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Quilt Question
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steven rarey
(laptraffic) - F

Locale: Washington
Quilt Question on 02/24/2008 15:44:24 MST Print View

I just recently purchased a UL180 quilt from the store here (heavy discount, decided to try it)

I've used it a couple times and wanted to get some input from people who have experience.

First off, I was pretty worried by how thin this was, Im coming from a 3 pound 800 fill down bag...

I slept in it in my backyard and felt that I was not dying, but I wasnt particularly warm either.

This weekend I took my gear to some woods that are free from snow.

The temperature was in the mid to high 30's with ground fog.

I slept using a zlite and this quilt, I kept a coat on and a wool beanie.

I was not warm, but I slept as soundly as I normally would, I never got 'cold' like the shakes, but I am used to sleeping MUCH warmer.

And then I realized the question I wanted to ask here.

My journey into ultralight camping has been one of sacrificing creature comfort in the name of mobility through saved weight, a dependence on woodcraft and skill rather than a credit card and a pack horse :)

The question that I am taking a week to get to is how many of you have gotten used to sleeping a bit on the cold side?

I was curious to find myself the first night waking up to drafts and what not from the imperfect seal on the quilt, by the 2nd night I didnt notice any drafts, I just slept.

Cutting it too close sleeping cold? I had more clothes to put on if I got the shakes, but found I didnt need it.

Just curious on your experiences


Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Quilt Question on 02/24/2008 16:24:30 MST Print View

I've never used any of the BMW quilts, but I do use a homemade down one. One of the big keys for staying warm for me is the right clothing, especially if I'm using it on the low side of the quilt's range. I've gone so far as to sleep in my windshirt and wear my gloves to boost the warmth a little bit. Also, don't underestimate the amount of warmth a good hat can add. I wear a thin wool beanie almost anytime I use the quilt, even if its not that cold. When it drops down into the 30's, like your temps did, I switch to a heavier fleece hat. Since you're coming from a sleeping bag you're probably used to having the hood there to retain the heat, with a quilt headgear plays a bigger role in the 'sleep system.'


David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Quilt Question on 02/25/2008 08:46:10 MST Print View

Im more comfortable sleeping cold than I am sleeping hot. I seem to plan for too. The thought "I can get by with my 45* bag- its only 2 nights" has shot through my head many times when the temperature was well below 40*. As far as cutting it too close goes, you can always get up, pack up, and walk if it gets too bad. Day naps are nice anyway.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Quilt for cold on 02/25/2008 16:23:32 MST Print View

I have a homemade down quilt which was flat, but to get down to 20 degrees, I added a foot box and a hood from a suggestion found at another thread at BPL. Then I put everything including a sleeping pad into a homemade bivy of Momentum and silnylon. (Down and materila from thru-hiker) I wore long underwear and a hat. For a nicely priced bivy check out the one at titanium goat weighs 5 oz. ( as does mine including its sack).

Edited by rambler on 02/25/2008 16:25:23 MST.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
Titanium Goat Bivy on 02/25/2008 17:48:47 MST Print View

Second the recommendation on a very nice, well made, and reasonably priced bivy: the Ptarmigan Bivy. The flooring is essentially 1.1oz silnylon with a reflextive surface but is nicely gusseted to avoid any unneeded seams. The top is "Intrepid" which appears similar to Microlight, more durable than Quantum, though not as breathable. But breathable all the same.

-Michael "sawchuck"

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Quilt Question on 02/25/2008 18:39:25 MST Print View

On the question of drafts with a quilt... I didn't notice any problem when I start my Ghost in the summer of 2004. As it got colder into the fall I sometimes woke up due to drafts. After the experience of 2-3 trips using a quilt in colder weather I found that I rarely had problems because I found a use pattern that worked well for me. I used a bivy for around a year and ended up getting rid of it. I found I didn't need it, and disliked feeling constrained.

