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View Full Version : Quilts -- What don't I understand?



rickb
06-20-2014, 07:10
I recently returned an unused sleeping bag because it felt too restrictive-- I have been using a semi rectangular bag for years.

This got me to thinking about quilts.

From what I see (On-line) they are little more than a sleeping bag with part of the bottom missing that you strap to a pad. As such, you save some material weight where the insulation would be crushed and do little good.

But since they seem to be increasingly popular, I think I am missing something? If that is all there is to it, I would think they would be harder to get into and out of, and also lead to air infiltration. And really not address the issue that led to my return at all.

Am I missing something?

garlic08
06-20-2014, 08:00
I recently bought my first quilt and was skeptical at first but I love the thing. I needed a lightweight bag for a summer trip. The quilt was less expensive and lighter than a bag, and with some fiddling it worked fine down to its rating (30F) on a few cold nights, in wet snow. It's a good tool for a specific job, and not for everyone. If you're a restless sleeper, probably not. I never attached mine to the pad, but I used some snaps and draw strings on the cold nights to wrap up snugly. Mine is long enough to pull over my head as a hood. It has a foot box zipper, too. One thing I liked about it was it stayed clean for a long trip and I've never had to wash it, since I don't actually sleep on it. A few minutes in sun once in a while and it stayed fresh for a whole hot summer. It's my favorite new gear purchase in many years.

poopsy
06-20-2014, 08:03
No, I don't think you're missing too much. But, depending on the set-up though they can be pretty easy to get in and out of. I'm using a quilt right now just because I found I was always using my mummy bag that way. They can be drafty however and so I only use it down to about 35 F even though it's rated colder. For consistently cold weather I'm using a down barrel-shaped bag that gives me some benefits of a mummy, uses a bit more material and is not as restrictive. I should mention the klymit pads seem to have figured out a way of taking advantage of mummy bag insulation underneath you

Tipi Walter
06-20-2014, 08:21
A zippered down bag often gets blamed for the "myth of crushed loft" when you sleep in it and on it, but it's just not true, at least for me. I toss and turn enough in a zipped up bag that the bottom becomes the side, the side becomes the bottom, and on occasion the top becomes the side, etc etc. So in effect you need insulation all around and what was once crushed becomes uncrushed.

"Air infiltration" is the bane of the quilt, unless of course you never go out in the winter. The beauty of a good down sleeping bag is its ability to be used as both a quilt---unzipped and used as a blanket---and zipped up with a draft tube, collar and head protection. Let's get mummified, in other words.

Then again, when weight is the only criteria then comfort comes in second. At 50F it's of little concern---use a wool blanket or a cheap walmart bag or just a bivy sack or a quilt or a deer hide or some newspapers like a hobo, or just sleep in your clothing on the ground. But when the temps hit 0F or -10F, a quilt just doesn't have the go-to extreme condition-options like a good lightweight down sleeping bag. And when you can go to -20F with a 900 fill down bag at 3+lbs, well, that's super efficient and light in my opinion.

Namtrag
06-20-2014, 11:01
Just got a quilt this spring, and it is 23 oz and rated 20 degrees. I am doubtful on that rating, but I do love the comfort, and the ability to move while sleeping. The only bag I felt comfortable in was my Big Agnes Deer Park (which I am guessing is made for tall, big men), a 30 degree, 3 lb bag with lots of room. I am 5'8" and 210lbs, and not a single mummy bag I ever got in would even zip up all the way without squeezing me to death...I feel immediately antsy and claustrophobic in a mummy bag, so I will trade occasional draftiness to avoid that!

Just Bill
06-20-2014, 11:24
I couldn't agree with Garlic more.
I couldn't agree with Tipi any more than I agree with Garlic.

I too struggled with the choice and failed to see the appeal. While I was able to make my own quilt, for roughly $100, it was still an expensive experiment. Both fellas are very correct, but it's an experiment that was worth it.

My take-
Quilts can replace the two bags many of us own- summer/early shoulder- with the absolute minimum temp IMO being 35 for a quilt. It's not that you can't get a quilt lower, it's that it no longer makes sense to me from a technical standpoint. So my rule- sleeping bag <35<quilt. Many quilt users tend to buy 10 degrees warmer- making the 20 degree quilt a very popular choice- and as close as a one bag solution for the bulk of the season.

