Oct 10, 2009 at 9:48 pm #1240137
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
Call to quilt users
Based on the results of the past 4 months of using the GoLite Ultra 20 and lately the Nunatak Arc Alpinist I have spent the past couple of weeks rethinking how I sleep and decided today to switch all my 3-season and shoulder winter hiking to quilts. I am even thinking about trying combinations of them to take me to full-on winter which is -20 F and below for me when in MN or on a mountain.
My gear room is looking pretty weird on the top shelf where I keep bags. For the first time since 1974 I do not have a sleeping bag rated above 0 F. I was not planning to sell everything but a couple buddies helped push me into the decision by suggesting I sell my favorite bags to them. Thanks, you helped me do this.
My question is to the quilt users out there. How low have you used a quilt based sleeping system? What all did it entail? I know that my approach has been off most quilt users as I looked at it as a sleeping bag replacement, when it really is a different way to approach sleeping. (Wearing coats to bed and such…)
Most important to me, how low a temp have you taken a quilt based system to? What were you wearing?
Thank you in advance for any replies, although I am sure I will respond.
RayOct 10, 2009 at 11:02 pm #1535220
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
When I made UL summer SBs for me and my wife I put 300 g of 800 loft down in them (total wt 550 g). Wearing a full set of thermal underwear, a fleece cap and bed-socks we have often taken them down to 0 C easily. Snuggled up to my wife with both SBs layered over the top of us (ie one SB on top of the other) we have been warm down to -7 C (19 F). It wasn't meant to get that low that night, but stuff happens… However, let it be said that I think my wife contributed greatly to my warmth that night, and v/v. The 50 mm Deluxe Therm-a-Rest (780 g) helped a lot too.
Emboldened by this, I made a 'double' over-quilt with a short foot pocket (a single layer of fabric) underneath. The foot pocket keeps the foot end of the over-quilt in place over our feet. I put 600 g of 800 loft down in this: 300 g apiece. If I layer this over my summer SB I reckon I have something like 600 g of down equivalence – without any heat from my wife.
With this over-quilt over our UL summer bags and full thermals, hats and socks, we are happy down to -10 C (14 F) without snuggling very close. If we really snuggled up … not sure, but even lower.
But this is just with ordinary thermals on. If we put our light fleece ski trousers and our Cocoons on over the thermals … well, we tried that once in the snow and were way too hot!
Would we go back to conventional SBs? Nope. Not any more. The quilts are far more flexible. With an adequate mat underneath, and that is *important*, quilts are no different from SBs.
Ah – one thing. If, in a burst of enthusiasm for all things UL, you make the quilt too narrow … you have only yourself to blame. It will be a failure. You need to be very generous with the width – unless you sleep dead still on your back and never turn over in the night. Doesn't happen.
And another thing. For reasons of UL-fanaticism, many American quilts are made short and with no 'hood'. So the sleeper's head sticks out. Sometimes even their shoulders are a bit exposed. This is a a sure way to a cold night and is a pitiful 'economy'. My summer SBs all have hoods, and if it is cold we flick the hood over our heads. This does *not* impede our breathing at all. Claims of suffocating are made by those who have rarely tried this. Funny – no-one seems to have this problem with serious winter SBs with full hoods.
And another thing. When you go to a two-layer quilt there are unexpected bonuses. Your inner quilt will stay *dry*. Any condensation will occur in the outer SB. Pack them up separately of course. For the obvious reasons, the result is that you stay warmer even on long winter trips.
CheersOct 11, 2009 at 1:16 am #1535228
I don't carry a thermometer, but i think i've been down to around -10C using my Nunatac Arc Specialist. This would be wearing a merino baselayer, including merino socks and beanie. On top of that would be a 100 weight fleece and hiking pants, and a hooded Skaha pullover and Montbell UL down pants on top. Feathered Friends down booties as well. Everything is inside a TiGoat bivvy on a full length Downmat 7. I sometimes use the foam mat from my pack in addition. This set-up is inside a Stephensons 2R. I've used this set-up to around -5C before i bought the Downmat. The Downmat was bought due to a painful hip and knee joint, as much as for the extra insulation. I hardly ever wear the whole set-up, as i sleep pretty warm, but it's there if i need it.Oct 11, 2009 at 4:35 am #1535248
Notes on cold weather quilting using one or both of two quilts. Note that the one coldest night involved a sleeping bag plus the quilts.
