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Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts
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Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts on 02/09/2014 09:45:02 MST Print View

I've been researching bags and quilts for the past month and have narrowed my choices down to the following bags/quilts.

Zpacks 30 degree

Western Mountaineering Summerlite

Enlightened Equipment Enigma - 850 down

While weight is an important factor and one that has convinced me to spend big coin, long term durability is also a consideration since I can't afford to be making $400+ purchases every few years for myself. With a wife and kids that will be backpacking with me soon I'll have too many other pieces of gear to pickup for the family so this purchase needs to last me.

I know that the Western Mountaineering bags hold up very well long term which is why the summerlite is on my list. The appealing thing to me about the Zpacks and EE quilts are the huge weight savings and I believe they will be significantly warmer than the summerlite given the amount of down they use.

The Zpacks and EE quilts are using extremely lightweight fabrics which is why I have some concern regarding durability. Both quilts are using newer materials so I understand that there won't be people chiming in with two or three years worth of experience but I still value the input of the community here which has been extremely helpful in my choices of gear and which led me to purchase a lifetime membership to support this fabulous source of information.

EE Enigma - PHANTOM10D ultralight Nylon taffeta .65oz yd2 and Zpacks .75 oz/sqyd Pertex GL. I'm not sure what weight material WM uses on their bags but it seems to be very durable.

Any input is greatly appreciated. For reference I will only be using the bag 20 nights a year for the next few years until the kids get older and then I expect it to be more in the 30-40 nights a year range which compared to a lot of people on here isn't much at all. I suspect that I don't have much to worry about with the number of nights I'll be using the gear, but I am always weary of the remarkable destructive power that young children possess. Chances are they will never get the chance to touch the bag since I'm careful to guard fragile items from them (they love to attack anything electronic in the house and it's always a constant battle).

Edited by osb40000 on 02/09/2014 10:57:11 MST.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Western Mountaineering on 02/09/2014 09:54:21 MST Print View

I used a Western Mountaineering UL for a thru hike and it appears to be in the same shape that it was before I started. This year I will be doing another thru hike and will take a Zpacks 20*. Seems a little more fragile and I don't like that it is supposed to be hand wash only. The weight is hard to overlook though. We'll see.

AT Hiker

Locale: East TN
Durability on 02/09/2014 10:37:30 MST Print View

I have both Western Mountaineering and Zpack bags and have used them extensively. I don't think that you will see any difference in the durability. I recently ordered a quilt from EE and can't speak about it, but my expectations are that it will in the same class.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Long term durability of Enlightened Equipment bags/quilts. on 02/09/2014 10:38:53 MST Print View

Well, I have been using one of Tim's very first quilts since circa 2007(?),well before he became EE, and it is still going strong. Never had any issues with it in over 300 nights (that's a heck of a lot of weekend trips, man). I have used it as a top quilt, under quilt and even a two person top quilt. On the ground, under a hammock or over a hammock, they just plain work. I have also used at least nine versions of his other enLIGHTened Equipment quilts with the same results. Even a few dog quilts. Can't recommend them enough. IMHO, best UL quilt bang for your buck. Full disclosure: sometimes I get to test some of his quilts out and am occasionally a sounding board for new ideas, but I do not work for EE.

My first quilt from Tim (2008):


My son, back from Afghanistan, and I section hiking part of the PCT last year (he used his EE synthetic quilt as a hammock UQ. Marines are notoriously hard on their gear, so it speaks volumes that the thing still looks new.):


Here we have a EE top quilt drying, EE 3/4 under quilt (on the hammock), and an EE dog quilt drying.


Dog quilt (that converts to a doggy parka!)


And just for fun, here's a kilt sporran Tim made for me (whata' guy!).




Edited by bigfoot2 on 02/09/2014 18:14:38 MST.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
WM on 02/09/2014 11:00:38 MST Print View

I have had a Western Mountaineering Alder going on 4 years now and it has performed fantastically. Quite durable and comfortable.

If you're looking at Zpacks and EE (and are comfortable going the quilt route), I would also highly recommend checking out Katabatic Gear. I picked up an Alsek last year and the construction/durability is up there with WM, in my opinion.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts on 02/09/2014 17:09:22 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/21/2015 06:44:43 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts on 02/09/2014 18:39:28 MST Print View

"LIFETIME NO QUESTIONS ASKED WARRANTY. Lived in it for 10yrs and never washed it and no longer lofty? No problem"

That does sound good..
So who pays for the ones that are careless about their gear usage ?

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts on 02/09/2014 18:45:20 MST Print View

EB works that way, as long as you have the original receipt.

Otherwise, it will be refunded at the last selling price in the computer for the model (tags need to be present or presented as well).

I just went thru this with a Downlight vest that I didn't have the receipt for…unfortunately, the last selling price was $39.99 for that particular season's model.

