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To quilt or not to quilt?
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Travis Brown
(jukebox) - F

Locale: Austin
To quilt or not to quilt? on 06/11/2012 21:25:02 MDT Print View

Hey guys, trying to nail down my sleeping arrangements for my Colorado trip in September. I've been looking around alot and reading alot but I have some questions. I was really eyeing the Golite 3 season quilt but haven't pulled the trigger because they are all out of stock. But in recent readings I've heard a few people say that if you are a side sleaper or you toss and turn at night that quilts probably aren't for you. I do both of these things so I'm thinking of reverting to a mummy again. What are your experiences with this? I don't want to end up sleeping at 12k feet wishing I had a real bag.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: To quilt or not to quilt? on 06/11/2012 21:45:51 MDT Print View

It's the drafts that do it to me, and it depends how cold it is. When it's much above freezing, the drafts don't bother me. When it drops into the teens I try to stay absolutely still so there aren't drafts because the drafts at that temperature are shocking, even if I stay warm. For me being a side sleeper means I toss and turn because I eventually become uncomfortable and have to switch positions occasionally. Using the right width can make a big difference in your warmth, or at least the ease in attaining it. My Golite quilt is so wide that there's still room inside even when the edges are touching beneath my body. My EnLIGHTened quilt was made when I was thinner, so I'd get more drafts if I went winter camping right now. I'll have to lose weight if I want to be more comfortable next winter.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Side sleepers on 06/11/2012 21:47:34 MDT Print View

I think it depends, really.

I found that the type of shelter I used impacted how much I enjoyed my Golite quilt. Using a fully enclosed tent with less mesh blocked a lot of the wind, but using a tarp-like shelter left me open to frequent cold spots (gotta love the Colorado gusts!).

In addition, I've found that I sleep much better when I have room to spread out and don't have to fiddle with sealing out drafts. I've picked up a slightly used Western Mountaineering Sycamore and prefer it over my previous quilt in every way (other than weight, of course!)

Your mileage may vary, obviously, and I know a lot of people on this forum have success with quilts out here in Colorado, but I'm not one of them. I was willing to add a little weight back to get a good night's sleep.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: To quilt or not to quilt? on 06/11/2012 21:50:30 MDT Print View

My wife and I quilt in the snow. Yes, we do turn over during the night. Yes, we are fine.

The secret for any comfortable arrangement is to use a quilt which is wide enough. Buying a really narrow quilt just to be politically-correct UL is a waste of money (since you end up buying something else fairly soon) and not UL (since you end up having to carry a lot of extra clothing).

Hint: buying a hoodless quilt, or one so short it cannot cover your head, is equally silly. Your head is the most critical bit of you.


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Quilts on 06/11/2012 22:00:20 MDT Print View

"The secret for any comfortable arrangement is to use a quilt which is wide enough. "

Yup. I agree 100%. At 5'11, 165lbs, a quilt that is about +52" wide at the head AND hips is generous enough for lots of side sleeping and turning. Once you dip below 48" at the hips (at my size) you start to run into challenges with side sleeping.

Nathan Stuart

Locale: Hunter Valley - Australia
Hooded quilt ?? on 06/11/2012 22:30:26 MDT Print View

"Hint: buying a hoodless quilt, or one so short it cannot cover your head, is equally silly. Your head is the most critical bit of you."

I agree on the warm head thing but don't quite understand what you mean by pulling it over your head. Wouldn't that introduce moist air being breathed into the quilt. If it's a down quilt that would pose issues wouldn't it ??

How does a quilt with a hood built in work ?? I cannot say I've seen that feature, all the quilts I have seen have been open in the back unlike a sleeping bag where the hood is attached to the bottom/back.
I would have thought a good beanie, balaclava or down hood would be better suited. Is that more what you mean ??

Definatly get a wide one unless you hammock camp or are very skinny.
FYI, I'm 5'11", 78kgs and a 40" chest. For me I like a 56" wide head end quilt. No drafts and unless in the hammock I toss and turn.
Had a 50" summer TQ I just sold as the drafts when the temps dropped unexpectedly to 0°C one morning were not fun on a ground mat.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Quilts on 06/11/2012 22:43:20 MDT Print View

FWIW, I find width at the hips to be just as important as at the shoulders. Quilts that taper significantly to the hips (ie. Katabatic quilts @ 52/42/38") get the most reports of being too narrow it seems, but I think it's because of the 42" at the hips, not the 52" at the shoulders. I prefer a straight cut from the shoulders to the hips, and then it can taper quite a bit from there. Zpacks bags (56/56/30 as I recall) make good quilts if you ask Joe for one made light a quilt.

