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Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
RE: Contacting Jacks R Better on 08/10/2011 23:52:32 MDT Print View

I sent an email to Jacks R Better today and ended up talking to one of the two Jacks over the phone. He has given me several suggestions, some of which I will be trying out next week. I will post an update the following week.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: RE: Contacting Jacks R Better on 08/11/2011 05:42:42 MDT Print View

Eric, what were the suggestions?

Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
Trial and Error on 08/24/2011 13:49:35 MDT Print View

Jack had much to say, he covered everything I could think of, and then some. Specifically regarding the quilt-- 1) I was babying the quilt, afraid I was going to tear the baffles. The repeated vigorous, I think he said "almost violent" quilt shaking, really made a difference in the quilt lofting, which seemed to make the difference between the down packing into the edges of the quilt in the middle of the night versus staying put above me. 2) Body heat would help loft the quilt. 3) Partially unzip the bivy to prevent compression of the down. 4) Don't tuck the quilt under the body, this puts pressure on the quilt above me and compromises loft. Just let the quilt drape loosely over the body. 5) Properly adjusting the drawstring at the top of the quilt creates a "pocket" which tucks around the shoulders, helping to hold the quilt in place.

The first two nights I used the bivy partially unzipped, I had a lot of condensation inside the bivy while never feeling sweaty or overheated. I had little loft left above me a few hours into the night and ended up re-positioning the down around three times both nights. Temperatures were mild but I was still not comfortably warm in my Red Hot Chilis Pepper Skins, medium wool socks and fleece balaclava.

Third night I ditched the bivy and Prolite 3 and dug a hip hole ( Jacks suggestion for staying put at night ). This was a revelation. I have not slept comfortably on a blue pad in 15 years, but this time I was incredibly comfortable with a one inch deep hip hole under the pad. I definitely thrashed around less, slept mostly on my back, but still discovered absolutely zero loft over my hip in the middle of the night. I shook the down back towards the center of the quilt and went back to sleep. I was surprised to find plenty of loft above my hip when I awoke in the morning. Hmm.

The last night followed two warm nights where I occasionally felt sweaty, and I had not dried the bag in the sun a full half hour like I had done before my first "successful" night in the quilt. Down packed into the edges of the quilt in the middle of the night, and I was once again disheartened. I shook down back to the center and went back to sleep. Next morning all the baffles were still lofted in the center of the quilt, and I stayed under the bag for another two hours, getting in and out and generally moving around a lot. The quilt retained its loft in the center this whole time. In fact, the baffles were so puffed up they gave the impression that they were going to pop.

My theory is that loft was somewhat being defeated by moisture, and without enough loft pressure pushing against the nylon and baffles, the down has no resistance to sliding to the edges of the quilt just by gravity, and any extra help I could give it by moving around and pushing on the outside with a bivy. I have more testing to do but have had results which give me enough confidence to keep going with the following rules of thumb...
1) Make sure the quilt is absolutely dry!
2) Don't use a confining bivy which pushes against the down and defeats body moisture evaporation.
3) Shake the quilt. Really shake it. Wait 15 minutes. Do it again.

Edited by blatargh on 08/24/2011 13:52:44 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Trial and Error on 08/24/2011 14:32:56 MDT Print View

Great to hear that you were successful and that they were so willing to help you make it work. Very positive results on both accounts. It sure sounds like the problems began with the bivy.

Cheers,

Rick

Stephen P
(spavlock) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Trial and Error on 08/24/2011 21:50:51 MDT Print View

Excellent testing. I noticed a problem with down shifting in my JRB when I was out last week. I will try giving it a good shake next time and try a few other things. I really think it has a lot to do with the baffle spacing. If I still have problems with mine, I might try to add an extra ounce or two of down.

