Shivering through the night in the backcountry is nobody’s idea of a good time. But most of us don’t want to carry more insulation than we need or wake up drenched in sweat, far from the nearest shower. So when you’re choosing a temperature rating for your sleep system, keep the following factors in mind.
About our ratings
To start with, you should know that temperature ratings are guidelines only. Everyone sleeps differently and has different preferences. So no matter what temperature rating you get from us or anyone else, be sure to factor in what you know about yourself.
That said, our ratings are similar to the EN Lower Limit rating. Thus, a 20°F rated quilt will be just fine for a well-nourished 160-pound person at about 20°F outside. This makes a few assumptions: they’re wearing sufficient head insulation, such as one of our Hoodlums, they’re using a pad that’s sufficiently warm for the conditions (don't overlook this; the pad is a critical part of your insulation), and they’re wearing base layers. But people experience cold differently based on a host of factors including shape, size, age, and even genetic factors. One person's 20°F quilt could be another person's 40°F quilt.
If you feel like you tend to sleep cold, do yourself a favor and choose a quilt with a rating at least 10°F lower than the coldest conditions you’ll experience. It’s much easier to kick your foot out of a quilt if you’re feeling a little too warm than pile on every layer of clothing you own and shiver all night.
For most three-season campers, we recommend going with a 20°F quilt, or a 10°F quilt if you feel like you tend to get cold at night.
Factors to consider
No sleep system is complete without insulation between you and the ground, such as a sleeping pad. Research the R-value of your pad and make sure it’s in line with the conditions you’ll experience outside. You can also check out our support page on sleeping pads.
Our quilt-style sleep systems are designed to be partially open-backed, which saves weight. Because of this, you’ll want to fine-tune your pad strap attachments and make sure you eliminate drafts. The open part of the quilt goes underneath you, so that your pad completely insulates that area. Most users also like some of the edges of the quilt tucked under their sides to fully block drafts out. Proper use of the pad straps can help hold the edges of the quilt in place as you toss and turn. And with the head and foot (on Revelation and Convert) fully cinched, you can achieve a draft-free sleeping experience.
Many factors can contribute to how warm or cold you sleep, and the quilt is only one part of the system. You need sufficient head insulation and base layers and an insulating pad for starters. But no sleep system generates heat; it only traps the warmth you produce. Insufficient caloric intake, altitude issues, local geography, wind, and dampness can all make for a cold night’s sleep, even if you’re using your sleep system correctly and within its temperature rating. If this happens, we recommend troubleshooting, as going with a warmer quilt won’t provide much help if your body isn’t generating enough warmth to begin with, or if other conditions are reducing your equipment effectiveness.
Try not to compress your quilt when it’s damp or wet, as this reduces loft. Sleep systems naturally lose some loft after compression, so you when you get to camp, you should give your quilt time to fluff back up before you use it. Dirt and oil buildup can also affect loft, so sometimes, all you’ll need to get your quilt back to top performance is a down wash and air dry with NO HEAT and a few tennis balls. You can read about how to redistribute down that’s shifted and wash your quilt, and you can always contact us with your questions.