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Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review

Very warm, quality gear from a cottage manufacturer dedicated to innovative lightweight sleeping solutions.

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

The updated Sawatch 15 quilt gets the Highly Recommended rating; without the improved snaps at the neck it would only get Recommended. The Crestone Hood gets a Recommended rating; with an openable neck it would get a Highly Recommended rating. However, you need to be sure you actually need the Crestone Hood as it is very warm and really only suitable for extreme conditions.
The Sawatch may be usefully compared to the less expensive GoLite UltraLite 3-Season quilt of the same weight or the more expensive Nunatak Arc Alpinist of slightly less weight. Neither of the latter feature a neck muff or a means of holding the quilt down to the top of the mat, and the Sawatch is rated for slightly colder temperatures.

About This Rating

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by Roger Caffin |

Introduction

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 1
Sawatch 15 Quilt.

Katabatic Gear is a small cottage industry set up 'to build the finest ultralight sleeping bags available,' and the Sawatch 15 is their middle offering (they are working on a quilt for even colder conditions). While rated to 15 F (-9 C), they only call it their 'three season workhorse.' This has got to be different from some other bag manufacturers who notoriously hype their offerings to temperature extremes. The Crestone hood is described as 'our warmest lightweight hood, ideal when extra head insulation is needed.'

Neither of these items feature any of the usual mass-market gimmicks, but the quilt does have an interesting method of stopping drafts from getting in at the sides: it has (patent pending) clips to hold the sides down onto strings tied around your air mat. Yes, they assume you will be using an air mat at the temperatures this quilt is designed for.

I field tested the Sawatch 15 and the Crestone Hood on a couple of trips in the Australian Alps during the winter and early spring. Unfortunately both trips had to be aborted part-way through, before I had done any serious photography, so many of the photos used in this review are derived from the Katabatic Gear website. Those photos have 'KG' in the corner. (The first ski trip was aborted as I needed stitches in my knee. The second trip was aborted as we could not cross the flooded rivers.)

We do not award the Highly Recommended rating lightly: gear needs to be very good to get this rating. However, you should remember that 'highly recommended' does not mean 'perfect' - no gear is ever perfect. I have commented on some fringe features, but commentary is not the same as criticism.

Technical Details - Sawatch Quilt

The fabric used in the quilt and hood is Pertex Quantum: none of your cheap Asian taffeta here. Trust me, it feels very nice. The goose down is rated at 850 loft on the enhanced IDFL USA scale, or 750 - 800 on the more realistic European scale. (The enhanced IDFL scale relies on an unrealistic conditioning process to get a higher score, principally for marketing purposes. Neither the birds nor the down has really changed, however.)

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 3
Details underneath.

The quilt is made with proper internal baffles and a differential cut. The foot end is closed into a footbox, which is really the only way to keep the bottom end of a quilt under control. They claim to have 'overstuffed' the tubes around the footbox so your feet are toasty, but I don't think this is the best way to keep your feet warm. However, the weight of the extra down used is probably barely measurable, and perhaps it will help people with poor circulation.

Beyond the foot box (going towards the neck) the quilt opens up in the usual quilt manner, and a short way up there's an adjustable webbing across the gap (yellow line at left). Personally, I think the buckle could be dispensed with, as I cannot see anyone doing much adjustment. The design simply does not allow for much sensible adjustment, but this does not affect the quilt.

Further up the sides again there are two sets of small plastic clips (red lines): these form the patent pending attachment which is meant to hold the edges of the quilt down to the mat. The picture helps tell the story. The idea is that these clips will hold the edges of the quilt down against the mat to prevent drafts. Since mats don't provide anything to attach to, the quilt comes with two sets of string (one set is a spare) which you tie around the mat to make the anchorages. It is an innovative idea.

In addition, there are extra clips on the outside (top side) of the quilt in just a bit from the edge (green lines). The idea here is that if you are still getting drafts when using the clips on the edge of the quilt, you should switch to using the outer clips, leaving a sort of 'baffle' along the edge to block the drafts. Doing so reduces the width of the quilt a fair bit.

You might ask why not use tapes under the mat to hold the edges of the quilt down? Katabatic claim that using tapes under the mat leaves an air gap down the sides of the quilt which can let drafts in: 'Your precious body heat is spent trying to warm this draft tunnel, which leaves less body heat for you.' Instead, the clips allow the quilt to be tucked in much closer to your body. I'll disagree with part of this: the energy required to heat the small volume of air is utterly trivial. However, if you toss and turn a bit, any air space could definitely be conducive to drafts. At -10 C (14 F), drafts are definitely to be avoided. On the second trip to the mountains, I did not always bother with the strings around the mat, relying instead on my experience with a quilt to avoid getting drafts at the sides. That made it easier to get under the quilt, as seen in the first photo below. More on this in a moment.

Katabatic also claim that tapes under the mat 'can also cause compressed insulation at your shoulder and hip. All this conspires to leave you cold.' That is because the tapes tend to stretch a narrow quilt across your body. I will only partly go along with this idea: the use of a differential cut should prevent any squashing of the down over the high point of your body. However, quite often 'should' does not work too well in the middle of the night when the quilt is only just wide enough. What may be more important here is that this quilt is wide enough to avoid drafts.

