The Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Stealth Quilt is an ultralight summer quilt designed “with the ground sleeper in mind.” As the lightest of three wearable quilts available from JRB, the Sierra Stealth has a resealable Velcro head hole in the center that allows the quilt to be used as a serape around camp – eliminating the need for a lightweight jacket in addition to sleeping gear. Like other JRB quilts, one end can be formed into a foot box for ground sleeping and six lacing tabs on the sides can be used to secure the quilt around yourself or under a hammock. This review focuses on the quilt as used for ground sleeping.
JRB Sierra Stealth Quilt.
The quilt features a tapered cut, with a 52-inch (132-cm) width from the head down just past the hips, then tapering to 42 inches (107 cm) at the foot box to eliminate unnecessary weight. Two length options are available (78 in/198 cm and 86 in/218 cm) with the long size recommended for those over 5’10” (1.8 m). I got the long option for this review, and though it measured only 82 inches (208 cm) instead of the specified 86 inches (218 cm), I did not find myself wishing for four more inches (10 cm) of length (I’m 6 feet/1.83 meters tall).
The goose down fill is available at either 800 or 900 loft, with the latter being $15 more for a mere 0.75ounce (21.3 g) of weight savings. The stitch through baffle design is a weight savings over other down baffling methods and is meant for warmer temperature use (40-45 F/4-7 C).
Twenty-one-inch (53-cm) Velcro strips and a drawstring are used to transform the narrower end of the quilt into a foot box, which is necessary to keep the quilt in position while sleeping. A bit of experience using quilts makes it easy enough to keep the top end in position when rolling over on a sleeping pad, but the foot box is a must for the lower end. Traveling toward the head of the quilt, there are three sets of lacing tabs designed to “secure the quilt around a pad,” although I didn’t find this to be a very useful sleeping method as the foot box itself is much too small to fit around a sleeping pad. The tabs are handy for securing the quilt around your body when using as a serape or cape – to be discussed shortly. A second drawstring and the final pair of lacing tabs at the head of the quilt can be used to close the top if desired.
The uniqueness of the Jacks ‘R’ Better wearable quilts is just that – you can wear them like a jacket to keep warm in camp. There is a 12-inch (30.5 cm) Velcro opening halfway down the length of the quilt to poke your head through and wear the quilt like a serape. Though not nearly as cool looking as Clint Eastwood, the serape-mode is functional as a method of staying warm around camp without the need for another jacket. There is even a handy carabiner included on one of the lacing tabs to hold the quilt more snugly to your body and out of the way of any game changing cook fires. The dual-purpose nature of the wearable quilt makes it attractive for ultralight summer backpacking.
|Manufacturer||Jacks ‘R’ Better|
|Sizes||Regular: 78×52 in (198×132 cm) |
Long: 86×52 in (218×132 cm)
Long Tested: 82×52 in (208×132 cm)
|Weight||Manufacturer Claim: Regular 16 oz (454 g) |
Manufacturer Claim: Long 18 oz (510 g)
BPL Measured: 18.7 oz (531 g)
|Fill||800 or 900 fill goose down|
|Loft||1.5 in (3.8 cm)|
|Fabric||1.1 oz, 30 denier ripstop nylon|
|Temperature Rating||40-45 F / 4-7 C|
|Packed Size||7x7x5 in (18x18x13 cm)|
|Stuff Sack||Manufacturer Claim: 1.2 oz (34 g) silnylon |
BPL Measured: 1.4 oz (40 g)
|Price||$209.95 – $234.95 (reg 800 FP – long 900 FP)|
Summer camping with the quilt has been a pleasure. I’m one who likes to lie on my camping pad with my sleeping bag unzipped over me so I can spread more – so the quilt was a welcome weight savings over the typical 20 F mummy bag I’ve found myself lugging around in summers past.
The JRB Sierra Stealth is 52 inches (132 cm) wide through the head and shoulders, and tapers to 42 inches (107 cm) at the feed (right side). The foot section can be closed into a foot box via Velcro strips and tied at the top to keep it from opening (blue arrows). There are six lacing tabs to tie the quilt around you for draft prevention or when used as a serape (red arrows). The Velcro head hole is in the center of the quilt.
