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Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags
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Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/15/2011 21:50:48 MDT Print View

Recently I have posted a question about synthetic bag versus down one. I have done some more research and now I have another dilemma: quilt vs. mummy.
It looks like there are lots of advantages to a quilt: no hood (good feature for summer), you do not get too hot in summer, can add lots of clothing if necessary without compromising loft in colder weather and can sleep more comfortably I suppose. I just thought that this style of bag was more versatile. Are there any disadvantages to quilt sleeping bags?
The only negative thing that I can think of is that because it wraps around the sleeping pad so maybe there is some wear and tear in the area where it wraps around, maybe it gets there dirty faster? Just speculating.
It is interesting that quilts do not get drafty. At first I dismissed quilts because I thought that they must get drafty but I did not see anyone complaining about it.
One drawback to quilts is the waiting time for some of them.
From what I see there are 4 contenders: Nunatak, Katabatik, Enlightened Equipment and Jacks R Better. I am leaning towards Katabatik.
What do you guys think?
I am listening to both sides.
Thank you.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags: Katabatic Alsek on 06/15/2011 22:38:20 MDT Print View

The guys in this tread pretty much had me convinced that the Katabatic Alsek is the one and only path to truth and purity. Maybe with an ounce or two overfill.

Edited by DavidAdair on 06/15/2011 22:45:50 MDT.

William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
The truth on 06/15/2011 22:49:33 MDT Print View

I was a diehard mummy believer I had never tried a quilt and frankly didn't care too. Then on a car camping trip I was using a old TNF down bag that can be used as a quilt. I slept with it like a quit for 2 nights and was a convert. Dropped the dough for a katabatic palisade same weight as my old MH phantom 45 with 3 more ounces down. I also have a katabatic bivy and the pad/ quilt attachment is top notch and very well thought out

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Foot box in quilts on 06/15/2011 23:23:16 MDT Print View

Thank you David and Zilla for your input.
Another question I have is about the foot box. I read that some of them can be too constrictive? It should have some sort of draw string or a zipper?
Thank you.

William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
Foot box on 06/15/2011 23:26:39 MDT Print View

I don't find my palisades foot box constrictive at all it comes up to just above my knees. There's no drawcord or zipper and I don't see why I would need one. Since the foot box is just above my knees it kind of follows my legs as I change sleeping positions

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Sorry, my mistake on 06/15/2011 23:29:35 MDT Print View

William I have addressed you by your last name (spelt incorrectly as well). Sorry about it. My finger is too quick to press enter.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/16/2011 00:03:29 MDT Print View

I will agree with David. Right now I have two WM mummy bags, a 32*F and a 15*F and usually use the 32 as a quilt anyway. I have come to realize that the Katabatic Alsek would be ideal for three season use for the same weight. They seem more versatile too. The pad attachment method is genius and I could roll around without worry of suffocating in my mummy bag!

If I were to do it all over, I would go with a Katabatic quilt.

Serge Giachetti
(giachett) - F

Locale: boulder, co
+1 on katabatic on 06/16/2011 02:47:19 MDT Print View

love my sawatch quilt. Without trying out all the options I think this might be the most efficient bag or quilt design out there. Drafts are taken care of by the clip system. If you are going for a one quilt setup to add layers to in the cold I'd go for the alsek + 1 overfill like others said. I was aiming for this with the sawatch but its so toasty that I'm tempted to get the chisos for summer. I've used that sawatch in crazy low temps with some layers.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Katabatic on 06/16/2011 08:21:56 MDT Print View

I have a Katabatic Sawatch and a Chisos with a 2 oz overfill. Previous quilt experience includes a Golite Ultra 20, Golite 3 Season, Nunatak Arc Alpinist, and a couple of MYOG versions. The Katabatic quilts just work better for me, mostly due to the contoured shape that simply wraps around you. The collar is a huge plus as well. I haven't used the quilt to pad attachment system yet, but others seem to really like it. The quality is top notch and the design is class leading IMHO.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
So Katabatic it is? on 06/17/2011 17:02:51 MDT Print View

So Katabatic it is. I am surprised that no other brand name users chimed in not to mention mummy users. Hm.....Is it because Katabatic has no competition? Anyone?
To Katabatic users:
1. Why do you overfill? I spoke with Aaron and he says that it does not really make a difference, that the quilt is already optimized.
2. Do you have enough space under the quilt to use another bag if necessary to take it into colder temps? And is it easy to do?
3. Are there really no drafts? Did anyone experience any in some situations?

