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Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition?
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Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Nunatack competition on 12/11/2009 09:08:07 MST Print View

Competition in Europe may come from PHD. Rumour has it they will be producing top quality quilts some time next year.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/11/2009 10:41:07 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 assume you mean other than Nunatak, per your original post (great topquilts made with Momentum and Pertex). I don't think you'll necessarily ever see 'off the shelf' lightweight topquilts. I'm not sure the audience is quite big enough. And when you do get 'off the shelf' stuff, it will be much like what GoLite makes now. The moment you move away from cottage manufacturers (generalization, I know, but true in most cases) you get producers that want to maximize profits, which generally means cutting one corner of another.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/11/2009 15:28:16 MST Print View


And better yet, they are often custom made. I called not knowing what would be best. Tom asked a lot of questions, then offered a solution, explaining why he thought it was the best option.

This is what the cottage industries often do best. There are small manufacturers of packs and shelters that also offer customization of their products. And they stand behind their products.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/11/2009 17:45:19 MST Print View

I really liked the comfort of quilts after I got my GoLite Ultra 20, but as it did not perform to my expectations I decided to try An Arc Alpinist from Nunatak. It is everything that I was hoping for. Extremely well made, lighter and smaller packing than the Ultra 20 and much warmer.

I like it so much that I sold all my warm rated bags and ordered two more quilts from Tom. I really like that I can customize them to fit me. I ordered a Specialist with an extra ounce of fill in the top section of the bag as I am always coldest at my arms/shoulders. I ordered an Expedition with a black Epic shell to fight condensation and facilitate drying should it get wet. I had two ounces of extra fill added to it. For the Alpinist I had him do the footbox in Epic as I often get my bags wet from hitting the end of short tents

I should be getting them in a couple weeks. I am going to try pairing the Alpinist with the Expedition and see if I can handle -20 with it.

So I guess I am saying, yes, I think they are worth it.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Nunatack competition on 12/12/2009 06:13:53 MST Print View

"Competition in Europe may come from PHD. Rumour has it they will be producing top quality quilts some time next year."

Mike... Even the rumour is good to hear. The gear I already have from PHD is as good as it gets, and includes some with the newly offered 900 down. Since their bags are super quality, I wrote them earlier this year and inquired about the possibility of a quilt.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
PHD on 12/12/2009 06:35:13 MST Print View

Myself and a few UK backpackers have been pestering PHD for a while about making quilts John. There was only a few of us in the UK using quilts though. The Golite Ultra has been quite popular since it was released in the UK however, and so has raised the quilts profile. Hopefully PHD have realised there might be a market for them. :)

Joe L
(heyyou) - MLife

Locale: Cutting brush off of the Arizona Tr
Everyone is famous for 15 minutes on 12/12/2009 07:48:02 MST Print View

For the OP: Tom, there are plenty of products that will keep you as warm as those from Nunatak, but none at catalog level of production are as light. The newer, lightest products get the attention at this forum. If Nunatak does not evolve over the next ten years from their current products, they will become what WM is now, known quality with little to discuss since almost everyone posting will have already tried several of their products.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
bogus on 12/12/2009 10:40:27 MST Print View

I think the poster should make it clear that he did not write this article and that it is not his bag. Charles Lindsey wrote the review so I don't think we can know the full story here. The bag looks unlofted to me, meaning it has not even been shaken to enhance the loft at all. And, it would take some time to redistribute the down in a bag like that. We have to assume that Lindsey new what he was doing. His description of having only 2 layers of nylon left over his chest seems like quite an exaggeration after opening the article praising the loft. Good down does not just decide to go wandering around in a bag like that. Perhaps it was underfilled by accident? The reviewer seems to make no effort to take this up with Nunatak, which does not surprise me.

The reviewer does not even mention taking up these issues with Nunatak. This is probably because he never really 'owned' the bag and was just reviewing it and really had no incentive.

For the OP: Reposting this article without explaining that it is not his bag OR his review is off the mark. If somebody just goes to the provided links it would be easy to think the poster wrote the review and even took the photos. I seriously think there is something quite wrong with the original review - as in what's wrong with this picture? The review is 7 years old as well! Maybe we can dredge up something more current? sells gear also. Could it be, that not being able to sell Nunatak gear puts a slant on things? I don't like conflicts of interest like these.

