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Katabatic Sawatch
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John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Katabatic Sawatch on 06/03/2010 11:24:55 MDT Print View

Just wanted to post my initial review of the Katabatic Sawatch that I received yesterday. For those that like to turn to the last page and see the lower right hand corner of any financial report (bottom line), I will cut to the chase and just say WOW! I have always said that no body stuffs in the down like Western Mountaineering but now I have to include Aaron at Katabatic Gear in that accolade. In all honesty I think you could take out 2-3 oz of down and the loft would not be compromised. As a tossing and turning side sleeper however, I really appreciate a bag that is stuffed with down making sure the down stays put and doesn't migrate within the baffle chamber. While it is possible to move the down around, it isn't going anywhere without some work.

The look and feel of this bag is first rate and exudes quality. I could not find a flaw in the stitching or a loose thread anywhere. Attention to detail is evident in the design and construction of this bag and I like that reinforcements with two extra layers of fabric are used on the primary and secondary pad to quilt attachment points. In addition to these there is a permanently attached short strap and buckle for adjusting the girth at the thighs. The down collar should prove to be very effective at sealing in warm air and is independent of the drawstring closure and can be pulled out to add a little length to the bag as well. The neck snap is very secure without requiring undue force to open it and I like the center mounted drawstring on the top of the collar that pulls evenly around the whole circumference of the opening. The footbox is sized perfectly for my size 11.5 DD's with extra room for down booties if the need arises. I was a bit concerned that the footbox would be smallish based on the pictures but this optical illusion is due to the sculpted 3D shape of the upper portion of the quilt that is much wider than it appears with a noticeable differential cut provides lots of room and seems to stay put, wrapping around your torso nicely.

The quilt came in spot on at 23.5oz, and of the some 20-25 bags I have owned over the years the only other one that was exactly as advertised was the Western Mountaineering HighLite at exactly 16oz. I deliberated for some time over the Sawatch 15 or the Palisade 30 and I still wonder if the Palisade would have accommodated most of my needs, but I have a WM HighLite already and so I opted for the Sawatch. Who knows, I just may end up with a Palisade as well.

I am not necessarily planning on using the pad attachment system since I have not liked them in the past but I will try this new system from Aaron. I was planning on using the elastic straps that I made for my Ultra 20 which keeps the quilt gathered around and under me without tying me to the pad. I use a 24" wide DAM from Kookabay that may make the interface between the cord and the pad and the cord to the quilt a bit more difficult since I have the pad only partially inflated making it a bit "squishy".

I am out in the mountains later today until Monday and will give it (and my new SMD Swift) a try and report back.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Katabatic Sawatch on 06/03/2010 13:26:53 MDT Print View

Thanks for the quick review. You don't by chance have any pics do you? Either way, have fun on your trip and I look forward to your report when you return.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Re: Katabatic Sawatch on 06/03/2010 17:43:58 MDT Print View

I've been waiting for a review of this quilt. I am torn between the Katabatic Sawatch and the Nunatak Arc Alpinist. With 4 oz of overfill and Petex Quantum for the fabric, the Arc Alpinist would have the same amount of fill as the Sawatch and they would both weigh the same. The Sawatch is $71 cheaper though. Decisions Decisions...


Ryan Wiley
(huskerhiker) - F

Locale: So Cal
Awesome! on 06/03/2010 20:57:48 MDT Print View

I've lurked on this sight for a bit, and thought it was finally time to contribute to the community. Thanks to all i've learned from.

I'm a long time backpacker. My dad started taking me when I was 5. I had some time off but have gotten back into it in the last few years . My Dad is still going strong into his 60's thanks to going light several years back. Doing the High Sierra trail with him this summer.

I had been eyeing quilts for the last 6 months or so. Looking primarily at Nunatak as I shed a little weight. The bag I used before is a WM Antelope. A bit of overkill possibly for summer sierra, but its awesome. So toasty. Was nervous about trying a quilt, but loved the concept. Originally was looking at an Arc Alpinist. But coming from my 5 degree bag, wasn't too keen on only 20 degree rating and 11 oz of down. Figured if I ordered one I would over fill it 4 oz or so. Saw Katabatic pop up and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for out of the box. And had some nice features that made a lot of sense. Keep in mind that if you overfill the nunatak I think you will get charged a bit more, so the price savings on the Sawatch is possibly over $100.

Took delivery of a Sawatch today. Figured it was a bit of a gamble but looked great on the site and saved a few $$.

I will echo the first impressions of John. It appears to be a quality piece of work. Lofts up really nice. Haven't weighed it yet but will do so soon and let you know what I find. Its not just a pretty website. Its a solid product. I doubt anyone would be disappointed in the quality. My wife who is an avid sower and quilter, commented on the quality of work. Pretty excited to take it out.

Will update in a few weeks when I get a chance to use it. Granted, the first trip will be low sierras, 6k ft or so. But better to break it in and get used to a quilt before I take it to higher elevation on my longer trip.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Impressions after use on 06/07/2010 12:21:42 MDT Print View

Having spent 4 nights using my Katabatic Sawatch I can say it is definitely a keeper. Although the lowest night time temp was only 27 degrees, I am confident that when combined with the down hood and on my DAM, 15 degrees shouldn't be a problem. At the other end of the spectrum, a warm front moved in the last night (along with a much lower elevation - 6300 feet), bringing a night time low of 55 degrees, and the quilt was comfortable, just a bit on the warm side but it was very easy to vent. Breathability of the fabric seemed excellent with no clamminess at all. For reference I was sleeping in long silk underwear all 4 nights and wore no hat, sleeping in a mesh walled tent. It was very windy every night (and day), making for slight breezes in the tent but I felt no drafts. I did not use the cords to attach the quilt to the pad as I found it unnecessary just relying on my DIY elastic straps to hold things together.

The shaped form of the quilt is much more comfortable than a "flat" quilt that is wrapped around you. I have used a flat quilt before and have a Golite Ultra 20 as well, and while the Ultra 20 is also somewhat "shaped," the looser fill of the chambers isn't as effective in the quilt keeping its shape. This shaped aspect of the Katabatic quilt really helps to keep it wrapped around your torso and shoulders without having to resort to the use of ties or cords in mild temps. IMHO, the collar would function more effectively if it was sewn so that is couldn't just stick out of the top of the quilt suspended on the edge of the top baffle and was more "tucked" back into the bag. If you are on the border of a regular or large, it does add a couple of inches of length so it is something to think about. Once you fasten the snap and pull the drawstring however, the collar works very well as designed, sealing in warm air without an unnecessarily tight cord. The only other feature I would have liked would be a hang loop on the inside and outside of the footbox. In fairness, the top drawstring cord works equally well and may in fact distribute the weight on the attachment points of the shell better but I always like more options.

Right out of the stuff sack it really lofted up fast. My hiking partner was VERY impressed and he was using a WM UltraLite Super, one very fine bag. The fabric and color of the two bags was very close in appearance and feel and we both agreed that the sewing quality was equal. I couldn't tell if there was a difference in down quality between the two, but the Sawatch had another 1/2 to 3/4" of single layer loft and seemed to have more full baffle chambers as well. This would make sense given that the UltraLite has 1oz more down but more volume to fill. He is VERY meticulous about the care and use of his gear, and his bag only has some 10 nights in it, making the difference more legitimate and not a function of a dirty or mistreated bag. Between the new quilt and Kookabay DAM he was admiring, I felt like I ought to sleep with one eye open.

Unfortunately it won't be until Fall that I can test the 15 degree rating, but I feel that it should be realistic given my assumptions above. Augmented with down clothing and hood I see 0 f a real possibility and hope to use this as my "light" winter bag - now that's versatility. If I could have the one perfect all around quilt for my use, it would be something between the Sawatch and the Palisade, say a 1.75" baffle height and 12oz of down. A Palisade with a 2 or 3 oz overfill would be a real contender at 19 - 20oz and a guestimated lower temp of 20-25f and that is something I thought long and hard about. I have to admit that having used the Sawatch I am still thinking that might have been my "perfect" bag, but the extra 3 or 4 oz between the overfilled Palisade and the Sawatch is very nice insurance against an unexpected cold front for the weight of a wind shirt. Moreover, not having seen a Palisade, I don't now if it would benefit from an overstuff as much as I am thinking. I don't feel you wouldn't gain a great deal by adding more down to the Sawatch - it is that full. Curiosity may get the better of me and I will get one anyway even though I have basically new WM HighLite I was thinking about making a quilt out of.