One quilt is insulated with 3oz/^2 Climashield XP and the other is insulated with 6oz/yd^2 PrimaLoft One. The PL1 quilt is adequately wide (just barely) The XP quilt is generously sized to easily cover the PL1 quilt.
Both quilts have short "wings" that widen both ends a few inches to form shoulder and foot boxes. Foot box closes tight with a drawstring and shoulder box closes around the neck with drawstring.
Head is insulated with combinations of balaclavas and hats.
Expecting to start adding to these notes next weekend. Goals for the winter are to test the quilts in combo with insulated clothing.Oct 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm #1535340
I think how low you can go with a quilt system depends on many things. If you are in a tarptent or under a tarp, drafts may become the limiting factor if you don't use a bivy bag. Roger's systems works well for them, but in our experience sharing a quilt really only works well in the cold if you are both spooners. Mix a back sleeper with a side sleeper and the systems falls apart. Brrrrr. Likewise, an integrated quilt hood doesn't really work well for this back sleeper, so if you are one of these, you may need an extra balaclava (not to mention that a hooded quilt is a MYOG or custom job). Totally agree with Roger that a too narrow quilt will never perform miracles! Other than those caveats, there is no theoretical minimum temp you can't use a quilt in. Make the quilt thick enough, wide enough and with a beefy enough hood or balaclava, and it is essentially a sleeping bag without a zipper.Oct 11, 2009 at 2:41 pm #1535363
@billyboosterLocale: So Cal
I wanted a two person quilt system that would team with a double bivvy and a tarp. Jack suggested using TWO quilts for two people for two reasons! One is that the width of 48 really isnt enough for two people with room to tuck under the edges, and secondly something I didn't even consider. In the unlikely even the two travelers have to separate for emergency reasons, both can have a quilt and warmth.
I also by coincidence have a hennessy and one of the quilts can go on the outside and one on the inside if travelling alone. The double bivvy can be for one perosn OR two. a Twinnspin or Helli tarp can cover two persons…. voila!Oct 11, 2009 at 9:49 pm #1535452
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
Thank you for the replies.
I won’t be doing any two-person quilt sharing. Just me from now on. As I have never been able to use the hood right on my sleeping bags I always take a hat to sleep in if it is cold. I just may need to find a warmer one I guess for real low temps. Anybody know some good warm ones? I am so hot when I am actually hiking that all mine are just to block wind more than insulate.
I have always bought long underwear to sleep in to keep my bags clean(er) but have never worn more than that to bed. It seems that you guys utilize most of your layers as part of the sleeping system and this makes sense to me as I think about it. Why not use a coat since it is there anyway, right? I have a pair of Nunatak mukluks but have never thought to wear them to sleep in, but I suppose it would be a lot warmer than a pair of socks.
Thanks Jim, I will be interested to read of your experimenting with the layers. Nunatak makes their Arc Expedition to fit over their other quilts for extreme use and this is what I am planning to do this winter. I just got an Arc Alpinist and am going to get an Expedition to use alone in California winter and with the Alpinist in Minnesota winter. Even together they weigh 20 oz less than my current -20 winter bag, although the bag does have 10 oz more 800+ fill down in it. It will be a fun winter seeing how it all works.
I have never used a bivy. I used a very heavy tarp when I was a teenager, mostly just sleeping on top of it unless it was raining, but have been a tent guy since the early 80s. I recently bought a Marmot Alpinist Bivy just because I thought Ryan was going to have me review some floorless shelters or tarps, but I have not used it yet. It seems to me that adding 14 oz of bivy to the quilt I may as well take a waterproof bag. (I may learn differently though guys. This stuff is pretty new to me and it is hard for old dogs to learn new tricks you know.)
I really appreciate the knowledge that is shared here. You guys are a wealth of information.Oct 11, 2009 at 10:50 pm #1535459
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
Many tarp/floor less shelter users would use a bivy of about 6-8 oz. They aren't fully waterproof, but instead have a DWR coating on the hightly breatbale top fabric and a waterproof bottom, which serves as a ground sheet. They can also provide bug protection. With a "waterproof" sleeping bag you still need to bring a ground sheet and bug protection.
