November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Overnight testing experience with down quilt
Display Avatars Sort By:
Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Overnight testing experience with down quilt on 12/24/2012 08:33:49 MST Print View

I wanted to quickly share my backyard testing experience with my new down quilt. Would love to hear thoughts and ideas about warmth.

Purchased a Enlightened Equipment Rev X quilt: 20 degrees, 15% overstuff, wide cut.
I'm 5'11", 210 lb. I have a bad lower back, so I toss and turn during the night.

Clothing worn was specifically to replicate what I'd take on a typical 3 season trip. (Am planning to hike the southern Wind River Range late August 2013). The forecast was calling for a low of about 24, which is what I'd expect the low extreme I'd hope to encounter with this quilt AND this particular combination of clothing. I live in SE Michigan:

Feet: Smartwool hiking socks
Legs: REI lightweight long underwear, convertible nylon hiking pants
Torso: North Face long sleeve 1/4 zip 100wt fleece shirt. REI lightweight synthetic short sleeve T-shirt. Stoic Hadron "cardigan" down pullover.
Head: Buff worn as a balaclava. Mountain Hardwear "Minidome" fleece hat.
Hands: Outdoor Research PS150 XStatic gloves. These are made of olive drab Polartec Powerstretch 150 fleece. Purchased them fairly cheap from local Army surplus


REI Quarter dome tent (easier to set up for the night than fiddling with my ZPacks Hexamid Twin)
Gossamer Gear 1/8" closed cell sleeping pad
Thermarest Z-lite 3/4 length pad
Montbell inflatable pillow
Gossamer Gear sitlight pad under my feet. I planned to put my Granite Gear Blaze AC60 pack under my feat, but it's full of "ballast" right now for training hikes.

I was checking temperatures using an REI keychain thermometer.

I'm using the shock cords shipped with the quilt to cinch the back as tight as I can.
It was about 34 when I went to bed at 9:30 and I was cozy warm.
At 2:30, I got up to use the bathroom and I was slightly cold. Thermometer read about 25 degrees. I decided to put on my "final" layer that I'd have on a trip - which was my Stoic "Stash" eVent rain jacket. I put it on UNDER my down pullover, thinking I didn't want to trap moisture in the down.

At about 4:30 am, I noticed I was a bit cold when sleeping on my side. Staying on my back was warmer, but I can't do that for long.

When I came into the house at 7:30am, I was slightly cold. The thermometer read about 19 or 18 degrees. The last couple of hours of sleeping I noticed I was slightly chilled. Not shivering, but sometimes on the verge of that. I'd move my legs to get blood going, and feel a little better.

It was always worst when I was on my side. I'd try my best to ensure the "gap" in the quilt was underneath my side as much as I possibly could, but it seemed impossible to eliminate cold drafts when side sleeping.

Any thoughts? While I'm pretty happy with how it performed relative to how I intend to use the quilt, I'm not convinced it quite lives up to the hype.

I've ready Andy and Mike's books. I understand that a bivy may improve the draft issue, but that's another 6-8oz, which is weight that could be put into a traditional sleeping bag instead.

Is this something that "just works" for back sleepers, but leaves side sleepers like me outta luck?

Thanks for reading.

I am putting a Thermarest Neoair on my wish list for next year. My back issues are disliking the thin CCF pads more and more.


Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Overnight testing experience with down quilt on 12/24/2012 08:50:58 MST Print View

I am a side sleeper and really love the freedom a quilt provides. I will say that I have found that around 20 or below I prefer a regular bag. I think u might have been pushing your sleeping pad just a little and I would add more insulation to your head.

quilt on 12/24/2012 09:07:02 MST Print View

with clothing, in a tent, I would have expected that to be good to low teens.

I find sleeping on my side warmer than my back.

You probably need a better pad at that temp, and a down hood for your head

Keith F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Overnight testing experience with down quilt on 12/24/2012 09:29:24 MST Print View

A pad with a higher R value will make quite a difference. I recently experienced temps in the mid teens with a 30 degree quilt and some down layers and was quite warm with an x-therm. Also a bivy is not going to do much for you inside a tent and would most likely suffer from condensation issues.

Josh Greninger
Ditto on higher R value on 12/24/2012 09:36:13 MST Print View

Try an Xtherm, the new Big Agnes Q-Core SL, or a Downmat UL.
I've personally made the same mistake, blaming the sleeping bag when the mat is the problem. In hindsight I realized that I was losing heat through the pad.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Drafts on 12/24/2012 10:19:24 MST Print View

A better pad will help, but if you are getting drafts, the quilt isn't wide enough for your sleeping style.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
The weak links on 12/24/2012 10:36:17 MST Print View

I do believe that the weak link was the sleeping pad combination, but that may not be the case depending on what was under it.
If you were on top of dry grass/duff, the pad should have been fine. If you were on wet ground, packed snow, ice, hard dirt, ... The pad was probably letting a lot of heat escape.

