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Superior Hammock Insulated Hammock Review

Superior Hammock makes an insulated hammock where the down insulation is sewn onto the back of the hammock.
Superior Hammock makes an insulated hammock where the down insulation is sewn onto the back of the hammock. The purple quilt poking out is my regular 20 degree top quilt. The fabric tube overhead is my tarp rolled up in a mesh snakeskin for storage.

Superior Hammock is a new cottage gear manufacturer based in Minnesota that makes fully integrated hammock shelter systems. They’re flagship product is a gathered-end hammock that has the down-filled insulation sewn directly onto it instead of being packaged as a separate underquilt. Weighing 36 ounces (including carabiners and tree straps), the Superior Hammock (also the company name) has a temperature range of 30 to 75 degrees. It’s insulated with 13 oz of 800 fill power duck down, is 10.25 feet long, with a width 58″. It’s also available at a special introductory discount on Kickstarter for a few more days.

I’m very bullish on the idea of insulated hammocks because they reduce the learning curve for people interested in hammock camping and the need to buy a separate underquilt or sleeping pad to avoid cold-butt syndrome. When the temperatures get down to about 70 degrees fahrenheit, you need some sort of back insulation when sleeping in a hammock, much like you need a sleeping pad when camping in a tent on the ground.

The two main options available today are lying on top of a foam or  inflatable sleeping pad in your hammock or attaching a underquilt beneath it. While these are both “tolerable” options, neither is really optimal. Sleeping pads are awkward to use when you try to sleep on a diagonal in a hammock (which is how to lay flat instead of like a banana) and underquilts require a lot of fiddling around with primary and secondary suspensions to prevent drafts from robbing your warmth at night. You eliminate all that if you sew the insulation to the bottom of your hammock, making it easier for anyone, beginners or old-hands, to sleep comfortably warm at night in a hammock. It’s also potentially lighter weight because you’ve combined several functions into one piece of gear.

Underside of the Superior Hammock showing down-filled continuous baffles
Underside of the Superior Hammock showing down-filled continuous baffles

Sewing the insulation to the bottom of a hammock is also very handy for cold weather hammocking, where optimizing the effectiveness of your hammock insulation is particularly important. When it’s frosty outside, the last thing you want to experience are cold spots or having to get out of your hammock to reposition your underquilt at night. All that is eliminated if the insulation is sewn to the bottom of the hammock. There’s no need for a primary or secondary suspension system, quilt hooks, or underquilt draft collars to block drafts between your hammock bottom and underquilt.

The Superior Hammock’s down insulation is sewn into continuous baffles on the underside of the hammock, so you can move it around to where it’s needed most with a few good shakes. It also includes a ridgeline and 15′ ultralight Dyneema tree straps w/cinch buckles that are intuitive to use.

What’s it like to sleep in the Superior Hammock?

It’s too cold to sleep in New England in the regular 30 degree Superior Hammock, so the company sent me an overstuffed version to try with 18.3 oz of down fill instead of the standard 13 oz. This drops its temperature rating down to between 10-15 degrees. It’s bulky when packed and close to the size of a zero degree sleeping bag, which wasn’t totally unexpected. I can however still get it into a 10L Hyperlite Mountain Gear packing pod to give you a sense of the volume it takes when packed.

In very cold weather, you want to augment the Superior Hammock with a winter sock which acts as a wind breaker, overtop, and underquilt protector that helps create a warm microclimate underneath.
In very cold weather, you want to augment the Superior Hammock with a winter sock (under your normal tarp) which acts as a overcover and underquilt protector to block cold-robbing wind. It also creates a warm microclimate inside, provided you have some mesh ventilation to eliminate internal condensation. Shown here, the Dutchware Gear Winter Sock.

But I’ve taken that overstuffed Superior Hammock down to 14 degrees at night and sleeping in it is simply divine. You can stretch out and get a diagonal lay, although I must admit, I do miss having the patented side shelf for holding stuff out-of-the-way on my Warbonnet Blackbird. The Superior Hammock does have a ridgeline however, so I’d recommend getting a ridgeline pocket organizer if you like to keep a few diversions close at hand. When the sun goes down at 4:30 pm you definitely want a book or smartphone to amuse yourself for a few hours before going to sleep.

While the current version of the Superior Hammock is filled with 800 fill power down,  you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to envision multiple weight optimizations that could be made to the core concept like: 900+ fill power down, baffles with variable amounts of down fill, a lighter weight suspension system, or the use of lighter weight fabrics. If the idea of insulated hammocks catches on, I fully expect there will be an insulated hammock gear-weight arms race, just like there’s been with regular top quilts and under quilts.

Snaps running along both sides of the Superior Hammock let you snap-in other components like a top quilt
Snaps running along both sides of the Superior Hammock let you snap-in other components like a top quilt

To their credit, Superior Hammock (the company) is focused on building multi-component hammock shelter systems targeting mainstream hammock users in the 30-75 degree range (not just cold weather hammocks for the crazies) that let you add additional components to their core insulated hammock. They just launched a new product called the Superior Blanket that snaps into Superior Insulated Hammock using snaps located around its hem. The jury is still out whether this kind of integrated hammock insulation system will catch on with consumers or weight obsessed ultralight backpackers who are willing to sacrifice daytime speed for nighttime sleeping comfort.

However, if you’ve been frustrated by machinations required to insulate your gathered-end hammock or you dread upgrading to a underquilt and learning how to suspend and adjust it to stay warm at night, check out Superior Hammock and their Kickstarter. They’ve already raised their goal, but this is a good opportunity to score their products at a discount and help sponsor the development of this exciting new gear category.

Disclosure: Superior Hammock provided the author with a sample hammock for this review.

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7 comments

  1. If the standard system is actually good down to 30D, then it will be interesting to see the reviews for someone taking this out when the temperatures are 60-70D. It does not look like there is a way to “vent” for warmer temperatures? JMHO, but I feel like once you understand how a particular bottom quilt is designed, it is not hard to remove cold spots for the average person.

    • The advantage of using continuous baffles is that you could just shake the insulation to one end to cool off the area under your torso.

    • FWIW, I use an unadjustable 20* UQ for 3S use and never have any issues as far as it being unmanageably warm. In my experience, venting is done on the TQ side of things.

      The WB Wooki and Lynx UQs remove the fiddle factor from using an UQ with their hammocks while retaining modularity.

      • That Wooki is sweet! Never knew about it. Guess I just figured out what I want for Christmas.
        Are these compatible with any 10′ hammock or just the Blackbird?

      • The regular size Wooki will fit any 10′ hammock, and the long size will fit any 11′ hammock.

        The Wooki UQ should look familiar to you, Philip; it’s the ‘insulation layer’ of Bonefire hammocks. As long as you can match its length with the hammock length, you can almost DIY your own Bonefire Whisper! (but you’d miss out on the other great features of the original) ?

      • hmmm.

        Warbonnet was really good about patenting their side “pocket.” It makes their hammocks really unique and I’ve seen them go after competitors who’ve copied it.

        Did they or Bonefire patent the wooki concept by any chance?

      • I don’t believe that Bonefire has successfully perseud a patent on their insulated hammock, but even if they had, offering their insulation layer as a stand alone quilt (like WB has done) would likely be different enough to get around any infringement issues.

        I’m simply pointing out that the WB iteration of a full length, directional UQ isn’t wholly unique or novel.

        I too have noticed an interesting technique WB is using to go after infringers of their ‘adaptor panel’ patent; giving the copycats a taste of their own medicine. i.e. the new model mini and thunder rainflys; a direct copy of the copycat’s tarp designs.

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