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Massdrop 20 Degree Ultralight Down Quilt Review

The Massdrop x Enlightened Equipment 20 Backpacking Quilt is a down backpacking quilt with a drawstring footbox that retails for the bargain price of $219. MassDrop works with small manufacturers to design private label products and sell them under the Massdrop brand at an attractive discount to their community members. While they’re similar in design and materials to what’d you buy direct from the manufacturer, they’re not quite as cutting edge or lightweight, so as not to compete with the manufacturer directly. Despite that, the Massdrop x EE 20 backpacking quilt is a great value especially if you’re trying to save some cash to invest in other gear upgrades.

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 x EE 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 and  NEMO and is a much 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
  • Temp rating – 20°
  • 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 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.

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.

Comparable Backpacking Quilts

Make / ModelWeightDraft CollarFootbox VentPrice
REI Magma Trail Quilt 3019 ozY-$299
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 3215 ozY-$330
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 2019 ozY-$380
MassDrop UL Quilt 2022.1 oz-Y$219
Katabatic Gear Palisade 3018.2 ozY-$350
Enlightened Equipment Enigma 3017.9 oz--$290
Nunatak Arc UL 3019.3 ozY-$375
Zpacks Solo Quilt19.5 oz--$359

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.

Updated 2019.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

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48 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.

  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!

    • Just a clarification on width… your Kelty Cosmic is actually 31″ wide, so 62″ total circumference, so 31″ isn’t the total usable width. This should make sense as most pads are only 20″ wide.

      I use a 50″ wide (slim version) quilt. When on a pad, my elbows hang off the side of a 20″ pad, so let’s say that elbow to elbow is about 32″ (half a foot each). That leaves 18″, or 9″ each side for me to tuck my quilt underneath.

      Even on the ground this should be enough, but most like a little extra width on the ground. In a hammock when using an UQ, the extra width is useless and in fact detracts from the drape of the quilt. Not that this Massdrop offering can’t be used in a hammock, but it does seem more ground-oriented.

  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

  13. Massdrop has a new quilt release this week, saying they’ve upgraded some of the features after listening to your review. It is now 800-fill, has removable straps, and offers 35F at only 15 oz. I just joined 35F for $200, it will be my first quilt. Have you gotten your hands on one of these new models yet?

    • No, not yet. I’m drowning in quilts at the moment. Little to differentiate one from the other to be honest.

      • Ha well I take it’s difficult to differentiate as a good sign. The Massdrop quilt is substantially cheaper that other popular brands, already dropped to $190 from people signing up.

      • For a female who sleeps cold, do you think the 35F bag is too light? This will be my first quilt, replacing my Marmot Angel Fire. I typically hike the Sierras but will be hiking in the Italian Alps this summer. Thanks.

      • Depends what the average nightly temp is. Find that out.

  14. 50F is average nightly in our area.

  15. Just saw this quilt on Massdrop, with a link to this review. I too am a first-time quilt buyer, looking to lighten up for backpacking/thru hiking and trying to get a feel for quilts vs. bags. How is it sleeping directly on a pad? I saw somewhere they are making a quilt with a sort of liner that slides over the back of the pad…that sounds interesting, forget where I saw it though!

  16. The only thing that I’m hesitating with is warranty. It was this or the flicker. Flicker is direct. EE makes this for massdrop. Who does repairs? Big price difference. Availability about equal. Flicker more versatile but pricier. Will be using in tent…for now. Something else I should consider for the northeast 3 seasons?

    • What repairs would you need with a sleeping bag or Quilt? Scratching head…

      • Novice thinking.

        Not enough experience yet to ask the right questions. It’s a new language/ vocabulary.

        I’m guessing by your answer there wouldn’t be any.

      • Was hoping to leverage yours and the collective experience of others her with my lack of.

      • These products don’t come with free repairs. If you mess one up, the manufacturer will send it to a company called Rainy Pass and charge you for the repair.

        The EE quilts that MassDrop sells are inferior quality to what you can buy from EE direct. If you want a first rate quilt, I’d order direct. Feathered Friends is of course, the best you can buy.

  17. Thanks for the reply Philip.

    What temp rating should I consider. 3 season use. Northeast, NY/NJ/CT. I tend to sleep warm. Using a tent. No pad yet, tbd as funds become available.

    Thanks.

    • I mainly use a 40 degree bag, except when it’s colder and I use a 20 or 30. just depends what time of year you camp. You need to figure that out or how to increase the rating of a warm weather bag, perhaps using a sleeping bag liner.

      • Does it matter that I will be using a quilt? Likely going to go with the flicker. I imagine I will save weight with a 40 rather than a 20/30 but gain it back with a liner.

        Thanks

      • That’s what I use. Just wear a fleece hat and you’ll be fine. The flicker has a down collar around the neck and will keep you nice and warm.

  18. be aware that if its late September and the air temp is 30 the ground temp may be 50, in early march the air may be 50 but the ground temp may be 30. its really important to pair a quilt with the right sleeping pad

  19. I know this is coming in late but I know Mass Drop, or “Drop” as they are calling themselves now, is still selling these. I ordered two for the wife and myself, both went back. This was around 12/18. They are not made in the US but rather China and, they are so inferior to the actual EE revelations that I wouldn’t trust them past 60 degrees. there was less than 1′ of loft and when held to the light, I could practically see right through them. We got genuine EEs in custom sizes in about 4 weeks and couldn’t have been happier.

    • Actually, they are made by Enlightened Equipment. While the baffle and shell are sewn in China under the supervision of Enlightened Equipment, the down fill which you’re complaining about is added by Enlightened Equipment here in the US. I’d blame EE as much as MassDrop if you didn’t get what you paid for. As far as my own experience, I’ve owned two of these down quilts and found them to be very well made.

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