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are straps necessary on a quilt?
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Stephen Nelson
(stephenn6289) - F

Locale: Sunshine State
are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 19:40:30 MST Print View

I have been searching for a lightweight quilt recently and have found a lot of options. For those of you that are using quilts with straps, do you like them and are the necessary? For those of you using quilts without straps, do wish you had some, do the sides of the quilt come out from under you often?

The biggest difference that I see between the designs is price. Nunatak seems to make quality gear with straps for a hefty $ amount. Other compaines like Jacks R Better weigh slighly more, but don't include straps. I could always just buy some webbing and buckles online and sew them on. What do you all recommend. I want the lighest possible bag, am willing to pay for top quality, sleep warm, and want the bag to get me into the mid forties (1.5 inches loft).

Jason Shaffer
(PA_Jay) - F

Locale: on the move....
Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 20:05:20 MST Print View

I use an Arc Alpinist below its 20F rating, and I'd only want to do without straps in temps where a much lighter bag would actually be the more efficient option. My thinking is, if you really want to squeeze the most efficiency out of the bag's weight, then straps are good. Otherwise the bag might be too lofty for the temps, or it's cut wider than it needs to be.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 20:23:10 MST Print View

Webbing straps don't make since to me.
If you're going to have anything, an adjustable elastic strap would work much better.
That little bit of extra room to move around makes it much less restrictive while still being able to keep the drafts out.

Edited by awsorensen on 02/20/2007 20:23:49 MST.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 20:36:48 MST Print View

I think a lot depends on how you sleep. If you are a die-hard toss-and-turner, straps may be necessary. I tend to turn over 3 or 4 times a night, but I wake up to do so allowing me to adjust the quilt to maintain a comfortable sleep. For me and my homemade quilt, I find the drawstring at the neck of the quilit enough to keep it pulled securely around me.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 20:42:49 MST Print View


I have an Arc Specialist and would take the straps off right now if I wasn't thinking about selling it. I find the straps cumbersome and restrictive. I toss and turn in my sleep and sleep on my side much of the night.

Here's a technique I use for strapless quilting. If you mimic a bat and hold the quilt up over you like wings (with your feet in the foot pocket holding the bottom in place) and then tuck an roll side to side a bit (with some tension on the quilt lengthwise) the quilt will be tucked in very nice. This becomes second nature after a while and is redone each time you shift. This creates an equally effective seal without the straight jacket feel of straps.

I did this one night and looked cross at those straps every time thereafter.

Ray-way has the draft stopper sides option which is for a similar technique. As a matter of fact they are better because with my quilt about 7-10 inches of down and baffles are wasted under me. I'd say 3 inches is the most I would like my down and baffles to wrap under me, then 2 inches of plain fabric for tucking.

Hope that helps. J

Edited by jhaura on 02/20/2007 20:45:19 MST.

Stephen Nelson
(stephenn6289) - F

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 20:46:16 MST Print View

Thanks for the info. Jhaura, would you be willing to sell yours anytime soon? I am very interested, what size do you own?

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Re: Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 21:27:55 MST Print View

Seems like you and I are going through many of the same decisions, I'm looking at Jacks 'R' Better and other quilts too.
If you aren't too unhappy with you'r new bivy, that takes care of some of the strap vs. no strap issues.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 21:56:12 MST Print View

Straps on a quilt? Like most other things, not necessary all the time, but very nice to have when you need them.

I have an Arc Alpinist that has two straps, each one about 3/4 to 1 inch wide and very thin (ribbon-like). Each of the two straps joins to the opposing side of the quilt by means of a very thin wafer-like flat fastener. Very light.

I also have a Fanatic Fringe synthetic quilt that does not have any straps at all, although I have considered adding some based on my experience with the Arc Alpinist.

In sub-freezing weather, especially with drafts present, the ribbons on the Arc do a fine job of keeping its sides from escaping their tucked-in position. Warmer weather means I just dispense with fastening the straps. They're so light and unobstrusive that it's like they're not there.

Can easily secure the straps, whether both or just one, as tight or loose as feels comfortable. Have not experienced a sense of being in a straight-jacket when the straps are fastened, but then I usually fasten the straps just secure enough to keep the Arc's sides from wandering loose when temperatures drop and drafts come around.

As for the Frantic Fringe quilt, the lack of straps makes the job of maintaining a draft-free existence quite a bit more challenging than does the Arc with its straps.