There is no need to feel like you are roasting. My view is that if you can fall asleep reasonably quickly, you don't wake up because you felt too cold, and your shiver mechanism doesn't fire... then you are right on the money.

As others have noted... your hat makes a big difference. You want something that covers not just your head, but also your neck. If you are using a open tarp or tarptent you really want something that is windproof. For me, a basic wool beenie or fleece hat would not cut it at 30F. When it dropped to 30F I used to use a PolarBuff around my neck and a GoLite Snowcap for my head. These days I am using a Down Baklava. It makes a HUGE difference in how warm I stay.

As to "have I adjusted to colder"? I don't know. When I first started using the Ghost I thought that I started to get too chilled to sleep below 35F. At the time I was wearing mid-weight base, wool socks, and a heavy wool hat. These days I am happy to 30F wearing my Cloudveil Spinner pants, featherweight base, and down Baklava... and was warm enough down to 10F with the addition of a thermawrap vest.

The real question is how much of a safety margin do you want to give yourself. My approach is that I look at the weather forecast near where I am going, adjust for elevation, and drop that number of 5F. I bring something that should keep me warm enough to sleep without problems without depending on one of my insulation layers. Now to 25F that means sleeping my my base + hat. Below 25F it means sleeping in thermawrap vest, while keeping my thermwrap jacket in reserve. This allows me to sleep comfortably if the temp 15F less than expected, and survive (though not sleep well if the temp is 30F lower than expected. So far, I have never been on a trip that was 30F less than expected, a few that were the temp was 15-25F lower than expected, and several trips that were ~15F below what I expected.

Edited by verber on 02/25/2008 18:40:28 MST.

(beenay25) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
quilt hype on 02/25/2008 19:30:12 MST Print View

I have yet to understand why so many people champion quilts for cold weather layering on this site and others. The fact is, a quilt can be a lighter and potetntially roomier (though most quilt makers don't make their quilts wide enough for side sleepers to use them without straps) alternative to a summer-weight sleeping the summer. In the winter and cold weather in general, they are prone to drafts and, lacking a hood, require the use of insulated headwear to get the same temp rating as a mummy bag weighing the same amount. If you want to go lower than the quilt's temp rating, you need insulated clothing, which adds more weight per degree of warmth that they add than you would get if you simply had brought a warmer mummy bag--and I have trouble buying into that stuff about "you wear all your clothes to sleep that you'd otherwise have brought anyway: you can't wear a down jacket or synthetic insulated pants while hiking. I'm not saying an appropriately rated mummy bag is the best sleep system there is--in fact I don't like the way they restrict my arm splaying--just that a quilt is not, in my opinion, the better alternative to a mummy bag.

Edited by beenay25 on 02/25/2008 19:37:46 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: quilt hype on 02/25/2008 20:34:50 MST Print View

I would agree that the weight difference between comparable quality sleeping bag and quilt is small. There are three reasons why I use a quilt:

1) In warmer conditions (>40F), I tend to run hot and the quilt makes it a lot easier to do incremental venting.
2) I find it easier to manage camp life.. I feel freer and less constrained.
3) I own one :-). I don't own a summer weight bag.

I continue to use the quilt in cooler conditions because my winter sleeping bag is overkill and the quilt has proven to be warm enough for me. I typically bring insulation which keeps me warm enough during light activity such as cooking or standing around. This is more insulation that I hike in. This is the source of my clothing + quilt.

When I am heading to the mountains in the middle of winter, I do switch to my winter sleeping bag. Why do I use a sleeping bag rather than a quilt?

1) Drafts are less of a problem
2) There is a nice psychological boast of snuggling into a sleeping bag when it's really cold outside
3) I own one :-) I don't own high loft pants, or a super warm quilt.

I also use the quilt as an overbag for my daughter on particularly cold trips so we didn't need to buy her a winter bag.


