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Newbie needs advice on quilt vs bag
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Kurt R
(kar211psu) - F
Newbie needs advice on quilt vs bag on 08/01/2007 19:07:37 MDT Print View

Hello Everyone,
I have tried to use the search command as much as possible and have read past posts on this topic but still have a few questions. I have been backpacking and camping for many years now, both in scouts and on my own.

Recently I've started to get back into it and would like to purchase a sleeping bag for just summer use.

When I was in scouts I never heard of quilts or top bags, it was always mummy or rectangular sleeping bag.

I'm currently looking at Mountain Hardware's Phantom 45, Marmot's Atom, and Jacks 'R' Better Shenandoah Summer Quilt. All are within $10 of each other due to a special deal through work and a sale at Jacks 'R' Better.

All seem to be of the same weight and temperature rating. My question is what is the benefit of choosing the quilt over the more traditional mummy bag? Do quilts pack smaller and thats why they are popular?

I would like to add that I am a warm sleeper and in the past have often gotten to warm durning summer backpacking trips, Northface synthetic bag no idea what model.

I'd like to thank everyone ahead of time for any advice or information they can offer and apologize if this is a topic that has been addressed many times before (honest couldn't find answers to my above questions :))

Scott Jones
(Ultimate2) - F
Newbie needs advice on quilt vs bag on 08/01/2007 19:24:46 MDT Print View

I would go with the quilt if you are only looking at those options. If it is just for summer, the quilt is superior due to several factors:

1.)If you happen to be a larger person the quilt is much less confining and claustrophobic.

2.) It is much easier to ventilate with a quilt. I think the marmot atom and the Phantom 45 only have half zippers. If you were to go for an ultralight summer bag go with the Western Mountaineering Summerlite with the full length zipper for ventilation

3. Easier to pack

Craig Shelley
(craig_shelley) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Quilt vs Bag on 08/01/2007 20:38:36 MDT Print View

I have used both.

If you sleep on your side, you will probably prefer the bag. I don't own any of the choices you mention, I have a RAB top bag, a Nunatak quilt, and Western Mountaineering and Marmot bags (I gave away Northface and Big Agnes bags I formerly owned). If you sleep all night on your back a quilt has many advantages, some of which are mentioned above.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
bag or quilt on 08/01/2007 21:01:44 MDT Print View

I agree with Scott.
My two season bag was the WM Highlight. I still like it but occasionally the half zipper made the bag still too warm and a bit restrictive ( I toss and turn a lot) Lately I have been using the JRB No Sniveler and I am very happy with it. It is bulkier and heavier but so much nicer and versatile.
The L size is more than enough to cover my small frame even sleeping on my side and long enough to have over my head, however if you are rather large it may be different for you.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
One vote for a quilt on 08/01/2007 21:21:21 MDT Print View

I used a mummy bag for most of my life, but over the last year or so, I ended up using my bags as quilts by unzipping them and just laying them over me. Funny timing on this subject as I just recieved my Arc AT today, and after trying it out at the local park for a few hours, I think everyone should at least try a quilt. A hydrogen and Versalite will be in the gear swap section soon.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Newbie needs advice on quilt vs bag on 08/01/2007 21:42:47 MDT Print View

I'd also vote for the quilt. Yes, I do think they pack easier without a zipper. And aside from being less confining and ventilating better, I think you'll find them more versatile. They're easier to use in a hammock, or as an overbag for colder weather, or as a shawl/cape in camp, or on a regular bed at home. And if you ever sleep on your stomach or side, you won't be stuck breathing into your hood as much.

From your years of experience, you already know what a sleeping bag is like. I'd say give the quilt a try. And if you don't like it, keep in mind that JRB products tend to have high resale value.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Enjoying my quilt for summer use on 08/01/2007 21:43:25 MDT Print View

I've been using my new Nunatak Ghost (customized with 1 oz less down for warmer weather use) my last few trips & love it! I have a WM Ultralite for cooler weather, and it's an excellent bag for late fall/early spring, but obviously way too warm for summer. I considered a summerlite, but did not need the hood, and am glad I went with the weight savings of the Ghost (12.7 oz for a size medium with the ounce less down). I sleep on my side too, so wanted the width of the Ghost. Tom with Nunatak is excellent to work with and will customize your quilt if desired.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
RE: Jacks R Better on 08/01/2007 21:52:27 MDT Print View

I forgot to mention I also have a Jacks R Better down underquilt which I used earlier this year as a top quilt. It's excellent as a underquilt, and good as a top quilt, IMHO. The fabric isn't as nice as the pertex I ordered on my Ghost, but it is well made and a versatile design. The only problem I had using it as a quilt was that the Velcro at the top of the footbox kept opening up a bit. Not so much that it didn't keep my feet covered, but just enough to be a little annoying. If money weren't an object, I'd go with Nunatak, but if on a budget, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Jacks R Better quilt.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Newbie needs advice on quilt vs bag on 08/01/2007 21:55:55 MDT Print View

Hi Kurt-

You might find these two articles interesting reading:

Unconventional Sleep Systems Manifesto

Unconventional Sleep Systems Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview



Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Newbie needs advice on quilt vs bag on 08/02/2007 00:16:05 MDT Print View

"My question is what is the benefit of choosing the quilt over the more traditional mummy bag?"

The examples you give may all cost and weigh the same, but in theory a quilt would be lighter and pack smaller than a full mummy sleeping bag of the same construction.

Think of it this way - you start with your basic Marmot Atom. Then cut out a big wedge out of the bottom, cut off the hood, and get rid of the zipper. It's now lighter, simpler, and packs smaller, right?

