Jacks 'R' Better OLD RAG MTN QUILT
BY EDWIN MORSE
April 10, 2012
ed dot morse at charter dot net
Grawn, Michigan USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lb (32 kg) with food but no water. Since then I have made one- and two-week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. A few years ago I did a 2-week hike on Isle Royale, Michigan, western Lake Superior. Starting pack weight was 32 lbs (14.5 kg), including 10 days of food and 3 L of water. I'm slowly learning what lighter gear works.
Manufacturer: Jacks 'R' Better, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/
MSRP: US$ 299.95
I have the Regular size at 78 in by 48 in (198 cm by 122 cm) with 800 fill power goose down, the only model sold in 2008.
Now they have the Long size at 86 in by 48 in (218 cm by 122 cm).
Now both sizes are also available with 900 fill power goose down, at extra cost, of course.
Listed Weight: 25 oz (709 g)
Measured Weight: 26.2 oz (743 g), includes full length Omni-Tape
Listed Dimensions: 78 in (198 cm) by 48 in (122 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 78 in (198 cm) by 48 in (122 cm)
Listed Loft: 3.5 in (8.9 cm)
Listed Temperature Rating: 5 F to 10 F (-15 C to -12 C)
The Old Rag Mtn I purchased is a continuous baffled 48 in by 78 in (122 cm by 198 cm) rectangular quilt with down insulation. There is a draw string with cord locks at both head and foot end. There is a fabric loop at each of the four corners. The picture below both a corner loop and a cord lock on the draw string. The orange stuff sack is just for color contrast.
|corner loop and cord lock|
There is a fabric loop on the left side (if I'm lying on my back) 25 in (64 cm) up from the bottom.
|left side loop|
Also on the left side and 18 in (46 cm) down from the top is a flat string that extends 8 in (20 cm) out from the edge of the quilt. On the right side, 24 in (61 cm) down from the top is another fabric loop. The next picture shows both the fabric loop on the right and the flat string on the left side.
|string and loop|
I ordered the quilt with their Omni-Tape already applied. This hook-and-loop type tape is along the bottom of the quilt on both sides. It also extends six inches (15 cm) in from the corner along the foot end of the quilt. As shown in the pictures, the top of the quilt is bright green and the bottom is black.
I always hang the quilt up to air out when I return from a hike. The continuous baffles can be seen in the next picture.
|hanging to dry|
I've used the Old Rag Mountain quilt for more than 70 nights while backpacking in four different states, mostly in Michigan. This quilt is the only "sleeping bag" I've used since I got it in spring 2008. I first use all new gear in the backyard and then on an overnight hike before longer hikes. After trying a variety of pads I've settled on the NeoAir when I use a tent. I can sleep comfortably down to about 20 F (27 C) by adding clothes under the quilt. I like to sleep in my hammock but I don't yet have a good way to keep warm at lower temperatures. As the temperature drops below about 50 F (10 C) I start adding more clothes under the quilt. I always take wool socks for sleeping. If I know it will be close to freezing at night I will also take down booties.
Here are a few of the trips I've hiked with the Old Rag Mountain quilt:
High Country Pathway July 2008 This was a week-long 70 mile (113 km) loop hike in northeast Lower Michigan. Here is a picture from the fourth day of the hike. The quilt is just visible in the tent. This was a warm weather hike with nights seldom below 65 F (18 C) and days generally getting above 80 F (27 C). The one rainy night it dropped down to 50 F (10 C) and I had to pull the quilt tight all around. Here is a picture from the fourth day of the hike. The quilt is just visible in the tent.
|off the High Country Pathway|
Florida Trail, Ocala National Forest February 2009 This was about a 70 mile (113 km) hike on the Florida Trail. Here is a picture in the evening of the second day.
|Florida Trail Ocala National Forest|
Early the next morning the temperature dropped down to 22 F (-6 C) but was back up to 88 F (31 C) the last afternoon I was hiking.
Arrowhead Route Minnesota May 2009 I joined three other hikers for a 15-day hike in northern Minnesota. I switched tents after the first five days. Here is a picture of one of my tents with the quilt visible inside.
|Judge Magney State Park|
Here is another picture later at night from inside the tent.
|inside and in use|
Here is a picture of the second tent with the quilt just visible.
|on the Border Route Trail|
I hang the quilt to dry whenever I can. The quilt is just visible above my tent in this next picture.
The weather on this 15-day hike varied from hard blown-snow and 25 F (-4 C) to a nice sunny 75 F (24 C).
South Manitou Island, Lake Michigan June of 2009 I went with a group from the Grand Traverse Hiking Club for four days' hiking and base camping.
Lake Michigan Shoreline September 2009 A friend and I started what was planned to be a week hike along the Lake Michigan shoreline. After four days I had to quit due to an injury. With temperatures of 39 F (4 C) the first night and 50 F (10 C) the other two nights the quilt kept me warm while wearing wool socks, wool long johns and a long sleeve T shirt.