I have to mention here that my normal three-season quilt is much wider than this one, so the problems described don't happen with it. Frankly, I think that you might get more joy from adding 6 inches of extra width to your quilt than any fancy methods of holding the edges down. Having a wide quilt means I can drape it partly over my wife when the nights are very cold and share warmth with her. Of course, such extra width does mean extra weight, so things are not that simple, and the Katabatic solution does work. Please note that I am not implying that this quilt is too narrow: that is not part of my field observations.

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 4
About to go to sleep.

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 5
The neck muff.

The top end of the quilt has two interesting features. The first is that the corners of the quilt can be connected under your neck to bring the quilt around your neck and shoulders. That gives it a 'bag' type of neck. You can see the single snap used in the above photo. There is also a draw cord around the neck which can be tightened once the snap has been done up. The second feature is based on the first: there is a down baffle or 'neck muff' around the neck to block drafts. This would be relatively useless if the top was just open like a quilt on a bed, but we all know that neck muffs are quite popular on warmer sleeping bags. It works fine here.

The Sawatch 15 does not have an attached hood. Personally, I like an attached or integral hood on my quilt: my head goes under it and I can manipulate it however I want. Instead, Katabatic offer the Crestone hood or the Windom hood. How well this works is discussed later.

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 2
Crestone Hood.

Finally, in a very nice touch, the quilt comes with its own large cotton storage sack, to keep it clean at home.

Technical Details - Crestone Hood

The Crestone hood is the top of the Katabatic line of hoods, with almost double the amount of down compared to the Windom. It looks just like a conventional balaclava with a longish neck region, but with a rather small opening for the face. It has a draw-cord around the face and two detachable loops of light cord going from the front to the back. These hook under your arms to keep the hood on your head.

Katabatic do make a 'lighter' hood with a larger opening for the face. I mention this here for reasons which will soon become apparent.

Field Assessment - Sawatch

Frankly, hauling the Sawatch out of the stuff sack I was using for it each evening was a pleasure. It feels nice, and I knew I would be warm under it.

The overstuffed footbox worked fine, although I have a bit of a bias against believing the usual footbox marketing spin. My experience has always been that having a good dinner, a good mat under me, a warm head and no restrictions around my legs is usually quite enough. Yes, I have tried breaking each of those rules, and I regretted it every time. But anyhow, under the Sawatch, my feet were always warm with or without socks. The photo here was taken early in the morning in a mountain hut: nice morning sun, but those metal huts do get cold overnight!

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 6
Early morning in a mountain hut.

The tape across the gap worked fine. As mentioned above, it does not seem to warrant the buckle for adjustment. But of course, it works with no attention.

I am in two minds about the clips which fasten onto the string around the mat. Yes, I found that they do work to keep the edge of the quilt down, but... First of all, with both sets (call them top and middle) done up, it is a bit hard to sit up. The top clips drag the mat up as well. Also, once or twice I did notice the clips under me. I am not sure why, because with a bit of a shove and a wiggle the clips ceased to be noticeable.

Second, doing up the clips was always a bit of a hassle at the last minute. There I am, lying down in the dark, and I have to hook the clips onto the string - if I can find the clips and the string. First find a clip, then find the opening in the clip, then find the string. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I just didn't bother, as shown in the previous photo. My wife reckons I fall asleep very quickly in the evening.

I am sure the top clips came undone from the string a couple of times. I thought I had done them up before going to sleep, but at least one of them was undone in the morning. Eventually I reached a compromise with the clips when I used them: I did up the bottom clips before I lay down but not the top clips. This seemed to work fine.

It is worth emphasising a point here: even without the clips the quilt was wide enough to keep me nicely warm. That means that the 'system' is not critically dependent on the clips. I doubt very much that the clips would break under normal field use: the plastic is of a high quality. But even if one did break, it would not be a disaster. In addition, as mentioned below, the latest model of the Sawatch has a backup for the clips.

I mentioned the width of the quilt above. With the clips all done up I didn't experience any draft, so I didn't need to resort to the outer set of clips (the ones with the green pointers). Personally, I doubt they are needed - at least for someone as slim as me (62 kg). And yes, I did find the quilt wide enough that I didn't have any problems with drafts when I turned over - even without the clips. Mind you, I am not a 'clutcher' - when I turn over, I do so under the quilt, leaving it in place. It's practice: you wake up about 10% and turn over, then relax back to sleep.

The neck opening on the unit I had for testing proved less successful. It was very nice when done up around my neck, with the baffle stopping drafts, but the snap came undone rather easily. Doing the snap up in the middle of the night was never easy. I found this a bit frustrating, but see below for what Katabatic have done to fix this.

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 7
New snaps on neck.

So a preliminary assessment is that the quilt is very nice and warm, but the technical features didn't seem entirely successful on the unit I tested. However, Katabatic were aware of these problems and the company sent me an update, which I will quote in full. The new features should be current by the time you read this.

