There are many solutions, but the one that stands out above all of the others is the underquilt. It's a well known fact that underquilts greatly improve the comfort of a hammock camping setup, however they're also known to be fiddly and are notoriously hard to set up.
Add that to the fact that if a down underquilt gets wet it'll lose most of it's insulation value, you'll begin to wonder why anyone uses them...
The reason? They offer simply unparalleled comfort and warmth, and with some clever thinking all of the negatives I mentioned can be solved.
Underquilts are available in many different sizes and temperature ratings, I decided that the 2/3 length 3-season Yeti from Warbonnet would be especially suitable for year round camping in the UK.
The 3-season Yeti underquilt from Warbonnet is a down filled 2/3 (torso) length underquilt designed for gathered end hammocks. Suitable for 3-season use the Warbonnet website quotes a 20°F (-7°C) temperature rating, although this can greatly vary depending on your top insulation. Weighing in at only 12.5oz (about 355g) with a 6.5oz fill, it's lightweight and warm.
Paired with a top quilt, a small foot pad, and a Rab Primaloft hat, it's hard not to stay toasty warm all night with the Yeti.
Materials and construction
The shell of the Yeti is made from 30D Ripstop Nylon with a DWR coating. The fabric is exceptionally light and the DWR should give a good amount of water resistance to protect the down. My only problem with the materials used is that I'd be slightly worried about how fragile the shell fabric is, since I'll be seeing all of its use in forests.
This certainly isn't a piece of kit to be abused, and I'd keep a healthy respect for pine needles! Saying that, I've used it in pine forests with no problems whatsoever, although I'm pretty careful to check for pine needles on the quilt, and I never set it on the ground.
|The 30D Ripstop is lightweight and has a DWR coating. This is the graphite color, I think it looks pretty nice! |
I have been hesitant to buy down products for years because of the common conception that it doesn't work as well as synthetic insulation when it's wet, however the Activ-Dry down is designed to minimise this problem. Whilst I haven't absolutely soaked the underquilt I have (on numerous occasions) got it slightly damp and I haven't noticed any difference in how well it insulates.
A feature I'm particularly fond of is the differential cut. What this means is that the inner shell fabric is cut smaller than the outer shell fabric meaning that even when the inner shell is stretched completely flat the outer shell still has enough loft to prevent compression of the down. This is a common feature on sleeping bags and is especially useful on an underquilt.
The Yeti has this differential cut both ways (dual differential cut), top to bottom, and side to side, making down compression near enough impossible no matter what way you lie in your hammock. I think this is a pretty much essential feature of an underquilt, but one which is overlooked by many other manufacturers.
I'm also a big fan of the draft tubes, which consist of a horizontal down stuffed tube running along the whole length of the head and foot end openings of the quilt. These seal themselves against the hammock creating an impenetrable barrier to cold wind.
|The draft tubes seal against the hammock, preventing the cold wind from robbing your heat.|
|I challenge you to find even one stitch out of place.|
I haven't noticed any major down leakage from the Yeti, but of course it leaks the occasional bit of down, which is perfectly normal for any down item and is nothing to worry about.
Before trying an underquilt for myself I had repeatedly heard of the woes of setting one up, with people complaining how theirs would slip off them during the night, be loose against the hammock, or would be so tight against the hammock that it would compress the insulation. I'd say I was pretty well prepared for more than a bit of hassle.
You can probably understand my confusion then when I tried the Warbonnet Yeti...
Step one - Loop the elastic suspension over the each gathered end on your hammock.
Step two - ...
You were expecting a step two? Yeah, so was I.
That's all there is to it. The Yeti is fantastically easy to set up, once it's hooked on you can get into the hammock and shift the the underquilt up and down along the suspension on the sewn channels or move it side to side just by grabbing and moving it.
It sits right against the hammock, and the elastic suspension is under quite a lot of tension. This prevents any heat loss out of the sides and protects you from drafts trying to get in under the quilt.
Just for reference, I've been told that the head end is supposed to be the end with the Warbonnet logo however I don't think it matters, I've slept both ways with no complaints!
|On the head end, apparently.|
This thing really is warm. Which is exactly the thought that occurs to me every time I lie down into my hammock with the Yeti. It's good riddance to the infamous "Cold Butt Syndrome" replacing it with a warm, comfortable nights sleep.