Also it seems to me that a bivy/quilt or bag combo will likely be warmer than a waterproof sleeping bag. Some poeple also feel that a waterproof sleeping bag's lack breathabilty will degrades the down's loft over a number of days. Condensation can be a factor in a bivy, but less so and you can also likely air the bag more easily than a waterproof one.
Also you can sleep with just a bivy on nights when the weather looks very settled.Oct 12, 2009 at 5:42 am #1535485
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
A curved hood can be a bit complicated. Thru-hiker used to have a pattern. However, there is an easier solution. At the head end, just add another layer, or baffle length that is long enough to cover your head. Along the top end add snaps, a couple of females and males opposite each other. Snap them together when you want to close the "hood". I got the idea from a thread on the subject a couple of years ago.
The red at the top of the black is what I am trying to describe:Oct 12, 2009 at 7:40 am #1535506
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
As far as I'm concerned, lack of hood is a feature, not a bug. I hate mummy bags, hate attached hoods, hate being trapped and smothered – claustrophobia is more fun when you don't trigger it. It's easy to get a hood – buy a mummy bag.Oct 12, 2009 at 8:52 am #1535524
@jamespatsalides-comLocale: New England
I just wear an insulated hat or balaclava inside my bivy, this is great, because if you need to sit up in the night, and when you get up in the morning, your head stays nice and warm.
Also, the quilt is on top of your body, so I'm confused as to how a hood could cover the back & top of your head without the risk of getting caught up in the fabric! I suppose if you are a stomach sleeper you could have a hood the same way around as the quilt top??? All seems a little complicated – one of the things I like about using a quilt is the simplicity of it.
Just my 2cs. ;-)Oct 12, 2009 at 11:52 am #1535584
If you look at Roger Caffin's article on down bags and hooded quilts, you will see how a hood can work IF you are not a back sleeper. But really, if you are going for the open feel of a quilt then you would do just as well to get a really good balaclava, though this of course adds weight to your sleep system. Personally, I would get a quilt that is long enough to pull up over my head if needed. Effectively this is like "adding an extra baffle" as Frank has done. A quilt that is too short or too narrow is just not gonna be as warm as it could be, especially once you start layering high loft clothing underneath.Oct 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm #1535588
My preference is for no hood. I like the quilt to be cinched in snug around my neck, trapping in the warmth. Seperate head gear is always carried anyway, so i wouldn't count it as extra weight.Oct 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm #1535623
I am with the people who don't want a hood. One of the reasons I like quilts is more of a sense of freedom… a hood is a step in the wrong direction. As it gets cooler I add a hat and then a down bacalava. When conditions exceeded my expectations I would pull my head under the quilt and turn the neck hole into a breathing hole. Not as comfortable as sleeping fully stretched out, but sometimes pushing the envelope results and some lose of comfort.
I have been using a old style Ghost quilt since 2003 for nearly all my 3 season + shoulders. The ghost is rated for 32F. I have been good down to 30F with a warm hat, supplex pants, and light weight powerdry shirt. I have been ok down to 20F with mid weight base tights, heavyweight base shirt, high loft vest, down bacalava. Down to 10F wearing base, cocoon insulated pants, thermawrap jackets, down bacalava. Wearing part of your insulation makes it easier to get started in the morning.
I have not used a bivy for a number of years. I found that the combination of good site selection, some wind breaking from my tarp or tarptent, and getting a good seal make the quilt work, even in wind. The colder it gets though, the more important gettng a good seal is, hence my tendency to switch to a sleeping bag for real winter trips.
In theory, I switch to a WM Versalite when I expect nights to be <=25F. When it's getting colder there is nothing like slipping into a warm bag that fully envelopes you. I have found myself using the ghost for three reasons. (1) Unexpectedly cold — which typically resulted in me playing turtle which my head under the quilt because the down bacalava didn't come. (2) Someone was borrowing my Versalite (3) I was expecting the daytime and night time temps to be pretty close and I was going to be spending time sitting around camp with folks so I was committed to bringing fairly warm clothing.
