Aug 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm #1277804
I am sleeping in a Sierra Sniveler inside an Equinox bivy. When the temps drop into the low 40's, I awake cold, and discover that the down at the middle of the quilt has moved to the edges. I shake and massage the down back to the middle of the quilt, but wake another hour or two later to find the down has moved back to the edges of the quilt. This occurs three to four times a night.
The Sierra Sniveler is my first experience with down sleeping gear. I sleep on my sides and turn a lot during the night, sometimes turning from side to side multiple times in an attempt to get comfortable enough to fall back to sleep. The equinox bivy needs to be re-positioned, as it gets bound up sometimes as I am turning. The bivy is probably pushing on the quilt from one side as my shoulders press on the the other as I am turning over. This is my best guess as to what the problem is, but any time I attempt to distribute the down, I can still find spots that feel like they have little to no down.
I cowboy camp, and the bivy seems to be pretty essential protection from the wind when using the Jacks r Better quilt. My only ultralight shelter currently is a Golite poncho tarp. Sleeping on my back through the night probably won't happen.
Can I get my current gear to work with the Sierra Sniveler? Is a lack of skill preventing me from getting the down to distribute evenly?Aug 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm #1767401
I like an over-sized bivy, like a Katabatic Gear Bristlecone,6'6"wide, gives me enough room to use a Neo-Air pad inside the bivy and wrap the straps of my Nunatak Arc Specialist around the pad, I can toss and turn and the quilt stays put, rock solid. Katabatic Gear quilts cord-lock pad system works well too. You don't want a tight fitting bivy that will compress the down of your quilt either, which may be your case.Aug 9, 2011 at 7:15 am #1767448
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
I love JRB gear (I use a Nest UQ for my JRB Bridge hammock when I hang), but had the same exact issue using my No Sniveller w/ down "falling" down from my shoulder when on my side. Never could prevent it.
Not sure why some quilts have this issue and others don't. That said, my golite Ultra20 (no longer in production) has Longitudinal (?) baffles as well as horizontal and the down stays put much better. Perhaps try one of the new (albeit heavier) Golite's?Aug 9, 2011 at 7:48 am #1767453
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
I have seen this on older, soiled sleeping bags. A good washing fixed it in that case.
If the quilt is new and/or recently cleaned, you could maybe pay to have it overfilled with an ounce or two of more down.
This would even it out and probably add several degrees of warmth.
Oh, and you could try suspending the top of the bivy with some line tied to a tree or bush. The bivy may be adding some down compression from the movement in the night.Aug 9, 2011 at 9:03 am #1767470
Thank you for all your quick and helpful suggestions! The quilt is new, slept in five nights. I was re-positioning down on the first night in the quilt. Todd mentioned the down "falling" off his shoulder. Just draping the quilt over my arm after it has been free to loft for a few days causes the down to "fall" to the edges. I do like the quilt, so I will probably have the extra down added before I give up on it.
I have intended to replace the bivy since spending the first night in it. Suspending the top of the bivy is one suggestion I'll have to try, because I won't be replacing gear before I leave for the Sierras or Trinities at the end of the week. The exact destination will depend on how favorable the five day forecast is right before departure- I definitely don't want to test my gear below 40 degrees.Aug 9, 2011 at 9:20 am #1767472
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
If you feel you are going to have more cold nights, supplement with more clothing.
I'm assuming you already do that and still were cold. Maybe bring an extra down vest or jacket if available?
Another thing to consider is that cold sleepers often become warm sleepers after a few cold nights. The body sort of adapts and kicks in with extra heat generation when needed after some time outdoors.
I know this made me a warm sleeper. I had to adjust as I couldn't afford a warm sleeping bag when I was a kid.
Also eat a big meal before you go to bed and don't scrimp on the fat. Carbs will get you warm at first, but fat is what produces the heat when you need it most in the early AM.Aug 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm #1767593
I am familiar with what you describe.
First try this at home.
Open the quilt up and give it a good shake. Let it stand for 15 minutes or so and then give it another few good shakes.
By now the baffles should look and feel a lot puffier so that the down will tend to stay in place.
At the same time they can be a bit underfilled causing that migration.
FrancoAug 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm #1767638
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I have never used those quilts personally, but I have always been skeptical of the large baffle spacing they use. I make my own down quilts and the key to controlling the migration of the down is the baffle spacing.Aug 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm #1767641
@bster13Locale: Norwalk, CT
I don't believe the Sierra Stealth uses baffles…only their 3-4 season quilts do.Aug 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm #1767646
The Stealth is sewn through, the Sniveller does have baffles.
