Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review – A Rotisserie Sleeper!| Average Hiker
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review
The Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt is a quality made quilt that does not skimp on materials and components. Katabatic has all of the details dialed in with their Down collar, sleeping pad attachment system, draft-less foot box, and other well thought out components to keep you warm and comfortable.
Having used quilts in the past, I was impressed with the standard upgrades I found in the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt. This quilt meets my expectations and performs better than expected for this rotisserie sleeper.
My Quilt Requirements
My Quilt requirements for long distance hiking have not changed much over the years. I loved my last quilt, but the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt has additional features that my other quilt did not have, and the Katabatic has kept me much warmer.
- Light Weight – Light weight is important on long distance hikes. The days are long, so to combat fatigue I keep my backpack light. I want to keep the quilt's weight @ less than 2 pounds.
- Compress-ability – I'm willing to give up a little durability on the shell and interior materials if I can compress the bag to a small size. My pack has gotten smaller, so I need my quilt to do the same.
- Fill – I would like 850 Fill Down at a minimum, and for the Down to have a waterproof coating that makes it more resistant to moisture. I backpack a lot on the East Coast where humidity is high.
- Shell – The shell should have a DWR finish to make it at least water resistant.
- Foot Box – Closed and fairly short. If not closed then at least the ability to close it to prevent drafts.
- Draft Collar – I definitely want a draft collar for a quilt.
- Quilt Cinch Straps – The ability to pull the quilt close around me in cold temperatures. This will also reduce drafts even if temperatures are above freezing.
- Long Quilt – I like long quilts and sleeping bags. This allows me to store temperature sensitive electronics in the foot. I can also pull damp clothes into the bag to dry, and keep my shoes from freezing by putting them in the foot of the quilt if needed.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review – Quick Specifications
- Price: $395.00
- Quilt Weight: 22.6 ounces
- Fill Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Length: 6'6″
- Shoulder Width: 54″
- Hip Width: 45″
- Foot Width: 40″
- Packed Size: 7″ x 12.5″
- Down: Responsibly sourced and tracked – Allied Feather & Down
- Fill: 900 Fill HyperDRY Goose Down
- Exterior Shell: Pertex Quantum Ripstop .85oz/yd
- Interior Fabric: Pertex Quantum Taffeta 1.0oz/yd
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review – First Glance
Receiving my new Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt was like Christmas! Alright, alright, receiving anything new for backpacking is like receiving a gift for me. I can barely put down the mail before I'm tearing into the packaging. This quilt was even more exciting since it was replacing my old quilt and would be well used.
Pulling the quilt out of it's box, and unraveling the compressed down, I marveled at the soft materials. The quilt's tight compression was also noted and approved by Lulu who made every attempt to create a nest (Bag dog!). This quilt would compress well in any of my backpacks, and since I have began using the Flex this is one of the things I've appreciated the most about the quilt.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review- Components
Without a hood, like a mummy sleeping bag, I think a draft collar is important for a quilt. Even in the summer, mountains make their own weather, and temperatures can drop drastically at night. Keeping out drafts is hard without the hood of a sleeping bag, so a draft collar needed.
Not all quilts have a draft collar, and some charge charge extra for a collar. Katabatic includes a draft collar, so make sure you check when comparing prices on your quilts. Although Katabatic may be more expensive and slightly heavier, once you add another vendor's optional draft collar the Flex is not more expensive.
The Katabatic draft collar is generously filled, and as you can see above it has a durable snap that connects under your neck. I've never noticed the snap when sleeping.
The one slightly irritating thing about the draft collar is the draw string. It is located in the middle of the top of the collar instead of on the side. This means that it dangles in my face when I'm sleeping. The first few times I used it I thought it was a bug and woke up slapping at my face!
On the other hand, I find this draw string location easier in cold temperatures when I'm burrowing. It is very easy to reach out my hand and cinch it even tighter to keep out drafts.
Elastic Around the Bottom of the Quilt
I sleep like a rotisserie chicken – constantly turning. Sleeping on both sides and my back is constant, with probably about an hour for each position before starting all over again. Because of this drafts in my old quilt used to drive me nuts! I became used to it, but holding down the quilt every time I turned and then “re-tucking” was aggravating.
The elastic around the bottom of the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt opening is definitely an improvement over my other quilt. There are still some drafts due to the constant turning, but they are minimal. I also don't have to constantly “re-tuck” with the elastic around the bottom, combined with the cord locking system.
The lower half of the quilt has a durable zipper that allows me to fully unzip the quilt, making it a true quilt. Other reviews have described the zipper as fragile, but I find the YKK zipper robust compared to some other ultra-light gear I have used. Snagging has not been an issue for me, and a zipper sleeve would add weight, so I don't think it is needed.
When reviewing quilts, I was ready to pull the trigger on a Elite Katabatic Alsek 22, but I could not get past the 28 inch foot box. This was more like a sleeping bag, and the foot box was permanent – no zipper. If I'm going to have a two foot long plus foot box then I may as well use a sleeping bag.
I reached out to Katabatic about shortening the foot box, but they don't do custom work. I really wanted a more versatile quilt for warmer temperatures, and the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt provides this for me.
One thing I prefer is baffles that go around sleeping bags and quilts. The Katabatic Quilts have this in their quilt construction. This allows me to shift the Down based on temperatures. I'll say this about shifting Down though. Some hikers emphatically state that shifting the Down makes a big difference. I find that I can only shift the Down so much, and it is not that big of a deal, but I'll take any flexibility I can get to stay warmer.
Flex 22 Foot Box
The Katabatic Foot Box is one of my favorite things about this quilt. It has snaps to shut the foot, followed by a cinch string to pull it closed. Finally, it has a draft tube that tucks in after the foot box is cinched. This helps eliminate drafts. In other words, the foot box has it's own little draft collar.
