Summer Hiking Underquilt – Stage 1

For my lighter, thinner, less bulky summer underquilt for my hammock, First stage was figuring out what it would look like at the end.

Before we begin – if you don’t know what an underquilt is: An underquilt is like half a sleeping bag that hangs outside your hammock. Why outside? Because when you lay down on a sleeping bag it compresses to nothing, offering little to no insulation value on the part directly under you. So the best way to maintain the insulation’s “loft” (puffy heat catching goodness) is to hang it outside your hammock, tight against you. Hammock hangers often use two quilts. One underquilt outside on the bottom, and a top quilt on top of them, inside the hammock. Imagine cutting a sleeping bag in half, sticking half under you and half on top, with a hammock in the middle. This gives you all the coverage of a sleeping bag, without the extra weight of carrying both a sleeping bag AND an underquilt. You could use an underquilt and a sleeping bag together, it’s just more stuff to stick in the pack.

The last quilt I made, I built with green M50 fabric, a very light fabric (half an ounce per square yard – It was like working with a garbage bag made of fabric). This time, though, I decided to go with HyperD ripstop from Hyper D is a semi-breathable fabric with little diamond shaped ripstop patterns in it. I’ve made a hammock chair with it, and it’s amazing what it will support. Its very light and strong.

The insulation was the big part. I wanted an under quilt for the summer mainly for wind protection. You lose a lot of heat through a hammock, and a 70 degree night with a little wind can get chilly under you. I went back and forth for a bit but finally decided on 2.5 ounce ClimaShield, a puffy synthetic insulation commonly used in jackets and gloves, in various thicknesses. The 2.5oz insulation weighs 2.5 ounces per square yard (of course) and is about 1/2″ thick. This thin insulation along with the wind-blocking fabric should be just what I need for slightly chilly summer nights.

I placed my order and waited the required three days (RBTR is in NC, so it gets here pretty quick). I found a big box on the steps that seemed to have nothing in it. I took it inside and carefully unpacked my stuff. I had purchased 6 yards of crimson 1 ounce HyperD, and 3 yards of Climashield, as well as one 25 foot section of 1/8″ shock cord, and one pack of small cord locks.

Following the Kick-Ass Quilts pattern, I laid everything out and used my tape measure and T-Square, and cut two sections of hyperD 95″ long. HyperD stretches a little, so I left some extra to play with. When it’s done, the underquilt should be right about 90″ long. I was left with a two foot wide section of scrap, which I will use to make the carrying sack for the quilt. I cut the Climashield at 95 inches, leaving a section about 1.5 feet wide. I’m going to use that piece to double up right where the torso goes, since “Cold Butt Syndrome” is a common hammock issue.


Yes, that’s duct tape holding my fabric in place. I cut the fabric with Pinking Shears (the scissors that look like alligator teeth from the side) to keep frayed edges down to a minimum, and because my good straight scissors keep disappearing.


Climashield is “continuous filament fiber”, which means one string, back and forth. It requires little to no quilting, so basically I make a sandwich with the White stuff between the Red stuff, sew the edges and I’m done.

But wait – there’s more. Since I like tie-dye stuff, I decided to go ahead and tie-dye my gear. I purchased a bottle of navy blue RIT dye, mixed it with water and vinegar, heated it up, and dumped it in a ziplock bag with my tied-up red fabric. I hope it does a good job, its always difficult to tell what it will look like when it comes out. Especially since the fabric has a mild water-resistant coating. This is an extra step which is going to add a little time to the process, but I’m not in a rush, I have 2 weeks or so before my next trip. The sewing is tedious but not overly complex.

So, now I have to wait for the dye job to finish, dry everything, and start thinking about carefully cutting my fabric panels.


Update 08-04-16 10pm

The wife and daughter have commandeered the den to watch Big Brother, so no pics right now, but I have to say the tie-dye came out AWESOME, as far as nylon goes.


Author: theosus1

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