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  1. #1
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    Default Air mattress vs UQ in terms of warmth

    All else aside, can an air mattress be as warm as an UQ?

    Am going to start carrying both for a couple of months to test, and interested in your experiences.

    Am prepping for some trips where a night or two on the ground may be necessary.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2

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    I have limited hammock experience but from that I found a mat inside a hammock doesn't work very well. It's just not the right shape. You also need a side entry hammock, a bottom entry like some of the Hennesys are impossible.

    I'm not sure how effective an air mattress like a neo-air would be in a hammock. I have a feeling it wouldn't be too good. A closed cell foam would be better and you could shape the top and bottom edges to better conform to the shape of the hammock.
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    Registered User gbolt's Avatar
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    I used a pad for quite awhile with my Double Layer hammock to "hold" the pad. I don't feel the air mattress can be as warm as a quilt. Most that try a quilt don't go back. I finally bit the bullet and purchased one and now the pad is really obsolete (except for the smokies). The major reason is that without modifications, a person will "Shift" off of the pad and constantly battle cold spots. With an underquilt, it can be "hooked" on the shoulders and will more easily stay in place matching the angle of lay in a hammock. It forms a better system for taking advantage of the down feathers and fluff of the quilt. I can actually feel the heat difference between no insulation, a pad, and most of all the TQ.
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    UC will never loose any air.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJackson View Post
    All else aside, can an air mattress be as warm as an UQ?
    Heavens no! An UQ feels like an electric blanket under you when you first lay in a hammock with one. There's even an acronym for how ineffective a pad is in a hammock: CBS. Or, Cold Butt Syndrome. Anytime you lay on your side, your butt, your knees, anything off the mattress and against the side of the hammock gets cold.

    As mentioned, I'm one of those who tried an UQ and will never go back to a pad.
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  6. #6
    Registered User russb's Avatar
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    CBS is not defined by ineffective pads or by the person moving off a pad. CBS happens with pads and quilts, it simply describes the phenomenon where the persons butt is often the first place where cold is felt, often making an uncomfortable nights sleep. A small piece of ccf pad is a common solution to cbs. While I agree that inflatable pads are not as easy to use due to their low width and high depth, theycan work well with a pad extender. All insulation has their benefits and drawbacks. I use uqs in the summer and closed cell foam in winter. Choose the right tool for the job, not what someone else uses for something different.

  7. #7
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Chris- somewhat related- http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/show...58#post2015358

    FWIW- I picked up the Xtherm yesterday... too many issues arising with the Exped models.
    Last winter I went the UQ route, and Russb was helpful with his deep winter experience for sure and his "right tool" advice is very solid.

    Your base question- "All else aside, can an air mattress be as warm as an UQ?"
    Sure. Provided you remember you're in a hammock where everything is more complicated.

    If you love your hammock- an UQ does a better job maintaining the "lay" you like. PERIOD.
    Introducing a pad changes your lay- for good or better is a comfort issue you have to pick.
    For most though, changing the lay is the end of the pad experiment, and very few gathered end hammocks are improved by a pad, the improvement in comfort is undeniable when using an UQ.

    Apples to apples there is no difference in warmth assuming you have the correctly rated pad or UQ.
    As an aside... knowing you have to (or may want to) go to ground is a massive point "in favor" of a pad.

    That said, a pad will never be as warm in the air as it is on the ground- but that also seems to apply to UQ's too. While it sounds weird- I can tell you that X" of down quilt is good to X degrees or warmth on the ground when used as a TQ. But if you take the same X" of down and build an UQ, it will not be as warm. It's just the way things work.

    Another way to look at it- the "real feel" or wind chill temp, or whatever you want to call it seems to dictate the warmth needed, where on the ground (assuming a shelter) the actual temp works. 30* night on the ground needs 30* gear... 30* with a real feel temp of 15* needs 15* gear in the air.

    While my experience is somewhat limited (100-200 nights)... a ballpark seems to be about 10-20* cooler depending on conditions. My Xlite pad- works fine on the ground to 20*, but about 40* it's done in the air... add a cold windy damp night at the same temp and you may find it failing even sooner. I found the same last winter with Down UQ's... 3" of down up top meant 4" of down on the bottom for example.


    Up to about 40*, I have similar or even better sleep with my Neo-Air Xlite.
    But picking a pad or UQ at these temps is a comfort, not a warmth choice. By design- One hammock I use works better with UQ, one better with a pad. This is a weight choice, and to be fair- from a pure hammock point of view... the hammock with UQ is lighter and smaller.

