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Yet another quilt advice request
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Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Yet another quilt advice request on 04/24/2009 07:46:31 MDT Print View

Ok, I'm moving to Colorado later this year, and I'll need to upgrade my sleep system. As a rough estimate of needs, my research shows that the average nightly lows in Leadville (at just over 10,000 ft) are around 40F in July and August, and around 32F on either side of that in June and September.

I'm considering the JRB No Sniveller and Rocky Mountian Sniveller, or a Nunatak Arc Alpinist or Back Country Blanket.

No Sniveller, 2.5" loft, 21oz, $245
R-M Sniveller, 3.5" loft, 26oz, $275
Arc Alpinist, 2.5" loft, 20oz, $387
B-C Blanket, 2.5" loft, 22oz, $392

Some of my considerations:

1. I rather like the multi-use capabilities of the JRB contenders. I include the Down-To-Earth pad conversion in this assessment. Of course, the B-C Blanket gets multi-use points, too, with the velcro all along the edges, and ability to connect two together into a large 2P bag.

2. Do I need the 3.5" of loft if I want to use a quilt in shoulder season in the Rockies, or will 2.5" do? If so, should I scrap all these contenders and go with a more traditional bag with a draft tube/collar/hood, etc? But then again, see the Down-To-Earth pad conversion, above. (I know that temperature ratings are subjective, but I'm interested in people's experiences. I'm neither a particularly cold or warm sleeper.)

3. I'm a side sleeper and I move around a lot. In particular, I like to point my legs in different directions or keep one bent while the other is straight. As you can imagine, I find mummy bags uncomfortable. One plus for the B-C Blanket is that it is huge and looks like I can move around a lot in it. Heck they say it is "big enough for two", though I take that with a grain of salt. I can't seem to find dimensions for the JRB products. Are they big, too? Of note, they are square-cut rather than tapered, so they might also accomodate my kicking and rolling.

4. I'm not planning on camping on walls or other extreme mountaineering insanity, but I could conceivably be sleeping around 10,000 feet in the summer.

5. Sizing: I'm 5'10" and weigh anywhere from 185-200 lbs depending upon how the past few months have gone (currently around 195). Regardless of my nighttime gymnastics issues, I find the BPL/BMW UL 180 quilt to be too small for my shoulders- it is hard to keep it sealed under me to avoid drafts when it is particularly cold.

I have to admit, I'm looking hard at that Rocky Mountian Sniveller. With a hood attached and the Down-To-Earth pad it looks like it would handle pretty low temperatures. But do I really need that for anything less than camping on snow in winter? Will the 2.5" loft contenders handle the shoulder seasons?


Edited by acrosome on 04/24/2009 07:56:27 MDT.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Quilt comparision on 04/24/2009 07:58:38 MDT Print View

Details... The devil is always in the details".

To answer your size question....You can find the dimensions for all the JRB quilts on our comparision chart.... ... If you want to consider larger quilts, scroll down to the Larg Family JRB quilts. More "Detals" and pics are on item pages.

I'll let other comment on appropriate uses recommendations etc


Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Rockies Temps on 04/24/2009 08:23:13 MDT Print View

As far as temps go I would count on being able to sleep in the high 20's (with layers if necessary). Snow is possible at dang near all times in the high country. A frost on the ground is not uncommon up high in the summer.

I use my Arc Specialist 6 foot (2oz overfill) in the summer Rockies and love it. The width (coverage) is perfect for me, ventilation and warmth if necessary.

Edited by FatTexan on 04/24/2009 08:23:44 MDT.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Back Country Blanket on 04/24/2009 09:13:34 MDT Print View

Dean, I love mine, and many of the reasons are given in your para 3. I'm also a restless side sleeper, and mildly claustrophobic. The velcro along the side allows for infinite adjustments to take account of conditions, and there's plenty of room to toss and turn. You can read my review at for more details.
If you do decide on Nunatak, talk about your needs with Tom Halpin, the owner, first. Nunatak is a custom shop and can alter is "standard" products to suit your size and preferences.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Are You Combining Clothing with the Bag? on 04/24/2009 09:44:15 MDT Print View

You don't mention what clothing layers you'll be using. Getting double duty out them is key to minimal weights and warm nights.

