Therm-a-Rest Apogee Quilt
A great introductory quilt available (as of spring…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100
A great introductory quilt available (as of spring 2019) at a great introductory price. Neither the lightest nor most compact choice on the market, but this synthetic quilt is still a great addition to any budget backpacker's gear closet.
- Lightweight (compared to bags)
- Very packable
- Not as light as down
- Not as packable as down
- Could be wider
In an effort to find an ever lighter base pack weight (yes, I've been spending too much time on the Ultralight subreddit these days) and also find a lighter weight bag for three-season use that will fit into my MEC Brio 75L's sleeping bag compartment, I spent a fair bit of time looking at my options, and found myself intrigued by the idea of backpacking with a quilt, as opposed to a full bag. After a bit of research, I found my way into buying Therm-a-Rest's Apogee synthetic quilt.
A Brief Primer on Quilts (for those who need it)
The theory behind using a quilt for backpacking is that, when sleeping inside of a sleeping bag, any insulation that is compressed beneath our bodies is essentially useless, both for comfort and for insulation. So, why bother carrying that weight with you when every gram counts, and when you can still be equally warm in a quilt and pad combination?
Additionally, many people find traditional backpacking mummy-style bags to be restrictive, and a quilt, with its ultimately open sides, is the peak of comfort for those who like to sprawl out. Many will include some method of providing an enclosed footbox, as well as some method of strapping the sides of the quilt down to your sleeping pad for the cooler nights when a loose pad might allow air drafts in as the sleeper moves around.
Backpacking quilts being essentially big ol' blankets, there are a few design notes to touch on. This quilt is designed with a semi-enclosed footbox, which is not at snug nor as deep as some quilts (like Enlightened Equipment's Enigma's sewn-in footbox, or Revelation, with a zip-up footbox). It's essential task is to snug around the bottom of whatever sleeping pad you are using, creating a pocket of space for your feet to stay warm while not constricted.
This has the advantage of being more spacious, at the drawback of there being some noticeable cold spots that will form over the course of a night. It also would present as a problem for anyone using a short sleeping pad, either because they have removed section of their Z-Lite pad, or simply chose a shorter pad to save weight. You'll still be able to tuck your feet into it, but it is only about 12" deep and really forces you to have the top of the quilt up as high as you can pull it.
Therm-a-Rest also included a convenient attachment system for securing this quilt to your sleeping pad. There are loops along the sides of the quilt with snap closures, and a set of 10 adhesive loops for putting on to your sleeping pad, so you can secure the two together. It can be a little bit touchy getting yourself secured in, but once on they held me in place well and kept the quilt wrapped around me. The ultimate durability of the adhesive loops remains to be seen, but the glue was strong and I imagine they'll hold up to a reasonable amount of usage.
There are also extra sewn-in baffles on the sides, to help encourage a good seal with the ground when sleeping under this quilt, a snap closure for securing the top of the quilt around your head in colder weather, as well as a small pocket near the top for things that are better kept close at hand.
This is personally my biggest drawback to this quilt. I purchased a regular width, and I find it just sufficient to cover me—6', 220lbs, not especially broad but not slight either. Lying on my back, it easily reaches the ground, creating a good, draft-free seal.
However, when lying on my side, I found that there were multiple points where I could feel cool drafts on my back or legs. Using the attachments to keep the back of the quilt down mostly solved this problem, but I was right on the line for keeping drafts out even then, and that eliminates some of the freedom of movement advantage that quilts have. T
hat said, there is a wide size available, but not in the store where I purchased mine at, so your mileage may vary.
I have spent six nights using this quilt, two in an unheated but well-populated cabin that was at about 10°C overnight, and the other four in a tent in my backyard in mid-April weather typical to Northern Alberta, that being temperatures hovering right around zero Celsius, or in the low to mid 30's Fahrenheit. I woke up on two mornings to there being frost on the outside of my tent. This quilt is rated for temperatures down to 4°C/40°F.
As a generally warm sleeper, given the details about fit that I outlined above, I can say that I was mostly warm sleeping with this quilt. Knowing I would be exceeding its recommended temperature range, I opted to wear some light base layers, wool hiking socks, and a thin toque. This kept me generally quite warm, and I only woke feeling cold where I had shifted in some way and left myself an open draft under the edge of the quilt.
Otherwise, I was very comfortable sleeping through the night, and I regretted needing to climb out from under it every morning. When I slept indoors with this, I wore a t-shirt and underwear for modesty but not more than that, and I was definitely sufficiently warm without needing to strap myself to my sleeping pad. I think in summary for warmth, I can confidently say that it is at least as warm as Therm-a-Rest has rated it for.
Loft & Packability
The fill for this quilt is Therm-a-Rest's eraLoft, is a combination of microfibers and hollow core fibers, which provides a good amount of loft and heat retention. The quilt lofts up quickly when pulled from storage, and maintained it well even when the quilt got a little damp on one occasion. As for packability, it easily stuffs into a 10L stuff sack, and weighs roughly 800g on its own. For my pack, this represents a significant size and weight savings vs. my previous synthetic sleeping bag.
Considering this is my first quilt, I am very impressed by the performance of the Apogee quilt. I was expecting the reduction in pack weight and volume, as that is baked in to choosing to go down the path of a camping quilt. I wasn't expecting to be as warm and comfortable as I found myself. I look forward to further adventures out putting this quilt to good use in 2019, and particularly a potentially wet hike on the West Coast Trail in 2020.
I have owned this product for approximately one month and have slept with it for six nights over that time, twice indoors in an unheated cabin (approximately 10°C at night), and four nights in a tent in temperatures around 0°C at night.
This is my first experience using a quilt.