I don't think a down sleeping bag could that lumpy unless you wanted it too look that way. I think if the problems were that severe, then the reviewer should have had some contact with the manufacture just to find out what's up (before publishing this kind of stuff). If there was no interaction then I want to know why. If there was, I want to know that story. I say this after having been a dealer for Western Mountaineering for 10 years, among other brands, and after having owned many other brands, including currently a nice Nunatak, so I have experience in the matter.

Edited by wildlife on 12/12/2009 11:49:32 MST.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: bogus on 12/12/2009 23:26:11 MST Print View

Nicely put Dan,

It did seem that the OP has a bit of negativity about Nunatak. I only have the one quilt and mukluks right now from them (plus a pair of mukluks I got for Dave)and they have all been excellent quality. And dealing with Tom has been just as wonderful as it is dealing with Henry Shires and the guys at Trail Designs. Gear manufacturers like them make us realize what we miss when stock market price drives manufacturers decisions.

(I can't wait for my Arc Expedition to get here. Merry Christmas to me...)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: bogus on 12/13/2009 09:07:28 MST Print View

"It did seem that the OP has a bit of negativity about Nunatak."

Hi Raymond! You're gonna love that Expedition!

About the OP, I don't know. I don't think Tom necessarily has any negativity about Nunatak. He's had a bad experience with other cottage quilt makers, and from what I remember of his other posts, he's not one to throw a lot of money around at gear unless warranted (and maybe not even then!). I think he's just concerned about the (relatively) high cost of Nunatak gear, and wants to ensure he's going to get his money's worth, especially if he's going to have to wait a few months to get it. Certainly a 2002 review is pretty meaningless, but perhaps it's the only one he could find.

FWIW, I don't know Tom at all, I don't pretend to know his motivations or his personality. Nor am I trying to speak for him.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Are Nunataks good or just lack of competition? on 12/13/2009 11:31:35 MST Print View

"I don't think a down sleeping bag could that lumpy unless you wanted it too look that way."

Amen. My exact thoughts. It looks like it might have got wet and clumped, or the cat just finished sleeping on it, or something along those lines.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
reviews on 12/13/2009 12:04:23 MST Print View

Thanks for being with me on this you guys. It's a good thing we don't have to rely on reviews like that any longer. I remember what it was like before the internet, with magazine reviews, where nothing could be refutted in public. Looking back, things were primitive, and people at the mags could say whatever they wanted.

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
Nunatak on 12/13/2009 12:46:20 MST Print View

I just bought an Edge on clearance and received it in one day after speaking with Tom. Same excellent quality as my Arc Specialist. Nunatak makes superb quality quilts. They cost a lot but they aren't expensive if one considers the quality. Buy one, take care of it, you won't be disappointed.

Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
Original Alpinist was "lumpy" on 12/13/2009 16:38:54 MST Print View

Since I owned and used the model bag pictured by the OT and reviewed by Charles I want to comment on the assertion that;
"I don't think a down sleeping bag could that lumpy unless you wanted it too look that way."

Dan, you are correct insofar as the bag has not been “primed” for use… however, it is incorrect that the bag could not look that lumpy without some intention on the reviewers part.

To explain, let me answer the OT's question; “WHY would someone build a bag like that?”

My original Alpinist was a 24 ounce bag made from Pertex Microlight, 800 fill down, no zipper, very wide baffle spacing, and a very narrow cut from the waist down- it was designed to be the closest thing you could have to just draping down over you.

When initially taken from its stuff sack, it looked exactly as that picture shows; lumpy. It required a bit of fluffing and shaking to allow for full loft. Even then, the 2.5 inch baffle height combined with, if I recall correctly, 12 ounces of down and 9-12 inch baffle spacing, did lead to underfilled areas. If I shifted ALL of the down to the top and did not move around in my sleep, it truly was warm to its rating. If not, you could very well have large areas devoid of any fill.

That said, the bag was well made and even held up to one very memorable night when it held two people… cozy.

I do not know the minds of Nunatak’s designers, but I assume that the original Alpinist simply required too much in the way of user interaction to be a viable commercial product. It was however a well thought out, purpose built product, even if one that was entirely too finicky to for most users. I sold mine and now use a Marmot Helium and WM Antelope.

Edited by febbom on 12/13/2009 16:40:36 MST.