–MarkOct 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm #1535625
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> the quilt is on top of your body, so I'm confused as to how a hood could cover the back
> & top of your head without the risk of getting caught up in the fabric!
The fabrics used are pretty smooth and slippery. All I can say is that it works for us.
CheersOct 12, 2009 at 2:06 pm #1535627
> I have not used a bivy for a number of years. I found that the combination of good site selection, some wind breaking from my tarp or tarptent, and getting a good seal make the quilt work, even in wind. The colder it gets though, the more important gettng a good seal is, hence my tendency to switch to a sleeping bag for real winter trips.
Would you (or anyone else) please elaborate on how one gets a "good seal"? Thanks.Oct 12, 2009 at 2:23 pm #1535630
Simply make sure the quilt is wide enough for your body size, and sleeping style. There should be enough material at the sides to tuck in, no matter what you are wearing.Oct 12, 2009 at 2:37 pm #1535636
> elaborate on how one gets a "good seal"?
You don't want space for the wind to get in. One approach is to tuck the quilt under you. This is typically aided by having straps on the quilt. Two challenges with this approach is if you move at night you can open up a draft and that the quilt tends to get compressed around the area when it's tucked under… potential creating cold spots (e.g. you don't want it pulled too tight)/
The other option is to have a quilt large enough to drape over you without being tucked under. This is less common because it requires a larger quilt.
–markOct 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm #1535638
So you attempt to tuck it under yourself (or your pad?) while you're inside it? Or "strap it down" to the pad and then slide into it?Oct 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm #1535644
> So you attempt to tuck it under yourself (or your pad?) while you're inside it?
Straps are most efficient under you but above the pad. Typically I initially just drape the quilt over me. If the temp falls below the temp that this is comfortable I grad the straps, pull them under me and attach them to the other side and cinch them tight enough to make the quilt hug me. Assuming the quilt is wide enough for you, the quilt should seal pretty well without having to work at getting it tucked in. Other people might do this differently.
–MarkOct 12, 2009 at 3:21 pm #1535645
"So you attempt to tuck it under yourself (or your pad?) while you're inside it? Or "strap it down" to the pad and then slide into it?"
Yes, but strapping it down partly defeats the freedom of using a quilt! We use velcro straps to attach the edges of the quilt to the bottom of the mats, like thisOct 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm #1535646
@jamespatsalides-comLocale: New England
@RogerC: gotcha, mate. Makes sense when you see a photo like that. Wouldn't work for a back sleeper, but looks like it would be great for a stomach sleeper and maybe even a side sleeper like me. Nice setup.
@Michael: I have mine inside a bivy, to prevent the wind from lifting the sides. The whole point (well, most of the point, anyway) of the quilt is to NOT have pressure or "cold" spots by letting the material rest on you and seal itself to the ground. I have never had to use the string on mine, you just kind of snuggle in like a european duvet versus a tucked in blanket & sheet bed. It doesn't seem like it would, but it works GREAT.Oct 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm #1535651
"you just kind of snuggle in like a european duvet versus a tucked in blanket & sheet bed. It doesn't seem like it would, but it works GREAT."
Obviously some differences in opinions and preferences here. Inside a bivy works OK, but without a bivy I find that wind causes problems if the edges aren't anchored down. I find this just as true at home in bed with my giant euopean duvet…when my fan is blowing on the duvet, it is very drafty and cools the sleep system down a lot. I also don't like sleeping in a bivy, as it's a faff getting in and out of them, but if you're OK with a bivy then this is a viable option instead of tucking the edges in.Oct 12, 2009 at 4:11 pm #1535663
It's 10 degrees out. You have your 30 degree quilt and while you're sleeping you're wearing your down hood, down jacket, your down pants, your down booties, and your down gloves on. Uhhhh I could be wrong but all that added up probably weighs more than a 10 degree down bag. Sleeping with a quitl with all that stuff on just doesn't justify the "weight savings". And what are you going to put on to warm up a little bit aftert getting out from under your quilt?Oct 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm #1535667
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
I find it much nicer to leave a warm quilt with a warm layer of air trapped against my body by the insulating clothes I wear to bed, than to leave a warm bag, and start putting on cold clothes.
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