Like most Jacks ‘R’ Better quilts, the Old Rag Mtn Down Quilt can perform multiple functions. It can be used as a top quilt (a bag with no bottom insulation), as an under-quilt in a hammock system, or as a winter overbag. With the optional Down to Earth Converter, it can even be made into a top bag system (a open bottom bag with an attached foam pad). No matter how it’s used, the Old Rag Mtn provides excellent warmth for the weight and is a good value at under $300 for the regular length.
- Versatile bag- usable as a top quilt, as an under quilt in a hammock system, as winter overbag, or even as a top bag with the optional Down to Earth Converter
- DWR fabric sheds light condensation and spindrift
- Closable Omni tape footbox with tie closure opens for extra ventilation and versatility
- Generous long size is long enough to cover the face of a 6’4” tester when used as an overbag or stretches out in a Hennessy hammock nearly from end to end
- Ability to attach the JRB Hood when used as a top quilt
- $299.95 for the Old Rag Mtn is a good value when compared to other down quilts such as those from Nunatak
- Also available as part of “The Ultimate 4 Season Hammock Quilt Set”, making deep winter hammock usage possible
What’s Not So Good
- No included hood (the JRB Down Hood is an extra $59.95 and adds 2.5 oz (71 g);
- Wide footbox is not as heat-efficient as more tapered quilts
- Non-waterproof outer shell means that an additional rain cover is needed when used as an underquilt in a winter hammock setup
- One color choice: Kelly green
|2007 Jacks ‘R’ Better Old Rag Mtn|
|Down quilt with closable footbox|
|800+ fill goose down|
|Measured top loft 3.4 in (8.6 cm); claimed loft 3.5 in (8.9 cm)|
Manufacturer Claimed Temperature Rating
|Approx. 15 °F (-9.4 °C)|
|Measured weight (long): 27.0 oz (765 g); manufacturer’s specification 27 oz (765 g)|
|Size (measured- long): 46 in x 81 in (117 cm x 206 cm); mfr claimed 48 in x 86 in (122 cm x 218 cm)|
|1.1 ounce rip-stop nylon with DWR treatment, no-see-um netting used in box baffles|
|3 under quilt attachment points for use in a hammock system, neck drawstring with dual sliders, foot drawstring with dual sliders, Omni tape foot box closure with ties at top of footbox, included silnylon compression sack (1.3 oz/31 g) and cotton storage bag|
|Silnylon compression sack (1.3 oz (31 g), storage bag|
|JRB Down Hood $59.95, JRB Suspension System available for hammock under-quilt use: 1.1 oz (37 g) $9.95, Down to Earth Converter (prices vary)|
|$269.95 (Reg), $299.95 (Long)|
MSRP- The Ultimate 4 Season Hammock Quilt Set
With a Jacks ‘R’ Better quilt system, the range for hammocks is extended greatly.
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Old Rag Mtn is the bigger brother to the No Sniveler quilt that ranked first in the BackpackingLight Unconventional Sleep Systems Review Summary. Unlike the No Sniveller, the Old Rag Mtn focuses on efficient warmth when sleeping and it doesn’t have the neck opening for use as a poncho. It has 3.4 inches of loft from 800+ fill power down and is a rectangular shape.
The Old Rag Mtn is a large quilt with 3.4 inches of loft.
Like most Jacks ‘R’ Better (JRB) quilts, the Old Rag Mtn can be used as a top quilt or as part of a hammock insulation system. It is available on its own or as a part of the Jacks ‘R’ Better Ultimate 4 Season Hammock Quilt Set. Also included in this set (and related to this review) are the JRB No Sniveller Universal Quilt, and the JRB Nest Down Under Quilt.
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Ultimate 4 Season Hammock Quilt Set in action (used with a Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym hammock- note the Old Rag Mtn layered outside of a JRB Nest Quilt).
To reduce the warmth when used as an underquilt, the quilt sliders and attachment hardware can be loosened.
When used with a hammock, the Old Rag Mtn can be used as a warm under quilt with the optional JRB Suspension System and it has attachment points that are perfectly aligned for use with Hennessy A-Sym hammocks. However, unlike the Jacks ‘R’ Better Nest, you have to slide the quilt to the side when entering a hammock with a bottom entry. It also has a foot box that is formed with Omni tape (imagine softer asexual Velcro) and ties (new for 2007) to keep the Omni tape closed. Drawcords at the foot and neck and generous width allow for tucking underneath and keep the Old Rag Mtn secure when using it as a top quilt in a hammock.