Edited by verber on 02/25/2008 22:22:17 MST.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: quilt hype on 02/25/2008 21:02:24 MST Print View

Quilt vs. bag will probably be debated for a long time, but like most things in life, the answer isn't black and white.

The fact is some people will always prefer bags, others, quilts.

I have a Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32, and a Jacks'R'Better no Sniveler, and I generally pick the quilt over the bag.

For me, I like the wide temperature range the quilt can cover, the ability to keep the lofted feathers on top of me (with a bag, as I rotate onto my side or stomach, compressed feathers are exposed, creating a cold spot), and not sucking hood when I turn.

The quilt, hooded jacket, bivy combo is the ideal setup for me, but not for everybody.

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Next Weekend on 02/25/2008 21:07:31 MST Print View

Next weekend I am headed up to Wheeler Peak again outside of Taos. The temps now are lows into the lower teens. I am sure they will be a little colder up at 10k to 11k feet. I am taking my 4oz overfilled Arc Alpinist. I will be wearing to bed my Puff Pants and Skaha Plus pullover. These are not clothes I will wear tromping around in my snowshoes but I will be wearing them cooking, melting snow, etc. The only extra article of sleeping clothing I will carry is the 2oz BPL Cocoon Balaclava.

My quilt weighs 30oz and I am quite positive I will be warm enough.

Both my Arc Alpinist and Arc Specialist are 55" at the top and that is plenty of room not to feel confined. I have slept at 30F with my Arc Specialist without using straps letting the quilt drape over me and was super comfy.

I get somewhat claustrophobic in mummy bags and will never go back to a mummy bag short of climbing Everest, which I never see happening. If my dream ever came true I would love to try a super quilt on Denali instead of a mummy bag, but I would probably have to trade in my car to afford it.

Derek Cox
(derekcox) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: quilt hype on 02/25/2008 22:00:22 MST Print View

The problem with what you said about not being able to hike in the insulating clothing is that its usually warmer during the day and hiking you create much more heat than sitting in camp. I prefer, as well as most people I would think, to sit in camp when it is colder and make dinner/do camp chores and this is when insulating clothing/head wear is needed. I personally do not get in my sleeping bag immediately after getting into camp. So I would have this clothing regardless, and by wearing it when I sleep as well I do not have to carry a heavier, warmer sleeping bag. If you toss and turn at night, a quilt may not be the way to go. But for many of us it works just as well and weighs less, also allowing us to adjust if its warmer than planned.

Edited by derekcox on 02/25/2008 22:02:44 MST.

Mike Hinsley

Locale: England, UK
re: Quilt Hype on 02/26/2008 02:36:29 MST Print View

It's probably a terrain thing but on a typical not-summer hike it's a sure thing that my trousers are going to get pretty grubby and wet due to the conditions. The last thing I want to do is to stick them in some sort of bag or quilt which will quickly also become grubby and wet.

The options then are to either carry spare clothing or carry a warmer bag or a mixture.

I'm tending at the moment to go for a slightly warmer bag and also sometimes carry light thermal underwear - since it's dual use.

The difference in weight between a 2-season down bag and a 3-season down bag from the same manufacturer is almost completely due to down (since the increased fabric required for increased loft is almost nothing).

Carrying extra feathers seems to me to be the lightest way to increase night sleeping comfort.

300g is the weight of a fleece top or at least 1-2 season's worth of feathers...

Just to reiterate. I'm not against wearing clothing in bags - it makes sense if the bag can still fully loft - it's just that typical weather for me makes it seem like a bad idea for me.

