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REI Magma 30 Down Trail Quilt Review

This quilt is lofty! Box baffles are vertically oriented at the torso to prevent the down from shifting to the sides

The REI Magma 30 Down Trail Quilt is a lightweight backpacking quilt with a zippered footbox that lets you open the quilt flat like a comforter. It is conservatively temperature-rated to 30F, uses water-resistant down, and has draft collars at both the neck and footbox-cinch ends.

While quilts have been used for decades in the ultralight backpacking community, most of them have been made by cottage manufacturers or were homemade. Eventually, some of these ultralight cottage manufacturers grew well beyond the cottage stage. REI’s Magma 30 Down Trail Quilt series shows that the mainstreaming of backpacking quilts has happened, which will hopefully expose even more new backpackers to the comfort, lightweight, and compressibility benefits of quilts.

On cooler nights, you can zip up the footbox and cinch the end closed
On cooler nights, you can zip up the footbox and cinch the end closed

We previously reviewed an earlier version of this quilt when REI first introduced it. This new version is a significant upgrade box baffling and with a footbox that can be unzipped and vented. The older version had an inferior sewn-thru construction and a closed footbox. Unfortunately, REI did not rename the new product, which is bound to create confusion for consumers.

Philip has written about urging outdoor retailers to include the model year in the product name, especially when they change the design from year to year. REI is notorious for using the same product name for different products from year to year (like the various Flash Air tent models), which creates a lot of consumer confusion. They do this to fool Google’s search algorithm and not as a service to “members”.

Specs at a Glance

  • Temperature Rating 30F / -1C
  • Weight: (manufacturer) 1 pound, 6.3 oz (medium wide)
  • Weight (tested): 1 pound, 6.6 oz (quilt alone); 0.5 oz (stuff sack); 0.9 oz (2 pad straps)
  • Insulation: 850 fill power, bluesign-approved goose down
  • Water-Resistant Down: Yes
  • Insulation weight: 12.6 oz
  • Baffle construction: Box baffled (not sewn-through)
  • Sizes: Medium Wide (Medium, Long and Long Wide also available)
  • Fits up to: 71″ in height; Shoulder / Hip Girth: 64″ / 60.5″ (Medium Wide)
  • Dimensions (manufacturer): 73.2 x 54.3″ (Medium Wide)
  • Dimensions (tested): Length: 72″; Width: 50” at neck, 58” at shoulders, tapering down to 41” (foot)
  • Stuffed volume: 3.7 L (Medium Wide)
  • Exterior shell: 15d recycled ripstop nylon, bluesign approved
  • Lining: 15d recycled ripstop nylon, bluesign approved
  • Included accessories: stuff sack, mesh storage sack, 2 pad straps
  • Footbox: Zippered Convertible

To begin, it’s important to address a problem with the marketing copy for the Magma. REI says that this quilt ”converts into a mummy bag.” It doesn’t. It’s a quilt with a footbox that can be unzipped so the quilt lays flat. The footbox is the only thing that zips and unzips. I hope REI changes this because there ARE convertible quilts, like the Enlighted Equipment Convert that have a full zip to become a sleeping bag, but this is not one of them.

On warmer nights, you can unzip the footbox to make a comforter that's easy to vent
On warmer nights, you can unzip the footbox to make a comforter that’s easy to vent.

The construction of the convertible footbox has three elements: a zipper, a drawcord that spans the width of the foot end, and a baffle along the length of the drawcord. On warmer nights, you can unzip the footbox and loosen the drawcord and you’ll have a flat comforter that’s easy to kick a leg out from when you overheat. On cooler nights, zip up the footbox and cinch up the draw cord, making sure to pull out the baffle as you cinch to plug up the end hole. This baffle is a nice feature to minimize heat loss without having to plug up the hole with a spare sock.

The foot end draft tube (the yellow puff) can plug up the hole made by cinching the footbox, so heat can't escape.
The foot end draft tube (the yellow puff) can plug up the hole made by cinching the footbox, so heat can’t escape (1)

Box Baffle Design

The REI Magma 30 is constructed with box baffles, not sewn-through, which is a win for warmth. Sewn-through is faster, easier, and cheaper, but can also let in cold air along the sewing line where there is no insulation. The baffles are oriented vertically at the torso, to prevent down from settling around the sides away from the top, and horizontally on the bottom.

A draft collar (the baffle at the neck) can be cinched up to keep heat in
A draft collar (the baffle at the neck) can be cinched up to keep heat in

Draft Collar

The REI Magma Quilt has a draft collar at the neck, which is a tube of down that can be snapped together at its ends and cinched up to insulate blood flow there and prevent heat loss. The drawstring is located at the center of the draft tube on the inside of the quilt, so you can adjust it without removing your arms from under the quilt, and the cord is captured with a loop of fabric that prevents the cord from becoming a tangle hazard.