A light bivy used with either quilt helps a great deal to keep drafts at bay. But even with a bivy, the straps are still nice to have available, particularly with very cold temperatures and wind.

I understand some folks may fasten the straps on a quilt around a sleeping pad to keep the two aligned and to help keep positioned between the two. I haven't ever tried that method, but suppose that a straight-jacket sensation might result from strapping yourself between the quilt and pad.


Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 22:30:02 MST Print View

I have 2 No Sniveller quilts. In my hammock drafts are not a problem. I can move around and the quilt just works. When I sleep on the ground drafts can be a problem. The No Sniveller doesn't have straps so I use a Montbell Hat Clip. It has a thin elastic band and can be moved wherever it is needed. I like to have one under my waist. My arms and legs are free to move so it does not feel confining. The clips are smooth and flat and have never bothered me. It also keeps my hat from blowing away. I bought 2 of them from the Boulder store. I seem to recall the cost being about 5 dollars.

Edited by ericnoble on 02/20/2007 22:36:15 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/20/2007 23:26:33 MST Print View

The smaller the quilt, and/or the colder the temp, the more you will want straps. I use my ghost down to around 45F without the straps clipped in. Below that I am using the straps.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/21/2007 02:08:02 MST Print View

[Note: the following is merely my own personal experience and musings on the subject at hand. It is NOT intended to disparage anyone else's experience. In fact, since quilts are so popular with some many very experienced UL-ers, I have to say i must be missing something in my own personal objections based upon my VERY limited experience in this area. So, please read the following with this background in mind.]

I've tried the quilt approach in other than hot summer nighttime temps and didn't like it due to the entry of cold air upon movement. Reheating that air with body heat and valuable calories just doesn't seem to make sense to me.

I need to make clear that i sleep like a dead man, in other words, i rarely move when sleeping (on my back), maybe just 1-2 time per night a minor readjustment is needed to restore some circulation to areas that had been under the pressure of body weight.

Now, i don't use top-bags either, but that's just because i'm unfamiliar with any but the GG, BA, and some SD ones - none of which seemed to meet my needs at the time a few yrs ago when i was beginning to lighten up.

So, why don't quilt users use top bags in colder weather? Is it that the top bags available just don't meet their needs (fit, temp rating, no zipper, need for a special sleeping pad, etc)? Or, is it that last couple of tenths of an ounce (or a bit more???) in weight that is being saved by eliminating the bottom fabric? Does it really save ANY weight at all, since the quilt needs to be made wider to avoid drafts (plus you might want straps in colder weather)? Does all that extra top and bottom WIDTH fabric weigh (plus straps) less than a zipper? [probably?] What about a zipperless top bag (GG sold, or still sells one)?

I'm NOT talkin' warm or hot summer night here. I can buy into a quilt for those sleeping temps where on might prefer to throw the quilt off (just like blankets at home) for a portion of the night when one gets too hot, and then cover up if one gets too cold. Sure i can do it with a mummy bag, but, i'll admit, it's easier to do that w/a quilt.

Also, the lack of an integrated hood (in other than perhaps Dr. Caffin's homemade quilt) also, to my way of thinking and very limited experience, is a weak point also. It's fairly easy for movements to allow cold air to enter at this point. One thing i really like about a mummy bag is the integrated, very well insulated hood. If my head is kept very warm, then the rest of me stands a better chance of stayin' warm too, all other things considered equal. For me, personally, this is very impt in COLD weather. I know that there are down insulated balaclava's/hoods/headgear that some "Quilt-ers" will use in cold weather. However, doesn't this still provide an entry point for cold air b/t the head-covering and the quilt-proper?

Plus, in COLD weather, a 4.6oz (or heavier - up to maybe 7oz) Cuben fiber or PQ + nylon bivy is added to help eliminate drafts, but still allows for some air xchange b/t quilt & uninsulated bivy which, again, needs reheating by the body. Isn't any weight savings of the quilt is lost if a bivy is used?

In cold weather, i swear by a mummy bag with the opening nearly totally closed up with, usually, only my nose sticking out just a wee bit, & an OR gorilla or Seirus neoprene full-face balaclava covering my nose to keep my "snorkel" warm also.

Ok, i know i'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, so what did i not understand in my quilt experiments? What did i miss that has caused me to stick with mummy bags?

Many thanks in advance to those who take the time to educate me with their replies.