Edited by ArchNemesis on 02/26/2008 02:37:13 MST.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Quilts on 02/26/2008 04:48:03 MST Print View


There are such a growing number of quilt designs and options available that they are starting to rival bag options.... Nice for folk to have choices.... Specific to your criticism, there quilts large enough to actually form a bag when and if one wants to sleep that way one night and sprawling the next and then switch to a full wrap around a small hammock the third night.... It is all about flexibility and options... others with wearable options let one reduce extra layers of insulation for those that want to go that route.... Someone else on this thread pointed out the difference between seasons on a quilt is all down and 3-5 oz here is a lot less weight than another jacket and or insulated pants....A great case in point here is Francis Tapon's CDT YOYO last year with sub 5 lb base.... Check his gear list... BTW he started with a 20 oz 30 degree JRB No Sniveller quilt and found that he had underestimated the low temps at the higher elevations for the southern Spring.... He did not add layers, Tapon upgraded 5 oz to what is now the JRB Rocky Mountain Sniveller.... Which had the flexibilty to go the entire trip, both ways. after his first 8o miles, when he made the switch.

BTW, there is still plenty of winter left, especially in the high country and there is a winter clearance sale on JRB quilts currently.


Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Sacrificing comfort... on 02/26/2008 07:11:19 MST Print View

>>> My journey into ultralight camping has been one of sacrificing creature comfort in the name of mobility through saved weight, a dependence on woodcraft and skill rather than a credit card and a pack horse >>>

I am by no means a seasoned ultra-lighter, but when I first got into this, that was the mentality I had as well (specifically about sacrificing comfort). I did sacrifice comfort for a while to try to hit that 5lb base weight. However, now I sleep on a full-length inflatable pad, have a cozy quilt that cinches all the way around me and covers my back (Golite Ultra 20), bring my 9oz camera, a GPS, and a radio (to give my family peace of mind) and my base weight is still only 8.4 lbs. I'm sure I could substitute a big plush mummy bag in my list and still be around the same weight.

The biggest gripe I get from my family when I try to tell them about lightening up is that they "like their comforts". I think you can easily be light and have your comforts!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Quilts on 02/26/2008 07:20:01 MST Print View

Francis Tapon's site says he was sub 6, not sub 5. Like it makes any difference, but let's be accurate.

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Tapon's site... on 02/26/2008 07:21:49 MST Print View

Maybe his site was updated or changed, last time I read it (which was quite a while ago) it had said 5.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Sacrificing comfort... on 02/26/2008 07:53:09 MST Print View

I have owned 7 quilts now and I'm a convert...but only to a point. I hate sleeping cold.

The original post mentioned 30deg. I've used a quilt at those temps but I'm a cold sleeper and I find a 20deg down mummy bag to be a better option for me in that range. I now own a BMW 60 and 180 and I'm definitely going to try the combo (with the right clothes and a bivy) in 20s-30s conditions. The dual quilt combo is very interesting to me.

But getting back to clothes and bivy. Unless it's summer, I use a Cocoon hoodie and pants along with possibly another balaclava with my quilt. I see them as part of my sleep system- the wearable part! When using a tarp, I also tend to use a bivy to handle the drafts and retain more warmth. I think these components are key parts of the quilt system.

Then I'm set for most anything. I see the system as far more versatile. Cold temps, warm temps, windblown rain, hanging around camp, and it's all synthetic which is key in the Northwest.

Could my shoulder season setup be warmer if I had just one down bag instead of all the other stuff. Yes- it could be. But it wouldn't be nearly as versatile and I'd be relying on down.

Last is the pad. When it's 30 I use a much warmer pad than the Z-rest. A thicker closed cell will do but I often step up to my Exped DownMat in that temp. The pad is a huge part of the sleep system. I've owned a Z-rest and I found it to be cold. You could use it with another pad for additional warmth though... Try the Gossamer Gear Thinlight pads (not the thinnest one).

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Ultralight but cold on 02/26/2008 11:04:26 MST Print View

I started the journey to ultralight 5 years ago and have gotten down to sub 8 for all three season trips, sub 6 for long weekends, and sub 5 for light and fast overnights.

One thing I found is that I frequently slept cold and didn't carry enough insulation. I started with a 30 degree bag and switched to a 30 degree quilt, then started going to lighter and lighter quilts.

