Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review

The Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt is an ultralight summer quilt designed “with the ground sleeper in mind.” As the lightest of three wearable quilts available from JRB, the Sierra Stealth has a resealable Velcro head hole in the center that allows the quilt to be used as a serape around camp - eliminating the need for a lightweight jacket in addition to sleeping gear.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

In places where morning and evening temperatures are brisk, the unique wearable design means you can leave your summer jacket at home and depend on the quilt to keep you warm. As a top quilt, it is a reasonably priced performer that works well for temperatures above 40 F (4 C).

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by Chris Arrasmith |

Introduction

The Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt is an ultralight summer quilt designed “with the ground sleeper in mind.” As the lightest of three wearable quilts available from JRB, the Sierra Stealth has a resealable Velcro head hole in the center that allows the quilt to be used as a serape around camp - eliminating the need for a lightweight jacket in addition to sleeping gear. Like other JRB quilts, one end can be formed into a foot box for ground sleeping and six lacing tabs on the sides can be used to secure the quilt around yourself or under a hammock. This review focuses on the quilt as used for ground sleeping.

Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review - 1
JRB Sierra Stealth Quilt.

Technical Details

The quilt features a tapered cut, with a 52-inch (132-cm) width from the head down just past the hips, then tapering to 42 inches (107 cm) at the foot box to eliminate unnecessary weight. Two length options are available (78 in/198 cm and 86 in/218 cm) with the long size recommended for those over 5’10” (1.8 m). I got the long option for this review, and though it measured only 82 inches (208 cm) instead of the specified 86 inches (218 cm), I did not find myself wishing for four more inches (10 cm) of length (I'm 6 feet/1.83 meters tall).

The goose down fill is available at either 800 or 900 loft, with the latter being $15 more for a mere 0.75ounce (21.3 g) of weight savings. The stitch through baffle design is a weight savings over other down baffling methods and is meant for warmer temperature use (40-45 F/4-7 C).

Twenty-one-inch (53-cm) Velcro strips and a drawstring are used to transform the narrower end of the quilt into a foot box, which is necessary to keep the quilt in position while sleeping. A bit of experience using quilts makes it easy enough to keep the top end in position when rolling over on a sleeping pad, but the foot box is a must for the lower end. Traveling toward the head of the quilt, there are three sets of lacing tabs designed to “secure the quilt around a pad,” although I didn’t find this to be a very useful sleeping method as the foot box itself is much too small to fit around a sleeping pad. The tabs are handy for securing the quilt around your body when using as a serape or cape - to be discussed shortly. A second drawstring and the final pair of lacing tabs at the head of the quilt can be used to close the top if desired.

The uniqueness of the Jacks 'R' Better wearable quilts is just that - you can wear them like a jacket to keep warm in camp. There is a 12-inch (30.5 cm) Velcro opening halfway down the length of the quilt to poke your head through and wear the quilt like a serape. Though not nearly as cool looking as Clint Eastwood, the serape-mode is functional as a method of staying warm around camp without the need for another jacket. There is even a handy carabiner included on one of the lacing tabs to hold the quilt more snugly to your body and out of the way of any game changing cook fires. The dual-purpose nature of the wearable quilt makes it attractive for ultralight summer backpacking.

Specifications

Manufacturer Jacks 'R' Better
Sizes Regular: 78x52 in (198x132 cm)
Long: 86x52 in (218x132 cm)
Long Tested: 82x52 in (208x132 cm)
Weight Manufacturer Claim: Regular 16 oz (454 g)
Manufacturer Claim: Long 18 oz (510 g)
BPL Measured: 18.7 oz (531 g)
Fill 800 or 900 fill goose down
Loft 1.5 in (3.8 cm)
Fabric 1.1 oz, 30 denier ripstop nylon
Temperature Rating 40-45 F / 4-7 C
Packed Size 7x7x5 in (18x18x13 cm)
Stuff Sack Manufacturer Claim: 1.2 oz (34 g) silnylon
BPL Measured: 1.4 oz (40 g)
Price $209.95 - $234.95 (reg 800 FP - long 900 FP)

Field Assessment

Summer camping with the quilt has been a pleasure. I’m one who likes to lie on my camping pad with my sleeping bag unzipped over me so I can spread more - so the quilt was a welcome weight savings over the typical 20 F mummy bag I’ve found myself lugging around in summers past.

Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review - 2
The JRB Sierra Stealth is 52 inches (132 cm) wide through the head and shoulders, and tapers to 42 inches (107 cm) at the feed (right side). The foot section can be closed into a foot box via Velcro strips and tied at the top to keep it from opening (blue arrows). There are six lacing tabs to tie the quilt around you for draft prevention or when used as a serape (red arrows). The Velcro head hole is in the center of the quilt.

