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  1. #1
    Senior Member dejoha's Avatar
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    A Case For Wearable Quilts

    As an ultralight backpacker, I'm always intrigued by multi-use gear. It should come as no surprise, then, when I fell in love with the wearable quilts. Wearable quilts are designed to function as a normal top quilt or sleeping bag, but have openings for arms, legs, and head to allow the insulation to be worn.

    One such quilt that I have is from Jacks "R" Better, specifically the Sierra Sniveller. The Sniveller series quilts are truly multi-use and can be used as top quilts, under quilts, and jackets (or, more accurately, a "serape").



    (This image is _horribly_ blurry, but it's the only one I could find for now that shows me wearing the Sniveller in the field).

    Another wearable bag I have is the Exped Dreamwalker 650. This is a traditional sleeping bag with zippered arm holes and an open foot area that can be drawn up to convert the bag into a full-length parka with a hood.



    A typical backpacking kit in the fall/winter includes a puffy jacket (typically down) _and_ a sleeping bag/quilt. On a recent backpacking trip, I decided to leave the jacket at home and rely solely my quilt for my "around camp" formal wear. Our camp was at 9,500 ft (2,900 m) and it dipped down into the low 40s F (4 C) by 10 PM. Wearing the Sniveller while walking around camp was great. Not only was I toasty warm around my torso and arms (just like I would with a puffy jacket), but I had extra coverage over my buttocks and upper legs. It was wonderful.



    Getting up in the morning when it was in the upper 30s F (3 C) was no problem. I just ducked my head into the bag and popped open the head slit, which enabled me to keep my warmth around me. Bathroom breaks are easy and I don't have to worry about losing my warmth.

    Ditching my down jacket saved me more than 16 oz. (454 g.)!

    Here is a comparison showing a jacket and quilt combo stacked against wearable quilts/bags. High-end down-filled 3-season jackets typically range in weight from 12 to 16 oz. (340 to 454 g.). Most retail down-filled jackets are heavier.

    WEIGHT SAVINGS BY USING WEARABLE QUILTS

    Compared to 12 oz. jacket + 19 oz. top quilt (31 oz.)

    Exped 650: -7 oz.
    Exped 450: none
    Sierra Sniveller: 8 oz.

    Compared to 16 oz. jacket + 19 oz. top quilt (35 oz.)

    Exped 650: -3 oz.
    Exped 450: 4 oz.
    Sierra Sniveller: 12 oz.

    Compared to 16 oz. jacket + 22 oz. top quilt (38 oz.)

    Exped 650: none
    Exped 450: 7 oz.
    Sierra Sniveller: 15 oz.

    In my own experience with wearable quilts, the comparison isn't exact. Wearable quilts arguably provide more coverage and offer more warmth compared with jackets. However, jackets provide more mobility in some cases and may be desirable in some circumstances. Your mileage may vary.

    An under quilt can easily be converted into a wrap (e.g., sarong) around the legs, a throw around the shoulders, or a blanket to make it pull double-duty.

    For me, I think the case is closed. Even with the heavier Exped bag, I am gaining a much warmer and roomier jacket with much more coverage. Depending on how I pack, the weight is a wash, or I could save more weight by eliminating an under quilt (the Exped can be used as an over bag or "PeaPod"), but I'm still getting more wearable gear in the deal. With other quilt options, like the Jacks "R" Better Sniveller series, I can get a significant weight savings and have a roomer, warmer jacket for around camp.


    Exped Dreamwalker 650 (20F 800+ fp) WEARABLE: 38 oz. (1 kg.)
    Exped Dreamwalker 450 (30F 750+ fp) WEARABLE: 31 oz. (850 g.)
    Sierra Sniveller (20F 800+ fp) WEARABLE: 23 oz. (652 g.)

    Nunatak Arc Alpinist (20F 800+ fp): 22 oz. (624 g.)
    Burrow 20 Quilt (20F 900 fp): 21 oz. (595 g.)
    Mamba 3-season regular (20F 850 fp): 19 oz. (539 g.)

    High-end Down Jacket (800+ fp): 12-16 oz.

  2. #2
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    Playing the devil's advocate here ... in rainy camping situation ... doesn't this pretty much limit you? Unless you have rain gear that will cover that long of a down product that is. That would add back weight. Honestly I don't know of anything that would adequately cover a wearable bag and protected it from rain as you did things around camp.

    I see the appeal of it but I think for me having my quilts separate from my down jacket or vest that I could still wear when the weather's not so friendly (under standard rain gear) would be more flexible to me. Hiking I don't usually wear my down vest say ... but it's nice to pull it out when you stop for lunch if the weather's cold.

    But again I see your points in the post.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Good thread....

    How I might answer Hawk-eye, on the rainy nights there'd just be no 'camp time'. I'd get into the sleep system, cook from there Shug style, maybe read for a while, then sleep.
    Now back to picking apart the system. I can see a 'transition' period, however breif, when transiting from something you wear to something you sleep in. Depending on ambient this my be a cold experience.
    Kinda different topic but connected to my first point in answer HE. Over the years I remember meeting many many thru-hikers on the AT who carried no camp jacket (unless in the Whites or really running late in the season)...these types didn't carry much of a shelter either; a small tarp if that. They'd get to the shelter always late in the day, get in the sleeping bag and cook from it. In this same time period spanning 30+ years I even met some who wouldn't even cook-carried no stove or fuel-the true mile monsters day after day.

    Oh. Forgot the obvious counter to carrying something like the Exped. Carry the camp coat but plan on sleeping in it; subtracting the warmth it gives you from what you need in a TQ/UQ and carry less of them

  4. #4
    Senior Member bear bag hanger's Avatar
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    I've been using a JRB Sniveller for years. Like it a lot. For some reason, I've never had to face the cold and rain at the same time when I felt the need to use it for warmth. I carry a 5 oz cuben fiber poncho. It should cover the Sniveller fine, but haven't had it long enough to say it does.
    http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com...products_id=56

  5. #5
    Senior Member born2roam's Avatar
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    I too have been thinking about wearable quilts but never really settled down (yet...)

    I love my JRB No Sniveler and PLUQ with 'Serape'/ Clint Eastwood mode option.

    BUT was always 'afraid' of rain, getting my sleeping insulation wet ....

    Might just force my self (with a safety net in place) to a weekend or so and see how it goes.... and repeat that and repeat that and... just to see what theory & practice will bring for me....

    Thanks for the extra push ...

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  6. #6
    MAD777's Avatar
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    I love the Sniveler concept and enjoy wearing my quilt on every cool outing. There's nothing like cooking breakfast while being bundled up in your still warm quilt. You almost think you're still in the hammock!

    As far as rain is concerned, I'm a poncho wearer so I have full coverage over the quilt. Now the exped full length bag would be more challenging, but I have no direct experience. Plus, I don't know how you could sit down with that thing on and not worry about ripping it.
    Mike
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Weight savings and convenience all for the negligible price of personal dignity!

  8. #8
    MAD777's Avatar
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    Mike
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    I am also a fan of the wearable quilt concept and have used it quite happily as other, more miserable, hikers looked on with great envy.

    But, for me, there are some significant limitations. Primarily being, I only use it in the mornings. When the evenings are cool enough to warrant using the quilt for extra warmth, I almost always have a campfire going. The campfire and forest sounds are a big part of the experience for me. Those minutes/hours sitting by the fire are about as close as I've been able to come to a meditative state...and I love that time alone with the flames. Wearing a quilt around said fire just doesn't sit well with me. I spent too much money to have it full of ember holes.

    Setting the quilt on the hammock before bed isn't an issue (most of the time) because I don't use my wearable quilts as underquilts...with one exception. I did pick up one of the short run JRB quilt/vest thing-a-majigs. I really like the fact that it's a partial length underquilt and have actually found it pretty effective in that role. As a vest, it's totally groovy! But I really don't like taking it off and setting it on my hammock before I go to sleep. By the time I head for the hammock, I want to sleep, not fiddle with gear. Still, I really like the vest mode and it works fine as an underquilt, so I find myself dealing with the nighttime hassle more and more. Weather is perfect for that quilt/vest right now.

    I do like the weight savings and the extra boost of warmth in the mornings that come from a wearable quilt. I take very few trips in the winter time that don't involve my JRB Rocky Mountain Sniveler, for good reason.
    Trust nobody!

  10. #10
    millergear's Avatar
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    I'm to concerned with wetting, snagging or otherwise damaging my quilt. If there is a way to snag, tear stain or wet it, I'll, with Mr. Murphy's help, find it! I'm with MM, Iuse my down jacket for extra sleeping insulation.
    Omnia mea mecum porto. - I carry with me all my things

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