2006 Jacks ‘R’ Better “Down to Earth” Pad Converter SPOTLITE REVIEW

Converts any Jacks ‘R’ Better quilt into a top bag sleep system with an attached sleeping pad.

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by Doug Johnson | 2006-12-24 03:00:00-07

Overview

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The Jacks ‘R’ Better “Down to Earth” Pad Converter consists of a choice of three different pads (1/4 inch full length reviewed) and an Omni-Tape modification to a JRB quilt.

The Jacks ‘R’ Better “Down to Earth” Pad Converter is a system for attaching a custom foam pad to a JRB quilt. To use the system, the quilt must be modified by attaching full-length Omni-tape along the sides. The quilt then attaches underneath the pad with matching Omni-tape. The Jacks ‘R’ Better hood also attaches to the pad, making the converted quilt into an integrated top bag system for ground sleepers.

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A modified Jacks ‘R’ Better quilt attaches underneath the pad and the hood attaches to the top.

The JRB No Sniveler quilt ranked first in the BackpackingLight Unconventional Sleep Systems Review Summary because of its versatility- it can be used as a top quilt, an under quilt in a hammock system, and as a warm poncho. With the Down to Earth conversion, it also makes an effective top bag system for ground sleeping. However, the system can be used on any converted 48 inch wide JRB quilt including the Nest and the Old Rag Mtn.

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The No Sniveler quilt is the most versatile bag that exists: it’s a top quilt, an under quilt for a hammock system, a poncho/serape, and now with the Down to Earth converter, an integrated top bag / sleeping pad system. The conversion, though, can be made to any 48 inch JRB quilt.

When setting up the system, it takes a couple of minutes to properly line up and attach the Omni-tape fasteners. Once set up, though, it provides a very secure attachment that didn’t unfasten despite numerous roll-overs and inside the bag movement. The quilt attaches under the pad, creating an effective seal against outside air.

The pad is made from Gossamer Gear ThinLight material and is available in 1/8 inch Torso and 1/4 inch Torso and Full models. The Torso length models measure 58 x 20 inches with the first 36 inches being full width and the final 22 inches tapering to a point where the footbox begins. In the 1/4 inch full length version that I tested, the pad measures 69 inches long (72 inches claimed) and it narrows to 12 inches rather than coming to a point. The extra length of the long pad tucks inside the top bag.

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The hood attachment on my prototype pad was rather wide, creating gaps on the sides that let warm air escape. Production models will be narrower to minimize this issue.

The fit of the top bag system is trim and efficient in the foot box and widens to roomy in the upper body. There is plenty of room in this bag to wear a warm insulation jacket and still have room to move around. This is good because without a zipper, you have to enter the bag with by sliding into it. Once inside, the pad stays put and you roll inside the bag rather than the bag rolling with you. This effectively eliminates the draft issues that are typical of quilts. The hood attachment adds extra warmth to the system but it was a bit wide on my prototype pad. Production models will have a narrower attachment at the neck and hood which should minimize these draft issues.

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The Down to Earth system is efficient in the footbox and roomy in the upper body, making it easier to slide into the bag and to wear additional insulation.

The pads for the conversion system are moderately expensive- $54.95 for the 1/4 inch Full and slightly cheaper for the Torso models. The Modification kit costs an additional $24.95 but is free for existing JRB quilt owners with the purchase of a pad. It is also a free option when purchasing a new JRB quilt. This makes the conversion a great value when having Jacks ‘R’ Better do the conversion.

For those that don’t want to send in their quilt, the conversion kit is a reasonable $11.95 and can be added to the quilt yourself or by a local tailor.

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The 1/4 inch Full pad weighs only 5.3 ounces.

Features and Specifications

  • Weight (1/4 inch Full pad): 5.3 oz (150 g); mfr claimed 5.6 oz (159 g), additional weight of conversion to quilt: approx 1.0 oz (28 g)
  • Size (measured): 20 in wide x 69 in long (51 cm x 175 cm), tapering at 36 inches to 12 inches wide (30 cm); mfr claimed 20 in wide x 72 in long (51 cm x 183 cm)
  • Materials: 1/4 inch Gossamer Gear Thinlight foam, Omni-tape fasteners
  • Features: quilt and hood attachments
  • MSRP: 1/8 inch Torso- $48.95, 1/4 inch Torso- $51.95, 1/4 inch Full $54.95. Omni-Tape kit- $11.95, bag modification- free to existing quilt owners with purchase of pad, free option on new quilts

Citation

"2006 Jacks ‘R’ Better “Down to Earth” Pad Converter SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Doug Johnson . BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/2006_jrb_down_to_earth_converter_spotlite_review.html, 2006-12-24 03:00:00-07.

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