GoLite Ultra Quilt (Image courtesy GoLite)
We tested two of the prototype version of the Ultra Quilt this past fall and early winter, with one going to experienced quilt user Ryan Jordan, and one to me, Steve Nelson, a first time quilt user. We used the quilts in Montana, Wyoming, California, and New York, in a range of configurations and shelters.
The Ultra provides generally-expected features like webbing straps for lashing it to a pad (the straps are removable) and a cinch cord at the neck, but adds the fresh touch of the WPB (waterproof-breathable) panels at head and foot.
We found that the quilt performed well across the board – the temperature rating may be a bit optimistic, but the range of the bag was easily extended using insulating layers of clothing, and the WPB panels did indeed provide an extra margin of protection against wetting out the down (though not in all conditions…more on that below).
- Quality construction and materials
- Waterproof-breathable fabric patches at each end (especially the one at the head) help mitigate moisture problems
- Well-placed, removable webbing for strapping over a pad
- Good price for this level of quality
What’s Not So Good
- WPB fabric can wet out in more extreme conditions
- Samples had uneven down filling and insufficient loft in some baffles, though a full production example did not seem to have this problem
|2008 Ultra Quilt|
|Advertised: 72” x 54” for Regular size (also available in Small and Large sizes)
Measured: 72” at longest point, 67” from shortest point at chin. 38” circumference at neck; 54” width at widest point (approx 21” from top of quilt). 37” circumference at foot, 42” circumference at start of footbox (16.25” up from foot)
|Nylon lining and main outer shell; Pertex Endurance 6” deep at the top (head) end and 12” deep at the foot end of outer shell|
|Two grosgrain webbing straps with thin buckles; cinch cord and toggle at neck|
|Cotton storage bag; nylon stuff sack|
|20° F (-7° C)|
|Advertised: 19 oz for regular size; 0.55 oz. for stuff sack
Measured: 19.05 oz for my sample quilt
The Ultra is constructed of turquoise nylon over most of its outer shell, with Pertex Endurance patches at the head and foot, meant to reduce moisture penetration from one’s breath and from condensation encountered by touching the wall of a shelter. The quilt is lined with soft black nylon and filled with 800-fill power down in 6” baffled tubes with 2-3” of single-layer loft. Quality and feel are excellent throughout. Both fabrics feel soft to the touch, with a slightly crinkly feel to the Pertex compared to the nylon shell and liner.
The bag is rated by GoLite at 20° F (-7° C). Both Ryan and I found this a bit generous, though some of the baffles on both of our pre-production quilts were underfilled, which doubtless affected our experience. However, I was able to examine a production quilt toward the end of our testing and found that it was impeccably constructed with even filling throughout. It exhibited none of the unevenness of our samples, so I’m betting temperature discrepancy is a non-issue for the full production run.
The Ultra has two grosgrain straps and thin buckles underneath that allow one to strap the quilt over a pad as shown here:
Ultra quilt over a sleeping pad, showing the two grosgrain straps (image courtesy GoLite)
The straps are removable, so you can shave an ounce or so off the weight of the quilt if you don’t need them. The Ultra also has a snap and cord and toggle at the neck (same story on saving a few more grams if you remove the cord and toggle).
One of the loops securing the removable straps. Note also the black lining and blue shell fabric.
The Ultra comes with a moderately sized cotton storage sack and a lightweight nylon stuff sack. The latter brings the quilt down to a compact 5”x8” for packing for those who don’t mind heavy compression.
The Ultra packed in its compact stuff sack.
We tested the GoLite Ultra Quilt in fall and winter, with temperatures ranging from 50° F down to just over 0° F, at locations in Montana, Wyoming, California, and New York. Ambient conditions ranged from clear and dry to rainy and humid, at settings on rock, soil, and snow. The quilt was used in tents, a tarptent, and an ultralight bivy sack, on top of foam and inflatable insulated pads.
Overall performance of the quilt was good – it is sized so that it fully wrapped around me with room to spare, and loft is sufficient to provide performance near, if not entirely down to, the claimed rating of 20° F. Both Ryan and I were able to push the quilt past that rating by wearing other insulative clothing and found that the quilt has sufficient girth to support wearing clothing with a couple of inches of loft for folks of our size (I’m 5’9” with a 40” chest; Ryan is 5’8” with a 38" chest).
