SGT Rock's Hiking H.Q.


Hammock Camping 101


Site Index


Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links
Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links


Tips (continued)

Tip #1 - The Vestibule
Tip #2 - The Chair
Tip #3 - The Bivy Tent
Tip #4 - The Heat Reflector
Tip #5 - Hammock Campsites
Tip #6 - Setting up in the rain
Tip #7 - Tear down in the rain
Tip #8 - Tying the hammock knot
Tip #9 - The Snake Skin
Tip #10 - Poncho/Tarp for a fly
Tip #11 - Sleeping Pads
Tip #12 - Underquilts

More to come...

Previous Page

Tip #11 - Sleeping Pads

Most sleeping pads these days are 20" wide, and that is really too narrow for sleeping in a hammock since the hammock sort of "wraps" up around our shoulders. When you lay on the ground, only about 18-20" of your body comes into contact with the floor or ground and compress the insulation loft of your bag to the point you need a pad to keep warm. In a hammock, the area that compresses the loft is much more, somewhere between 24"-28" depending on your build. What I have also found is that there is an area under your butt and shoulders where you compress the pad the most and may need some extra insulation layers, a solution is often to have a second thin pad directly under the first to provide this extra layer.

Unfortunately, most pads that are over 20", are still less than 24". One pad I have found that is cheap and easy to get is a surplus Army foam pad. I used one of these to make my project called The Wing Pad. If I were to make this pad again now, I would cut the foot part a little more narrow - 18" is plenty wide enough. I slept on a pad like this for months while I was in Iraq and it worked great. The second layer under the back and butt made sure I never got cold sleeping with this option.


A great solution I finally hit upon was the Evazote® pad from  Oware. This pad comes in approximately 40"x60", but not always exactly that size. I ordered a pair and one was 42"x62" while the other was 41"x61.5". These pads are 1/4" thick, so not a lot of insulation, but their width makes them flexible for cutting to your desired size. After my experience in Iraq, I designed a pad that is 61.5" long and 28" wide at the top. The sides of the "Wings" are 28" long, then the pad tapers down to 18" at the feet. I took two of the pads and used spray adhesive to permanently attach them together in order to make a 1/2" thick pad that only weighs 9.6 ounces. Since this pad is about 7" shorter than I am, I use a stuff sack full of clothing as a pillow and an insulator under my head. With the remnants left over from making this pad I could ad an extra layer under the butt and shoulders to bring that part up to 3/4" thick, and this would probably only make the pad weigh 12 ounces or so. But even without adding this extra layer, my pad has worked well down to the high 30's.


Tip #12 - Underquilt

Many of you that have been following me know I have been a huge skeptic of an efficient under-quilt system for hammocks for a long time. I considered the plan highly suspect because they would most likely be as heavy and as expensive as a quilt like the Back Country Blanket since they would need DWR shells to shed rain splash, baffles to hold the insulation in the right place, and expensive loft to keep the weight low enough to make them feasible for the lightweight hiker. It turns out a lot of what I predicted is true, but some of these negatives have been dealt with in a highly positive manner in order to make effective insulation systems.

As I write this, I cannot find a company that provides commercially produced underquilts for hammocks, but there are some resources out there that can allow you to attain them.

1. Poncho Liner underquilt: this system is something I used as a field expedient method of producing a quilt why I was in Iraq. It uses a Thinsulate Poncho liner to create a 3/4" thick quilt that can attach under the hammock:

To make this quilt you will need:

1. About 1’ of 550 cord.
2. About 3 feet of elastic cord or elastic straps.
3. A poncho liner, preferably a Thinsulate liner
4. A sewing needle and some thread.
5. A pocketknife or scissors.
6. A two small stick about 1” long.
7. Optional: some fleece material.

Before I go on, I must say that even though it costs a little more, if you are looking for a poncho liner the extra loft and warmth of a Thinsulate poncho liner over a surplus liner is definitely worth the extra money. This project could be done with a surplus liner, but I can’t vouch for the warmth and performance my Thinsulate liner has given me. The Thinsulate liner weighs a little more than the issue liner weigh - coming in at 23 ounces, but is about ¼” thick when lofted, and it compress and lofts again very well.