Alice Hengst
(Moondust) - MLife

Locale: Southern Sierras
Same problem with the warmer model - High Sierra Sniveller. on 08/24/2011 22:47:08 MDT Print View

Same problem, only mine is the supposedly warmer High Sierra Sniveller with 5 more ounces of down. So getting more down probably won't solve the problem. Plus, I sleep in a tent and I'm a quiet sleeper (don't move around). First time it was used I woke up very cold on my upper torso and the down felt like it had shifted to the edges. There was no condensation inside the tent that I could detect and the quilt felt dry.

I'll try the shaking thing but if that doesn't do it, the quilt will have to go back. And what's this about not tucking the quilt under you? Loosely draping it over you does not keep out drafts!

Edited by Moondust on 08/24/2011 22:49:39 MDT.

Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
Careful! Shaking down to middle on 08/25/2011 00:11:21 MDT Print View

When shaking the quilt, I am gathering the quilt up by the corners and the tie loops. This shakes the down to the middle of the quilt. I think if I held the quilt elsewhere and shook it hard I might damage a baffles - just a guess on my part. Jack said these quilts are tough, he recommends using tennis balls in the dryer when washing one.

Edited by blatargh on 08/25/2011 00:15:35 MDT.

Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
Another Sierra Sniveler? on 08/25/2011 01:37:37 MDT Print View

Stephen: Is your quilt also a Sierra Sniveler? I have been wondering if a narrower No Sniveler or one of the other quilts would keep more down over my torso and less laying beside me on the ground sheet.

Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
Re: Same problem with the warmer model - High Sierra Sniveller. on 08/25/2011 02:39:44 MDT Print View

Jack actually said that getting extra down added wouldn't make a difference in whether or not the down is staying put.

Alice, I was quite interested to hear about your own experience with the High Sierra Sniveler, especially that you don't believe moisture had anything to do with the down sifting off to the edges.

Regarding drafts and tucking, shaking the down till it stays put in the middle has left a lot of loft-poor area along the edges of the quilt. I am concerned that when temps drop down toward the rating of the quilt, the thin, untucked portion of the quilt will let the cold in enough that any loft I have above me will be pointless.

Does anyone expect an ultralight down quilt to be as fussy in use as I have described?
Should I expect much less hassle from, for example, a Nunatak quilt or Western Mountaineering bag?

Stephen P
(spavlock) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Another Sierra Sniveler? on 08/25/2011 11:34:44 MDT Print View

Eric,

I have a Hudson River. I had the foot box sewn in and use it as a top top quilt. I think it has the same specs as the sierra sniveler, but it isn't wearable.

I have used mine a few nights in a tarptent, and have experienced down shifting to the sides. I had the quilt pulled tight behind me using bungee cord and the provided loops. If I continue to keep using this quilt, I will definitely add more attachment loops for the bungee cord to thread through. That should create a better seal. I shook my quilt out several times over the course of a few hours, and still saw issues with the down. I think the top few baffles have some how lost down, or were not filled with the proper amount of down. However, since you (and others) have had problems with shifting down, it could be a design issue. JRB makes affordable and well built quilts. However, I am skeptical about their baffle spacing. Does anyone else know of a manufacturer that spaces baffles that far apart?

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Same problem with the warmer model - High Sierra Sniveller. on 08/25/2011 13:11:04 MDT Print View

There's really not a question. The down isn't staying put because there isn't enough in the baffles. An adequately stuffed down bag or quilt will never have a problem with down migration. One reason WM bags are so highly regarded.

As it is, the down migrates away from your body because the baffles have a bunch of empty space to flow into.If you added a few ounces of down to the quilt, the down wouldn't have any place TO migrate, because the baffles would actually be full.

If you have to violently thrash your quilt several times a night to try to get the down in place, I'd consider it a quilt I had to baby.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Down density on 08/25/2011 13:14:54 MDT Print View

I would say it's a combination of too large baffle spacing and not enough fill. You may think otherwise, but fixing one or the other, or both, would make all the difference.

