Rating: 5 / 5
This is my initial review of the Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt 30 size regular. Weight as measured 19 ounces. Loft as measured 1 & 3/4 inches.
I had found that I used my sleeping bag open in a quilt like fashion for most of my last thru hike so I decided to go ahead and make the strategy change to a dedicated quilt with a synthetic fill insulation. A choice made due to my recent experiences with wet down.
The stitching and worksmanship of this quilt is flawless. The snap fasteners and velcro that converts the bottom into a footbox are very high quality. This is not the cheap "fuzz" velcro rather its high quality hook and loop I have not seen on other gear. The snap points are reinforced with bar tacks as are other stress points.
The medium size quilt fits my 5'7" 160lb body (size 40 jacket) with enough room to change sleeping positions easily without dislodging the quilt. There are about 3 inches between my feet and the bottom of the footsack when I snap the top around my shoulders and lay on my back.
The momentum 90 inner and outer fabric has a softer hand than nylon taffeta and warms up quickly on bare skin. In fact the most impressive thing about this quilt so far is how rapidly I begin to feel warm once inside.
The temperatures i have tested it in so far have only been in the mid-forties to 50's and I have been comfortable just leaving the top open and the footsack snapped shut. I have not needed any clothes or a hat at these temperatures. The other big surprise for me,(this being my first synthetic anything in 20 years) is how the quilt never feels clammy even when I get a little to warm and sweat a bit.(I am a really warm sleeper)
I also tried using the quilt in the flat configuration on nights in the 50's and am impressed with the "blanket" like freedom this provides my legs for side sleeping.
I look forward to incorporating this quilt into my sleep system for my next thru hike. I will post a follow up review after I have had a chance to test the quilt down to some lower temps and using it in conjunction with my Montebell Thermawrap parka(hooded) I intend to use this quilt from the start of my AT hike this March so I may get a chance to experience some truly cold temperatures with this system.
I was able to use my Spirit quilt down to temperatures in the mid to upper 20's this weekend at the BPL gathering in Henry Coe. I found Ron Bell's rating to be spot on for this quilt:
Spirit Quilt 30
35 Degrees: 16.5 micron merino wool thong
30 Degrees : Lightly insulated clothes, thicker balaclava + bivy or enclosed shelter
25 Degrees : More insulated clothes, thick balaclava, real nice socks + bivy or enclosed shelter
20 Degrees : More insulated clothes, mo-thicker balaclava, real nice socks, raw animal willpower, bivy or enclosed shelter
I didn't have thick socks, a bivy or an enclosed shelter but putting my mittens on my feet and being careful about cinching the middle strap of the quilt I was able to avoid drafts even when side sleeping.
For upper twenty degree temps in the quilt I was wearing a Columbia silver ridge shirt, montbell thermawrap parka(hooded), turtle fur fleece cap up top and micro weight smartwool longjohn bottoms with columbia zip-off pants on bottom. I had two thin pairs of smartwool socks on each foot and i put my rain mittens on over my toes.
I was quite toasty with this setup under my tarp with open sides. I used a 3/4 length ridgrest closed cell foam pad on top of a silnylon ground sheet.
The MLD Spirit Quilt 30 performed exactly as advertised for me.
Update 4/7/2011 after 465 miles on the AT I am absolutely in love with my Spirit Quilt. The thing is practically impervious to moisture. The Smokey mountains were heavy with fog, freezing rain, rime ice, and snow but my Spirit quilt retained loft despite never having seen the sun for four days straight. I also slept under it with a wet synthetic jacket at night and woke up with the jacket mostly dry and the quilt barely wet at all. Loft has remained intact after 22 compression cycles since starting the trail. fasteners and velcro and the momentum fabric shell show no signs of wear. This quilt is going all the way to "big K" with me.
I completed the Appalachian Trail using my MLD Spririt Quilt 30 the entire way. The quilt shows no wear to the momentum shell. The snaps, velcro fasteners, and drawstrings are in perfect condition. The Climashield insulation continues to be uniform and free of clumps or thin spots even after three launderings while on trail. I used front loader washing machines on gentle setting with tide powdered detergent. Drying was done in a commercial dryer on low heat. This quilt was all I needed on the entire 2180 mile AT thru hike. I suplemented it with my Montebell Parka on nights when the temperatures fell into the 40's. For temperatures in the 20's (Smokey Mountains) I also had a Patagonia Down sweater and was quite toasty.
Overall I am extremely happy with the quality, function, and value of my Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt 30. Since it is still in nearly new condition after 98 nights I plan to use it for years to come. The flexibility of this quilt allowed me to vary it easily when temperatures rose or fell during the night without much fussing around. Since i used a tarp as shelter the quilt design allowed me to pee by simply lifting the corner of the quilt, never had to lose all my body heat.(Yea, you think I am crazy.. Pee-ing freedom is a sublime pleasure of the trail!) Simply a superb, highly adaptable, American Made, piece of gear. If you are thinking of trying a quilt you really can't go wrong with the modestly priced Spirit quilt. I am a synthetic convert due to my experience with this product.