Re: To quilt or not to quilt? on 06/11/2012 23:03:45 MDT Print View

Depending on whether you wake up when you swap sides (I always seem to, especially if I'm outdoors) you just need to master the art of holding the quilt snug against you when you roll.

As mentioned above, though, a generous width makes this much easier.

Jeffrey McConnell
I toss and turn on 06/11/2012 23:07:53 MDT Print View

I'm a side sleeper who moves around all night. I was a little skeptical about using a quilt at first but now I love it. As was previously mentioned, get it wide enough for your body type and a half taper style works better for side sleepers. Enlightened Equipment has killer prices on quilts it you can be patient and wait for a bit. I have one of his winter quilts and love it.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Hooded quilt ?? on 06/12/2012 00:57:35 MDT Print View

Hi Nathan

> don't quite understand what you mean by pulling it over your head. Wouldn't that
> introduce moist air being breathed into the quilt. If it's a down quilt that would
> pose issues wouldn't it ??
It would pose issues IF your head is right under the hood. But it does not have to be so, just as a mummy bag hood does not have to cover your face.

I am sure I have a really good photo ... somewhere... of Sue under her quilt with just a little of her face showing out the side. Her hood was right over her head, but NOT over her face. Eyes and nose and mouth showing, but not much else!
Ah yes, here it is:

> How does a quilt with a hood built in work ??
Ah - treat the hood as a sort of extension to the body, and put the whole hood over the top of your head. So the hood bit covers your head but not your face. It is best if the hood is in the middle of the top edge. Obviously, since it is only covering your head, it does not need to be as wide as the part covering your shoulders.

> I would have thought a good beanie, balaclava or down hood would be better suited.
Oh, when its cold my wife wears a custom fleece beanie as well. She also wears it sitting up in the tent eating dinner or breakfast, so she has it with her anyhow. Why not?


Edited by rcaffin on 06/12/2012 01:07:26 MDT.

Thomas Conly
(conly) - F

Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow
clothing on 06/12/2012 08:55:06 MDT Print View

I've been using quilts for several years now in a variety of temperatures and conditions and I've loved it. They aren't as fun when you're pushing the temperature rating but I've found that I don't notice the drafts as much if I wear warm clothing to bed. I figure I need to carry a bit of warm clothing anyway so it's not adding weight.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Side Sleepers and Quilts on 06/12/2012 09:02:26 MDT Print View

...seem to go hand in hand. That's the main reason I use quilts, much more comfortable for a side sleeper (at least IMO). I keep one side of the quilt tucked under, if I roll over in my sleep... well, whatever. Usually if I wake up it's not from feeling a draft, it's more like I rolled off my sleeping pad, or my face is smashed up against the side of the tent. I usually don't use mine in sub-freezing temps, so no comment there.

I've used and own quilts from Jacks R Better and Enlightened Equipment - both are excellent products with wide cuts available.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: To quilt or not to quilt? on 06/12/2012 09:27:39 MDT Print View

Some considerations when using a quilt:

-Yes, if you toss and turn it can be an issue.
-If you use a bivy, quilts are ideal.
-If you use a shelter that blocks wind effectively, quilts work well.
-If you use a tarp with no bivy and / or a well ventilated shelter then quilts are less than ideal and will permit drafts to cause issue.
-Quilts must be wide and long enough to permit sufficient coverage if temps drop.
-The benefit of a quilt, at least for me, is not weight savings but instead the comfort of not being snugged up too tightly in a mummy bag. On the other hand, I dislike using quilts below freezing and am in the process of purchasing a full coverage bag for these trips.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
to quilt or not to quilt on 06/12/2012 09:33:59 MDT Print View

Try it with your sleeping bag. Unzip it completely and drape it over you.

If you wake up the next morning after the best nights sleep in the back country ever, then you are clearly a quilt man.