Alice Hengst
(Moondust) - MLife

Locale: Southern Sierras
Re: Same problem with the warmer model - High Sierra Sniveller. on 08/25/2011 13:31:00 MDT Print View

My High Sierra Sniveller (HSS) is the same size as the regular Sierra Sniveller (SS), but with 5 oz more down. The HSS is rated 0-5 degrees. Gosh, how much more down would you want, or have to put in it to prevent shifting? The quilts are narrower at the bottom. If JRB is distributing the down evenly, perhaps the smaller width at the bottom is holding the down in place better, while the wider top allows it to shift.

I think there is plenty of down to keep me warm if it does not shift - they just need a better baffling system for the top of the quilt. Maybe they need to make the baffles at the top narrower than at the bottom, or put some vertical stitching in to make squares. Or maybe put more of the down at the top and less at the bottom. Or some combination of these things.

I'm going to try it again Sunday night. If I have the same problem despite shaking the h*ll out of it before I sleep, I'm either going to return it or request a modification. The bad thing is, I have nothing to replace it with for a Labor Day weekend trip above 10K, so I'll have to make do until then.

I totally agree that getting up at night to shake the quilt is not acceptable! I bought this thing along with an Exped Downmat so I could sleep through the night without getting cold. If it won't do that, it's going back!

Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
Upper baffles on 08/25/2011 14:05:12 MDT Print View

Stephen, I also believe that the upper baffles have noticeably less loft than the lower baffles. Alice, are you saying that you noticed the upper baffles having less loft also?

Alice Hengst
(Moondust) - MLife

Locale: Southern Sierras
Re: Upper baffles on 08/25/2011 14:12:46 MDT Print View

Eric, I've never paid attention to any difference in loft except when the down shifted during the night. Tonight when I get home I'll shake the quilt and let you know my best guess about the loft of the top vs the bottom. The bottom down has not shifted during the night as far as I know.

Alice Hengst
(Moondust) - MLife

Locale: Southern Sierras
Re: Upper baffles on 08/26/2011 13:08:33 MDT Print View

Last night I fluffed up my HSS and laid it out flat. Two things struck me. First, it is almost impossible to distribute the down evenly in the top baffles, which measure 52 inches by maybe 5 or 6 inches?? (The bottom baffle is 42 inches wide for comparison). I could get the down mostly towards the center, or towards the edges, or on one side, but I could never get it even across the whole baffle.

When I shook the quilt to get the top baffles puffed up in the center, the sides of the top baffles were empty. That empty space is bound to fill up once I am lying under the quilt, since the edges will then be lower than the center. Seems like a recipe for a cold chest by the end of the night :(

For my Sunday/Monday backpack, I am going to put clips on the top baffles to prevent down from moving to the edges. The down may still migrate away from the center and end up as low as it can go, but if I crimp off 4 or 5 inches in from each edge I think I'll have a better chance of staying warm. The predicted low temps for the night are in the high 20's or low 30's, which is at least 10 degrees colder than the first time I tried the quilt. Yikes, I better pack another layer just in case. (Not something you want to have to do when you buy a 5 degree quilt).

Maybe more down in the top baffles is the answer, but that will increase the cost and the weight.

Eric E
(blatargh) - F - M

Locale: Northcoast
Re: Re: Upper baffles on 08/26/2011 13:57:42 MDT Print View

"but I could never get it even across the whole baffle" -- this has been my experience too. Using the drawstring at the top of the quilt reduces volume in the topmost baffle and then I end up with an evenly lofted baffle, but that doesn't help even out the next two baffles.

Jack said that containing the quilt on the sides ( like in a hammock ) would mitigate the down migration. Do you have access to a non-constrictive bivy that can be suspended above you, which might contain the quilt edges?

Good luck on your trip, I hope you stay warm!

Alice Hengst
(Moondust) - MLife

Locale: Southern Sierras
Re: Upper baffles on 08/26/2011 14:51:57 MDT Print View

Thanks for the "warm wishes", Eric! I'll definitely use the drawstring for the very top baffle and my clips for the second one (and maybe third).

I can't quite picture suspending something above me to contain the quilt sides. Does JRB want me to hang a hammock from the top of my tent? These quilts are advertised for ground sleepers! If they are not designed right, JRB needs to change the design.