As Michael points out the baffles are widely spaced at 7", compared with the WM 5" , for example.
I have the No Sniveller, a narrower version of the one Eric has.
FrancoAug 9, 2011 at 6:38 pm #1767652
there are other quilt manufacturers out there. 4 that i can think of…
if you're not happy w/ the performance of the jacks quilt simply send it back and try an different manufacturer. i have a warbonnet top quilt, and a hammockgear and leighlo underquilt. all top notch. saw te-wa's in person and they are nice and stuffed too…Aug 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm #1767654
@bster13Locale: Norwalk, CT
Doh, Franco is right, I read it wrong. When I saw "40s" I thought he was referring to JRB's summer quilt called the Sierra Stealth which is rated to 40F. I'm puzzled how the OP is getting cold with a bag rated to 25-30F, even if some down is shifting. GL.Aug 9, 2011 at 7:47 pm #1767677
…is what was underneath you?
I've had plenty of struggles some nights getting cold from what I thought was an insufficient bag, only to finally come to the conclusion that the sleeping mat underneath me was more culpable than the bag itself.
It really does sound as if down migration is a substantial concern for your situation, but just for kicks, what were you sleeping on top of?Aug 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm #1767714
OK, let me try again with a picture.
I cut off from my quilt 1.5 baffles , so about 10".
(I purposely ordered one longer than I needed to do some experiments and then changed my mind…)
The down that was in the cut off section I transfer ed into some of the other baffles and that is why they are uneven in this picture
(some some of my baffles are in theory overfilled)
However as you can see about half of the quilt has almost no down , and that is similar to what happens when you lay on your side and wiggle a bit.
FrancoAug 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm #1767737
I am sleeping on a department store closed cell pad, close to 3/4 length, on top of which I put a x-small prolite for comfort, with the prolite inside the bivy.
Camping spots have been exposed to 5 to 10 mph winds through the night, with the bivy as my main wind protection. There has been some condensation at the foot of the bivy, and even under the upper end of the bivy on the last night. I wondered if the down had become damp enough that night to lose some loft, because the down seemed more difficult to fluff than on previous nights. I did not have the drawstring at the top of the quilt adjusted properly until the end of the last night. And my head felt cold- I will bring a hat to add to the balaclava on the next trip. So the quilt hasn't been given an absolutely fair test. But..
I go to sleep feeling perfectly comfortable, with a nice squishy layer of down above me, but a few hours later I wake up *really* feeling the cold through the top of the quilt in the upper torso/shoulder area and around my hip, and where the head slit in the quilt resides. Pushing my hand down on top of the cold spots, I can't feel any down, just two layers of nylon, and I can't really get the down as perfectly re-situated from inside the bivy as I can when I am setting up camp, and the cold spots return more quickly.
The picture of the quilt with the light shining through the top is quite familiar- I create spots that let the light shine through every time I move the quilt.
I'm not exactly shivering, but loosing sleep and afraid to take it down into the 30s.Aug 10, 2011 at 12:07 am #1767741
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Some manufactures have better quality control than others. With some smaller companies, they might not be measuring or watching or testing the down that gets into individual bags and quilts. If the individual down pieces got clumped together, then the buyer ends up with something that is a little weak in the warmth department, since the down pieces are too loose and move away from where they are needed. One lot of raw down might have been prepared incorrectly.
I have a 30-year-old down sleeping bag that had been used to the point where this condition was happening, so I washed and dried it incorrectly. Same condition. Then I washed and dried it correctly, then dried it and fluffed it more. VOILA! The thing returned to its original loft and warmth.
When the down is shifted improperly, then the down pieces are clumped. When the down is evenly distributed, the down pieces are not clumped.
–B.G.–Aug 10, 2011 at 12:29 am #1767746
Franco: I tried repeatedly shaking the quilt this evening, with a good rest between shakes. Up until now I have absolutely babied the quilt, so these are the first few "good shakes" it has seen. There are still thin spots along the edges, but most of each baffle feels overstuffed now, and the down doesn't suddenly move away when I support the quilt with my hand. This feels like progress. Thanks for the tip.Aug 10, 2011 at 1:52 am #1767753
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I believe it is lacking some down. Likely through quality countrol or other problems at the manufacturer. Maybe it was made on a very humid day? I would return it and quit fiddling with it. There is just so much you can do with what you have. Ask that they ship you a replacement since you are not real satisfied with the performance.
