Western Mountaineering is known for not chasing trends and for being supremely loyal to its retailers. So the news that it’s offering a sleeping quilt for spring 2018 says two things to me:
- Quilts are not a fad, and have perhaps reached critical mass; and,
- WM retailers became convinced — by either a compelling WM pitch or, more likely, customer inquiries — that there is a market for quilts.
Western’s new quilt is, of course, a beautiful product that is made of premium materials (notably, 850+ European down and 7d & 10d fabrics) and that appears masterfully constructed. You don’t expect less of WM. The quilt is available in two temperature ratings in two sizes (up to 6’0″ and 6’6″):
- Nanolite ($330, 11 oz), rated to 38 degrees F
- Astralite ($400, 16 oz), rated to 26 degrees F
The quilts were not EN tested, but WM ratings are considered among the most conservative.
The Nanolite and Astralite have the same 850+ fill power European down that is used in all WM products, including apparel like its lovely Hooded Flash Jacket and Flash Pants. It’s a time-tested commodity, and I’d be skeptical to believe that any familiar brand is using high quality down, including those that claim 900 fp. WM continues to use untreated down, believing that the large clusters and natural oils in its down offer sufficient resistance to moisture.
The shell fabric is a proprietary 7d with an acrylic kiss coating for added durability. WM had it milled specifically for these quilts, but may begin to use it in other products once they have more long-term feedback. The liner is a 10d taffeta.
The quilt’s dimensions are based on the Western Mountaineering Ultralight, which John from WM described as being a “performance cut mummy bag.” It specs at 59 inches at the shoulder, 51 inches at the hip, and 38 inches at the footbox; the larger size is one inch wider at the shoulder and hip.
The footbox is sewn closed, eliminating the option of opening the Nanolite or Astralite into a rectangular quilt.
The back closure system on their sample bags at Outdoor Retailer was a rat’s nest of bungee cord, but I was told that production would have three strips of 1/2- or 3/4-inch grosgrain webbing, probably similar to those on the Enlightened Equipment quilts.
As I watched John squirm into a quilt that was attached to a pad, I questioned this feature. Personally, I remove the attachment system, because I don’t like feeling as if I’m strapped to a backboard. And if I want a draft-free sleeping experience, I know of a much less fussy way to get it. It’s called a mummy bag.
The most interesting design feature is the contoured “passive neck collar” that can be cinched with an exterior bungee cord in order to minimize drafts around the neck. The seal did not appear as effective as, say, the hide-away hood on the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt, but the comparably rated Nanolite is less than half the weight of the BCQ.
How do the Astralite and Nanolite stack up against other premium quilts from cottage brands like EE, Katabatic, and ZPacks? In terms of features and materials, they didn’t strike me as being exceptionally better or different. And the WM quilts seem more expensive versus quilts of comparable warmth and size, which may be directly attributable to the additional “middle man” mark-up.
But it may not matter. WM sells only to retailers, not direct, so customers that want to support their local retailer or who want to try before they buy will be limited to the WM quilts.
Questions about the Nanolite or Astralite? Leave a comment.
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