Commercially available, lightweight down quilts suitable for backpacking are rare. The Jacks ‘R’ Better No Sniveller Universal Quilt has a unique feature that sets it apart from even that small offering – a resealable center slit that converts it into a warm poncho. Jacks ‘R’ Better had versatility in mind when they designed the No Sniveller – it also functions (with appropriate attachment loops standard) as a hammock underquilt.
- Actual loft higher than specified
- Wide enough in on-the-ground quilt mode that there are no drafts or cold spots when turning from side to side
- Shell fabric is downproof and water resistant
- Drawcord and toggles allow it to be secured around one’s shoulders to seal in warmth when used as a quilt
- Convenient in-camp warmth when worn as a poncho
- Multi-use as a quilt, hammock underquilt, or warm poncho
What’s Not So Good
- Multi-use design adds weight compared to specific use designs
|2005 Jacks ‘R’ Better No Sniveller Universal Quilt|
|10 oz (283 g) of 750 fill power goose down (current models now use 10 oz of 800 fill power down)|
|Measured loft 2.25 – 2.5 in (5.7 – 6.4 cm) total; claimed loft 2 in (5.1 cm)|
Manufacturer Claimed Temperature Rating
|30 °F (0 °C)|
|Measured weight 20.1 oz (570 g); manufacturer’s specification 20 oz (567 g); JRB Suspension System 1.6 oz (45 g); silnylon compression sack 1.3 oz (38 g)|
|One size, 78 x 48 in (198 x 122 cm)|
|1.1 oz/yd2 (37 g/m2) ripstop nylon with DWR|
|7.5-inch (19 cm) apart, 1.5 in* (3.8 cm) high, continuous baffles of no-see-um netting; drawcord and toggles at both quilt ends; foot box formed by Omni-tape and drawcord closure; Omni-tape sealed head slit so it can be worn as a poncho; silnylon compression sack; suspension system for use as a hammock underquilt.
*Note: tested quilt has 1.5 in high baffles, current quilts have 2 in (5 cm) high baffles.
The Jacks ‘R’ Better No Sniveller Quilt uses high quality down fill and is constructed with care and precision. Three Backpacking Light staffers (Carol, Alan, and Stu) tested it on the ground as a stand alone quilt and as a ratings booster over another bag; in, and under, a hammock; and as a supplemental in-camp poncho.
The No Sniveller is a rectangular, baffled down quilt with drawcord and toggles at both ends. One end has two 17-inch strips of Omni-tape up the sides, so that it can be formed into a footbox by cinching the end closed with the drawcord and toggles, and closing the Omni-tape strip. (Omni-tape is like Velcro hook and loop strips except that both strips are the same sex and non-scratchy.)
The No Sniveller is luxurious on the ground. It has over 2 inches of loft, and is wide enough to completely avoid the bane of many quilts and top bags – cold spots and drafts created when turning over. Its 4 feet of width keeps both sides draped to the ground without need of attention when turning from side to side, making for warm, stress-free sleeping. Stu was very glad to have the No Sniveller along on an expedition in Nepal. For 20 ounces (actually 19 ounces after trimming tags and replacing toggles and drawcords with lighter versions), he had an "overbag" as well as a warm vest for camp.
Stu was very glad to have the No Sniveller along on an expedition in Nepal. For 20 ounces (actually 19 ounces after trimming tags and replacing toggles and drawcords with lighter versions), he had an "overbag" as well as a warm vest for camp.
The drawcord and toggles at the head of the quilt secure and adjust the quilt’s opening around your neck. My favorite trick is to feed one toggle through the grosgrain loop sewn to the opposite quilt corner to form a loop. I put the loop over my head and adjust the toggle as needed to snug the quilt around my neck and shoulders.
Jacks ‘R’ Better is a hammock centric company, so of course the No Sniveller is a joy to use in a hammock. As with any quilt, it is much easier to pull it over you once settled into a hammock than to struggle with shimmying into a sleeping bag.