The closeable foot box is a key feature of any top quilt. Without the ability to tuck your feet in the bottom, the quilt would tend to migrate all over the place while sleeping (at least for me). There is a set of ties at the top of the Velcro section to keep it from separating due to movement and a drawstring at the bottom to close the hole. The drawstring at the bottom of the Sierra Stealth leaves a small half-inch hole when fully cinched up. On cooler nights the hole can be plugged with a spare sock before cinching the drawstring to eliminate drafts at the foot – a method I discovered in my efforts to find every available means to seal up drafts when one of my summer adventures dropped unexpectedly below freezing at night.
The JRB website says the six lacing tabs (three on either side) are to secure the quilt around a sleeping pad if desired. I don’t think this is a practical quilt tactic. The foot box is too small to stuff a pad into and still have enough wiggle room for your feet, and having the quilt wrapped around the upper portion of a sleeping pad and not the lower portion just invites warmth sucking drafts. On warm nights I felt no need to tuck the sides in, preferring the roomy feeling of the quilt simply lying on top. If I started to feel cool, it was easy to grab the open sides of the quilt and give them a quick tuck between my body and the sleeping pad to eliminate the drafts.
The open top quilt method preferred on warm nights (left). On cold nights I hooked the middle two lacing tabs (red arrow) together with the provided carabiner to use the quilt more like a mummy bag. This provided a means to keep the sides of the quilt tucked between me and the sleeping pad to eliminate drafts.
In cooler weather it was very important to keep the quilt tucked between me and my pad. On the cold nights alluded to above I found it difficult to keep the open sides of the quilt sealed against drafts until I used the included carabiner to hook the middle two lacing tabs together underneath me, as shown in the figure above (right). This turned the quilt into more of a mummy bag with an open slit on the bottom, much more manageable to keep tucked in and warm. Clipping the tabs together with the carabiner was easy to do after I climbed into bed, so there was no restriction on entry. I found it unnecessary to hook the remaining two sets of lacing tabs together. The lower section seemed to stay tucked fine and I naturally tuck the head end under myself or my pillow while sleeping. Having the middle two of the lacing tabs hooked together made a snug but comfortable width for my torso. A short length of cord could be used in place of the carabiner to add more width while still maintaining the tucking capability.
I personally didn’t find any use for the drawstring at the head end of the quilt. The lacing tabs at the top can be tied together and the drawstring used to tighten the opening around your neck, but with the lack of hood this seemed more like strangulation than draft reduction. I found it easy enough simply to tuck the top end of the quilt under my shoulders or pillow.
Rolling over took a little getting used to, as the roll-with-it technique I’ve used to keep my mummy bag breathing hole in place gave me a cool thrill until I twisted the quilt back around. By the end of the first night, I had mastered the roll inside method while leaving the quilt in place and avoiding troublesome drafts. After a little practice it takes only slightly more awareness when turning to keep the quilt stationary.
A word about the down and baffles – the down insulation tends to gather at the edges of the quilt. The baffles are about 6 inches (15 cm) wide and stitched across the width of the quilt. After several trips out I found that I had little insulation on top of me and most of the down had bunched at the edges, or tuck zone, where it is mostly useless, but there is a quick fix. By laying the quilt flat and using one hand to “sweep” the down back toward the center I was able to quickly recover the migrated insulation. This method is useful in planning ahead for cooler nights as you can effectively increase the insulation in the center of the quilt by stealing it from the edges, where it doesn’t serve as well.
When wearing the quilt, I attached the middle two lacing tabs together in front (left). This kept the quilt tight around my core like a jacket, allowing for easier management of camp tasks like cooking (right).
The wearable mode of the quilt is quite useful. Just open the Velcro strip in the center, slide it over your head and voilà, instant serape. The best way to secure the serape is to place the foot (small end) in the front, then grab the middle lacing tab on each side of the back and secure them together with the carabiner in front of you as pictured above (left). This makes the serape feel more like a jacket with the sleeves cut off. The quilt is kept close to your core and out of the way from destructive sources like cooking stoves. If your hands get cold, just tuck them back inside the flaps. Using the quilt as a jacket like this is functional for tasks in and around camp, but the bulkiness and lack of arms makes it a no-go as a replacement for your trail jacket.
The takeaway? If you need something to keep warm in the mornings and evenings while chillin’ and making food, save weight and wear the quilt. If you need something during go time, make sure to bring your normal jacket.
The JRB Sierra Stealth fits nicely into the niche of ultralight summer sleeping system. It’s well suited for trips where temperatures won’t drop below 45 F (7 C), and the wearable design means you can leave your jacket at home. The only recommendations for improvement are to include a small carabiner on each pair of lacing tabs, and do away with the drawstring at the head end.
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to the manufacturer to review this product under the terms of this agreement.