Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
From down to synthetic quilt
Display Avatars Sort By:
JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
From down to synthetic quilt on 10/03/2010 00:01:30 MDT Print View

After using a heavily modified JRB quilt this past season, I am convinced of two things.

#1 - The JRB family of "large" quilts are poorly designed

#2 - I'm a side sleeper and tired of the cold spots from the down shifting in the 8 inch wide baffles of the JRB quilt

In the past I have made a few synthetic quilts for myself, a few of my own design and one Ray Jardine kit. I really enjoyed the consistent warmth I had in my synthetics and would like to either commission someone, or make a new one myself. The problem is, I want to keep the same compressibility and weight I enjoy now.

Concerning insulation, what these days would be the thinnest insulation I could use that would maintain a fair amount of its lofting ability after 30 or so nights of use? (3 season use)

An additional question comes to mind. Would Pertex Quantam be overkill instead of silnylon?

Thanks guys. This will be my winter project so I appreciate your input and opinions.

Nancy Twilley

Locale: STL
downs and synthetics on 10/03/2010 08:47:37 MDT Print View

Well, the problem with weight and compressibility is going to keep being a problem... because there's no synthetic insulation which matches down in those areas.

I used classic pertex for the down quilt I made last winter, and it's lovely stuff. Very good water resistance, it's held up against rain splashes on multiple occasions. Pertex Quantum would be a really nice alternative to 1.1 oz downproof nylon... I think maybe you didn't really mean silnylon.

I've also made two synthetic quilts out of the climashield from Thru-Hiker. One weighs a little over two pounds and is probably realistically good to 35 degrees. The other weighs right at a pound and it's good to maybe 50. But I barely ever use them, because all I want to carry is my little 20 oz. down quilt!

Good luck!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: From down to synthetic quilt on 10/03/2010 08:48:12 MDT Print View

Why not stick with down, but with better baffles?

JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
Re: From down to synthetic quilt on 10/03/2010 10:53:54 MDT Print View

@ Ken - Truthfully. I don't know. I've been told I am always going to have the problem of down shifting away from the top portion of the quilt but that with correctly sized baffles, it will be lessened.

It's also been suggested to me to correctly distribute the down and then sew through the bag, on the 2/3rds, down the center to create a separate chamber. I'm reluctant on that as well considering I would now have two potential cold spots on the sides of my body as opposed to one large one on the top middle.

I would be willing to trade a few ounces in order to not have the cold spots at all which is why I was considering moving back to synthetic. The Ray Jardine kit a few years ago was the standard insulation kit. I took that quilt down to 20 degrees and was completely toasty, but of course that quilt is somewhat bulky.

I am trying to find out of Primaloft or maybe something newer would meet the needs. It's been awhile since I looked into synthetics.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: From down to synthetic quilt on 10/03/2010 12:25:20 MDT Print View

No current synthetic insulation can equal the performance of down, but they keep getting better. The Climashield Apex quilts from MLD look nice as do the new BPL Quilts, but both are pricey for a non down version. I might suggest adding some vertical baffles on a down quilt to keep down from shifting. The Golite Ultra 20 has this and it appears my Katabotic Palisade has this as well.

Chris Peichel

Locale: Eureka
Stay with down on 10/03/2010 18:56:59 MDT Print View

Have you considered opening up one end of the quilt and adding a couple ounces of down. More down in each chamber would help prevent the shifting.

Even if you added several ounces of down it would still be lighter than a synthetic quilt. You would boost the warmth and maintain the great compressibility and long life that we love about sweet, beautiful, warm, soft down. Not to mention you already have the quilt.

If you do go this way, look at He sells 800 fill for very reasonable prices and it is super nice stuff.

Just my .02

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Overfill on 10/03/2010 21:30:00 MDT Print View

I agree with Chris; I think overstuffing the baffles in your quilt is the way to go. 8 inch baffle-spacing is pretty wide, so I can see where you have problems with the down shifting. Overfilling the chambers will reduce the movement of down in the chamber.

With the JRB quilts, I would really stuff the bottom and top baffles full. IMO the drawstring design for the footbox works better when this bottom baffle is really stuffed full as it doesn't compress as much from cinching the cord. I would also sew on a small down-filled square chamber right in the middle of the bottom edge on the inner side of the seam. This will create a "plug" for the footbox when it's cinched.

I'm also a side sleeper, and something that's worked for me with the hip coldspot is a light piece of clothing over the hip inside the quilt. it doesn't sound like much but it works.

JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
Re:Overfill on 10/03/2010 21:53:13 MDT Print View

Hi Guys - yep already overstuffed. I bought 6 ounces from Bender at Kookabay and used about 4 of them overstuffing the top two thirds.

On the footbox, I modified it into a tapered sewn box while still retaining the original down in that area. I discovered I didn't like drawstring boxes like I thought I might.

I bought the JRB quilt largely because it was my first foray into a down quilt and the sizing was perfect. I have broad shoulders and need at least 60 inches at the top for proper girth fitting but I never thought or realized how wide the baffles are would make that much of a difference.

I would love to buy a BPL quilt because they are local to me but the top width isn't enough and I find that to be the case on most commercial quilts.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Re:Overfill on 10/03/2010 22:08:30 MDT Print View

Lots of custom options out there Joe. I'm one of them, Tim Marshall is another that's pretty prolific here on BPL.

I tend to use 5" wide baffles, and around a %30 shorter baffle height than desired loft to help control the down. So far none of my customers have complained about anything other than my quilts being too hot. ;)

I'm pretty sure Tim uses similar specs.

