View Full Version : Why so expensive?

Feral Bill
10-15-2014, 14:50
Given the relatively simple construction and smaller amount of materials, why are underquilts so costly, compare to say, a decent sleeping bag? I have some guesses, but would like to hear other opinions.

10-15-2014, 15:10
One can purchase a 3/4 length 3 season synthetic UQ for as little as $100 (http://www.arrowhead-equipment.com/store/c3/KAQ_Synthetic_Quilts.html). Several (http://www.hammockgear.com/phoenix-20/) vendors (http://wildernesslogics.com/Under-Quilt-3-4-Length-Under-Quilt-Down.htm) offer 3/4 length 3 season down UQs for around $200. That's not too far off the price of a decent sleeping bag. To answer your question I think the biggest factor is most are at least partially handmade if not fully handmade. To the best of my knowledge ENO is the only company that currently mass produces a UQ. Then of course there is demand. It's a small market and people are willing to pay good money for a premium product.

10-15-2014, 15:20
"Decent" is subjective. Comparing a sleeping bags with 850 down ($200-$600) to a sample of full-length underquilts with 850 down ($250-$350), the underquilts all seem to be in about the same range. If anything, it's much easier to find an expensive sleeping bag than an expensive underquilt. I'd estimate a full length underquilt requires about the same amount of material as a sleeping bag. 3/4 and 1/2 length underquilts do take less material but cost less too. It does seem that it's possible to get a high end sleeping bag at a large discount at end-of-year sales. The smaller cottage industry that tends to make underquilts doesn't seem to do that as often.

10-15-2014, 15:33
I have actually been shopping recently for a winter-weight down sleeping bag. I have found that purchasing a full-length 0* underquilt would represent a significant saving over a comparable down sleeping bag. If I were purchasing both Top and Bottom Quilts then a Sleeping has a const advantage.

My comparators being Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends and Hammock Gear.

10-15-2014, 21:21
I would say it has much to do with the economies of scale.

if we are examining the cost of a quality sleeping bag to that of a comparable quilt, we would find that most sleeping bags are manufactured by larger companies who can take advantage of large scale material supply and production, and generally do it more efficiently. In turn they are capable of driving down the cost of per unit productions.

Quilts on the other hand are more commonly produced by small businesses who are not able to manufacture on that larger scale and as a result are generally going to have a higher per unit production cost.

07-12-2015, 15:30
I recently started a new company, Loco Libre Gear (http://www.locolibregear.com), that manufactures down quilts and I can tell you that while the price tag seems unreasonable, the profit margins are thinner than you think. Down isn't cheap and neither is labor. In fact I would say labor is the largest single component in making a quilt. One can only sew so fast and turn out a quality product. If you figure what I make on an hourly basis to make a handmade custom quilt it isn't as profitable as my regular job (LLG is a new venture so I do have to keep a full time job for now). I do it yes, for the income, but also because I get a deep sense of satisfaction making a useful piece of outdoor gear. I take pride in everything that leaves my shop. And yes, I would do it for that lower income as my main living if I am ever fortunate enough to be able to do so.

My main goal when I started Loco Libre Gear was to provide an affordable alternative. Then reality sets in and I was forced to realize that you can only lower the price so much before it's not worth doing - that's in any business. I did everything to keep prices down, buying down and fabric in large wholesale quantities to keep the prices down, etc. and my pricing is as low as I dare if I want to stay in business. What else can I do? The one thing I can control that is value added is service. I maintain good communication and timely service, and try to make what I do a personal experience :).

07-12-2015, 15:38
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07-12-2015, 16:29
Also, if you're talking about quilts that are made by cottage manufacturers (which is who makes most of them), they're not exactly what you would call "decent" quality. They're higher-end. Usually made with the highest quality fill, and the lightest weight (i.e. most expensive) materials like Argon 67 and Phantom 10D (I know Argon fabric at least was custom engineered and built to order). Having a high-end fabric factory design a fabric specifically to your specifications can't be cheap (or required one hell of a large up-front order ;)

A 'decent' sleeping bag can be had for $120 or so (Kelty cosmic down or whatnot). A decent quilt can be had for a similar price (synthetic, and most likely with a better warmth to weight ratio than the down Kelty uses in that bag – which also can mean more expensive for the insulating material although less of it is used in a quilt).

Once you jump up to 850/900 fill down with DWR/waterproofing, and uber-lightweight fabrics being used, you're usually at $400-450 (and many name-brands on REI are up to $600!!!). You can get a quilt at the same 20 temperature rating for $249 at Hammock Gear...so I actually think when you compare apples to apples quilts are cheaper.

Wise Old Owl
07-12-2015, 18:32
I agree Hammock Gear - tell Stormcrow "Hi from the Owl"