OR addendum - Nunatak Back Country Blanket - Lyon
- One more for the queue. Full html at http://tinyurl.com/b8wd4bk Whoever edits this might want to review the entire Review as I had to copy it from BGT, revise slightly, and then add the new portion.
Happy New Year, Richard
ADDENDUM - December 31, 2012
BCBs mated Since posting my Owner Review I acquired a second Back Country Blanket for use with the original Blanket as a couple's sleep system. This second Blanket is the standard Medium size, dimensions listed below, with two extra ounces (42 g) of down fill.
Fabrics: Sage green 1.0 Pertex Quantum outer, black nylon taffeta inner
Weight: listed 24 oz (680 g), measured 28 oz (794 g) (includes overfill)
Length: listed 74 in (188 cm), measured 72 in (183 cm)
Standard down fill: 11 oz (312 g)
Baffle height: listed 2.5 in (64 mm), measured, 2.75 in (70 mm)
Temperature rating (before overfill): 20 F (-7 C)
MSRP: $469 US - $439 for the quilt plus $30 for the overfill
As a quilt:
Listed: 61 in (155 cm) at the shoulder, 53 in (135 cm) at the hip, 46 in (117 cm) at the foot
Measured: 62 in (157 cm) at the shoulder, 54 in (137 cm) at the hip, 44 in (112 cm) at the foot
As a bag [Given for information only; as noted below, I have not used this Blanket as a bag for one person.]
Width at shoulder, 27 in (69 cm)
Width at hip, 25 in (64 cm)
Width at foot, 18 in (46 cm)
The only couple's sleep system that I had previously used regularly, some years ago, involved zipping a fully unzipped semi-rectangular bag to a cotton "coupler," really a cotton sheet with a zipper to fit the bag, sold by the sleeping bag manufacturer for this purpose. One recurring problem led me to abandon that approach - the zipper continued to stick, even after pre-trip applications of lubricant. That system had the advantage of natural fiber against my underside but no insulation underneath other than a sleeping pad and the rated capacity of the sleeping bag limited use to warmer weather. I cannot recall ever using a bag sized for two such as some manufacturers, including Nunatak, offer.
I've used the two-BCB couple's system for six backcountry nights and three car camping nights, in Wyoming, Texas, and Montana. The coldest nighttime temperature experienced in this service was 20 F (-7 C), the BCB's pre-overfill stated limit. All use has taken place in a fully floored tent, usually my Bibler Ahwahnee (separately reviewed on this site). My sleepwear was the same as noted in my Review above, except that I never wore my down sweater when sharing the Blankets. My camping partner wore similar sleepwear except once on a car-camping night when she brought flannel pajamas. Each of us had a separate sleeping pad.
I have used this second, significantly smaller Blanket by myself as a top quilt on a few other occasions in summer and fall, with nighttime temperatures between 40-70 F (4-21 C). At those temperatures I decided I didn't need the extra length and down fill my larger Blanket provides. While the weight saving is minor, without the extra length this more standard BCB packs down considerably smaller than its big brother.
BCBs comparedI'll begin with an explanation of why I chose a narrower rather than wider Blanket as the second sleeping quilt, contrary to my prediction two years ago. When it came time to plunk down the cash I figured that as one of the quilts would be underneath us and thus furnishing only limited insulation, there was no need for the extra length of the original Blanket on the bottom. The Medium's standard size is actually two inches (5 cm) wider at the shoulder and chest, and four inches (10 cm) wider at the foot, than my custom-cut Large, and the extra width could be used to mate the quilts with the Velcro, making use of the extra length on the sides of the mated quilts when occupied. The extra long Blanket has seven ounces' (198 g) more down. That and its extra length, clearly visible in the photo, make it much the warmer of the two. I think it belongs on top. The Medium gives sufficient length for individual use by either of the two women who have shared this set-up with me (on different trips of course), and the standard Medium length is adequate for my solo summer top quilt use. This arrangement has worked well enough. To date no Blanket wars have been fought over length of the bottom quilt.
Neither Blanket has Velcro strips across the bottom, so the set has no closure there beyond cinching up both Blankets at the foot. Given the original's extra length I have learned to mate the side strips at a point that leaves a bit of length to tuck under the bottom quilt, giving some extra protection against an unwanted draft. These precautions have sufficed inside a closed-up tent.
Being able to open one's side of the quilt by un-attaching the Velcro quite effectively permits either sleeper to adjust ventilation and warmth level simply by opening or closing the Velcro on his or her side. This also means greater arm movement, which in turn means considerably more wiggle room than a top quilt. Obviously partly open sides work better at higher temperatures, but even when it was chilly I didn't notice any reduction in warmth on my side when my companion "unzipped" hers. On the coldest night we kept the two Blankets connected and our arms inside, and neither of us tossed enough to break the Velcro seal. Another benefit of the side openings is that each occupant's side doesn't twist up in the middle even when its occupant turns sideways.
With a width of the bottom quilt less than two-thirds the width of a king bed, a couple's use remains intimate. (Some might say that's the point.) The users still had better be good friends. But sealing up the sides even part of the way has dramatically reduced unwanted Blanket snatching, a sin I have been unjustly accused of more than once. It makes a big difference when an extra panel lost to a grabby partner means no draft or, more aptly, when losing a panel or two means no cover at all on one side. And of course shared warmth inside makes both occupants more comfortable, or at least warmer. Definitely I was warmer at 20 F (-7 C) in this system with my friend than at the same temperature alone in the warmer of the two Blankets.
Solo use as a quilt in warmer weather, mostly in Texas, has worked well too. Particularly when I use it with an insulated sleeping pad, I don't mind not having a quilt underneath me. When the mercury drops below 50 F (10 C) I can Velcro up the side and add a sweater or second long-sleeved merino shirt for added warmth.
When it first became available the 1.0 ounce Pertex Quantum was Nunatak's pride and joy, if one were to believe the material on Nunatak's website. I can certainly see why. It has proven far more downproof than the slightly lighter weight spinnaker in my other Blanket. It has repelled occasional dampness without anything penetrating to the down, and dust and leaves brush off easily. The stitching and fabric remain intact. I can't say it looks as good as new, for I never saw it new, having purchased it from a friend who was cleaning out his gear closet. But it's in great condition. I washed it by hand immediately after buying it but haven't needed to do so since.
At less than four pounds (1.8 kg) this is in my opinion a reasonably lightweight couple's system, and it takes up less pack room than the other alternative I've used. Based upon use at 20 F (-7 C) I am confident that its minimum temperature for two is well below that figure.
All in all, a very practical couple's sleeping system. Versatile too, as I've made independent use of the second Blanket, and have lent it to friends for solo use.
The only unpleasant thing about this bedtime arrangement is its cost. I benefited from finding one Blanket offered on sale by Nunatak and the other at a discount because it had been used, and was lucky enough to acquire two Blankets that when paired suited my requirements. Luck it surely was; another consequence of dealing with a cottage provider is that there simply aren't so many of its products in the field. I don't often see any Nunatak quilt offered on the secondary market. But a sleep system, particularly one used in sub-freezing temperatures, is not a place where I think it prudent to cut corners. I rate my two-Blanket arrangement good value and recommend it to any couple whose budget has room for it.