As can be told by the last few post’s that I have entered here on my blog, I have been enjoying the comfort of a hammock. (For this, I can thank the Jolly Green Giant for a post on his own blog Lightweight And Ultralightwieght Backpacking in which he talks about hammocks.) However, I do realize that if I plan to continue to enjoy the comforts of the hammock then I had better plan to have a little insulation beneath me as the temps start to drop. I have tried (briefly) to make a pad work underneath me, but as this sentence hints at, it was a bit of a struggle…so I decided that an under quilt would probably be an easier, more comfortable way to go…
There are actually a number of reputable cottage type industries currently out there that are making gear which get rave reviews from all sorts of backpackers/hammockers. However, I decided to go with HammockGear.com for my first under quilt. Ok, I will admit, part of this was because I had already ordered (but not yet received) a top quilt from Adam & Jenny, so I guess without actually being biased, I was…just a little. (If that makes sense.)
I have actually been eyeballing the 20 F Phoenix under quilt from Hammock Gear for a while, but had yet to pull the trigger on it. But then Adam unleashed the secret weapon…he gave us the option of choosing cuben fiber…
Ok, I know, cuben fiber is not everything, but there is something about it that is attractive (at least to me). As well, there is quite a rave over the material itself, especially in lightweight or ultralight weight backpackers. (Philip Werner has a nice little reader poll on: Does Cuben Fiber Matter? over on his own blog Sectionhiker.com that is worth checking out for people’s different thoughts on the matter.)
However, cuben fiber is not what this post is about…but it does lead me to say that once Adam included Cuben Fiber as an option for the inner portion of the 20 F Phoenix UQ on his site, then my ears perked up and I asked the wife for my early Christmas present…which she so lovingly granted me! 🙂
(I will make mention though that Adam will make quilts out of pretty much any other material, however, these materials may have to be ordered from another source (such as Thru-hiker.com) and then of course these things would need to be discussed before-hand with Adam.)
So, on with it…
So, I placed my order with Hammock Gear for the 20 F Phoenix under quilts with the cuben fiber inner shell as well as 1 extra oz of down (just to get that little extra edge!) Then, for 20 days I waited anxiously for the under quilt to arrive…
So, to recap some of the specs:
- Weight: 17.6 oz (Includes stuff sack, under quilt & suspension system)
- Width: ~ 38.5 inches
- Length: ~ 49 inches
Like I said in the video, the dimensions are somewhat smaller than what is listed on the site, so I am trying to decide if it will work for me being the length that it is. As well, I did speak with Adam on the phone about this and he told me to take it out and see if it will work out for me being this size and if not he will be more than happy to let me send this one back and for him to make me another one.
This is the first experience that I have had with an under quilt (remember, I am new to hammocks) so I am trying to figure out if I “think” it will work for me. I used it last night here at my home and the temperatures dropped to about 55 F last night, but of course this is still far from the stated 20 F that this quilt was built for. I do plan on taking it out again tonight to Big Hill Pond State Park and using it again and the temperatures should be around the same as last night.
Using the quilt last night I can really feel the warmth being reflected back to me (I credit this to the Mylar in the cuben fiber, which may also aid in getting a lower temperature rating than the proposed 20 F ~ not to mention the extra oz of down). Using the quilt last night I could definitely tell a difference in temperature between where the under quilt was under my body, and where it was not.
I need to figure out if the sides of the under quilt will wrap around my shoulders enough to keep me warm once temps do actually drop to the proposed rating. At the moment, when I lie flat on my back the sides will wrap up about an inch over my shoulders. At first I figured that this would be adequate, however, now I wonder if it will. My concern here is that in that inch or so that comes over my shoulders, there is very little down at this point, but rather the top of the hem. So, I am concerned if this will allow a spot for drafts to sneak in due to the lack of insulation. I do imagine that my top quilt will be somewhat bunched around my shoulders too though, so I am wondering if the bunched top quilt will make up for the lack of insulation from the under quilt at this point. This is something that I fear I will only be able to realize once those temps do start getting to that point (which may be a couple more months for us in my neck of the woods.)
The other thing that I need to get down is fitting the under quilt directly underneath the hammock so that when I lay in the hammock, the under quilt is up against me (not a gap). I have tied knots in the supplied suspension which will tighten up the under quilt, but even still I still seem to manage to have a bit of a gap between the under quilt and the hammock past my butt. The under quilt is pulled against my back and my butt, it is just the area under my legs. I will tie another knot even farther back on the suspension tonight before I set it up before bed to see if it makes a difference. As well, I also make sure that the suspension cords coming out of the under quilt are placed over the top of my hammock rather than under the hammock. At this point, I feel like this is just something that I have to continue to tweak to get it fitted to me.Over all, I must admit that I was not as happy as I thought I would be once I opened the box and took it all in. Mostly due to the smaller measurements issue and I will admit that I thought it would be a hair lighter (due to the Cuben Fiber~ even by 0.5 oz off the listed weight) although I was taking into consideration the extra oz of down fill I opted for would then put it about 0.5 oz over the listed weight. To be fair though, I think that it may be right if I were to remove the suspension system and the stuff sack and weighed the under quilt alone. As well, there is the missed hem that I will need to hem myself if I choose to keep this particular under quilt.
However, once I realized these things and called Adam, he was very kind and concerned sounding when I spoke with him on the phone for all of 40 minutes. I admit that when I got off the phone with him I was a bit happier about the product, and again, he did offer to fix the problem for me. He left that up to me though to decide upon, and when we hung up the phone I told him that I was happy to keep this one and see how it works for me. So, while there may have been some short-comings in the beginning, it is not the end and Adam is sticking by his products one way or another.
(Also, despite these issues, I still would like to order more of Adam’s quilts…that 0 F Burrow sure would be nice…)
So, that is some of my first thoughts on the Hammock Gear 20 F Phoenix under quilt with the Cuben Fiber option and 1 extra oz of down. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and I will get back to you! Thanks for reading…