Review: Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15°F down backpacking quilt
If you are looking for a lighter weight alternative to a sleeping bag, or you want an option that allows for more freedom of movement, this backpacking quilt is a high quality option with a low price tag.
About Outdoor Vitals
Outdoor Vitals is a small cottage-industry company based in Utah. Instead of selling their merchandise in traditional retail outlets, they use direct-to-consumer sales to make their gear more affordable.
Specs for the 15° quilt:
- Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (23 oz)
- Shell: 10 Denier (0.7 oz/yd²) Ripstop Nylon w/ VitalDry™ DWR
- Lining: 10 Denier (0.7 oz/yd²) Ripstop Nylon
- Insulation Type: Down (RDS Certified)
- Fill: 800-Fill Power StormLoft™ Water Repellent Down
- Fill Weight: 14.5 oz / 410 g
- Temperature ratings: 0°, 15°, and 30°
- Two lengths: regular and tall
- Pricing: $284.97 – $349.97
Note: I have the first version of this quilt and it’s been updated since then. The new version has a slightly different shape, a draft collar, redesigned footbox, and now comes with two straps.
Why I like quilts better than sleeping bags
Several years ago, I switched from using sleeping bags to backpacking quilts for several reasons: 1) to save weight, and 2) to have more freedom of movement when sleeping. I hated the confinement of being zipped up in a traditional sleeping bag. I like to sleep on my sides or my back and be able to place my arms and feet in different positions, and unless a sleeping bag is large enough to allow more movement (and subsequently, not as heat efficient), it’s not easy to be comfortable. Since making the switch, I’ve saved over 1.5 pounds on my pack weight and have gotten better sleep.
I’ve used this Outdoor Vitals backpacking quilt on camping and backpacking trips in central Oregon’s high desert, at mountain lakes in the Cascades, and in the rainforests of Southwest Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.
How to use a backpacking quilt
With this style of backpacking quilt, there is no zipper or hood. Instead, there’s an opening on the back that goes from the footbox to the top of the quilt. Buckles and snaps allow for connecting straps or for closing up the quilt to make it “mummy-style”. Instead of having a zipper on the side, the opening goes underneath you so your body closes the gaps. It’s easy to unbuckle/unsnap for getting in and out, or for when it’s warm and you want more airflow. The footbox is fully sewn and roomy, with plenty of space to move your feet around.
I like being able to customize how I use the quilt based on overnight lows. When it’s cold, I like to eliminate the strap and connect the buckles and snaps to make the quilt slimmer (like a mummy bag but with more freedom of movement) and I use the top drawstring to close off the top to keep warm air from escaping. Since there’s no hood, I wear a wool hat that covers my ears. In warmer conditions, I use the strap with the bottom buckles of the quilt. The strap has a large loop to wrap around a sleeping pad to keep the quilt from falling off the sides of the pad. In this configuration, the quilt is wider and allows for more airflow. I like being able to use the top of the quilt like a blanket, wrapping it around my shoulders when I’m cold, or pushing it to the side when I’m not.
Comparison to my Revelation quilt
I’ve been using the Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt for the last three years. This quilt is similar except that it has a sewn footbox instead of the Revelation’s adjustable footbox. This quilt is closer in style to Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma quilt, which also has a sewn footbox, but since I own the Revelation that’s what I’ll be comparing to in this review.
Options: Other than where they are manufactured (Enlightened Equipment’s products are made in the U.S., and the Outdoor Vitals quilt is made in China), the biggest difference between the two quilts are the options available for purchasing. Enlightened Equipment’s products are customizable, allowing you to choose from six temperature ratings, four lengths, four widths, two types of down fill, and many color options for the inner and outer. Outdoor Vitals quilts are available in three temperature ratings (0, 15 and 30 degrees), and two sizes (regular and tall).
Warmth: My Revelation quilt is rated to 10 degrees, and the Outdoor Vitals quilt I’m reviewing is rated to 15 degrees. With only a 5 degree difference in the quilts, I think they are both accurate in their ratings and I can’t tell much difference between the two in terms of overall warmth.
Fabric: Compared to my Revelation quilt, the fabric on this one feels a bit slicker, less soft. There are a few benefits to the slicker fabric: dirt brushes off easily, keeping the quilt cleaner, and it tends to repel moisture better than softer fabrics can.
Connectors: The buckle connectors on the back of the quilt are very similar to the Revelation’s, though I find them to be a tad more difficult to disconnect. The snaps and drawcord at the top are similar to the Revelation.
Cost: Overall, I think the materials used on Enlightened Equipment’s quilts are slightly higher quality, but they are also much more expensive. The EE Enigma 850-fill 10 degree quilt goes for $335, while the Outdoor Vitals quilt is only $245. That’s a savings of $90.
Construction & Durability
The construction on this quilt is very good quality. I haven’t found any loose threads and haven’t had any down feathers coming out through the fabric. In addition to my use of it, I’ve loaned this out a couple of times so it’s had 30+ nights of use so far with no signs of wear.
How I carry it in my backpack
The stuffsack that is provided doesn’t provide much compression, so I don’t use it when backpacking. I find it works better for me to place the quilt in the bottom of a waterproof pack liner (which does double-duty as a pump sack for my sleeping pad). Packed this way, the quilt fills the space at the bottom of my backpack better than it would if it was in a compression sack.
Storing the quilt
No storage sack is provided, so I use a large stuff sack from another product to store this quilt. Storing sleeping bags and quilts compressed will degrade the quality of the loft, so it’s better to store them loosely in larger bags.
My review policy
Outdoor Vitals sent me this backpacking quilt to test and review. Regardless, I’m under no obligation to give it a favorable review. As an independent gear reviewer, my policy is to review only items that I have used on multiple backpacking or camping trips and that I feel are quality products worthy of recommending. If I don’t like a product, I send it back and don’t review or recommend it.
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