    Up to about 15* or so-
    I just got the Xtherm... but I anticipate that it will bridge the gap and work to these temps.
    This also seems to me, roughly the limit of a practical UQ that has no other "help".

    After that, I think Russ has the right idea... for all practical purposes the limits of an air pad and regular UQ are reached and you need to add CCF.

    My zero degree UQ seemed to crap out about this point last winter in an "extreme" wind, at home and in the field. In fact at the harriman trip last year a few of had a very nasty first night at the top of peak with air temps at zero and lower wind chills. My "bag" was what I would call -10 or even -20 if on the ground, but I couldn't sleep at this exposed site. Without CCF to stop the wind from stripping heat it didn't matter how much loft I had really. So I went to ground with nothing more than my pack and a sit pad and slept warmly. While an extreme night... it was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of calling an UQ ideal.

    I don't buy into the wind sock deal at those temps either... it can only do so much for you. Now the HF guys who use the heavy canvas wind breaks have something there... but a 1 ounce layer of Sil doesn't cut the wind enough to prevent the convective stripping of heat around zero. On a relatively calm night maybe, but everytime the wind gusts it robs you of warmth. CCF is the only insulation that stops that cold I think.

    My general theory- hot air rises, cold air falls. While I agree it's all insulation... in really cold temps your UQ traps cold air just as well as warm... so the CCF works better. Your heat only penetrates so deep into an UQ. If it's really cold the cold penetrates deeper than your heat output, especially as that heat output all wants to migrate to your TQ, not reverse the laws of physics and settle under you. Much past the first 3" of down... it seems to me you just add trapped air your body can't reach.

    CCF gets pretty bulky, though if you're talking deep cold, bring a pulk (sled) isn't the end of the world and the bulk is easier to deal with. It also takes setting up your rig to accommodate all the layers of foam in the complex shape of the hammock via multiple thin layers like Russ uses.

    For relatively light and reasonable backpacking volumes though... my hope is the xtherm proves to be a winner in the zero to 40* range. With the caveat that when wind chills or real feel temps plunge that you will need to go to ground. So most of the time you can comfortably hang with one piece of light and compact gear, and for the odd times that conditions are below average- you can hit the deck and conveniently have the most comfortable ground pad in your kit to do so. Many folks report happy sleep well below zero on the Xtherm when used on the ground... likely I'll be one of them as I've been to the 20's in my xlite with no other foam.

    We'll see- last winter was UQ's, this winter is pads. But ground/air options and the simplicity of one pad, and one TQ has greater appeal to me, even if I get forced to ground by wind here and there.

    Especially as I have a hammock that delivers the same comfort with a pad as without- which is really the crux of the debate for most.




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    Thanks ALL!


    I was not considering CCF but I am now. I'm going to take this a step at a time, and try to figure out what works and doesn't.


    Will begin tests with my JRB Nest (22.5 oz) and my REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad (17 oz). This is what I have on hand, so a good starting point.


    UQ: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/shop/the-nest/
    Pad: http://www.rei.com/product/845300/re...r-sleeping-pad


    A little bit with one, then the other, then...both!


    I'll try to get the lay of land after that- and determine if I need to try CCF (I really need a wind tunnel!). I think if I want to try CCF, my first stab will be with the RidgeRest.


    All tests will be with a WB Blackbird Single Layer 1.7 and JRB 11' x 10' silnylon tarp.


    I was surprised at how comfy the REI Flash pad was in the hammock yesterday morning. But, I only laid in it for 5 minutes. It was just a "will the thing even fit" test.


    Very rarely do I lay on my side in the hammock, and only then while reading. I'm a back-sleeper in the hammock so the inflatable may work.


    I really, really, really appreciate the knowledge share!
    hikers gonna hike

  9. #9
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    That pad- same R value as a Neo-air... so you should be good to around 40* depending on conditions( less when windy, bit more when dead calm)
    If you start to get cold... pay attention to your sides. I need a wide pad (24"+) in a gathered end to keep the hammock spread far enough to prevent insulation from being compressed in the TQ. (Think shoulder squeeze but on your insulation). As a back sleeper that may be the first "problem" you encounter. With the vertical baffles on the pad, if you run into any CBS try fully inflating the pad.

