I had been on the lookout for an underquilt to add to my camping gear for awhile. Winter hammock camping can be pretty harsh on the body if you don’t have the right gear for warmth and comfort. I was very skeptical about this product. The Amazon link was sent to me from my friend Matt who loves the outdoors just as much as I do. My first thought after looking at it was that it would be too thin and wouldn’t be able to hold off the cold very well. I didn’t have an underquilt, and because it worked for my budget I went for it. The package didn’t take long to arrive. The Chill Gorilla sat in it’s box for about three weeks. Then, it just so happened we were expecting a frigid cold front coming in with temps down below zero. I thought this would be the perfect time to do an extreme situation test.
My friend Matt and I decided to meet up at his house and I set up my hammock and new underquilt in his backyard. He helped me set up the underquilt for the first time. The suspension system was okay, but it definitely wasn’t made with high quality material. It was pretty simple and basic, but it did the job. Once the Chill Gorilla was hooked up I added my sleeping pad and sleeping bag to my hammock with a rainfly. The temperature at this point was running in the teens. I was surprised how much heat I was able to trap at this point inside my hammock. At this point, I decided I could do an overnight in it. This particular night coincided with New Years Eve, and I had a party to attend so I left for a few hours. When I returned, the temperature was around 7°F. I boiled some water on my jetboil stove and placed it in my Nalgene water bottle covered with a wool sock (this is a clever trick I discovered on Youtube). I climbed in the hammock and bundled up with the hot water bottle near my feet. Once warm I had no problem falling asleep. I slept from around 10:30 pm to 2:00 am with no problems. When I woke up, my right leg was very cold and oddly numb. I was laying on my right side and figured I must have compressed the insulation too much in this one spot. My feet were still warm and everything else seemed warm. However, my body soon started to shake and I felt like I was losing too much heat in this one spot. I decided I would call it and go inside. We checked the temperature before heading in, and we were surprised that the windchill was -10! I made most of the night with no problem in an underquilt rated only for 30° F.
We headed inside and finished the night out. The next morning I decided to check my bottle of water that I left in my sleeping bag. The bottle, surprisingly, was not frozen. Granted, it was cold but not frozen. The windchill made it all the way down to -16° F and my water didn’t freeze. This tells me the underquilt provided enough insulation to keep the water from freezing.
Overall I highly recommend the Chill Gorilla underquilt if you are looking for a cheaper solution for winter camping. However I do not recommend trying to do what I did and would only use this product as recommended. However, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you shouldn’t freeze if the temperature got lower.