Rarely, I will fork over hard-earned cash for really nice, new gear. In late 2014, the time had come for me to get a sleeping bag that was better suited to my needs. I had been reading a fair amount about backcountry quilts and saw a number of advantages over a traditional down mummy bag.
- A quilt is significantly lighter due to having no “bottom”.
- Quilts are better for side sleepers. I toss and turn at night and my mummy bag would always get flipped around making for a colder night.
- My quilt has a shiftless baffle design, which successfully reduces the movement of the down. My mummy bag was always getting bad cold spots that were a pain in the ass to deal with.
- You can use the quilt fully opened up as a blanket when its not that cold out.
- You can pick your own color combos and sizing to better meet your needs.
I settled on a quilt from Enlightened Equipment. It is easily one the wisest and most satisfying gear purchases I have ever made. I’ve used it in many environments including alpine areas, forests, rain forests, and deserts in Oregon, Washington, and Baja California.
This is my only sleeping quilt or bag now. Ive been using it in conjunction with an Exped UL Synmat 9, a very warm sleeping pad that can be taken to very low temperatures. My quilt is rated for 20 degrees. When I use it with my pad and base layers I’ve been very comfortable. I’ve taken it down to the low teens before, adding on some layers and my big down puffy to make sure I stay warm. With my 20 degree mummy bag, I was freezing my ass off when it hit 32 degrees out.
Your head is meant to pop out of the top and you can cinch the quilt around your neck/shoulders. Depending on the temperature I’ll wear a beanie or a balaclava.
My feet have never been toastier than with this quilt. My feet always got cold with in my mummy bag, even with thick socks on. You zip up the foot box and cinch down the opening at the very bottom if its cold out. If its going to be super cold I’ll put on my shitty down “booties” that Im pretty sure are grandma slippers that I got at a used gear shop for $4. Warm night? Just open up the foot box or totally unzip it.
To use a quilt, you really must use a mat if it’ll be cold out. You attach your quilt to the mat with the included straps. This easily keeps the quilt in place, even for a person like me who violently tosses and turns. With a quilt, your mat becomes what would’ve been the bottom of your sleeping bag, so you’re sleeping directly on top of the mat.
I got mine with the optional 20d weather resistant fabric stripes (orange on mine) at the foot and head of the bag. This keeps your breath from soaking out your quilt, and keeps you feet from doing the same. The footbox is also likely to touch the inside of your shelter and accumulate moisture just like with your mummy bag, but these stripes help to ameliorate that.
These quilts have been gaining in popularity, and for good reason. They’re mostly manufactured by smaller companies that also make their gear in the States like EE. The value is excellent, as you are getting a custom made quilt for prices that easily beat bags made by companies that outsourced manufacturing to China. If I can help it, I’d love to help employ an American worker in the manufacturing sector. Other gear manufacturers make a healthy profit on the backs of poor people working in sweatshops, and the less I support that exploitation, the better. If you’re in the market for a new bag, consider a quilt. I believe they are superior to using a mummy bag.
See how I finally washed mine here.