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2006 Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
2006 Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto on 05/02/2006 23:51:40 MDT Print View

Companion thread to:

2006 Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto

Edited by cmcrooker on 06/07/2006 08:32:50 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
RAB on 05/03/2006 07:35:04 MDT Print View

I was surprised to see that RAB's elite top bag had the highest loft/weight ratio.

al b
(ahbradley) - M
Quilt and Vapour bag suggestion on 05/03/2006 14:47:53 MDT Print View

From your article, a quilt and Vapour (non-waterproof top) bivi bag would seem the best compromise: I have an (untried) suggestion--- by sewing 4 tapes to the bivi bag near its top corners and similarly sewing tapes to the quilt (but (in both cases) in from the edges to allow it to drape), this could allow the user to roll about a bit more securely. A small zip at the foot end would be needed.

Also, I was surprised by the TopBag ratings: surely a top bag with more top looser outer shell is very similar to the quilt/bag system.

Donald Johnston
(photonstove) - MLife
Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto on 05/04/2006 18:45:56 MDT Print View

This is a very good article. Some of this is so fresh it has never been discussed in print that I know of. The explanation of how conventional and unconventional systems are used including rotating inside of an unconventional sleep system was especially well done.

Some comments:
1) I think an important point was overlooked when it comes to calculating weight savings with some quilt based sleep systems.

My experience with a gear list based on quilt sleep Systems in recent years is that you do save weight and gain a lot of flexibility and comfort for wider ranging conditions over a typical mummy bag based gear list.

While active in camp I need to be warm while relatively inactive collecting water, cooking and eating so I need sufficient clothing insulation for the conditions just as I would need if using a mummy bag. Combining this into my sleep system allows me to carry lighter weight dedicated sleeping gear that adds only the amount of extra insulation I need for sleeping. That is hard to do with most mummy bags because they do not have the internal girth needed for this and are not adjustable for varying amounts of additional insulated clothing. I use Arc type quilts which have the girth to accommodate my insulated clothing without compressing loft.

On a recent trip, one night I was very much too warm and my quilt enables me to sleep cooler on a warmer night by running the straps over the top of the quilt and adjusting them to provide a constant small gap of ventilation to keep me from overheating. The next night we were higher up and it was much colder. I strapped the quilt to my pad to seal out drafts. The first night I did not wear my down balaclava as the hood for my quilt the second night I did wear it as the hood for my quilt. I also wore the down balaclava in camp with my jacket achieving dual use. Neither night did I need to wear clothing insulation inside the quilt. Had temps gone down another 10 degrees I would have worn my jacket inside the quilt. The weight savings over the 25º down mummy I would have brought if I didn't have this unconventional sleep system is 6 to 10 oz depending on which of my two quilts I had brought. Turns out I should have brought the lighter quilt on this trip but my clothing insulation would not have been changed.

2) I also think “drafts” in the context of Unconventional Sleep systems needs defining and discussion. We normally think of drafts as being steady or ongoing air movement and not easily controllable. In sleep systems I think we are really talking about two separate things - air infiltration and thermal cold spots. Air infiltration is outside air moving inside. Thermal Cold spots result from lack of or insufficient insulation between you and outside air with at least one layer of fabric between. Air infiltration is typically transient in well designed products.

A bivy used with a quilt or top bag serves only to reduce air infiltration should the quilt or top bag not manage that sufficiently well on its own. A bivy does not help with cold spots. Thermal cold spots will result when an un-insulated area of fabric is between you and outside air as could occur with a quilt in a bivy sack or a top bag when the insulated area is lifted off your ground insulation. Prevention of cold spots should be addressed in the design of the quilt or top bag. With some quilts air infiltration is part of an intentional design to be used and managed for increasing comfort when desired and eliminated when it is undesirable.

Quilts are intended to be more flexible than a mummy bag. With a well designed quilt such as an Arc Alpinist features are provided to enable you to control air infiltration providing it when you want it, restricting it when you don’t and head insulation is optional. With the quilt simply draped over you it performs much like a conventional mummy bag opened up and draped over you. If it drapes well it conforms to the body and when you are not moving Air infiltration is sealed out by the lengths of excess down to either side of you. At the neck you can draw the material close to seal to the extent desired but you will have brief air infiltration as you move around in the night and that may be desirable in warmer conditions. When that arrangement is too hot with this quilt you can use the straps to create air infiltration to varying degrees by running them over the top of the quilt and adjusting them to lift the edges of the quilt to break the natural seal to the desired extent. In colder conditions when you don’t want air infiltration but you still want freedom to move around in your sleep you can strap the quilt to your pad and draw the neck cord. Air infiltration is well controlled at this point. Add a down balaclava and draw the quilts neck cord to seal to it and you can turn in your sleep without breathing into a hood. Your body weight is sealing the quilt to the pad in the areas above and below the straps. To create air infiltration at this point you have to lift you upper body or you lower body below the straps off the pad or grab the lower quilt and twist it around enough to expose the open bottom. When it is cold enough to approach the thermal limits of the quilts loft you can trade interior space and freedom of movement for maximum thermal efficiency by minimize excess girth. Run the quilt straps over the pad, under your body and adjust them for a close fit. Stay on your back to stay sealed to your pad.