My MYOG quilt is 12 ounces, cost $100 to make, and can safely (although not fantastically) take me to 35. Just as importantly, it is useable all the way up to all but the worst of summer heat. No parts or pieces to break, doubles as pants on a chill evening, can convert to a puffy jacket (with a Houdini) in an emergency.

After that though, I'm with Walter, below 35 I don't want to fight draft, worry about rolling over, tuck, strap, or otherwise play with my comfort.

In addition you must consider the hood you saved, must be carried in the form of hats or even a hood, although you can wear your hat outside your quilt if needed.

Rickb- you note the common complaint with the mummy- room. Which is a compelling argument for a quilt. A fair comparison I believe-
Montbell- 40deg- http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=3211&p_id=2321188- $419, 16 ounces- nothing further needed.
Zpacks- 40deg- http://www.zpacks.com/quilts/sleepingbag.shtml- $380, in wide/long to make it match comfort level- 14.7 ounces.
The extra width and length of the quilt is a mistake I made and Joe at Zpacks reccomends you avoid as well. When it's really chilly, the extra few inches of width and length help you tuck in and stop drafts. A "perfect" sized quilt should be rated about 5-10 degrees cooler for this reason.

You would also need to carry ample hats/hoods to reach the bottom temp levels- the advantage being you can leave them home when it's warmer- that said though-
Add this hood (you will carry a light hat at miniumum for day use anyway regardless of the bag)- http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/gooosehood.shtml for the best weight advantage.

All in to make the 40 degree Zpacks quilt meet or beat the Montbell at low temps- $380+65= $445 vs $419 14.7 +1.3= 16 ounces vs 16 ounces.
Or add two hats- http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/fleecehat.shtml for $26 and about 2 ounces to keep cost even, but gain .7 ounces in the Z-pack bag.

If you are selecting for the bottom end- dead even, or for simplicity's sake, favor goes to the Montbell should you run into an odd night in the 20's.
If you want one bag to do it all- the Zpacks system pulls ahead. When temps get to the 50-60 degree range the hood can stay at home- now advantage shifts to the quilt.
When it gets to the 60-70 range- it will be easier to regulate temps with the quilt, although to be fair not dramatically so, your main advantage- the hood/hats/etc can be left at home.

One last thought- quilts are more vulnerable to the sleep system as a whole, while a sleeping bag stands alone in it's use and rating better. This is actually a great bonus to the quilt IMO which lets me take a (more or less) 50 degree quilt to the 30's. But that is a discussion for another time and one best figured out yourself anyway.

meat803
06-20-2014, 11:30
I have never had the need to strap it to my pad. It has been my experience that quilts don't get all twisted or tangled like a bag and you have much more freedom of movement. When I have used a bag since owning a quilt, I will open the bag up and use it like a quilt. The mechanics of a quilt are much better than a bag. Weight savings is there and I have never had issue with temps. Go ahead and buy one and give it a try. If you dont like it then just sell here on the forums and you will probably only lose 20 bucks on the deal and know what it is all about. Very happy owner of 2 Enlightened Equipment quilts. I preferred the zipped foot box so that on warmer than rated nights I can easily open it up and use it like a blanket. With that said, quilts have a wider temp range if you use them in their intended manner. Im the kind of person that likes to stick a foot or leg out to regulate temp while retaining coverage on my upper body.You cant easily stick a foot/leg out of a zipped up bag when it gets just a tad warm.

Tipi Walter
06-20-2014, 11:46
The mechanics of a quilt are much better than a bag.

My whole discussion was how the mechanics of a bag are much better than a quilt, just the opposite to your thinking. "Mechanics" to me would mean versatility and dual-usage---as a blanket-quilt, draft tube, head hood, neck collar, zipper, etc. Cocooning up is very important when conditions go south, as the recent Polar Vortex proved. Ergo mummification. But most quilt discussions are about summer temps whereas winter cold sort of dissolves a quilt's usefulness.

In warm temps a quilt is great and if even then if it is too warm you can lay down in a light long sleeve top (silk) and your merino or silk leggings, without a cover. This does two things, reduces the clamminess of bare skin on a pad (or under quilt fabric), and produces just enough warmth to stay comfy until you need to drape over the quilt.

