Massdrop is going to be offering a “drop” on a 20 degree down quilt this week (4/29) for $200. The company has a history of developing custom products for their member communities, and this will be their first foray into ultralight gear. They work with small manufacturers to design and make these products, but private label and sell them under the Massdrop brand at an attractive discount to their community members.
The Massdrop 20 Degree Ultralight Quilt is a technical backpacking and camping quilt with a venting foot box that’s primarily designed for ground use. While you can use this quilt for top insulation in a hammock, the strap system is permanently attached to the quilt and clearly intended to be used when sleeping on the ground on top of a sleeping pad. While this quilt doesn’t have all of the premium features of high-end technical quilts made by cottage manufacturers, it beats the pants off the bed-like quilts offered by Sierra Designs, NEMO, and Therm-a-Rest and is a better value for your dollar.
- Made in the US specifically for Massdrop
- 14 oz of 750 fill power down
- soft down-proof 15 denier fabric
- 20° EN Tested (31° Comfort, 20° limit, -12° extreme)
- 2.5″ loft
- 2 adjustable straps
- venting foot box
- total weight: 20.9 oz
- available in regular (6’0″) or long (6’6″)
- shoulder width of 58″
The Massdrop 20 degree quilt has two permanently attached pad straps. The straps are designed to run under and around your sleeping pad to keep the quilt on top of you if you toss and turn in your sleep and to keep side drafts from robbing the heat trapped by your quilt. One side of the straps is permanently sewn to the left side of the quilt (as you lie on your back) while the other side connects to the quilt using a flat buckle that’s thin enough that you can’t feel it underneath you.
Ideally, you’d want pad straps that connect to the quilt with buckles on both sides because it gives you the option to roll back one side and not the other, to remove both completely in hot weather or when you want to sleep in a hammock so they’re out of the way.
The single buckle system on the Massdrop quilt also has a tendency to pull the quilt’s sides down around the outside of your sleeping pad creating a bigger space that your body needs to heat to stay warm. This isn’t a showstopper, but it’s not as thermally efficient as the pad strap systems from premium quilt manufacturers like Enlightened Equipment and Katabatic Gear. Their pad straps seal the sides of your quilt to the top of your sleeping pad and closer to your body, so your body has to heat a smaller air space.
The footbox on the Massdrop 20 degree quilt is sewn closed on the underside of the quilt but there is an adjustable foot vent that you can open to cool off your feet when you’re too warm. This is a great temperature regulation feature. But the fact that the footbox is sewn shut in back means you can’t open up the quilt like a blanket if you want to share it with a partner.
Top Draft Control
When sleeping in cool weather, the top end of the quilt can be secured over your shoulders. With the Massdrop 20 degree quilt, warm air heated by your torso is prevented from escaping by closing a draw string that runs along a channel on the quilt’s top hem. The top of the quilt can also be snapped together behind your neck. While the top edge of the quilt does not have a dedicated draft collar, many quilt users wear a hooded puffy coat that helps stop warm air from escaping from the top opening, and serves double duty to keep your head warm.
The Massdrop 20 degree quilt is filled with 14 ounces of 750 fill power down. While not as light weight as higher end quilts with 800 power down and up (the weight difference is under an ounce), it still compresses very well and lofts nicely. While you can pay a lot more for higher fill power down, the weights savings isn’t really all that significant once you get up to 750-800 fill power. See Is 950 Fill Power Down Really Worth the Money? for an analysis of the price performance benefit. .
It’s also worth noting that this quilt has been rated by an independent testing laboratory using the EN13537 sleeping bag test standard that’s apparently been adapted for use with hoodless quilts. I wasn’t aware that you could test a hoodless quilt using this standard, but the 20 degree test result means that the average man will remain comfortable down to 20 degrees if they’re sleeping on an insulated pad, and wearing long underwear and a hat (which the test requires). Women will be comfortable down to 30 degrees, since they sleep colder (on average).
While a 20 degree quilt may sound excessively warm for three season use, it’s easier to vent excess heat with a quilt than a sleeping bag by loosening the pad straps, opening up the foot vent to cool your feet, or pushing the quilt aside. That said, I use a 40 degree quilt for sleeping in summer when temperatures exceed 70 degrees at night, since a 20 degree quilt is really too warm and awkward to use in hot weather.
The Massdrop 20 degree quilt is available in two lengths: 6′ and 6’6″, which are standard sizes. When sizing a quilt, it’s best to get the length that’s as close to your actual height as possible, but not longer: you’re still going to want a few extra inches for your feet even though the top of the quilt only has to come up to the bottom of your chin and not cover your head.
With a shoulder width of 58″, the Massdrop quilt is well sized for sleeping on the ground where you need insulation along the sides of your body in addition to the top. Most hammock-only quilt users get narrower quilts because their bottom insulation (underquilts or foam pads) wraps up along the side of their bodies. But if you plan on sleeping on the ground sometimes and in a hammock others, you can still use the 58″ width quilt for both.
The Massdrop 20 degree quilt is well made down quilt that’s primarily designed for ground use on a sleeping pad. While it’s a solid performer and a good value, it doesn’t have some of the premium features that you find on top quilts from small cottage manufacturers like higher fill power down, fully detachable pad straps, or a zippered footbox so you can open the quilt like a blanket. Still, this quilt is beautifully made with a soft 15 denier down-proof shell and vertical down baffles that prevent down from shifting from the top of the quilt and down the sides. I think it’s an excellent value and a good buy for a first quilt, particularly if you’re switching from a mummy sleeping bag for comfort reasons or to reduce your gear weight.
Disclosure: This review is sponsored by MassDrop.com which loaned me a preproduction sample of this quilt to review. While they’ve sponsored this article, the opinions expressed in it are my own.
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