When it is especially cold or windy, the draft collar on the foot box is handy. You might have to tuck it in to the gaps by hand to make sure you have all the gaps blocked, but this is easy. Even when chilly, the foot box kept my feet quite warm!
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review – Pad Attachment System
The Pad Attachment System, using the Cord Clips that Katabatic uses, is another thing that sets them apart. This system allows the quilt to attach to the cords and tuck around me on top of my Neoair Sleeping Pad. My other quilt had straps that pulled the quilt down over the edges of the pad causing drafts.
In the picture above you will see the clips have two holes. Leave the 2 mm cords in the first hole if the temperatures are warm, or you are adjusting the quilt. Move the cord to the second smaller hole when cinching it tight, or wanting it to stay at a certain width.
For me, this is a very easy system that I don't have to “mess with” during the night. The small 2 mm cords slide into the ridges between the baffles on my pad so I don't feel them or the flat clips. they are also easy to adjust from inside the quilt.
In the morning, I loosen the cords and leave them on the Neoair Pad when I roll it up and put it away. This keeps me from “misplacing” the cords and minimizes the “little things” I have to pack in a stuff sack. I have been known to leave things behind on occasion, or better yet to pack away critical items in my tent.
The other nice thing about the Flex 22 quilt is that it lines up perfectly with my Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy. This is of course because the bivy is made by Katabatic. Actually, the bivy holds the quilt in place without attachments, so I don't use them, but they are there if I need them.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review – Materials
Exterior Shell Fabric
The exterior fabric of the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt is Pertex Quantum Ripstop .85oz/yd. The fabric is water resistant with a DWR treatment, and the high thread count keeps the quilt from loosing feathers. I have not lost a feather yet!
This high thread count also makes the fabric soft and highly compressible. Lack of durability is a sacrifice I am willing to make since I keep the bag well protected and rarely cowboy camp.
The Pertex Quantum link above is to the always questionable Wikipedia. The Pertex site is “risky” according to my security software, and backpackers already assume enough risk.
Taffeta fabric is SO SOFT, and the Pertex Quantum Taffeta 1.0oz/yd fabric that Katabatic uses in the Flex 22 is no exception. Again, it is not the most durable fabric but I don't put it in situations where it needs to be tough. Because I am so adverse to the cold, my sleep system is definitely babied.
Case in point…my Neoair inflatable mattress is over 10 years old and still going strong! The pad has given this princess a soft bed in deserts, ditches, snow, rocks, etc., so I take good care of the Neoair.
My Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt (in case you are unsure of which one I'm using at this point) has 900 Fill Power HyperDRY Down. The Down is also “Responsible” Down from “Allied Feather and Down.” I'll admit I had to look up “Responsible Down.” Basically, manufacturers that respect the animals are certified. I think it's pretty cool that they respect the “Five Freedoms” of the animals that provide the Down.
Besides having 15.5 ounces of Down (which is noticeable in the thick loft), the Flex also uses HyperDRY Down. HyperDRY Down is not waterproof but it will dry faster than regular Down, and Katabatic states it is also water resistant. I've not owned my Katabatic as long as some of my other bags, but in wet and humid environments it has held it's loft.
Not wanting to put everyone to sleep, I grouped the “Connection Materials.” The zippers, snaps, cinch cords, attachment loops – all of these are high quality and well made like the rest of the quit. Even the durable material used to stabilize the snaps illustrates Katabatic's attention to detail.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review – Final Thoughts
I really can't say enough good things about the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt. The quality and workmanship make it far superior to my old quilt. I'm not knocking my old quilt since it was 15 years old! In it's day it was state of the art, and served me well.
A quilt is a quilt though, and while the Katabatic Flex is an excellent sleep system, I'll still take my Feathered Friends Lark 10 Degree sleeping bag when temperatures are consistently below freezing. The quilt eliminates drafts, but I'm a MOVER so there are occasional cool breezes, and when it is 20 degrees it is tough to warm back up.
On a side note…
One thing that helps when it is cold is my Gossamer Gear 1/8 Thinlight Foam Pad. It is too thin for me to sleep on, but at only 2.5 ounces it provides a lot of warmth under my Neoair, and is less expensive than upgrading to another sleeping pad. The Gossamer Pad also helps to keep my Neoair from sliding everywhere since I am a rotisserie sleeper.
- Quality – a well thought out quilt that does not cut any corners in it's workmanship.
- The Sleeping Pad Attachment System works well in minimizing cold drafts and is easy to use.
- The temperature rating is true to the quilt's rating, which is not always the case with sleep systems. This is relative though since my range is 10 degrees, meaning if it says 22 degrees then I am comfortable down to about 32 degrees.
- The quilt compresses quite well. My backpack has gotten smaller, so this compression is helpful when trying to fit five days of food, or a heavy water carry in my backpack.
- The cinch strap on the draft collar is in an irritating location. I'm not really sure I should put this in the “Cons” column since it is so minor.
- Like most ultra-light gear, this quilt is not inexpensive. It is so well made though, that it should last for many years if you take care of it.
- At the end of the day it is still a quilt, and when it is cold I still get a few cold spots. I think I might be an exceptional rotisserie sleeper though.
Based on the seasons, temperatures and performance, if everything works out, I'll take the Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt on the Colorado Trail this year. My Feathered Friends Lark will be going on the Arizona Trail later in the Fall.
I talk about my decision process around whether I use a Sleeping Bag or Quilt in a prior post. The Colorado Trail get's cold no matter the time of year, but I expect the AZT to be even colder in November at certain elevations.
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