I rotate inside my quilt, sleep on either side and draw a leg or two up inside my quilt. When I rotate I rotate inside without pulling on the quilt so the quilt does not follow me and stays sealed to the pad unless I have the neck cord drawn. If it is cold and I have the neck cord drawn I will need to un-rotate the neck area which I do unconsciously with a slight tug. I do not have any problem at all with air infiltration unless I raise my upper body excessively breaking the seal under my neck that is normally sealed by my makeshift pillow. On warm nights this is desirable and a cooling tool I use. If designing my quilt again I would make a small change to insulate a small additional area near and under the neck when the quilt is closed at the neck.

3) While they work together to provide a comfortable nights sleep I consider my sleeping insulation system and my shelter system to be separate systems and a bivy is a part of the shelter system. If I bring a tent I don’t bring a bivy. If I bring a tarp a bivy is substituting for tent features absent in a tarp. To me a bivy is part of the shelter system and while taken into consideration when making a gear list it is not a significant factor in deciding on my choice of sleeping insulation. I have rarely used a bivy with my quilt and I sleep mostly in open AT style shelters, or floorless tarp shelters exposed to light wind. Only in conditions where I need more protection from strong wind or blown moisture do I use a bivy or a tent.

Robert Miller
(procab) - F
Re: Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto on 05/04/2006 22:38:50 MDT Print View

Last winter I made an observation that seems so simple that I'm surprised no one else has made mention of it before.

Due to various factors one evening I ended up with a very wet down mummy bag. I'm one of those people who rolls over on a regular basis and due to the weight of the sodden down found it easier to rotate inside the bag instead of my normal pattern of rotating the bag with my body. After several hours I observed increased loft in the stationary upper portion of my bag.

I believe this is because the stationary portion of down above my body had constant body heat to drive much of the moisture out. If the bag was rotated normally ones rising body heat would have been distributed to a larger portion of damp down for shorter periods of time resulting in less drying of the most important portion above ones body.

It seems to me that the stable heat path created by the stationary insulation in quilts and top bag designs should move the dew point closer to the exterior shell than a regularly rotated mummy bag.

So, with the exception of the night mentioned above, am I all wet?


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Quilts - blind spot on 05/08/2006 04:51:19 MDT Print View

I am puzzled by the blind spot in the definition of a quilt. It seems that it is assumed that a quilt will have no hood. But WHY? It makes NO sense.

I make a lot of my own gear. My light sleeping bag has 300 g of 800 loft down in 250 g Pertex microlight shell (with 3/4 length zip). This SB, with standard thermals, a good air mat and a tent, is just adequate down to freezing point. I cheat a bit when it's that cold: I snuggle up to my wife in our tent. Believe me, this helps!

But for the last year I have been using the bag as a quilt with great success.The closed foot box keeps everything under control at the lower end. The HOOD, yes, HOOD, goes over my head. All this worry about draft channels disappears: the hood blocks any drafts, and keeps the upper half under control. And I have acres of space to wriggle around, UNDER the quilt.

From physiology PoV, your head is the most crucial part of your body. Your body will keep your head warm even if that means your feet get frostbite. So why in hell's name should you cut the hood off a quilt designed for use in winter? It simply does not make sense!

For even colder conditions (recently) we took these bags and a lighter summer quilt with only 150 g of 650 loft down with us. We drew the extra bag over the top of our two SBs. We also had 'ski hats' of 200-weight fleece on our heads. We were *warm* at -5 C, under the double quilts.

I think SB design has a long way to go yet, and it needs a bit more engineering/physiology input. Some current fashions, like cutting the hood off, have got to die.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Quilts - blind spot on 05/08/2006 06:34:25 MDT Print View


Recently, I was experimenting with using a mummy bag in "quilt" mode. The "footbox" was zippered up to the level of the rear of the knee joint. This worked precisely as you stated to "keep everything under control at the lower end".

At the upper end, tucking the right zip bag just a bit under my left shoulder allowed the hood to be used in a manner nearly identical to how it would be deployed when totally zipped up in mummy bag mode. After donning the hood, i was further able to tuck the right side under my right shoulder and obtained a pretty good seal around the neck and shoulders. So, my personal experience agrees with your own observations.

Now, in my case, i was using a short-length mummy bag, but still had a few inches to play with. I was able to get the hood to "dress" nicely and evenly on both sides of my head and face. Perhaps if someone were at the maximum size limit for a particular mummy bag, it might be a bit more difficult to get the hood to dress evenly on both sides of their face?

Personally, other than on warm-to-hot summer nights, i still prefer a tightly zipped and sealed mummy bag, but i believe that you are absolutely correct that a quilt does not necessarily obviate the need or usefulness of an attached hood.

Others may rightly cite the dual-use aspect of a separate down hood or balaclava as serving a purpose similar to an attached hood, yet still have utility for around camp use when necessary.

Anyways, not that your observations require such, but i thought that i would just post and validate your observations.

Edited by pj on 05/08/2006 06:37:13 MDT.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Quilts - blind spot on 05/08/2006 06:41:52 MDT Print View


I think it depends - are we talking about a light summer quilt, as you were when you started, or a "quilt designed for use in winter"? For a light summer quilt - and I think that very few of the folks in this thread are contemplating a quilt for subzero temps, though I'm sure some are - the warm headgear you bring with you should be enough. In keeping with the ultralight ethos, I'd plan on bringing a warm, hooded parka on a colder trip, and could just wear that inside the bag/quilt with the hood on. No one is saying that hoods don't work, or that head warmth isn't important - we're saying that a sleeping bag hood isn't the most weight-efficient way to achieve that level of warmth.


john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Re: Re: Quilts - blind spot on 05/08/2006 08:11:16 MDT Print View

This is a good article to start the thinking...However, it does seems like it is focused on mummyesk solutions. The presentation is almost entirely on the top bag style and wearable systems that retain the mummy approach...

While this is enlightening,it misses the versitility of the true quilt approach...Additionally, there are true quilts that are wearable, most notably the Jacksrbetter No Sniveller and the JRB Stealth models.... These top quality 800+ pf models easily cover three season and summer applications and are as light as 15 oz...Notably, there is a JRB Down Hood which integrates to the resealable head hole or can be used alone with any hoodless bag or 2 oz this hood is twice as light as any other down hood or balaclava available.

While this article does not discuss the design principle of these serape or poncho like quilts it is noted that a companion article is in the making...Hopefully, it will broaden both the design perameters to include these available designs and the breath of manufactures producing quality wearable quilts/alternative sleeping systems.

It is noteworthy that in the staff vinettes of gear at the end of this theoretical article 33percent are using JRB quilts.

Looking forward to broadening alternative approaches and a companion article with a wider market survey.

JRB Co-Owner

Edited by Peter_pan on 05/08/2006 08:19:24 MDT.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Another 2 sense on 05/10/2006 15:37:33 MDT Print View

Anon writes:

>> Not enough weight was put on loft:weight raio when that heavy *BEEP* frog sac got a higher overall rating that the quantum top bag.

The $99 MSRP Frog Sac achieved the highest "Value" score of any bag tested, contributing to its overall rank. For hikers looking for the absolute best equipment where price is no object, please take a look at the "Subtotal" column in the chart.



Donald Johnston
(photonstove) - MLife
It makes NO sense on 05/10/2006 17:56:05 MDT Print View

"It seems that it is assumed that a quilt will have no hood. But WHY? It makes NO sense."


There probably is a market for one with an attached hood.