If on the other hand you feel drafty and cold, are constantly fiddling and tucking in the "quilt", and in the cold morning hours give up and zip up the bag nice and tight then the opposite is true and you should just hold onto that sleeping bag.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: To quilt or not to quilt? on 06/12/2012 10:09:33 MDT Print View

This question seems to come up quite a bit here, the answers always span the gammet of opinions.

David Ure touched on all the major points to consider.

Ultimately, it is experience that will determine whether or not a quilt is for you or not. So many people write things off because they don't practice before the "big day". Pick up a cheapo quilt (JRB, Golite, etc.) and give it a shakedown prior to your trip in September- 3 whole months away- if this decision is of such importance to you. One question to ask yourself is: "Why is your current sleeping bag setup not working for you?" If you cannot come to a definitive answer to that question then consider saving yourself the hassle of finding an alternative sleeping arrangement and take what you have if it is suitable for the conditions.

Unless you spring the coin for a custom (*expensive) quilt tailored to your specifications, the weight savings between a lightweight down sleeping bag and a quilt is a few measly ounces. The benefit is typically not to be found in weight savings in most cases but in comfort and flexibility for the user (subjective). Factor in a wide cut and overfill and you're right back to the weight of a ul down bag w/ hood. A quilt compliments an entire shelter/sleeping system- look at this decision cohesively and not independent of each other.

Travis Brown
(jukebox) - F

Locale: Austin
Thanks on 06/12/2012 20:43:21 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the comments guys (and gals). Just to fill in the blanks here I'm using a Tarptent Moment and a z lite pad. I don't currently have a bag because I returned my Rei synthetic bag because it was way too heavy and it took up too much room in my little Osprey Hornet 46 bag. As far as testing goes, I live in Austin Texas and its June. Conditions are not exactly optimal or similar to the conditions I will be sleeping in. I would be lucky if it got in to the high 70's at night here right now.

Thanks again, I'll just make sure the quilt I buy is wide enough and I think I'll be set.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Thanks on 06/12/2012 21:38:30 MDT Print View

I like the Nunatak Arc Alpinist -- for its width, as well as (with some customizing) a differential cut, adding 2 oz of overfill, increasing baffel height to allow for extra loft, and sizing between standard "long" and standard "medium" lengths.

With overfill and medium-plus length, total weight came to 24 oz.

Nunatak website rates the Arc Alpinist down to 20 degrees -- which it definitely meets in my experience -- especially with that extra 2 oz overfill -- which includes fall in the North Cascades, the Tetons, and the Winds.

Really like having the ability with a quilt to easily adjust for comfort under different conditions -- from mild to really cold -- by loosening it up or snugging it up, slipping into more clothes (like that width!) or just pushing it aside.

Don't know if I toss in my sleep. I'm usually asleep.

Edited by JRScruggs on 06/12/2012 21:40:33 MDT.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
golite quilt on 06/13/2012 14:06:02 MDT Print View

I just purchased the new one right before they went out of stock after reducing their prices. I LOVE the product. I use it for hammock camping though, not on the ground so I don't have the toss and turn issue.

I think you need to take into consideration your size. I would have a problem with drafts because I am a big guy... 6 foot and heavy. This makes it harder for me to use a quilt.

If you are big, look at big agnes bags.. it works just like the quilt but instead of the bottom not being their, their is a pocket for your pad to slide into. This completely removes the problem of drafts. I think they have a UL option on a few of their bags. If you are looking for piece of mind in your next decision that may be a good way to go.. a littel heavier than a quilt but you still get the reduction of weight by not having hte insulation on the bottom but are still completely enclosed and can toss and turn without getting any drafts from the side.

Seth R
(Lerxst) - F

Locale: Northeast
New quilter question on 06/13/2012 15:48:37 MDT Print View

I just took out my new Golite 1 season UL quilt backpacking two nights ago. I tucked the sides of the quilt under my exped pad and used the straps to hold it there. That is the correct way to use a quilt, yes?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Quilt technique on 06/13/2012 21:28:10 MDT Print View

Using the straps under the pad is one technique that some people like. I personally prefer to ditch the straps and just tuck the quilt in around my body as needed. This method is more cozy IMO because you're all wrapped up in it, and it's quite a bit easier for ingress/egress. Try it different ways and see what you like.