The size and weight of your pack can have almost as much impact of your chances of success on a climb as your level of fitness and skill.
Over the past 7 years the NZAT has been developing the Alpine Series in conjunction with Macpac, creating and testing a wide range of products with the goal of increasing product performance and reducing their weight. People often ask what is the secret to heading off on long multi day climbs with a small pack. One of the products we have developed that makes this possible is the NZAT down quilt. For three years we have been developing a sleeping bag that allows up to three people to sleep together reducing the need for each individual to carry their own sleeping bag.
The best way to show this is with an example of how we utilise the NZAT Quilt. Take a climb three of the team members completed in 2018. Punta Herron in Patagonia. https://alpineteam.co.nz/2018/patagonia-tierra-del-viento
The team of three were out on a four day trip. They carried full climbing equipment for ice and rock, food, cookers, tent etc. Most people would usually have to then add a sleeping bag per person or make the choice of sacrificing sleep and valuable rest by suffering it out in just their clothes. However with the NZAT Quilt the team could sleep warmly taking advantage of each other's body heat and also benefiting from more energy due to carrying lighter packs and getting better rest.
The NZAT quilt (Summer Version) weighs just over 700g. i.e the weight of a light weight summer sleeping bag. Personally I have made use of the quilt on multiple expeditions and climbs. Such as the West Face of Cerro Torre, Punta Herron, South Face of Marion, the Traverse of Aiguille Drus-Sans Nom and Aiguille Verte plus many more. https://alpineteam.co.nz/2018/traverse-les-drus-aiguille-verte
The quilt has a comfortable operating range between minus 5 degrees – positive 10 degrees but I have used it on several occasions where the nights dropped as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius. That being said, I see this as a summer product i.e climbing Mt Cook or other high NZ alpine routes in summer, spring or autumn. Climbing in places like the European Alps on 4000m peaks in the same seasons or on expeditions to places like Patagonia (in summer). It is the perfect product to take for a team of two or three climbers who are looking to climb technical routes where weight and pack space is at a premium. Personally I can see no situation where I would ever buy a traditional sleeping bag again when there is the option of buying something like the NZAT Quilt.
The NZAT Quilt is essentially a high spec down blanket. Filled with 800L dry down and a high spec Pertex shell fabric. It is non baffled to reduce weight. It can be closed off using draw strings and compression straps to form a single person traditional sleeping bag. It can be used in a wedge shape allowing two people to sleep side by side or top and tail. It can also be used for a three person team with two people sleeping shoulder to shoulder and the third person at the other end with their feet between the other two. The NZAT Quilt is designed so that the user wears their clothes while sleeping in it (if it's cold), i.e do not expect to sleep in minus 10 in just your undies. However on a warm summer's evening you will have no problems doing just that. If you are using the NZAT Quilt as a team of three the middle person (middle spoon) will be very warm. The outer two people usually layer up a bit more. My personal trick for staying warm when sleeping in the quilt with a team of three is to always ensure I have a dry pair of socks to put on at night and some light fleece gloves for my hands. Depending on heights of the people these can be your cold spots. Typically you put the tallest person as middle spoon and the shorter two on the sides.
For me the beauty of this kind of product is that it has multiple uses. Although we developed it for climbing, it's potentially useful for tramping or cycle touring, multisport adventure racing, family camping where you have two adults and a child, or couples on a hiking or climbing trip. It is also small enough for a team to leave in their packs as their emergency bivy kit. Due to its shape it is perfect for sleeping on rocky surfaces, seated bivys where you want to leave your boots on or as an emergency blanket inside a bothy bag etc.
The version hitting stores now is the NZAT Summer Quilt. It is the most versatile we have developed as it applies to normal use situations of most users. We have also developed a winter version that im hoping Macpac will also retail. The winter version is amazing for those who are looking to climb at altitude in the Himalayas or climb in any cold winter environment. It is heavier and fully baffled. We have used this successfully on some very cold ascents from the North Face of Cholatse in the Himalaya https://alpineteam.co.nz/2018/north-face-cholatse-equipment-clothing-and-route-beta to Taulliraju in the Peruvian Andes. https://alpineteam.co.nz/2016/peru-expedition-27-may-30-june-2016
Making the most of the NZAT Summer Quilt takes some pracatice. I recently used it during an open bivy at the base of the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses. The outside temp was -15. We were sleeping in the open on the glacier i.e not tent or bivy bag. We were a bit cold but slept around 6 hours. To make a situation like this work here are some tricks. Two pairs of socks or some light down socks plus some fleece liner gloves for the hands. Consider how you set your quilt up, i.e if you have traditional foam matts that sit flush side by side its ok to have the straps of the quilt on top of the matts. If you are using thermarests or other inflatable matts then put the straps under the matts to hold them together. For inflatable matts and snow camping its good to put some kind of matt / bag between the two matts so when you role together your arm doesn't drop down onto the snow. The NZAT Pursuit packs we use have a fold out foam matt in the back rest which is perfect for this situation. If your sleeping out in the open a buff, hooded jacket or beanie are also very handy. While i don't suggest taking the quilt out in -15 without the right cloths to go with it, it did work and when we starting climbing the next day having the 720g quilt in our packs certainly was much nicer than carrying two heavy sleeping bags!
Click here if you would like to watch a short video explaining how to use the quilt in each of the most common set ups for 1 - 3 users
Final thoughts........ This is a limited release product. If you want to get your hands on one jump onto the Macpac website and place your order. They ship world wide. This is a purchase you will not regret. If you didn't notice all the link above click HERE to go to the Macpac online store !