GoLite UltraLite 800 Fill 3-Season Quilts
By Raymond Estrella
November 06, 2012
North Western Minnesota, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
225 lb (102.00 kg)
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.
Web site: www.golite.com
Product: UltraLite 800 Fill 3-Season Quilts (two)
Year manufactured: 2010
MSRP: US$ 400.00 (but actually offered by them at $200.00)
Temperature rating: 20 F (-7 C)
Weight listed: 1 lb 5 oz (595 g)
Actual weight: 1 lb 6.7 oz (644 g)
Fill weight listed: 10.65 oz (302 g) of 800-fill goose down
Loft listed: 5 in (13 cm)
Actual loft observed: 5 in (13 cm)
Picture at right courtesy GoLite
Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty
The GoLite UltraLite 800 Fill 3-Season Quilt is the second generation of GoLite's top-of-the-line down-filled backpacking quilts. Fixing all the problems I had with the first generation, while retaining everything that made it nice I find this one makes an excellent introduction to the use of quilts for backcountry sleeping. Please read on for the details.
The GoLite UltraLite 3-Season Quilt (hereafter referred to as the UltraLite or quilt) is a well thought out backpacking quilt. It is a redesign of the Ultra 20, their first 800 fill down quilt.
The outer shell of the quilt is made of dark blue 20-denier nylon ripstop that has a DWR application (durable water repellent). The top 7 in (18 cm) and the 11 in (28 cm) high foot box are made of dark grey Pertex Shield, a waterproof breathable fabric. GoLite calls these Arid Zones as they are the locations most apt to be affected by moisture from condensation.
The inside lining is a very soft, shiny grey 30-denier polyester ripstop. At the top of the quilt there is a strong snap closure to hold the top edges together should that be needed, plus a pretty heavy drawstring that has a tethered cordlock to allow the opening to be snugged tight. There are also two removable grosgrain straps with tiny quick-release buckles as may be seen above. These straps may be wrapped around a sleeping pad, or they can be strapped around the user.
The UltraLite uses full-baffle construction (rather than quilted) to prevent cold spots. The baffles run horizontally every 5.75 in (15 cm).
There is a definite curve to the shape of the UltraLite. For this Short size it flares out to a maximum wide point of 46 in (117 cm) at approximately 13 in (33 cm) from the top. It is 35 in (89 cm) wide at the very top of the quilt. The inside length (measured from inside the footbox to edge) is 62 in (157 cm). It is said by GoLite to fit users to 66 in (168 cm).
The UltraLite comes with a stuff sack that does not put too much pressure on the quilt. If desired the quilt could compress another 10%. It also comes with a cotton storage sack that allows it to breathe while protecting it from dust and such.
My children have used the Golite quilts on backpacking and camping trips in California and Minnesota.
In California we spent two nights at Horseshoe Meadows high in the Sierra Nevada's east side. The elevation was 10,000 ft (3000 m) and the low temps at night were 40 F (4 C). Another high-country trip saw us at Round Valley in San Jacinto State Park at 9000 ft (2740 m) with lows the same.
In Minnesota we used them on the Superior Hiking Trail on the Beaver River. This trip saw some blustery weather but the coldest it got was around 45 F (7 C). We also used them backpacking one night in Itasca State Park at Cows Lake and one night camping at Lida Lake in Maplewood State Park.
All use was on Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pads, size Petite. Here is a picture of them at Horseshoe Meadows. You can tell which one is my daughters as there is a little stuffed dog on her pillow. Blackie has been to a lot of backcountry places.
As may be noticed in my many reviews of backpacking quilts I have really fallen in love with the comfort of quilts and the small volume they take in my pack. Every time I got a new quilt my twin children Emma and Raymond had to try them out by "camping" in the front room with them. (And yes, that means the sleeping pad must be used.) I always had to limit each quilt to one camping trip each just to keep them from being worn out before I ever got them outdoors. As they seemed to like them so much I decided to collaborate with Santa and the next Christmas saw new quilts and pads under the tree.
I always ask them what they want to take before packing for any trip and since getting the GoLite quilts they have not used their down sleeping bags once. (Well for 3-season I should say. My son is getting in to snow camping so he still uses a bag at times.) They really like their quilts. My daughter even took hers on a couple sleepovers to show off her weird sleeping bag. (The other girls' description, not Em's.)
I need to share the fact that I had the first GoLite 800 fill quilt, the Ultra 20. While I am eternally grateful for that quilt opening my eyes to quilt use I do have to say that I was quite disappointed by its loft. I had heard that GoLite redid the quilts and they said that they addressed "fill and quality issues". I decided to give them a try again as I really can't afford to spend the kind of money I have on my custom quilts for something that the kids will be grown out of in a few years.
Well I am happy to say that the UltraLites were much better than my old Ultra 20. I carefully checked both quilts as soon as I got them. (I bought them direct from GoLite, which is the only way to get them now.) Both quilts lofted up to a full 5 in (13 cm) between the baffles, a 25% increase on my old version. The weights were within 0.5 oz (14 g) of each other. The construction is very nice; there are no crooked baffles or seams.
My kids love the comfort of the UltraLites the most but they also really noticed the size and weight difference in their packs. They cut the weight of their bags in half! And I have no doubt that the quilts are less than half the packed size of their 600 fill bags. We don't even use the stuff sacks, instead they do like Dad does and just shove the quilt in the bottom of their pack and then put their pad and spare clothes on top of that.
They did not want the straps on the quilts (like Dad, hmmm) so they were taken off right away.
GoLite puts a "suggested price" of $400.00 on their site which is just a ridiculous amount. But they don't really charge that, instead they have it listed for $200.00. They have recently gone to a direct sale model and I think the MSRP is what it "could be" if marked up at a retail store. At $200.00 I think it is a good price, especially for new users like my kids as they will grow out of them, plus there was always the possibility that they would not like them once they tried them in the field.
The materials used are a good balance of weight and durability that keeps costs down, but also keeps the quilts from being too heavy.
I would like to say that this is proven out by the durability of the kids' quilts but honestly they don't have the kind of bag nights to put this to the test. Besides the kids having limited opportunity to hike with me Minnesota also has a very short kid-friendly hiking season. But as I sit here writing this the UltraLite quilts look like new. (The kids are like me, we get in the water at the end of each hiking day so our sleeping gear stays pretty clean.) The loft is still as high as when they got them.
The children are shooting up suddenly. Our trip in July on the Superior Hiking Trail I saw that it would have to be the last for their 60 in (152 cm) pads so I am guessing that next summer they will be out of the quilts too. At this point I expect that I will be replacing them with a larger model of the same thing. I leave with a shot of them in our Hogback tent on the banks of the Beaver River.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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