Edited by pj on 02/21/2007 08:19:27 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Quilts in cold weather (was are straps necessary on a quilt?) on 02/21/2007 08:48:59 MST Print View

Why don't quilt users use a top bag in the winter? Well... I can think of three reasons.

(1) Some of us switch to a sleeping bag :-) I have found that when it's below 20F I really like the coziness of my fluffy WM sleeping bag. The colder the conditions, the more important it is to block drafts and to have insulation over all exposed areas. I have found that this is easier to accomplish this in a full sleeping bag for only a minor weight penalty. In the winter I am already carrying enough that I move from super or ultralight to lightweight.. so a few extra ounces don't matter to me.

(2) It's what we have. Some quilt users have a single, do everything quilt. In the peak of summer it's a bit warm. In the winter they need to bring an extra layer of clothing for sleeping... but it works, is simple, and was a single purchase. A variation of this is that we own a winter bag, but it has been loaned to someone. We loaned them the bag because it's easier for a novice to use and we know how to use our clothing / quilt / etc in a system which will keep us warm.

(3) For hard core, ultra/super light winter packers, it's a war of grams. The quilt is part of an overall *system* which includes a number of multi-purpose items such as clothing and a bivy. The "variable girth" of a quilt enables the user to tailor the width to match what insulation is worn eliminating gaps without crushing insulation.


Edited by verber on 02/21/2007 08:49:47 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Quilts in cold weather (was are straps necessary on a quilt?) on 02/21/2007 09:38:47 MST Print View

Mark (or anyone else), many thanks for the swift reply.

Given your very high level of experience, I'm payin' close att'n to your words.

So, #1 i buy - basically, you're sayin' that some Quilt-ers would agree with me on a mummy bag possibly bein' warmer/more-comfortable - oz. for oz. or gm. for gm, or warmer & close enough in wt. to the quilt system to make the warmth/comfort of the mummy bag worth the couple-to-few xtra oz.

Your reason #2 makes perfect sense also. We all make do w/what we have. Good point.

I'm still mulling over reason #3. I'd like to see some REAL numbers from someone that for cold weather (below 40F, below 32F, and at 20F for instance) that shows a quilt system is as warm (or warmer) *AND* as light (or lighter) as a mummy bag system. I'm not sayin' that it's not, but i'm just a little bit skeptical.

What i'm thinking is (and it prob. flawed on one or more pts): vs. M-bag

quilt, since it has more area needs more down. [i'm assuming here that the underbody area of the m-bag is less than the added widith/area of the quilt.]

quilt, since it has more area needs more lt. wt. fabric.

quilt, since it's cold needs 2-3 underbody straps (needs is too strong a word here, but many seem to say that they're needed when it's cold - unless i totally misunderstand other's Posts on this issue)

quilt needs an extra nice, large, thick down hood, not normally counted in the quilt wt.

quit req. that the Quilt-er carry a tad more food (assuming food of equal caloric density for quilt-er & m-bagger) due to need to warm the nearly inevitable unwanted cold air entrance that can occur.

quilter needs to carry a 4.6-7.5 oz bivy to also minimize cold air entry upon movement. m-bagger may carry such, but doesn't need to (unless in an ice cave???) or sleeping in a floorless shelter & not using a gnd cloth or sufficient pad & gear to keep bag off of the snow floor.

in cold weather m-bagger might get a better night's sleep than quilt-er due to unwanted cold air entry during sleepy-time nocturnal motions.

Anyone, where am i missing the point and making incorrect assumptions? Not sayin' i'm right; just sayin' that i'm having trouble seein' or understanding the rational of "quilts are lighter than an m-bag for COLD weather".

i will admit that the R.Dial approach to "nighttime urinary incontinence avoidance efforts" ought to be easier in a quilt than in a mummy bag - but, i'm just usin' my imagination here. though unwanted cold air entry might exacerbate this urgency for the quilt user?

What's the practical lower limit for a quilt system? In other words, what do the die-hard cold weather quilt users on the Forums take their quilt systems down to and what do their systems weigh?

Again, many thanks for taking the time to Post and educate me.

Edited by pj on 02/21/2007 09:45:09 MST.

