I have a 20f degree quilt made by Enlightened Equipment. I just posted an 18 month review of it here. I’ve been very happy with it thus far and it ranks amongst my favorite pieces of gear, period. However, in the winter in temps below 20-25 degrees, I really needed to load up on extra clothing, wearing base layers plus a fat down puffy and insulated snow pants. I sleep pretty cold. I stayed nice and warm, but that’s a pretty bulky getup. In the summer where I live, the lows are often as high as the low 60’s, and at that point the 20 degree quilt is too warm. Its very easy to ventilate however, you just open the whole thing up like a blanket, instead of cinching everything down airtight.
You can see my “dilemma” here. I wanted a very warm quilt for sub 20 degree temps. I also wanted a quilt that was a bit lighter for the summer, for the sole reason of not overheating at night. I very much enjoy all year backpacking and camping now. I toyed around with getting a dedicated 0 degree quilt, but it would be pretty pricey and I’d only use it for 3 months, tops, every year. Another option is a light summer quilt, that you can use in the summer and then in winter you layer it over your existing quilt to get the temp rating down. I settled on buying a synthetic 40 degree Prodigy. Its cheaper than a down quilt and fits the bill for me.
However, quilts have gotten pretty damn popular. There are several small manufacturers, and EE happens to be one of the most popular now. The demand is very high, and wait times have stretched out for months depending on what type of quilt you get. By the time I received my Prodigy, summer would almost be over. Not a big deal, but Im just impatient.
I looked at making my own at this point. I’d never made my own gear before, and this looked like one of the more simple projects you could do. It looked like sewing a pillow case, more or less. My domestic partner has a sewing machine already, so I figured, well fuck it. I ordered my material online, including some seconds blue silnylon for a good price. My total cost including the fabric shell material, Apex Climashield insulation, draw cord, button snaps, needles, strong thread and other odds and ends came out to about $95. It’ll only save me $75, but Ill have it for my next trip. Plus I need a new project.
The process was simple enough, but my sewing machine was fucking atrocious to work with. You can find plans close to what I used here at DIYGearSupply. I got most of materials from them. The prices are very reasonable, but shipping is steep. I also had a ton of leftover fabric which I don’t know what to do with. Look for advice on Hammock Forums. Its a wealth of information.
My sewing skills are horrible. All you have to do is sew in a straight line, and boy did my stitching look fucking amateur. As time wore on, I did get better at it. Look at this shit:
Luckily, you turn the whole thing inside out and nobody will ever be able to see how terrible that looks unless they see my blog. I added a drawstring at the bottom to close up the foot box, and button snaps to close it up a bit going up my legs. I made this quilt to be wider than my EE quilt, so as to wrap around it in winter with out compressing the down. Compressing the down lowers the ability of it to insulate you, defeating the purpose of the second quilt. I also made it shorter than my EE quilt. I got a long size EE quilt even though Im only 5’9″. I wanted it to wrap around my face and head. This was a mistake in the winter, and my breath alone soaked out the part near my face once. The finished quilt looks pretty good, deceptively so. Here is the finished product:
It weighs in at 18 oz or so with the stuff sack. If I made it strictly for summer use, I could’ve gotten the weight under a pound easily, because it wouldn’t be nearly as wide. I got 3.6oz/yd Apex Climashield, which is supposed to be good down to 40 degrees. I’m skeptical about that temp rating, but will certainly report back what I learn once I’ve used it a few times. Here’s a few more pics of the foot box and button snaps. I also made a stuff sack.
Layered over my EE quilt:
In conclusion, this was a fun project that was very rewarding. It saved a bit of money, but really saved me some waiting time if I had ordered the quilt. I have a couple of friends that I’ll be making quilts for and they’ll be providing the supplies. I’m excited to get some more practice and I’ll post about it later in the summer. Also, I’ll review my own quilt and see how it holds up to abuse. If it fails I’ll likely be in the market for a quilt made by professionals.
And to Enlightened Equipment, from one Juggalo to another: