As much as I hate to admit it, a lot of my projects live in a barely started or half-finished state until they are desperately needed for a trip. My shoulder season Apex quilt was no different.
I’d love to save weight and use down in my insulation pieces, but for as long as I live in Minnesota, that will continue to be a terrible idea. It often rains without letup for days on end for the exact few days I’m in the woods. Couple that with an inability to take proper and fastidious care of my gear, and down seems like a no go.
This particular quilt is essentially a clone of the Revelation by Enlightened Equipment. They are a very well-regarded Minnesota company and do great work. I went with the size large, regular-width version of their quilt and just copied their dimensions. They also recommend 4 osy Apex for a 40 degree quilt and 6 osy Apex for a 30 degree quilt. Some quick interpolation told me that the 5 osy Apex I was able to purchase would make about a 35 degree quilt, which is a bit above the lower limit of my coldest 3-season trips. I figured I could wear some of my clothes while sleeping and do just fine.
Rather than the zipper EE uses to close the bottom half of the quilt, I decided to use KAM snaps in an attempt to save an ounce or two and to make repairing the quilt easier if any of them failed. Zippers are notoriously tough to replace, but I have the tool for snap replacement at home.
I opted for the simplest construction I could think of. Stack all 3 layers of material (nylon, nylon, and Apex) on top of each other and then lay the pattern on top. The pattern was made to the dimensions of EE’s revelation and had 1/2″ seam allowance around the entire perimeter. Cut around the pattern, applying clips as you go to make sure the layers stay together and aligned. Put the bottom cinch channel (just more nylon) in and sew the sides and bottom together. Flip the quilt inside out, install the top cinch channel, and sew along the top. Thread shock cord through the cinch channels. Install KAM snaps from the halfway point down to the foot box for closure. Install a few KAM snaps up nearer the top for attachment to pad straps. Bing bang boom, you’re done.
- 20D ripstop nylon shell, both inner and outer, for increased durability over 10D (remember I’m not good at taking care of my stuff). Nylon is uncalendared. This sacrifices a small amount of warmth, but increases breathability, which is key because many of my trips demand that my body heat be used to dry gear overnight.
- KAM snap closure and pad attachment system. I have yet to make proper pad straps, and instead just use straps which make sure the quilt doesn’t flop open during the night. I have not struggled to stay on the pad, and warmth has not been impacted.
- It is great when used as an overquilt, too, on winter trips. In this case, it acts as a condensation trapper and adds warmth to my other bag.
To comment on its performance, it is excellent. It is big enough for me even when I am wearing insulating layers to bed. It is not quite large enough to be a perfect overquilt, but it does the job adequately. It is warm. I spent a night at 7000′ on Gateway Pass in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in May when the temperature was WELL below freezing. Tom, my travel companion, tossed and turned all night in his 50 degree quilt, while I slept soundly, waking up to a footbox full of ice, but entirely warm enough. I also used it on a fall backpacking trip to the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Northern California, and while not as cold there, it kept me happy.