Home / Gear Reviews / Massdrop 20 Degree Ultralight Down Quilt Review

Massdrop 20 Degree Ultralight Down Quilt Review

manufactured by :
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
200.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On April 26, 2016
Last modified:September 17, 2016

Summary:

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. Despite that, 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.

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.

If you’re not familiar with Massdrop, I wrote an article about them last month explaining how they help cottage manufacturers acquire more customers and expand their market reach.

Backpacking and camping quilts don't have back insulation and must be used with a sleeping bag if you're sleeping on the ground.
Backpacking and camping quilts don’t have back insulation and must be used with a sleeping pad if you’re sleeping on the ground.

Overview

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.

Specifications

  • 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 quilt has two straps that you wrap under and around your sleeping pad to keep the quilt on top. Most people keep their pads out of the foot box so they have more vertical space for their feet.JPG
The quilt has two straps that you wrap under and around your sleeping pad to keep it on top if you toss and turn at night. Most people keep their pads outside the foot box so they have more vertical space for their feet

Pad Straps

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.

The two sleeping pad straps are permently attached to the quilt on one side of the quilt and connect with flat buckles on the other
The two sleeping pad straps are permanently on one side of the quilt and connect with flat buckles on the other

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 Massdrop 20 degree quilt has an adjustable vent at the end of the footbox.
The Massdrop 20 degree quilt has an adjustable vent at the end of the footbox that can be opened or drawn closed.

Footbox

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.

The top of quilt has a draft string that you pull to cinch the neck opening closed and keep warm air from escaping, in addition to a small snap behind the neck.
The top of quilt has a draw string that you pull to cinch the neck opening closed and keep warm air from escaping.

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.

Temperature Rating

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. .

The Massdrop 20 degree quilt has vertical baffles that prevent the down from shifting and falling down the sides
The Massdrop 20 degree quilt has vertical baffles that prevent the down from shifting and falling down the sides.

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.

A 58" wide top quilt can be used for sleeping on the ground in a tent as well as in a hammock
The 58″ wide Massdrop quilt is wide enough for sleeping “on the ground” as well as in a hammock with proper back insulation.

Sizing

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 underside of the footbox is sewn shut so you can't open the quilt completely up like a blanket
The underside of the footbox is sewn closed so you can’t open the quilt completely up like a blanket

Recommendation

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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26 comments

  1. So, the big question is…who is actually making it? :)

    • You’ll have to ask Massdrop. The review sample they sent me didn’t have any logos or tags on it to indicate the manufacturer.

    • Enlightened Equipment is making this quilt. That being said, I hope that this quilt is able to stand alone as a great product, regardless of who makes it. That is why we’re not advertising the manufacturer’s name.
      [disclosure – I am the Director of the Ultralight Community at Massdrop]

  2. Looks like a good deal and you look very comfy.

    • Quilts are really comfortable but a very different sleeping experience than a mummy bag. I think this is OK deal, but it’d be worth comparing the features and cost closely with a quilt maker like Enlightened Equipment to see if you’d rather spend 25%-40% more for those premium features I mention. Different people have different needs and price sensitivity.

      The interesting thing about this quilt is that it’s a technical UL quilt with 750 fill power down which helps keep the price down. There aren’t any cottage quilt makers who provide higher end features like this on a 750 fill power bag. None. There’s a very minor weight and performance difference between 750 and 800 fill power. Not enough to really make a huge difference imho.

  3. Thanks for another excellent review.
    My HG 20 (http://www.hammockgear.com/burrow-20/) is the go-to quilt for spring and fall (the short wide with 14oz fill). It retails for $ 249 and has a ton of size/fill options. It looks like we cover the same with a 40 top quilt . I use a DIY quilt below 20 to the negative teens, but it has 30 ounces of 900 fill and is very heavy.
    For hangers under quilts (UQ)s and top quilt (TQ) pairing will increase temperature and base weight options. For instance, I take my 0 degree UQ up to the 50’s before switching to a 20 degree. This takes the guess work out of planning and allows the ability to take a TQ down to the lower temperature rating. The 20 UQ pairs nicely with the 40 TQ up to the hotter summer months when we can get away with a pad, a 4 oz synthetic UQ, or no UQ. My favorite summer pad in the double layer hammock is the GG Thinlight Hammock Pad http://gossamergear.com/1-4-wide-302.html. It weighs <4 oz and will take you down to the 60's with the 40 TQ.

  4. The specifications states the comfort limit is 31*. Wouldn’t that make it a 31* quilt? EE rates their quilts to the comfort limit. With the two quilts I have, it’s accurate to the marketed temps. If I buy a quilt that’s rated to 20* and I’m uncomfortable at 20*, I’m going to be a little po’d from being lied to by marketers and because I didn’t get any sleep.