The closeable foot box is a key feature of any top quilt. Without the ability to tuck your feet in the bottom, the quilt would tend to migrate all over the place while sleeping (at least for me). There is a set of ties at the top of the Velcro section to keep it from separating due to movement and a drawstring at the bottom to close the hole. The drawstring at the bottom of the Sierra Stealth leaves a small half-inch hole when fully cinched up. On cooler nights the hole can be plugged with a spare sock before cinching the drawstring to eliminate drafts at the foot - a method I discovered in my efforts to find every available means to seal up drafts when one of my summer adventures dropped unexpectedly below freezing at night.

The JRB website says the six lacing tabs (three on either side) are to secure the quilt around a sleeping pad if desired. I don’t think this is a practical quilt tactic. The foot box is too small to stuff a pad into and still have enough wiggle room for your feet, and having the quilt wrapped around the upper portion of a sleeping pad and not the lower portion just invites warmth sucking drafts. On warm nights I felt no need to tuck the sides in, preferring the roomy feeling of the quilt simply lying on top. If I started to feel cool, it was easy to grab the open sides of the quilt and give them a quick tuck between my body and the sleeping pad to eliminate the drafts.

Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review - 3
The open top quilt method preferred on warm nights (left). On cold nights I hooked the middle two lacing tabs (red arrow) together with the provided carabiner to use the quilt more like a mummy bag. This provided a means to keep the sides of the quilt tucked between me and the sleeping pad to eliminate drafts.

In cooler weather it was very important to keep the quilt tucked between me and my pad. On the cold nights alluded to above I found it difficult to keep the open sides of the quilt sealed against drafts until I used the included carabiner to hook the middle two lacing tabs together underneath me, as shown in the figure above (right). This turned the quilt into more of a mummy bag with an open slit on the bottom, much more manageable to keep tucked in and warm. Clipping the tabs together with the carabiner was easy to do after I climbed into bed, so there was no restriction on entry. I found it unnecessary to hook the remaining two sets of lacing tabs together. The lower section seemed to stay tucked fine and I naturally tuck the head end under myself or my pillow while sleeping. Having the middle two of the lacing tabs hooked together made a snug but comfortable width for my torso. A short length of cord could be used in place of the carabiner to add more width while still maintaining the tucking capability.

I personally didn’t find any use for the drawstring at the head end of the quilt. The lacing tabs at the top can be tied together and the drawstring used to tighten the opening around your neck, but with the lack of hood this seemed more like strangulation than draft reduction. I found it easy enough simply to tuck the top end of the quilt under my shoulders or pillow.

Rolling over took a little getting used to, as the roll-with-it technique I’ve used to keep my mummy bag breathing hole in place gave me a cool thrill until I twisted the quilt back around. By the end of the first night, I had mastered the roll inside method while leaving the quilt in place and avoiding troublesome drafts. After a little practice it takes only slightly more awareness when turning to keep the quilt stationary.

A word about the down and baffles - the down insulation tends to gather at the edges of the quilt. The baffles are about 6 inches (15 cm) wide and stitched across the width of the quilt. After several trips out I found that I had little insulation on top of me and most of the down had bunched at the edges, or tuck zone, where it is mostly useless, but there is a quick fix. By laying the quilt flat and using one hand to “sweep” the down back toward the center I was able to quickly recover the migrated insulation. This method is useful in planning ahead for cooler nights as you can effectively increase the insulation in the center of the quilt by stealing it from the edges, where it doesn’t serve as well.

Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review - 4
When wearing the quilt, I attached the middle two lacing tabs together in front (left). This kept the quilt tight around my core like a jacket, allowing for easier management of camp tasks like cooking (right).

The wearable mode of the quilt is quite useful. Just open the Velcro strip in the center, slide it over your head and voilà, instant serape. The best way to secure the serape is to place the foot (small end) in the front, then grab the middle lacing tab on each side of the back and secure them together with the carabiner in front of you as pictured above (left). This makes the serape feel more like a jacket with the sleeves cut off. The quilt is kept close to your core and out of the way from destructive sources like cooking stoves. If your hands get cold, just tuck them back inside the flaps. Using the quilt as a jacket like this is functional for tasks in and around camp, but the bulkiness and lack of arms makes it a no-go as a replacement for your trail jacket.

The takeaway? If you need something to keep warm in the mornings and evenings while chillin’ and making food, save weight and wear the quilt. If you need something during go time, make sure to bring your normal jacket.

Summary

The JRB Sierra Stealth fits nicely into the niche of ultralight summer sleeping system. It’s well suited for trips where temperatures won’t drop below 45 F (7 C), and the wearable design means you can leave your jacket at home. The only recommendations for improvement are to include a small carabiner on each pair of lacing tabs, and do away with the drawstring at the head end.

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to the manufacturer to review this product under the terms of this agreement.

 


Citation

"Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review," by Chris Arrasmith. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/jacks_r_better_sierra_stealth_quilt_review.html, 2011-12-06 00:00:00-07.