And as mentioned, you need lots of insulation on your head when using a quilt or hood-less sleeping bag.

Another possibility is that the quilt wasn't fastened as airtight as it could have been and letting in cold every time you changed positions.

Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
"Overnight testing experience with down quilt" on 12/24/2012 11:00:57 MST Print View

you are using more ground insulation than I do in those temps unless I am on snow, however only using a buff and a fleece beanie in those temps and I would be FREEZING! I get cold sleeping with only a fleece beanie once i get below 40 no matter how warm of a quilt i am using. you should either pull your quilt up over and around your head like a hood or invest in a down hood if you are gonna take your quilt below the 30's.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Headwear on 12/24/2012 11:03:44 MST Print View

Different strokes.
I prefer not to wear a hat, unless it is really cold.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Overnight testing experience with down quilt on 12/24/2012 11:36:20 MST Print View

I think there are a couple of issues here that we need to look at:

Sleeping pad- some have said you are pushing your pad (I agree) a 3/4 pad and a pack for insulation at those temps is really pushing it.
But, if you were warmer on your back then on your side this would contradict some of the pad issue. I have tested pads before and the way I stayed the warmest was to roll on my side- less chance of convective heat loss (less point of contact on your side).

If you have access to some other (heavy) pads double or triple them up and try you test again to see if it is the pad. That way you can eliminate what the different issues are and isolate the problem and then solve it

Draft control- maybe you are tightening up the shock too tight? With Tim's wide quilt you should be able to rotate inside the quilt without moving the quilt, YMMV here.

Head gear- maybe you could/should beef this up at those temps, though 18* would be a freak temp in summer in the winds- possible but highly unlikely.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
backyard test on 12/24/2012 13:00:13 MST Print View

This is going to sound crazy but bring the Thermarest Z-lite 3/4 length pad
inside the quilt and when you roll to your side turn your body but not the pad or the quilt. It works. It dramatically increases the warmth. The pad inside the quilt seals out the drafts. I would also use a Neoair of one kind or another at that temp with the Thermarest Z-lite 3/4 length pad.
I'm roughly the same size and weight. I'm able to use a slim cut epiphany quilt this way without drafts to sleep on my side and keep warm.

Edited by anthonyweston on 01/10/2013 09:05:44 MST.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Overnight testing experience with down quilt on 12/24/2012 13:36:19 MST Print View


I too flip and flop, toss and turn during the night. I know you are being weight conscious but I recently moved from the CCF pads to a ProLite Plus torso sized inflatable. My back continues to thank me.

You'll gain 5 ounces of weight but another 1.2 in R value. The surface of the ProLite Plus also makes it easier to twist and turn without taking the pad with you.

IMHO you'd be warmer, more comfortable and more able to control those "gaps".

BTW unless I did the math wrong you exceeded your test parameters by 5 full degrees. So I would call your back yard test a success with additional data for discussion.

FWIW my current set up is a 30* overstuffed, wide, Revelation X, ProLite Plus inflatable pad and Lightheart Gear Solo tent. I adjust my clothing worn to bed to suit the rise and fall of temperatures encountered.

Party On,


Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Pad and hat on 12/24/2012 14:58:56 MST Print View

Many great replies. Thanks for reading and responding with your thoughts.

I have a few different sleeping pads lying around, including a RidgeRest, A women's REI 1.5" self inflating pad, and my wife's Big Agnes Insulated Air Core.

I can make quite a comfortable heap and explore the idea that lack of "R" on the ground was a significant factor.

I can layer on some warmer winter hats, and a warmer balaclava, too, to see if purchasing a down hood would be a good idea.

Weather this weekend looks similar to last, so it may be a good opportunity to try again. My family is going to think I've lost it. Or at least, have more corroborating evidence to the fact! :-)

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Pad and hat on 12/24/2012 15:39:26 MST Print View

"My family is going to think I've lost it. Or at least, have more corroborating evidence to the fact! :-)"

If they let you back inside for bathroom breaks during your test runs instead of handing you an empty plastic bottle they aren't ready to commit you just yet. ;-)

Better to experiment in the back yard than to freeze out on the trail. Let us know how it goes.