Thank you everyone for your contributions. Thanks to you and you advice I gather some nice gear.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Prefer a mummy on 06/17/2011 17:39:30 MDT Print View

OK I'll provide an alternate view. I really prefer a true sleeping bag. The reason is silly maybe, but important to my sleeping comfort.
With a quilt you are sleeping directly on the surface of your sleeping pad, either foam or a nylon, plasticky material. Plain uncomfortable.
With a sleeping bag you are totally enveloped in the nice silky material. Ah, much better!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Quilts vs. Mummies on 06/17/2011 22:51:27 MDT Print View

I switched to a quilt 2 summers ago now. I was a bit nervous about the switch at the time, but almost right away I was happy. I love being able to get in and out so much easier. Those middle of the night nature calls aren't so annoying with a quilt you can just toss off.

I'm using a Golite Ultra 20 quilt (9.5oz of down, 19.2oz total) which has been a great 3-season performer for me with some extra clothes in the fringe seasons. The pad came with straps but I don't use them. I don't like securing a quilt to my pad because it makes it more of a pain to get in and out of (like a mummy bag). My GoLite Ultra 20 has a generous width and it's easy to just roll up in it or tuck it in around me.

Last week I hopped in a mummy bag at a local outdoors store because my wife was shopping for one (she refuses to see the light). It had been years since I had been in one and I'd forgotten how restrictive they are and annoying to get in and out of. It made me really appreciate my quilt.

With regards to your purchase, I would look at the GoLite quilts in addition to the excellent Katabatic quilts. The GoLite ones are quite a bit cheaper and you can make them WAY cheaper with a 40% off coupon which I believe you can find in the gear deals section of this site. The Ultralight 3+ season quilt at 24oz or so would be a great option at just $180 or so. Tough to beat that. It's a bit heavier than the Katabatic ones due to the use of recycled materials and because the cut is a bit wider, but I really appreciate the wider cut since it's easier to get properly tucked in.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
katabatic on 06/18/2011 00:05:21 MDT Print View

Hi Alina,

There is definitely some competition: Western Mountaineering for sleeping bags, Nunatak, Jacks are Better, Golite, Enlightened Equiptment, and Javan Dempsey (a forum member who makes custom quilts). I have experience with WM bags, Nunatak and Golite, and so far Katabatic takes the cake. For me, like John V., the contoured cut makes a huge difference. There is a little less girth then some other quilts, but I think its a more efficient use of down (more of it is piled on top of you), and there is less material. If you look at the ratio of down compared to overall weight of the bag, Katabatic stuffs a lot of down into their quilts. My sawatch is only 25.5 oz and has 16 oz down, and with the cord system I can customize how efficient I want to bag. In my experience WM's ratings were accurate, Katabatic's ratings are conservative. Quality and attention to detail better than Nunatak.

1) I think in general these bags are stuffed really well. Western Mountaineering is pretty much the standard for warmth in sleeping bags, and my katabatic is stuffed a lot denser than WM, perhaps stuffed more than necessary, but I'd rather have extra down then extra shell material. I'm looking at getting a chisos, and from what aaron says that bag is not stuffed quite as densely as some of other bags. I'm looking at a chisos with 1oz of overfill, so I can use it for most of my three season fast/light trips.

2) I have a sawatch and if I get the chisos, than I will plan on using the two together for extreme cold. I tried this combination together in the shop, and there was a little bit of down compression in the footbox, but not enough to have a negative effect. If you are going to do a lot of winter trips than you might consider getting a wide version of a warmer quilt like the alsek and then a chisos to layer under that. Some people will also layer a wide sythnetic quilt (like an MLD) over their down quilt or sleeping bag to help keep condensation from getting caught in their down bags. If I did a lot of winter trips, than I'd probably layer my sawatch with a MLD spirit, but since I'll probably get a lot more use out of a UL summer down quilt, I'm looking at a chisos.

3) If you are transitioning from using a sleeping bag, and you shift positions a lot, you might notice some drafts, but these are easy to control. For instance if you like to tuck your knees in completely when lying on your back, than you will probably leave a little opening in the bottom of the quilt for drafts to get in. Solution: don't lie on your back with your knees tucked in. No big loss considering the many benefits of a quilt. When quilts first became popular there was a lot of talk on these forums about learning to use a quilt as part of your backcountry skill set. IMO, you shouldn't need a skill set to go to sleep. With the contoured design and the cord clips, katabatic has pretty successfully dealt with the draft issues. Learning curve N/A.

Hope that helps and sorry for the novel. Considering a sleep system is a big investment, I put lot of research and thought into it. Glad if I can make the decision a little easier for others.