The week before the quilt arrived I spent a night out with only an inflatable pad as bottom insulation, which turned out to be a very bad idea. (Read the Klymit Inertia X-Frame review to understand why!) I slept for about five minutes in total that night, with the rest consisting of shivering beside a fire wrapped in a sleeping bag...
Since then I've been out numerous times, and haven't repeated that experience, or anything close to it! Every single night I have been warm and toasty with surprising consistency.
However I have found that when you reach outside your hammock it causes the underquilt suspension to be pushed down on that side - causing the quilt to droop a little underneath the hammock. This causes a bit of cold air to get in so I'd avoid doing that as much as possible, although it's by no means a major problem.
The other thing is that whilst your torso is nice and toasty your calves and feet can feel colder than usual, this is easily solved by using a thin CCF pad inside the hammock, which can double as a sit pad during the days walking.
I do feel that the pad inside the hammock is a bit annoying but the weight savings are obvious and I always have a sitting pad with me for eating lunch so why not use it?!
|Annoying but necessary, I think if the pad was thinner and larger it'd be a lot better (this is just a cheap sitting pad I picked up a while ago). I've heard great things about the Gossamer Gear pads...|
Warbonnet recommend that the underquilt be positioned so that the top lies just above your shoulders and the bottom lies just below your knees. I found this was a perfect position to trap the heat where it is needed.
Make sure not to position it too high or too low or it won't hug the hammock as it's supposed to (unless you're too warm, in which case it's a handy way to vent some heat!) instead creating a gap which will lose heat pretty fast.
Warbonnet also do not recommend putting anything between the quilt and hammock which will compromise the fit of the quilt. If you feel the need to layer a pad with the underquilt it is best kept inside your hammock or between double layers if you have them.
Compatibility with hammocks
The Yeti (with no modification to the suspension) should fit any gathered end hammock, whether its a whipped end or a sewn channel. It will work better on a whipped end hammock as there's more material to hook the suspension on to, but I've been using it on my ENO DoubleNest with absolutely no problems at all.
Of course the Yeti is also compatible with all of Warbonnet's gathered end hammocks, like the Blackbird and Traveller. For bridge style hammocks Warbonnet sell the Lynx Underquilt.
If your hammock doesn't have anywhere for the suspension to hook on to, don't fret - a short length of cord or some mini carabiners will work wonders!
|It fits on my ENO DoubleNest just fine.|
- Exceptionally good quality
- Fits virtually any gathered end hammock
- Lightweight, lighter than most similar UQs from various manufacturers
- Warm enough for use practically all year in the UK
- Simple setup
- Differential cut
- Highly compressible (pack size about 30x11.5cm, but could be compressed further)
- 800fp Activ-Dry water repellent down
- Backed by a fantastic company
I honestly can't think of any cons for the Yeti. Sure, it's expensive, but underquilts are, and if you add it to the cost of a top quilt you're getting near enough the price of a sleeping bag with similar specs.
The 3-season Yeti costs $190 which includes the underquilt, suspension and a nice silnylon stuff sack.
I think you'll probably have gathered that I don't like this underquilt - I LOVE it.
It's a fantastic underquilt, and if you're on the fence about buying one all I can say is, "What are you waiting for?!" If you think you'll use it often and you can justify the price then definitely go for it and you certainly won't regret it.
There's also the fact that you're dealing with a pretty small company, one which has top notch customer service and really strives to accommodate it's customers. The business is at a personal level, and Brandon is a great guy to deal with! (Cheers Brandon!)
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my review!
The 3-Season Yeti is available at the Warbonnet Outdoors website, here:
Thanks to Brandon at Warbonnet for the opportunity to review an awesome underquilt.
|Disclaimer: Warbonnet Outdoors provided me with the product free of charge in exchange for this review. This didn't alter my opinion of the product in any way, if you think it sounds like a sales pitch its because I'm really pleased with the product and think it deserves a really positive review! |
Review by Jake McConnell (part of HighballBlog.com outdoor athletes team who test and review outdoor gear).
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