I was wondering if I could stay relatively warm in a hammock if I had a 0 degree down sleeping bag and I put a foam sleeping pad inside of it and under me. Could I stay warm in 20 degrees Fahrenheit?
@IsaacP Thanks for reaching out!
Staying warm at night in a sleeping bag is going to depend on a lot of different factors, but you are on the right track in terms of heat loss when hammock camping. We encourage you to check out this thread discussing this topic, Hammock Sleeping--Warmth Options. For a good discussion on sleeping pads and under-quilts while hammock camping.
Hope this helps!
From the various videos I have watched, using a pad in a hammock is not uncommon. However, since a pad only provide insulation from below it is not going to be as effective as a bottom quilt which wraps the sides.
A typical foam pad has an R rating of 2 or less so I doubt it would provide sufficient insulation for 20F especially if there is any wind chill. Generally when it gets that cold you want a pad with an R rating of 3 or more on the ground, 5 or more in the winter and I suspect you need a higher rating in a hammock.
My understanding is that most people find that hammocks run out of comfort at around freezing and while you can make them survivable below that most will prefer to switch to a tent if freezing temps are typical for the trip.
I have no personal experience so take this with a pinch of salt.
Hi @IsaacP thank you for reaching out to us!
Just like camping in a tent, the effectiveness of your sleep system will be relative not only to the gear itself but to how warm or cold you naturally sleep. One of the unique qualities to hammock camping, however, is taking air flow into consideration. While suspended, the air moving around your hammock will draw heat from on top and underneath! I've had great results using an under quilt/top quilt combination in cold weather, with a thin pad to maintain the structure of my hammock within the quilt. The quilt kept all of the airflow outside of the hammock and just a few inches between your core and cold air can make a world of difference. If you choose to go the sleeping bag route, having one that is full zip insures that you can get in and out with ease.
Go with opinions with REAL, ACTUAL first-hand EXPERIENCE behind the opinions (something sorely needed!!). I've been a wilderness enthusiast, land and sea, for nearly 35 YEARS! And I AM also a hammock camper!! (so, no GUESSING here). Salespeople opinions are already suspect.
First, you DON'T need an under-quilt! (or over-quilt!!, etc.). If you do, then you're in the Arctic (good luck finding two trees!). START with a good sleeping pad, THAT is what will keep you warm. The quilt/bag will just give you a buffer for the ambient cold/wind.
You can use a quilt OR sleeping bag, but technically speaking, a quilt (WITH a good sleeping pad) will be more packable and cost less money (unless certain stores WANT to charge you more *wink-wink, nod-nod*).
Sure, you can get a "zero-degree" bag, if you want to spend the money (and weight/bulk), but you are probably ALREADY wearing extra insulation/down in the form of your down JACKETS! Just sew a zipper onto the bottom edge of your jackets. When it's sleepy-time, just zip them together, and use them as a down blanket INSIDE your sleeping bag... now your X-degree bag has an extra 10+/- degrees of warmth!
Cold feet? Get a pair of LONG wool socks (the longer the better), LOOSELY stitch a drawstring into the top of your socks. When it's sleepy-time, pull the TOP of the socks down and over your toes, then pull the drawstrings closed. You now have DOUBLE-THICK wool booties to keep your feet/toes nice and toasty!
The advantage of tips like these is they DON'T cost more money (sorry REI, but you don't have many/any innovators!), they DON'T weigh anything, and they make items MULTI-use! (THAT'S what real experience can do.)
The problem I have found with a sleeping pad in a hammock is you end up either chasing it all night, or you roll off of it and then it's useless. I have tried the hammock-v pad, and it does stay in place, but then you have those wings in your face all night. I find a good quality underquilt (I have a UGQ) and over quilt is the way to go. You still get that snuggled in experience, and stay warm. I tried a lot of budget fixes before I finally bit the bullet and got the UGQ quilts, but I have never regretted it. The second necessity is your tarp. If you're camping in the cold, make sure your tarp is big enough, and shaped correctly where you can close it up to block drafts. Setting it up closer to the ground also helps keep the cold out. My setup is a 10X12 tarp with a multitude of tieouts, underquilt and overquilts by UGQ 10 degree, and bug net when appropriate. I also opt for a piece together system instead of the high dollar gimmicy setups.
If you want to use a sleeping pad get a double layer hammock so the pad goes into the sleeve and doesn't move around. Another option is a bridge hammock. Also sleeping bags are useless in hammocks for underneath you all there insulation gets crushed down and can't insulate you, so you will need a great underquilt and a top quilt. If your a car camper and normally cold when you sleep you can double up on quilts both under and top. REI is lacking on hammock camping options but there are tons of great systems out there. Sierra madre reserch is 1 and they sell things like a winter barrier to help you stay warm its a great system.