If you are using a hoody and puffy pants for camp life you can wear them to bed and push the lower limits quite a bit. In addition, a hoody will always follow you when you roll. A hoody also minimizes sensible drafts at the top of a quilt. If you want to be able to cover your head and not go the hoody route consider a Long quilt.

If you go the double-duty route you will need more girth to accommodate the loft in your sleepwear. I am the same height as you, and only slightly less weight, and find that the girth on a Golite Ultra 20 Regular is to narrow, while the Long is just right. Without lofty sleepwear, the Regular, 54" girth versus 57", would work just fine.

Using lofty clothing and a 40° quilt I am quite comfortable into the low 20's. (Providing I have an excellent pad underneath.)

Edited by greg23 on 04/24/2009 09:46:44 MDT.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
JRB Quilts on 04/24/2009 11:12:14 MDT Print View

I have both the No Sniveler and the Rocky Mountain Sniveler. Both are great quilts.

If you are only getting one, I recommend the RMS, no question.

For a few bucks and a few ounces, I get to stay warm on those nights it gets colder than I expected it would.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Yet another quilt advice request on 04/24/2009 11:20:42 MDT Print View

Leadville? that was recently rated as the best adventure town in the USA. Kudos to you!
we looked into relocation about a year ago and Leadville was a top contender. sadly, no engineering jobs there :(

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Quilt Drift on 04/24/2009 12:17:35 MDT Print View

I assume you looked into the Climax Mine, run by Phelps Dodge?

Although it is a hardrock mining operation, there is a need for many types of engineers Mechanical, Electrical, Hydrology, etc.

If something does pan out, make sure you can get the housing that you need. Leadville is impacted by Copper and Vail ski area staff and the price/quality ratio is high.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Hmm on 04/24/2009 13:41:10 MDT Print View


Thanks! I'm not sure why I didn't find that page. From everything I've read your products seem very impressive. You gotta do something about the mandatory vomit green color, though... :) I'm sure you've heard that before. Oh, and I can't remember if it was you, but somebody answered my recently emailed questions very thoroughly and promptly. Thanks again.
Regarding your family of large quilts- they are much more square than the B-C Blanket, right? So there is bit of a weight penalty compared to the slightly mummied Nunatak product- yet the Nunatak is still probably big enough to accommodate my frog-kicking. If I decide to go the "bigger is better" route I guess I'll just have to decide if 8 oz is worth $100 to me, eh? Honestly, though, I'm unlikely to go that route, I think.


The Arc Specialist looks like it is a little smaller than the Arc Alpinist. How big are you? Are you a disciplined back sleeper?- because I definitely am not.


Yeah, I didn't mention wearing clothes on purpose- I'm interested in people's experiences both doing so and not. Ideally, I guess my goal would be being able to sleep naked in the summer, yet be able to dive into the shoulder season with some layering. (I think I'm getting a Montbell Down Under Parka.)


Sorry- I don't mean to mislead. I'm going to Colorado Springs, not Leadville. Leadville was just a convenient town at the appropriate elevation for which I could find climate data. (So don't expect to crash on my floor. :P )

More thoughts:

I just measured my UL 180 quilt at 48 inches wide at the top edge and, as I have mentioned, I have trouble keeping that tucked under my wide manly shoulders. Ahem. But I can do it with a little effort. Nunatak lists the "useable circumference" of the Arc Alpinist as 55 inches at the shoulder, which would seem to be bigger, but I'm not sure that "useable circumference" translates into the actual width of material. It certainly doesn't LOOK a half-foot wider than the UL 180 or the Sniveller (which is also 48 inches). Can anyone give me an actual width of material at the neck of the Arc Alpinist? If it isn't really wider then this is an easy choice for me, except for deciding between the normal Sniveller and the Rocky Mountain variant. (Especially when you consider that the Down-To-Earth pad will make the Sniveller functionally wider.)

