The road to success is always under construction.
Advice from another noob. Take the long view and think about what you really want to do with this. If its worth it, get one of the great systems the guys are talking about. If you wanna dip a toe in, go the DIY route first and go dirt dirt cheap. I avoided all the pad issues by using a Army 30* bag inside of a Army gore-tex bivy sack. I use a heat reflective windshield pad inside of the bivy and outside of my bag. No problems around the 30* area and I don't wear lots of warm clothes to bed. Around $60 bucks for my bag, bivy, and reflector. After some stupid trial and error on my part around $40 on the hammock.
Poncho Liner Underquilts are good down to the mid-40's or so... you can add a cheap layer of insulation and go a little lower...
They're not light, but for about $30 you can't go wrong... I use mine when car camping to augment my partial UQ so I don't need a pad under my legs.
First of all, you can solve that "froze my a*s off " problem cheaply and easily with a $10 or $15 closed cell foam pad. There are some high quality ones available, but even the cheap Walmart Blue pads will get the job done in the 30s or maybe colder. You can use one of these like Titanium Hiker said:
to stack pads for temps even below zero, keep your shoulders warm, and make the pad more manageable in the hammock, where it won't slip around so bad if your hammock does not have a pad pocket. That is one of the main problems people complain about with pads in single layer hammocks: they can not stay on them. This solves that problem, or at least the Speer version I sometime use does. I used mine, one night to stack two summer weight pads in a Speer hammock- only one pad was full length - and slept absolutely toasty at 18F, no telling how low I could have gone. And I was pretty darn comfy overall too.
So you can take care of bottom insulation for less than $50, maybe way less. You might prefer a several hundred $ UQ, bu this will work and is bombproof. There are also some plenty warm UQs available from AHE for around $100, and people seem to love them.
What kind of hammock do you have now? You also do not have to spend a lot of money for a good hammock, though you might prefer one of the more expensive brands.
You can start with cheap WM type tarps, but if backpacking where you don't have a quick bail out, I'd make sure my tarp is trustworthy in high winds. Or maybe go ahead and spend about $100 for a good sil-nylon tarp from some one of the HF vendors.
Almost forgot: do you have a nice wide sleeping bag with a full zip around the foot? If so, research Shug's videos on how to use a sleeping bag PeaPod style, where instead of laying on it inside the hammock, you wrap the bag completely around the hammock. This won't work with all bags, and you may have to experiment or do minor mods with this to get it to fit just right, but if you get it to work, it will be plenty warm top and bottom, you won't need a pad or an UQ, and you won't spend a penny. Shug uses these systems to way below zero. I love the commercial version of the Speer PeaPod, but they cost $ as it is a TQ and UQ :
Last edited by BillyBob58; 03-23-2013 at 12:23.
Apparently, signature that I used from 2006 no longer tolerated so now deleted.