ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT ENIGMA TOPQUILT
BY ROBB PRATT
December 28, 2018
unicornv007 AT yahoo.com
Canton, Michigan, USA
5' 10" (1.80 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend long trips a year. I also car camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year when we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.
|Quilt, Open and Spread Out|
Manufacturer: Enlightened Equipment
Year of Manufacture: December 2017
Listed weight: 17.35 oz (492 g)
Weight as delivered: 17.5 oz (497 g)
* Length: Regular (6 feet / 1.8 m)
* Width: Regular (54 inches / 137 cm)
MSRP: US $365
Description: The Enlightened Equipment Enigma is a light-weight top quilt with a sewn-closed footbox. It has a snap and drawstring around the neck to fine-tune draft control. It contains clips sewn into each side and a set of elastic straps to allow it to be attached to a pad. The body is tapered starting near the waist to minimize weight. The down is sourced from a certified supplier to make sure the feathers are collected ethically (no live-plucking or forced-feeding). The down is also treated to resist moisture and dry quicker than untreated down if it gets wet. Enlightened Equipment offers a variety of color, down, length and width combinations. I calculated over 350,000 different configurations possible. I purchased a top quilt rated at 20F (-6C), made with 950 Down using both regular length and width. The outside fabric is Purple 10D while the inside fabric is Navy 10D. Besides the elastic straps, it also shipped with a silnylon stuff sack and a cotton storage bag.
FIELD USE SUMMARY
I've used the Enlightened Equipment Enigma on 10 trips (28 Nights) for the 2018 camping season - using it as my primary choice of top insulation in both a hammock and a tent. The temperatures have ranged from below freezing (26F / -3C) to much warmer (76F / 24C) where I'm more inclined to partially kick it off my body or sleep next to or on it. I have not gotten it wet but there has been rain on the trips, making the air very humid.
* 2 Nights - April 20-22nd, 2018 - Kensington Metro Park (Milford, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperature was 26F (-3C) on the first night and 30F (-1C) on the second night. While there was no precipitation, the dew point was right next to the temperature, resulting in frost build-up at night on exposed surfaces. I slept in a hammock.
* 1 Night - May 11-12th, 2018 - Private Property (Lake, Michigan - USA). Nighttime weather was 37F (3C) with light rain most of the evening and into the early morning. Total precipitation was 0.16 inches (0.4 cm). I slept in a hammock.
* 1 Night - May 26-27th, 2018 - Jordan River Pathway (Alba, Michigan - USA). Nighttime weather was 62F (17C) with a thunderstorm that dropped 0.23 inches (0.6 cm) of rain. This was a backpacking trip where I did 18 miles (29 km) with a pack weight of 27.6 lbs. (12.5 kg) including food, water and camping gear. I slept in a small 2-person tent.
* 7 Nights - June 23-30th, 2018 - Cole Canoe Base (Alger, Michigan USA). Nighttime temperature went down to a low of 41F (5C) to a high of 76F (24C). The humidity was relatively high throughout the week and there was one day of rain that started in the middle of the night and continued until mid-afternoon. Estimated rainfall was 0.25 inches (0.6 cm). I slept in a hammock.
* 5 Nights - July 9-15th, 2018 - Blackwoods Campground at Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor, Maine USA). Nighttime temperature ranged between 48-60F (9-16C) but felt much warmer due to the higher humidity. There was however, no precipitation. I slept in a large 8-person tent.
* 4 Nights - August 1-5th, 2018 - Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising, MICHIGAN - USA). Nighttime temperature ranged between 49-64F (9-18C). It rained several times during the trip but the accumulation was negligible. This was a backpacking trip where I did 23 miles (37 km) with a pack weight of 41-45 lbs. (19-20 kg) including food, water and camping gear. I slept in a hammock.
* 2 Nights - August 11-13th, 2018 - Jordan River Pathway (Alba, Michigan - USA). Nighttime weather was 55F (13C) with high humidity but no rain. This was a backpacking trip where I did 18 miles (29 km) with a pack weight of 25 lbs. (11 kg) including food, water and camping gear. I slept in a hammock .
