mylar will also prevent melting snow from reaching you.
  4. 4
    Make a fire reflector where the fire is located between you and a sheet of mylar. This works to keep you warm in your hammock because heat from the fire will bounce off the mylar reflector, and bounce towards you.

Your vehicle’s sun shade is most likely made with mylar or reflective material. In the event you have no other choice, you can also use the sun shade to help reflect heat.

Closed-Cell Foam (CCF) Pads

Closed-cell foam (CCF) pads work by creating a thin barrier between the hammock and the cold air. They work similarly with inflatable sleeping pads in the sense that they are placed on the hammock as you lay directly on it. CCF pads are widely available, and they are made by many outdoor equipment brands.

Many hammock campers enjoy using CCF pads to stay warm in a hammock, and they offer other benefits: they are affordable, lightweight, and durable. However, they can be bulky when you roll or fold them up. Despite this, it can still have many advantages when camping because they are inexpensive, versatile, and can be used together with inflatable pads or sleeping bags for more warmth when camping.

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags that are made with down insulation are a great way to keep you warm in a hammock. The down insulation is designed between the lining and the outer cover. Down insulation works by trapping the hot air and holding heat to promote warmth in cold environments.

Compared to synthetic lining, down fabrics are breathable too. Down sleeping bags are lightweight and can easily be compressed, but it won’t be as efficient in insulating once it gets wet. On the other hand, a sleeping bag with synthetic insulation is water resistant and can still keep you warm to a degree despite getting wet.

Sleeping bags made with down lining, allow you to sleep in a mummy-style position and is hammock-compatible are best. For even more insulating power, opt for a sleeping bag with reflective material.

Layering Your Clothes

If you are camping in the winter, layering your clothes is always a good idea even if you are sleeping on a hammock. Layering assists with regulating body temperature, and will prevent you from getting too cold or too warm. Just be sure to remove excess snow from your clothes before settling into your hammock.

For comfort and efficiency, you can keep some extra clothes inside your hammock so that you can quickly wear them as soon as the temperatures drop.

Place Your Hammock Away From the Wind

Always consider the wind direction when setting up your hammock. When scanning the area for potential areas to hang your hammock, look for naturally occurring windbreaks such as trees, rock formation, or hills. Stay in an area surrounded by several trees as opposed to an open area, because trees will provide shelter and breaks from the wind.

With these tips, you’ll be more than prepared to stay warm during your next hammock camping trip, without an underquilt.

Best Ways to Stay Warm in a Hammock Without an Underquilt

There are many excellent hammock camping accessories that will help you stay warm without an underquilt. Here are some examples that you can find on Amazon:

-   Swiss Safe Emergency Thermal Blankets
-   REDCAMP Closed Cell Foam Camping Sleeping Pad
-   Hyke & Byke Eolus Goose Down Sleeping Pad