Then, we need to talk sleeping pads... :)

Edited by acrosome on 04/24/2009 13:55:43 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Quilt advice on 04/24/2009 13:50:23 MDT Print View

Dean, i think you've been looking at the Alpinist, not the Arc Alpinist. The Alpinist is 61" and the Arc Alpinist is 55", the same as the Arc Specialist.
I have the Arc Specialist and have been warm down to around 20f wearing extra clothing. It's plenty wide enough for me at 5'10" and 175lbs.

I should add that i'm a warm sleeper.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 04/24/2009 13:51:04 MDT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Hmm on 04/24/2009 14:15:12 MDT Print View

As far as the Jacks R Better (I've been looking at those myself) have you seen the options for thequilt wings option for tucking/draft control purposes?

Depending on how you camp (tarp or tent) a bivy is another option for draft control.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Yet another quilt advice request on 04/24/2009 21:34:17 MDT Print View

4. I'm not planning on camping on walls or other extreme mountaineering insanity, but I could conceivably be sleeping around 10,000 feet in the summer.


You'll most likely find yourself camping well above that much of the time. Around here, 10,000' puts you deep into the forest. IMO, the most scenic camps are right around treeline-- between 11,200' and 12,000'. My rule of thumb subtracts three to four degrees Fahrenheit for each gain of 1,000'. So figure that into your calculations. Personally, I'd go for the RM Sniveller. But that's just me; I like to be warm. :-)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Following up on 04/25/2009 04:40:09 MDT Print View


Yeah, sorry, when I peeked at the website to get the numbers to quote I think I was looking at the wrong ones. I was apparently editing the correct numbers into my post while you composed yours. (In case anyone hasn't noticed- I do a lot of re-editing, to correct punctuation, spelling, grammar, poor phraseology, etc. A bad habit, I know, but I can't break it.)


Yeah. I've been all over the JRB website (which is why I was surprised that I hadn't found that page with the dimensions). The massive adaptability and multi-use capability of the JRB products is my biggest draw to them.
I have an Oware DWR silnylon bivy that I like- but I do worry about condensation with a down bag on long trips. I haven't really done any snow or winter camping since I picked up the ultralight bug, so I'm going slow. I seriously considered sucking up the weight penalty and buying a (much cheaper than down) synthetic bag, with the intent to replace it when the loft collapses in a couple of years. But "Who dares wins", eh?
I'm not in a tarp, but I'm pretty close. I use a Gatewood Cape during fair-weather trips, but haven't been in real mountains since I went ultralight, either. I'm probably buying an Oware or MLD pyramid tent soon, for Rocky Mountain group excursions.


AHA! Yes! That is exactly the kind of input I'm looking for here, in addition to my technical questions. I was basing my assumptions on my Colorado Trail guidebook, which notes that much of the trail hovers around 10,000 feet, with a highest point just over 12,000 feet. (My current fantasy involves thru-hiking the CT in the summer of 2010.) If you think many nice camps might be closer to 12,000 feet then that's, what, an average nightly minimum of 24F or so in June? Average, mind you... And I don't just want to camp from June to September. That makes the RM Sniveller look better and better, especially if I want to use it in the shoulder seasons. 26 oz, eh? Hmmm. I do balk at the idea of paying >$500 for an Arc Expedition.

Please, keep the comments coming.

Edited by acrosome on 04/25/2009 04:54:35 MDT.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Olive drab on 04/25/2009 06:36:04 MDT Print View


You are a little behind the times.... Most of the JRB quilts started shipping in the new Olive drab color a couple of months back...


s k
(skots) - F
Re: Following up on 04/25/2009 09:12:42 MDT Print View

Hey, Dean,

Glad to hear that you're looking forward to your move.

I'm just past 5'11, between 175-180, apparently share some of your sleep habits,(side, back, turn, side, left leg up, down etc.), use a BPL 180 Long for myself, and a Nunatak Dual Arc with my date.

