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Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak???
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Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 13:18:02 MDT Print View

Well, I am just going nuts on research and trying to figure out which way to go on!!!

This would be my 1st quilt....I am currently using a 40 F Marmot Atom Down bags, a MLD Soul Side Zip with eVent top, and Gosssamer Gear Thin Light Pad & Torso Pad in the Sierras and I am a cold sleeper.

Layering clothing, I think that I can get my 40F bag to 32-35 F, but I would like to have a quilt that can take me down to 25F for three season usage...anything colder or for winter/snow and I want my 15 F sleeping bag.

I have narrowed my choices to:

1. Nunatak 20F Arc Alpinist at 21 oz total weight with 11 oz down fill. 2.5" high baffles $387.00

2. Jacks R' Better 25-30F No Snivelller at 21 oz total weight with 11 oz down fill. 2.0" baffles over stuffed to 2.5" loft $259.95

3. Jacks R' Better 25-30F Hudson River at 20 oz total weight with 11 oz down fill. 2.0" baffles over stuffed to 2.5" loft $249.95

All three seem to have similar stats, however I am reading that the Arc Alpinist should be ordered with 2 oz of extra down fill to achieve the 20F rating, which adds more cost onto what is a very expensive and well regarded quilt. (Adding differentiated baffles would add even more cost, but seems to be a commonly added feature).

The Jacks R' Better No Sniveller has steller user reviews on this site and is considerably cheaper.

I am not looking to replace my insulating layer by using the No Sniveller as a jacket, so that aspect of it does not have a lot of such I am leaning towards the Hudson River quilt.

Cost is a factor, but I don't mind paying for good gear that last a long time.

My concern is that the Arc Alpinist might be overkill for my needs and that the Jacks R' Better Hudson River will be good enough for what I want it to do.

Any suggestions or thoughts from those who have any of these quilts on what might be the better choice for me?

Thank you for any comments and advice.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 13:54:17 MDT Print View

Does it matter to you if you have a sewn foot box, or do you really prefer a quilt that can open out completely flat??? The Alpinist is a lot wider at the shoulders, which makes for easier layering and protection from drafts. If none of that matters, then go for the cheaper option, otherwise you can't go wrong with an Alpinist with overfill. Also, the differential cut in the Alpinist helps the quilt to stay wrapped around your body when the straps aren't done, which also reduces drafts.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Hudson River on 08/12/2009 13:56:31 MDT Print View

I have two JRB Hudson Rivers, one for an underquilt on the hammock and one for a top quilt. I have been very happy with the quilts - the Jacks are tops at customer service and the quilts are best quality. I have been down to the low 30s and been very warm consistently, with no doubt in my mind that they would serve well into the 20s especially with added layers. I tend to be a cold sleeper. I have also slept on the ground, which is a little harder if you are not used to quilts but still very manageable. The only thing with JRB quilts is the drawstring closure will leave a gap at the bottom of the footbox, but this is easily filled with an extra clothing item like a vest or jacket.

I had thought about the No Sniveler and sleeves but ultimately went with the HR - I don't really need a big bulky jacket and don't mind taking a down sweater; the windbreaker wouldn't fit over the No Sniveler. I do the majority of my hikes in the Sierras.

Edited by lori999 on 08/12/2009 13:57:20 MDT.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nunatak??? on 08/12/2009 14:06:42 MDT Print View

I think the Jacks will permanently sew up the footbox, if that's what you prefer. I think the wearable option of the No Sniveler is really nice. The JRB quilts are probably ready to ship instead of 8 weeks-o-waiting. The Jacks also have sales fairly often. I would buy a JRB, but I want something a little wider than what they offer, since I'm a little on the large side.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 14:29:42 MDT Print View

Hi Tony,

I have owned my JRB quilts (including the No Sniveller) for several years and am very happy.

I can't imagine you being unhappy with either, but having owned the JRB, I can say paying a lot more for the Nunatak wouldn't make me AS happy!