The No Sniveller has a slit closed by Omni-tape centered in a seam in the middle of the quilt. Opening the Omni-tape converts the quilt into a poncho. (Tabs on each Omni-tape edge would make it easier to open the slit.) I used the No Sniveller during a SuperUltraLight (sub-5-pound base weight) trip where my camp was at 11,000 feet with below freezing overnight lows. Not only was I warm while sleeping, but wearing the No Sniveller as a poncho significantly improved my comfort in the evenings.
The No Sniveller makes a bulky poncho. We all used some method of securing the front to keep it from flapping and away from the stove, food, and wet tent/tarp walls. Alan and I used the drawcord and toggles from one end to tie it around our waists, while Stu preferred to use a bungee around his chest. Fixed ties, or sewn in loops so you can fashion your own ties for securing the poncho around you would be a nice addition since the drawcords are not long to fit around many people.
Jacks ‘R’ Better has kept a true rectangular shape, rather than cutting some weight by tapering the foot end, so the No Sniveller is "universal" and can serve as a hammock underquilt, a top quilt, and even a cabin comforter. We encourage Jacks ‘R’ Better to consider tapering one end of the quilt for us gram weenies. It would reduce the weight a bit and the resultant product would still be completely functional as a top quilt, hammock underquilt, and poncho.
Jacks ‘R’ Better includes a simple and effective suspension system to suspend the quilt below a hammock so that it is not compressed by body weight. The bungee and carabiner suspension system attaches to four corner grosgrain loops on the No Sniveller and is easily adjusted so that the quilt hangs just below the occupied hammock bottom; close enough to reduce any air gaps, and loose enough so that it hangs fully lofted. Toggles on the drawcords at both ends of the quilt can be adjusted to bring the quilt ends close to the hammock for colder nights, or left loose for air flow on warmer nights. The system can be used on bottom entry Hennessy hammocks as well as side entry hammocks. Entry and exit from bottom entry hammocks is simple. The bungees are stretchy enough so the bottom of the quilt can be pulled to one side before entry or exit, and stiff enough to snap the bottom back in place after. Bottom insulation is easily "beefed up" with this system by suspending another quilt or cover below the quilt, or by placing extra clothing, a pack, or a foam pad between the No Sniveller and the hammock bottom. The No Sniveller is 6.5 feet long and offers complete coverage under all but the very tall, and at 4 feet wide, completely covers both sides of a sleeper to prevent cold spots.
The Jacks ‘R’ Better No Sniveller Universal Quilt as a hammock underquilt in Arizona high country.
Using the No Sniveller as a hammock underquilt is much more comfortable than lying on foam – easier to get in and out of, no need to worry about foam "squirting" out from under you during the night, and offers complete coverage so an elbow lying at your side doesn’t get cold because it’s off an insulating pad. It is breathable so it doesn’t encourage condensation to form underneath your body and keeps you dryer, hence warmer, than closed cell foam. The No Sniveller uses down insulation with a non-waterproof shell so it is more vulnerable to windblown rain than a synthetic quilt or closed cell foam pads, so consider increasing your canopy size (or adding an under cover) if you expect inclement weather and are a gram-counting-weenie who uses a bare minimum sized canopy.
Jacks ‘R’ Better has recently updated the notions on the No Sniveller with lighter toggles and drawcord.
Missing from this review (and for all sleeping bag reviews published here, for that matter) will be an assessment of whether or not the sleeping bag performs adequately at temperatures near its manufacturer-reported temperature rating. Click here for the complete Backpacking Light Position Statement on Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings.
The No Sniveller is a rare commercially available down quilt; the fact that it converts to a poncho makes it one-of-a-kind. Integral Designs offers a synthetic poncho/quilt, and the Nunatak Back Country Blanket is a similar down quilt (no poncho conversion) – but the MSRP is $367. The No Sniveller is a great value at $239.
Recommendations for Improvement
Jacks ‘R’ Better has made a quality product for multiple uses. We’d like to see them also offer lighter weight, specific use quilts: a narrower quilt for hammock top bag use only, and a quilt tapered at one end for underquilt and on-the-ground use. And keep the head slit, which really improves in-camp comfort on cold evenings. Small pull tabs on the Omni-tape edges would make opening the head slit easier, and extra loops or permanent ties to help secure the poncho from flapping would be nice.