For my quilt the reasons were intended use as well as practicalities. You could permanently attach a hood to the top or side of a quilt but it would probably be in the way when it is too warm and adds un-needed weight in warmer weather where a hood is simply too warm. Does a hood really need to be attached? A hood could be made that is removable yet attaches in a fixed position but you loose the ability to roll from side to side without breathing into the hood. An optional hood/Balaclava is pretty much where we are now where you skip the hood in warmer weather and bring a hood that provides the appropriate amount of additional insulation for cooler conditions. The head outside of a hood helps with comfort on a too warm night. I think quilts so far have been designed to work well in the warmer months and extended into colder conditions by adding options such as a hood or clothing and straps. There probably is a market for a quilt designed for cold weather that incorporates an attached hood. For me camping at varying elevations in warmer months, being too hot is frequently an issue yet there are colder nights at elevation where I need more warmth on the same trip. No hood and a vented quilt works down low and battening down the hatches works up higher. If I need any head insulation at all my sun hat, jacket or a thin fabric balaclava will do. I can decide what level of head insulation to bring before the trip. A much thinner quilt with a very thin hood might work for the warmer nights but when you go higher and colder you still need more insulation and your options are now pretty much limited to wearing extra clothes. Clothes tend to have a lower warmth to weight ratio but the system should work fine. I have not brought a hood on my summer trips and saved those few ounces while retaining the possibility of using other gear to create make shift head warmth in the event of unplanned for cold. I haven't need to do that so far. Outside of summer I bring a hood.

Edited by photonstove on 05/10/2006 18:15:28 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
To hood, or not to hood? on 05/12/2006 02:48:40 MDT Print View

Perhaps I had better explain a bit more what my hood looks like and how I use it in the cold. I am not sure the word 'hood' means the same thing to everyone.

Imaging a quilt with the bottom sewn together for a foot box, or a single tapered hoodless bag with a 3/4 length zip. Now add a generous semi-circular extension to the top end in the middle. This is my hood. It can be opened out flat: there are no fancies in the design. I made these two bags (wife and me) myself - quite easy to do.

In the cold, I snuggle down into the bag (which is long enough!) and throw the hood right over the top of my head. The edge of the hood does actually touch the ground or my mat all the way around. I usually pull it back from face a bit if I am warm enough. In addition, the sides flop down on either side of my air mat: the quilt is not so narrrow that I am struggling to get a ground seal. If it's real cold, the breathing gap may collapse for a while, but this doesn't worry me. Enough oxygen diffuses in for me. My wife likes to wear a fleece cap/hood as well, but she doesn't like the hood over her head so much.

But this means that there are no gaps around my body and head for drafts. So if the lay of the quilt over my body is a bit loose, this doesn't matter. The air inside warms up real quick - especially if am breathing out under the bag. So-called 'dead' air does not matter!

This does require that the bag be not absolutely minimal in dimensions. True. It would be a little lighter if I made it shorter and narrower. But the savings would not be that great, while the potential for drafts and loss of warmth would be high. But the benefits of the generous size are enormous flexibility and comfort. I can sleep in any position I choose.

In hot weather I can simply push the bag downwards, off my head and shoulders, and let some drafts in. If it is a really hot Australian summer night, I may actually sleep on top of my mat without the bag above my knees - this has happened!

Sure, it would be nice to have lots of bags with a fine gradation of performance, but most of us lack the dollars and the storage space. (Don't forget the latter!) So a bag which can go from 30 F to 100 F isn't bad value.

As it is, this bag has taken me down to freezing with me wearing thermals, and to -5 C (23 F) with a very light quilt over the top. But I do sleep next to my wife! You should never underestimate the value of having a warm sleeping partner. But I hesitate to include this under 'unconventional sleep systems'!

250 g Pertex microlight shell 8.8 oz
300 g of 800 loft down 10.6 oz
That's 550 g total 19.4 oz

Spare quilt 150 g of down 5.3 oz (shell not included - cheap and heavy)

My (our) current thinking is to keep these bags for winter snow trips by adding a UL quilt with about 300 g of 800 loft down to go over the two of us. A bit of a single-layer foot box at the bottom to go under our feet, and maybe something at the top corners to control the top end. Maybe a bit of string to tie to some other gear - movable rather than fixed under the mat?


(rexbaum) - F
Unconventional Sleep System Manifesto on 05/14/2006 09:21:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for this series of articles, it was well put together and very refreshing to have a subject dealt with on more than just one level and more than just one time. So many times we get just a little discussion on a subject before the article ends and then are forced to rely on a talk group format to get any more discussion and many times all we recieve is personal "opinion" and not facts that are the result of investigation or just plain old use. Personally I am a warm sleeper and like to toss and turn when sleeping, so I have found more to my liking to use Semi-rectangular bags and turn inside the bag instead of rolling around with the bag. And I have definetely found that when you roll off the sleeping pad that your body knows it and you either wake up or continue to sleep in a uncomfortable fashion, which can lead to loss of sleep and results in less than peak performance both mentally and physically.
I think that many of the ventilation problems of top bags are not problems but instead a welcome relief for anyone that sleeps "warm".
I have tried many sleep systems and gone through many bags in the past, but I now use the Big Agnes system and have never slept better. If comfortable sleep is so important to restoring energy to the body then it is my luxury item and I will do whatever it takes to be able to recover from a hard day at work on the trail.
When Big Agnes came out with thier sleep system it made and still does make perfect sense. It is nice to see a small company take on the big boys with a better idea and let the consumer that actually uses the product (instead of just reading about it and giving lip service) the benefit.
The chance to sleep in comfort and truly derive benefit from it is welcomed anytime.


