In this article, you will learn how to make a DIY underquilt for your hammock camping adventures. We will discuss the importance of an underquilt and how it can keep you warm and cozy during those chilly nights. Furthermore, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to create your own underquilt at home. So, if you’re ready to enhance your hammock camping experience, let’s get started!
Hammock camping has gained popularity over the years for its comfort and versatility. However, one common challenge faced by hammock campers is staying warm during chilly nights. This is where a hammock underquilt comes in handy. In this article, we will guide you through the process of creating your own DIY underquilt for hammock camping.
What is a hammock underquilt?
A hammock underquilt is a piece of insulation that hangs beneath the hammock, providing a warm barrier between you and the cold air below. Unlike traditional sleeping bags or blankets, an underquilt specifically caters to the unique needs of hammock campers. It attaches to the bottom of the hammock and wraps around your body, ensuring maximum warmth and comfort during your camping adventures.
Importance of using an underquilt
Using an underquilt is essential for hammock camping, especially in colder temperatures. When you sleep in a hammock without insulation underneath, your body heat is easily conducted and lost to the cold air beneath the hammock. This can lead to discomfort, disrupted sleep, and potentially even hypothermia in extreme conditions.
An underquilt effectively addresses this issue by providing insulation and preventing heat loss. It helps create a warm microclimate within your hammock, allowing you to sleep comfortably throughout the night. Additionally, an underquilt eliminates the need for bulky sleeping bags, making it a lightweight and practical choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
Materials and Tools
Before starting your DIY underquilt project, it is crucial to gather all the necessary materials and tools. Here are some considerations for each component:
Choosing the right insulation material
The insulation material is responsible for trapping your body heat and keeping you warm. The most commonly used insulation options for underquilts are down and synthetic insulation. Down insulation offers excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility, making it a popular choice. However, it tends to be more expensive and loses its insulating properties when wet. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, is more affordable, retains insulation even when wet, but may be bulkier and less compressible.
When selecting your insulation material, consider the temperature range you will be camping in, your budget, and personal preferences. It is also important to choose a material specifically designed for outdoor use to ensure durability and longevity.
The fabric you choose for your underquilt will determine its overall durability and comfort. Ripstop nylon is a popular choice due to its lightweight, strong, and tear-resistant properties. It also offers water resistance, which can be advantageous in damp conditions. Another option is polyester, which is affordable and resistant to UV damage. Whichever fabric you choose, make sure it is breathable and suitable for outdoor use.
Sewing tools required
To bring your DIY underquilt project to life, you will need some essential sewing tools. These include a sewing machine, scissors, measuring tape, pins, and thread. Additionally, having a fabric marker or chalk can be helpful for marking measurements and sewing guidelines.
Measuring and Cutting
Accurate measurements are crucial to ensure a proper fit for your DIY underquilt. Here are the steps to measure your hammock and calculate the dimensions for your underquilt:
Measuring your hammock dimensions
Start by setting up your hammock in its usual hanging position. With the hammock stretched out fully, measure its length from end to end. Next, measure the width of the hammock at its widest point. Write down these measurements as they will be used to calculate the dimensions of your underquilt.
Calculating underquilt dimensions
A properly fitting underquilt should cover the full length and width of your hammock, extending slightly beyond the edges for adequate coverage. To calculate the dimensions, add a few inches to the length and width of your hammock measurements. This additional allowance ensures the underquilt wraps around your body and provides optimal insulation.
Cutting the insulation material and fabric
Using your calculated dimensions, mark and cut the insulation material and fabric accordingly. Remember to account for seam allowances when cutting the fabric. It is also a good idea to label each piece to avoid confusion during the sewing process.
Quilting and Sewing
Once you have all your materials ready, it’s time to start quilting and sewing your underquilt. This stage involves layering the insulation material, sewing the layers together, and creating channels for the shock cords.
Layering the insulation material
Lay one piece of insulation material on a flat surface, followed by the fabric with its right side facing down. Ensure that the edges align properly. If you prefer a quilted look, use pins to secure the layers together in a grid or diamond pattern. This will prevent the insulation material from shifting.
Sewing the layers together
Using a sewing machine, sew the layers together along the edges, leaving an opening for turning the underquilt right side out. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam for added strength. Once all the edges are sewn, carefully turn the underquilt right side out through the opening.
Creating channels for the shock cords
To attach the underquilt to your hammock, you will need shock cords and suspension systems. Create channels along the length of the underquilt by sewing parallel lines or pockets through both layers of fabric. These channels will hold the shock cords in place and allow for easy suspension.