Mountain temps are always weird, as I was out on May 15 this year and got 38F at around 4,000 feet in the Slickrock wilderness. Weather fluke for sure but I'm glad I brought my sleeping bag. And warm clothing including a light down jacket.

FarmerChef
06-20-2014, 11:50
I've used mine (MYOG Apex 20 degree quilt) down to single digits sleeping with my wife under the same quilt. When I sewed it, I purposely left fabric without insulation along the edges to block drafts in from the sides. And, because it's for two, I never sewed in a foot box or a zipper. It's been quite comfortable all the way down and we have not struggled with drafts. That's not to say they can't be a problem. If I was a restless sleeper I could find myself pulling it off of me throughout the night. But I have learned to roll over carefully. What I like is that I can sleep in almost any position that makes me comfortable whereas in the bag I would always stretch it if I wanted to sleep sprawled out for one reason or another.

This summer we'll be taking only the quilts in Maine. Not our summer bags. That way we're good with whatever it throws at us at a weight of only 18oz per person. Of course, it's not right for everyone but I have found I much prefer the quilt over the sleeping bag in the end.

Just Bill
06-20-2014, 12:00
5oz Apex for you and your crew Chef?
I have the 2.5 oz from Thru-hiker- but did see a 3oz and have heard of other random sizes floating around.

I am considering 2.5 oz, with an extra layer across the core only to push the 2.5 a bit lower for little penalty- but for a true 20/30ish- seems you have to bite the bullet and go 5.0 oz or buy down.

Dogwood
06-20-2014, 12:19
I recognize modern day backpacking quilts as something that primarily came out of UL circles by those desiring to cut the wt of their traditional sleeping bags by removing the hood, a long triangular or trapezoidal piece of the sleeping bag that normally one lays on, and the zipper. Think about the other things ULers do to save wt. Think about their mindset. They overwhelmingly tend to prioritize saving wt/volume over all other factors. THEN, often, they deal with all the other things that can become consequences both perceived as positives and, yes, negatives. SOMETIMES, they'll even overlook or sugar coat the possible negatives. That's the way I see quilts. IMHO, I recognize quilts as a piece of gear that CAN be more complicated in use, especially in colder weather, than traditional sleeping bags. Gear companies manufacturing traditional sleeping bags have recognized there are folks who sleep and gear up differently. They recognize that some folks like a less confined sleeping arrangement. They recognize that people aren't of all the same size. Sleeping bags are made for you. Why don't you research and demo some of those less restrictive but still not overly heavy/voluminous. Here's a start: Montbell SuperStretch and Spiral bags, Nemo, and Big Agnes. And, IF you do decide on a quilt I suggest you carefully consider experimenting in warmer temps first which makes sense, at least to me, because I know that's when I really don't want to be harshly confined and hot.

jeffmeh
06-20-2014, 12:37
SYOS, lol. S = sleep

I am much more comfortable in a non-confining quilt (or bag opened up to use as a quilt) than zipped up in a mummy. It works well for me, but in deep winter conditions I do want the option of the latter. I have done down to 10F quilt style, comfortably.

Just Bill
06-20-2014, 12:43
I recognize modern day backpacking quilts as something that primarily came out of UL circles by those desiring to cut the wt of their traditional sleeping bags by removing the hood, a long triangular or trapezoidal piece of the sleeping bag that normally one lays on, and the zipper.

This is quite true, however the sleeping bag folks have been paying attention and adapted.
Now that many mainstream folks have happily adopted new construction techniques, as well as accepted that 10d, or even 7d is a fine choice for a sleeping bag- the construction and weight advantages of the quilt fade. 10-15 years ago, when we pounded our heads against the wall to break the 2 pound barrier with a 32 degree down bag- a pound and a half quilt was a huge leap. That advantage is gone, and we are back to style, use, preference- the technical points, costs, and scale no longer make the debate winner clear.

See my comparison above- but the super stretch is an amazing example of what an innovative (semi-cottage) company can do with a traditional mummy.
The sea to summit spark and some others are even doing things un-heard of- breaking the shell vs fill barrier in a down mummy bag. With treated down- it is an exiting time, even if it's enough to give you a headache.:-?

