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  1. #21
    Senior Member dejoha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayak karl View Post
    i carry wearable quilts when backpacking. i wear my packa over them, but as the OP said he's a backpacker. if i'm hiking to camp or car camping i carry a jacket.
    KK
    Thanks for all the replies!

    There are a lot of great points here and I should mention, or at least emphasize what Kayak Karl highlighted about backpacking. If any of you are familiar with or at least interested in ultralight backpacking techniques, than finding a way to maximize weight loss and multi-use gear is a high-priority.

    When weight or bulk are less of an issue, than having wearable sleeping insulation isn't really considered. Like Karl, I'll err on the side of ease and bring any number of things if I'm car camping, jacket included.

    There are limitations and complications to be sure. Mobility in wet weather or if bushwhacking through thorns are issues to be aware of. Here are my plans for tackling some of the points raised so far.

    FIRE - When I'm backpacking, I don't often build a fire. Sometimes it's just not a priority for my trip. YMMV. If I do build a fire, they are usually small, just to provide a little comfort and ambiance (I don't need it for warmth or cooking as my other systems are in place for that). I set these LNT fires a good distance from my hammock where I watch it in comfort. I don't want embers around any of my gear. I've rarely had problems with hot embers or ash burning my gear -- my fires are too small and I'm too far away.

    I would speculate that even with a puffy jacket, if you're building a large enough fire where crackling wood logs spewed sparks and embers, you'd be in the same danger of burn holes as you would if you wore a wearable quilt. You would exercise the same caution, I would hope.

    If I were relying on a campfire to keep me warm, I'd probably act like my Boy Scouts do around a fire: slow roast yourself by turning different sides of your body to face the fire. When you're done cooking yourself and it's time for bed, you rush and jump into your sleeping bag. All without wearing a jacket at all

    HIKING IN COLD & WET - While down is warm, it's not the best idea to backpack or hike in a down jacket (or wearable quilt) because it is too easy to overheat, or worse, wetting out your insulation. As soon as i'm ready to start hiking, I stow my insulation and rely on the exercise to generate heat. I use a series of light layers that are extremely efficient in trapping warmth by blocking the wind and rain and helping me regulate my temperature.

    Adding extra insulation typically happens when I'm back in camp, when my body is cooling off.

    BUSHWHACKING & THORNS - Going back to my technique for hiking in wet and cold, I'm also not tackling prickly situations in my wearable sleeping gear or jacket while hiking. If "snagglies" were at camp, that might be an issue, but I think it is rare. I don't know many people who seek out briar patches as a suitable camp site. Tree branches and bushes are more common for me, but I haven't had a problem navigating them yet.

    I think thorns and snags would be more common while hiking and less common in camp -- at least that is my own experience.

    CAMPING IN COLD & WET - Let's say the weather has been nasty wet and cold. Sometimes when backpacking it's ideal to pitch a tarp along the trail and just wait out the storm. If at camp, often I just modify my technique. Cooking in the rain? I don't care who you are, you're probably finding a dry place, even if it is under you tarp and near your sleeping area. Maybe you packed a "patrol tarp" if you're hiking with a group so you have a shared kitchen area.

    All of my rain jackets are large enough that I can layer insulation underneath, including a wearable quilt. Moving about when it's raining isn't a show stopper, but it is naturally limited if you're in camp unless you like "Singing In The Rain."


    Again, I'm not advocating that wearable quilts are the ideal solution for everyone. They are a very viable option for those looking to lighten their pack and they're nice to have around when base camping for extra fluffy goodness, if you want it.

    Lightweight backpacking typically focuses on systems and how those interrelate.

  2. #22
    MAD777's Avatar
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    All good points Dejoha.
    I might add that I always wear my poncho over my wearable quilt which gives me the confidence to wear it and keeps the wind from stealing it's warmth. Like you, puffys are for camp only, not the trail.
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  3. #23
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejoha View Post
    If any of you are familiar with or at least interested in ultralight backpacking techniques, than finding a way to maximize weight loss and multi-use gear is a high-priority....

    ...If I do build a fire, they are usually small, just to provide a little comfort and ambiance (I don't need it for warmth or cooking as my other systems are in place for that)....

    ...Lightweight backpacking typically focuses on systems and how those interrelate.
    This is the paradox that confounds me on a regular basis.:
    maximize weight savings-high priority | other systems in place | focus on those systems

    In this example, it actually costs you a weight gain to bring those systems into play. If the fire can provide both warmth and cooking (and I'd argue entertainment), then why would you need to focus on and bring those other systems into play?

    Believe me, I'm not arguing or trying to point out flaws; just verbalizing my own struggles with this topic. I can bring a wearable quilt, which will keep me warm at night and provide me warmth in camp. Of course, there is a penalty from having the head-hole in place since grams matter. But, I'm taking the quilt regardless, so it's just a few extra grams (how many weight gains have started with that line? ). Of course, a stove of any kind should be the bane of a lightweighter's existence since they are a single function item that is easily replaced in the field with a fire, big or small. But, eating my dinner without the taste of pine resin is a really nice thing, so I lug one along frequently.

    But, if I was serious about being a lightweight, or ultralightweight hiker, then I would never bring a stove and would probably struggle a mighty internal battle over the wearable quilts, since a campfire, that I don't have to carry, can solve the issues with the only weight gain being a match. Even the match can be worked around if I have the patience/need.

    Lightweight is a constant battle between needs and wants made worse by the fact that my needs and wants change over time. Bushcraft skills can dramatically help in the weight loss, but they increase the workload in camp. I don't mind a little busy-work around camp, but chores are one of the reasons I leave the house in the first place; don't want to do the same thing in a different location.

    Glad you started this thread dejoha!
    It's fun to know there are others struggling and working through the same issues and mentality.
    Trust nobody!

  4. #24
    MAD777's Avatar
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    Granted, the wearable quilt technique is more appropriate for high mileage backpacking trips. As to fires, I seem to build them only when base camping with a group, usually within a few miles of the trailhead. I don't have the energy on long mileage, multi-day trips. Alcohol is so much easier then. Unfortunately, burn bans (for good reason) are becoming more and more frequent, too.
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  5. #25
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAD777 View Post
    Unfortunately, burn bans (for good reason) are becoming more and more frequent, too.
    Tell me about it!
    More and more often the bans include any kind of fire, including stoves. Takes much of the pleasure of hiking out of it for me.
    Trust nobody!

  6. #26
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Personally, I like the wearable quilts for backpacking trips. My mantra for solo trips is "faster, longer, safer", and I've been working on maximizing my gear for that.

    Part of that is carrying a wearable quilt. However, my summer quilt (the wearable layer, which I'm working on currently for nesting with other quilts to make a modular system that I only have to purchase once) is synthetic, for the reasons stated above. That way, if I have to wear it under my poncho due to rain, it'll be insensitive to at least a little moisture intrusion. Also, if I snag or burn it, it won't lose down all over the campsite.

    Regarding campfires as a part of my system, I prefer to avoid them on high-mileage days. My reasoning is that it's more work than it's worth. Unless I'm trapped somewhere under conditions where a survival fire is the only thing that's going to keep me warm enough to see the dawn (in which case, the "faster, longer" portion of my trip just went out the window), I skip it.

    My wood stove works well enough for an hot meal at the end of a long day, and requires much less work than a full-up fire. It also soothes the caveman in me (not a small consideration out there) and provides a little psychological support when I'm exhausted. Sure, it's a single-purpose item, but it's a single-purpose item that allows for a lighter (less food weight, less fuel), simpler trip than a fire or no-cook meals would. Also note that I never take food that has to be cooked; I can rehydrate anything I have for food without heat--it just takes longer and doesn't taste quite as good.

    Anyway, enough digression into food methods. Sorry about that. It was just a way to highlight how wearable quilts--along with everything else I carry--are designed for my three goals. The less weight I have to carry, the safer from stress- and heat-related injuries I am, and the faster and farther I can go in a day. That means I get to see more of the outdoors in less time--a not inconsiderable feature for a guy who has trouble getting out for more than a day or two at a time.

    Hope it helps!
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

  7. #27
    Senior Member G.L.P.'s Avatar
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    i love using my Stealth as a parka...
    the weight savings is worth it for me .. but i still take a vest or fleece for camp fire use on cold nights
    as others have pointed out i fear burning my quilts

    But i love the concept and use it at times
    It puts the Underquilt on it's hammock ... It does this whenever it gets cold

  8. #28
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Some of us have mentioned the counter method, which is really a layering approach: counting on your wearable insulation as part of your sleep system.

    Is there an advantage to the wearable quilt over the sleepable jacket/pants? Maybe.

    A nice hooded insulated/puffy jacket and pants will zip up and close in warmth while hiking or hanging around camp most efficiently. If it's fleece sparks don't seem to be a huge problem, and neither is water, but it's not very puffy. Climashield is quite "water resistant" in my experience, in that it dries very quickly and, again in my personal tests, is at least somewhat warm when quite wet, if wrung out at least. All of these can have very wind/water resistant shells or be worn with a separate shell. Using them to add loft or block drafts in the sleep system can definitely work extremely well, at least some times with some sleep systems. It probably works better with some systems than others, but should be able to boost most any TQ, but more limited with UQs, especially dif cut UQs. But there are a whole bunch of possible combinations, several of which I have personally used.

    So here you are with a wearable quilt but no puffy jacket ( or pants? ), and you have saves the weight of carrying them. You don't have much to boost your sleep system, so let's say your TQ is going to have to be plenty warm enough to sleep at, say, 15F. You stop hiking and set up camp, and temps are dropping now to about 25-35 as the sun sets, and you quickly need some insulation so you put on your quilt.

    How well is the quilt going to seal up and resist wind and maybe even blowing mist/snow and such compared to the jackets we often wear? Well, probably compared to my ~ 14 oz hooded Pertex Endurance WPB ( a sort of puffy jacket ) and similar pants, there probably is no comparison if it is a really windy day with some blowing moisture, even light moisture of any type. And you are really going to have to keep that quilt dry if it is going to keep you warm as the temps drop to 15 just as your metabolism is plummeting about 0500. And most especially if it is a down quilt or bag.

    But what I'm thinking of: is it going to hold heat in- be closed up around you- as well as an actual jacket or parka? Will cold air have a tendency to blow in the sides or up under the quilt in the legs area? Now if you have separate hood and sleeves, that will bring the comparison closer. But don't forget to add those ounces back to what you saved by leaving the warm jacket behind.

    BUUUUT, and this might be a big but, If that wearable quilt or bag can keep you warm at 15 while sleeping, it is probably a lot warmer than any garment you are likely to be wearing while hiking or even just doing camp chores and sitting around camp, with or without a fire. So if you can keep it closed up well enough and have a hood and sleeves, you might be a lot warmer.

    Two ways (out of many) to go:1: A Pea Pod weighs about 40 oz and on a Claytor No Net will keep me plenty warm to about 20 on the bottom and maybe about 35 or 40 on top. I often have with me on cold trips the above mentioned 12-14 oz CS hooded jacket, similar 8 oz pants and a very thick Patagonia down vest weighing 9 oz. Whether hiking or in camp, this has proven to provide a lot of warmth. I wear the CS jacket over the vest to keep it dry and I look like the Michelin tire man, and have a lot of wind and fair amount of moisture protection. I have even used just the CS jacket and pants plus thin long johns to sleep just barely warm enough at 48-50 in very high humidity/mist/fog in my HHSS( no SS over cover). When I add those already with me camp clothes to the Pea Pod I am good into the 20s. So my sleep system top/bottom insulation into the 20s weighs the pod's ~ 40 oz(38-42 depending on model year), since I have all of that clothing with me anyway. And the clothing I have with me is very versatile warmth for hiking and in camp, even in pretty wet/windy weather.
    Or let me just look at the entire system, including clothing: Pod+vest+jacket+pants= 69 oz

    OTOH, if I had 2 long length ( I am over 6 ft ) 20F 800FP down UQs, one of them wearable what would that weigh? For one example, a JRB MW3 ( rated 20-25 ) is 21 oz and a 25-30 wearable Sniveler TQ weighs 24 oz. So that is 45 oz plus sleeves are 5 oz and hood is 2 oz for 52 oz total. I just think I am still going to need the 8 oz pants, so total with insulating clothing: 60 oz

    These two systems seem comparable for sleeping warmth to me. The wearable system starts out about 12 oz heavier for ~ same sleep system warmth. But, you get to leave behind a 9 oz vest, and a ~ 12 oz CS jacket for 21 oz saved, but I'm thinking you are still going to need the 8 oz pants because I'm not sure the quilt wold keep you legs warm? Maybe that Exped bag would? So I'm going to say 21 oz saved clothing wt minus an extra 12 oz of extra wt for 2 quilts and hood/sleeves= 9 oz ahead for weight. or, 69 oz spod and clothing - 60 oz quilts and pants= 9 oz saved.

    Not bad at all! Plus if things are sealed up pretty good, maybe even warmer around camp. Sounding better all of the time!

    But, that is a lot of clothing and layering versatility to give up. As has been mentioned here. And has been mentioned, there might be plenty of times in camp and most times hiking where I would not be willing to wear that quilt. So you would have to have something for those times.

    But what about this: leave at least the 9 oz down vest at home, keep the CS jacket and pants for camp and maybe hiking sometimes or at least for breaks while hiking, and add a wearable 17 oz Stealth( but no sleeves or hood). I think this would be even warmer on top than the previous sleep systems, going easily to 20 or lower on top, easily 20 on bottom. And now I have the CS jacket/pants for windy/wet conditions, plus the wearable quilt over them when it is extremely cold but not all that wet! Whoohoo.

    PeaPod 40 oz+ wearable stealth 17 oz=57 oz, good for 20 or lower IMO, top and bottom, wearable in camp. ( plus still have hooded jacket and pants which can also be added to sleep system) quilt over this clothing will be very warm around camp. plus clothing = 77 oz

    Above separate wearable quilt system = 60 oz with sleeves and hood and pants. Now saving 17 oz, but loose a lot of clothing/bad weather versatility and not as warm sleeping. I think I'll take the extra 5 oz, unless I can think of another way to trim that 17 oz and keep a lot of the versatility and have even more warmth. I could swap a Montbell down jacket plus JRB hood for my CS jacket, and save a few oz but it would not be windproof or as resistant to water. I'm trying to think of a way to maintain the versatility but save some weight at the expense of some warmth. Unless of course it is a deep winter trip and I need all of that warmth and then some!
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 09-21-2012 at 00:12.
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  9. #29
    Senior Member DuctTape's Avatar
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    I use my wearable quilt as my camp insulation on some trips. I use my camp insulation to augment my sleep insulation on others. Both methods are trip dependent as is whether I use a canister stove or alky, UQ or pad. There are many ways to skin a cat, and sometimes the cat makes the decision.

  10. #30
    Senior Member dejoha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannibal View Post
    This is the paradox...
    In this example, it actually costs you a weight gain to bring those systems into play. If the fire can provide both warmth and cooking (and I'd argue entertainment), then why would you need to focus on and bring those other systems into play?
    ...
    Lightweight is a constant battle between needs and wants made worse by the fact that my needs and wants change over time. Bushcraft skills can dramatically help in the weight loss, but they increase the workload in camp.
    Great points, Cannibal; I'm hangin' with ya!

    Your insight helps highlight one of the flaws I fall into: prescribing personal technique to fit the masses. Wearable quilts are a unique item and can be used in a variety of ways. It's not for everyone.

    I recently read a blog post about some hikers who backpacked [insert epic long-distance trail] in [insert short amount of time]. While the article was positive, the reader's comments were decidedly negative. "Why hike so fast?" some said. "You're missing the whole point of getting outdoors," others would say. Sometimes I go outdoors to "smell the roses" and other times I just want to hike. I like this mashup of a famous bumper sticker, "don't judge me because I enjoy the outdoors differently than you do."

    I think it was Skurka who coined this: Some people hike so they can camp more. Some hike to hike more. Some oscillate between the two.

    Trips and seasons often change how I do things. I'm not robotic when it comes to my technique or methods. Besides, I've got so many hammocks in my gear closet that I can't always choose the lightest one all the time

    Billy Bob made a great case on deep winter camping. I think most of us have seen the video of Shug when he and Papke hammocked in -26F weather. No way would I only pack a wearable quilt in that case! Load up the pulk and roll out!

    I too, enjoy bushcraft skills, so on trips where that is a priority or focus, it's a fun and enjoyable part of the trek. When I'm backpacking, I'm glad I have bushcraft skills, but they are inefficient compared to other methods if you're trying to minimize camp time and maximize trail time. For me, the time efficiencies of a stove outweigh the stove weight (.3 oz) and fuel for a weekend trip (2-3 oz).

    I'm not near the stove junkie as some, but I've got a collection. More often than not, I'm using a Fancy Feast stove, which weighs about .3 oz (~10 g). It's so easy and lightweight that it ends up being what I use for most trips. My meal is eaten and cleaned up before a fire would be ready for cooking.

    Back to the OP - find an insulation system that works for you. For me, the wearable quilt hits a sweet spot for 3-season lightweight backpacking where I can maximize the use of the quilt instead of letting it "go to waste" as only sleeping gear.

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