The MassDrop Pine Down Blanket is an inexpensive down comforter ($100) that’s been augmented with cordlocks, drawstrings, and cord channels so it can be used as a blanket, a top quilt, or even as a hammock underquilt with some minor augmentation. It’s insulated with 850 fill power, water-resistant, white duck down, rectangular in shape, and longer than most standard backpacking quilts which will appeal to larger individuals.
Many of the people who’ve purchased the Pine Blanket rave about it, but frankly I’m underwhelmed by its construction and field performance. The sewing is pretty lackluster with loose threads and misplaced components while the product I received doesn’t match the published specs. Nonetheless, it is cleverly conceived to appeal to a large segment of the camping and backpacking population that can’t afford boutique backpacking gear or refuses to pay for it.
Manufacturer Specs at a Glance
- Shell material: 20d 1.1oz down-proof nylon
- Insulation: 850-fill Allied HyperDry white duck down (RDS certified and bluesign approved)
- Temperature rating: 40º F (4.4º C)
- Loft: 2 in (5.1 cm)
- 3 pairs of snaps along the side
- 4 hang loops
- Open dimensions, W x L: 54″ x 86″ in (137 x 218 cm) – My blanket was much smaller. See discussion below.
- Stuffed dimensions: 8 x 11 in (20 x 28 cm)
- Blanket total weight: 19.2 oz (544 g) – Again, my blanket weight differed. See below.
- Insulation weight: 10.5 oz (298 g)
- Stuff sack weight: 0.4 oz (12 g)
- Made in China
- Visit the MassDrop Pine Down Blanket product page for complete specs and a list of features.
The Pine Down Blanket is a multi-purpose item that’s advertised as a blanket but has been augmented for use as a warm weather backpacking quilt. It’s similar to the NEMO Puffin Blanket ($100) and the Kammock Firebelly Blanket ($279) which can also be configured as quilts with a ventable footbox or used as regular blankets.
The Pine Down Blanket has a rectangular shape like a blanket and is not tapered or shaped like a quilt. It’s also quite wide and long (54″ x 86″), which is good for larger and taller users. These dimensions should translate into a spacious top quilt when the blanket is reconfigured that way. More on this below.
The blanket is insulated with water-resistant 850 fill power white duck down sourced from Allied which is very reputable RDS certified down supplier. Duck down has the same insulating properties as goose down, so there’s no need to be concerned about the difference because fill power ratings for ducks because they are equivalent to those for geese. Duck down is just less expensive than goose down, which helps keep the blanket’s cost lower.
The blanket has sewn-through baffles which are less efficient at preserving heat than box baffles but are also much less expensive to make. Sewn-through baffles are commonly used in warm weather quilts (rated for 40 degrees or warmer) because infrared studies have shown that the amount of body heat lost through the seams is insignificant and doesn’t rate more expensive baffle construction.
The Pine Blanket is made with a soft 20d nylon matte shell fabric which has a soft and comfortable hand. It’s a lot less comfortable, however, if you’re sweating at night in high humidity. Like any quilt or sleeping bag, you’ll probably want to wear some lightweight night clothes to remain more comfortable and keep the inside of the blanket clean.
Ventable foot box and back snaps
There are three pairs of snaps along the sides of the Pine Down Blanket so you can wrap the blanket around your back like a quilt and create a foot box. The top pair of snaps close behind the neck and the two bottom pairs behind the feet and knees. A fourth pair of snaps behind your lower back would be desirable but is not included. Without it, you’re likely to experience a cold draft if you roll over on your side at night. The Pine Down Blanket does not include a pad attachment system to prevent this, unlike more technical backpacking quilts for use on top of a sleeping pad.
A drawstring at the foot end helps cinch the footbox closed but you may want to plug the hole at the end with a sock in cooler weather. A drawstring is also provided at the top of the blanket to secure the blanket over the tops of your shoulders and around your neck.
The corner snaps and drawstring cord locks can also be covered and hidden in “garages” so that you won’t feel them when they’re not in use.
Hammock underquilt configuration
There are also side channels sewn along the sides of the blanket that you can run an elastic cord through to create a primary suspension for a hammock underquilt. These are very hard to see, but they are there. However, you have to supply the cord and run it through the long channel yourself. You can also rig up a secondary suspension in order to position the hammock along the primary suspension, using fabric loops sewn inside the corner “garages” at each end of the hammock. You have to know what you’re doing hammock-wise to rig this all up, but it is possible to do.
If you plan to buy the Pine Down Blanket for use as a hammock underquilt, I think you’d be better off buying a $100 Jarbridge River Underquilt that’s already been set up for you with a primary and secondary suspension. You’ll get a much better product that’s specifically designed to be an underquilt with a differential cut shaped for use with a hammock. The Pine Down Blanket isn’t a very good deal when compared to the Jarbridge.
While the Pine Down Blanket looks great on paper, it’s doesn’t cut the mustard in real life. I’ve asked MassDrop to refund my purchase because I think the blanket they sent me is defective and not worth the $100 I paid for it.
Companies that sell products to an ultralight and lightweight backpacking community understand the importance of accurate product specs. So I was surprised when the Pine Blanket I received wasn’t even close to what I thought I’d purchased. My blanket measures 46″ x 82″, which is a far cry from the product’s advertised 54″ x 86″ spec. The width of 46″ on the Pine Down Blanket I received is too narrow to provide adequate coverage for anyone except a back sleeper who doesn’t roll over, side sleep, or toss and turn at night. Most quilts are 50-55″ in width for this reason. I found this out the hard way on a backpacking trip and got chilled when I rolled over, before returning home to measure and weigh the Pine Blanket. The blanket I received is also heavier than the published spec of 19.2 oz (20.6 oz, actual) and doesn’t have the specified 2″ of loft (1.5″, actual).
The stitching on my Pine Down Blanket is starting to unravel, particularly in the corners. The male and female sides of the back snaps also don’t face each other so you have to twist the quilt hem around in order to snap the quilt closed. That’s just plain sloppy sewing. There’s really no excuse.
The rating of 40 degrees is quite optimistic; I think a 50-55 degree rating is a lot more realistic based on my experience sleeping with this blanket/quilt. YMMV.
Raw Materials for MYOG
MassDrop also makes the argument that the Pine Down Blanket is a good starting point for an MYOG project. It’s not. You’d be a lot better off starting from scratch and buying a complete synthetic top quilt or underquilt kit from Rip Stop by the Roll for half the price or starting with a $20 Black Diamond Down Throw and making your own as described in Wanda’s How to Make a $40 Backpacking Quilt.
Blankets for Backpacking
I’m disappointed that the MassDrop Pine Down Blanket is such a dud because I think blankets could play a larger role in backpacking than they do today. They’re ideal for use during the heat of summer instead of quilts or sleeping bags and they’re significantly less expensive to make and purchase. They can also be used as an adjunct to increase the temperature ratings of cold weather sleep systems.
While there have been attempts by various manufacturers to create modular insulation systems, they’re all very proprietary and don’t let you combine best of breed components from multiple manufacturers. It’d be nice to break out of that mold and take a more open approach to backpacking-specific sleep insulation. After all, Grandma Gatewood hiked the Appalachian Trail three times with just an army blanket. It can’t be that difficult to figure out.
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