Daytime naps in the sun are a great way to recharge, but I found that I prefer to take a small weight penalty and carry more insulation.

My current setup is a GoLite Ultra 20 quilt and a Micropuff pullover, with a lightweight pair of poly long johns and two hats, one is a lightweight dense weave beenie type hat and the second hat is a fleece bomber hat from Mountain Hardware. The beenie can be worn while hiking and sleeping, then if my feet get cold at night I slip on the bomber hat and cinch it down.

Also ..... I clean up before bed and put on a fresh pair of dry or dried and freshly laundered socks to sleep in and wear the next day. Don't sleep in your hiking clothes, but slip into your dry and clean lightweight long johns to sleep in. You'll be surprised what a difference this will make in your quality of sleep.

Next .... if your pushing the temp limits of your quilt, then pitch your tarp low. I pitch mine in a half pyramid and then wrap my poncho around the front, leaving a small air gap at the top. This will trap heat and add 10 degrees to your sleep.

If your going to cowboy camp, and aren't going to pitch a tarp, then find a spot with some good tree cover ... It's always warmer under the trees, a bit off the valley floor, and on the lee side of a hill or rise to block the wind.

It's easier than you think.

A good ground cloth is critical to blocking moisture (humidity) from infltrating from the bottom. Even using a Bivy I've found that I sleep warmer with a 1.7 oz polycrow groundcloth under me.

Lastly is the pad .... I use a 15 oz. 3/4 length primaloft inflatable pad ... my old back insists on it. But when the temps are pushing freezing, I'll add a 1/8 inch thinlight pad under it. Big difference!

You are the only one that can determine what you are willing to sacrifice when you're hiking .... you can go extream and hike at night and sleep during the day, or you can go for max comfort. The scale in between is almost infinite ..... myself, I'm willing to pack an extra lb and a half for anything longer than one night to insure a good nights sleep.

Last point .... dramamine is the best sleep aid I've found .... two dramamine and I can sleep on a oak board for a full night .... although I won't hike too far the next day with sore hips.

Ryan Stoughton
(TxTengu) - F

Locale: Seattle
BMW 180 Quilt on 02/26/2008 12:06:40 MST Print View

Hi Steven,

I've used the 180 down to the upper 20s with a light fleece cap ,Patagonia Micropuff pullover, expedition weight long john pants, and fleece socks. This was on top of a Montbell pad (the 90) with my pack (GG Mariposa) and a GG SitLite under my feet. This was inside of a Tarptent Rainbow. While I wasn't "hot" per se, I wasn't cold either and had a good night's sleep. I agree with Doug on the importance of your pad choice and the warmth of GG pads.

Regarding a separate bunch of clothing to be used as a component of a sleep system, I struggled with this at first too. It seemed almost counter-intuitive to "going lighter". In the end, I think it all comes down to your personal style. I rarely go solo, and enjoy the time sitting around a campfire (made in the bush buddy of course!) with friends. Because of this, I like having the sleeping layer to wear around camp to keep me warm. If I was hiking all day and only stopping to sleep, then maybe it would make sense to just carry a thicker bag. Like most UL/SUL choices, it's all about experimenting to find out what works best for you. Ditto on the quilt thing. I started off with Ray Jardine's kits and was an instant convert. Maybe I'd carry a mummy bag in a mountaineering setting, but for everything else, I'm sold on the use of quilts.


(beenay25) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Re: Quilts on 02/26/2008 12:25:54 MST Print View

Those are all good points. The trouble with the quilts I've seen which are large enough to wrap around one's body is that they don't have zippers and seem to all be heavier than mummy bags of equal temperature rating which do have full zippers and integrated hoods. I do like the multi-function ability of the JRB quilts though as they can replace insulated camp clothing. I'd just like to see some zippers and a differential cut through the lower body on something like that to get the weight down and to keep the sides together more securely.

Edited by beenay25 on 02/26/2008 12:27:56 MST.