Attaching Suspension Systems
To hang your underquilt securely and comfortably, you will need to attach suspension systems such as loops or tabs, shock cords, and carabiners or S-hooks.
Installing loops or tabs on the underquilt
Sew loops or tabs at each end of the underquilt to serve as attachment points. These loops should be strong and securely sewn to handle the weight and movement of the underquilt.
Attaching shock cords for easy suspension
Thread shock cords through the channels you created earlier, ensuring that they are evenly distributed along the length of the underquilt. Attach one end of each shock cord to the loops or tabs, and tie knots at the other end to prevent them from slipping out.
Adding carabiners or S-hooks for quick setup
To easily hang and adjust your underquilt, attach carabiners or S-hooks to the loops or tabs. These hardware options allow for quick setup and adjustment of the underquilt’s height and tension.
Adjusting for Temperature
The versatility of your DIY underquilt allows for adjustments according to the temperature conditions you encounter during your camping trips.
Adding extra insulation for colder conditions
If you anticipate camping in colder temperatures, consider adding extra insulation to your underquilt. You can achieve this by layering additional insulation material between the underquilt and the hammock. This additional layer will provide enhanced warmth for chilly nights.
Using underquilt extensions or baffles
Underquilt extensions or baffles are another option for increasing insulation and warmth. These add-ons can be attached to the underquilt, providing additional coverage for your feet or torso. By adjusting and customizing the underquilt to your desired level of warmth, you can comfortably camp in various temperature ranges.
Ventilation options for warmer weather
When camping in warmer weather, adequate ventilation is essential to prevent overheating. You can achieve this by slightly loosening the underquilt’s tension, allowing for increased airflow between the underquilt and the hammock. This prevents excessive sweating and ensures a comfortable sleep during hot summer nights.
Testing and Adjustments
Before embarking on your camping trip, it is essential to test your DIY underquilt to ensure its practicality and functionality. Here are some steps to follow:
Hanging the underquilt and making adjustments
Hang your hammock with the underquilt attached to it, making sure the suspension systems are properly secured. Lie in the hammock and adjust the underquilt’s height and tension to your desired level of comfort. Evaluate the coverage and fit, ensuring that the underquilt wraps around your body appropriately.
Checking for proper coverage and fit
While lying in the hammock, examine the underquilt’s coverage and fit. It should cover your entire body from shoulder to foot and wrap around the sides to trap warmth effectively. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure optimal coverage before your camping trip.
Taking the underquilt for a test run
To gain confidence in the functionality of your DIY underquilt, take it for a test run in a controlled environment. Spend a night in your backyard or a local campground to assess its insulation capabilities and overall comfort. This test run will allow you to make any final adjustments or modifications before heading out into the wilderness.
Care and Maintenance
To prolong the lifespan of your DIY underquilt and ensure its optimal performance, proper care and maintenance are essential. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Cleaning the underquilt
Regularly clean your underquilt to remove dirt, sweat, and other contaminants. Depending on the insulation material and fabric you used, you may be able to machine wash it on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. However, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damaging the underquilt. Hang it to dry thoroughly before storing.
Storage tips to prolong its lifespan
When not in use, store your underquilt in a dry and clean environment. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, as these can degrade the insulation material and fabric over time. Proper storage will help maintain the underquilt’s loft and functionality.
Repairing minor damages
Inspect your underquilt regularly for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice minor damages such as small tears or loose threads, address them promptly to prevent further deterioration. Use a needle and thread to sew up any small holes or reinforce weak points. For more extensive damage, consult a professional or consider replacing the underquilt if it is no longer serviceable.
While using a DIY underquilt can enhance your hammock camping experience, it is essential to prioritize safety. Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:
Ensuring proper attachment and suspension
When installing the underquilt, double-check that all attachments and suspension systems are secure. Loose or weak connections can lead to accidents or discomfort while sleeping.
Avoiding contact with fire or sharp objects
Keep your underquilt a safe distance away from open flames, stoves, and sharp objects. Avoid situations where the underquilt can come into contact with sparks or puncture-inducing materials to prevent damage and potential hazards.
Checking the underquilt for wear and tear
Regularly inspect your underquilt for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed fabric or degraded insulation. Replace or repair any damaged components to ensure optimal performance and safety during your camping trips.
By following this DIY guide, you can create your own underquilt for hammock camping. With the right materials, tools, and a little creativity, you can sleep comfortably in your hammock even on the coldest nights. Creating your own underquilt allows you to customize the dimensions, insulation, and features according to your preferences and camping needs. Don’t be afraid to embark on this DIY project and experience the satisfaction of sleeping comfortably in a hammock underquilt that you made yourself. Happy camping!