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My general question is as such: If I use a 30°F (-1°C) under quilt with my hammock, would I be fine using a 50°F (10°C; or higher) sleeping bag as a "top quit" during 30°F (-1°C) winter nights? My thinking is that since the under quilt is the primary insulator the "top quilt" wouldn't need to provide as much insulation.

I mainly camp in Louisiana and Mississippi so the temperature and humidity tend to stay higher during the cold months but can dip into the high teens (-10°C–-6°C) on extreme nights but mostly stay in the mid to 30's °F (couple of °C above zero). I would like to continue to cut weight by purchasing a cooler (warmer weather) sleeping bag and use it as a "top quilt" with my under quilt as my primary insulator.

I tend to sleep pretty cold from past experiences with ground camping during the winter months. I currently own a 20°F (-7°C) sleeping bag that I've used in my hammock without any under pad/quilt on a 50°F (10°C) night and slept great.

To make the answer more "yes/no" possible. I basically want to know if using an under quilt will allow me to skip the top quilt.

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It all depends on your tolerance for being miserable if it turns out to be too cold. I have personally gone without a sleeping bag at all at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4°C), and survived, but it wasn't particular comfortable.

The odds are you aren't going to freeze to death with your setup, so its probably worth trying. I would simply test it first in a place where it is possible to stop the experiment if it turns out to be too miserable for you, like your backyard.

  • I think testing in my backyard will be the best way to determine if my thinking is correct. Unfortunately it'll be a couple months until we get 30 degree nights consistently. – Cmpsnetsua Sep 22 '16 at 13:47
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From my understanding, the EN 13537 temperature rating is for sleeping bags and not quilts making comparisons difficult. A regular (6', 183 cm) 30°F (-1°C) top quilt (e.g., the katabatic Flex 30) has around 11.0 ounces (0.31 kg) of 900 in³/oz (520 cm³/g) fill down. I cannot find stats on a 50°F (10°C) bag, but a regular (6', 183 cm) 40°F (4°C) Feathered Friends Nano 40 bag has around 8.4 ounces (0.24 kg) of 900 in³/oz (520 cm³/g) fill down. This means that a 50°F (10°C) sleeping bag has much less fill (which relates to loft which relates to warmth) than a 30°F (1°C) quilt, even when you pile the entire bag on top of you.

While there are differences between a quilt and a sleeping bag (for example the sleeping bag will trap some air (and hence provide some warmth) in the space between the bottom and top, there is not going to be enough loft especially since you say you sleep cold and the fact that quilts temperature rating are not standardized (and hence probably over estimate the warmth).

  • This is very interesting, I hadn't looked into the differences in a quilt vs sleeping bag. So it would seem that potentially matching the temperature ratings would be most effective. Or, at least trying to get them close in ratings and them using the system as a whole. – Cmpsnetsua Sep 21 '16 at 13:46
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So you have slept on a

  • 20°F (-7°C) bag
  • hammock
  • 50°F (10°C) night

just fine

Want to know if

  • 50°F (10°C) bag
  • hammock
  • 30°F (-1°C) under quilt
  • 30°F (-1°C) night

will work?

If you sleep cold then no way. Over bagged by 30°F (17°C) you were comfortable - no pad in 50°F (10°C) is not a 30°F (17°C) debit. A sleeping bag rating is base on an insulated pad. You just have a proper under pad - you are not going to over under insulate. You are under bagged by 20°F (11°C). And the ratings assume a tent - no chill factor. And ratings are not based on people from LA. I go back to WA or ski and I wear a full coat when I used to wear a light jacket.

  • If you use the 50 degree bag as a quilt (since the OP already has an under quilt), that will give you extra insulation. I bet (haven't measured or calculated) the total loft of a 50 degree bag is similar to, if not more than, the loft of the top half of a 30 degree bag. – StrongBad Sep 20 '16 at 23:10
  • @StrongBad What ever you say. Good luck with no side seal. – paparazzo Sep 20 '16 at 23:15
  • I am not sure what you mean by no side seal. The OP wants to use it as a quilt (which is pretty common for hammock sleepers). I am not sure, and your answer doesn't address, the effect of using a sleeping bag as a quilt. – StrongBad Sep 20 '16 at 23:22
  • @StrongBad OK then it does not. A quilt may be common in warmer weather. I don't see it as practical in 30 degrees. "If using an under quilt will allow me to skip the top quilt". You read the question different than I do. Either was my opinion is no. – paparazzo Sep 20 '16 at 23:27

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