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How does the quilt work?
The ray-way quilt is used at camp or home for sleeping beneath at night. It works like a sleeping bag, but is open underneath you. You lie on your foam pad and drape the quilt over you like a blanket. But unlike a blanket, the quilt is contoured, so that it molds to the shape of your body. If desired you may tuck the edges of the quilt under you, but usually this is not necessary.
Why not use a sleeping bag?
The problem with a sleeping bag is your weight compresses the insulation under you nearly to nothing. These modern insulations depend on their thickness for warmth, so the part crushed beneath you does you no good. That is why you must also use a foam pad. Without the pad, the cold would come up from the ground, and pass through the sleeping bag's crushed insulation.
The ray-way quilt eliminates the useless part of the sleeping bag flattened beneath you. Our quilt is just as warm as a sleeping bag of equal thickness, but is much more efficient in terms of its reduced weight and bulk.
Prior to the advent of sleeping bags, people slept beneath blankets. In fact, the use of blankets made of animal hides probably dates back to the dawn of prehistory. Later, blankets were woven of many different materials. Until the late 1800's most outdoor enthusiasts camped with wool blankets. But when sleeping bags were introduced, blankets became obsolete. This was because sleeping bags were lighter and less bulky for the same warmth.
Our quilts have made sleeping bags obsolete for the same reasons:
They are lighter and less bulky without sacrificing warmth.
The use of a robe or blanket draped over a person is nothing new. Neither is the idea of unzipping a sleeping bag and draping it wide open over you like a blanket. What was new, in 1991, was our construction of a wide-open sleeping bag cut narrower and having no zipper - for the express purpose of saving bulk and weight. We called this modified configuration a "quilt," on behalf of the quilting yarns we used to secure the insulation. We carried this initial quilt on a summer-long hike, and it proved so successful that we have not used sleeping bags since.
To document our quilt concept we published it in The PCT Hiker's Handbook
Second Edition 1996. And of course we featured it also in Beyond Backpacking
Originally we intended the quilt for use in backpacking and camping. The weight savings alone justified that. But we have since found it works equally well for bicycle touring, sea-kayaking, and canoe tripping. It would also be suitable for mountaineering and almost any outdoor outing or adventure involving overnight camping or bivouacking. Jenny and I have used these quilts on every journey since 1991. On balmy nights along the Appalachian Trail we used a quilt with one layer of insulation. On gale-tossed nights in the ice-strewn Arctic we use a quilt with three layers. We also sleep under our quilts at home.
The quilt is used mainly for sleeping at night. But unlike a sleeping bag, the quilt can also be worn as a robe at rest stops and around camp on chilly evenings. In warmth it surpasses an insulated jacket and pants - expensive and bulky add-ons. This is because the sleeves of a jacket and legs of the pants isolate these extremities; while inside a quilt the arms and legs share the body's warmth. In three-season conditions, which all our gear is intended for, one would not normally need an insulated jacket and pants while hiking because of the additional metabolic heat. So the quilt is more versatile than these insulated garments because it is used, not only while relaxing around camp, but also while sleeping at night. (Note, however, that one would not sit beneath a quilt out in the open after sundown when the dew begins to form. At the first sign of dew it is time to place the quilt under the tarp, to keep it dry.)
For the person camping solo, the quilt has all these advantages and more. But for a couple sleeping together, the 2-person quilt saves the weight and bulk of carrying that second sleeping bag. And with our SplitZipTM
option, each person carries only half of that quilt. This is the equivalent in weight and bulk of each person carrying only half of a sleeping bag!
The bottom line: The functionality of the ray-way quilt is unsurpassed.
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