I've been looking for a specialized fastpacking sleep solution for a couple of years. I've talked to Ben (Goosefeet) and Joe (ZPacks) about custom work, but solutions always bordered on the weights of the lightest bags, and I have a 1 pound bag already. I just didn't need yet another sleeping bag or quilt that simply saved me a few ounces over what I already have. Another problem I introduced was the fact that I wanted something that could be worn while at camp or doing chores. Part of my ultimate solution was giving up the idea of wearing a sleeping quilt/bag and incorporating my clothing as part of the system, something I do already....I recently camped in temps below 20F with a 35 degree bag by wearing clothing in conjunction and was plenty toasty. I bought the Enlightened Equipment Enigma 50 degree quilt with this in mind. In order to completely understand how the quilt fits in I should explain the clothing that goes with it, two pieces that are made for active wear. Besides a next to skin shirt I have a Montbell Ultra Light Shell Jacket that weighs in at slightly over 5 ozs (size L). Instead of going with a delicate and light down jacket made for camp, I decided to add the Arcteryx Atom LT Hoody; it incorporates a proven synthetic insulation plus a design that is made for activity. I've already tested this jacket in cold uphill climbs and moderate terrain, and am quite satisfied.
I've spent a number of nights out with no bag of any kind, or with substitutes like a DIY M50 envelope and a Blizzard long jacket and tube. I am very tuned in to my insulation needs as a result of some chilly nights along with hot ones where my system was total overkill. I think it's very important for people to understand their needs thru experience before paring down their kit to something as minimal as this quilt and clothing. I wanted something very light, minimalist, versatile, and hopefully manufactured in the US. The Enlightened Equipment Enigma 50 degree quilt perfectly fit the bill. The quilt (the workmanship is impeccable) weighs in at less than 10 ozs. Knowing that this is part of a system intended for typical summer weather in the Pacific Northwest, let's take a close look at the quilt.....
I received the quilt almost exactly 3 weeks after ordering it, right in line with what the website says. In terms of custom cottage gear service, this is a relatively short time. The total package includes a silnylon stuff sack, some straps to secure it to a sleeping pad if needed, and a nice stow bag.
The next series shows the square footbox and baffle height. The listed loft of the 50 degree Enigma is 1 inch, but I found it to be slightly more. I ordered this in the DownTek 850 version. I am confident how this will perform in my regular usage based on past experience, but I have not had experience with the new hydrophobic down. The performance of this down versus regular weights of 800 to 900 will have to be ascertained after a season in the field.
This is important! I opted for the size Regular which is listed for people up to 5'10". I am exactly 6 feet tall (165 lbs). When I lay flat on my back with my feet centered in the footbox (so as not to compress any of the down) you can see exactly where the quilt comes in relation to my head. This is what I expected and it is fine for my expected coupling with the Atom LT Hoody in colder temps (with the addition of a hat if needed). Users who want the quilt to come up over the ears obviously need to order the appropriate size in accordance with the Enlightened Equipment website.
Enigma size Regular, me at 6' tall.My method of sleeping outdoors is about 80 percent on my sides. With slightly bent legs the bag can come up my head higher if needed. Very seldom have I ever used the hood on any of my sleeping bags, even in chillier shoulder season temps (below freezing).
In sum, this sub 10 oz bag was purchased as part of a total sleep system using clothing, along with a NeoAir XLite full length pad and a ZPacks Pertex Quantum bivy. It fits into a fastpacking kit that is designed for long days on the trail where I stop only to catch some sleep. The clothing plays an important part in this kit as far as temperature regulation. Two pieces I have to specifically go along are the Montbell Ultra Light Shell Jacket (5 ozs) and the Arcteryx Atom LT Hoody (13.5 ozs). The toasty square footbox (tested at home) negates the need for extra sleep footwear, like down booties. Although I won't be using this on any trips this winter, I plan on this system being my solo kit for the entire Spring/Summer/Fall season. My familiarity with my body's insulation needs in varying weather and conditions, along with various sufferfests I have experienced over the past few decades, means that I can, with a high degree of confidence, predict the performance limitations of this piece of gear. Be aware that the Enigma series offers other down options besides the hydrophobic and is available from 0 to 50 degrees in 10 degree increments. This information is straight off the Enlightened Equipment Website:
SHIFTLESS Baffle System – Our unique baffles eliminate down shift keeping the down positioned where you need it. SHIFTLESS baffles do not require overstuffing to perform as desired but we still add 5% to account for loss of loft between washings. The baffles over the torso are closed off keeping that down positioned over the sleeper all night despite any movement underneath. The side baffles connect to the footbox allowing down to be moved out of the very edge of the quilt which is tucked under you into the foot to increase foot warmth if desired.