* 2 Nights - August 31st - September 2nd, 2018 - at Private Grounds (Farmington Hills, MICHIGAN - USA). Nighttime weather cooled down to 70F (21C) and there was a good thunderstorm during 1 day and gentle rain throughout the second night. I estimated the water accumulation at 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) and the wind gusts up to 30 mph (48 kmh). I slept in a hammock.
* 2 Nights - September 28-30th, 2018 - Kensington Metro Park (Milford, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperature low was 38F (3C). It rained throughout the second night and into the daytime. I slept in a hammock.
* 2 Nights - October 19-21st, 2018 - D-Bar-A Scout Camp (Metamora, Michigan - USA). Nighttime temperatures low was 28F (-2C). It rained and sleeted during the second day and into the evening hours. I slept in a hammock.
Looking to lighten my backpacking load, I made the decision to change from a traditional mummy sleeping bag to a top quilt. My first pass at this was a DIY project that was fairly successful but had some cold spots and a spotty sew job. After researching potential vendors, I chose Enlightened Equipment as they had a lot of different options - especially some very light weight choices and the company had good online reviews. I placed my order near the end of November 2017 during the busy holiday season and was given an order number and told 3-5 weeks for delivery. True to their promise, my new top quilt shipped and was received in time for Christmas.
The quilt arrived with a very handy storage bag and a travel bag. The travel bag was very thin and small, ideal for backpacking except that I use a cinch sack or waterproof sack most of the time. The storage bag though is great. Not only does the bottom of it specifically have the details of the quilt which is great for reading what it is on the shelf, but the outside "top" has cleaning instructions.
|Storage Sack Bottom|
|Storage Sack Top with Cleaning Instructions|
Taking it out of the bag, I checked over the sewing. All the seams were beautifully done, with no ragged edges or loose, untrimmed threads. I wish my own sewing skills were this good.
|Close-up of Seams|
The footbox also looked very nice and after only a few shakes puffed up quite nicely. I'm not exactly sure how to measure baffle thickness but I took a shot at it. The picture is a little misleading as I see this at roughly 2.5 inches (6.3 cm) at the edge. This appears to be fairly consistent after lofting the quilt and I did not detect any weak spots.
The top quilt came with specially designed straps that (once connected) can wrap around a pad or mattress to prevent it from siding off. As my primary use is a hammock rig, I did not play around with the straps, other than to make sure they were present. I placed them in the storage bag so I would not lose them. I've also included a close picture of the strap connection sewn directly into the top-quilt. The clips work very easily.
|Clip Close View|
After receiving the top quilt, I checked around to make sure the household pets were nowhere to be found (I was afraid they would poke holes in the delicate material) and then laid down on the couch and tossed this on top of me. Under indoor, ambient temperatures, I warmed up fast and kicked it off my body after about 10 minutes.
INITIAL FIELD USE
For my Enlightened Equipment Enigma, my maiden voyage was a Boy Scout trip in mid-April 2018. Weather was predicted to be pretty cold at night but I knew I had a good plan on paper. Things don't always work in practice which is what I found out.
Night 1 - I rate it about a 2 out 10 hot chocolates. It could be worse, but not by much. The nighttime temperature plummeted down to 26F (-3C).
* Gear Setup: hammock, a hammock travel sock, a tarp with doors on it, the 20F (-7C) Enlightened Equipment Enigma Topquilt, 20F (-7C) rated underquilt and a sleeping bag liner that was supposed to add 15F (8C) warmth.
* Clothing Setup: thin polyester long sleeve shirt, merino wool sweatshirt, fleece sweatshirt, thin polyester pants, fleece pants, 2 pairs of wool socks, merino wool stocking cap, fleece mittens and a buff.
