Do I Need an Underquilt in Summer?

Camping in temperatures below 65°F requires a lot of insulation to retain body heat and keep ourselves warm. In summer camping, we can cut down most of that weight. One such gear of interest is an underquilt.

During summer camping where the high temperature feels hot and we don’t want to drag along extra weight. Underquilts are heavy and take a lot of space in the backpack. So, do I need an underquilt for the hammock?

The answer depends on the temperature where you will be camping. You require an underquilt during temperatures below 65°F but for temperatures above 70°F, you can do fine without an underquilt. But do keep in mind that a sleeping bag alone won’t be enough. You would still need some kind of insulation to prevent heat loss from your body.

What is an Underquilt and why is it used?

An underquilt is a blanket that looks and feels like a sleeping bag. It is a single layer of loft that keeps you suspended so you can stay warm. It keeps you suspended over the ground or protects you from wind in a hammock.

When you lie down on a sleeping bag, your body weight presses the fill of the bag compromising its insulation. The heat from your body then escapes to the ground below or the blowing air under a hammock. That’s why a sleeping bag is not enough on its own.

Underquilts are more commonly associated with hammocks. An underquilt is lined under a hammock to keep the underside of the hammock warm and insulated. But it can also be used during normal camping and backpacking in place of a sleeping pad. It’s like sleeping over two sleeping bags.


  • An underquilt is far more comfortable than a sleeping pad. In a hammock, an underquilt makes the experience even more comfortable. It provides warmth from under the hammock while you sleep comfortably inside the hammock.
  • Underquilts provide more warmth than sleeping pads. Underquilts are made in a way that their lofts don’t press under bodyweight which lets them retain their insulation. Sleeping pads are not as warm as underquilts.


  • Underquilts are more expensive than sleeping pads. If you are on a budget, you won’t get many options. Ultralight underquilts cost even higher.
  • Underquilts weigh more and have a large volume. Ultralight underquilts can pack super small though. But again, you would have to pay a higher price.

Why not to use an Underquilt?

People who are starting out in camping, especially, hammock camping, don’t want to spend on an underquilt. What if you don’t like what you are doing? Going the cheapest route makes sense. However, the function of an underquilt can only be performed by an underquilt.

What about Sleeping Pads?

Sleeping pads are the most popular and effective alternative to an underquilt. They are easy to use and all you have to do is put them in the hammock and lie down on them. Sleeping pads are lighter and cheaper than underquilts.

There are three types of sleeping pads; closed-cell foam, self-inflating, and air pads. Air pads are the lightest, most comfortable but the most expensive. Closed-cell foam pads provide the most consistent warmth, are the most durable, cheapest but least comfortable. Self-inflating pads are a blend of the best features of air and closed-cell foam pads but they are the heaviest.

The problem with sleeping pads is that they tend to be slippery. It is difficult for you to stay on top of a sleeping pad as well as difficult for you to keep it under yourself. In a hammock, sleeping pads lose their insulation at the ends because the hammock presses them at the end. There are hammock-specific sleeping pads with tapered ends to tackle this problem. Some hammocks also have double layers to put the sleeping pad in between the layers.

Final Thoughts

You don’t usually need an underquilt during summer hiking. The principle is to keep yourself insulated from the underside so that your body heat doesn’t escape into the ground or be blown away by the wind. You can use sleeping pads in place of underquilts during summer for the purpose of insulation. Underquilts are heavy, have a high volume, and are expensive. Skipping on underquilts makes sense. The summer allows you to skip them.