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Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags
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Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Try this? on 06/18/2011 08:31:43 MDT Print View

It's a difficult choice buying blind. The Katabatic may work for you. You really need to try a quilt to realise what size you need. Maybe cut up an old sheet as a template, before you decide?

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Try this? on 06/18/2011 09:59:18 MDT Print View

Sage wisdom from Mike there.

I know a little bit about quilts, so I'll just say this, there are many different styles that can drastically affect performance and comfort depending on your sleep style.

I'm convinced from what I've seen, that Katabatic's products are probably the best value out there for back sleepers transitioning to quilts to save weight. I often recommend them to potential customers over my own custom quilts, which I design primarily for side/stomach/acrobatic sleepers.

Everyone that I know who owns a katabatic that's a back sleeper is infinitely happy. However, I have made quilts for a few that switched to one of my customs, because they needed something different for their sleep style.

Disclaimer: I'm not taking quilt orders at the moment, and may not for quite some time, so I'm not trying to sell myself, just give some perspective.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
mummy on 06/18/2011 10:32:05 MDT Print View

it all depends on what yr comfortable with ... plenty of people here use mummy bags and prefer em

i personally prefer a bag for the simple reason its more flexible for me ...

when its cold i zip everything up and dont need to worry about drafts ... when its warmer i unzip it and use it a la quilt

its not like good quality mummy bags are that heavy these days anyways

one thing about a quilt is make sure that its something you like before making a large investment ...

dont get caught up in the herd ... use what works for YOU

Joe L
(heyyou) - MLife

Locale: Cutting brush off of the Arizona Tr
just another opinion on 06/18/2011 11:02:09 MDT Print View

My experience is using Nunatak, Western Mountaineering, and Jacks R Better products. All have adequate quality, at the level of their pricing which is a broad difference. They will all work quite well, although some have lighter materials than others. I am truly puzzled by the post that suggested that Nunatak products were of a lesser quality than that of another premium manufacturer. My suspicion is a design difference that didn't suit the poster, not a sewing or fabric deficiency.

One could buy any used quilt at the Gear Swap, expecting to resell it later at a small loss in order to learn more before investing in new merchandise. Like cars, there are many different models that serve different, sometimes incompatible purposes. Learn what suits you before paying a retail price for a new one. This is gear, cost does not necessarily indicate suitability.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Quilt vs mummy sleeping bags on 06/18/2011 17:18:22 MDT Print View

"acrobatic" sleeper- great descriptor Javan!

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Acrobat on 06/18/2011 17:34:32 MDT Print View

As an "acrobatic" side sleeper, I tried several styles of quilts (not Javan's, sadly!), and have concluded that bags keep me warmer on cold nights.

And a bag can always be used as a quilt on a warm night!

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Cyanocitta - Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/18/2011 18:39:28 MDT Print View

Hi Javan,

How does the Cyanocitta do for side sleepers. I tend to sleep either on my side foetal position or on my stomach in a Tarot Hanged Man sort of deal (but with my foot of my bent leg not crossing over my straight leg at all.) This may just not be possible in a quilt.


Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
Nunatak and Katabatic on 06/18/2011 23:27:33 MDT Print View

Not at all trying to suggest Nunatak doesn't make high quality stuff. I owned a Nunatak Ghost shortly that I bought off of gear swap, but it was too short for me so I sold it. The materials were light and it lofted well. I think Katabatic pays more attention to detail in the contoured shape, the draft collar, and options for cinching the quilt against the pad. This was just my personal comparison that helped convince me to buy the katabatic. The ghost didn't seem to have any more girth than the sawatch, but I know the nunatak arc specialist and alpinist do. Katabatic also makes wide quilts (so far for the Alsek and the Palisade, more later), so I think when comparing companies, both have options for the minimalist more static sleeper and the tosser and turner who's willing to carry a touch more weight.

I'd agree with Eric that bags and quilts are mostly a matter of personal preference. There is a lot of excitement about quilts, but no doubt its partly because they are a relatively new entry into UL backpacking, and they present another way to cut some weight for the oz counters. They definitely offer some advantages, but so do bags, depending on your sleeping style. Most of the manufacturers have a return policy, and if not there is always gear swap, so testing out what works best for you shouldn't be too costly considering the investment.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Cyanocitta - Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/19/2011 01:13:46 MDT Print View


I don't think the cyano would be ideal for your sleep style. Its really more of a hybrid quilt/bag that's geared toward versatility over side sleeping comfort, with a big focus on eliminating drafts and acommodating layers, fetal side sleeping would not be ideal for the cut honestly.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/19/2011 02:05:34 MDT Print View

Thanks Javan. I think the newer, wider Katabatic Palaside, which is 58 inches at the shoulders and 48 inches at the hips might be the way for me to go, unless the Sateless Society gets back into production:) I also think I need to get on the floor and have someone draw round me.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
How do I choose the width of a bag? on 06/20/2011 00:53:30 MDT Print View


I am leaning now more towards a mummy bag because I have read somewhere that quilts can be good but you have to be experienced and know how to use them effectively. Is it true?