The footbox is formed with Omni tape and simple ties keep the soft Velcro-like closure from opening.
Dual sliders slip into fabric loops to close both the hood opening and footbox. When used as a hammock underquilt, these sliders adjust how tightly the quilt sits against the hammock, which helps to adjust the warmth.
For use on the ground, an adjustable cord run through the hammock attachments creates an adjustable variable-girth quilt. Set up this way, the Old Rag Mtn can be used on its own as a cold weather quilt or as an overbag to push a three season bag into the deep winter. It can also be converted into a top bag system using the JRB Down to Earth Pad Converter.
Besides being usable in a hammock system, the Old Rag Mtn also makes an excellent quilt or overbag for ground sleeping. Here, it was used by a 6 foot 4 inch hiker to extend the use of a summer bag into winter months.
While the extra girth in the footbox makes it excellent for use as an overbag, the extra width is not as efficient when used as a standalone top quilt. For those who like a little extra roominess in their bags, this will be a welcome change from most quilts on the market. However, I would have preferred a tighter fit when using the Old Rag Mtn as a top quilt in a non-hammock sleep system.
The JRB Down Hood is an excellent addition to the Old Rag Mtn when using it as a top bag. You may want to consider spending the extra $59.95 if you plan to use this bag in that configuration.
At $269.95 for a size regular and $299.95 for a long, the JRB Old Rag Mtn is inexpensive for a high-loft down quilt made with high quality materials. Despite months of use, I experience virtually no loss of loft. This bag is handmade in the U.S.A. (Virginia to be exact) and excellent craftsmanship is seen throughout.
By selecting protected sites like this one just down from an exposed ridge in the Washington Cascades, I found that I was able to comfortably push the Ultimate 4 Season Hammock Quilt Set into the lower teens.
At $719.95, the price of the Ultimate 4 Season Hammock Quilt Set is certainly steep. However, when you consider that you’re getting the wearable No Sniveller Quilt, the just-right for a Hennessy Nest Quilt, and the Old Rag Mtn for less than $240 each, it’s a pretty good deal. The total weight for the three quilts is a chunky 4 pounds 6.1 ounces. However, when you consider that you can trade a 4 season tent for a lightweight hammock, the extra insulation weight starts to seem like a pretty good idea.
For me, sliding into a hammock surround by a warm cocoon of insulation in the dead of winter was a joy. I learned quickly that even with wind covers, a strong breeze can quickly strip the warmth of a hammock. But when I chose sites out of the wind, I had the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had in the backcountry.
As a side note, when using the system in deep winter, I often carried a Gossamer Gear ThinLight Wide pad and occasionally used it to eliminate cold spots, particularly on my butt. This was the only addition I made to the Hennessy/Jacks ‘R’ Better system.
Jacks ‘R’ Better quilts are famous for their modular versatility and the Old Rag Mtn is a great example of that. It is a roomy quilt, a warm top quilt in a hammock system, and a great hammock underquilt in colder temperatures. As a part of a winter quilt set, though, it is truly unique. By combining the Old Rag Mtn with other quilts, you can make hammocking a true 4-season venture.
The author waking up warm in his cocoon of Jacks ‘R’ Better insulation. This image was taken in January in the Washington Cascades while I hung in my hammock above 5 feet of snow.
Recommendations for Improvement
- The Old Rag Mtn is best used as the outer under quilt in a hammock quilt system. However, the fabric shell is merely lightweight nylon with a DWR coating. This necessitates the use of an outer wind/rain cover, adding complexity and weight to the system. If the outer fabric were made of a highly breathable waterproof/breathable fabric, an outer cover wouldn’t be necessary. I think the system would approach perfection if this bag had waterproof breathable shell (such as eVENT or Pertex Endurance) with sealed seams.
- When using the Old Rag Mtn as a quilt on the ground, I wished for a smaller footbox. However, the extra width was critical when using the quilt in a hammock system.
- The Old Rag Mtn is available in kelly green only. I rather like it but others may not.