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Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review on 12/06/2011 13:07:36 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review

Edited by addiebedford on 12/07/2011 13:28:22 MST.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review on 12/07/2011 09:28:05 MST Print View

Answers a lot of questions I had about these looking for a 45*F solution for next summer. Great little write-up.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Good Write Up on 12/07/2011 09:31:43 MST Print View

Good review. Considering the price of a quilt and a insulated jacket thats a good value.
Personally though as I've said before I'm leery of using single down item for both sleeping and wearing. I'd be really worried about ripping it, getting it wet or melting a hole in it. On the other hand I'm thinking I might make a synthetic version in the feature. Sythetic could be washed easier, and a small hole in a synthetic quilt would not ruin it.
Thanks for the review, I might be referencing it for a MYOG project someday.

Jake Palmer
(jakep_82) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review on 12/07/2011 10:05:53 MST Print View

I disagree about removing the the drawstring at the head. I get a much better seal on cold nights when I tighten up that drawstring. Without it I don't stay as warm.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Re: Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt Review on 12/07/2011 10:50:58 MST Print View

" I get a much better seal on cold nights when I tighten up that drawstring. Without it I don't stay as warm."

+1

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Tips from a Sierra Stealth Quilt User on 12/07/2011 11:13:53 MST Print View

- Don't wrap the quilt under the pad, especially such a big pad as in the review. Buy some 1/16th in shock cord and mini line locks (I bought from Zpacks) and string up the 6 tabs on the back. This works great to keep the drafts away. I also lost some weight on the quilt and did some sewing:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=49393&disable_pagination=1

- I protect this wearable down quilt just as much/little as I do a down jacket while in camp. It stays relatively close to body and I haven't damaged it yet during camp chores. Of course going SUL is going to mean having items that are multi-use, just part of the game.

- You ~can~ drop a trail jacket from your gear list that is an insulating piece to your kit with this wearable quilt. Just buy the JRB down sleeves to supplement around camp on especially cold 3 season nights. They weigh ~5 oz and also are multi-use in that I don't need to carry heavy duty socks for sleeping at night, I just take the sleeves off my arms and wear them as massive leg warmers, work great and saves weight in my pack.

GL!

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
Keep top drawcord on 12/07/2011 11:59:55 MST Print View

" I get a much better seal on cold nights when I tighten up that drawstring. Without it I don't stay as warm.

+1"

+2 - using the top drawcord around your neck, not tightly, (which I replaced with a lighter one than JRB uses) not only reduces drafts around neck and shoulders, but also helps pull the sides in a bit toward the body for extra warmth and reduced air infiltration around the torso.

Jeremy Olson
(Kayaker7775) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
I love this quilt on 12/07/2011 13:51:57 MST Print View

I love this quilt. It works better than any other sleeping bag or quilt I have used. The weight vs size vs warmth is fantastic. I keep very warm in this quilt.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Down shifting in Sierra Quilts on 12/07/2011 14:02:45 MST Print View

I have the same observations about down migrating to the sides of the quilt where it doesn't do much good. Yes, I can shake back towards the centre of the quilt fairly easily, but I would rather have the insulation stay where it belongs in the first place, that is: the upper torso where I need it the most.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: Down shifting in Sierra Quilts on 12/07/2011 14:16:50 MST Print View

I understand where you are coming from, but some people enjoy the shiftability in that for really hot nights, shift the down to the sides...for really cold nights shift it to the top. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Re: Down shifting in Sierra Quilts on 12/07/2011 16:15:06 MST Print View

Moving down around seems to make some sense in a full bag. Arguably one might wish to shift insulation from the bottom (where it is compressed anyway) to the sides or top of the bag, but obviously this technique does not apply to a quilt. As you say; different strokes.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
$20 off on 12/07/2011 19:01:58 MST Print View

Timing is everything...The JRB 3 day Holiday Secial on the Sniveller Style quilts ends tomorrow, 8 Dec at noon...So Sierra Stealth are $20 off in either 800 or 900 fill (actually 900 regulars just sold out, but we there are more under construction so any ordered by the end of the sale will be delivered before Christmas). Plenty of 800s and Long models in stock.

Pan

http://www.jacksrbetter.com/Wearable%20Quilts.htm

Jesse Taylor
(ahikernamedgq) - F
Anders Johanssen? on 12/08/2011 12:25:01 MST Print View

That looks exactly like a DIY quilt from a Swedish website by a really talented DIY gearmaker named Anders Johanssen (www.andersj.se). The only difference is the color.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Tips from a Sierra Stealth Quilt User on 12/08/2011 20:52:35 MST Print View

"I don't need to carry heavy duty socks for sleeping at night, I just take the sleeves off my arms and wear them as massive leg warmers, work great and saves weight in my pack."

Ingenious!

A JRB quilt is definitely on my list of wants now. I always have trouble keeping my feet warm and this little trick should prove invaluable.