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UL on the cheap; Sleep system?
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Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/09/2012 21:30:56 MST Print View

Being a student and an all around cheapskate, MYOG has allowed me to play around with UL gear whilst remaining housed and fed. Using 2nds fabric and household items, you can pretty much get away with ultracheap ultralight- but I get hung up on sleep systems.

Looking for a way to make a (roughly) 30 degree quilt on the cheap is frustrating- even with synthetic insulation and sale fabrics I'm looking at roughly 100 bones, which compared to other gear i've made seems pretty steep. Also, looking at the downsides of synthetics (longevity, weight, compression), a down quilt kit from thruhiker looks like a viable alternative at a moderate increase in price.

I don't generally like to ask people about the cost of their possessions, but I feel it is more appropriate in the MYOG community. Reduced cost is a definite advantage to gettin down with the stitchness.

So anyway, I'd like to hear about light weight, cost conscience, myog sleep system experiences. I'm currently using a horrendously anemic chopped up Lafuma bag/now quilt that won't survive another season, and would like to start on a new quilt as soon as I finish my atrocious neon green tarptent :)


Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/09/2012 22:28:14 MST Print View

Yep, you pretty much have a grasp of the state of things.

Now about 3 yards for the insulation will be the bulk of the cost. You could look into 5 momme silk from dharma trading or similar source. Very lightweight and affordable. No DWR and not down/wind proof but if using a bivy and synthetics you should be ok.

I would say splurge on the down if you're not daunted by the construction. It'll be lighter, last considerably longer, and warmer so worth the cash.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/09/2012 22:45:10 MST Print View

How about getting a twin down comforter, stitching it on an angle and then cutting it in two to create two solo down BPing quilts for $35-45 each?,default,pd.html?start=2&cgid=cs-comforters&q=down

My kid slept 1,500 nights in one of their down quilts before it got a little frayed and we replaced it, although it would have been serviceable for another few hundred nights.

I see quilts for sale in my local thrift store, probably for $10-20 each. A queen or king could make a solo plus a double or two doubles. Some would be sythetic, others might be down. But you could try out the concept very cheaply.

Or start with a thrift-store or craigslist old down bag and cut it down to a quilt to reduce weight and bulk.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/09/2012 23:04:41 MST Print View

I recently completed my first MYOG quilt and did it on a budget. I purchased a used down sleeping bag at a REI garage sale for $9.83 (I usually see them $10-20 more than this). Mine was quite the steal for a little over 9oz of 750fp down. I then purchased my fabric from TiGoat and got their 8d 'kelly green' fabric and black Momentum90 from thru-hiker. You could go even cheaper (also slightly heavier) with some seconds 1.1oz ripstop from diygearsupply. My project came in under 60bucks for a 19oz quilt.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/09/2012 23:22:02 MST Print View


This will be about as cheap as it can be for an "ultralight quilt".

Keep in mind that I can't guarantee the temperature rating.

Order 5 yards of 1.1oz Ripstop Nylon, 2nds from D.I.Y. Gear Supply at $3.20 per yard.

For insulation consider 6 oz per square yard 100% polyester quilt batting from your local fabric supply shop for roughly $12.00. See the link below.

Not accounting for draw cords, thread or other "hardware" your total should be around $28.00 for the above materials.

I made my first quilt in a similar fashion with bulk 6 oz polyester batting off a roll in my local fabric shop. I did not stitch or tie the quilt anywhere except around its perimeter. It kept me warm into the high 40's using a single layer of batting. It weighed in at somewhere around 1 pound 5 ounces as I recall.

The batting in the above link could possibly be doubled into two layers and the resultant weight should end up a little over 2 pounds. Maybe 2 pounds 4 or 5 ounces.

It is not the lightest option but I think it certainly is the cheapest that I know of at the moment.

Keep in mind that if you wear all of your clothes to sleep that a single layer may in fact do the trick.

Cover your head with a fleece or wool hat, wear mittens and use wool sleeping socks! ;-)

I hope this helps.

Party On,


Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/09/2012 23:31:07 MST Print View

IMO best bang for your buck:
1.1oz Ripstop Nylon, 2nds from D.I.Y. Gear Supply at $3.20 per yard.
800+ fill down from wilderness logic at $6.50/oz.

~$75 gets you a 30 deg quilt @ probably 17-18ish ounces.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/10/2012 06:51:31 MST Print View

See Chris Muthig's very nice guide on making a sub 20 oz Climashield Apex quilt for $70 total.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/10/2012 07:35:24 MST Print View

I see nylon at Walmart all the time for .50 $/yard. Or catch a closeout at REI, but a cheap LaFuma, and cut it down.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/10/2012 10:58:49 MST Print View

If you have never built a quilt before either cut down a bag or build a climashield quilt. If hiking mostly in dry weather down is great. If slogging along on the AT or other wet place in rain for a week straight I prefer Climashield plus its really easy to build a climashield quilt.

Get M90 fabric.
Its worth the $.

If your quilt is 3 yards in area the shell will weigh 7.1 oz with one draw cord and a footbox. 5oz apex will weigh 15 oz. You need 5 yds of m90 and 3 yards of apex, unless you are short.

You could go with a cheaper fabric but the wind blocking ability and DWR of M90 makes it worth the $ to me.

I would not use 5mm silk for the shell.
Way too thin, fragile, no DWR and little wind blocking if any.

I am building a M90 shell quilt that will have liners I can insert. Each liner is covered with 5mm silk to protect the insulation. Way too thin and an incredible PIA to work with.

The 5mm silk I have weighs .58 oz per SY so the weight difference is 1.7oz less for the entire shell over M90. The cost difference is $30 more for M90.

If you are worried about the insulation losing its loft, if and when it does. Just open it up, rip out the old stuff, and sew in the new into the existing shell. Pretty easy really.

After building 3 I would suggest just make sure you build it big enough the first time.

Edited by tammons on 02/10/2012 11:16:34 MST.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
Good Suggestions on 02/11/2012 17:57:13 MST Print View

Thanks for all the suggestions. I suppose at some point I will need to balance weight and cost, and this seems like the place. It seems fair that if I went with sil for the tarptent instead of cuben, synthetic instead of down may be a fair trade as well. I'll have to keep an eye out for used down bags to chop up. I may use a nice 50% off coupon at joanns to grab some batting, and see how it performs. Hadn't thought of plain old fabric store batting. As to using a cheap down comforter, we grabbed one on sale and the weight was... a deal breaker. As I'm not in dire until spring, I'll keep an eye out for sales. Of course when I make a decision I'll post it on here for general consumption.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/11/2012 18:58:25 MST Print View

Although fabric store batting will certainly work, you will find it bulky and heavy. At least it was last time I looked. Be sure to get bonded insulation. Expect it to be at least 2 times or more heavier than climashield weight per warmth. Not sure how you would pre-calc the warmth either.

I would just save up and spend the $100 on good materials for your quilt.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: UL on the cheap; Sleep system? on 02/11/2012 19:27:28 MST Print View

My cheap UL system would be the KG-8D fabric from TiGoat and goose down from Feathertex. Slightly cheaper would be 2nds calendered 1.1 nylon. If you don't count the cost of leftover materials, this is the least expensive way I can think of to build a quilt for 20°F and under.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
feathertex on 02/11/2012 23:21:48 MST Print View

wow, haven't seen the Feathertex site before. It is hard to calculate how much down to order without knowing the fill power, but at <$40 a pound, its worth a look!

I think I might save the down option for when I have more time/resources/skills, it looks time consuming enough to merit "do it once, do it right" investment status.

Your 20 degree comment made me realize I probably should add that I'm looking for a PNW three season quilt (about 30*F, I'm a warm sleeper). I plugged in my dimensions and came up with 26 oz with KG-8/5.0 Apex. It would be under $100, and that is an acceptable weight for a (very) long, wide, 30* quilt in my opinion. 1.1 ripstop 2nds would save me $21 and add roughly 5 ounces , a route I may consider.

If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be calculating dollars/ounce in anything other than herbal libation, I would have cracked up. Darn you BPL!

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: feathertex on 02/11/2012 23:54:55 MST Print View

I called Feathertex less than a week ago to order, but they said they're out of down right now. You might want to check out this thread for more info on Feathertex and making a budget quilt.