  • Elastic binding around the bottom opening prevents possible gaps and drafts and stabilizes the cord clips, keeping them more securely attached to the cord.
  • Webbing straps and attachment loops in addition to the cord clip attachment system allows bag to be used like a traditional quilt-style bag and allows the option of being used without a sleeping pad.
  • Two snaps at neck closure with reinforced material [see photo to right] provides more overlap for a better sealing collar and improves long term durability in this high strain area.

Total increase in weight for all this was estimated by Katabatic at about 0.5 ounce. I am not sure about the need for the first two modifications, but the double snaps will definitely give an improvement in holding power. (Double snaps seem to give more than just twice the holding power - something to do with how the pull is aligned with the snaps.) I think the double snaps solve the only significant criticism I had, and they are responsible for changing my initial rating from 'Recommended' to 'Highly Recommended'.

Field Assessment - Crestone

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review  - 8
Small opening on Crestone hood.

There is no question that the Crestone hood is suitable for very cold weather. But therein lies a problem: it is sometimes too hot and sometimes the wrong shape.

Above about -10 C (14 F), I found it rather too warm. This created two problems in the field. The first was that face opening is fixed and not large. There is no way to vent this hood. The second is that this warmth means I need to carry a lighter hood or head covering as well, for those nights or times when the Crestone is too hot, but going bare-headed is too cold.

A subsidiary problem is that the face opening is small. I tried to eat dinner with this hood on, but the risks were just too high. I did not want stew all over the hood (from dripping off the under-side of the spoon!). This is another reason why this hood alone is not enough kit even in fairly cold weather: it may be good for sleeping, but not for dinner time.

Unfortunately the seam is at the back, or I might have unpicked it and added some Velcro to make a closure. It would still be possible to do this if you are willing to cut the fabric and handle the down. There's lots of it in there!

I had no problems with the loops under the arms. They seemed a bit strange at first, but I think I forgot all about them five minutes later. I also tried sleeping without putting the loops under my arms, and that worked as well. The shape of the hood meant it did stay aligned with my head when I turned over. I didn't need to adjust the lengths of the under-arm draw-cords: I left them at full length. I didn't find any need to tighten the face draw-cord either, although I did not get down to extremely cold conditions.

The above might sound like criticisms of the hood, but really they are more comments about the philosophy of 'flexibility.' The reality is that you cannot expect to use the same gear over the full range from -30 C to 10 C (-22 F to 50 F). The Crestone is a lovely hood for really cold weather, but most people just won't need it. Frankly, I would suggest that most people would be better served by the lighter Windom hood with its larger face opening. It would be warm enough. In mild conditions a fleece hat might do well enough, but that is outside the scope of this review.

I do suggest that Katabatic should consider making the front of their hoods openable under the chin, or perhaps offer a similar model which does open under the chin. That would solve a lot of problems.

Summary

This is all high-class gear. The version of the Sawatch 15F which I field tested had one minor nit (the snap) which needed fixing, but the nit seems to be largely fixed in later models. The Crestone hood is hot, and you should seriously consider whether you need something that warm. If you do, then no question! A model with an opening under the chin would be nice, and yes, I will be using these items on snow trips in the future.

The Sawatch may be compared to the GoLite UltraLite 3-Season quilt or the Nunatak Arc Alpinist. The figures quoted here for the latter two are from their websites and are for the Regular/Medium sizes, to match the Sawatch tested. Exact matches between brands are never possible, of course.

  Sawatch UltraLite 3-Season Arc Alpinist
Weight 24 oz (690 g) 24 oz (690 g) 20 oz (570 g)
Height to 6 ft to 6 ft to 5 ft 10 in
Girth 52 in 56 in 55 in
Rating 15 F (-9 C) 20 F (-7 C) 20 F (-7 C)
Neck Muff Yes No No
Down 850 FP 800+ 800+ FP
Fill Weight 15 oz (425 g) 11.8 oz (335 g) 11 oz (312 g)
Loft 3.25 in (82.5 mm) 2.5 in (63.5 mm) 2.5 in (63.5 mm)
Outer Shell Quantum 0.85 oz 15 denier nylon Quantum
Inner Shell Quantum Taffeta 22 denier polyester 20 denier nylon taffeta
Hold-down Clip system 2 straps 2 straps
Price US$370 US$275 US$426

None of the companies state on their websites how the temperature rating for their quilts have been tested: to the reliable EN13537 standard or to some other standard.

The Sawatch is narrower than the other two, but the patent pending clip system used on it seems to be very capable of stopping any side drafts. The difference in width is not great, in any case.

Technical Details

Sawatch 15F Manufacturer claims BPL measurements
Size Regular (to 6 ft or 1.83 m)  
Shell Fabric Pertex Quantum Ripstop .85oz/sqyd  
Liner Fabric Pertex Quantum Taffeta 1.0oz/sqyd  
Weight 24 oz (680 g) 24.2 oz (686 g)
Down 850 loft goose down (USA scale)  
Fill weight 15 oz (425 g)  
Loft 3.25 in (82.5 mm)  
Length 72 in (1.83 m) OK
Shoulder Width (max) 52 in (1.32 m) (>50 in)
Packed size 8 x 14 in (200 x 355 mm)  
Stuff sack 0.64 oz (18 g)  
Price US$370  
Notes: Manufacturer weights are accurate. Length, width and loft depend on how tightly you stretch the fabric.