-Mark in St. Louis

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts on 02/09/2014 18:51:04 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/21/2015 06:45:16 MDT.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Long term Durability on 02/09/2014 18:57:39 MST Print View

Any reason you left Feathered Friends off the list? They make great, light weight, durable bags and stand behind their products.

Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
Re: Long term Durability on 02/09/2014 19:11:32 MST Print View

Feathered friends makes fabulous bags but they don't have anything in the right size for a 5'5" , 170lbs guy with broad shoulders and a large chest. Their mens bags are too long and their women's bags far too narrow in the shoulders.

Zpacks, EE and WM all carry bags that will fit me well so they're the finalists.

Being built like Gimli from Lord of the Rings makes finding clothes, shoes and gear challenging. For clothes lengthwise I'd fit in a small but I literally cannot pull a small shirt/jacket on and even mediums fit snug around my shoulders. Unfortunately mediums run long on my arms and torso. Alas, not everyone into the outdoors is 6' , 165lb endurance athlete with 5% body fat. :)

Edited by osb40000 on 02/09/2014 19:16:47 MST.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Long Term Durability on 02/09/2014 19:28:24 MST Print View

I am partial to Feathered Friends because I own several of their bags an love them. This year was the first year I bought a custom bag from FF. They were easy to work with and many folks don't know they will gladly do custom work as they make their bags in Seattle (full disclosure - I live in Seattle). Might I suggest a custom FF Vireo for your consideration? I am 6', 210, and went with the size long, as you actually want to size this bag up. See this link about the Vireo, it is great quilt alternative for the same cost as comparable Zpacks bags.

You could go with the short or regular, and if your goal is 30 degrees, 3oz of overfill in the top half should do the trick. Mine is a true 20 degree bag for me with 5oz of overfill in the top half (tested in my summer merino sleep cloths to 18 degrees). I have a stout build and find the wide girth of the bag to be great. It cinches down in the cold and can be opened up for venting if it is warm. I am also a restless side sleeper and found this to be a great quilt alternative. Finally, there is plenty of room in the top half to layer with a down piece to push the bag lower.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Long Term Durability on 02/09/2014 20:03:19 MST Print View

I've had a WM Caribou 35F bag for about 10 years now, most bag nights of my WM bags. About the time I think it is getting cooler to sleep in it, it'll get my now 60 year old body thru a Zip-o-gauge 24F night in Spring, with just a syn jacket draped over my chest sometime in the early morning hours. I snagged it on the zipper last summer without being careful to free it, so I need to fix that before much more usage. I just picked up a EE 30F Enigma in Oct., no chance to use it to temp ratings yet. Drapes very well over my 160 lb. frame, without the straps.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Durability on 02/09/2014 20:22:51 MST Print View

My view is that all of these bags will last a very long time with proper care.

My wife has a WM bag, while I use Zpacks quilt made of 7D. They're all well sewn, so durability is simple a matter of how well you take of it. Bags/quilts aren't hard to be nice too (compared to say, a windshirt), so they're the perfect application for the lightest woven fabrics. I fully expect to get 20 years or more out of my Zpacks quilt.

Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
Feathered Friends Vireo on 02/09/2014 20:31:50 MST Print View

Edward that looks like a very interesting bag and out of all the feathered friends offerings looks like it comes closest to fitting my needs. I'll look into it further, thank you for the recommendation.

Dan, from the responses thus far I have a feeling you're right on the money. So many quality options, decisions, decisions.

Edited by osb40000 on 02/09/2014 20:34:39 MST.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
life on 02/09/2014 20:33:28 MST Print View

They will last a lifetime basically. Even if my Zpacks bag losses loft it's still going to be an awesome bag.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
life on 02/09/2014 20:38:31 MST Print View

Sleeping with baselayers or a silk liner will help quite a bit keeping oily skin off fabric.

Lapsley Hope
Take a look at... on 02/09/2014 20:48:56 MST Print View

UGQ. Underground Quilts seem to be making a good product as well.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Long term durability of Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment and Western Mountaineering bags/quilts on 02/09/2014 21:26:02 MST Print View

The Summerlite works well for me (5'8" ,155lbs) but I would not say that I have broad shoulders more like the shoulders of a broad.
(yes I am abroad...)

have you been inside one ?

WM also has the 5 oz heavier but 4" wider 5'6" MegaLite

Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
WM Summerlite on 02/09/2014 21:47:14 MST Print View

Franco, I haven't been inside of one but have a Marmot bag with similar dimensions that just fits enough. I've looked at the Megalite and I think it would be a better fit for me if I planned on layering underneath it. Since I have the Marmot bag that's ~ 10-15F bag I hadn't planned on needing to layer under the summerlite but now that you mention it I may have to give the Megalite some more though. My main concern was having dead air to fill and it requiring layers.