All-Around Best Sleeping Bag for Hammock Camping
Outdoor Vitals Aerie
In the debate between sleeping bags and top quilts, the Aerie manages to split the difference and incorporates the best of both designs. It has the shoulder room and can be tightly compacted like a quilt but can also be deployed as a sleeping bag or a hammock pod.
This sleeping bag can also be totally unzipped and used as a top quilt, meaning it is like having both a sleeping bag and a quilt all at once. Filled with 800 FP down or hybrid LoftTek insulation and available in models rated from 45°F to 0°F, there is an option for all seasons.
While it weighs a little more than some other sleeping bags and quilts on the list, the real benefit of the Aerie is that you do not need to bring a camping pad along to use it. While you can bring a pad of extra comfort, it is not necessary when the Aerie is deployed as a hammock pod or sleeping bag.
Bottom line: For the avid hammock camper or backpacker, the function, versatility, and quality built into the Outdoor Vitals Aerie make it the clear top choice.
Staying Warm in Your Hammock
Forgoing traditional tent camping for the lightweight convenience of hammock camping is becoming increasingly popular. Hammocks are lighter to carry, less bulky to pack, and easier to set up than traditional tents.
However, hammock campers require a well-insulated sleeping bag or quilt. Otherwise, you will be in for a chilly, uncomfortable night.
So how do you make the right choice? This article will explore the difference between sleeping bags and top quilts, how to choose the right one for you, and tell you why the Outdoor Vitals Aerie is the very best sleeping bag for hammock camping.
Buyers Guide to the Best Sleeping Bags & Top Quilts
Are you trying to pick out the right sleeping bag or quilt for you? Unsure of exactly what the differences between them even are? Read on!
Sleeping Quilt vs. Sleeping Bag
Quilts and sleeping bags are made of the same fabrics and have the same insulation fill, but quilts lack zippers, hoods, and back material. Instead, quilts essentially use your camping pad as backing and often have straps to help keep themselves attached to your sleeping pad.
Because they use fewer components, quilts are generally lighter than similarly rated sleeping bags. However, what sleeping pad you choose becomes more critical with a quilt because it relies on an adequately insulated sleeping pad to form its bottom layer to retain warmth.
Warmth & Temperature Rating
On their surface, the American sleeping bag and quilt temperature ratings seem straightforward. In theory, a sleeping bag rated for 30°F should provide enough warmth to keep you comfortable when outdoor temperatures dip as low as 30°F. What temperature rating will work best for you depends on the climate in which you plan on camping.
Generally, sleeping bag seasonality ratings breaks down like this:
- Summer sleeping bags: 35°F and up
- Three-season sleeping bags: 15-35°F
- Four season sleeping bags: 10°F and under
However, as with many things, your mileage may vary. What type of clothing you wear when you sleep, how hot your body runs, and your overall body fat percentage are all factors that determine how warm you will feel in your sleeping bag.
Generally, temperature ratings are pretty accurate for the average camper. If you know you usually run hotter or colder than the average person while you sleep, factor that into your decision making.
Shape & Comfort
One shape advantage quilts have is that they allow you more mobility to toss and turn in your sleep comfortably. Because they are not tightly zipped like a mummy sleeping bag, quilts also work well for people who sleep on their sides or in the fetal position.
Quilts also have a versatile shape and construction. Their footboxes can be adjusted to open up, allowing the quilt to become a flat blanket.
That being said, you may find yourself more comfortable in a traditional mummy sleeping bag precisely because it creates such a tight fit around you. In a sleeping bag, you know you are not going to accidentally kick your leg out the bottom in the night and wake up with freezing toes.
A recent advancement in hammock-based sleeping bag shape technology is the “pod” design. When used as a pod, the sleeping bag totally encompasses both you and your hammock like a comfy cocoon.
Top quilts and sleeping bags use the same insulation fill, which is generally either goose down or synthetic. Most serious backpackers agree that down is the superior choice: it is lighter, has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio, and compresses better than synthetic. It also re-fluffs (known in the business as “lofting”) much better than synthetic after it has been compressed.