Crestone Manufacturer claims BPL measurements
Size Just one  
Shell Fabric Pertex Quantum Ripstop .85oz/sqyd  
Liner Fabric Pertex Quantum Taffeta 1.0oz/sqyd  
Weight 2 oz (57 g) 2.08 oz (59 g)
Down 850 loft goose down (USA scale)  
Fill weight 0.9 oz (25 g)  
Price US$79  
Notes: Manufacturer weights are accurate. Length, width and loft depend on how tightly you stretch the fabric.
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 review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.

Citation

"Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review ," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/katabatic_sawatch_quilt_crestone_hood_review.html, 2011-02-22 00:05:00-07.

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Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review on 02/22/2011 14:12:41 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Quilt on 02/22/2011 14:38:12 MST Print View

Mines in the mail, great article, now i'm even more excited.

James Moughan
(jamougha)
Torso size on 02/22/2011 15:00:29 MST Print View

Interesting stuff Roger. In might be useful to readers to know your chest size and perhaps shoulder width.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Thanks on 02/22/2011 15:36:28 MST Print View

Great review, though I'm sorry your trips didn't work out!

Definitely looks like a nice quilt, and I actually am glad they chose to make it functional with CCF pads as well; one of the more attractive features of quilts are that they can be opened up for use at higher than rated temperatures. For someone trying to backpack on a budget, being able to just slide some light foam under the quilt helps it keep from sweltering in summer and can help drop base weight.

Still, with the 40% off deal at GoLite, I have yet to see any quilt that offers a better return than the 3 Season (20F) Quilt at $165.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review on 02/22/2011 15:40:53 MST Print View

There was a rumour of a wider version of the Katabatic quilts. I would certainly be interested in one. I agree with Roger that a bit of extra width can potentially do away with all the add ons needed to avoid drafts. Sometimes I think there comes a point when shaving off a few extra ounces really starts to impact functionality. Howvere, quilt width does seem to be a bit of a personally thing and I was glad to hear from Roger that quilt width wasn't an issue in practice.

Edited by jephoto on 02/22/2011 18:24:01 MST.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Sawatch on 02/22/2011 15:43:53 MST Print View

Good report Roger, but i'll disagree with you on there not being much difference between the 55" width of the Nunatak, and the 52" (i measure mine more at 51") of the Sawatch. The Sawatch was advertised originaly at 54". If i had known it was so narrow, i wouldn't have bought it.
I'm a side sleeper, and 55" gives me enough tuck. 51"/52" is too narrow, and both sides of the quilt don't touch the ground when i'm on my side, unless i use the cords. I don't use the straps on my Arc Specialist, but need to use the cords on the Sawatch. It just works ok, but i prefer the freedom of more room. I love quilts for their non-restrictiveness, as well as the weight savings. As a side sleeper, i find the Sawatch is more like a restrictive sleeping bag for me.

And yes, that single snap won't stay closed! I'll try to figure out a way of adding another snap, without damaging the thin shell material. I'll maybe get a seamstress to do it, and add a few inches of material to the sides at the same time.

It's a top quality quilt, but too narrow for comfort for this side sleeper.
I'm 5'10", 42" chest, and around 170lbs.

Edit. I've just emailed Aaron to see if he will update my quilt. Apart from the single snap, the elastic edgeing may give a better seal.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 02/22/2011 16:08:19 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Torso size on 02/22/2011 17:50:40 MST Print View

My chest size 99 cm (39"), fully inflated ...

Mike - what's yours?

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 02/22/2011 17:52:09 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review on 02/22/2011 17:53:16 MST Print View

> I was geld to hear from Roger
I do hope you weren't ...

Cheers

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review on 02/22/2011 18:25:58 MST Print View

Now that would be taking weight saving just a bit too far :)

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review on 02/22/2011 18:52:32 MST Print View

I think the wider is more than a rumor. I have a newsletter stating it! I'm going to hold em to it. ;)

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Wider? on 02/22/2011 19:06:26 MST Print View

Is that right? They're making a wider version?

If so, that's great news for me. If Katabatic makes one of their quilts in a width like that of the Golite UltraLite 3-Season (or better yet with Roger's suggested 6 inches), that'd be enough to get me to buy one and give a quilt a try.

Up to now, I've always been dissuaded by something when it comes to getting a quilt: too narrow, too expensive, not enough down fill, etc. I've stayed loyal to my sleeping bag so far.

One question about the review: perhaps I'm not understanding the pad attachment system, but I wonder if it would work okay for all sorts of pads (closed cell foam, thin inflatables, thick down-filled inflatables)? You'd just need longer or shorter line wrapped around the pad depending on its thickness, right? Are you limited to using the clip system, or can you still tuck it under your pad as is more traditionally done with quilts? What about using the Katabatic in a hammock?