You will not be disappointed with the quality of either bag's materials and construction. Unless you want something really custom, Aaron at Katabatic really has built a better mousetrap in the quilt/variable girth bag category, and I have not even tried the patent pending bag to pad attachment system. The only question is which one and to overfill or not.

jeff berkman
(jberkman) - MLife
bag to pad attachment system on 06/30/2010 17:17:08 MDT Print View

Have you had a chance to try the patent pending bag to pad attachment system for the Sawatch? I'm curious as to how functional this feature is.

Edited by jberkman on 06/30/2010 17:17:46 MDT.

G Foster McLachlan
(hunter13) - F

Locale: NYS
Attachment System on 07/23/2010 09:18:10 MDT Print View

I too hope to hear some input regarding the attachment system. It's the main benefit and idea Aaron created(drafts/seal). Maybe nobody needed to yet bc weather hasn't called for it?

I think R Caffin will be posting a review,maybe its out there already. BUt I bet it works great by the looks of it.

I just hope the small clips are easy enough to work with at cold temps/dark etc and won't be fumbling around more than sleeping.

Marc Kokosky
(mak52580) - F

Locale: Washington, DC Area
Good for Larger Guys? on 07/23/2010 23:43:53 MDT Print View

How do you think this would work for larger guys? I've been eyeing these for a while now, but have shied away because I find that most quilts are too narrow in the shoulders for me and I need to resort to using a sleeping bag unzipped as a quilt. The only exception being my GoLite Ultra 20.

I'd love to seriously consider this, but with my 54" chest am a little worried it won't cover me, especially if I turn on my side.

William Johnson
Palisade on 07/24/2010 03:17:09 MDT Print View

I bought the Palisade, and will be using it for a week in Yosemite in just a few days.

I will be using it inside a hammock, so I will not use the pad attachment strings. The cut of the quilt pockets your upper torso inside (I bought the 6'6" size) rather than draping loosely over the top.

I keep the hip strap unbuckled as it doesn't feel comfortable for me, and I worry that I will snap it. This is my first down quilt, and an ultralight one at that, and I am pretty careful with it. After the trip, perhaps I can give better advice to the larger members here looking to buy this quilt.


...and thank you, Aaron.

Marc Kokosky
(mak52580) - F

Locale: Washington, DC Area
Hammock Use on 07/24/2010 15:30:20 MDT Print View

Thanks, Aaron that would be awesome. Definitely do tell when you get back as I would use it in a hammock (WBBB) too.

William Johnson
Katabatic in hammock on 08/06/2010 22:20:08 MDT Print View


I just returned a few days ago from my Yosemite trip. I spent five nights in a hammock with my Palisade, and one night on the ground, no bivy.

Warm and comfortable every night, and the temps seemed to hover around 40F - 42F. I am 6'4 and 210 lbs. I bought the larger version of the quilt and it covers me very nicely, with room to get my head fully under.

I twist and turn a lot while I sleep, and I'd often have to go Houdini to get out of my bag, it would be so turned around. The quilt definitely helps with this - though make sure to use under body insulation (an under quilt, or similar measure) with a hammock.

I was worried I would be too rough with the quilt, and I might prefer sleeping on the ground because of it. The retention straps on the Katabatic were a concern to me while I twisted around (perhaps fraying the body of the hammock. I saw no damage, however.

For this reason, I might suggest another quilt for hammock use, perhaps from Te-Wa, Stormcrow, or the Jacks. If you do go with Katabatic, then enjoy, as I do.

It makes me want to sleep on the ground more!

Take care.

Edited by Steamboat_Willie on 08/06/2010 22:21:36 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Katabatic Sawatch on 08/07/2010 06:53:31 MDT Print View

I've just received my Sawatch and Bristlecone bivvy. I haven't used it yet (too warm!), but i thought i should comment on the quality. Everything seems top quality, and as good or better than anything else i've tried, including my Arc Specialist. I agree with John on the fill. I couldn't decide wether to get any extra fill, and decided to go with the stock fill. I'm glad i didn't get any extra. This thing is packed, and it lofts beautifully.
I'm 5'10", around 175lbs, and the fastening system using the bivvy/pad/quilt seems to work for myself as a side sleeper.