al b
(ahbradley) - M
Fabrics / principles on 05/14/2006 12:47:15 MDT Print View

An article on the nature/principle of insulation would be good (I couldn't find any):

How well contained does air need to be to be viewed as 'still' , what is the optimum size of air pocket etc.
Polyester wadding seems pretty open, so how come it doesnt lose heat via convective air currents whereas a similarair gap between two shell fabrics would?

Also, as Down has the large flaw of losing insulation when wet (can't this be fixed, after all it comes from waterfowl), I wondered why there are no polyester 'sythetic copies' of down clusters, as presumably the structure
is what gives it such a high loft to weight/compressibility ratio.

Would any hikers be interested in high loft loop pile coarse fleece for simple quilts:
needing no shell fabric (just an outer unproofed windproof bivi) would be robust, easy to wash, easily layered etc. I think Malden Mills tryed some for garments but testers thought was to coarse but wouldnt it be OK for blankets?

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Fabrics / principles on 05/14/2006 13:38:38 MDT Print View

There is a boundary layer out to 6 mm from the insulation fiber that is “still” or a boundary layer between two fibers of up to 12 mm.

The tangled nature of the polyester wadding provides the necessary boundary layer distances.

Synthetic down is a patented product which has the trademark of Primaloft One. It is very close to the weight/compressibility ratio of down. It is prohibitively expensive for use in sleeping bags and it “doesn’t look warm because it isn’t very thick for a given temperature rating” based on mass market consumer studies.

The clo/oz ratio of fleece is prohibitively poor. Polartec 300 (the thickest common fleece) only provides about .25” of loft and you need a minimum of 2” for sleeping in 20F temps.

Explaining how insulation works is a relatively complicated subject. I doubt if most of the readers would want to wade through the level of detail it takes to understand it.

Edited by richard295 on 05/14/2006 15:54:13 MDT.

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
Manifesto on 05/14/2006 14:37:38 MDT Print View

I’ve not posted here before, but I’ve have been experimenting with ultralight for the past ten years, having started backpacking in the early 70s.

I presently use a Feathered Friends Wren II (winter wren) as my only 3-season warm insulation. As Ryan mentioned, the loose fit, especially midway, detracts somewhat from its overall efficiency, but the concept works.

Why take even a relatively thin bag if its only use is for sleeping? Why wouldn’t the more ideal ultralight approach be either a wearable bag or sleepable clothing? Having personally struck out on sleepable clothing, I find the wearable bag worthy of more development. Surely, one could rig up one’s pack to create quick access to use the bag as a rest stop parka.

I am a big fan of vapor barriers, starting with Stephenson’s original no sweat shirt in the 70s. VBs have worked for me in temperatures as high as the low 40s. I couldn’t help but think that Glen, Alan, and Ryan, could have used ultralight VB to good effect for their Wyoming trip when temps fell to 15 degrees.

My latest rig uses one of Glen’s ultralight plastic cloths taped up to make a waterproof bivy, used with vapor barrier clothes or sack. Total extra weight is under 3 ounces, including a VB ‘shirt’ I can wear. This gives me a waterproof/draftproof bag and less heat lost to insensible sweat evaporation. Very little moisture through the bag should mean less lost loft and better bag life. (I do assume the VB causes some heat loss due to the increased conductivity of moist air next to my skin.) I’ve used this same method of VB/insulation/VB on my hands and feet for many years to good effect.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Fabrics / principles on 05/14/2006 15:03:31 MDT Print View

I have some
Silk Fleece

that I bought about 2 years ago on sale from Thai Silks. It is still listed on the site. The price however is now $25.80 a yard. The color I have is called "Cranberry". It is a very nice.

I have never used it and now wonder how warm it might be as a cover of some type. If S. Texas gets any cool weather again I will get it out and sleep under it and see how it works.

It is listed as:
80% Silk
13% Polyester
7% Viscose

It comes 55" wide and I have 3 yards. My guess is that it is between 3 and 5mm thick. I have 2mm neoprene and it is thicker than that.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Fabrics / principles on 05/14/2006 19:27:59 MDT Print View

Don't worry your little head about throwing a "relatively complicated subject" at the readers here. A more eclectic and geekier gaggle of techno nerds would be hard to find.

