Thursday, August 27, 2009
the Wake Up Call (part 5)
The sleeping bag, or sleeping *system* as it is sometimes called, is another part of the Big Three. The sleeping bags I carried before were always bulky and had 4 or 5 pounds of loft. I also carried an inflatable camp mattress that weighed 6 or 7 pounds. HEAVY. BULKY. did I mention it was HEAVY? In the Beyond Backpacking book, Jardine describes an ultralight sleeping "quilt." It is not a quilt in the sense that your grandmother made for a bedspread. Using the new ultralight synthetic insulations available today, Jardine describes how they constructed a two person *quilt* by laying the insulation between two sheets of 1.1 ounce un-coated nylon material. It has to be UNCOATED so it will breathe. With the two sheets sewn together, a loop of knitting yarn is threaded through at 12 inch to 18 inch intervals, to hold the insulation in place. It was easy to make one for myself, after I ordered some specialty insulation and fabric. I didn't need the two person model, so I guess-timated about 84" by 60" wide. My wife sewed the perimeter of the two sheets together, after we had them sandwiched over the double sheets of insulation. Then, as shown in the diagram in the book, we laid a ruler over each location to be sewn. The loop of yarn went through the layers, out the bottom, back around the bottom, back up through the layers, then was tied off on the top layer. This helps to hold the insulation in place. The first few times I attempted to use this quilt on a trip, I had to also use a fleece sleeping bag to supplement. I didn't realize that the quilt had to be CLOSED at the foot end in order to keep the feet warm! I think it says that somewhere in the book, but I must have missed it! It wasn't too hard for my wife to retro-fit the quilt with a footbox. We simply folded two corners in towards the center, then used an extra piece of fabric to sew them together. The result is a MUCH warmer and highly useable piece of gear for about a pound. This quilt has now served me for many backcountry nights over several seasons, and is still going strong.