Dogwood
06-20-2014, 13:22
Be careful. Watch you step. Gear head/junkie talk in progress. :)

OwenM
06-20-2014, 13:52
Switched to quilts this January during round two of the polar vortex. For cold weather, I ended up with a Katabatic Palisade that's conservatively rated at 30 degrees(more like 15 with midweight baselayers for this warm sleeper). After a trial at 22F on my deck, the first two nights I used it in the field were at 10F and around 0 to -2F with a down hoody and R1 weight grid fleece bottoms over my baselayers. The Palisade weighs 20.3oz and replaced both my 40oz Marmot Pinnacle and 24oz Marmot Arete. With a down jacket that is already coming along in subfreezing temps, it can do everything the Pinnacle could, while still being comfortable in the 50s. It's lighter, more comfortable, and I don't hunker down inside and breathe into it like I tend to do with a bag(that's actually a big deal, especially in cold weather). Katabatic's strap system pretty much eliminates drafts, too. I'm an active sleeper with a big upper torso and have no complaints. Took the hoody I was using back because it was leaking down everywhere, and bought the Goosefeet hood from ZPacks, which can also be used around camp with my puffy that has no hood. Got a 50F quilt, too, for warmer temps. It's from Underground Quilts, and lacks in construction and features vs. the Katabatic, but also cost less than half as much. Can't decide which I love more. I sleep under the 50F at home, and so far have used it with lows from high 40s-low 70s in the woods. When I first got it in early May, I slept on the balcony of the hotel room I was sharing with family in Gatlinburg before taking it to the NC mountains, and have since taken it everywhere I plan to stay overnight. I have good sleeping bags, but these quilts are probably my all-time favorite gear purchases.

FarmerChef
06-20-2014, 13:54
5oz Apex for you and your crew Chef?
I have the 2.5 oz from Thru-hiker- but did see a 3oz and have heard of other random sizes floating around.

I am considering 2.5 oz, with an extra layer across the core only to push the 2.5 a bit lower for little penalty- but for a true 20/30ish- seems you have to bite the bullet and go 5.0 oz or buy down.

Yup. 5oz it is, JB. We wanted this for our winter hiking but find it's more versatile than we originally expected.

Just Bill
06-20-2014, 13:59
Yup. 5oz it is, JB. We wanted this for our winter hiking but find it's more versatile than we originally expected.

Yar, I suppose 12.5 ounces is an easy calculation in the pounds versus pleasure formula overall- Thanks.

Another Kevin
06-20-2014, 16:28
Bill, do you have a source for directions for your MYOG quilt? At this point, I'm not entirely satisfied with any of my hot weather sleeping gear (although my 20 and -5 sleeping bags work like champs!) This time of year, I'm tempted just to curl up under a Biederlack fleece throw, but it looks as if the quilt will adapt to a wider temperature range - and of course we do get the occasional unseasonable cold snap. I tend therefore to bring my three-season bag and use it as a quilt, sleeping on it or under it or with it just over my feet. But it's overkill!

meat803
06-21-2014, 01:56
I wont argue the against benefit to a mummy bag in extreme temperatures. By mechanics I meant using it as intended. Yes you can use a bag as a quilt but it isnt engineered as such and therefore suffers weight and ergonomic usage penalty. Mechanically a bag's temperature is regulated by exposing one's core/arms while a quilt offers core/arms or legs/feet. Sure with a dual zipper bag you can open the bottom if it goes down that far, but it will remain drafty until you readjust zipper. In a bag you are either snug and sealed or not. Changing this requires an effort from a state of sleep. It is all personal preference and for myself a quilt is easier to regulate that narrow window of temperature comfort. Some like one or the other for various reasons. Original poster should give both a honest try then use what works for them.

LIhikers
06-24-2014, 00:03
If you want a sleeping bag that isn't restrictive, let me suggest the Montbell down hugger series.
I have an earlier model that works the same way and it's both comfortable and keeps me warm to the rated temperature.
Plus, the zipper is long enough that I can zip it down and use the bag as a quilt when I want to.

Mobius
06-24-2014, 08:59
Bill, do you have a source for directions for your MYOG quilt?


Not Bill (obviously) but... Thruhiker has some kits (down and snythetic). I recently purchased the M90/2.5 Apex kit for my 8yr old daughter and we sewed it up together. It was quite a bit faster than then down quilts I've made. We used the "inside out" method to sew it up and added a velcro footbox and draw strings at the head and foot.

