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  1. #1

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    Apex vs. Down for a Winter Layered Underquilt System

    Hey all,

    I'm interested in picking up a 3/4 summer weight UQ and I'd like to stack it with my current full length 20 Degree Down UQ for winter use.

    The following are true:

    1. Apex's moisture management in high humidity is superior to down.

    2. Apex's use as the outside of a TQ layering system aids further in managing moisture in winter conditions when stacked with an inner down quilt as the moisture flowing through the insulation will condense in the outer Apex layer instead of the inner down layer.

    What I have not been able to find a ton of information on is stacking an Apex UQ with a Down UQ and the level of benefit and best uses. In theory, I would assume it would work the same. Warm, moist air from your body pushes through the down and condenses in the Apex which can handle it better. Seems simple enough.

    In practice though, is this as large an issue for UQs as it is for TQs? I would assume (I have no scientific basis for this) that more warm moist air is going to try to escape up from your body instead of below. Is the warm moist air escaping from underneath you a large enough issue to make a heavier and bulkier Apex UQ worth it? If this was not going to be used in a winter system, I would likely opt for down and enjoy the weight/bulk savings and longer lifespan.

    If the use of Apex is worth it in a winter UQ layering system, is the benefit only realized when it's a full length Apex UQ or would it still work effectively enough as a 3/4 stacked outside a full length down UQ?

    When stacking UQs for winter, do you find any features are critical on either the UQs or the hammock? Draft collars on only one or both UQ? UQ Protectors? UQ hooks on the hammock? Any other details you find that make stacking work better?

    Thanks for all your advice in advance!

  2. #2
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    I've not done seriously low temps in a hammock (yet?) I'm also curious to hear how much moisture is an issue with respect to UQs. It seems that the majority of the moisture is coming from respiration and that the UQ would be affected primarily by perspiration...

  3. #3
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grimm0614 View Post
    Hey all,

    I'm interested in picking up a 3/4 summer weight UQ and I'd like to stack it with my current full length 20 Degree Down UQ for winter use.

    The following are true:

    1. Apex's moisture management in high humidity is superior to down.

    2. Apex's use as the outside of a TQ layering system aids further in managing moisture in winter conditions when stacked with an inner down quilt as the moisture flowing through the insulation will condense in the outer Apex layer instead of the inner down layer.

    What I have not been able to find a ton of information on is stacking an Apex UQ with a Down UQ and the level of benefit and best uses. In theory, I would assume it would work the same. Warm, moist air from your body pushes through the down and condenses in the Apex which can handle it better. Seems simple enough.

    In practice though, is this as large an issue for UQs as it is for TQs? I would assume (I have no scientific basis for this) that more warm moist air is going to try to escape up from your body instead of below. Is the warm moist air escaping from underneath you a large enough issue to make a heavier and bulkier Apex UQ worth it? If this was not going to be used in a winter system, I would likely opt for down and enjoy the weight/bulk savings and longer lifespan.

    If the use of Apex is worth it in a winter UQ layering system, is the benefit only realized when it's a full length Apex UQ or would it still work effectively enough as a 3/4 stacked outside a full length down UQ?

    When stacking UQs for winter, do you find any features are critical on either the UQs or the hammock? Have the outside UQ suspension loosened a bit to not compress down of the inner UQ
    Draft collars on only one or both UQ? Does not matter much but the draft collar may be more effective on inner UQ.

    UQ Protectors? Not as necessary with stacking but never hurts.
    UQ hooks on the hammock? Any other details you find that make stacking work better? I don't use UQ hooks. Not felt that I have needed them.

    Thanks for all your advice in advance!
    I can't really speak to Apex but stacking works great to get to lower temps. Other questions see bold print above in your quoted post.
    Done it a lot in deep cold Minnesota temps with success.
    Shug

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  4. #4

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    Thanks Shug! Watched your video this morning as I was doing my research I feel like searching your channel is a prerequisite to posting a question here.

    From everything I can tell, it seems like down on down UQ stacking is pretty common and may not experience the same moisture issues as stacking down on down TQs in a tent.

    If you have used down on down stacking in MN winters and not had an issue, I can't imagine I would.

    Thanks for the advice!

  5. #5

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    Interesting discussion. I have an apex UQ and down UQ. I've experimented in various configurations and my favorite so far is to have the apex on the inside with the down on the outside.

    I have an SLD TW UQ 20 degree and HG UQ 40 degree (down). Initially I had the TW on the outside mostly since it also functions as a UQ protector, but after reversing them I found that I much preferred it that way. I got good performance both ways, so I am not sure which is optimal. I like the down on the outside as it does not get compressed and Apex is much more forgiving that way.

    I've only tested them stacked down to 25, but at that level it's like sitting on a heater and no wind or air gaps. I like at least a 10+ degree over-coverage gap. I don't have enough confidence on the TW at 20 all by itself. Together however, I feel like I could go quite low with this setup and I like pushing it with the TW and having the HG as a backup if it gets colder than I expect.