So safe to say that the construction of your three choices are not all the same. Maybe different shell fabrics, different fill weights, different lengths/girths, etc. I have not researched them specifically to see why they all weigh the same, but you get the idea.

So aside from what others have said about the versatility of quilts, weight and size should also be benefits.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Quilt vs Bag on 08/02/2007 05:10:26 MDT Print View

I vote for the quilt. After years of feeling like a sardine in a can I purchased a Nunatak Back Country Blanket. I had them add a couple of inches in the shoulders and now its like sleeping at home. With the velcro strip I can fold it in half and use it as a bag or in warm weather open it up. The foot has a draw string so
on cold mornings you can stay bundled up and still walk around. Its kind of like having a down overcoat on.

The fabric is really water resistant. I woke up at Carter Gap (near Standing Indian Mountain on AT-NC section) with rain blowing in the shelter on me. My first thoughts were wet down. The moisture just beaded up and ran off.

My only negative is the sound of the velcro. At 54 I need to get up about 3 AM for . . . well you know (or you will as you get a few more years on you). I'm always concerned that it will disturb fellow hikers. But the way most of them snore its not a big issue.

Rick Dickinson
(coyotebum) - F

Locale: Southwest Virginia
More bag vs. quilt questions on 05/18/2008 05:57:40 MDT Print View

Rather than start a whole new thread I've resurrected this one.

I'm yet another newbie trying to see if a quilt will work for me and my wife. I'm on a tight budget, and I'm trying to simultaneously outfit my self for ultralight solo camping and ultralight family camping (wife, 4-year-old). I'm considering buying a JRB Mt. Rogers that my wife and I can use as a quilt and I can then use as a bag for solo. Is that a workable option?

As for couples quilt sleeping in general, I sleep warm, my wife does not, so my additional body heat will help her, but will she miss the hood? Should she have a hooded jacket (i.e. Cocoon UL 60 Hoody) if she's not going to have the mummy hood that she's used to? For that matter, should I? Or will a balaclava be enough? Most of the time I use my mummy hood as a pillow and wear a balaclava anyway, but there are those times (4 a.m. comes to mind), when it's nice to pop my head back in that hood and warm up my nose. Will I miss that? Will I feel colder with all that heat loss out my head?

I'm in Southwest Virginia, but I do a lot of my hiking in the Rockies and Cascades. I do a lot of shoulder season stuff, especially fall, then winter in VA (which is about the same as fall in the Rockies/Cascades, IMO).

Please weigh in on the various scenarios. All advice appreciated before I spend my precious dineros.


Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Both of you will on 05/18/2008 21:42:18 MDT Print View

need something to keep your head warm, temperature appropriate. Spring and fall around Virginia, a fleece cap is probably enough. Colder weather warrants warmer head gear.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: More bag vs. quilt questions on 05/19/2008 02:27:20 MDT Print View

Me, I open my SB out and pull the hood over my head. Lovely warm head! I leave a breathing hole at the side.

But without insulation over your head, you are gunna be cold.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Quilts for couples on 05/19/2008 11:09:43 MDT Print View

In my review of my Back Country Blanket, I gave the following one-sentence commentary on use of the BCB - which I really like as a bag for me - for a top quilt for couples: "As a two-person quilt the Blanket is satisfactory if the users are close friends neither of whom is a blanket hog." Different sleeping habits, positions, and temperatures make any quilt iffy for two, unless you order one that's considerably larger than standard. Nunatak will do this, and Stephenson's too, but that will be a major investment. You might try two compatible bags that can be zipped together, or using a semi-rec with a coupler either purchased (Western Mountaineering has a good one) or made. And as Roger and Pam have pointed out, both of you will need head gear. Good luck, Richard

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Quilts for couples on 05/19/2008 12:53:24 MDT Print View


I prototyped a few XP quilts for two at about 75" wide. Even at the 5oz/sq/yd weight I decided the bulk was a non-starter for a backpacking product-it was just too big to fit any UL pack- even a 4400ci one- and leave room for much else.

I decided that a duo quilt it has to filled with down to pack small enough or it needs separate into halves for packing.

Also, a 75" wide one is only wide enough if both people are under about 145lbs.

Sven Klingemann
(svenklingemann) - F
Re: Re: Quilts for couples - JacksRBetter?? on 05/19/2008 13:21:51 MDT Print View

Has anyone used two JacksRBetter single quilts and coupled them with omni-tape to use as a couples quilt? If so, what were the Pros and Cons that you experienced?

Edited by svenklingemann on 05/19/2008 14:07:04 MDT.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
Ron... on 05/19/2008 14:37:34 MDT Print View

Ron, if you have any of those prototypes stitting arround I might be intrested in buying one. Could you send me a PM

Randall Miller
(speyguy) - F

Locale: Cascadia
Quilt vs bag on 05/19/2008 15:33:46 MDT Print View

I believe all of the JRB quilts are 48 inches wide. Find a blanket or mock something up 48" wide and lay down with your wife and see if you really think you could do a whole night together with something that narrow. I think you will get the answer pretty quick. There will also be a huge gap at the top between the two bodies that will not be sealed. I went thru this as well and in the end just decided that 2 seperate items was easier. If you or your wife can sew, you might consider a DIY project. Lots of options there.

Edit: I was incorrect. Jacks has a line of quilts on his web site that are 85" x 61". They look good for two.

Edited by speyguy on 05/19/2008 22:25:13 MDT.

Rick Dickinson
(coyotebum) - F

Locale: Southwest Virginia
Zip/velcro together vs. large quilt for couples? on 05/27/2008 20:26:41 MDT Print View

Thanks for all your input. Another option I'm toying with is a single quilt (i.e. JRB Mt. Rogers or Nunatak BCB) vs. two separate units that can zip/omnilok together. Any thoughts?