FWIW give the 1.5" REI pad a try. We won't tell anyone it's for ladies. :-)

Party On,


Matt Dapkus
EE 20 Degree on 12/24/2012 20:49:46 MST Print View

I have the EE 20 degree wide with no overstuff (13.25 oz of down) and, honestly, I find it comfortable at the 25 degree mark. I have taken it to the mid teens (guessing on that one based on hiking partners assumption based on his bag's rating, freakishly huge drop in temp from forecast) on one trip. That was with a POE Elite AC pad supplemented with some clothing- Ininji socks, REI midweight top and lightweight bottom, Montane Nitro jacket and beanie. Got intermittent sleep and had the shivers; woke up next morning a bit delirious. In hindsight probably stage I hypo. I have fortified my cold weather sleep system now- Montane Black Ice jacket, Western Mountaineering Flash pants, Western Mountaineering down booties and Exped UL downmat. This is what I need sitting around camp in cold temps (can't go to sleep at 6pm). Interesting trick I learned from a friend of mine (she is an outdoor instructor with kids)- when sleeping at night in cold temps, drape your WPB jacket (I use Event) over your head. The idea is to create a microclimate. I kid you not, it works like a charm and keeps your face warm. I never had a problem with moisture. Also, I am the same build as you and get drafts once in a while depending on my carelessness while rolling over. My one complaint is the Karo baffling and migration of down while sleeping. The concept is great but I believe the squares should have longer walls. In regards to sleeping pad, yes, do not stretch the temp boundary. The extra weight is worth the comfort. In addition, I'm looking at other sleeping options. Either a Katabatic Sawatch or 10/15 degree bag. A friend recently got a Feathered Friends Raven and I'm pretty impressed. I purchased the EE based on never using a quilt and the attractive pricing. Tim makes a good product too and is helpful. It's been great playing around with firsthand to narrow in on various sleeping combinations and comfortability. I was thinking about overstuffing it myself. If that doesn't play out I'll give it to a friend and wander around looking at other options.

Edited by mattdz on 12/24/2012 20:54:41 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
bag on 12/24/2012 21:00:05 MST Print View

drafts can be an issue for quilt users at colder temperatures ... its one of the caveats of quilts for such uses ...

you also will want head insulation as when yr hypothermic (or just darn cold) the loss of heat through your head can be quite high

also what did you eat prior to sleeping ... did you warm up inside yr quilt by doing a few situps?

know the techniques for keeping warm ... that way even if you find out your insulation is insufficient, you can survive

Matt Dapkus
Diet on 12/24/2012 21:23:56 MST Print View

Eric, I totally agree with you regarding food. In the instance I described we all ate a good meal (a healthy custom menu, not boil in the bag) before turning down. But... we also drank a ton of wine that night chitchatting around the fire (sometimes we can't help it). Not good for sleep. Another recent instance was partying the night before hitting the trail. Not good also. That trip we did strictly boil in the bag meals. Never again. I'm a fan of packing good wholesome stuff and creating tasty menus. I don't bring alcohol solo but when hiking in groups it's a decent social thing in moderation. In regards to drafts in cold temps, yup, I'm starting to sway towards bags again. We'll see, need some more fine tuning. I do enjoy not being bound in a bag.

Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
Quilt as part of system on 12/24/2012 22:00:36 MST Print View

In my experience, a quilt is not a 1 to 1 replacement for a sleeping bag in every situation. Sleeping bags are for tents. Quilts are for tarps and bivies. Anecdotally, I've been down to 15º on snow under a tarp with a true 20º quilt and woken up too warm. A quilt is a perfect insulation piece when paired with draft protection. Otherwise, it's just a less functional sleeping bag.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Quilt as part of system on 12/24/2012 23:26:13 MST Print View


"In my experience, a quilt is not a 1 to 1 replacement for a sleeping bag in every situation. Sleeping bags are for tents. Quilts are for tarps and bivies."

Newton said,

"FWIW my current set up is a 30* overstuffed, wide, Revelation X, ProLite Plus inflatable pad and Lightheart Gear Solo tent. I adjust my clothing worn to bed to suit the rise and fall of temperatures encountered."

The key is draft protection which you rightly said, not the hiker's choice of shelter.

If you restrict the use of quilts to inside of bivies you in effect turn them into hybrid sleeping bags.

If the tarp is not staked down to the ground then it offers no draft protection. If the tarp is staked down to the ground it them becomes a floorless tent.

I've used tents, a hammock, tarp, bivy, hard shelters, a bag, quilts, foam pads, an inflatable pad and lately a hybrid tent.

A top quilt is a specialized piece of hiking gear designed to keep the hiker warm and save weight in his pack. The proper use and sizing of a top quilt is key to draft protection much more than the hiker's choice of shelter IMHO and experience.

It is part of a system that must be used correctly in concert with the rest of the system or the system as a whole fails.

Party On,


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cord on 12/24/2012 23:39:09 MST Print View

I'd ditch the shock cordage and just roll up in the quilt. Simpler and the quilt is wrapped around you closely without a gap between the quilt and your body. If the quilt is wide enough, drafts aren't too hard to avoid.