If insulation were not complicated, we wouldn't still primarily be using goose down for backpacker's snuggies. Yes, the boundary layer is the operant insulator in fibrous materials, just as air micro-encapsulated in low-conductivity materials such as polyethelene is the operant insulator in foam sleeping pads. And so on. What we don't really have is a reliable system for comparing the virtues of different insulators under realistic field conditions.

I agree with you about fleece.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Fabrics / principles on 05/14/2006 19:54:59 MDT Print View

Vick writes:

>> What we don't really have is a reliable system for comparing the virtues of different insulators under realistic field conditions.

Stay tuned, Guys. I'm working on an article comparing and testing the characteristics of (currently) six different sleeping bag insulations. It's on the Editorial Calendar for publication this fall.

A bit off topic, but you might also want to peek at the Bag Rating Position Statement. We quietly updated it recently with some loft/warmth guidelines.



Edited by MikeMartin on 05/14/2006 19:58:18 MDT.

Tim Garner
(slowhike) - F

Locale: South East U.S.
neck on quilt on 05/14/2006 19:55:46 MDT Print View

this past winter i made a quilt that extends up past my head & has a slit for the head to poke through. this slit has an insulated collar about 4" long that loosely lays around the neck
when needed, it can be gently snuged up around the neck to close off the cold/hot air exchange.
i really don`t like the feeling of any thing "tight" around my neck, so the way i made the collar is w/ a channel for a very small, light weight elastic cord on the "outside" of the insulated collar. so when i pull the elastic cord through the micro cord-lock, it very gently draws the insulation around my neck, sealing in heat, w/o feeling restricted.
the extra portion of the quilt just lays under my head & drapes around my shoulders. very efficient.
i sleep in a hammock so the quilt works great for me!
when i roll, my neck turns freely in the lightly compressed collar... even if i`m wearing a seperate hood of some kind.
i got the basic idea for this from the "jacks are better" no sneveler. i haven`t seen there quilt in person to see just how there collar is made around the head-hole, but mabey i can take a look at it if they are going to be at "trail days" in damascus, va, this year (may 19-21).
i realy like that basic idea of the head-hole w/ adjustable insulation around the neck.
i also like there down sleves & hood!
i`m planing to make another quilt much like the one i described, but w/ a little extra width to pull it around me & wear around camp when needed. ...tim

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Re: neck on quilt on 05/14/2006 20:04:52 MDT Print View


JRB will be vending at Trail Days (Fri and Sat)...Please stop and introduce yourself and demo the No Sniveller quilt....sleeve and hood too, while you are at it.


al b
(ahbradley) - M
Loop-pile Very very High Loft Open LW fleece: If possible, better than wadding? on 05/15/2006 13:30:34 MDT Print View

Fleece/Pile has the useful property of having a string enough structure not to need a shell fabric, so if a special high loft, open, robust, Loop Pile fleece with loft weight ratio competitive with wadding, I thought this would be useful due to robustness, ease of washing, easy choice of number of layers.

I dont think feeling coarser than clothing fleece would matter.

The fact that washing is bad for wadding seems unfortunate.

al b
(ahbradley) - M
Boundary Insulation on 05/15/2006 13:32:35 MDT Print View

Thanks to Richard Nisley for boundary information.
(this should have been posted before last post)

Jack Myers
(Smee) - F
Loft to Weight Ratio on 05/15/2006 20:38:59 MDT Print View


First of all – great set of articles. Especially, since a JRB quilt was rated #1 overall.

But I have one question about the criteria. The loft to weight ratio bothers me. It really doesn’t seem to be a meaningful measure of anything because there is so much difference in the parameters for each quilt/bag. Different dimensions, different baffle heights, different fill (synthetic vs. down) and different fill power down.

Consider the following example. I could make a 3 foot square quilt out of 1.1 ounce ripstop nylon, baffled to 3 inches (7.62 cm), filled with 800 fill power down. Roughly speaking the ripstop would weigh 2.2 ounces (62.37 grams). Two square yards times 1.1 ounces per square yard. And the Down filling (no overstuff) would weigh 4.86 ounces (137.78 grams). 36” x 36” x 3” divided by 800. Disregarding the weight of the baffles the total weight of the quilt would be on the order of 7.06 ounces (200.15 grams or 0.20015 kg). The loft to weight ratio would be 38.07. That’s huge compared to the items reviewed – but I think you’d have to agree a 3’ x 3’ quilt isn’t going to keep anybody warm. What’s the point of that measurement?