I figure this design would be something any hiker out there that finds they needing an under-quilt in a hurry and can get a poncho liner sent could produce on the trail.

The first thing I do is cut an 18” long slit in the liner to form a head hole. As an option you can finish the neck with some fleece material. In this case I sacrificed an old pair of Army polypro pants. When used under a jacket or poncho, these liners can give you a lot of extra warmth. In this case, the liner also serves as a cold weather-clothing item. It would be the same as having a 10-ounce pad under you and a 10-ounce fleece jacket for pack weight except the liner is warmer than 10 ounces of pad when used with the hammock, and it is a lot warm if used right under a poncho or rain jacket than a 10 ounce fleece top would be.

Then I fold the liner into thirds along the longest part. The Total length is about 58”. I am 68” tall, so this leaves about 10” under my feet that aren’t covered, but that hasn’t been an issue yet. The main thing is it gives ¾” insulation under my head, shoulders, back, butt, and upper legs. The width after folding it into thirds is about 28”.
To make the corners stay in place, I poked small holes in the edge trim of the liner using a knife that I could pass the strings of the liner to tie it and hold the shape. Next I took a 2” long piece of 550 cord and removed the guts to make a flat cord loop which I sewed to the center of the side that does not have a tie on it, swing all the way through the material. In the future I would probably put some material on the other side to make a tougher anchor.

Then I took the elastic and made six 6” long elastic ties which I simply tied into the base of the original strings at their center point at the four corners. At the sides I tied it the same way to the side that has the original string, and on the 550-cord loop I created it was fastened there.
There will be a little sewing on the hammock, but nothing that will tear it up. I learned a couple of lessons the hard way on what doesn’t work. Take some more 550-cord and remove the guts. Make five 2” long loops then sew them to the edge of the hammock where the net and the hammock body meet. The best method I found for this was to place the loops with one end on top, and the other end on bottom there should be four of these, distances are given from the center pull out:
To attach the quilt, start at the head and tie off the elastic using a bowknot, just like tying your shoes. Don’t tie it tight; there should be some slack. Then do the exact same thing at the foot end to both sides. Finally take a couple of twigs and use them as toggles to tie to the ends of the elastic on the sides and pass them through the side tie outs. These will also be a bit loose.

The entire quilt is now secure. It will take a little practice to get the correct lengths, and if you wanted to add some plastic hooks later once you have it figured out, then that would probably speed things up a bit. If the quilt is a little slack under the hammock, don’t worry, under weight it will tighten to your back. The Quilt will pull into a hexagon shape under weight with the center expanding to about 34”, but you will still have ¾” directly under your back and shoulders.

This quilt idea has worked for me down into the upper 30's without any major issues, but it is just not thick enough for a really good quilt, and it doesn't cover the area under the hiker as well as some other solutions provide.


2. Canoe Blue's Down Underquilt. I haven't gotten to try this quilt yet, but it is a homemade project that is supposed to be offered soon as a kit from . At 10.9 ounces, it is the lightest underquilt I have seen out there and it includes a DWR shell to shed water that splashes onto it. It has a 1" to 1 1/2" thick loft under the hammock. If you are looking for a VERY lightweight version and don't mind doing your own work - this might be just what you are looking for. Some small modifications to the hammock are required in order to get the quilt to attach correctly.


3. PeterPan and Smee have been sewing and came up with this quilt design that basically comes in two models. The Nest, their standard quilt, has a slit up the front to serve as a vest and to facilitate getting in and out of the hammock. The second version they called the "No Sniveling" quilt (wonder where they got that idea?) that does not have the slit, but does have a head hole so it can serve as a poncho liner and an underquilt. Both models have Velcro system so that they can also be used as sleeping quilts if that is what the user desires by forming a foot box area. This design weighs more, the current weight (without support system and stuff sack ) is about 15 ounces using +800 fill down, but with the larger size and increased versatility, they may be what some people are looking for.

I have a 600 fill prototype of the "No Sniveling" quilt I plan to test out and file a report on later. I may get some +800 fill down and upgrade this to their lighter weight system.

These quilts should be offered on a limited custom build basis, but for right now I don't have a price.


The "No Sniveling" Quilt prototype on my Hennesy hammock.



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