Quilt Temperature Rating

We find the REI Magma Quilts, both the previous version and this one, to be conservatively rated, and accurate to the stated temperature. REI Customer Service states on the product page that the Magma 30*F rating is the Lower Limit rating when used “with an insulated sleeping pad with at least a 5.38 R-value and the person is wearing a base layer with socks.” The Lower Limit rating is for the average warm sleeper (previously called the Men’s rating); the Comfort Rating (a higher temperature) is the limit for the average cold sleeper (previously called the Women’s rating). There is about a 10*F difference between the two ratings.

The draft collar cord is adjusted from the inside, and the cord is captured to keep it in place and accessible from under the quilt.j
The draft collar cord is adjusted from the inside, and the cord is captured to keep it in place and accessible from under the quilt.j

Many brands use the Lower Limit Rating as their naming convention, but I personally know far more cold sleepers than warm sleepers. Since many beginning backpackers go to REI as their entry point, I’m glad REI rates their bags conservatively. I wish the Comfort rating was the standard convention for naming sleeping bags and quilts across the industry.

I used the Magma Quilt this Spring in temps from 30F up to the high 40s comfortably. On a night that ranged from 30- 35F, with mixed precipitation from rain to sleet to snow, I was warm and cozy all night in the Magma in just base layers, fleece balaclava, and socks.

Two included pad straps snug around your pad with cord locks, and connect to loops on the quilt with toggles
Two included pad straps snug around your pad with cord locks, and connect to loops on the quilt with toggles

Sizing

We tested the medium-wide version of this quilt. There are also Medium, Long, and Long Wide sizes available. While a regular-width sleeping bag is often fine for hammock camping, because of how the underquilt wraps around you, many users, including smaller ones like myself, find that a wide quilt is better for ground use to prevent drafts, especially if you are a rotisserie sleeper. REI says this is a 73.2 x 54.3 inch quilt, but it’s tapered. We measured the quilt at the shoulders to be quite a bit wider than reported: 58 inches, but the length to be slightly shorter at 72 inches.

Pad Straps

The two included pad straps are loops of static (non-elastic) flat cord with a cordlock to tighten the strap around your sleeping pad, and two plastic toggles to which you attach the loops on each side of your quilt. The toggles are a tight fit in the loops, and, while they won’t accidentally release, this also means they are very hard to unbutton.

I used to think that quilt straps were worthless for side sleepers. They were restrictive and made me feel like I had been tied down to the pad–especially non-elastic straps like those included with the Magma quilt. As an active sleeper, it’s important to have elasticity in the sleep system.

As a side sleeper, I prefer to attach only one side of the quilt to the pad straps, and face in the opposite direction
As a side sleeper, I prefer to attach only one side of the quilt to the pad straps, and face in the opposite direction

Then, while using the ZenBivy sleep system, I made a discovery that I began to use with all my quilts when I’m ground sleeping: attaching the quilt to the straps on one side only. This gives me a draft-free side along my back and I can snug the quilt around me on the other side, the side I’m facing. It also helps keep the bag from sliding off the pad and makes it super easy to exit in the night.

Stuff Sack/ Storage Bag

The REI Magma Quilt comes with a large mesh storage sack to keep the quilt uncompressed at home, and a small, simple cylindrical drawstring (non-compressible) stuff sack made out of the same fabric as the quilt’s shell. I find the stuff sack a little too small–when you are trying to pack up the quilt with cold fingers it’s a bit of a struggle to get it all in, and it’s a very tight fit, but the small pack size is nice when you’re carrying it in your backpack.

Recommendation

The REI Magma Quilt 30 is a great option for new users to experiment with as their first backpacking quilt, due to REI’s return policy, the conservative temp rating, the width, and the draft collar. But it is also a quality quilt, and these design features will be appreciated by experienced users as well. Recommended!

Shop at REI
Likes
  • Temp rating is conservative–it was spot-on for a cold sleeper
  • Wide option worked well for preventing drafts while ground sleeping
  • Draft collar with an easy-access captured drawcord on the inside of the quilt
Room for Improvement
  • Make the pad straps elastic

Disclosure: REI donated a quilt for an honest review.

About the author

Greg Pehrson is an ultralight backpacker who was bitten hard by the MYOG (make-your-own-gear) bug. He repairs, tinkers, and builds gear, often seeking to upcycle throwaway items or repurpose things from outside the backpacking world.

16 comments

  1. Thanks for the review. I think it’s a good development that big manufacturers sell high-quality quilts. It does look great, and the price is okay as well

    By the way, what is that green layer you were wearing? Looks fabulous.

