Contributed byGlenn Hecko, 12/99


The quilt described here is simply a sandwich of 1.1 oz ripstop nylon with 2 inches of Primaloft insulation in between. The quilt drapes over you like a blanket. There is no bottom. I was very skeptical that this would suffice for keeping me warm. It does a fantastic job.

The principle is simple. Stop heat from escaping from your body. Hot air rises so you need more barrier stopping heat transfer above you. Sleeping bags insulate by loft i.e. They have to be fluffy to work. If they are flat they do not insulate well. What do you think happens to the bottom part of the sleeping bag you lay on? It gets flattened and does not insulate well. So why have it? It is just extra weight and space in your pack. You need a good light ground pad to provide insulation, but you probably already have one. I thought there was no way this could work. I have been comfortable in the mid 30's though. I will not go back to a bag. I plan to make a bivy sack next which will add more warmth. Should I ever require more warmth a vapor barrier or an extra layer of clothes will suffice.

Glenn's Quilt

Materials List

  • 2 rectangular pieces of fabric 42 by 78 inches.
  • 2-inch-thick insulation also 42 by 78 inches (2*48*72)
  • Thread
  • Thicker gauge thread or yarn
  • Sewing machine
  • Cardboard
  • Needle(s)
  • Pins


    This will work only for continuously woven insulation. If you have loose fill insulation like down this method will not work.

    You can use whatever fabric you like. I chose 1.1 oz ripstop nylon. One color should be light - that will be the top or outer side and one layer should be dark - this will be the bottom. The dark bottom minimizes heat transfer from your body and the lighter top color minimizes radiant heat loss.

    For insulation I used Primaloft(R). I wanted 2 inches of loft so I used a double layer of insulation. Do not worry about fastening the two layers together. The finished rectangle of insulation must be the same size as your fabic though.

  1.  Sew the rectangles of fabric together on three sides with the outsides facing each other (if your fabric has different sides) to form a pocket that is open on one of the narrow ends. You should use a 1/2 inch seam around the edges. You can double stitch if you feel durability may be a problem. I did not.

  2.  Now place the layer of insulation on top of your pocket of fabric and pin in place. Sew the insulation to the fabric SEWING AROUND THE SAME THREE SIDES. Follow your previous stitching as a guide. You should use the same 1/2 inch seam.

  3.  You now have a pocket of fabric with one end open with insulation sewn to the top of it. Turn the fabric inside out so that the layer of insulation is sandwiched between the two layers of fabric.

  4.  Make sure that you now have the side of the fabric you want showing on the outside and sew the open end of the pocket shut forming a blanket. Use a 1/2 inch seam again.

  5.  The end that you have just sewn shut will be the foot end since the ugly stitching is exposed. Fold the rectangle in half the long way. Make sure the dark inner fabric is on the outside and the light fabric on the inside. Sew the end of the quilt you just stitched closed. This hides the unfinished seam you made when you sewed the pocket closed. Turn the quilt right side out. You now have the light side on top and the dark side on the bottom. There should be a pouch of sorts at one end.

  6.  Now you need to stop the insulation from moving around on you. Cut a long strip of cardboard the same thickness as the loft you want your bag to be. Place the cardboard strip edgewise on the top of the quilt in one top corner. Take thicker thread or yarn and with a large needle pass the yarn down through the quilt to the other side. Now pass the yarn back through to the top on the other side of the cardboard. Knot the yarn on top of the cardboard. Remove the cardboard strip. You now have a loop that is the matching height of your loft so it will stop the insulation from bunching up, but will allow it to loft. Repeat this loop making procedure at 8-12 inch intervals on the quilt.

    You are now finished - enjoy.

Glenn's Quilt

The Finished Product

My finished size was 40 by 76 inches and weighed about 1.479 lbs. I have used it in temps in the low 30s and I have been comfortable.

Glenn Hecko, 12/99

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