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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Quilts and Blankets > Jacks R Better Sierra Stealth Quilt > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Stealth Backpacking Quilt
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW

November 19, 2013

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 53
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 213 lb (96.60 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.

The Product

Manufacturer: Jacks 'R' Better, LLC
Web site: www.jacksrbetter.com
Product: Sierra Stealth Quilt
Size: Long
MSRP: US $209.95
MSRP as delivered: US $224.90
Year manufactured/received: 2012
Temperature rating: 40-45 F (4-7 C)
Weight listed w/ overfill: 17 oz (482 g)
Actual weight of mine: 17.85 oz (506 g)
Color: Black
Fill: 900 fill-power goose down
Amount of down fill: N/A
Loft listed: 1.5 in (3.8 cm)
Loft observed (highest points): up to 2 in (5 cm) between quilted seams.
Averaged loft: 1.5 in (3.8 cm)

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

The nicely priced Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Stealth Backpacking Quilt is an ingenious multi-tasking piece of lightweight gear. Not only is it the main part of a light weight summer sleeping system, but it has Transformer-like attributes, turning into a warm garment with the tug of a seam. I even used it in the dead of winter. Please read on for the details.

Product Description

The Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Stealth Backpacking Quilt (hereafter referred to as the Stealth or the quilt) is the lightest, and carries the highest temperature rating, of the company's Wearable Quilts line.

Top of the Stealth


The Stealth's shell (inside and outside) is made of 1.1 oz 30d ripstop nylon. It is made with a sewn-through quilted design with the seams forming the down-filled pockets approximately 5.5 in (14 cm) apart. The Stealth is offered in either 800-fill down, 800 Activ-Dri down, or, as in the case of my quilt, 900-fill down. Mine also has an optional 1 oz (29 g) of overfill added. The company also says that they "provide a 15-22% overstuff factor in all our quilts", which seems to be borne out by the actual weight of my quilt.

Inside


At the foot the Stealth has a flat, envelope-style footbox that is 18 in (46 cm) wide at the bottom and is 20 in (51 cm) deep. This optional footbox (free for the asking at the time of writing) is sewn-in. While I am not a fan of putting sleeping pads inside of my quilts I will say (for those that may be so inclined) that a standard pad will not slide in, but a tapered or mummy-shaped pad will.

For those that like to attach their quilts by going around the pad the Stealth has 6 nylon loops (three on each side) that the end-user may thread with cord, or attach straps with flat buckles to. One of the center loops has a small carabiner-style clip attached to it, more about the carabiner later.

The top edge of the quilt is 52 in (132 cm) wide and has a drawstring sewn into the top edge. The drawstring has a cord-lock on each end. There are no snaps or other attachment devices at the top to allow the Stealth to be closed, but I suppose the drawstrings can be tied if so desired. According to my tape measure the Stealth, like me, is 76 in (193 cm) long.

There's a hole in my quilt.


Stuffed and stored
At the middle of the quilt the Stealth hides a little secret. There is a 13 in (33 cm) wide opening hidden along one of the seams. It is almost invisible when just viewing the quilt from the inside or outside. (Go ahead, scroll back up and look for it, I'll wait…;-) The opening is held closed by the use of Omni-Tape. This is a brand of hook-and-loop fastener that has both "hook" and "loop" on each side. This results in much less snagging than is the norm from other "hook"-side tapes I have on other gear. Once the hidden seam is opened the Stealth may be put over the user's head turning the quilt into a serape, or poncho-type of garment. The carabiner that is on the center loop is used to fasten the edges together by clipping into the matching loop on the other side. Now the Stealth may be used to keep warm in camp at night or in the morning while packing up.

The same Omni-Tape that lines the opening is also found on the company's Down Hood (see accompanying review) which allows the hood to be attached to the quilt making for a much warmer garment. It should be noted that Jacks 'R' Better also makes Down Sleeves to take this concept even further. When wearing the Stealth it can be left loose or the sides may be pulled close to my body and held in place with the fore mentioned carabiner. This is a much warmer way to use the Stealth.

As seen above the Stealth comes with a silnylon drybag-style compression sack that weighs 1.4 oz (39 g). The sack turns the Stealth into a black ball the size of a small cantaloupe, about 7 in (18 cm) in diameter. It also comes with a cubical comforter storage bag. At first I thought, "no way am I keeping a backpacking quilt in a plastic cube", but then I saw that it has breathable sides so it keeps it clean and lets the quilt breathe. Nice touch Jacks…

Field Data

Coldest trip of the year


All use took place in the State of Minnesota. I used it during the winter as an overbag twice, and my son used it that way once. My trips saw lows of -22 F and -10 F (-30 & -23 C) with all campsites on snow. Above is a picture of the Stealth used in this fashion at Anaway Lake in Chippewa National Forest on the coldest day.

