If you plan to hammock in cool weather, say 40 degrees or less, it really pays to add a overcover and a quilt undercover to your hammock system.
A overcover is a lightweight fabric shield that drapes over your ridgeline. It blocks wind that creeps around your tarp while trapping body heat and warming the interior of your hammock. It can make a huge comfort difference in cold weather, raising the inside temperature in your hammock by as much as 10-15 degrees.
A quilt undercover prevents cold wind from robbing the heat trapped by your underquilt. I learned this the hard way on the Appalachian Trail when I froze without one last March, but now I’m wiser.
The Dutchware Argon Vented Winter Sock ($57) is a 10-ounce sleeve, kind of like a tube tent, that wraps around your hammock setup. One end has a large mesh window that you position over your face in order to prevent internal condensation from forming inside your hammock from the moist air that you exhale. The other end is tapered to a small hole, large enough to feed your suspension (webbing or whoopies) through, with a mitten hook at the end to clip to the end of your hammock like a underquilt.
The mesh end has a huge opening so it can slide around your hammock and underquilt, and pulls shut with a cord lock. This is easy to reach when you’re lying back in your hammock, even if it has its own zipper.
What? Another 10 ounces for a winter sock? Yes. Cold weather and shoulder season hammocking isn’t terribly ultralight or inexpensive, so it’s important to remember why you prefer a hammock to sleeping on the ground. Another 10 ounces is a small price to pay for a fantastic night’s sleep and the flexibility that comes from being to camp wherever they are two trees.
While it’s only available in black Argon 90, the Dutchware sock fabric transmits a fair amount of daylight, so it’s not as claustrophobic as it looks. Argon 90 is a tightly woven, calendared nylon fabric that’s wind and water-resistant, yet breathable, used as a shell material for making ultralight quilts. While the Argon 90 used in the vented sock has a DWR coating, you still need a tarp overhead for rain and snow protection.
Dutch sells two different versions of the vented hammock sock, one for winter reviewed here, and one for summer which has netting along the entire top. Both are sized for hammocks 58″ inch and available in a 10′ or 11′ size.
The Dutchware vented winter sock is an essential piece of gear for the cold weather backpacking. It’s manufacturer-independent and can be used with many different hammocks, combining the functions of a hammock overcover and underquilt cover in one piece of gear.
My only suggestion would be to make it easier to set up by running some simple fasteners down the length, so you could wrap it around your hammock instead of pulling the suspension through it. That would be a nice modification.
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