8 Winter Hammock Accesories You NEED

 Source:  BLMIdaho . (License)

Source: BLMIdaho. (License)

Hammocks make for fantastic summer sleeping gear, whether you’re a dedicated outdoorsman or a college student studying for a test while also trying to connect to nature. But all too often it’s that same hammock that is one of the first things to get stowed away when temperatures start dropping. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to wake up with a case of icicle butt. Thankfully, with the right gear that hammock becomes a sleeping solution for all seasons! We’ve got a list of must-have winter hammock accessories to keep you toasty all night long.

1. Underquilt

Whether you opt for a hammock-specific underquilt or a makeshift one fashioned from existing camping blankets, an underquilt will help  you stay warm by increasing the insulation between the bottom of your hammock and the open air. Any sort of waterproof and windproof blanket, like an emergency blanket, will do in a pinch--they’ll just require some crafty knots to secure them to the hammock. If you’d rather avoid that, a hammock-specific underquilt will do the job.

2. Sleeping Bag

Your cold-weather sleeping bag  (rated for at least 15°F) works great inside a hammock, too! It’s an extra layer of insulation to help you stay warm and cozy. Another option is a sleeping bag pod, like these from REI. These zip up around the exterior of your hammock, much like a cocoon.

3. Multipurpose Liner

Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the name of the game is insulation. The air can leech heat away from your body in a matter of minutes, so it’s important to insulate properly in order to get a good night’s rest--and to prevent yourself from freezing. A multipurpose sleeping bag liner does wonders for variable temperatures.

4. Sleeping Pad

Already have a sleeping pad for your tent? Perfect! You can use it in your hammock, too. Placing a partially inflated sleeping pad inside your hammock gives you a place to snooze without worrying about compressing the insulation in your sleeping bag. If you don’t have a sleeping pad, and don’t have the time or desire to purchase one before your hammocking venture, a reflective windscreen shade will work--as long as you don’t mind the crinkly noises that come with getting comfy.

5. Hammock Pillow

Having a pillow not only makes for a comfier sleeping experience, it adds gives you an extra layer between your head and the nylon of the hammock. The improved rest and warmth make a packable pillow like this one from Backcountry a must-have.

6. Hot Water Bottle

If you live in the north, chances are you’re already familiar with hot water bottles. Boil water over your campfire and fill a Nalgene or similar bottle with the heated H2O, then tuck it into the foot of your sleeping bag for all-night toasty warmth. Just make sure you wrap it well--they’re so effective at heating that they can burn skin.

7. Top Quilt

Top quilts make hammock entry and exit quick and easy, and when paired with an underquilt functions much the same as a sleeping pod  You can purchase a ready-made top quilt, or you can make one yourself using an inexpensive quilt-style sleeping bag.

8. Hammock-Specific Tarp

Last but certainly not least is a hammock-specific tarp to rig up over your hammock as a final layer to trap heat. Any standard tarp will work for this, but a hammock-specific tarp like this one will string up against the hammock with ease.

These items make winter hammock camping much more comfortable, but at the end of the day it’s important to put your safety first. If you aren’t comfortable with your skills or gear, don’t push yourself--maybe practice with some nights in your backyard before heading into the backcountry. But if you are confident in your skills and gear, go for it! Just make sure you leave room for these winter hammock accessories in your pack.