The Better Backpacking Quilt - Innovation in Warmth & Comfort
January 29, 2022
The Zenbivy Quilt is the central part of our sleep system and the most advanced backpacking quilt on the market. We've spent years perfecting and developing technology to prevent the most common problems faced with backpacking quilts.
You know the ones we're talking about....
Drafty holes in the footbox cinch that make your feet cold
Baffle designs that allow down to shift drastically, creating cold spots throughout the night
Drafts from everywhere -through poorly designed neck cinches and the sides of your quilt as you shift and turn over naturally
Hourglass-shaped quilts that "grab", twist, and constrict you in the night
Quilts that slide off in the middle of the night or don't keep you securely on your mattress and complicated strap systems that pin you to the mattress
It all adds up to a rough night's sleep in the outdoors...
We have worked tirelessly to solve these problems, with hundreds of nights of testing to work towards the ultimate sleep solution. The result is a backcountry sleep system with all the benefits of a quilt and none of the drawbacks. Here are a few technologies we have built to solve these common quilt problems:
The Problem: Drafty, Constricting Footboxes
Most convertible quilts feature a vertical zipper to close the footbox and a drawstring along the bottom edge to cinch it shut. While it's a simple and cheap way to build a footbox, the design forces the footbox into an hourglass shape that constricts movement inside the quilt. And creates a hole in the bottom that lets in cold air. It's ridiculous to ask folks who purchase a $300 quilt to just shove a sock in the hole at the bottom.
The Solution: The Origami Baffle™
The Zenbivy Quilt features a semi-rectangular shape. This design makes for a much bigger quilt, and when you close the foot box, our clips and shaped drawcord allow it to taper naturally, without pinching in around your knees. The bottom of the quilt creates a natural 2" baffle (the Origami Baffle™) that is then rolled inside, so that when you cinch the footbox shut, it blocks any and all possible drafts.
It's a vast improvement to past footbox designs and is as secure and draft-free as a mummy bag, without constriction.
The Problem: Drafts From Everywhere
If you've slept in a quilt, you'll know they can be drafty. Some quilts add various cinches and straps to try to address drafts, but often these “features” make the problem worse. When you cinch the top drawcord on most quilts, your quilt narrows and pulls upward, creating more drafts along the sides. Not Zenbivy…
The Solution: The Kylie-curve™
The Kylie-curve™ was invented by Kylie, one of the Zenbivy team members who had plenty of experience with these other quilts during her AT thru-hike and wanted a better way. The result is luxurious, genius, and most importantly, does what it's meant to do - stop drafts from all sides. The Kylie-curve™ is a 3/4 length baffle-backed drawstring along the top of the quilt. The shortened length allows the center portion to cinch and seal up around your neck, while the loose edges drape to block drafts along your sides. The Kylie-curve™ allows you to swivel under the quilt throughout the night - from your back, to side, to stomach - all without letting in any cold air.
The Problem: Cold Spots & Shifting Down
Many quilts have long continuous baffles - they are cheap to build, but they allow down to shift around a lot. Marketing claims it's a weight-saving strategy, but in reality, it doesn't save a lot of weight - it does save them a lot of money making your quilt. Baffles are complex, and they make filling your quilt with down much trickier. When they get to the backcountry with you, you're stuck shaking your bag like a madman trying to shift the down evenly to get a warm night's sleep. At the end of the day, they're wasting your time to save a dime.
The Solution: Thermally Mapped Baffles
We designed our Zenbivy Quilts for thermal efficiency, distributing the down fill to provide the most warmth where it's needed. We focus primarily on keeping the heat at both your core and your feet, but provide ample insulation in every chamber to keep you consistently warmer throughout the night.
Smaller baffles position the down precisely where it’s needed and minimize down-shift. Vertical baffles around the upper body prevent down from sliding off your shoulders while sleeping or turning over, and horizontal baffles on the top of the foot box keep down from shifting with foot movement.
The Problem (x2): No Hood & Keeping the Quilt on Your Mattress
In most quilts, you're either losing heat through your head, sleeping in your down hoodie, or you're wearing some ridiculously claustrophobic strap-on hood / balaclava. It's got some weird strap system with 4 feet of webbing and it's supposed to go under your armpits or something to secure… wait, what?? Once it's on, never mind taking it off in the middle of the night if you get too hot. You're wrapped in shock cord like the mummy bag you just ditched.
While we're on the topic of bungees and tie-downs, a common quilt conundrum is how to keep it, your pillow, and youon the sleeping pad. We could waste our words talking about the design of some strap systems... but you already know how we feel about those.
The Solution: The Zenbivy Light Sheet
The Light Sheet isn't needed in order to use the Light Quilt, but it makes the experience infinitely better. The Light Sheet solves many problems with sleeping in a traditional backpacking quilt and does so while adding very little weight. The luxurious full-width hood allows you to snuggle in on cold nights, insulating your head without the constriction of a mummy bag hood. It keeps your pillow right where you want it—under your head and not halfway across your tent. And for those who like to sleep on their stomach or back, it gives you a warm place to tuck in your arms.
The sheet also features patented hinged wings that clip to your quilt to keep both it and you securely on your mattress—even if you're an active sleeper! When clipped to these "hinges", the quilt is able to expand as needed based on your natural movement and then just as instantly it settles to wrap snuggly around you. This design not only relieves a traditional mummy bag's constriction, but keeps your quilt tucked securely around you to prevent any cold air from leaking in.
The Zenbivy Quilt is the most fully-featured backpacking quilt ever designed. We cut no corners, have developed it tirelessly, and have tested it in some of the most extreme environments, from Patagonia to Norway, all over the American west, and extensively in Alaska. It's not fully complete without integrating the Light Sheet but still elevates quilt design in almost every way. You need the best night's sleep to keep going on those long days in the backcountry and the Light Bed is built for that. It's light in the pack, but heavy on the comfort—built for serious performance and a seriously good night's sleep.
Good gear is versatile. Once you have a quilt, you're set for any trip. Since all Zenbivy clip quilts are compatible with all clip sheets, you can mix and match your quilt with different sheets and mattresses to optimize your setup for the adventure at...
Fixed footbox quilts are great because they’re super simple to use, but they can be constricting and they lack versatility and room to move around. Our patented, semi-fixed Fast Footbox™ design offers both the warmth of a mummy footbox and the width of an open quilt, and you transition between the 2 modes with just 1 simple clip.
There have been some changes here at Zenbivy recently! Here’s everything you need to know about the Fast Footbox™ vs. the Convertible Footbox, which one is right for you, and why the “rectangular mode” setup has been removed from the Light Sheets...