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: Quilts in cold weather (was are straps necessary on a quilt?) on 02/21/2007 09:48:19 MST Print View

I once was a top bag (MacPac Neve) user and have switched to a quilt (Nunatak). I like the quilt for its multi temperature capability. I have used quilts down to 15 F (with extra clothing) and it seems to me that a quilt has greater usability than a sleeping bag, even though I have used "top bags" I prefer a quilt.

I feel that the right clothing to match your quilt is critical and if you can achieve that then you will be warm, and at least survive, in very difficult conditions.

But YWMV (your warmth may vary)


Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/21/2007 09:59:02 MST Print View

"So, why don't quilt users use top bags in colder weather?"

Actually I do. My girlfriend and I sat down and cursed and laughed our way through making a quilt for my Colorado Trail through-hike last summer. I have since sold off all my older sleeping bags and bought a Big Agnes Mystic, my cold weather top bag.

I need to explain the primary reason why I did both. I'm a "wide load" kind of guy, the type who literally starved myself on a regular basis while I was in the Marine Corps. I currently hover around a 53 inch chest, with a waistline that can easily reach 43 inches by the end of a school year, only to drop back to around 38 inches after a full summer of hiking and climbing. But the net result is the same. A typical sleeping bag of 60 inch girth will only fit me comfortably if at least one arm is cut off. I typically turned these bags on their sides and wrapped them around me like a quilt with an impractical hood.

Thus I decided to try quilts. The result is that I have a quilt that is about 59 inches around at the top and tucks beneath me nicely. Despite being 800 fill down, the bag still weighs 26 ounces, due to the sheer size required to effectively wrap me. But I am better off with a comfortable bag that really works well for me.

Then came the switch to the massive 70 inch girth BA Mystic. The bag weighs 44 ounces (despite published weights of only 36 ounces), but is worth it to me since I can actually close it all the way up. I love the fact that any 20 inch pad will work, so I can range from the BA insulated air core through to a Gossamer Gear pad (though it takes a good bit of work to slide this one in). Though rated at 15 degrees, I suspect I can stay warm in this down to probably 5 when fully closed up.

With my quilt, I can probably sleep at 30 degrees in full comfort and extend it another 10-15 degrees by wearing a down jacket (which I can only manage with a quilt as a bag compresses the down). So while I don't save weight versus traditional bags, for the nearly same weight I get sleeping options that actually FIT.

For summer I use a military issue Enhanced poncho liner. It currently weighs 23 ounces, but I intend to cut it into a quilt design and believe I can knock off another 4-5 ounces of fabric. This system should be perfectly comfortable down to about 50 (for me), and will likely be my go-to bag in my hammock.

Edited by Bearpaw on 02/21/2007 10:03:44 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Quilts in cold weather (was are straps necessary on a quilt?) on 02/21/2007 10:02:45 MST Print View


Do you find much unwanted cold air entry during the night in your quilt system?

Do you use an UL bivy as part of your quilt sleep system?

How much does your 15F sleep system weigh (including the necessary extra clothing)?

Do you think that you could put together a lighter 15F sleep system using a different quilt and/or clothing?

Did that MacPac top-bag lack a full-length zipper, hence greatly reducing the upper T-range that it could reasonably handle?

I'd have to agree w/you on the greater multi-temp capability of the quilt system. Though there have been times i'll leave my head out of the m-bag hood, and possibly pull-up & peel-down clothes in my 1/2-zip WM Highlite m-bag, or unzip my MB m-bag & use it like a quilt if it's too warm and i picked the wrong (score another pt. for the quilt's multi-T ability) m-bag for the trek, or i'll just lay on top of the m-bag inside of the bivy or tent on warmer/hotter nights.

Not tryin' to engage in "quilt-bashing" here, just want everything to logically fall into place - so i understand all the "why's" and "wherefore's". i know i must be missin' somethin'.

Thanks again.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/21/2007 10:13:14 MST Print View

Shawn, understood. some rather unique needs.

just curious, did you consider the MB SuperStretch DownHugger bags before settling on BA Mystic? NOT sayin' you made a bad choice - in fact, it's undoubtedly a good choice that you made. I do know that a MB SSDH #1 (a good +15F, or maybe +10F, bag with a s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d ~71" girth) is only 36oz, and a MB SSDH #0 is easily a 0F, or lower, to +10deg bag is 44oz - close to the BA Mystic in wt.

based upon your experience and choice, i think i'll take a look at the BA top-bag offerings again. as i recall from a few yrs ago, it was weight that swayed me to MB SS system vs. the BA top-bags.