Personally I've been gravitating away from draw-string footboxes, especially for any quilt that will actually be used in 30 or below temps. 35deg or above it can be convenient for venting but there's no reason you cant just uncover yourself a bit or take a foot out 'o the box. Of course like anything, this is subjective and YMMV.

Out of the last 10 recent quilts I've made only 1 or 2 has been draw-string style though.

Down may have it's flaws, but they're mostly concerned with moisture, I'm thinking this is just an issue with a quilt that's not right for you.

Normally with even the widest down quilts you should only have to shake the down toward the center a little once before bed, worst case.


Locale: Northwest Mass
Change your baffle shape? on 12/18/2010 06:50:38 MST Print View

An idea for how to limit (if not entirely prevent) the cold-spot-on-top problem that Joe had, occurred to me after a little thought on the topic. My sewing experience is limited to an myog pack I made this summer, and I have never made a down quilt before – or a quilt of any sort – but I have been looking into it, and I think I have a decent grasp of the general methods. I am not sure whether this would work, but here is my idea.
If the problem is that down tends to shift to the sides of the quilt (which it does because of gravity, then to solve or at least alleviate this problem you need a force to counteract gravity. This idea is under the “better baffles” category. You could change the spacing of the baffles, to make them narrower. Another thing you could do is change the profile of the baffles. As far as I know, baffles are long rectangular strips sewn into the quilt. This means that the quilt is the same thickness its whole width. What if the baffles were contoured? What if they were strait on the bottom, but curved on the top, so that the middle of the quilt was thicker than the edges. If the final volume was the same in relation to the amount of down used, wouldn’t the relative thinness of the edges of the quilt, and the relative thickness of the middle of the quilt, naturally force more down into the middle of the bag, where it is most useful, and where it tends to want to leave? It might not actively force down from the edges, but a few good shakes before climbing in to get the down in the center of the bag, then the profile would reduce the tendency of the down to shift.

To illustrate:
A normal baffle in a down bag, followed by a contoured baffle:

nevermind. i am having trouble uploading the ms paint diagram i drew. i think it may be because i am currently travelling in Syria, and there are restrictions on what you can do on the interntet. i cant upload pictures or files to gmail either. oh well. picture, then, the thength-wise profile of a load of bread. it has a flat bottom, and two square ends, however, the top of it rises in a gentle curve to the middle of the loaf, and then gently back down to the other side. now imagine this shape stretched to the width of the quilt. thats what i am imagining.

The curve on the baffle could be even more or less extreme for an greater or lesser effect. I don’t know if this has been done, or whether it would work, just and idea I thought I would share. One problem I could foresee is that the down could shift anyway, which would in effect be compressing the down further, making it less thermally efficient. Or it would cause the edges of the quilt to “pucker” as the down forced each baffle into more of a cylinder shape (greater volume for same surface area). What do you all think of this? Has it been done? Does it work/would it work? Am I crazy?

(I have been somewhat obsessed with these forums for about a year now, but I haven’t ever felt I had much to contribute, so don’t be too rough! Just kidding, be however you like, i have tough skin)

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Change your baffle shape? on 12/18/2010 11:37:58 MST Print View

Addie is describing one half of a differential cut - widely used in sleeping bags, less so in quilts. It will certainly help keep down in the middle of the quilt and reduce shifting. It also makes the quilt wrap around your body. Very nice. For a full differential cut, you have to make the baffles in the contour you are aiming for, like sections of a circle.

I think Chris is right about adding down being an effective solution. Despite having added down, you may still be understuffed. Understuffing is an old trick to widen the comfort range of quilts and bags. You just shake the down where you want the extra insulation or out of the way if you want to cool off.

I agree with you about stitching through to shorten the channels. Not only will that create cold spots, but it will reduce the loft for an inch or three on each side of the stitching. You might consider putting a longitudinal baffle down the middle or maybe two to divide the quilt in thirds. It isn't hard to do, just a little tedious.

Another thing to consider is using mosquito net, such as Thruhiker's lightweight nanoseeum. Some of the down will tangle with the net and that seems to add enough friction to help it stay in place - but not in understuffed tubes.

You might also consider using a zippered or velcro-closed foot. I use one or the other on all my quilts. You can still vent when needed and open the quilt for airing as with a drawstring. You have to add an extra 6" to the quilt length and scallop the foot to create two lobes that match. That's another Ray Jardine thing.

As for synthetic insulation, I have made two quilts with Climashield. It is super easy to work with. Being continuous filament it needs only edge stabilizing and a few Ray Jordine style quilting points. The problem for me with all synthetic quilts and bags is they have a narrow comfort range and feel clammy to me. And as everyone has said, no synthetic is as warm as down, no matter what the addmen claim. Nor is it warm when wet; its cold and awful when wet. And it gets wet faster than down. Remember, down is from geese who live on the water and spend their summers on arctic water. Put a plucked goose in a synthetic overcoat and he will die quickly.

I have never had a problem with getting a down quilt wet in a hammock, even using Thruhikers 0.8 oz nylon for the shell. Anything else is overkill IMHO.

Rob Hubbard
(robwa10) - F

Locale: England
New Marketing Campaign on 12/20/2010 05:40:46 MST Print View

> Put a plucked goose in a synthetic overcoat and he will die quickly.

That would make a great marketing picture wouldn't it.

A goose in a companies jacket with the tag line under it...

"Even mother nature can't beat the new ________ jacket!"