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Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition?
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Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:13:34 MST Print View

Are Nunatak quilts really all that great, or is there not anyone competing against them in the production of bottomless quilts? Sure you have the GoLite Ultra and Jacks R Better, but they aren't anything special. Is there even a large enough lightweight market, NOW, for a larger manufacturer to make quilts?

I know this is an older picture, but WHY would anyone build a bag like this?
Lumpy Nunatak

Edited by Coldspring on 12/10/2009 14:14:28 MST.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:28:09 MST Print View

To the second part of your question: I don't know a thing about the bag in your picture. No idea if there's even something in it. But it might even be as simple as needing a good washing or two. If body oils get built up enough on down, even washing it once might not work, and until washed well-enough the bag will be lumpy... I doubt that the bag came out of the shop looking like that...

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:32:51 MST Print View

It was new. Like I said, it's an older article, but WHY would someone build a bag like that?


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:36:34 MST Print View

"Are Nunatak quilts really all that great"

Hi Tom. This is, of course, a question without a definitive answer. To me, yes, they are that great. They're well made, I can have it tailored to my specs, and I do like supporting cottage manufacturers here in the States. I currently own 3 of them, and will be ordering another in the early spring. Of course, I also like my JacksRBetter underquilt quite a bit. And I love my enLIGHTened quilt a lot (and have used it more than any other since getting it).

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:39:14 MST Print View

Well, that was in 2002. It looks nothing like the Alpinist now offered from Nunatak, and their current products are 100% top-notch, so maybe they had some initial design problems that have been sorted.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:48:27 MST Print View

The review you linked was 7 years old and showed a bag using 9.5 inch baffle spacing, which they no longer use. My guess is they were experimenting with loft:warmth:weight. But their bags are even better now, since they fixed the only complaint that reviewer had...

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 14:57:56 MST Print View

I don’t have one of their quilts, but I did recently buy a used Skaha Plus and it is a very puffy work of art. Whether or not they are worth the price is debatable, and I wish there was a more economical option. I think that one of the reasons they are expensive is that each one is built to order and semi custom. I wish someone would make a standard quilt that could be more mass produced and thus more economical. There will always be a place for custom jobs though, and custom gets pricey.

I have a Golite Ultra 20 and do like it, but it could use a little more down, and personally, I could probably do without the Endurance end panels as my shelter, a GG Spinnshelter gives complete coverage. They had the opportunity to fix it in 2010, by just adding a few ounces of down, but instead they also added heavier fabric and baffle material.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 15:29:11 MST Print View

I'll bite, what's an enLIGHTened quilt? And some day I'm going to figure out how to open my Ultra 20 and add down.

As far as Nunatak, Ray Estrella has tested a lot of gear, and it looks like he's going to them for everything, which is a pretty good vote of confidence to me.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 15:30:33 MST Print View

I held off buying anything from Nunatak for the concern that I was paying for something simply overhyped. Eventually I purchased a pair of their booties and then returned them after they were twice the weight listed which followed extremely poor communication. To say the least, I was not happy.

After over a year, I ordered an Arc Alpinist when Tom advertised having one on sale from someone who was 6'8" who decided he didn't want it after it was made. At 6'6", I figured it was worth the discount to give it another shot even though the color (red) wasn't my first choice. It arrived in an 8.5" x 11" envelop which quickly made me think that I made a pretty big mistake as I didn't think there was any way that anything in the envelope could keep me warm to 20*. I pulled it out, put it on a table, and walked away for an hour. When I came back, it was amazingly puffed up even more than my Western Mountaineering quilt. Over the course of the next two weeks, I used it and it was true to temperature and extremely well made. I was so impressed that I recently ordered a Skaha pullover which I'm waiting on now.

In short, I had a bad experience and ultimately came back and the product delivered was top notch. JRB and others didn't have the high tech fabric or the custom size, so Nunatak got my money. But, everything is expensive. With that said though, there is a lot of gear on the market that is plenty "good enough". It's whether you honestly feel you "must have it" and have the money.