In case that I decide to go for a mummy then how wide should it be?
I am 44’’ across the chest (including arms) and my husband is 51” (including the arms as well). I measured across the chest with arms because it seems to be the widest part of the body.
Should I consider only shoulders? Mine are 39” and my husband’s are 49”.
I guess that the width of the bag also depends on what you will be wearing. In summer it might be just a base layer but you might want to wear some warm jacket once it gets colder. It is going to make the sleeping bag feel much smaller. What size do I choose then? If it is big enough just for summer then it will be too small for use with a jacket. If it is bigger to accommodate for jacket then it is going to have too much space for when I am not wearing a jacket.

I am going for a 10F bag (whether mummy or a quilt). Is it going to be too warm for summer even if opened up?

Are Katabatic quilts easy to use on top of a mummy?

Thank you once again.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: How do I choose the width of a bag? on 06/20/2011 03:09:22 MDT Print View

Here is how I would measure a minimum girth: Lie on your back with your elbows on the floor. Fold your hands across your sternum like its your final resting place. Clinch your hands into fists since you are not ready to go peacefully. Now have your husband measure around your back, elbows and fists. (I know others say measure at the shoulders but I have wide shoulders and that's not where the constriction is.)

Looks like you both should fit in normal 59 inch girth bags since you appear to be fairly normal in size. Go to the local store and try some on.

I have a 10*f WM Versalite which is great when the odds are I will be sleeping on snow. The reason I don't use it more often is not the weight or even that it can be much too warm, its the bulk. The thing either takes over my pack or there's a fight to compress it into a manageable size.

That said, I also have a 32*f WM Megalite which sometimes isn't warm enough in high alpine areas even during the summer.

I would think that the 20*F WM Ultralite with 16 oz of down would be plenty warm for most people for most alpine hiking. There are a number of 20-25 degree bags out there that are more affordable and work just fine too. They just tend to weigh a bit more.

Just my 2 Cents - Good luck in your search!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
hmmm on 06/20/2011 09:25:18 MDT Print View


1. try the bag, only way to know for sure ... as you live in TO, most major brands should be available for you to try ... MEC carries WM, valhalla should cary MB and Marmot, etc ... note that if you buy from MEC you can return it for any reason

2. for women buy a bag that is 10F (5C) or so warmer than for men ... most bags, even womens ones, are rated for men ... so for instance the WM summerlite is a 40-45F bag for women ... and the marmot pinnacle a 22F bag or so for women ... the same should hold true more or less for quilts, as quilts do not change human physiology ... the key is to look for the en comfort level (not the lower limit) for the "women" rating

How do I read the EN information?

Basically the EN graphic shows a temperature range:

Comfort Limit The first number is based on a standard woman having a comfortable nights sleep
Lower Limit The next number is based on a standard man at the lowest temp to have a comfortable nights sleep
Extreme Rating The last number is a survival rating for a standard woman

For example, the rating on our Pinnacle 15º Sleeping Bag shows:

Comfort Limit 22.2 degrees
Lower Limit 10 degrees
Extreme Rating Minus 24.7 degrees

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
JRB User Here on 06/20/2011 11:11:33 MDT Print View

I went with the JRB Sierra Stealth (40F bag, sewn in foot box, 900FP, 52in wide for side/ground sleepers):

Mine weighs 14.67 oz as shipped from JRB.

Reason being?

It has a "non-snagging Velcro re-sealable head hole." This is a resealable slit in the middle of the quilt that allows me to wear the quilt around camp as my insulating layer, thus eliminating a 10oz down sweater from my pack. That's a big weight savings! (I stuff it all under a DriDucks rain jacket if wet)

Sure you look a little stupid, but I'm not on the trail for looks. When wearing the quilt as a serape I am extremely warm, it's thicker than any down sweater I own for sure. I would only wear it while hiking in the first part of the morning. After I get heated up, I generally am looking to shed layers, not add them. :p

Also the outer shell looks to be a bit beefier than competitors from what I can tell/feel.

