I now own two sleeping quilts: a 18 ounce, 3.0 inch loft down quilt (900-fill power with a 30 degree rating) and a 12 ounce, 0.75 inch loft synthetic quilt insulated with Polarguard (with a 50 degree rating). Each sleeping quilt has adjusting straps underneath, but no hood. I bought these sleeping quilts in order to experiment with different light and ultralight weight backpacking sleeping systems.
I use the synthetic and down quilts singly or in combination depending upon the expected outdoor temperatures. The synthetic quilt is new and I am looking forward to experimenting with it when temperatures are well above freezing. I sometimes carry the 12-ounce quilt for emergency purposes on winter day trips.
Draftiness, when sleeping under the stars or under a tarp, is often a serious problem with sleeping quilts. Being a side sleeper who shifts from side-to-side during the night further complicates this problem. When temperatures are on the cold side, I have solved the draft problem by:
(1) placing the adjusting straps attached to the quilt underneath a fairly wide (25 inches) air mattress with raised side tubes;
(2) wearing a quilted parka to bed with an integrated hood;
(3) using a highly breathable bivy sack outer covering;
(4) sleeping inside a tarp-tent that can be lowered to ground level in stormy conditions to reduce drafts.
My quilt based sleeping system is truly an integrated system of component parts. My 3.0-inch loft down sleeping quilt supplemented with a bivy sack, insulating air mattress, and extra clothes will allow me to stay warm into the mid twenties. Sleeping in a standard, fully-enclosed tent and adding a down parka and down pants will take me down into the single digits for my quilt based sleeping system.
One interesting problem encountered using my 900-fill power down sleeping quilt is that the bivy sack tends to compress the down when I was wearing all of my clothes to bed for warmth. The best solutions for this problem are to:
· purchase a lower fill power rated quilt (say 650-800) or use a synthetic filled quilt that doesn’t easily compress,
· purchase a larger girth bivy sack,
· leave the bivy sack home when using the 900-fill quilt.
My current solution to the compression problem is the latter: leave the bivy sack at home and bring higher loft insulating clothing to supplement my down quilt.
Sleeping quilts are definitely for those who have patience and are willing to experiment. I experimented with many sleeping system components before I found one that works reasonably well. They certainly take some getting used to. If I valued simplicity more than reducing my pack weight and if I didn’t like experimenting with gear options so much, I would have spent my backpacking bucks instead on an ultralight down bag (weighing only slightly more than my quilt with a similar temperature rating) and called it good.