Many thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions.

Oh, and i hear ya' on the starvin'. Those ht/wt tables don't take into acct. the "wide body" types. At the time, at under 5% body fat, i was just a couple of pounds from havin' to do extra PT every afternoon to make weight. I felt like i was still in power-lifting training! I would run extra miles on many days just so i could eat a big meal! I can still remember one guy, last name of Brock, 5' 9"(IIRC???) & ~245lb. Everyone else looked like a stick cp. to him - massively broad and naturally mightily muscled (never lifted weights in his life; he was a veritable "gorilla"). He had very little body fat, but everyday until a Dr. just happened to drive by and saw him and came to his aid, he was out there on the Grinder doin' PT. The charts really didn't apply to him either. Wonder what cold weather sleeping bag Brock would pick? Probably the BA Mystic too!!

Edited by pj on 02/21/2007 10:21:49 MST.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
quilts and drafts on 02/21/2007 10:18:34 MST Print View

the correct way to stop drafts on the sides of a quilt is simply to make the quilt wide enough that you can tuck the sides under you and/or allow the excess wide to pile up and block drafts that way. This was discovered thousands of years ago by the first people who used furs or blankets to keep warm. No one with any sense would cut their blanket so narraw that it doesn't cover them properly. The way to save weight is to replace some of the width with a draft skirt, like in the Ray-Way draft stopper, which Jhaura already pointed out. This is not rocket science and while Ray may have independently discovered the concept of a draft skirt, he didn't invent it, because I was doing the same thing on my original Ray-Way style quilt (from the ideas in BB) and I'm sure many other people came up with the same idea independently as well. A typical draft skirts is about 7" wide.

Controlling drafts at the neck area is a little trickier. After much experimentation, and hundreds of nights sleeping under quilts while camping, the solution I came up with is as follows. Make the quilt extra long and wide at the head end (about 54" wide), then sew together the edges at the head end for about 17", thus leaving about 10" unsewed (54" / 2 = 27"). The 10" unsewed gap of this "head pocket" equates to a circle about 20" in circumference, or a little more than 6" in diameter. This is the "breathing hole". If you are a back sleeper, then you simply pull the breathing hole down over your nose and mouth. The 17" of sewed-up head-pocket should be just enough to cover the back and top of your head. Note that the draft skirt mentioned earlier extends all the way up the sides and this is also sewed up, thus protecting from drafts just behind your head. For side sleepers, you can just pull the breathing hole down to near your mouth. It won't be as good a fit as for back sleeping, but it works. The head pocket adds an enormous amount of warmth to a quilt and acts like a hood on a sleeping bag.

The seam of the head pocket is a line of potential coldness, so you might want to make some draft tubes to cover this seam. The easiest way to do this is simply run the seam about an inch or two from the head end, and thus the seam automatically creates a draft tube when the head pocket is turned inside out.

I have yet to try this head pocket system with down though I'm planning to this coming season. I'm sure it will work for back sleepers. However, when sleeping on the side, there will probably be a tendency for breath moisture to get into the quilt due to the the breathing hole not being positioned exactly over the nose and mouth. My camping is strictly 3-season at this point and a little moisture is seldom a problem. For winter campers, it might be necessary to line the breathing hole somehow with silnylon.

I tried the idea of using a separate hood with quilts and find this to be a big nuisance. The whole point of a quilt is ease of temperature adjustment--you just push the quilt aside when you're warm then pull it back over you when you're cold. Whereas a hood is a nuisance to pull off and put back on.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: quilts and drafts on 02/21/2007 10:27:19 MST Print View

Frank, great suggestions.

Do you think your quilt system is lighter than a comparable mummy bag system?

I can easily believe that your quilt system is more flexible when it comes to temp. range & also wearing layers in it (MB SS system being an exception to other m-bags & possibly being near equal to wearing insul layers in a quilt).

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: are straps necessary on a quilt? on 02/21/2007 10:37:22 MST Print View

"just curious, did you consider the MB SuperStretch DownHugger bags before settling on BA Mystic?"

PJ, No I hadn't looked at the Montbell options. My experience has been that their clothing would never ever fit me. I've heard that they typically run a size smaller in cut (understandable for the Japanese market), and I typically wear an American XXL in jackets. Thus I would not have considered any of their bags remotely fitting me. Now I'll have to do some research to see how much down will be compressed in their stretchable bags.