The quilt will get lighter for me shortly as well... I'll be swapping out the nylon strings used to cinch the neck area closed shut for lighter stuff, cutting off the HUGE tags JRB attaches to the quilt, and removing one lineloc that I don't need.

I also liked the JRB offerings because they have some products that mate with the wearable quilts to extend your warmth:

Down sleeves (5oz):

I will use these to cover my arms when wearing the quilt and it gets a bit colder, and then put them over my feet (my feet always get cold) as down booties w/out carrying the weight of booties or thicker socks.

A down vest like the WM Flash Vest could be added to mix and match with the down sleeves (moderate warmth in the Spring/Fall while awake) as well as wearable quilt plus down sleeves (lots o warmth while awake). And of course a vest can be warn to bed to up the warmth of your sleep system too.

Down hood (2oz):

I like quilts because they allow you to bring a separate hat to keep you warm at night or while awake (multi-use item). You can bring whichever hat you need for the temps. The Down hood would be used to get the most warmth out of your quilt. I like it because the down hood stays with my head, even if I am rotating this way and that way within the quilt. I used to hate sleeping on my side in a mummy and ending up waking up because I wasn't getting enough air, breathing into the side of the bag.

For keeping drafts out, I had the same question and got some great answers/ideas:

I would not advocate attaching the quilt to the pad, but I'm going to use a thin shock cord and cord lock to cinch up the back of the quilt to seal out drafts like Greg Mihalik states when it gets cold enough to matter. It will still allow me to roll around, but hopefully seal out most drafts.

GL in your choice!

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Re: Re: Cyanocitta - Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/20/2011 15:52:18 MDT Print View

I bought one of Javan's Cyanocitta quilts with some overfill for a cold weather quilt that I could use for both ground and hammock sleeping. I am completely happy with it. It is the most comfortable insulation for sleeping I have ever used. Javan, if you ever resume taking orders, I think I'd like a spring/summer weight Cyanocitta. I would truly sell my WM and Feathered Friends bags at that time since your quilts would cover all conditions for me at extremely light weights.

Edited by taedawood on 06/20/2011 15:53:11 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Side Sleeper on 06/20/2011 20:26:06 MDT Print View

I'm also a sprawler. I'm known to splay out in all sort of ways, mostly on my side. I'm 6'3 plus change, and with bent knees I can cover up some space. I've also been looking at a JRB Sierra Stealth for summer use. It seems like this would be a good cut for the frequent sprawler. Wearable quilts are also super unfashionable, which of course makes them punk, which turns out to be cool afterall.

For 3 season use my WM Aplinlite actually does the trick pretty well (no, not a quilt). It's just wide enough for me to bend my knees into a comfortable position without compressing the down enough to notice. I sometimes just use it as a quilt in the summer. I've been trying to get used to sleeping on my back (in a WM Highlite) but it isn't happening... so I think JRB here I come! My Highlite will likely make an appearance on the gear swap soon.

Edited by JacobD on 06/20/2011 20:27:07 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Quilt versus mummy sleeping bags on 06/20/2011 21:13:08 MDT Print View

IMO if you sleep like you are in a coffin on your back and do not side sleep or flip flop a mummy bag is a lot warmer. The issue with me and mummy bags is I flip flop and side sleep so am always wrestling with the breathing hole in really cold weather.

Quilts, if you move a lot you will pump cold air into them. You also really need a hood or a hooded jacket for a quilt.

That said a quilt is my preference. Packs smaller, lighter, less wrestling with the bag. You can sleep inside a SUL bivy to help with pumping air in. Still if I was going out into -20 conditions, I would probably opt for a down mummy bag.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
Side sleeper on 06/20/2011 21:38:15 MDT Print View

Javan. I would love to know what makes a cut more geared to side sleepers.

I have found that no matter what wider than I thought has worked out well for me. Going to tim's 58" quilt from a 52 has made all the difference in the world.

Justin R
(5150Bronco) - F

Locale: Bay Area, Ca.
crazy light. on 06/22/2011 00:55:33 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for their input. I cant believe how much weight I can cut going from almost 3lb sleeping bag to 1lb quilt.

awesome stuff.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Confused about Javan's quilts on 06/22/2011 02:06:57 MDT Print View

Hi Javan,

I am a little confused about your answers. In an earlier post (in this thread) you said:
“my own custom quilts, which I design primarily for side..../acrobatic sleepers.”
but later on you say:
“is geared toward versatility over side sleeping comfort, ..... fetal side sleeping would not be ideal for the cut honestly.”
Maybe I am missing something but it sounds contradictory to me.

Can you explain your quilts one more time (how they are different from the other ones and what type of sleeper are they good for)?
Thank you.