The one advantage that synthetic insulation fill has is that it insulates better when it is wet. However, if your sleeping back is getting routinely wet when you are camping, you have bigger problems than choosing a new sleeping bag.
Weight & Packed Size
Quilts generally weigh less and pack down smaller than sleeping bags, because they do not have the added weight of zippers and hoods.
However, the weight difference is usually not huge. The average quilt weighs 16-24 oz, while the average sleeping bag weighs 20-32 oz. At worst, that is a weight difference of one pound.
How small you need a sleeping bag or quilt to pack down to depends on how you plan on using it. While quilts will generally pack down smaller into a stuff sack, compared with a sleeping bag, remember that quilts also require a substantial insulation pad to complete their system.
Some bags, like Outdoor Vitals Aerie, can be deployed as a hammock pod and do not require sleeping pads to protect your underside.
In the end, it comes down to your camping style and personal comfort preference.
How is down insulation fill rated?
Down insulation in a sleeping bag is rated with the unit Fill Power (FP). To calculate FP, the manufacturer places one oz of down in a cylinder and compresses it with a one oz weight.
The weight is then removed, and the down insulation is left to loft for three days. The total volume the down lofts (measured in cubic inches) is its fill power.
Essentially, the higher the Sleeping Bag Fill Power, the better the down will insulate.
What is RDS Standard down?
The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is a voluntary set of ethical standards that down sleeping bag manufacturers can use to certify their products.
It certifies among other things, that the geese from which the down was harvested were not “subjected to unnecessary harm” and that the down was harvested humanely.
What is a draft collar?
Some quilts and bags are sold with an optional draft collar, which is a small tube sewn near their top. Draft collars form a type of seal and help prevent warmth from your body heat escaping when you move around. Helping you to stay warm.
The Best Sleeping Bags & Quilts for Hammock Camping
Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT™ Down MummyPod
Best Four-Season Bag
The new slogan of Outdoor Vitals is “Live Ultralight,” and this four-season, 0°F bag, accomplishes that with gusto. Weighing 44 oz, this MummyPod can be used as a regular sleeping bag or as a pod that totally encompasses both you and your camping hammock.
If you are camping with an open-topped hammock, the MummyPod is an excellent buy. The foot box is adjustable and closes with a drawstring so that you can run the entire hammock straight through the bag. Stuffed with 800 FP hydrophobic down, making this bag virtually waterproof. This makes a rain fly unnecessary for most mild-weather camping.
This bag also has built-in shoulder baffles, which helps body heat retention that would otherwise be lost when it is being used as a hammock pod. Because it is rated for such low temperatures, you can get away with not using a pad with this bag. Stuffing down to 11 x 8 x 8 in, this is one of the more compact four-season bags on the market.
- Four season sleeping bag temperature rating
- Adjustable footbox allows for use as a hammock pod and can create airflow on hot nights
- 800 FP, water-resistant down filling
- Low weight for a four-season bag
- Heavy-duty 75 Denier Rhombus polyester ripstop shell
- No choice in color
Bottom line: If you are searching for a sleeping bag that you can use all year round, the StormLOFT™ Down MummyPod is a great pick.
Enlightened Equipment Revelation-H.E. Custom
Starting in a Minnesota basement in 2007, Enlightened Equipment has grown but has retained its original dedication to quality. As you may have guessed, the Revelation-H.E. Custom is the “Hammock Edition” of their standard custom-made quilt.
Available from 50°F all the way down to 0°F, these quilts are made with either 850 or 950 FP down fill that is ethically sourced and RDS certified. These quilts are highly-customization in length, width, and shell and fill color. If you want an ultra-personalized quilt to call your own, the H.E. Custom is for you.
Since these quilts are so customizable and can be sewn to a wide variety of temperature ratings, we will use 20°F, 850 FP down, regular length and width as an “average” quilt. An average H.E. Custom weighs just 21 oz and stuffs down to about 8 x 8 x 6 in.