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 15:48:46 MST Print View

Joe, enLIGHTened equipment is the cottage in a start-up mode of Tim Marshall, who is also very active on these forums. He makes top notch cuben down quilts, which should be perfect for winter use as they are quilt & VBL in one! I am currently interviewing him for an article on my blog which should go online next week.

Bradford, I'd like the Ultra 20 with all Pertex Quantum and 800+ Cuin down, a slight overfill maybe, and it would be perfect. Not too excited about the new, heavier model.

Edited by skullmonkey on 12/10/2009 15:53:35 MST.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Our nunatak is *that* good on 12/10/2009 16:08:22 MST Print View

I bought a customized blanket in 2002 and made minor modifications to turn it into a double top quilt. Jim and I have slept in it for a total of ~400 nights so far; amortized at about a buck a night, which seems like a fair value. It weighs 32 oz, keeps us warm down below freezing, is spacious and comfy, has never been washed, and has retained its loft as good as new. I can't think of anything that would make it better, and we couldn't have tuned it to our needs without being able to order a custom product.

Is it better than other options? I can't answer that directly, but I will say that if this one gets damaged we would go straight back to Tom for a replacement, without even looking to see what alternatives exist.

(Compared to ~$100 for a pair of shoes that invariably wears out after 15-25 days on the trail, Nunatak is a bargain.)

William Johnson
Last two posts on 12/10/2009 16:11:31 MST Print View

Ah, J.G.Giant, and Hendrik.

Last three items I purchased were due to your reviews. Shug Avery from keeps my eye on those half-sleeve Montbell jackets.

Thank you for your detailed reviews on tall people gear(I am also 6'4") and Hendrik for reviewing everything that comes out in black.

I enjoy looking at Nunatak's website, and still might purchase their half-pants, and down mukluks, or maybe I'll finally get around to making my own gear. Ah, the terror.

Jeff Patrick
(callmeammo) - F

Locale: Sacramento
Wait, these guys make quilts? on 12/10/2009 16:19:13 MST Print View

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Re: Last two posts on 12/10/2009 16:51:03 MST Print View

William, that's really a honor for me, thank you - and I hope you'll be happy!

btw, I am getting an all black SUL backpack made, which hopefully arrives in January...

Ah, and Shug is the best, I love his videos!

Edited by skullmonkey on 12/10/2009 16:52:30 MST.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Re: Last two posts on 12/10/2009 17:38:38 MST Print View

I'll say thanks too William. I think everyone on this forum has a lot of insight. There is nothing more valuable than experience and science, both of which can be found here in greater number than anywhere else. Best of luck in finding gear that betters your backpacking adventures.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/10/2009 18:24:35 MST Print View

"Skaha pullover which I'm waiting on now"

Forgot about those. In addition to the quilts (well, one's a Raku, not a quilt) I also own a Skaha sweater with hood and a Skaha vest with hood. And the Chugach booties. Yeah, as I said, I think Nunatak is that good... ;-)

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Nunatak on 12/11/2009 07:32:36 MST Print View

If "that good" refers to quality - yes, Nunatak is that good. Same answer if it refers to functionality of gear: My Skaha Plus and Back Country Blanket are the best down sweater and sleeping bag, respectively, that I've ever owned. But the best thing about this company is the ability to get exactly what you want. Customization is encouraged, even invited, and the only extra charge for custom work is for adding down. A sleeping bag is not a place to skimp on quality, and spread over the life of a bag the price premium is negligible.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Nunatak on 12/11/2009 08:21:31 MST Print View

I've been happy with Nunatak's gear. Just make sure that you order at least 3 months before you actually need it.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/11/2009 08:52:37 MST Print View

What I'm wondering, is will cottage competition finally come from the hammock people? There are at LEAST three different makers coming out with topquilts in the near future. There are no really "good" ones out now, but what if others come out with products made out of high fill-power down and high-tech fabrics like Momentum and Pertex? I guess that's what I was getting at, is that nobody else (Tim Marshall's 2 month wait list excluded) is making off-the-shelf down quilts, other than Jacks R Better with their 1.1 ripstop and wide 7" baffles and the mass-produced Chinese GoLite underfilled wonders.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/11/2009 08:58:03 MST Print View

Te-wa on this forum makes down quilts and he'll use momentum if you want it.