Edited by Ramapo on 02/22/2011 19:09:26 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Wider? on 02/22/2011 20:25:55 MST Print View

Yeah. Saying 58 inch at shoulders. Adding some more quilts to cover greater temp range.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Wider? on 02/22/2011 22:54:52 MST Print View

> I wonder if it would work okay for all sorts of pads (closed cell foam, thin inflatables, thick
> down-filled inflatables)? You'd just need longer or shorter line wrapped around the pad depending on its
> thickness, right? Are you limited to using the clip system, or can you still tuck it under your pad as is
> more traditionally done with quilts?

The string provided is a long length adaptable to all sorts of pads, with some to spare. You just tie it around the mat to suit.

You don't have to use the clip system: some nights I didn't bother. With a little experience or practice, you find you can turn over under a quilt without disturbing the edges. Well, I can, anyhow.

Tucking the edge of the quilt under the mat seems very wasteful to me! I might tuck it under ME, but never under my pad. It could easily get damp between the groundsheet and the mat as well. Bit of a no-no in my book.

Cheers

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Sawatch on 02/23/2011 00:15:05 MST Print View

Hi Roger.
I added my chest size (42") at the end of my post. I'm about 51/52" around the shoulders. This is with my arms at my side. It's more in my normal sleeping position.
Don't get me wrong. It's a beautifully made quilt, just a bit too narrow for comfort for this side/stomach sleeper.

Dana Morton
(GoLiteBoulder) - F
EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 07:15:55 MST Print View

Roger, nice review.

I just wanted to add clarification around your comment "None of the companies state on their websites how the temperature rating for their quilts have been tested: to the reliable EN13537 standard or to some other standard."

This is because, as of yet, there are no "approved"/common test procedures defined for non-mummy bags. EN13537 only covers mummy bags therefore quilts, and rectangulars (with no hood) are unable to be rated under the current methodology.

If you haven't seen it already, Mammut has a very comprehensive look at Temperature ratings and the history of sleep systems:
http://www.mammut.ch/images/Mammut_Sleep_well_pt1_E.pdf

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Katabatic Quilts on 02/23/2011 11:58:26 MST Print View

I've been very happy with my Sawatch and Palisade quilts so far (got the Palisade for Christmas from my GF. Score!).

They're really well made and in my opinion, conservatively rated for warmth. Roger's comparison to the Nunatak and GoLite quilts seems to confirm this based on the claimed temp ratings and fill quantities.

I really like the material of the shell, it's very soft and smooth, almost like silk.

I haven't had too much trouble with the width of the quilt. I use the 6' quilts and I'm 5'10", 200 lbs with a 43" chest and broad shoulders. But I also use the clips to hold the quilt down to my pad and keep it in place and this seems to keep the quilt wrapped around me pretty well. No draft issues yet. Of course, I don't have any other quilt experience to compare it to.

The neck baffle, drawcord and snap collar are great ideas. In practice though, I've had trouble fastening the snap collar while I'm in the bag and equal trouble keeping the snap collar shut. It likes to pop open. However, the neck baffle is pretty cozy and I usually like to sleep with an arm out of the quilt and under my head, so I don't find the need for the snap collar to be buttoned up too often anyway.

Getting in and out of the quilt when using the clips is a little fiddly, but I'm getting better at it with use.

All in all, I'm pleased with these quilts. The improved snap collar seems like a good idea. The option for wider quilts sounds interesting too. Both of these items should make these quilts even better.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
atabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt on 02/23/2011 13:02:21 MST Print View

Great review Roger. Used my Sawatch for several trips now camping high and out in very bad weather. Been down to -4 and its been fine. Nice and warm. I am 6'2 and use the long version. No issues for me with width as I can sleep side or on my back fine. I have no issues with the single snap adjustment on the collar but the new design seems a good idea. I so like this quilt it is my number one sleeping cover now. I cant fault it.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 14:27:00 MST Print View

Hi Dana

> as of yet, there are no "approved"/common test procedures defined for non-mummy bags. EN13537
> only covers mummy bags therefore quilts, and rectangulars (with no hood) are unable to be
> rated under the current methodology.

A good point for a lawyer, but it leaves me dissatisfied.

I cannot see any reason why you could not test a quilt using the EN13537 protocol. For both sleeping bags and quilts you need an adequate mat underneath, as any down underneath the test body gets squashed to the point of being useless for warmth. So, use a good mat and just do the test.

Sure, you would have to add a note to your brochure (sales screed, whatever) explaining how you adapted the EN standard to handle a quilt. As long as you are completely up front about what was done the reader is not deceived and may even be impressed. And maybe the Standards body will be inspired to upgrade the Standard to handle quilts.

Cheers
PS: yes, I downloaded the PDF many years ago.

Edited by rcaffin on 02/23/2011 14:27:44 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 14:40:08 MST Print View

"And maybe the Standards body will be inspired to upgrade the Standard to handle quilts."

Yes, and then when the new standards document has incorporated your improvements, you will be invited to purchase that new document.

I've been down this road before.

--B.G.--

John Giesemann
(johngiesemann) - MLife
Katabatic Quilt on 02/23/2011 16:50:41 MST Print View

Just mu insight into the quilt and its system. I have the long Palisade quilt, rated at 30 degrees. I have used it for approximately 10 nights ranging from roughly 20 degrees to 60 degrees. 4 of those nights were in the low 20 degree range.