    I would prefer the UQP on the outside, but in the end I think if your quilt protector is getting significantly wet, you've got some serious problems. I'm happy with it this way.

    Good luck.

  6. #6

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    To help answer your questions, a bit more info is needed such as how long are you planning to be out in the inhospitable environment? 2-3 days? 2-3 weeks?

    If it's 2-3 days, you won't gain enough moisture to make any difference in comfort unless you are soaking your quilts in a creek before bedtime as opposed to normal respiration, transpiration and perspiration (any other ~pirations?). I was out for three nights at -15 F and each morning, one of my stacked down top quilts was damp, but it mostly dried in the wind and sun. The bit of leftover frost dried completely within a hour at home so you know it's not a lot of moisture over all. My sleep was not affected at all because the slight dampness was far away from my body due to two layers of down quilts top and bottom.

    I've never experienced a wet UQ under those same conditions, but (disclosure) I've never weighed the quilts before and after either.

    One thing I do differently in winter is use a canvas sock to wrap around everything and I dispense with the UQP. I want the moisture and heat to migrate out to the canvas and then sublimate throughout the night and next day. Canvas is superb at blocking wind and moves unwanted moisture effectively. Don't even need a tarp if there's no precipitation.

    Last thought - when climbing out once or twice a night to gaze at the stars for a brief minute, sometimes a bit of spindrift collects in the quilts. Even though I wear just one thin base layer, I never notice when the spindrift melts. In other words, your body and whatever quilts you choose will manage minor moisture just fine for 2-3 days.

    Are you planning longer outings?
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  7. #7
    Senior Member WV's Avatar
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    I agree with Tpatter. Apex on the inside and down on the outside to avoid compressing the down.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Watertooner View Post
    To help answer your questions, a bit more info is needed such as how long are you planning to be out in the inhospitable environment? 2-3 days? 2-3 weeks?

    If it's 2-3 days, you won't gain enough moisture to make any difference in comfort unless you are soaking your quilts in a creek before bedtime as opposed to normal respiration, transpiration and perspiration (any other ~pirations?). I was out for three nights at -15 F and each morning, one of my stacked down top quilts was damp, but it mostly dried in the wind and sun. The bit of leftover frost dried completely within a hour at home so you know it's not a lot of moisture over all. My sleep was not affected at all because the slight dampness was far away from my body due to two layers of down quilts top and bottom.

    I've never experienced a wet UQ under those same conditions, but (disclosure) I've never weighed the quilts before and after either.

    One thing I do differently in winter is use a canvas sock to wrap around everything and I dispense with the UQP. I want the moisture and heat to migrate out to the canvas and then sublimate throughout the night and next day. Canvas is superb at blocking wind and moves unwanted moisture effectively. Don't even need a tarp if there's no precipitation.

    Last thought - when climbing out once or twice a night to gaze at the stars for a brief minute, sometimes a bit of spindrift collects in the quilts. Even though I wear just one thin base layer, I never notice when the spindrift melts. In other words, your body and whatever quilts you choose will manage minor moisture just fine for 2-3 days.

    Are you planning longer outings?
    These would be shorter trips in the 2-3 day range so I would expect the issue to be minimal. However, I could foresee longer trips in the future and all things considered get something that would work in all situations.

    In further reading, research and discussion, it seems like the issue of moisture being released by your body and condensing in your UQ is not as large an issue as with a TQ and even then, I think it's pretty extreme conditions that this is occurring in. Further a hammock by it's nature promotes better airflow so moisture issues aren't as big an issue. Also seems like many people use down on down and have not had any issues. I would expect I wouldn't either.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grimm0614 View Post
    These would be shorter trips in the 2-3 day range so I would expect the issue to be minimal. However, I could foresee longer trips in the future and all things considered get something that would work in all situations.

    In further reading, research and discussion, it seems like the issue of moisture being released by your body and condensing in your UQ is not as large an issue as with a TQ and even then, I think it's pretty extreme conditions that this is occurring in. Further a hammock by it's nature promotes better airflow so moisture issues aren't as big an issue. Also seems like many people use down on down and have not had any issues. I would expect I wouldn't either.
    I think any risk compared to Apex has been minimized by treated down. I have seen it happen though, but more on trips closer to 5 days than 2 or 3. I have a buddy and fellow hanger who was worried about shrinking loft on the end of 2 different trips, using regular down. In both cases(trips), there was no external moisture that got on those quilts. On one of those trips, I was using all synthetic and had no issues whatsoever, even though i soaked the foot end with condensation(user error) on the first night. But I still slept warm and did not even notice it until I got up, and it had no apparent loft loss and dried quickly and was fine the rest of the trip. On the next trip I was using a Speer Pea Pod and did not have any problems, but again my buddy did. I have wondered if maybe he was sweating and did not realize it because his down quilts soaked it up? I don't know why he had trouble and I didn't, but luckily when he became worried was the last day of the trip, both times.

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