Hammocking in winter might seem like a bad idea, especially if you consider the low temperatures and all the snow. However, it can also be very enjoyable. You just need to make sure you’re properly prepared, including the right equipment – the right sleeping bag, tarp and hammock will be essential. What you’ll also need, tho, will be an underquilt – such as the Otul underquilt manufactured by a Polish company Lesovik.
Lesovik Otul underquilt is made of a microripstop poliamide fabric, which makes it possible to deacrease the weight without sacrificing durability. The fabric also protects from light wind and light rainfall (although, in case of even moderate rainfall you’ll want to have a tarp, such as Groza UL, hanging above you).
At the heart of the Lesovik Otul underquilt lies the Climashield Apex 4.0 synthetic insulation, which is responsible for it’s thermical properties. Being a technical synthetic insulation, Climashield Apex features very good insulatory properties (Clo 0.82, which is higher than Primaloft Silver), hydrophobic properties (low absorption of water), retains most of it’s properties even when wet and is highly compressible. According to the manufacturers information, Otul underquilt is designed for the temperatures between -7°C and +10°C, which in the central Europe corresponds to the autumn-winter-spring season.
Additionally, given that Climashield is based on continuous, intertwined filament, it needs to be stitched to the outer fabric only on one side (in contrast with the more traditional insulations, which need to be sewn into ‘pockets’ to prevent them from moving around). As a result, this eliminates appearance of thermal bridges on the stitches (where the insulation would be typically compressed) and improves the insulatory properties of the Lesovik Otul underquilt.
Lesovik Otul underquilt can be attached to the hammock using a set of shockcord loops equipped with S-biners. It’s a fast and easy to use system, and the use of shockcord ensures a close fit of the Otul around the sleeping user. Any adjustments are made easy by a set of plastic regulators at each end of the Otul , and all you need to do is to pull the right piece of shockcord. One thing to watch out for, tho, is pulling to much of the shockcord through, and as a result stretching Otul too far. What could then happen, is that once you’d enter the hammock your weight would rest on the Otul, rather than the hammock’s suspension system, and the underquilt would be likely to get damaged.
Approximately at the centre of the Otul, the manufacturer has placed two further additional S-biners, which make it possible to close the Otul and reduce the heatloss.
Two extra drawstrings are placed at the both ends of the Otul, and can be used to ensure that the underquilt fits nicely around the hammock and it’s user.
The dimensions of the Lesovik’s Otul are 200cmx140cm, and the set weighs just 820g. The underquilt fits nicely in the nylon bag provided by the manufacturer.
Our thoughts on the Lesovik Otul underquilt
Unusrprisingly, hammocking isn’t an activity one would typically consider doing in winter. With a typical bivouacking set featuring a hammock, sleeping bag, mat and a tarp a night like this in winter temperatures would be not only unpleasant, but also possibly dangerous. One reason for this is a fact that the sleeping bag’s insulation gets compressed under your back, which reduces its thermal properties. The solution comes in the form of the Lesovik’s Outl, which creates a warm cocoon successfully protecting you from the cold.
It all works as well as the manufacturer claims – during winter bivouacks in the mountains, sleeping in a hammock surrounded by the Otul underquilt was a pure joy. It’s hard to say what was the lowest temperature we used it in, but it was definitly below the 0°C.
Lesovik Otul underquilt will also work well in the summer conditions. During some nights I slept in a hammock without any mat or sleeping bag, relying just on the Otul to keep me warm. The result was a very comfortable sleep – without worrying about the mat sliding from beneath me or fighting with the sleeping bag’s zippers.
Same as in the previously reviewed gear from Lesovik, Otul shines thanks to the high quality materials, such as the Climashield Apex insulation, which made it possible to achieve the low weight, small size of the packed set and the exceptional thermal properties.
Similarly to the previously reviewed Lesovik equipment – Groza Solo and Groza UL tarps, or the UL Hammock – the Otul underquilt stands out thanks to the great design and the resulting ease of use. To set up the Otul, all you need to do is to clip two S-biners and adjust the length of the shockcord with a pull or two. One, two, three, and the warm night is ready.
The Lesovik Otul underquilt makes winter hammocking not only possible, but also comfortable. Same goes for the nights in the outdoors in autumn and spring, which the Otul can make easier and more enjoyable. Same as in the previously reviewed equipment, in case of Otul the Polish manufacturer Lesovik has once again delivered a well made, modern and useful product made for the challenging conditions. And together with the Lesovik UL Hammock and Groza Tarp, Otul underquilt makes a lightweight bivouacking set suitable for a wide range of scenarios.
Special thanks for giving us a chance to test the Otul underquilt goes to the manufacturer, Lesovik!