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If the idea of sleeping under a quilt gets you shivering, then it’s unlikely anything you read here will change that perception. On the other hand, if you’re a little ‘quilt curious’ and like saving weight and maximising comfort without the bank managers written permission, then the next 5 minutes may not be the waste of time they might otherwise be.
I’ve been subsidising sleeping bags with quilts for the last couple of years with good results. The idea behind a quilt is a pretty simple one … whatever insulation is beneath you will be squashed, rendering it’s insulation properties null and void, so why not remove it? With the redundant insulation and corresponding shell material gone, you’ll save weight and reduce pack size, all without losing any of that all important ‘snuggle factor’ we prize so highly.
Snug as a moose in a quilt.
The ‘backless’ design of a quilt also lends itself well to ventilation and what I can best describe as ‘freedom of movement’. If you start to get too hot it’s a simple matter of popping a leg/foot/arm out into the cold to cool down. ‘Freedom of movement’ is just that, quilts feel much less restrictive than mummy shaped sleeping bags. If you’re one of those sleepers who continually toss and turn all night and wake up with a hood doing a good job of suffocating you, then you might appreciate the attributes of life under a quilt.
While quilts are gaining in popularity, they still only represent a tiny proportion of the worlds ‘sleeping bag’ sales, so as you can imagine the selection available is somewhat smaller … however, that does mean that the quality of quilts tends to be top notch and this one from Enlightened Gear in the US is no exception.
Enlightened produce various quilts, they’re available with both down or synthetic insulation and with numerous shell fabrics inc’ Cuben. What I really like is the fact that the quilts are custom made, that’s right, you’re quilt will be made to suit your requirements … need something as light as possible for summer? Are you 6′ 6″ so need some extra room? Or do you need something to see you warm and toasty right down into minus double figures? … which is what this one’s built for.
It’s a RevelationX model which means the shell fabric used is sold as a cosmetic second. This obviously helps keep the cost down but doesn’t impact on quality in any way. I’ve searched all over the thing and kind find a mark or blemish, so don’t be too concerned. The rather large amount of 850fp down is held in place by Karo step baffles. These differ from many baffle designs because firstly, they form squares and secondly, these squares are joined together, which means you can move the down around or reposition it if you feel the need … personally I’ve not felt the need, which I think must indicate that the baffles are doing their job as intended.
Cinch cords on the underneath. Pull them tighter to seal out the draughts.
When you’re choosing the spec’ of your quilt, one of the prime considerations must surely be temperature rating. Enlightened list 4 different ratings which can then be ‘boosted’ a little with an overstuff option. Remember that Enlightened are a US company so work in Fahrenheit. The listed ratings are 40F, 30F, 20F 10F and 0F which equates roughly to 4.5C, -1C, -6C, -12C and -18C which pretty much sticks 2 fingers up to whatever Jack Frost can muster, while shouting ‘come and have a go if your hard enough’ all night long!
Shockcord adjustment – ’tis dead easy.

This particular quilt is rated to -18 but also has a 30% overstuff which gives it a theoretical rating of something like -20C. Now, that may seem a little extreme for UK conditions but the ability to easily ventilate means that even in temps of -5 or -6 it can be made comfortable … something that wouldn’t be easy to achieve with a sleeping bag of a similar rating. Now that’s all well and good in moderate temps but what do you do when Jack Frost turns up with his mates, intent on giving you a good kicking? Simple you cinch the cords up below your sleeping mat, zip the foot box up, fasten the snap around your neck and put a hat on!

Foot box unzipped – in warm weather turn it into a big down blanket!

Quilts are available direct from Enlightened Equipment. There’s various models available and each comes in a choice of temp ratings, sizes and colours. Prices range from $135 to $510 which for something custom made of this quality is a bit of a bargain. If you’re not sure what you need then I’m sure Tim will happily answer any seemingly stupid questions.

NOTE: This particular quilt is a 2012 model. 2013 models have had a few adjustments/improvements.

2 Comments

  1. Unknown says:

    Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Unknown says:

    We used these on a 4 month tour of NZ. Amazingly warm and super light. They've just changed the design too….well worth a look. Did I mention top notch customer service?

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