You won't have to worry about drafts with either one, since you use a bivy (from what I recall from your trip reports). I love my quilt in a bivy or a hammock.

As for warmth, you won't need overfill with the JRB, and since you wear separate camp insulation, you'll have that layer to add on if needed, anyway.

As a side note, I know you're not interested in the wearable feature, but I do use mine that way from time to time, and it's been nice to have.

Let us know what you decide!


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nunatak??? on 08/12/2009 14:32:47 MDT Print View

"I would buy a JRB, but I want something a little wider than what they offer..."

DITTO that. Though truth be known, I would MYOG my own quilt to my specs, which would be about as wide as the Alpinist. But if your looking to buy a ready made one, then I would seriously consider weather 48" is wide enough for your uses (including any layering you may want to wear) and if not, go with an Alpinist.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 14:50:23 MDT Print View

I've never had a nunatak, but my wife and I love our jrB's, have you checked out the full length omni-tape and add on hood options? If you sleep cold more insulation from the ground might be worth the extra oz's. The Jrb pad is thick, I don't know the r-value off hand.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
btw... JRB has a larger quilt on 08/12/2009 14:57:18 MDT Print View

They make larger quilts that work very well on the ground, if you like being completely wrapped up....

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Re: btw... JRB has a larger quilt on 08/12/2009 15:03:46 MDT Print View

"They make larger quilts that work very well on the ground, if you like being completely wrapped up...."

I tried one, it was not form fitting, just a big 60" wide rectangle The velcro wasn't very effective along the length of the quilt to use it as a bag, and it wouldn't have a draft collar, and you have to stuff something in the end hole You would be better off to just buy a regular sleeping bag for the weight and price.

Edited by Coldspring on 08/12/2009 15:05:47 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: btw... JRB has a larger quilt on 08/12/2009 15:24:41 MDT Print View

"I tried one, it was not form fitting, just a big 60" wide rectangle "

Agreed. If you had a sewing machine you could cut it down into a tapered quilt, but you shouldn't have to do that to a new quilt. How about the GoLite Ultra 20, or similar? It's wider than the JRB, well priced and similar warmth.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 17:02:57 MDT Print View

Basically, if you want to be able to use your quilt as both your sleep system and your insulating layer, then go for a Jacks R Better quilt. This will be your lightest option because you no longer would have to carry an insulating layer. It is also the cheaper option if price is an issue.

If you are still going to be carrying an insulating layer, then I would go with Nunatak.


Joe L
(heyyou) - MLife

Locale: Cutting brush off of the Arizona Tr
older No Sniveller and Nunatak Specialist on 08/12/2009 17:23:09 MDT Print View

My ebay No Sniveller is likely an unused older model(less fluffy down) since it weighs 19.5 not the current 20 oz. and seems underfilled. The fabric weight seems much heavier than on my BPL Gear Swap Nunatak Specialist, a 32* quilt sized like the Arc Alpinist. Due to either overfill or baffle size, the down barely moves in the Nunatak. The down slides so easily in the JRB that I have to re-shake it to the middle when I am up in the middle of the night. My point is the JRB is much less insulative than the Nunatak due to fabric weight instead of down fill, fill volume, and quilt size from the waist up. The extra cost bought a higher quality product.
The JRB sleeves are very warm and the JRB hood is half the price of a warmer designed Nunatak balaclava. I've found that keeping my extremities warm, allows for less trunk insulation. Just the opposite of carrying a vest. Your two gear choices are at the junction of cooler weather hiking gear and summer mountaineering gear.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
JRB vs. Nunatak? on 08/12/2009 17:32:28 MDT Print View

Hey Tony-Zup??? I used the the Alpinist with a center zip on the entire TRT with ya..With the center zip you have the option to mummy up if needed(cold) and also use it like a quilt unzipped..You get the best of both worlds with a built in foot pocket.. I feel if you are going shell out that much cash it should be multi-functional. I would rather to warm then to cold....You can always just take layers off!!!!


te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 17:45:52 MDT Print View

Tony wrote: "I have narrowed my choices to:"

Im just curious, you have narrowed your choices from what?
what else were you considering?
basically what i mean to say is have you heard of my quilts? or Tim's? I think Tim is the only dude making quilts in Cuben and momentum, kinda cool!
both of us make quilts custom, that is to fit your specific body/needs.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 08/12/2009 17:52:51 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 17:47:12 MDT Print View

Hey Tony, Sounds like you and I have gone down the same tuff road with the quilt thing. Here is what I ended up doing. First I bought a golite ultra 20 quilt...used it on 4 trips. From this I learned I really like quilts as a diverse piece of gear which is rather light.

Then I decided to push the extreme with a Nunatak. Like you I was looking for a 25 degree'ish quilt that I could push to 15-20 with layers, but would also serve me well in warmer weather. I ended up going with a Ghost, but sized it to in between a ghost and alpinist. I added 2 oz of down and used the .8 oz quantam fabric. What I got was a quilt that fits me like a glove, weighs 15.55 oz and appears to be extremely warm....too warm for my summer hiking. Also I had to wait over 8 weeks to get it.

So I also purchased a JRB stealth for summer. My stealth is stock but does weigh 16.5 oz which is significantly over spec by 1.5 oz. For warmer weather I really like the ability to lay this quilt out flat and I can wear it which eliminates my need for an insulating garmet....saving 7 oz. I got the quilt 3 DAYS after my order.

I do have experience with both quilts. As far as customer service both companies were great to work with. I spoke to owners of both on the phone. I will say that the wait and price from Nunatak are hard to swallow. The wait and price for JRB is fantastic. For customer sizing, adding down, fabrics, etc....Nunatak is top notch. If you want an exact product that excels like none other I'd say it is nunatak. But If you want a versatile product for the best price it is JRB all the way.

On your question of overfill and differential cut...I dont think you need to get the alpinist overfilled to match the JRB quilts. If you overfill I think you will get a warmer quilt then the JRB's. As far as the diff cut I did not get it and dont think I lost anything...this was based on Tom's advice. Best thing to do is email or call Tom with these.

Some last points to consider...moving to a quilt takes a bit of adjustment learning to deal with the bottom and gapping. A wider quilt will make this easier. The JRB quilts are only 48" at the widests. You will find the Arc Alpinist easier to keep sealed in the bottom gaps and the footbox...not a huge issue but something to consider. Also I find the quantum material to be much nicer agaisnt my skin then the 1.1 ripstop used by JRB...but the JRB fabric feels much sturdier. As far the the Hudson vs Shenandoah...I can feel the head hole in my stealth when sleeping in it and it adds weigh so if you are not going to wear it as a poncho then I would recommend getting the quilt without the head hole.

Bottom line is I really think you can't go wrong with either.


Aaron Zuniga
(gliden2) - F

Locale: Northwest
Re:Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 18:11:25 MDT Print View


I got my No Sniveller earlier this summer and can't tell you how stoked I am =).I got the No Sniv. because I wanted to take advantage of the poncho mode, to further drop my BPW. If you get the FLOT option like I did, you can create your own desired length foot box, rather than having a fixed one. My quilt can be used as a comforter, an arc quilt with footbox, or a sealed up bomber bag ready for freezing and below. Although I haven't got the use the hood yet, it seems to funtion perfectly to make the hood for the poncho, or quilt. The Hudson River is 1 oz lighter and 20 bucks cheaper than the No Sniv., but you lose that dual functionig beauty.
I'll be using mine on my TRT hike that begins 8/20. It's so versitile that it's going to be hard to get back in a mummy again.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Have actually used both quilts as well. on 08/12/2009 18:13:05 MDT Print View

I had a JRB Hudson River quilt which I liked, other than it being slightly narrow for me. I believe the JRB quilts are 48" wide where many of the Nunataks are 55". This makes a Big difference in warmth and cutting side drafts for me anyway.
IMO, The sewn in foot box of the Nunataks are warmer too. If I didn't have my JRB quilts footbox cinched tightly, I could feel cold air come into the foot area. Also, you have to assume the small cinched area is devoid of down, and can be a cold spot as well.