Edited by sgiachetti on 06/18/2011 02:06:44 MDT.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
quilt comparisons on 06/18/2011 03:14:59 MDT Print View

Alina, I am really glad you started this thread. We are looking at going lighter weight and will replace my old, old sleeping bag with a quilt because I am a restless sleeper and sleep warm, so a quilt will give me more space and the ability to stick my feet out.

Serge, thanks for the information on Kabatic vs WM. You only made one comment on Nunutak which is the only quilt brand I had heard much about until this thread. Is the difference in quality between Kabatic and Nunatak large? Are there any other benefits of one versus the other?


Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Sleeping style makes a big difference on 06/18/2011 06:04:40 MDT Print View

I've got a Nunatak Arc Specialist and a Katabatic Sawatch.

How you sleep will make a huge difference to your comfort levels.
I made the switch to quilts a few years ago, and will never go back to a bag. I'm a sprawler who changes position during the night. I sleep on my side most of the time, but sometimes with my arms below my head, other times in a foetal position with my knees drawn up.

You need extra width as a side sleeper, so i chose the Specialist as my first quilt. The 55" width is perfect for me, and is constant down most of the length of the quilt. I can tuck the quilt in, and never get any draughts.
I decided to go for the Sawatch for colder temps, and it doesn't work for my sleeping style. It has a contoured shape that leaves gaps as i turn. As i said, i'm a sprawler, and the only way i can get coverage is by sleeping straight and using the cords. It is just like sleeping in a traditional bag for me. I intend to have it modified to suit my sleeping style.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Kabatic vs nunatak & sleeping style on 06/18/2011 06:30:43 MDT Print View

Thanks Mike. I noticed that the Kabatic quilts are narrower at the shoulders and hips than the Nunatak and wondered what it would mean for me. I estimate (how would I really know?) that I sleep 75% on my side, 20% back and 5% stomach and I move all the time, so sleep style is definitely an important factor in my choice. I thought that the kabatic's novel cord attachment system may have made it effectively "wider" but it doesn't sound like that was your experience. What modifications are you planning to make? Are you happy in all other aspects with the Kabatic or do you think you should have gone with a warmer Nunatak?

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Both good on 06/18/2011 06:46:47 MDT Print View

The cord system on the Katabatic works well, but it forces you to sleep straight, attatched to the pad. Something i don't want to do. The quality is first class though. A warmer 55" Nunatak like the Alpinist would have suited my sleeping style better. When i bought the Sawatch, it was the price differnce that made me choose it over the Alpinist. At the time, the dimensions given on the Katabatic website were wrong, and gave it as 54". They have been changed since. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise.
The Nunatak quilt is a straight 55" over most of its length. It's difficult to describe the Sawatch, but it is a contoured sort of 'S' shape on each side, and only measures 51/52" at a few points where the curve of the 'S' is widest.
I intend to have 'wings' sewn on each side of the Sawatch so i have something to hold onto when tucking in during the night.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Size on 06/18/2011 06:52:49 MDT Print View

For reference, i'm 5'10", 42" chest, 34" waist with broad shoulders.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Quilt shape on 06/18/2011 08:21:48 MDT Print View

Guess It is back to the Nunatak for me. I liked the idea of the Kabatic attachment system and the dollars saved but it sounds like the the Kabatic quilt shape won't work for my sleep style. Thanks for sharing those details, it has saved me a bit of trial and error. Hope those wings work out well.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/18/2011 08:29:56 MDT Print View

Why not have both quilt and mummy? For the past 10+ years, I've used the WM Sycamore MF (formerly the Hooded Aspen). See

There is also a non-hooded version called the Alder. Both are rated to 25°F and overfill is available from WM. I've had my stock bag down to 21° on the CT last fall and was quite comfortable. The shoulder width is 62 inches. I'm 5'9" 185 lbs and a rolly-polly side sleeper. I find the smaller 59" WM bags too tight at the elbows/upper arms.

Actually, these are semi-rectangular rather than mummy bags. They have 2 zippers; one down the side and a 2nd across the foot. Totally unzipped, they become a flat quilt, albeit slightly narrower at the foot than at the head. Zipped up, they form a full bag, with or without a hood depending on the model chosen.

My wife and I have used one together in quilt mode on several occasions. Finally bought her one of her own. They can be zipped together to make a double wide bag. Our favorite way to use them is as a closed bag, but we unzip the foot about half way. We can stick our feet out when it gets too warm and pull them in again when it cools in the early morning hours. We can also create a bellows effect to vent without opening the long side zipper because the bottom and top are both open, forming a hollow tube.


Edited by wandering_bob on 06/18/2011 23:36:19 MDT.