I bought the BPL Long because of the extra shoulder width. It measures 52-53" and I sometimes find myself wanting a little more. The unusually long foot box, though warm, is a bit restrictive for my gyrating legs.

If ordering the Dual again, I would request a couple of minor changes, one would be overfill, but the unit works very nicely for us, and I recommend Nunatak without reservation. I agree the cost is sobering.

Since you find 48' shoulder width on your present quilt lacking, I'm surprised that you're considering another quilt with 48" shoulder girth. What do you plan to change regarding your sleeping need or preference?

Yes, the down to earth option adds girth, but eliminates a degree of variability in interior volume, layering options, and temperature management. There's something efficient and desirable about extra feathery soft fabric and down, that can be gently tucked around a naked or puffily clad body.

Versatility and options are very helpful in determining ideal quilt dimension, but after the ideal is established, I doubt many changes are necessary, let alone made. Feet too warm? Pull them out of the foot box. Torso? Push the quilt aside, or tuck it closer, or grab your jacket.

So, how about one of the JRB larger family members. Maybe you could put the middle one on the dimensional diet of your choice. Establish your ideal girth measurements, persuade the fill volume of down toward the center of the quilt, sew a new perimeter and trim. The excess length could be managed in a variety of ways. Maybe Jack's services could be contracted.

This would amount to overfill, and the JRB site is cautious about overfill exuberance, but given Richard N's calculations regarding down density, it might be worth investigating. There might be a drying out penalty.

At any rate, enjoy your choice, I sure you'll land on a great solution.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Olive drab on 04/26/2009 05:41:19 MDT Print View


Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Yet another quilt advice request on 04/28/2009 04:01:27 MDT Print View

My Arc Alpinist is roomy even when cinched down - for me, almost too much so if I'm not wearing a puffy jacket! It will take a fair amount of overfill, I started with 2oz, and even that feels like it could be 'puffier'. The Expedition may be a bit long + large to use alone IMO, I'm sure Tom could do you a 26-oz weight Alpinist if you talked to him. You'd want some sort of hood to combine with it though (eg hooded jacket/vest).

Can't comment too much on your specific temps, except to say: down is really really light. To me it always seems to be a waste to be cold at night and sleep poorly, when just a few extra ounces of extra down makes such a difference.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Closure on 04/28/2009 10:48:34 MDT Print View

OK, for the sake of closure...

Considering that I am unlikely to convince my wife to let me buy TWO new bags in this decade, I've decided to go a little heavy with the Rocky Mountain Sniveller so that I can dip into the shoulder seasons. The multi-use aspect sort of convinced me and, frankly, the prices of the Nunatak equivalents gave me a bit of a start.

And, of course, the new olive green color was just the icing on the cake.

I slept in my BMW UL 180 the past couple of nights, and I think I can muster the discipline to use a 48" quilt. If not, I'll just order the 1.5 ounce wings. (I did get the full omnitape option under the assumption that it will be easier to remove it with a seam-ripper later if I decide that I don't need it than it will be to sew one on myself, and I also ordered a Down-To-Earth pad.)

Thanks for everyone's comments!

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
quilt overfill on 04/28/2009 13:37:36 MDT Print View

Dean, if im not mistaken the Jacks will do an overfill on the quilts. I can tell you from personal experience, a 2oz of 800+ down into the Hudson River made for about a 10° warmer quilt. Not a bad idea, if you have the chance.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
RM Sniveller room on 06/13/2009 03:22:18 MDT Print View

Well, I got the RM Sniveller a while ago but unfortunately haven't been able to try it out officially, yet. However, I did hook it to the Down-to-Earth pad and crawl inside, and I gotta tell you, I think it makes for much more room. (Or, perhaps just enough extra room that I'm more comfortable.) I can toss and turn around in it quite enough for my sleep style, and though I can't easily curl into a fetal ball I can kick one knee out as I described above with no problem.

I'm pretty happy so far.

Hopefully a more complete review will follow in a couple of months.