Adjustable Neck closure – A snap secures the quilt around you and the center draw cord is easily adjusted by pulling it inside the quilt. This closures can be opened when the sleeper gets warm and closed tight when needed to seal drafts.
Flat Foot Box – A knee length flat footbox replaces our typical zipper/drawcord setup. The flat footbox allows the quilt to be made shorter saving weight while still being roomy and very warm.
Removable Under-strap System – Elastic webbing and flat buckles secure the quilt around you, your pad or easily un-clip to leave at home. One below the shoulder and a second mid back.
Additional Pad attachment straps– Comes with removable webbing straps that secure the quilt on top of any sleeping pad. (used in place of the elastic straps)
Made in Winona MN– We are proud to build quality products locally in our small neighborhood shop
I encourage you to visit the Enlightened Equipment website if you are in the market for sleep gear and support another quality cottage gear company that manufactures here in the US.
(Disclaimer: I paid full price for this item)
Enigma Regular..."54″ head half tapered to 40″ foot."
on 2015-01-16 02:02 by Steve
I used this quilt as my only bag for the past season. I would consider this quilt a specialty purchase, in that it's a lot of money for a bag that can be used in particular circumstances. I purchased this Enigma before the sizes were standardized and the EE offerings were in their current form. I stand at 6 feet, and this quilt at the time was listed as appropriate for people up to 5'10". However, I knew exactly what to expect fit wise; the bag is a good length to cinch under my chin/head but there is no extra to pull over the head. However, if one buys a 50 degree rated bag one should not be anticipating conditions warranting burying oneself in down past the ears to stave off the chill.
This brings me to my usage and my requirements; I wanted just enough coverage to stave off morning chill when I am fast packing. A prime example, in September I covered 65 miles of the Wonderland Trail over 40 hours with no planned itinerary....I just hit it and played it by ear. I did not plan on camping, hence I had no need for permits; rather, I planned on stopping for a few hours to rest when the urge hit me. My resting ensemble consisted of a custom 3/4 length bivy and an extra large long cut ZPacks Challenger jacket. No tent or tarp. I had a half length Z Rest pad and my ZPacks pointy hat for my feet. Aside from my clothing, I brought this Enigma bag, just enough to keep me warm wearing my clothes and pulled up around my chest inside the jacket. For me this is the ideal use for this bag, where the pack is miniscule and the equipment needs to be the lightest, where I am spending most of my time moving and little time prone. The bag is light enough (9.75 ozs) and small enough where I also brought it as part of my emergency overnight kit for day hikes.
This didn't prevent me from using it more traditionally. My daughter and I went on an 8 day jaunt into the Pasayten wilderness (WA) and this was my bag. It proved just enough in tent with a Neoair Xlite pad and all my clothes to keep me comfortable. I usually ended up cinching the draw cord up under my chin in the early hours. Would I have been better off with a nice 20 degree bag or quilt? Surely, with the only problem being how much to vent versus how much to cinch. But the bottom line is, it worked just fine, especially in light of how much my pack weighed carrying 10 days of food for two people in a bear can and an Ursack.
One doesn't need to do much searching to know that EE makes very high quality quilts and provides outstanding customer service. The construction is impeccable, the supplied stuff sacks (also a larger one for in home storage) are appropriately sized and, at least in my case, the stuffed package is small, and could be crammed even smaller. At under 10 ozs it perfectly fits my need for a fast packing sleep system, lighter than many puffy jackets but able to provide warmth over the total body. This may not be the quilt for more traditional 3 season backpacking but the decision should be based on one's needs and experience, not to mention budget. I tend to generate a lot of heat, known by my kids as "the furnace", and I can get away with less insulation. Also consider that I have a strange affection for suffering so were I to be a little chilly then no biggee. If your needs are similar to mine, then I can heartily endorse this lightest of the EE offerings.
on 2015-10-19 05:43 by Steve
2015 saw another season where I used this quilt for all but two of my trips, where temperatures were expected to be colder. Because of the compactness and stuffability of this excellent quilt, I was able to hike Mt. Hood's Timberline Trail (2 days/40 miles), the Wonderland Trail (3 days/93 miles), Mt. Adams Round The Mountain (2 days/35 miles), an early season report hike on the better part of the Wonderland (2 days/57 miles) plus others using a very small custom Zimmerbuilt backpack and frontpack. Along with clothing, this quilt kept me comfortable down into the low 40s. To sum, it's a fastpacker's delight!