Edit. The weights were within a few grams of the advertised weight on my scale. 670g for the quilt, and 198g for the bivvy.
Roll on some cold weather so i can try the set-up out! :)

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 08/07/2010 06:56:32 MDT.

Marc Kokosky
(mak52580) - F

Locale: Washington, DC Area
Re: Katabatic in hammock on 08/20/2010 18:46:34 MDT Print View

Aaron - Are the retention straps removable? If they are, then I think that would eliminate the problem in a hammock.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Curious? on 08/20/2010 19:43:35 MDT Print View

I'm curious to hear how this quilt preforms against the Nunatak Arc Alpinist?

Edited by mfog1 on 08/20/2010 20:17:46 MDT.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Katabatic in hammock on 08/20/2010 20:29:05 MDT Print View

my wife's palisade has a strap at the top of the footbox. The quilt attaches to the straps (really string) that go around the sleeping pad by way of small plastic tabs that are attached to the quilt. Hope that helps

it appears to have favorable loft compared to my specialist.

Any more questions I can help u with?

I posted my company customer service review here. Aaron was great.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Plastic tabs? on 08/20/2010 20:33:52 MDT Print View

Any concern with the plastic tabs possibly puncturing an air mattress or the quilt itself?

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Plastic tabs? on 08/20/2010 20:43:48 MDT Print View

Not a pad IMO. The hard tabs are the thickness of a quarter and smaller around. They have rounded corners. Might be able to snag the bag if you got the tab bent enough and hooked it with the keyhole like center. Unlikely but possible I guess now that you asked.

Pm your email if you want a crappy iPhone picture of the tabs.

Edited by mpl_35 on 08/20/2010 21:01:05 MDT.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Large folks take note: on 08/23/2010 16:45:29 MDT Print View

I received, my Sawatch quilt today. First off, its beautifully crafted, easily on par with, or maybe even slightly better than Nunatak. Stuff sack and cotton storage sack included are a nice touch, considering the price. My only nitpick would be on the width, widest measurement on this 6' quilt is 48",maybe 49" if you stretch it out tightly. So, for large folks this may be a bit tight around the shoulders. My Nunatak Arc Alpinist that I sold was a solid 55" wide which makes it nicer for side and stomach sleepers. Extra width also allows one to wear extra layers, like a hooded jacket, without compressing the loft of the jacket or the quilt. I'll probably keep this quilt for the time being, but have the feeling that I'll miss the extra width of the Nunatak?

Edited by mfog1 on 08/23/2010 18:50:47 MDT.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Katabatic Sawatch on 08/23/2010 19:39:42 MDT Print View

The Kabatic gear website claims a shoulder width of 54 inches, so this is a bit strange. I was quite interested in a palaisade, but wouldn't be at 49 inch width.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Katabatic Palisade concerns on 08/23/2010 20:17:55 MDT Print View

Measuring one of these is difficult. With the differential cut and all of the contours to it, dimensions could be very different depending on where you measure. It wraps around you almost like a jacket--a backwards one anyway. It's cut to form itself around your body, but the opening in the back is curved. I think (and this is subjective) that you'd have to be a pretty big person--US size extra large or bigger--to have any serious issue with the width. Of course drafts are less of an issue on my warmer weather Palisade than on a Sawatch, but I believe the Sawatch is wider than mine anyway. (Edit--not true--specs show they are the same width.)

Regarding the concerns about the plastic tabs cutting an inflatable pad or a hammock, I don't think it's an issue. I've used mine both ways and it would be almost impossible to cause any damage IMO. Maybe if you stepped on it or jumped on it, but with ordinary use, I'd say it's highly unlikely.

The Palisade is a super piece of gear. Really top notch. If you have size concerns, ask Aaron and I'm sure you'll get a quick and honest answer.

Edited by bcamprini on 08/23/2010 21:13:06 MDT.