    That UQ- 2.5" of loft should be 10* on the ground... interesting (for me at least) that JRB rates it as 25-30* as that matches my experience with not getting as much umph out of the down when used below.

    So your apples to your apples... comfort aside they should perform fairly evenly if the pad is wide enough for you.

    Have fun!

    PS- By all accounts- if you go the pad route- the 24" ridgerest (L/wide) or the 40" wide pad from gossamer gear are both good places to start and can be trimmed down easily where needed.

  10. #10
    Registered User tagg's Avatar
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    I use a 3/4 length UQ that's good to about 20*, and also carry a CCF (zlite) cut down to the length of my shoulders to mid-thigh. I fold the zlite and put it under my legs for insulation since my UQ isn't full length. I agree that a full length UQ would be the most comfortable option, but I also prefer the option of being able to go to the ground if I need to, and this setup covers me pretty comfortably both ways (at least as far as 3 season camping is concerned). No way you could ever get me to go back to a full length pad and no UQ.
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  11. #11
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    using a pad as underinsulation is maddening unless you have a double layer hammock to hold the pad in place. a CCF pad works great in that situation, but i could not get my exped inflatible (synmat UL) to work comfortably... just doesn't fit right. something thinner like the classic Thermorest self-inflaters may work better, but i haven't tried because it's way heavier than my CCF. and for me the CCF pad alone was only sufficient down to about 45-50*, at which point i'll switch to the UQ. you can extend the temp range of the CCF by adding a little something extra on the sides around the shoulders.

  12. #12
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    Underquilt by far. I have had lots and lots of hanging time on and off the trail with both pads and under quiltsare definitely warmer
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    I have a double layer WB traveler and on the few occasions when I use a CCF pad I keep it on top of the hammock. When it's between the layers it's harder to adjust it, it it doesn't want to lay asymmetrical, instead it tries to follow the banana shape. So my head and feet will end up off the pad.

    So so I lay it on top and let my body weight hold it in place.

  14. #14
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    Yeah, under quilts win by a long shot. If expecting big storms take the tarp with doors, pick your site well, and hang that tarp low and tight. Only reason I use pads is when I take the girlfriend or kid out, and they get the downy goodness

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I have limited hammock experience but from that I found a mat inside a hammock doesn't work very well. It's just not the right shape. You also need a side entry hammock, a bottom entry like some of the Hennesys are impossible.
    I haven't found that to be the case. I've used both Thermarest self-inflating pads (Prolite short) and a Big Agnes inflatable in my Hennessey and my Blackbird. Both worked just fine, plenty comfy, plenty warm. Maybe not as comfy as an underquilt, but try using an underquilt when you want to sleep on the ground!

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    To share how it's going/went:

    Backyard tests fell by the wayside. Too much life got in the way! So went up to N GA mtns (Rocky and Tray) and spent a pretty leisurely weekend. Friday night I believe got down to ~34F and Saturday night ~37F. Friday was very windy.

    12239724_10153122947832441_308609673694870418_n.jpg

    Went straight to the Reflectix && AirPad && UQ both nights. Skipped any other permutations. I was very warm. I think the setup could withstand ~-8 more degrees. Pretty happy with it.
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  17. #17
    Registered User Boo-Yah's Avatar
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    I have had both, I don't think there is much comparison between the two, air-mattress is considerably cheaper and UQ is considerably warmer, lighter, effective. I love my UQ






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  18. #18

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    Underquilts are for hammocks. Nuff Said. In all seriousness, I've never met anyone who would trade their underquilt for a pad as bottom insulation UNLESS they had intentions to sleep on the ground as well. And even in that situation, most people I know take the weight penalty and carry a pad as well as an underquilt as they just didn't want to give up the comfort an UQ provides.

    To answer your question, hammockers like to experiment. And I'm pretty sure experienced hammock hangers have used pads to single digits comfortably. But... they also own 8 different underquilts. It was in the name of Science.

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    In my hammocking pad experiments, I found that the thinner and softer the pad the more comfortable. Very different from ground comfort requirements.

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    I think it has a lot to do with WHICH HAMMOCK.

    In my Clarks a pad works just fine.
    In the Warbonnet Blackbird (which I hate anyway) a pad is a disaster.
    In the Dream Hammock Thunderbird (double layer) a pad is OK but it's easy to get partially off the pad.

    In all cases, an UQ is warmer. But in mild weather the Clarks with a pad is not a bad way to go. The 3/4 length Thermarest inflatable is simple and quick.

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