The sweet pain that is waiting for another Mountain Laurel Design product to be lovingly constructed and delivered is over. This weekend I finally took delivery of my new MLD Spirit quilt. I heart quilts.
Design and construction:
As with most of MLD's products there are various product options to choose from. My particular Spirit quilt is the 30 degree (-1C) rated model. I opted for the XL size as I am a smidge over 6 foot tall and would be using it as an over-quilt in certain circumstances. Unlike the majority of quilts available the Spirit quilt sports an adjustable foot-box. There is a soft velcro strip, snap, draw-cord and 'plug' that allows the foot-box to be fully sealed, vented, slackened off for use over another bag or even opened up completely into a flat quilt for summer. How useful this range of adjustment will be remains to be seen. It's certainly an area where even more weight could be saved if you are happy with a simply stitched, non-adjustable foot-box. The quilt's ability to be opened completely flat speeds up drying and means it can double-duty as a hammock under-quilt for those monkey-loving backpackers that like swinging from the trees. There is a single back strap with low profile clips that is completely adjustable under a wide variety of conditions and sleeping pads and can be used from both sides. In addition to the neck draw-cord and snap it allows the quilt to be sealed tight around the user in cold, draughty conditions. With the options I chose my Spirit quilt tips the scales at 578g.
The main body of my quilt is constructed with Pertex Momentum 50, a lighter version of the micro-grid ripstop Momentum 90 that MLD use on the majority of their other products. The Momentum 50 option saves around 30% in weight. Currently only available in an eye-watering yellowy-orange, under my yellow DuoMid it's going to make for a real sunny morning whatever the weather outside! I also opted for the eVent head and foot strips, added in an effort to combat condensation from my breath and tent walls. The weight saving of the Momentum 50 option over the standard Momentum 90 more than offsets the weight increase added by the eVent strips. Nice! The synthetic insulation is Climashield Apex at 120 g/sq/m. Cord sleeves are constructed from Epic for water resistance and durability.
This winter I plan to use the quilt to augment my Western Mountaineering Ultralite down sleeping bag. The combination of a synthetic over-bag/quilt used in conjunction with a down sleeping bag is well known as a way to combat cumulative moisture build-up. Basically evaporative moisture from my body will condense in the synthetic quilt rather than the down bag where it will be easier to dry and cause less loss in insulation loft. That's the theory anyway. It's a system that I know Jorgen used to good effect last winter across the Sarek and will prove invaluable for a similar trip for me this year. I know some people opt for vapour barrier technologies but that is a strategy I have yet to experiment with and, to be honest, don't particularly like the sound of. There is another reason for combining two lighter '3 season' sleeping bag/quilts. Modularity. I will use the Spirit quilt on it's own in the coming year as a more moisture-resistant option to my GoLite Ultra 20 down quilt on certain trips. I can't justify buying myself a dedicated deep winter sleeping bag/quilt just now. A suitable -20C rated down bag/quilt is a major investment when weighed against the few nights a year that I might need one. Maybe next year I'll do more winter camping and will be able to justify it. It would certainly be a lighter option. In the meantime, combining my 'summer' quilt with a 'spring/autumn' bag makes sense.