There's something new in the state of sleeping bags. It isn't a revolution. It's a revelation.
Quilts save weight, compared to sleeping bags, by eliminating insulation beneath the sleeper. It only gets compressed by your weight, anyway, rendering the insulating properties useless. Quilts pack smaller, open up fully into a blanket on warm nights, and their versatility means they work over a wider temperature range.
To make sleeping on an air mattress more like sleeping in bed under a duvet, manfacturers are introducing all kinds of closure innovations to wrap you up like a burrito at night. Some quilts use zippers; some use bottons and snaps; some use straps and pull cords.
The bottom line: quilts are a game changer for people like me who toss and turn at night. No more rolling off your sleeping pad. No more getting twisted up in the hood you cinched around your neck. If you are a side or stomach sleeper, are you willing to trade the cocoon-coziness and "draft security" of full enclosure for a roomier, more comfotable night's sleep?
Last year I reported my first summer quilt experiences with the Nemo Siren 30 and Western Mountaineering EverLite 40, both in the ultralight sleeping bag category. Both are built for warm weather or even tropical trips with nights, ideally, in the 60s. In a pinch, both bags should weather dips into the 40s, as long as you're wearing everything in your pack. I found the Siren warmer, quieter and more comfortable, even with its "bare back" design that requires you to slip your sleeping pad inside. The EverLite is more versatile. Its full length zipper lets you open the bag up for a great car quilt or travel duvet.
Three Season Use
Now for upgrading the three season bags in our household. Since Wee Sprite is suddenly taller than I am, it was time to retire her favorite REI kids' model. While at it, I reluctantly decided to part with my trustworthy Western Mountaineering 15 degree mummy bag. Still in great condition, I knew it would fetch a good price. But the zipper was on the wrong side, which had always bothered me, and the GoreTex Pro shell had always semeed a tad too stiff and noisy. I recycled both sleeping bags through Roanoke Mountain Adventures.
Folks at my local shop Back Country Ski & Sport (serving AT hikers in the Roanoke Valley since 1979) helped me choose another innovative model from Nemo to replace Sprite's sleeping bag.
Nemo's Jam 15
|Nemo's Women's Jam 15 down sleeping bag, |
only available in right zip right now. The
ingenious vertical zippers allow heat to vent
on warm nights through the baffles.
The Jam 15 has a lot going for it--including the same blanket fold feature I'd enjoyed with my Siren. It far outperforms any draft collar I've ever had to strangle myself with in order to keep cold air off my neck. Tuck it in around your shoulders on a cool night, push it out on a warm night--this single design feature almost makes you feel like you're sleeping in a bed.
For my new three season sleep system, I'll be experimenting with a very warm version of the Revelation 20 quilt that has taken thru hikers, touring cyclists and paddlers by storm. Enlightened Equipment of Minnesota sells the Revelation off the shelf in limited lengths, widths, colors and configurations. Their custom-made quilts offer a dazzling array of options.
In the life cycle of an adventurer, I've entered the Mature Phase. I sleep colder now. So I heeded user advice and ordered a quilt with a warmer comfort rating. EE's published ratings are for survival, not comfort, so went TWO steps warmer. This should compare favorably with my old WM alpine mummy bag. I chose a wide width (best for side sleepers) and a compromise shell weight between light and durable (20D ripstop fabric on the outside, 10D on the inside).
|My virtual Revelation 0 quilt, |
as pictured on the clever EE web site.
|Mind-boggling customization1 |
Here's my configuration.
A note about what I see as the major drawback of sleeping quilts vs. sleeping bags. Quilting means that you will be sleeping directly on your sleeping pad or air mattress. When's the last time you checked in the dictonary under Exped, Sea to Summit or Thermarest for "breathable" or even "comfortable against the skin"? Luckily, there's a solution to this problem. But it won't win you street cred with the ultralight brigade.
Ever since lighter down with greater loft became available, I've been using a sleeping bag liner as part of my sleep system. Not only is a liner softer next to the skin than any nylon shell, it keeps skin oils and moisture away from your expensive, fragile 800+ goose down. Now, with a sleeping quilt, your liner can be used for that cocoon-like feeling of enclosure on a cold night. On warm nights, slip your pad into the liner and it's almost like sleeping on a bed sheet.
So light weight is not the primary reason why I'll test drive a premium down quilt this year for three season use. It's comfort. And versatility. And adventure.
Is 2018 when you'll make the switch from sleeping bag to quilt? Let me know!
|With this model, Enlightened Equipment makes a donation to Texas hurricane relief.|