What's better? Sleeping Pad vs Underquilt for Hammock Camping

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If you’ve spent a night in a hammock you’ve experienced it. If not you will soon.

Your butt smushes down your sleeping bag diminishing the ability it has to keep you warm.

You drift off to sleep.

The hammock swaying.

Mother nature rocking you to sleep.

But then it’s 3:00am. The wind picks up.

Your precious backside feels the cold air. It’s the dreaded cold butt syndrome.

You throw on another pair of sweat pants and a hoodie and you miraculously sleep throught the night.

But next time you vow to never experience that again.

Next time you’re bringing insulation.

But what kind. That is the question.

Let’s dig into it. Underquilts or sleeping pads for hammock camping?

At a glance

Type of Insulation Warmth Ease of use Price
Underquilt Very warm depending on model & material Easy Expensive
Sleeping Pad Some warmth depending on model Difficult Slightly Cheaper

Fixing Cold Butt Syndrome for Good

You need some insulation for your buttocks.

Underquilts are great. But they’re expensive because they’re usually custom made and use special lightweight material.

Sleeping pads leave you susceptible to the cold breeze getting through if you move throughout the night.

So which one is a camper to choose?

Underquilts Pros and Cons

They’re without a doubt the best way to stay warm in a hammock while camping.

Depending on the one you buy they’re extremely light and packable for hiking, especially if you buy one made of down.

There’s some technique to getting them set up, but it’s relatively easy to learn.

As long as it’s really snug up agains your body you’ll stay warm using it.

But if it’s loose the cool air will get in.

Ahh yes the price. Underquilts are not cheap.

They’re made with the hiker in mind so they use expensive materials.

Underquilts are also the easiest way to say warm in a hammock, there isn’t much adjusting it. You just hop in.

Because of that if you’re going to try sleeping in a hammock full time underquilts are the way to go.

Sleeping Pads Pros and Cons

The trusty old sleeping pad.

Chances are if you’re any kind of camper you already have one.

But if you don’t they’re on the cheaper side when compared to underquilts, but it’s only slightly.

They can be very effective in warmer weather camping which is what I’ve used them for.

But I can see them being a problem in colder weather camping, I’m talking when it get’s down into the 40 degree range at night.

The reason I say that is because most sleeping pads are just wide enought for you to lay on. So they usuallt don’t cover the backside of your shoulder, which means it’s going to get cold.

There are ways to use a sleeping pad in cold weather camping such as wearing extra layers of clothes, but that’s a choice you’re going to have to make.

Also setting up a sleeping pad in a hammock can be difficult because it’s slippery.

There’s been times that I’ve put my sleeping pad in my hammock where I want it then I lay down in the hammock and the pad slides down. So I have to adjust myself several times in order to hit that sweet spot.

Now there’s also a way around the sleeping pad sliding around.

But that will require you buying a double layer hammock.

A double layer hammock has one layer then a slit for you to slide your sleeping pad between layers and you sleep on top of the second layer.


So the who’s the winner?

What’s better a sleeping pad or an underquilt?

The answer is simply… It depends.

If you already have a sleeping pad and are just giving hammock camping a try. Just use a sleeping pad, there’s no use in spending any more money just to test it out.

And I promise you you’ll sleep just fine with a sleeping pad.

It’s what I’ve used for the majority of my hammock camping days.

But if you’re very serious about hammock camping then go ahead and get yourself an underquilt.

It’s the choice for the serious camper and you’ll definitely get many nights out of it.