    • Thanks, Gal! The green hoodie is the MEC (from Canada) T2 Hoodie made out of Polartec Power Dry. The T2 was actually a copy of the Patagonia Capilene 4 (now Patagonia Capilene Thermal) Hoodie, but with a single-layer hood and no thumb loops. I bought mine used, and it is my main shirt for early morning runs year round (except the hottest days of summer), my favorite backpacking sleeping shirt, and my favorite winter hiking baselayer. Unfortunately, it’s no longer made, and the current T2 Hoodie is made out of merino wool which is far less durable.

      The closest equivalent is the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Hoodie with a chest zip. The newest iteration doesn’t have the chest zip, which I think is essential to the functionality of the piece. But you can find the older version Capilene 4 or Capilene Thermal Hoody pretty regularly on eBay or Poshmark. I picked one up on eBay a few years ago to have as a backup for when my T2 gives out. But it’s showing no signs of wearing out anytime soon.

  2. Great review and thank you for that! I think it is an excellent quilt option for its pricepoint and temperature rating. Kudo’s to REI for taking the Magma 30 Quilt to the next level with this product redesign. I wish REI would extend their quilt option to a 15 like the Magma series bags. I would be curious how you think the Magma 30 quilt stacks up to other entry level quilts. Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Tim! Agree that multiple temp options would be welcome. In terms of comparison to other entry level quilts, with the post-Covid increase in the cost of backpacking gear, it doesn’t feel like there are too many “entry level” quilts out there any more. I’ve reviewed a few quilts here that can be purchased less expensively on Amazon, but I don’t recommend them, mostly because their temp ratings tend to be wildly optimistic. Hammock Gear eliminated their Economy line in favor of giving the customer the choice of lighter or heavier fabrics, but the prices are higher than they used to be for the Econ line. But they make really good quilts that are accurate to their temp rating. I’ve also used and liked UGQ, ZenBivy and Thermarest quilts. I think the Magma or any of the above are all great choices, but I don’t know that I’d call any of them entry level—just good quilts. The thing that makes the Magma good for beginners is the ability to check out the quilt in person in a brick and mortar store and return it easily. Check out our 10 Best Backpacking Quilts article here: https://sectionhiker.com/sectionhiker-gear-guide/10-best-ultralight-backpacking-quilts/
      Before I started writing for SectionHiker, my entry level (and only) quilt was a homemade sandwich of Climashield Apex insulation and a seconds-quality 1.1 oz nylon shell, with a convertible footbox. Cost me about $60 for materials. Still love it.

  3. What R value pad did you use when you tested this quilt?

  4. It is a misnomer and oft repeated that the prior version of this quilt has sewn-thru baffles. It does not. While the baffle height may make it seem as though it is sewn-thru there are definitely baffles. REI customer service has confirm this fact.

    • REI also says this quilt converts to a mummy bag… ;)
      Do you have the previous version to confirm? I am the reviewer for the new bag but was not for the previous version.
      One explanation may be that sometimes companies send pre-production models out for review. Sometimes they take feedback into account for changes before they release the production version; sometimes they make changes for other reasons. But if a company doesn’t let the reviewer know the changes have been made for the production version, the reviewer can’t amend the review with that info.

      • I don’t know what they would mean by converting to a mummy bag. The prior version is simply a quilt with a sewn footbox as opposed to the new one with the zip footbox. The old version has two pad strap attachments like any other quilt.

        A backpacking light review of the older version also stated the baffles were sewn through and there was a debate about it on a thread. It’s a great quilt.

        • They appear to have taken the incorrect marketing off the product description. Yes, thi snew version with the box baffling is a significant upgrade over the previous model. Definitely a steal at 30% off.

  5. I have the old version and to my surprise it has been consistently the option I reach for. I can’t say why, maybe the dimensions just work for me. The loft is excellent and the material very soft. Never been cold in down in the 30s. Usually paired with a Thermarest Uberlite on recent trips. Straps worked for me to though only use them in the cold.

    For reference I also own a Palisade, Fessthered Friend bags, use an Accomplice with my wife, etc. Nunatek for colder.

  6. So I just hiked in the Gila Wilderness and took the original REI 30 short quilt. It was great. I agree with fastening the quilt to one side and partially on the opposite. I could get out in the middle of the night (to see the Milky Way) but stayed warm on top of a Thermarest Nearest.

  7. I have the previous version and I really like it. I am bigger and don’t mind the 30 degrees of the previous version. It was my first all down bag/quilt and I got it on sale for like $120 dollars. I am astounded about how small it packs down, how light it is, and how comfortable it is. I added a piece of stretch fabric to the joint in the foot box on the last to keep from tearing. Although this is the new version, I think it’s a tremendous buy for someone looking to get into down and get lower weight gear.

  8. Huge fan of this quilt…as a slide sleeper I always got twisted in my sleeping bag. The loft and comfort and weight of the quilt far exceeded my expectations…

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