* Experience: Despite the clothing layering, I was very cold but I believe it was self-inflicted and not the fault of the top quilt. I strung my underquilt up incorrectly as the lines were hidden by the travel sock. End result is I had a massive gap on one side that led to some serious cold butt syndrome (CBS) that in my groggy state, I didn't get up to fix until about 6am. Overall, my top surface (hands, face and chest) felt warm and the quilt was easy to slide over my body. The quilt though was not enough to keep me warm from the airflow underneath the hammock. It was just an overall miserable evening. After adjustments, I had high hopes on night 2 or perhaps retreating to my car and an inflatable mattress if things didn't work better.
Night 2 - I rate it about a 9 out of 10 on my hot chocolate scale. In contrast, things went incredibly well and I was warm most of the night. The nighttime temperature was only slightly warmer, but still registered at 30F (-1C).
* Gear Setup: hammock, a hammock travel sock, a tarp with doors on it, the 20F (-7C) Enlightened Equipment Enigma Topquilt, 20F (-7C) rated underquilt, a sleeping bag liner that was supposed to add 15F (8C) warmth.
* Clothing Setup: thin polyester long sleeve shirt, thin polyester pants, 1 pairs of wool socks, merino wool stocking cap (added about half way through evening)
* Experience: I learned my lesson the previous night and adjusted the bottom quilt to fit correctly. Honestly, it really was my fault that first night for not checking the connections better. Anyway, climbing in, I noticed an immediate difference such that I shed clothing layers down to my base layer. It really was very warm inside my "nest". The Enigma top quilt did a great job, granted it was combined with several other elements (the travel sock and the liner) but I did not notice even any cold spots. It also felt very comfortable to the skin such that I ended up removing the sleeping bag liner and instead using that as a makeshift pillow.
|Top quilt Close-up in Hammock|
LONG TERM USE
For my additional trips noted above, the Enlightened Equipment Enigma worked exceedingly well - I've used it now over 10 trips and 28 nights just this year. As the weather conditions improved in temperature, I dropped using the sleeping bag liner, the travel sock and spare clothing. If it has gotten really hot, I've even kicked it off to the side or slept on top of it. When tent camping, I did not use the straps to connect it to the sleeping pad. I prefer being able to toss the quilt off to regulate my personal temperature. In the fall time, the temperatures dropped significantly again where I went back to using the liner and sock. The only times I have gotten chilly - even on the coldest nights - have been when it has pulled off my shoulders. If it had a hood build into it, it may have stayed on my shoulders or kept my head warmer but that would have been excess weight and I believe I would have grown frustrated with it in hot weather.
Overall, I have found it works great in my hammock. The down is easy to puff up and I have not noticed any cold spots.
From a comfort standpoint, I continue to like how it feels against my skin unless it's very humid. While it's not soft like cotton or fleece, it does not have a clammy feel like my old synthetic bag does. The top quilt is also incredibly easy to get into and I do not feel the confining, claustrophobic space that my old sleeping bag gave me.
|Top quilt View Inside of Hammock|
Overall, I really love my top quilt. I liked the options that Enlightened Equipment offers for color, down and design - I really feel like I made a personal choice in the gear that's unique to me. I also really enjoy how easy it is to get into the top quilt and the level of warmth it adds when I'm camping. Furthermore, it's a huge reduction in weight from my old mummy-style sleeping bag. As a final note there, I have enjoyed my Enigma quilt enough that I convinced a friend to purchase one as well. He has also greatly enjoyed his now too and we usually backpack once a year together.
1. Color Options - love being able to get exactly the palette of colors that I wanted
2. Weight - incredibly light weight
3. Usage Ease - much less restrictive than a mummy bag and easy to climb into when using a hammock rig
4. Warmth Provided - great job of keeping me warm in cold weather
1. Silnylon stuff sack - wish it was either a real compression sack or at least water proof. That's minor though. I already own both and having another stuff sack just meant a spare stuff sack that I will use for something entirely different (like my clothes or perhaps using it as a pillow).
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