But, when using the JRB quilts in warmer conditions you have the option of leaving the foot end open to vent, where as with the Nunatak, I just pull me feet out, and either lay my feet over the top, or under, but not inside, depending on temps.

You also have the option of a sewn foot-box with the JRB, at no additional cost too, which is probably a better option for a ground sleeper, that never intends to use it with a Hammock.

Some nights I have to start out with the quilt just draped over me, then later as it gets colder, I need to get my feet inside, and wrap the quilt tighter around me.

But for the money, I think the JRB quilts are a better value, without the long wait as well. The width difference can be made up with the optional, add on wings they offer.

The only improvement I can see here, would for JRB to offer down filled wings.
You could leave the wings at home for warm trips, and bring them on trips, where you expect temps to be at or even slightly below the quilts rating.

Get busy guys!

Edited by mfog1 on 08/12/2009 19:01:58 MDT.

Peter Barron
( - F - MLife

Locale: South East Queensland
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/12/2009 20:29:31 MDT Print View

I decided on a JRB quilt (Hudson River). Great quality and excellent customer service and price.
I too was concerned about the draft issue so in colder weather I couple with an equinox bivy (6-7 ounces) - adds 2-5c, decreases drafts and lofts extremely well. In warmer weather the quilt by itself is obviously easy to vent.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Jacks "R' Better quilts on 08/13/2009 07:45:43 MDT Print View

A note or two of detail for your discussions here.

First JRB is not a custom shop. We have a specific policy of not doing custom work, please see web site. We will do several modification which some folk may consider custom. These are listed under the modification button, top left of our products page. For quilts, they include 1 or 2 oz over stuff, envelope style sewn in foot box, full length omni tape.

Currently, there are 20 models and lengths of JRB quilts, covering summer, three season and winter. All JRB quilts come with 15-22 percent, depending on the model, overstuff as standard. All models are in stock at all time and ship in 24 to 72 hours or our web site will show them as "temporarily out of stock".

Last year all of our standard 48 inch wide quilts were modified to make them reversible for hammock under quilt users...I know that most of you are not hammockers, but this change added two more side ladder loops, opposite the existing LL, thus you can easily provide shock cord lacing if so desired now.

A note about the draw cord and omni tape foot box. Once the cords are drawn closed the closure is readily made absolutely draft free, Simply take the ends of the cords, wrapping them around the end, in opposite direction and tying off with a bow and lock, just as you do your trail runners.

HYOH, hyoh, and Enjoy!


Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Quilt: Jacks R' Better vs. Nuntak??? on 08/13/2009 08:47:25 MDT Print View

I have a JRB Shenandoah and a Nunatak Arc Specialist (Quantum), both purchased used from BPL members, so I can't comment on customer service.

Both bags are excellent quality. I've used the JRB right down to it's 40 degree rating and been comfortable and the Specialist (rated 32 degrees) down into the mid-to-low 20s just last week with the help of a MB UL Down Inner Parka. So I'd say neither exaggerate their warmth.

I really love the Quantum fabric on the Specialist.

My only probably with the JRB is the width. As a side sleeper who turns over at least twice during the night, the 48" width can get drafty. Now, for the Shenandoah, which I'm only using above 45 degrees, that's not a big problem (for me). But for colder temps, I think I'd have to add a bivy, as a blast of 30 degree air is not want I want in the middle of the night.

But if you're narrow enough to fit the JRB, I'd buy it over the Nunatak, unless you are absolutely determined to save those few extra ounces for the significant extra money.