A lightweight, low volume alternative to a sleeping…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $185
A lightweight, low volume alternative to a sleeping bag for spring thru fall. Lots of options to tailor it to your needs, with personalized service by hikers running a cottage industry.
- Low pack volume
- Warm summer quilt
- Personalized customer service
- Made in the USA
- Custom made means long lead time
- Some adjustment required
What’s a “Backpacking Quilt?” - It's a purpose-built quilt one takes backpacking in lieu of a sleeping bag. Standard sleeping bag design puts down on the bottom where one’s weight compresses it, all but eliminating its insulation property. Side sleepers can find themselves waking up to a facefull of nylon inside a mummy bag's hood. Ultralight backpackers found that significant weight could be saved by eliminating both the bag's bottom, and its zipper. A quilt. A footbox helps keep feet warm, and the quilt in place.
Some Adustment Required - The tent camper sleeps directly on an insulated pad with the quilt draped or tucked in as required. Hammock campers have other options for insulation from the cold underneath them - Including “Under Quilts.” See reviews on Hammockgear's summer weight under quilts [here]. Colder weather may require one to wear a hat. Maybe a Buff. Maybe a purpose-made down hood. There are ways to adapt to loss of a hood.
Most agree that the mummy bag is still the warmest option. But when you don't need the warmest option, a quilt can reduce your pack load significantly.
Construction - The Burrow 50° uses 1.1 oz ripstop nylon in a sewn-thru baffle construction, stuffed with 5 ounces of water resistant, 850 fill, Hungarian goose down, and with either a snap or sewn closed footbox. There's a snap, and a draw cord at the top to facilitate tucking the quilt around the neck, and for cupping it around the shoulders.
The sewn-thru baffles provide a nice balance between packability and warmth. On the one hand, it will keep you warm down to 50, on the other, it takes almost no room in your pack.
Options - One can specify inner and outer fabric colors, four lengths (70, 74, 78 and 82"), and two widths (50 and 55”). You can choose whether you want the footbox sewn, or snap shut, and you can specify up to two ounces of overfill. Those using it on the ground can have loops sewn in along the edges, thru which you can run lines under a sleeping pad to help keep the quilt tucked in.
My Experience: For my summer bag, I had been carrying a Mountain Hardwear Phantom +32 Long mummy bag at 23 ozs. In preparation for my 2013, I decided I would replace my summer bag with a quilt to reduce pack volume and weight.
After doing my homework, I ordered a Burrow 50 with standard fill, black outer shell and olive green inner shell, in standard length (74”), wide width (55”), and straight taper. I asked for the snap-closed footbox. I was still a “ground dweller,” and had those loops sewn in along the edges. I asked lots of questions via email, and got prompt, detailed answers.
I ordered it on 2/14, and got it on 3/19. This year I ordered an underquilt from them on Mar 5, and it was shipped on Mar 13.
I used it for a couple of weeks in the Blue Ridge Mountains in late June/early July. With temperatures ranging down to the low 50s, I was never uncomfortable. Workmanship was flawless. I had no seam failures, nor any down leakage. I used it both in my hammock, and on a short Therm-a-Rest pad in a couple of shelters. Always perfect. It can easily compresses down to the size of a 32oz Nalgene. When I pull it out of the bottom of my pack, and out of its stuff sack, it puffs right up to full loft.
It came with a lightweight, silnylon stuff sack. With the stuff sack, it came in at 14.14 ozs on my scale, which is almost 9 ozs lighter than my summer bag. Along with a few other changes, it allowed me to use a smaller, lighter pack... A nice cascading effect.
Customer Service - Outstanding. They're a small cottage industry, and might not always be able to pick up the phone, but they always call back and answer emails. Last year, when I was on the trail, the owner (an AT thru-hiker), talked to me at length about my requirements, made suggestions, and mailed what I needed it to the next post office up the line. Can you beat that?
Ok, I'm a bit of a Hammockgear fanboy. Besides this top quilt, I now have an Incubator 40° underquilt, and a cuben fiber tarp for my hammock. I keep coming back because of the outstanding workmanship and the personalized service.
Bottom Line: When I get on the trail this spring, it's all coming with me.