- Wide range of sizes for different body types and preferences
- Reasonably priced for custom-built equipment
- Hundreds of fill combinations for the perfect warmth
- 850 or 950 FP down fill
- 10D polyester shell
- Requires a highly insulated camping pad
Bottom line: If you require a non-standard quilt size and do not want to break the beak, Enlightened Equipment-H.E. Custom has your back. These are high quality, made in the USA, fully customizable to any preference.
ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt
Best Budget Option
Designed to be paired with the ENO Ember 2 UnderQuilt (not included), in reality, this quilt will work well with any underquilt or camping pad you have. However, as with any quilt, it is important that you use a pad that is insulated enough to keep you from getting CBS (Cold Butt Syndrome).
Rated for 40°F, check out this quilt if you plan on doing summer camping. If you are unsure if you could integrate a quilt into your hammock camping style, the Spark TopQuilt is a low cost, low-risk way to try one out.
While it contains synthetic fill (hence the high temp rating), this quilt only weighs 27 oz. It would be an easy addition to a warm-weather backpacking trip.
This quilt is not rated for colder temperatures. However, it is an affordable starter option for the novice hammock camper who may be looking to branch out and try something other than a traditional sleeping bag.
- Budget option
- Soft taffeta lining
- Low pack weight (27oz)
- Provides warmth only down to 40°F
- Synthetic insulation fill
- Will not stuff down as compactly as a down-filled quilt.
Bottom line: If you are interested in trying out summer hammock camping with a top quilt without breaking the bank, the ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt is a smart choice.
Kammok Bobcat Trail Quilt
Most Versatile Top Quilt
As their name implies, the fine folks at Kammock have made hammock camping gear their sole specialty. The Bobcat Trail Quilt was designed to wear many hats and can be used as a top quilt, an underquilt, a hammock pod, or a traditional blanket.
The key to this 45°F rated quilt’s versatility lies in the reinforced buckles and straps that line its edges. It can easily be connected to a camping pad to create a traditional quilt. It will also tightly snap to itself, creating a pod that will completely envelop you and your hammock on a chilly summer evening.
Weighing in at just 20 oz, this quilt is stuffed with Downtek, a responsibly sourced down that has been treated to make it water-repellent. Its shell is 20D nylon ripstop fabric, meaning the whole quilt is water-resistant (but not totally waterproof).
- Water-repellent Downtek down insulation
- Multiple different uses
- Covered under Kammock’s lifetime warranty
- Durable 20D nylon ripstop shell
- Warmth raring means can only be used for summer camping
- Will require a sturdy camping pad
Bottom line: Kammock’s Bobcat Trail Quilt is a versatile, sturdy option if you are searching for a new summer camping quilt that can also double as a pod.
Outdoor Vitals Aerie Hammock Pod System
Best Hammock Sleeping Bag
With the Aerie, Outdoor Vitals has taken the best parts of quilts and incorporated them into this endlessly useful sleeping bag.
Resembling a quilt that happens to have a zipper, this product can be used as: a sleeping bag, an underquilt, a top quilt, a blanket, or a hammock pod. It is also designed to be able to zip together with another Aerie, forming a double bag if you want to cozy up with your camping partner.
Rated from 45°F to 0°F depending on what model you choose, the Aerie is stuffed with 800 FP down and boasts a grid baffle design that keeps warm air trapped inside much more effectively than standard methods. It compresses down to roughly 7 in x 7 in x 10 in, so it will fit comfortably in any backpack.
Weighing between 36 and 57 oz depending on what temperature rating and fill you choose, this is not the lightest bag on the market. However, since it can be used as a hammock pod or traditional sleeping bag as well as a quilt, this bag does not require a camping pad to keep you cozy at night.
- High quality 800 FP down or hybrid LoftTek insulation
- Versatile quilt-sleeping bag hybrid
- Does not require a camping pad
- Water-resistant, coated 20D ripstop shell.
- Endless uses
- Limited color choices
Bottom line: With most of the benefits of quilt incorporated, this roomy all-purpose sleeping bag is expertly crafted. Because it has so many uses, the Outdoor Vitals Aerie could easily be the only thing you need to bring to stay cozy and dry on your next hammock trip.
Last update on 2020-06-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API