Katabatic Gear Alsek
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $450
A very warm, very light, and very comfortable alternative to the traditional mummy sleeping bag. Once you try a quilt you'll never go back to a standard mummy style bag.
- Light weight
- Top of the line materials
- MADE IN THE USA
I've been tossing about the idea of a backpacking quilt or some time now and finally took the plunge. It's too bad I didn't do this years ago. For my first foray into the world of backpacking quilts I chose a (very) small company located in Wheatridge Colorado — Katabatic Gear. I made this decision because I'm familiar with the materials they use in production of their product - Pertex Quantum and their unique system for attaching the quilt to a sleeping pad.
The Alsek is their 22 degree model but they offer a 40 degree model (Chisos), a 30 degree model (Palisades), a 15 degree model (Sawatch), and a 0 degree model (Backwelder).
Speaking specifically to the Alsek the outer material is Pertex Quantum Ripstop 0.85 oz per yard. The lining is Pertex Quantum Taffeta 1.0 oz per yard. You have your choice of fill material either 900 fill power goose down or 850 fill power water resistant down. While my heart said 900 I went with the waterproof down. Katabatic also offers an overfill option for $14 per oz and that will get you 5-10 degrees more warmth. If you choose that option you cannot return the bag.
The bag is offered in small (5' 6") regular (6') and long (6' 6") wide regular, and wide long. My regular size Alsek has 13.4 oz of waterproof fill and the total weight is a whopping 22 oz. In my opinion Pertex offers some of if not the best DWR coating on the market and that coupled with water resistant down gets me a bag that can handle the moist climes of the Washington Cascades. I don't use a stuff sack; I stuff my bag into the bottom of my backpack which is lined with a trash compactor bag. When I pull this guy out it fluffs up immediately to a full loft.
When you first look at one of these you think it is a backless sleeping bag and that is pretty good description. It is designed to be attached to a sleeping pad and I use it with a Thermarest NeoAir or NeoAir Xtherm depending on expected temperatures.
The foot of the quilt is much like a sleeping bag in that it is a trapezoidal box with a bit of overfill in that area to keep your toes warm. Above that it is open and you actually sleep with your back/side on the sleeping pad. When you think about it; in a regular bag you squash that down on the bottom flat - so why not put it where it's needed. So far I've not experienced any cold spots or drafts with this bag and I've used it for about ten nights with rain on a couple, wind on most.
The quilt comes with two cords that you tie around your sleeping pad (also comes with two spares). You attach the quilt to the pad with four small clips - two on each side. These allow you to draw the quilt close to your body when it's cold or move it out a bit when it's warmer. Each clip has two holes one which grips the cord tightly and the other a bit looser allowing you to adjust easily.
To get into the quilt you attach it to the two or three of the attach points, get in, attach the last point(s). Slide them in towards your body and you're all tucked in with no draft tunnels next to your body. Lastly there is an overstuffed down collar at the head of the bag to cinch it closed around your shoulders to keep the warm air in, the cold out. To get out you just unclip one or two of the clips and slide out. Gone is the zipper that always seems to catch on the baffle on the way up or down or both.
There is no hood on these quilts as in mummy sleeping bags and Katabatic sells down hoods of two different weights to provide for head warmth should it be needed. I've not yet found the need, a light stocking camp suffices for me in temps down to 15 degrees or so. A plus, there is no more of the sleeping bag sliding off the pad problems I've experienced in the past.
I'm a side sleeper and I never had a good night's sleep in a sleeping bag — never, ever until I got this quilt. I long ago thought they called them mummy bags because you'd have to be a mummy to actually sleep in one. Now I have to set an alarm if I wanna get an early start on the trail.
Bottom line, this sleeping bag (that's what Katabatic calls 'em) is very light, it's warm, it's comfortable. It's also versatile — you can cover up like a quilt when it's warm, draw it in a bit when it's cooler, and snug it up for colder conditions. What it isn't is cheap. My Alsek costs $450 (that's for a standard length, 850 fill, no overfill). The warmer models cost less, the colder models cost more. Obviously wider, longer, 900 fill, and overfill will cost you a bit more.
When I first examined it I found the construction to be absolutely flawless — not a snag, missed stitch, or other problem to be found. It comes with a stuff sack, an organic cotton storage bag, instructions, four of the attach cords, and an elastic strap that you would use if you were sleeping without a pad. For me it is worth every penny and more. Like I said, I sleep like a kitten and I stay warm.
One other drawback if you will — Katabatic is a very small company. All their stuff is made to order in their factory in Colorado and there is usually a waiting list. Believe me it is well worth the wait and the cost.
Where to Buy
The Katabatic Gear Alsek is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the Katabatic Gear website.
Retailers: Do you sell this product? List your site here.
Lightweight, warm and compact, the Alsek is a versatile bag that ensures comfort in the warmer months, as well as the assurance of a good night's sleep well into the shoulder seasons.