I am 5' 10", weight 250 ( pretty heavy for an ultralight guy), my chest is 48" and my shoulders are about 58". I sleep mostly on my side and stomach. I sleep very warm. A 30'degree bag for me will generally work to at least 30 degrees with only a pair of briefs on.

How has the quit worked for me? I am very pleased with it. Since this is my first quilt, I have had to learn to use it and this has been an adventure. But it has worked very wellthe last few times I used the quilt.

Things I like. The weight is excellent. The material is very nice to the touch and drapes well. The fill weight is better than any other quilt I could find. The workmanship is excellent. The clip system is ingenious.

Things i don't like. The footbox comes up too high for me. i like to sleep pn my stomach and cannot bring my leg up because of the height of the footbox. I cut off the grosgrain strap and buckle. If was simply too far down the quilt to be of any use to me. It was useless weight. I also cut off the secondary clips. Because of my size, they were useless for keeping the quilt on the straps. I only need the regular clips. Finally, the top clips seem to come unattached when I sit up because of thier orientation to theh strap. If they were reversed so that the line came in from the bottom, they would not release the line. The bottom clips have this orientation and never come undone.

Due to my size, the clip system is imperative for me. I still sometimes get a draft when I turn over and have to pull the clips under me a little. If the weather is warm, I only attach one side of the clips and the pull the other side over me holding it in place. If it is near 30' F, I fasten one side, get in and then fasten the other clips. Yes, it is a little hassle at first, but I have learned to fasten them pretty efficiently.

What would I change? I would reverse the orientation of the top clips to keep them attached. I would add 2 inches to the bag width (maybe). I have used the bag very successfully and do like the light weight. I would do away with the adjusting strap. I would reduce the height of the footbox from 30" to 20".

I highly recommend this quilt.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Ridiculously Warm Hood on 02/23/2011 18:32:46 MST Print View

Thanks for the great review, Roger. I have no experience with the Crestone Hood which you recommend only for very cold environments. I have much experience with the Nunatak Down Balaclava which is comparable to the Crestone except for having more down and a fully separating chin opening which I agree is a very valuable feature. The following opinions relate to Ridiculously Warm Hoods in general.
>
The greatest surface area of the body with a high concentration of blood vessels near the skin is the head/face/neck. As the old outdoorsman saw states: If your feet get cold, put on a hat[and a face balaclava and a neck muffler].
>
Ironically, the last area that outdoors people typically apply insulation to is that very same area. I often see backpackers wearing heavy, poofy jackets and pants while sporting a bare head, neck and face.
>
It is true that I would never wear my down balaclava while exercising at moderate temps (above freezing). However, much of my outdoors time is spent in sub 50 degree temps resting or waiting during the hiking day and physically inactive in camp performing camp chores, relaxing and sleeping. This is where the RWH comes into it's own.
>
3 oz strategically placed on ones' noggin provides far more warmth than 3 lbs of insulation on the torso and legs. I'm the weird looking guy in camp wearing inappropriately slim pants and jacket and a head covering that would appear more at home on an AMA Superbike racer.
>
Go with the warmer Crestone hood. Wear a fleece peruvian style hat when you're active, and slip on the RWH magic Calorie saver when you're in camp. And leave the warm jacket and pants at home. You won't need them until it get really cold anymore.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 20:17:24 MST Print View

Roger,

+1

The University of Kansas Lab. started testing comforters in 2005. Their protocol uses the same basic test procedure that they use for sleeping bags. It didn't require a new standard and the comforter test cost is the same as a sleeping bag test cost.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 20:22:12 MST Print View

Richard,
Do I recall correctly that such a test is about $600?

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 20:43:32 MST Print View

Greg,

That was the approximate cost the last time I checked.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 21:06:51 MST Print View

Ryan Jordan said, “We are currently doing heated mannequin research and testing on the Cocoon Clothing and Quilt systems, and will have that data in the spring”

Roger - Is this still going to happen?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: EN Rating on Quilts on 02/23/2011 22:29:02 MST Print View

Hi Richard

You would have to ask Ryan about that. It has to do with the development of the Cocoon gear: a BPL shop matter.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Ridiculously Warm Hood on 02/23/2011 22:30:05 MST Print View

Hi Al

We are most definitely singing the same tune about insulating the head.

Cheers

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Width on 02/24/2011 06:12:32 MST Print View

I've had a couple of PM's asking me about my experience using the Sawatch as a side sleeper.
I'll try to explain my thoughts more clearly.
My main reason for using a quilt is comfort. I don't like the constriction of mummy bags. Any weight saved is an extra bonus.
I don't use straps on my Arc Specialist, as there is enough 'tuck' to sleep in almost the same position i use at home. I don't get cold spots, as i seem to keep myself tucked in without waking up.
With the narrower Sawatch, i have to use the cords to keep it tucked in. It then becomes more of a 'top bag' in my opinion. Yes it works this way for keeping me warm, but i feel like i'm back in an uncomfortable (for me) mummy bag.
So just because this side sleeper would like more width, it doesn't follow that others will feel the same.
It's a superbly made quilt, and i'll probably try to modify it to suit my sleeping style.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Re: Re: Wider? on 02/24/2011 08:51:34 MST Print View

>>The string provided is a long length adaptable to all sorts of pads, with some to spare. You just tie it around the mat to suit.