It's definitely a summer quilt but that's the point. Her 20 deg bag is too heavy, bulky, and summer trips. You could go lighter by using lighter fabric (e.g. Argon or M50) if you wanted.

winger
06-24-2014, 16:38
If you want a sleeping bag that isn't restrictive, let me suggest the Montbell down hugger series.
I have an earlier model that works the same way and it's both comfortable and keeps me warm to the rated temperature.
Plus, the zipper is long enough that I can zip it down and use the bag as a quilt when I want to.

Good recommendation.

shakey_snake
06-25-2014, 15:05
Mummy bags were developed from high alpine climbing bags for use in conditions that really aren't typical of your normal backpacker. It's the same reason external frame packs, cordora fabrics and heavy leather boots were once popular among backpackers. You bought those things not because you were climbing Mt Everest, but because you were going off on your own grand adventure and wanted to feel like you were making a summit attempt--even if you were in your back yard. Pay attention to the pictures they show in advertisements and store displays. They're selling you a vision that you supplement with their product (and their specific feature set of that product).

Quilts are a practical sleep cover for most people in most conditions. Ray Jardine is maybe a bit of an ******* but he is super pragmatic. That vision of his got the ultralight movement started on quilts, and I just don't see the ultralight bleeding edge moving back to mummy bags when anticipating mostly benign conditions.

Remember, ultralight is a developed system. Cold weather quilts assume you are wearing your insulating clothing (and probably everything else, too!)--making drafts much less of a problem. If you strip down to your skivvies or (heaven forbid! :) )bring sleeping clothing, you're already missing the boat. :\

Tipi Walter
06-25-2014, 15:23
Mummy bags were developed from high alpine climbing bags for use in conditions that really aren't typical of your normal backpacker. It's the same reason external frame packs, cordora fabrics and heavy leather boots were once popular among backpackers. You bought those things not because you were climbing Mt Everest, but because you were going off on your own grand adventure and wanted to feel like you were making a summit attempt--even if you were in your back yard. Pay attention to the pictures they show in advertisements and store displays. They're selling you a vision that you supplement with their product (and their specific feature set of that product).

Quilts are a practical sleep cover for most people in most conditions. Ray Jardine is maybe a bit of an ******* but he is super pragmatic. That vision of his got the ultralight movement started on quilts, and I just don't see the ultralight bleeding edge moving back to mummy bags when anticipating mostly benign conditions.

Remember, ultralight is a developed system. Cold weather quilts assume you are wearing your insulating clothing (and probably everything else, too!)--making drafts much less of a problem. If you strip down to your skivvies or (heaven forbid! :) )bring sleeping clothing, you're already missing the boat. :\

If you agree that winter backpacking in the mountains of NC, VA and TN constitute alpine conditions then yes, I agree a down mummy bag is excellent, and not a quilt.

Problem with the UL crowd is in your statement, "anticipating mostly benign conditions." Or what is called the "right tool for the job" hubris. It's really a myth as the job changes and conditions change radically for day to day on a trip. Let's say I start out at 40F on January 1st in the NC mountains---so why the heck did I bring my -15F down bag? And then 4 days later I'm at 5,500 feet in a white out blizzard in a four season tent (NOT a tarp) at 10F. Then 10 days later I'm caught in a bi-polar rectum at -10F for 3 days. Crawl into the beloved sleeping bag---glad I brought it, and not a quilt.

Wearing insulated clothing to augment an insufficient quilt rating sounds good at first but often these layers can be dirty or wet (high humidity during Southeast winters), or worse, they do not supply the necessary warmth even with a quilt. So, you end up taking a beefy down jacket and down pants and down booties---all just to endure a subzero night under a quilt. Why not just upgrade to a zipped mummy rated to -15F and sleep in your clean dry baselayers w/o torque??

shakey_snake
06-25-2014, 15:40
It's really a myth as the job changes and conditions change radically for day to day on a trip.

I'm just going to assume you're trolling, per usual. Because if you're not, then you'd really think the farmers almanac is still the only way to anticipate the weather.

Light weight equipment still can't fix playing stupid. Thanks for reminding us again, Tipi!


Wearing insulated clothing to augment...not augment... block drafts. I specifically said block drafts. Just in case anyone reading this thread is confused. It works exactly like a "draft tube" on a traditional mummy bag is claimed to work.