HAMMOCK GEAR BURROW 20* F TOPQUILT
BY STEVEN M KIDD
April 21, 2012
Steven M Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
220 lb (99.80 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
|Image Courtesy of Hammock Gear|
Manufacturer: Hammock Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://hammockgear.com
MSRP: US $249.00* (This includes a $20 fee for the sewn foot box option)
Listed Weight: 20.1 oz (570 g)
Measured Weight: 21.4 oz (607 g)
Measurements: 74 x 50 in (188 x 127 cm)
My Measurements: 74 x 50 in (188 x 127 cm)
Listed Quilt Loft: 2.5 in (6 cm)
Measured Quilt Loft: 2.5 in (6 cm)
Temperature Rating: 20/15 F (-7/-9 C)
The Hammock Gear Burrow is a top quilt, often referred to as a TQ. Unlike a traditional sleeping bag, a top quilt removes the insulation from the bottom, has no zippers or hood and has an open back or bottom. With a sleeping bag the bottom insulation is generally compressed under the weight of the sleeper and thus degraded or unusable, so a top quilt is left open for use of a differing insulation beneath the sleeper. This is particularly useful for a hammock camper, as TQ's are much easier to slide into than a traditional sleeping bag while suspended in mid-air. As a cottage industry Hammock Gear makes both basic add-on options like additional down overloft, or a sewn foot box, but they also customize many of their top quilts. They offer technical fabrics and a variety of sizing options available at the customer's request. My Burrow is the 20 *F.
Hammock Gear designs their top quilts with the hammocker in mind, but often sell to weight-conscious ground-dwellers that are looking to cut ounces or grams. The Burrow is designed with a foot box and a cinched top to keep the sleeper warm. The base model comes with a cinchable bottom and snaps that may also be used flat much like a regular bedroom quilt, but the version I purchased and am reviewing has a sewn foot box.
The TQ also has a draw string and snap closure at the head end of the quilt for added warmth. One key difference from a typical mummy sleeping bag is the lack of a hood for the head. I overcome this by wearing a watch cap in extremely cold temperatures and loosely covering my face with the top quilt. I don't have to cinch the hood around my face like I would with a traditional sleeping bag because as just mentioned I can simply pull the TQ over my face if necessary and I use insulation below me in the form of an under quilt.
The company's website can be a little confusing in its description of their top quilts. For instance, the specification grid describing their top quilts lists the 20* F TQ with a weight of 20.1 oz (570 g), but when I click the hyperlink to gain more information on that particular quilt it changes the weight to 21 oz (595 g). This is more reflective of the accurate weight of the stock quilt I received.
I say 'stock' because the quilt I ordered was based on stock or normal measurements. Save adding a sewn foot box I had no specific options like added down, a varying length or special fabric. However, many of Hammock Gear's products are custom made in a variety of ways for the individual that receives it.
|Image Courtesy of Hammock Gear|
FIELD USE & GENERAL INFORMATION
I've hammock camped for several years and I've come to love it as I have personally found it one of the most comfortable ways to sleep in the backcountry. When I first started hammocking I used a sleeping bag. I was often cool or uncomfortable in my bag mid-night but I enjoyed the comfort of hanging, so I tended to deal with it. I researched comfortable ways to sleep in a hammock and learned about top quilts, but still refused to heed the advice. I also read that some hammock campers used traditional sleeping bags, but left them unzipped much like a top quilt, however, I also refused to try that...instead I struggled to wiggle into my sleeping bag as I went to bed, and again anytime throughout the night that I had to heed to the call of nature.
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Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
After some time I again researched the top quilt and specifically Hammock Gear. As a cottage industry they suggested they were friendly to phone conversations, so I called and reached one of the co-owners, Adam Hurst. As I spoke with him and discussed my dilemma, he asked me if I used my sleeping bag like a top quilt or if I crawled in it. I explained that I crawled in my bag. Over a year later I recall the simple question he asked me; "Why...?" I was mute for a moment but quickly told him I was a creature of habit and that is what I'd done for nearly three decades. Adam quickly reassured me he'd dealt with similar struggles as he began to hammock camp but reiterated that the bag I was fighting to wiggle into and sleep in was useless so far as bottom insulation. I'm not astute in physics, but I quickly agreed with him and we began to discuss the merits of using a top quilt while hammocking.
|Close up of the Sewn Foot Box|
As I spoke with Adam and discussed my typical camping experiences; fall, winter and spring in the south he suggested the Three-Season or 20* F Burrow for me. I'm what many call a 'warm' sleeper as I don't generally chill in cool temperatures, so he didn't suggest any down overfill for my TQ. I went with a stock 900 fill Hungarian goose down quilt.
I chose to have the foot box sewn closed on the quilt I purchased because I believed it would be most comfortable on my autumn and winter trips and minimize the potential for drafts. I do also camp in the summer, and believe a lighter weight summer quilt without the sewn foot box would be ideal for those temperatures. In fact, on warm spring nights I've often slipped my feet outside the bottom of the foot box and simply let the quilt rest overtop my feet. I sometimes question myself as to whether or not the sewn foot box was the best choice for me. Similarly, as I often find myself having a similar habit of kicking my feet out from under the down comforter my wife has on our bed at home.
I personally decided a sewn version, although not as versatile during the swing months of camping, would be best for me when I do the bulk of my outdoorsmanship during near or subfreezing weather on the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau during winter.
The amazing thing I must report on the Hammock Gear Burrow is the warmth it has given me throughout the winter. I've never once been cold from the top while using this product. In over a year of using this quilt I've had two evenings that I experienced some coolness, but in both those instances it was from beneath me and had nothing to do with top insulation. When I hammock camp air flows around my body while I'm suspended in the air, and I need some sort of bottom insulation to keep myself warm at night. Fortunately using the top quilt in conjunction with an under quilt kept me quite toasty throughout the coolest temperatures of the preceding winter.
The Burrow has a top that cinches tight and snaps behind my head, but I've never personally had to use this feature. During one outing that reached a low around 17 F (-8 C) I merely tucked the sides of the quilt around my torso creating a seal and gently laid the length of the quilt over my face. I'm 69 in (175 cm) tall, so the TQ has a full 5 in (13 cm) to place above my head.
It is certainly capable of having the drawstring pulled completely closed on cold winter nights, but this is a feature I've yet to utilize. If I were to invert the image to the left and imagine the quilt above or over me, I hope this further explains how the cinched head area works in conjunction with the closed foot box. Albeit, as previously mentioned, this all works with some form of bottom insulation. In my case it happens to be a Hammock Gear UnderQuilt keeping me warm with lofted down encircling me an entire 360 degrees.
I've also been quite impressed with the workmanship of the Burrow. The specified loft is 2.5 in (6 cm) and it certainly achieves that if not more. I've not once noticed any down loss from the quilt. This goes for my other Hammock Gear down products as well. In my opinion, it is quality craftsmanship.
Below are a few images showing the quilt spread out, an up close of the drawstring cinched at the head end and a shot I've taken while underneath the quilt. As I searched my archived photos from field trips it was difficult to find images of the quilt because once I set my hammock up I put the quilt inside it to loft prior to bedtime and it tends to disappear into the hammock.
|Upside down View of Burrow|
To summarize, I'm certainly quite impressed this Hammock Gear Burrow. I look forward to many years of continued use with the quilt. I'm also impressed enough with the quality of this 20* F version that I can see myself purchasing a summer weight version without the sewn footbox sometime in the future.
Read more reviews of Hammock Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd