Since 2011, I have used two sleeping quilts on all of my backcountry trips.
Below is my long term review for both products.
Katabatic Gear is a cottage industry manufacturer based out of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Founded by Aaron Martray in 2008, they have established a reputation amongst the lightweight backpacking community, for making some of the finest goose down sleeping quilts on the market.
- Time: More than 600 nights in the field since the end of 2011.
- Conditions: During this period I have tested both quilts in a wide range of environments including: calendar year Triple Crown in 2012 (i.e. I took the Palisade on the PCT & CDT and the Sawatch on my late Fall/early winter hike of the AT); the high alpine regions of the Peruvian & Colombian Andes, and; the climactically unpredictable Arthur Range of Southwest Tasmania.
- Click here for complete gear lists from all of the above mentioned trips.
Material (both bags):
- Fill power – 900 power goose down.
- Shell – Pertex Quantum Ripstop .85 oz/yd.
- Katabatic Palisade 30°F (Long) – 18.4 oz (0.52 kg);
- Katabatic Sawatch 15°F (Long) – 25.5 oz (0.72 kg)
- Katabatic Palisade 30°F (long) – 10 oz (0.28 kg);
- Katabatic Sawatch 15°F (long) – 15.8 oz (0.45 kg)
- Differential cut (i.e. the inner lining is sewn smaller than the outer shell to allow the down optimum space to loft).
- Overstuffed neck collar. It has two buttons and a drawcord. Toasty.
- Overstuffed closed foot box. Trapezoidal shape.
- No hood (though you can order one separately). The lack of a hood is often cited as a reason for not using quilts. However, in my opinion it is no biggie. Why? Chances are I’m carrying a beanie most of the time anyway, and when added to the hoods I already have on my jackets (i.e. windshirt, down and/or rain), this is generally more than enough to keep my noggin warm. If needed, I could even throw on a bandana “pirate-style.”
- The Katabatic attachment system is the best that I have seen. There are two options:
1. Cords: Dual cords can be wrapped around your sleeping pad and clipped in at roughly shoulder and hip level (see photo below). These clips have two settings; a loose mode which is adjustable and a tight mode, which can be locked in for when temps get really nippy.
2. Webbing Straps: There are three in total. The top two are removable, the bottom one is fixed. Unless it is colder than a polar bear’s toenails, I generally go for the webbing strap option over the cords. My preference is to have the them directly underneath me, rather than wrapped around the pad. The straps are thin, unobtrusive and easily adjustable.
- What makes the attachment system so good? In a word – versatility. The ability to adjust the girth according to the dictates of the conditions in which you are sleeping. The Katabatic attachment system addresses the three main factors I look for in quilt design:
1. Minimizes/eliminates those bracing drafts, that have long been the bane of side sleeping quilt users (including yours truly) around the backpacking universe.
2. Keeps dead air space to a minimum.
3. Allows for freedom of movement.
Click here for an overview of why I prefer sleeping quilts to bags.
- Sleeping bag ratings are subjective. Different people sleep warmer or colder at different temperatures.
- Over the years, I have found myself to be an average sleeper. Neither hot nor cold.
- In my opinion, Katabatic Gear ratings are conservative; unusual in a market in which some of its competitors exaggerate the warmth of their products.
- I have consistently used both the Palisade and the Sawatch down to temperatures that were 8 or 9 degrees colder than their listed ratings, whilst only wearing a medium weight merino wool base layer.
- When combined with a lightweight bivy (e.g. MLD Superlight or Katabatic Bristlecone) I have taken both quilts down a further 5 – 7 degrees and still been comfortable.
- I haven’t noticed any decrease in loft during the four years I have used Katabatic quilts. I generally wash them once a year.
Value for Money?
Katabatic Gear use high end materials. Their workmanship is first class. Their manufacturing process is entirely US based.
Their quilts are not cheap.
That being said, in my experience when it comes to down products, you get what you pay for. This pretty much holds true for any high quality gear made of goose down, whether they be jackets, vests, bags or pants.
If it’s worth an extra $100 or so to have a top of the range quilt that will last you for years, then shell out the cash.
If not, go with a slightly more affordable option from companies such as Enlightened Equipment or Jacks R’Better. Both of these companies make excellent products, that rate as some of the best value for money lightweight quilts on the market.
Highly recommended. All-around the best sleeping bags/quilts I have used in 25 plus years of backpacking.
Prior to beginning the Southwestern Horseshoe route in early 2012, I received the Katabatic Sawatch free of charge and the Palisade at cost price. I was under no obligation to write a review for either quilt. Which is a good thing; because it has taken me almost four years to do so. No point rushing these things. 😉