That's what I assumed from looking at the photos, but I thought I'd read somewhere that Katabatic quilts could only be used with certain sleeping pads. Thanks for clarifying.

>>Tucking the edge of the quilt under the mat seems very wasteful to me! I might tuck it under ME, but never under my pad. It could easily get damp between the groundsheet and the mat as well. Bit of a no-no in my book.

Huh. Good to know. I've never used a quilt, but I thought that tucking them under the pad was common practice. See this photo from the Golite Ultra review here on BPL:

Ultra

What about hammock use?

One other question: is girth measured the same in quilts and in sleeping bags? In other words, if I have a Western Mountaineering Megalite with a 65" girth at the shoulders, how comparable is this with a Katabatic quilt that has a 52" girth. Girth is a simple concept with sleeping bags, but there is no actual diameter to measure on quilts. So is quilt girth measured with the quilt closed (two sides meeting together) or with the quilt attached to a sleeping pad?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Wider? on 02/25/2011 13:37:47 MST Print View

> I thought that tucking them under the pad was common practice
Well, when I look at the photo you included I can see at least two big problems.
* The first is that stretching the quilt out like that will make for big draft channels down the sides. Brrr...
* The second problem is that it wastes a lot of quilt weight under the mat, weight which could be better used keeping you warm.

I guess if someone can't stay on their mat they are going to have a problem. But I suspect that the cold night air might be ... educational ... :-)

> What about hammock use?
I have never used a hammock, so I can't answer that very easily. :-) Obviously you would need a LOT of mat insulation under you.

> is girth measured the same in quilts and in sleeping bags?
Dunno. There are no Standards, so it's up to the manufacturer.

Cheers

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Katabatic Sawatch 15 Quilt and Crestone Hood Review on 02/25/2011 13:58:41 MST Print View

I have got a JRB No-Sniveller, which to me seems too narrow for side sleeping. I have added two sets of straps to it, to help keep it wrapped around me. I did try running the straps under the mat, but found that this was not particularly effective and caused problems as mentioned by Roger. Instead I now just use the straps over the top of the mat. One strap is made of fabric and another of thin shock cord so it has a bit of stretch in it. It works fairly well and having a bivy helps keep out the drafts. However, as soon as I can justify the cost I am going to get a wider quilt.

Edited by jephoto on 02/25/2011 14:10:17 MST.

Alan Bradley
(ahbradley)
Clips: are they custom on 02/26/2011 05:20:16 MST Print View

The pad adjustment seems clever (it remind me of Ray jardine idea):
are the clips custom made, or are they a standard part (which)?

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Sawatch on 02/26/2011 09:30:13 MST Print View

Having lived with my Sawatch through this past winter I can say that I am still a BIG fan. As mentioned earlier, I too would ditch the adjustment strap and make the open up the foot/leg area down the back by at least 10 inches.

The "clips" appear to be the same as "mitten" clips that have come on a number of gloves and mittens that I have purchased over the years. The "tabs" and the quilt edge appear to be a custom item. I however, have yet to use the clips and straps. I am a tossing and turning side sleeper with a shoulder girth of 51" and 41" chest and have no problem with drafts. I use very small bungie cord straps that are attached to the bag only. I have a simple overhand knot at each end and then a couple several inches apart at one end and simply attach it to the flat sewn in tabs by stretching the bungie cord and slipping it into the slot. When tension is released, it stays put. This allows me to vary the girth, add flexibility for tossing and turning, and keeps everything together. Due to the warmth of the quilt, I find that unless it is in the 20's(f) or lower, I don't need them.

I have taken the Sawatch, a Kookabay downmat (R6 according to Bender), silk-weight long tops and bottoms, wool socks and cap, and my FF Hyperion down vest draped over me under the quilt, down to a minimum low of -5F. I was very comfortable but as always YMMV.

I have been to the Katabatic site many times and put the Crestone hood in my basket, but have yet to pull the trigger. I just haven't seemed to need it yet for sleeping. I would more than likely use it around camp in the evenings and mornings but just purchased a down hoody so I may never need it.

If I were doing it again and looking for one bag for all my use, I might be tempted to go with the yet to be released Alsek and the Crestone hood and augment my winter system with more of the clothing I already have with me.

I certainly understand those wanting more width, but I have found that the 3D contoured shape of the Katabatic to function as though it was wider than a simple flat quilt of the same width wrapped around you.

I have been playing with a MYOG quilt and have been slowing trimming the dimensions to see just how small I can go and still have functional utility that doesn't require significantly changing my sleeping style. At present I have girths of 40" top, 50" shoulder, 42" hip, and 37" foot. As a side note I do have the bungie cord straps deployed at a higher temp than the Sawatch to keep drafts out. It has 9 oz of down and 2" baffles. I have not been removing down as I take things in and currently have a pleasantly plump single layer loft of 2.5" and weight of 17oz.