Just to test this, run it through a dryer for 15 minutes and weigh it. If it is under weight at all, I would guess they would correct it at no charge. If correction is not needed by weight, perhaps they could add 2-3 ounces of down to the replacement?Aug 10, 2011 at 11:02 am #1767862
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Yeah, either underfilled or the down tubes aren't correctly sized to control the down provided. While that sounds like two ways of saying the same thing, the tubes should be sized to provide the loft spec and no more so they can hold the down in place at the correct thickness. If instead they open wider than the needed thickness, it could be a design problem.
Either way, the resolution for this quilt is to stuff in more down. No amount of fluffing, washing, etc. will add loft that was never there to begin with.
RickAug 10, 2011 at 11:10 am #1767864
O.k., I'll contact the manufacturer about an exchange or adding some down.Aug 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm #1768128
I sent an email to Jacks R Better today and ended up talking to one of the two Jacks over the phone. He has given me several suggestions, some of which I will be trying out next week. I will post an update the following week.Aug 11, 2011 at 4:42 am #1768148
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Eric, what were the suggestions?Aug 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm #1772499
Jack had much to say, he covered everything I could think of, and then some. Specifically regarding the quilt– 1) I was babying the quilt, afraid I was going to tear the baffles. The repeated vigorous, I think he said "almost violent" quilt shaking, really made a difference in the quilt lofting, which seemed to make the difference between the down packing into the edges of the quilt in the middle of the night versus staying put above me. 2) Body heat would help loft the quilt. 3) Partially unzip the bivy to prevent compression of the down. 4) Don't tuck the quilt under the body, this puts pressure on the quilt above me and compromises loft. Just let the quilt drape loosely over the body. 5) Properly adjusting the drawstring at the top of the quilt creates a "pocket" which tucks around the shoulders, helping to hold the quilt in place.
The first two nights I used the bivy partially unzipped, I had a lot of condensation inside the bivy while never feeling sweaty or overheated. I had little loft left above me a few hours into the night and ended up re-positioning the down around three times both nights. Temperatures were mild but I was still not comfortably warm in my Red Hot Chilis Pepper Skins, medium wool socks and fleece balaclava.
Third night I ditched the bivy and Prolite 3 and dug a hip hole ( Jacks suggestion for staying put at night ). This was a revelation. I have not slept comfortably on a blue pad in 15 years, but this time I was incredibly comfortable with a one inch deep hip hole under the pad. I definitely thrashed around less, slept mostly on my back, but still discovered absolutely zero loft over my hip in the middle of the night. I shook the down back towards the center of the quilt and went back to sleep. I was surprised to find plenty of loft above my hip when I awoke in the morning. Hmm.
The last night followed two warm nights where I occasionally felt sweaty, and I had not dried the bag in the sun a full half hour like I had done before my first "successful" night in the quilt. Down packed into the edges of the quilt in the middle of the night, and I was once again disheartened. I shook down back to the center and went back to sleep. Next morning all the baffles were still lofted in the center of the quilt, and I stayed under the bag for another two hours, getting in and out and generally moving around a lot. The quilt retained its loft in the center this whole time. In fact, the baffles were so puffed up they gave the impression that they were going to pop.
My theory is that loft was somewhat being defeated by moisture, and without enough loft pressure pushing against the nylon and baffles, the down has no resistance to sliding to the edges of the quilt just by gravity, and any extra help I could give it by moving around and pushing on the outside with a bivy. I have more testing to do but have had results which give me enough confidence to keep going with the following rules of thumb…
1) Make sure the quilt is absolutely dry!
2) Don't use a confining bivy which pushes against the down and defeats body moisture evaporation.
3) Shake the quilt. Really shake it. Wait 15 minutes. Do it again.Aug 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm #1772510
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Great to hear that you were successful and that they were so willing to help you make it work. Very positive results on both accounts. It sure sounds like the problems began with the bivy.
RickAug 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm #1772650
Excellent testing. I noticed a problem with down shifting in my JRB when I was out last week. I will try giving it a good shake next time and try a few other things. I really think it has a lot to do with the baffle spacing. If I still have problems with mine, I might try to add an extra ounce or two of down.
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