  5. What is the pack down size?

  6. Pack size, that’s my question too

  7. Appreciate the transparency from Danny Milks regarding the manufacturer. I own a few EE quilts and have to say their quality is top notch.

    Agree with Philip that this is a good starter quilt; I’d recommend ordering direct from EE (the Massdrop quilt appears to be an Enigma) if the specs/dimensions of the Massdrop quilt don’t fit. Either way I’m glad that more exposure/business is being given to cottage companies. Keep up the great work!??

    • Ordering direct from EE means waiting 14-16 weeks for the Enigma… Whereas Massdrop will take 4. If you want a new quilt before next fall, there’s only one option.

      • Think again,
        Massdrop says their expected ship date is August!
        A bit of a turn-off!

      • Wow, did not realize that. I figured it would be like the last EE drop where everything was premade.

  8. After using a Thermarest quilt for a while, I’d say that the first picture tells the whole story. If the quilt isn’t long enough to pull up over your head, then it’s not a complete system without a down jacket. There’s another pound.

    Also, I really can’t imagine wanting the footbox vent. Even when full closed, it’s not going to be as warm as a sewn footboy, and when the weather is so warm that lifting one side of the quilt doesn’t help, it’s easier to just pull my feet out of the footbox and use the bottom of the quilt as a blanket.

    Regarding the temperature rating, I’ve had my 35º Thermarest in temperatures low enough that water bottles left outside were frozen solid, but inside my tent I was able to sleep with just a lightweight base layer, ripping off my lightweight balaclava and socks when I got too warm in the middle of the night. But if my head was sticking out of the top, it would have been a different story.

    The baffle and tab system on the Auriga does a pretty good job of sealing the sides but is a bit of a pain to use. My Thermarerest Auriga (discontinued) was on sale for $174 when I bought it. I’d consider upgrading if a warmer, lighter quilt was available.

    • Quilts aren’t designed to pull over your head, but around your shoulders. Second, this quilt is perfectly sized for me – see the 6th photo which shows me with just my head sticking out the top.

      I chose to have my torso sticking out in the first photo. The point of that photo is to illustrate that the strap system pulls the quilt down over the sides of the pad (like Therm-a-Rest’s quilts) and doesn’t keep the insulation on top. This is less thermally efficient than high-end quilts where strap system keeps the insulation on top of the pad, reducing the amount of air that must be heated by body heat so you can use them in cooler weather.

      People often couple a quilt with a puffy jacket in cold weather. It’s quite normal. Especially since they’re already carrying the jacket to stay warm with in camp and on cold mornings (multi-purpose gear).

  9. I’m curious about the shoulder width (pardon my ignorance) – are quilts measured differently from mummy bags? I’m a bigger guy. My Kelty Cosmic Down has a 62″ shoulder width, and it’s actually just a bit snug for my liking. I use it, but every time I do there is a moment where I think, “I wish I had just a bit more room”). On a quilt is 58″ going to feel like I’m being swallowed by a snake, or is the measurement done differently?

    • I don’t think there’s any good established convention between quilt manufacturers and I’d advise checking with each manufacturer to make sure you’re not comparing apples and oranges. I own another 58″ wide quilt from EE and it is very wide. But you should refer to their website documentation on the subject:

      See: http://www.enlightenedequipment.com/faq/#Sizing

      • I believe we are talking about two different things here. For a quilt, which is laid out flat, the width is obvious and straightforward. A sleeping bag’s measurements may be called shoulder width, but it’s actually the girth – the inner circumference of the sleeping bags at the area of the shoulder. This is usually higher than a quilt, because the quilt tucks in around your shoulders, but does not actually fully encompass your body and with room to spare (like in a sleeping bag). Hope this helps!

      • Perfect! Thank you for the information Danny and Philip. EE’s page had a very good further explanation and a handy “conversion” for quilt width to what could be considered sleeping bag “girth.” Sounds like 58″ should do fine for me. Thanks again!

  10. Is this untreated or water-repellent down?

    • Sorry, found my own answer:
      “We will only be offering untreated down for the near future. We’ll keep looking for a reliable, affordable source of treated down for future iterations of this quilt.”

  11. I own a Zero degree version of this quilt and use it in the Northeast and used it for a week in the Bolivian Andes. I’m a side/stomach sleeper and toss a lot. The quilt is ideal in that it allows me to move without restriction and the added versatility of ventilation and temperature regulation. Loooooveee it.

  12. I am new to quilts and strongly considering this one. The information provided has been great. Thank you. I have a question about the baffles. This quilt has lengthwise baffles, but other popular quilt manufacturers (eg. Underground quilts, hammock gear, jacks r better) with solid user reviews have crosswise baffles. Is there really a benefit to the lengthwise baffles? If so, why don’t others make them that way. Kindly, Matthew

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