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I've hammock camped twice in below freezing weather, between 10 F and 25 F (-12C and -4C). The first time using a closed-cell foam (CCF) pad and the second time using a full size underquilt.

I'm headed out for a third time in about a month and want to continue to add to my ability to sleep in cold weather.

My feet are probably the hardest to keep warm, from there the quilt does help a lot, much more so than the pad. But still not quite as warm as I'd like it to be.

I know my sleeping bag needs to be upgraded, but it compresses. Thus doing so may not be the most effective overall.

What would be most effective?

Here is my current setup when sleeping:

  • Fresh/Dry Smartwool Mountaineering socks.
  • Heavy Poly Base Layer (pants and long sleeve upper).
  • Medium weight (200) fleece pants (Original Madison Pants).
  • Medium weight (200) fleece jacket.
  • Down jacket (probably medium as well).
  • Fleece gloves.
  • Balaclava (200 fleece).
  • Fairly cheap down sleeping bag (one of my weakspots).
  • Fleece blanket (I alternate using it beneath me or layering on top of my sleeping bag).
  • Incubator 20 Underquilt.
  • Rain fly to keep the wind (and sometimes rain) off my face.
  • ENO Double Nest Hammock.
  • Boiled water in a 1L Nalgene bottle for my feet.
  • Down pillow.
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    I don't understand your next to last sentence. It implies that a sleeping bag compress more in a hammock than it does on the ground. You do put on clean dry socks at night, right? – ab2 Jan 16 '16 at 21:18
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    @ab2 the hammock compresses the bag from the sides as well – njzk2 Jan 16 '16 at 22:41
  • Possible duplicate of What are the basic considerations for hammock camping? – ShemSeger Jan 17 '16 at 0:08
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    @ab2 The problem with the sleeping bag compressing below you is convective heat transfer. When you're sleeping on the ground, there is no wind going underneath you and you can normally sleep with a pad to prevent most of the heat transfer. Both hammock and ground sleeping also have convective heat transfer above the sleeping bag, but the loft of the down is much more effective when not compressed. – tertius Jan 17 '16 at 4:08
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    @ab2 As far as socks go, I weather mountaineering socks when I sleep, normally one pair of hiking socks and a pair of mountaineering socks over. And they are dry and fresh when I get in the hammock and put them on. – tertius Jan 17 '16 at 4:13
6

You might try stretching out your hammock tighter between trees and sleeping slightly diagonally to keep the hammock from compressing the sides of your sleeping bag as much. If you're able to sleep on your side it should reduce the amount of insulation being compressed as well.

  • I haven't tried sleeping diagonally but I really dislike the hammock being very tight around me. Shifting diagonally may help, I'll try! I tend to sleep on my side but this really makes it hard for me to keep my knees and my rear warm since they press on the sides of the hammock. – tertius Jan 17 '16 at 4:11
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    Sleeping diagonally on a tight hammock has helped me be MUCH more comfortable when sleeping in my hammock. It doesn't need to be drastically diagonal, but 30 degrees or so off of straight. Do you have a double nest or single? – Swagin9 Jan 17 '16 at 4:16
  • Double, the only time I've ever had my hammock tight I felt really claustrophobic and my shoulders ached quite a bit the next morning. – tertius Jan 17 '16 at 4:28
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    Then I'd suggest just trying sleeping diagonal first. If you have a chance to try it out before you go camping it could help you get it sorted out and try different tensions and angles. Hope it helps! – Swagin9 Jan 17 '16 at 5:11
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You may want to try an under quilt. There are multiple cottage industries that produce under quilts. The great thing is the loft doesn't get compressed because it hangs under the hammock.

EDIT: Try adding an emergency blanket lining the underquilt. It's super light weight and reflects the warmth and radiates back into the hammock. It works super great!

  • 1
    I'm already using a Hammock Gear Incubator 20. I'm looking for ways to enhance that. – tertius Jan 22 '16 at 22:37
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    @tertius, the Incubator 20 doesn't mention any thermally reflective layer. you could reinforce a hole in the bottom of a mylar sleeping bag and thread the hammock into it. That should provide spacing for the reflection to work. I'd combine that with the underquilt, of course. – user8455 Jan 22 '16 at 23:50
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There a few possible remedies to your cold sleeping woes. You already have most of the appropriate equipment so these are some of my suggestions:

For general coolness, first I'd recommend some type of vapor barrier/shield on the outside of your underquilt to block the air movement in your insulation, which is the single biggest cooling factor. This could be something as simple as a piece of plastic, tyvek, or maybe even an emergency blanket. I've used one of the more durable tarp/e-blanket combos under my hammock before to great effect in staying warm. The foil reflects your heat back and it blocks air movement as well. Search around as there are several brands. If that isn't enough to stop the air movement then upgrading to a tarp with walls that extend all the way around and to the ground is another good bet. Again, multiple companies make these.

And finally, if it is simply your feet that stay cold, then I would recommend some down booties, also sold by several outdoor brands.

One final bit of advice: make sure you urinate before you get in the hammock. Holding your pee makes you cold because blood that could otherwise be used elsewhere in your body is tied up making sure you don't wet yourself.

Example of an emergency tarp/blanket: Example of an emergency tarp/blanket

Example of enclosed tarp: Fully Enclosed Tarp

Example of down/synthetic booties: booties

and the good ol' Mylar Emergency Blanket Mylar Emergency Blanket

0

Sleep with someone. I like winter camping and hammock camping. The one time I did cold + hammock together I was toasty warm, even my feet.

My son and I shared a hammock, sleeping at opposite ends with our legs in the same space. Well, we moved around a few times, and sometimes we invaded each others space even more than that such as his feet being on my stomach and mine in his armpits.

We shared the same sleeping bag too. It was a cold weather bag which could open at both ends, so that helped. The bag was not quite long enough for us sleeping this way, but we wore our coats and stuck out of each end and we were ok.

Having a human for a warmer is great, because it generally maintains a near perfect temperature in the 90's F (30's C). This also allowed us to bring less gear. We did this originally in a 1-person hammock and were cramped. We have since bought a 2-person hammock which is a bit better.

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