I am a Newbie.
I went camping with some friends near Keystone, Co a few weeks ago ( late September). 75 degree days...but it got below freezing at night. I slept in a giant tent with another guy. He forgot the fly on the tent so we got to star gaze and freeze. I was in a Costco 25 degree bag.... In the morning I could barely move. I did not sleep much. But the third member of the party popped out of his hammock in the AM, fresh as a flower. He had some weird blanket thing below the hammock and a fluffy blanket above. The night before I thought him a "tool" for sleeping in that rig. In the morning ... I wanted to be that guy.
... Fast forward a few weeks. I found out that Brandon of Warbonnet fame happened to be 25 minutes from my house! A phone call later and I met Brandon at his shop. He gave me a personal tour and about a 1.5 hour tutorial on hammocks. I also talked to the guys in the shop. I hung in a Blackbird. I hung in the new RidgeRunner. I saw tarps and quilts. I handled guy line and stakes.
In the end I was happy to buy from a local guy who spend so much time with a noob like me. I purchased a blemished RidgeRunner at a good price. I have been hanging for naps in the basement with a piece of Reflectix from Home Depot and my crappy Costco bag.. Bliss.
I am now researching underquilts vs. sleeping pads (Big Agnes vs Exped) and a top quilt vs a nice sleeping bag.
I am due to camp a night at Buena Vista, Co. with the same guys in mid November. This time I vow to be ready.
Thanks for a great forum. I appreciate the advice and knowledge on these web pages.