It seems to me that a straightforward weight comparison and a loft comparison are more meaningful statistics.

One other thing I found curious is the inconsistency in manufacturer temperature ratings for a particular single layer loft. This is a number I have been adamantly against establishing for JRB products because there are simply too many personal/individual variables involved. Then there’s the liability issue when some novice takes a published rating to heart and suffers hypothermia. The experienced camper should understand his/her own body (cold or warm sleeper) and sleeping style (clothes types and amount worn) and know what thickness of bag he/she needs. Less experienced campers must be encouraged to take extra precautions until they understand their boundaries and the limitations of their equipment.

Jack Myers
Jacks ‘R’ Better, LLC

Tim Garner
(slowhike) - F

Locale: South East U.S.
Re: Re: neck on quilt on 05/15/2006 20:54:14 MDT Print View

if nothing happens, i`ll be there sat. thanks ...tim

William Wright
Re: Quilts - blind spot on 05/28/2006 18:47:01 MDT Print View

"The HOOD, yes, HOOD, goes over my head."

Sounds claustrophic to me. Also, what about capturing all the water that you exhale all night long? That can't be good for temperature control. And I prefer my inhaled air to fresh with minimal amounts of carbon dioxide.

When I started reading your post I was envisioning a poncho slit toward the head end of the quilt that would allow you to stick your head out and cover your shoulders to prevent head-end drafts. A rollup hood could be installed just above the slit to be deployed when needed.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
2006 Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto on 08/21/2006 10:28:08 MDT Print View

Here are a few points which occurred to me while reading the 2006 Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto

1) Mummy bags - is anything really broken? I'm not religious about my RAB Quantum 200. It's just very comfortable to sleep in, and weighs precious little. Why RAB has added a zip and 200+ grams to the latest model is beyond my understanding.

2) Why not question layer 2, the sleeping pad? Let's face it, John Wayne never blew up a Thermarest in any of his Westerns. I was unaware of sleeping pads when I started backpacking in the 60s. In fact, backpacking wasn't even called backpacking in Britain then, so things have changed. But one thing is still true. You do not need a sleeping pad for sleeping on turf, particularly in summer. Eventually, in the 70s, I became aware of the Karrimat, but didn't buy one because no need was obvious to me, even though I regularly camped in winter. Things changed when I started sleeping in bothies, to get away from midges and storms. Bothy floors are hard, but that's not the problem. The real difficulty is caused by their flatness. My torso ends up suspended between my highly compressed shoulder and hip regions. I have slept comfortably on pebbles by the seaside. Hip and shoulder hollows in the gravel distribute the load-bearing chore along my whole torso. Compression is low and sleep is good. Natural hollows are readily available in tussocky grass and it usually possible to find a pair which fit me. Sadly, bothy floors prevent sharing of the load so now I have a range of sleeping pads. (Old Karrimats never die, unlike Thermarests and Ridgerests.) There are a few reasons for not bringing in vegetation to make a mattress, including damage to the environment and ticks.

In defence of layer 2, I have to say that a short, Prolite Thermarest seems very homely when I'm under a tarp and the whole world outside has turned to mud.

3) Finally, if you've brought the wrong sleeping bag, as I did one January on a Derbyshire moor, put on your waterproofs, over all of your insulating clothing. If it is really cold, your waterproofs will probably be clean and dry so will not damage the sleeping bag. For some reason, waterproofs tend to be quite warm. Clearly this option is unavailable to anyone with a poncho-tarp.

Edited by JNDavis on 08/22/2006 05:52:23 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
some limitations of bags solved by Montbells SuperStretch system on 08/29/2006 05:31:08 MDT Print View