I also used it quite a bit in its intended fashion this past summer. It went with me for numerous backpacking trips to the Halstad area on my side of the state (west), plus trips to Itasca State Park, Chippewa National Forest and Paul Bunyan State Forest for a total of about 8 nights. Below is a shot taken above the Red River of the North.

On the Red

Observations

Let me start off by saying that backpacking quilts are my favorite type of sleep gear in the field. I find the comfort and low weight and volume of them to work very well for me and my toss & turn, side-sleeping style. I have an article here that explains it in more detail that I invite anybody that is interested in quilts to read.

This past year I focused on using two quilts for the entire winter, spring and summer with my son Raymond helping me collect data points. While I have been using backpacking quilts for many years (and have many reviews here at BackpackGearTest.org) this is the first quilt I have owned from Jacks 'R' Better. I have used older quilts from them when backpacking with a friend and fellow gear tester that owns two of the Sierra Sniveler quilts. For years I had been suggesting that my UL (ultralight ) brother-in-law Dave try one of the wearable quilts from Jacks to take advantage of the multi-use aspect, which he never did. So when I had the opportunity to get one myself I jumped on it.

Jacks 'R' Better is very big with the hammock crowd and their designs are mostly aimed at that use. Since I am a "ground dweller" (tent user) I liked that the Stealth was offered in a sewn-in footbox style. Its footbox is deeper and wider than most of my other quilts which makes it more comfortable as it is less confining.

Raymond snow camping with dad.


As mentioned above, I started out my use of the Stealth as an overbag in winter. The concept of overbags has been around for a long time. Traditionally a large warm-weather bag is placed over a narrower cold-weather bag to create one lofty sleep system good for extreme cold. I believe that insulation under me from a bag is a waste as my body weight just compresses it rendering it negligible as far as R-value goes. Instead I use a good pad for bottom insulation. Therefore I would rather use a quilt over the top of the sleeping bag and save the weight and volume in my pack. In the shot above my son Raymond has the Stealth over his 20 F (-7 C) sleeping bag. (He is wearing the Jacks Down Hood too.)

I used it with a 0 F (-18 C) rated bag with great success. The Stealth (and the other quilt I reviewed this year) allowed me to use the sleeping bag well past the time I would normally be breaking out my extreme cold bags. I highly recommend the practice as it is an inexpensive way to take sleep gear further.

During the winter I also made use of the wearable aspect of the Stealth. I was helping a gear manufacturer by beta testing a parka that was not really meant for our kind of winters. (Yes, I am the guy that pushes the envelope, or as mom says, is just plain crazy.) On most backpacking trips I took a gear sled and had room to bring a huge parka for use in camp when it got too cold for the beta coat. But on one trip to Smokey Hills State Forest I left the big parka and just used the Stealth and the optional Down Hood over the beta coat. It actually worked quite well. I could have made it even warmer by putting my rain shell over the whole works. Here is a pic of me styling in the winter wonderland.

Yes I am wearing my quilt. So what?


As a summer warm-weather quilt the Stealth was great. Unlike the mountains I am used to hiking in when I lived in California summers in Minnesota never see the low temp go much below 40 F (4 C) if even that low. So the Stealth was the perfect temp rating for me. I have to say that with the extra ounce (28 g) of down plus the normal over-stuff makes this quilt good to about freezing in my opinion. I was never cold in it on any of my trips.

I really like the 900-fill down. It allows the Stealth to pack down to a miniscule size. Although to tell the truth I never used the stuff sack. In winter I just packed it along with my sleeping bag in its stuff sack. For the 3-season hiking I just placed it in the bottom of my pack and placed all my other gear on top letting the weight of the gear compress the quilt as needed. Having such a tiny quilt helped me to use a daypack for two and three-day trips. I guess a small shelter helps too. Here is the Stealth in my Sublite at Waboose Lake near the North Country Trail in Chippewa National Forest.

In Sublite


It has certainly handled the stuffing well, I see no wear or pulled seams. I keep my gear pretty clean and always wear base layers to sleep in so the Stealth has not needed to be laundered yet.

I think that the Sierra Stealth is a pretty good value with quite a bit of Bang for the Buck. I have custom quilts that are lighter and/or warmer for the weight. But they cost more than TWICE as much as the Stealth and had months of waiting time to receive. The Jacks 'R' Better quilts are mostly in-stock items and can be had quickly. I think that the wearable factor increases its value. I leave with a picture of it sitting between my children's quilts at Halverson Lake in Paul Bunyan State Forest.

Uno, dos, tres quilts

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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