Manistee River Trail / North Country Trail May 2010 This was an overnight hike in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan. The weather was clear and cool. The temperature varied from the high of 56 F (13 C) when I started hiking down to 34 F (1 C) early in the morning.
North Country Trail Wisconsin August 2010 This four-day three-night hike was in conjunction with the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) annual meeting. The weather varied from a cool 60 F (16 C) and light rain to warm and sunny 85 F (29 C).
North Country Trail, Pere Marquette State Forest Michigan May 2011. The three-day started clear and sunny and changed to heavy clouds after a high of 85 F (29 C) in late afternoon. I just got my gear put way for the night when a light rain started that lasted most of the night.
The next day after a low of 54 F (12 C) reached a high of 85 F (29 C) again. That night I got lightening and hard rain.
USAGE, THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS
The Old Rag Mtn quilt is really too warm for much of the hiking I do. When I purchased the quilt Jacks 'R' Better did not provide a temperature rating, just the loft. If I had seen a temperature rating of 5 to 10 F (-15 to -12 C) I might have looked for something with less insulation. I've used a variety of different pads for comfort and warmth, including automobile windshield reflectors in the hammock. I always include a sleeping bag liner with my sleeping gear. My practice is to shake out the quilt as soon as the tent or hammock is up. Once the pad, mattress or whatever is ready I spread the quilt so it will loft as much as it can.
Jacks 'R' Better might have the Old Rag Mtn quilt now rated at 10 F to 15 F (-15 C to -12 C) but for me it is not that warm. I am just a cold sleeper. When the temperature gets down to 60 F (16 C) I have to start adding clothes, starting with a long sleeve tee shirt, long pants and wool socks. When it drops down to 40 F (4 C) I want long johns, heavy wool socks and a hat or hood. When I expect the temperature to get below freezing I want to add down booties and perhaps the hooded down sweater.
When I did the first hike with the quilt on the High Country Pathway I often started the night by just covering my feet with the quilt. Generally by early morning I would pull the quilt over me so I was loosely covered.
When the weather is warm I often push the quilt aside so it covers my feet with just the silk liner over the rest of me. As I get cooler I will pull the quilt over me like a blanket. When it gets cold I tighten the bottom cord and form a snug footbox using the Omni-Tape to hold it shut at the bottom. As I said earlier, I'm a cold sleeper. As it gets colder I will add long johns, a wool or fleece shirt and a knit hat or hood. Then when cold and windy I pull the sides of the quilt under my body and tighten to top cord.
I learned the good and bad about the Old Rag Mtn's continuous baffles the first cold night I was out. Somehow most of the down had shifted to the sides of the quilt. When I started to get really cold I had to find out why. There was almost no down in the middle of the quilt. After some experimenting I found I could shake the down and make it thick or thin where ever I wanted. I've learned that I get a lot of temperature adjustment by moving the down one way or the other. On warm nights I can work the down toward the sides. When the temperature drops I can shift more down toward the middle area so my body is covered by thicker insulation.
My feet get cold very easily even at home. After my Minnesota hike I've always carried either heavy wool socks or down booties for cold nights, and worn them inside the Old Rag Mtn quilt. When the temperature drops below about 45 F (7 C) I have to start adding clothes and pull the quilt tight around me to keep out drafts and cold air.
The nights on South Manitou Island were warm in late evening and down near freezing by sunrise. I would start the night with just my feet covered. By morning I added wool socks and a knit hat, soon I would have the quilt pulled snug and tight all around. Most of the adjusting I did without fully waking.
When hiking my down quilt is packed in a nearly waterproof stuff sack. Then it goes inside a heavy duty trash bag in the bottom of my pack. Anything else that must stay dry also goes in the trash bag. When the rain starts I add a silnylon pack cover. I have never had my sleeping gear and extra clothes get wet. Even the 24 hour downpour in Florida that killed my camera and made my GPS sick for several hours did not get my quilt wet.
When I purchase new gear I always look for and hope I get long life and durability. The Old Rag Mtn quilt has not been a disappointment. I can see no signs of wear. Occasionally a small piece of down has worked its way through the fabric but this has not happened very often. When I think about it, the Old Rag Mtn quilt has been a very durable piece of backpacking gear for me.
What I Like:
Basically a simple design which leads to
adaptability and flexibility.
By using clothes that I carry anyway I can adjust to much colder temperatures than I expected.
The light weight.
What I Don't Like:
I miss the pillow pocket of the last sleeping bag I sold. I'm still working on a solution.
Sometimes I get a cold breeze when I roll over.
The simple design requires thinking to find the most acceptable solution for each problem.
I really have to dig to find something not to like.
Edwin (Ed) Morse
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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