As a novice quilt user, I experimented with several different setups. First, I tried the quilt using the “tuck” technique – that is, I simply draped it over myself and tucked the sides back under me any time I shifted position. I’m a side and partial stomach sleeper, and I found this technique worked just fine in the moderate conditions I experienced in the Adirondacks (no colder than the high 30s F) and the California coast (even warmer). In slightly colder weather, I used the quilt inside a bivy sack with the same technique and found the technique even more reliable for blocking drafts, though I experienced a bit more moisture collapse of the down than I had when the bag was in the open. On most occasions I also tried the quilt with a silk liner, which added some additional comfort and some very slight draft protection.
Adjusting the Ultra Quilt in a bivy sack near the Northern California Coast
I also tried strapping the bag over a 3/4 length ultralight Thermarest pad and a tapered InSul-Mat. This was a new experience for me, and it felt a bit more constricting than the other method, but required less fiddling once I got settled. The buckles are very light and flat and are fairly easy to use (I’d find them a bit fumbly when wearing mittens or gloves). The quilt has a neck snap, plus cinch cord with toggle; in practice I rarely used them, and only when the bag was strapped over a pad.
In all of the above cases, the Ultra was a fine performer – the coverage worked for me, even when I was sleeping on my side (Aside: I decided I prefer leaving it loose and tucking in the sides, except in really cold weather.).
Finally, I tested the quilt as an overbag for a Valandre La Fayette sleeping bag inside a bivy sack; this was less successful, because the footbox really isn’t big enough for a sleeping bag of the La Fayetter’s loft to fit within the Ultra. Still, I believe it might be a good way to extend the range of a lighter bag, especially if using a vapor barrier liner instead of additional layers of clothing.
The Pertex Endurance panels at the head and foot were generally effective, but not infallible. In the challenging conditions of the Adirondacks, I found that the fabric wetted out at the foot when the quilt was used in a lightweight, low airflow tarptent in high condensation conditions with temperatures in the low 40s. Moisture from contact with the walls of the tarptent, as well as spray knocked off the inside of the shelter by heavy rain, coated the foot sufficiently to wet out the fabric and cause some loss of loft.
Foot of Ultra Quilt in the Adirondacks, showing wetted-out Pertex and damp down
Ryan and I both thought the Pertex at the head of the quilt did an excellent job at preventing breathing-induced condensation and loft degradation, particularly in the very cold (<15° F) conditions Ryan experienced on one trip. However, he also found that the Pertex was less successful in the foot area of the quilt and experienced a footbox collapse over the course of a multiday trip. Ryan noted that he’s experienced this collapse with every one of his down bags, so this is not unique to the Ultra…but the Pertex panel did not eliminate the footbox collapse, and a case could be made that the Pertex contributed a bit to the collapse by reducing permeability of the footbox from the inside.
I did a “faucet test” at home and noted that, after sixty seconds of exposure to running water, the Pertex fabric and down underneath remained completely dry, with water beading up and running off the fabric the entire time. The nylon shell and inner lining both started to show slight darkening after forty-five seconds, and both shell and lining, and the down underneath, were only just damp to the touch after sixty seconds of exposure.
All things considered, Ryan and I agreed that the Pertex patches are a positive feature, particularly for reducing breath-related wetting and frosting in colder temperatures, and will offer a small additional level of protection for the ends of the quilt when used under a tarp without a bivy sack.
The underfilled pre-production baffles in other areas of the quilt collapsed more than the properly-filled ones, as one might expect. In particular, the baffle over my chest ended up with inside and outside fabric touching and little, if any, down in between (and not enough down to shift around to make up for this). Again, this definitely was not the case in the production model I examined and should not present similar problems.
The Ultra comes with a cotton storage bag, which I use for keeping the bag uncompressed at home, and a stuff sack, which I found convenient and compact. I generally don’t compress my down bags so tightly, preferring to put them loose in a plastic liner in the bottom of my pack, but, on one occasion, the compact size of the Ultra in its stuff sack was a necessity to fit it in along with all the rest of my gear in a 48” pulk for a multi-day snow camping trip.
The GoLite Ultra is a good value for its quality and performance. The Pertex patches are valuable in some conditions, and the quilt provides standard features for flexibility in use at a nice light weight. While some might find the temperature rating a bit aggressive, it can certainly be comfortable well below freezing, and we recommend it.
The Ultra incorporates Pertex Endurance “Arid Zones” to provide additional moisture resistance around the sleeper’s face, as well as where the footbox might meet the wall of a shelter.
Recommendations for Improvement
- Consider adding another few ounces of down to bolster loft, or consider reducing the bag’s rating to 30° to reflect its somewhat sparse filling (though, to be fair, this sparseness may have been due to the fact that our models were pre-production).