This article is an excelent starting place for a discussion of comparative sleep systems. I wanted to share my experience with Montbell's Super Stretch system found in their UL Down Hugger mummy bag series, which solves many of the disadvantages other bags had over quilts, as mentioned in the article. Anyone can research this online, but basically the SS inner baffle hugs the body lightly eliminating dead air space, and the independent outer baffles stretch to allow repositioning, turning "with the bag", or in my case, sitting upright crosslegged. Try that in any other mummy bag. I'm 5'10", but I bought the long to allow uncompressed room for my synthetic jacket if necessary. With or without extra layers, due to the SS system, it hugs me like a custom made mummy, but when I need it, it has up to 75.6"(!) of hip circumfrence; a double zipper so I can walk around the campsite with my feet out, and since it is long, the bottom 10" or so can be stuffed up into the bag and closed off with a drawstring. This gives extra insulation and sort of a pillow for the feet, a common pressure point problem for me with previous bags. The 510 gram #7 long is the core of my sleep system and I add a silk liner, gortex bivy, and worn clothing as necessary. I like loaning my "UL" SS bags to friends and hearing their amazement. Sorry if this sounds like a biased rant; but I wish someone had told me about these bags years ago. BTW, my tent is a 2 person Sierra Lightning at 2lbs per person carried weight and I use a Thermarest #3. At the edge of the shoulder seasons I can substitute my #3 long for the #7 long and get another 10'C out of my system.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Quilts for WINTER on 10/26/2006 04:26:32 MDT Print View

OK, the Australian winter has been and gone. How did we go?

We took our 550 g summer bags/quilts to the SNOW. A bit cool maybe? Obviously, so I made up another quilt to cover my wife and me.

It was designed as a quilt/topbag. That is, it had plain fabric on the underside up to about the knees (top bag style), but was a quilt above that. The plain fabric tucked under the lower end of our two mats, which were taped together.

I made the shell with Pertex Microlight - Quantum would have been lighter, but I didn't have any. The shell weighed about 325 g. I had 600 g of 800 loft down put in it.

Now for the fiendishly cunning bit. My wife and I each used our summer bags, and we put this winter quilt over the top of the bags. My wife prefers to do her bag up as a mummy bag in winter, while I still sleep under my quilt - with it right over my head and just an air hole in front of my face. The winter quilt is long enough that it can go right over our heads if it gets real cold, or it can be pushed down a bit if it isn't that cold.

The combination worked wonderfully. We had a wide range of warmth available, lots of room (compared to say the Valandre Mirage!), and the total weight for the three bags was way less than the total weight of our two traditional winter bags. In fact, if you take the 600 g of down in the outer bag plus the 300 g of down in the inner bag, a very crude approximation says the combination rates about 900 g of down. PLUS I had a 60 watt heater inside my bag (my wife, next to me).

Note one neat thing: the outer bag was under NO tension over the top of us. It was able to fully loft. I made sure of that. And it was light enough that the inner bags under it were also able to loft very well. Any condensation happened on the outer bag. The summer bags stayed quite dry inside.

However, my solution differs a bit from both the 'top bag' and the 'quilt' **as described in the article**. I make my quilts WIDER! That way we just don't have the draft tunnel problems. Frankly, the literal designs shown in the drawings for the top bag and the quilt look totally unacceptable to me: they are just too narrow or skimpy.

Finally, in response to the question about breathing from under the hood. What do you do at home when it is cold? Me, I pull the quilt over my head. No trouble there at home. And I have no trouble doing this in the snow. The space under the hood stays warm enough that the condensation happens somewhere else - usually on the inside of the inner tent.

Hey guys, theorise all you want. This system *works* for me and my wife, in the snow.

Mandy Kent
(vermontsilkie) - F

Locale: rural New England
Unconventional sleep systems on 03/29/2007 10:36:16 MDT Print View

Excellent discussion; article and follow-up comments... Eric Levine mentioned familiarity with Jack Stephenson's products. Jack and a few others have to fall into a very special category in terms of thinking outside the box. And they've been at it since the late 50's/early 60's. All of a sudden people have discovered filling air mattresses with insulation, when Jack and his wife began doing that many years ago. I think one of the things that may have relegated Stephenson's Warmlite to the category of lunatic fringe is the nudity in his catalog - just one of Jack's quirks; he's one of a kind. (I'll never forget my shock when I opened his catalog 'way back in the 70's, having sent for it because another backpacker recommended the products but failed to explain that quirk. Nowadays I don't even think about that aspect, though.)

You can go to his website - - and view the products and his *opinionated, passionate, maddeningly on-the-mark* commentary. You'll see the whole sleep system which long ago recognized that we compress the down we sleep on, and has overlapping quilt tops for varying temperatures as well as the outstanding tents (for which he is best known), vapor barrier clothing and a few other products. His son William runs the company today. It may be a niche market; in my mind it's one I'm thankful has continued to exist. The products are in the category of "expensive but so worth it". To me a discussion of unconventional sleep systems is incomplete without inclusion of Stephenson's Warmlite products and their history.

Nope, I don't work for them - am just a fellow think-outside-the-box New Englander! Cheers to all from Mandy.

Edited by vermontsilkie on 03/29/2007 10:39:31 MDT.