Edited by Servingko on 02/26/2011 09:35:13 MST.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Sierra Sniveller quilt on 02/27/2011 07:42:50 MST Print View

Jason,

The No sniveller is narrow for side sleepers...Some 2 years ago, JRB intoduced the Sierra Serries of Sniveller style quilts specifically for the ground sleepers... It is wider at a full 52 inches all the way through the body area and passed the hip, then papers to 42 inches...It also has three small tabs in the body are that allows for securing the quilt close to the sleeper or around the pad, if desired...Normally and economically priced the same as the No Sniveller.

FWIW we concur with Roger that a quilt is best simply tucked under... That approach matches the simplistic approach and the basic design goal for quilts and is effective for most...

It is also woth noting that most who report tuck issues also describe themselves as "Toss and Turners" and on further inquirey are using thin/minimal pads.
perhaps the lesson here is that the pad really is a major player in the good night sleep as well as light conundrum...Alternatively, one might use the relative saving of a quilt over a full bag to increase the thickness/comfort of the pad and thus reduce the tossing and turning all leading to better sleep.

Pan

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Sierra Sniveller quilt on 02/27/2011 08:56:51 MST Print View

Pan, I toss and turn at home, so that does not necessarily have anything to do with the pad. What does the word "relative" mean on weight savings of a quilt over a "full" bag? Just curious ; ).

Edited by jshann on 02/27/2011 09:04:59 MST.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
JRB Quilts on 02/27/2011 13:35:50 MST Print View

John,

One of your ground sleeper quilts will definitely be on my list of possibles if I decide to replace the No-Sniveller. I have a trip coming up in about four weeks where I expect temps to go down to around 30F at night, and I will be using a bivy plus my Kooka Bay insulated mat, so it should be great for quilt testing. To date most of my trips using the No-Sniveller have been un-seasonably warm, except for one in the garden test, but this was without a bivy.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sierra Sniveller quilt on 02/27/2011 14:19:38 MST Print View

As John wrote:

> perhaps the lesson here is that the pad really is a major player in the good night sleep
Absolutely!

> Alternatively, one might use the relative saving of a quilt over a full bag to increase
> the thickness/comfort of the pad and thus reduce the tossing and turning
A very good point too.

Cheers

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
re on 03/03/2011 20:14:19 MST Print View

Pertex Quantum Ripstop

Just how water resister / proof is this material?

Can a person go walking around in the hood somewhere in the PNW with full rain coming down, considering it is made out of Pertex Quantum, or is water going to go right through this material?

Thanks.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: re on 03/03/2011 20:57:10 MST Print View

Pertex Quantum is not waterproof. It just has a DWR so a drop or two will roll off, but I wouldn't want it exposed to rain for more than a half second.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
re on 03/03/2011 21:01:39 MST Print View

@Mocs123,

Thought so, just wanted to check and make sure something had not snuck in since I last checked.

Thanks.

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Relative savings on 03/04/2011 16:25:53 MST Print View

John,

I used the term "relative" to relate the savings of a quilt nominally 52 inches wide over a bag nominally 62 inches wide and having a zipper when all other things, ie type material, same fill, same loft are equal...The quilt will weigh less by proportion.

Pan

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Relative savings on 03/08/2011 11:11:27 MST Print View

"I used the term "relative" to relate the savings of a quilt nominally 52 inches wide over a bag nominally 62 inches wide and having a zipper when all other things, ie type material, same fill, same loft are equal...The quilt will weigh less by proportion."

That's very true. A lot of the folks on the Kilimanjaro trip two weeks ago were surprised at how light my Blackwelder was -- most of the zero-degree bags on the trip weighed close to 4 pounds.

It was plenty warm. I'd recommend it if you're looking for a zero-degree bag. I used it with a Crestone hood.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
Sawatch on 02/11/2012 18:27:34 MST Print View

I don't own a Sawatch quilt but I slept in one. The clips are well worth getting used to; I'm a cold sleeper and they stop the drafts and make it very close to sleeping in a bag. I compared the Sawatch to 15 degree Marmot Helium. The Sawatch was quite a bit warmer, it had more loft and was cut narrower. I'm 44" at the chest; it was regular Sawatch. The Helium had more comfort, the roomy cut meant it didn't heat up as fast in warmer weather but it also 32 oz instead of 24 oz and you can always let the quilt drap over you without the clips/snaps. The quality of Sawatch is top of the line, bar none. Quilts are great just because you can seal the warmth in at your neck and no condensation from your breath gets in the bag.

Edited by anthonyweston on 02/11/2012 18:53:04 MST.

Kenneth Lotts
(aa7jc) - MLife

Locale: SE AZ
Good Gear on 06/23/2012 19:16:52 MDT Print View

I bought this quilt a month ago for a trip into the Absoroka-Beartooth Wilderness. The trip got cut short but I did use the quilt for about 8 nights just car camping. I am 5'9" and weigh about 160.

I was a bit worried based on the comments in the review that the quilt would be annoyingly narrow but when it arrived I was relieved that it was more than adequate for me. On the trip I never even bothered to use the supplied clips.

The only thing I can say negative is that it is very pricey but on the flip side, it is very well made and well designed.. I did not feel cheated.

Again this is good gear.