If you need a quick and easy option to keep the bottom of your hammock warm on cool nights, this may be just the DIY / MYOG project for you. This is a perfect project for Scouts or DIY newbies. I made 3 of these sleeping bag underquilts for my kids DIY gathered end hammocks in 30 minutes, while watching a hockey game on TV. Underquilts don’t get any easier than this.
Why do you need an UnderQuilt?
As comfortable as hammocks are for camping, one persistent problem is that if the temperature is under 70 degrees, the bottom of the hammock gets cold. Many people use insulation wrapped around the outside of the hammock to prevent heat loss. This insulation can be in the form of an UnderQuilt (UQ).
Some high performance down underquilts can cost hundreds of dollars. They can also be very complicated and difficult to make. You can make this underquilt in 10 minutes from a $10 sleeping bag from Wally-World.
My kids used these underquilts, in conjunction with fleece top quilts and blankets, to sleep in their DIY gathered end hammocks down to about freezing.
(1) rectangular sleeping bag that zips all the way open
(4) 6” long ¾” wide grosgrain ribbons
(2) small carabiners
(2) 1’ foot light rope or para cord loops
Needle or sewing machine
Steps (trust me, it sounds WAY more complicated than it is):
- Unzip the sleeping bag
- Find the midpoint of each short edge (4) on bag
- At each midpoint fold a grosgrain ribbon and sew a loop on outside edge of the bag
- Fold each side of the bag to the middle
- Lay the hammock down center of sleeping bag
- Wrap the para cord loops around the hammock ridgeline in prusik knots, one near each end of the hammock
- Wrap each end of the bag around the hammock & clip the two grosgrain loops together
- Clip the carabiner to the prusik loop at each end of the hammock. If you have a bug net that covers your ridgeline, you can make triangle suspension adapters to connect your UQ to your hammock. They are pretty easy also.
- Hang hammock
- Adjust UQ by sliding prusiks on ridgeline
Update: I’ve had a few questions on why I fold the sides in towards the center instead of just folding the sleeping bag in half.
You can do it either way and it should work. However, if you do it as illustrated here, then you can pull the sides out to make the UQ wider. Doing so means pulling the sides away from the center, which means that the center of the UQ will be only 1 layer of bag thick instead of two. My son pulls the sides of his out so he can sleep diagonal in his hammock and he puts a small fleece blanket in the gap between the sides of the bag, where it is only 1 layer.
Here are the full directions in one easy to print image:
This is not the lightest underquilt option available, but it is a great way to insulate your hammock inexpensively. If you plan to hike or backpack with your hammock, then you might want to check out the DIY Insultex (IX) Underquilt instructions.