I’d been wanting to do a Katabatic Alsek 22 review for a while now after testing the Katabatic Flex last year and being so impressed with it. As a fan of backpacking quilts, I wanted to see what the Alsek could do, and really how it is different that the Flex Quilt that Katabatic offers.
If you are a sleeping bag user and have heard of or seen the movement towards using a quilt, you’ve likely thought to yourself, “They look way too drafty.” Well, we’d challenge you to take a look at these Katabatic quilts. Your mind just might be changed. We test a lot of gear here at Backwoods Pursuit, and there are times when we pull a piece of gear out of the box and it’s flat out impressive. This was definitely the case with the Katabatic Alsek 22 Quilt.
Like the Flex 15 quilt, we thought the Alsek was impressive when it arrived. I guess it’s no surprise, but this quilt is fantastic! Below we’ll get into the details as to why, but to quickly summarize, this quilt is absolutely top-notch quality, incredibly warm, super comfortable, feature-rich, and still very lightweight.
While this quilt is certainly not the lightest quilt on the market, this one features a plush draft collar, the best pad attachment system I’ve used to date, super high quality goose down (multiple fill powers available), and silky soft Pertex Quantum fabric. Everything about the Katabatic Elite Alsek quilt screams quality.
Unique Features: Katabatic Alsek 22 Review
Unlike other ultralight quilts on the market, like the minimalist style Zpacks Solo quilt, the Katabatic Alsek quilt in their Elite lineup, is packed with features but shaves a little weight off of the Flex Quilt line. A comparison to the Zpacks Solo quilt isn’t a fair one as the Solo quilt is a minimalist style quilt built to shave every ounce possible, but the contrast between the two is a great example of the types of options you have in the world of quilts.
All of these features make for a super comfortable quilt, but you still keep the weight down because it’s not a sleeping bag. The Elite lineup from Katabatic are their lightest weight quilts designed for the ultralight user in mind, yet they still maintain Cadillac quality and features.
Katabatic Alsek Quilt Review: The Specs
Unlike the Flex quilt, the Elite line of quilts from Katabatic feature a sewn-in footbox, saving the weight of a zipper, but losing a little bit of flexibility. For some folks having the sewn in footbox like in the Elite lineup is better while others may prefer the ability to open the footbox via the draw string and unzip the quilt entirely like the Flex lineup. Personally, I like the simplicity of a sewn-in footbox as I simply pull my feet out if I need to vent a little bit. This is definitely a personal preference though.
The Elite Alsek quilt comes in a number of different lengths and widths as well as the option to put 850 fill power HyperDry duck down, 900 fill power goose down, or 900 fill power HyperDry goose down in it. The weight of the Elite quilt lineup ranges from 18.4 oz. for the small 30 degree model up to 31 oz. for the long/wide version with duck down in the 15 degree model.
I found that, at 5’11” and a 52 inch shoulder girth, the regular/wide version fit me best because I prefer to have the option to close off the quilt completely underneath me on cold nights, and the wide version does that best for me. With that being said, the secondary clips and elastic on the underside of the Alsek quilt really do an outstanding job of sealing out drafts, so the extra width really isn’t needed.
Here are the specs on the Regular/Wide Katabatic Alsek quilt I tested:
- Down: 850 fill Hyperdry duckdown
- Fill weight: 16.3 oz
- Total weight: 25.5 oz
- Loft: 2.75 in (each side)
- Shoulder width: 58 in
- Hip width: 49 in
- Foot width: 44 in
- Packed size: 9×15
- Differential cut
- Outer Material: Pertex Quantum ripstop
- Inner Material: Pertex Quantum Taffeta
See the Differences Between the Flex and Elite Quilts
Awesome Versatility: Katabatic Alsek 22 Review
One of the features we love about quilts is their versatility. As with all quilts, you’ve got the option to leave the Alsek quilt unattached from your pad on those warm nights where you just need a little something to keep the cool air off you. While the Katabatic Elite lineup isn’t as versatile as the Flex Quilt lineup, it’s still a quilt and can be used as a blanket, a quilt loosely attached to your pad, and a buttoned down sleeping bag. The Alsek also features two snap buttons at the neck to make sure the quilt doesn’t give you any unwanted gaps around the neck. That’s something I wish the Flex had, but the Alsek nails it.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Attachment System
The pad attachment system of the Katabatic quilt is awesome. It adjusts to whatever size pad you are using and gives you two different modes. Simply loop the pad straps around your pad where you want it, cinch down the strap, and you are ready to attach the quilt.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Straps: Mode 1
The first mode is achieved by taking the clip and clipping it on the first, larger hole. This allows the quilt to move freely and is best used for the warmer nights when you don’t need to seal out any cold drafts. This mode gives you the maximum freedom to move around (if you choose to clip the quilt in), but of course isn’t as warm because you are likely to have more drafts and there’s more room inside the quilt for your body to heat.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Straps: Mode 2
The second mode is to be used when it’s going to be colder out and you need to seal out drafts. This is achieved by moving the clip from the first position to the second position (smaller hole) which locks the quilt in place. You can still adjust the Alsek quilt once you’ve put it in the second position, but it doesn’t move on its own. Having the ability to make this adjustment in the middle of the night once temps drop is super nice.
Like the Flex quilt, the Katabatic Alsek quilt also features an elastic band that covers the length of the opening on both sides, keeping the quilt from gaping and sealing out any potential drafts (see above). This definitely made a difference!
Where the Katabatic Elite line of quilts differentiates themselves from every other quilt I’ve tried (and their Flex lineup) is the secondary pad attachment clips. This improves on what I already consider to be the best pad attachment system on the market (at least that I’ve tried to date), and makes it even better. This secondary clip gives you 4 additional attachment points to keep drafts at bay, making this an incredibly efficient quilt.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Straps: Mode 3
As we mentioned before, one of the things that makes the Katabatic Alsek quilt so awesome is its versatility. A third option for using your Alsek quilt is included with your purchase. It allows you to remove the pad straps mentioned above and use different straps that allow the quilt to move freely while not attached to the pad, acting more as a sleeping bag. Instead of using the clips sewn into the Flex quilt, you loop these other straps through the sewn-in loops (as shown above) and cinch them as tight as you’d like.
There is still a ton of flexibility using it this way as you can easily open the Flex quilt up for warmer nights, or close it off with a simple pull of the strap. Pretty awesome to have this amount of flexibility all included in one sleeping bag/quilt!
Now, one word of caution on the Katabatic pad attachment system, and this goes for any quilt pad attachment system out there. When you are using the clips, be cautious not to turn them the wrong way, then sit on them, pushing them into your pad. This can puncture your air mat and be a huge bummer.
I had one instance where my air mattress got a leak while out in the field, and while I don’t know for sure if that was what caused it, the location of the leak would seem to indicate that it may have been. That to say, be cognizant of where those clips are, and do your best not to push them down into your air mat to minimize the risk of puncturing your mat. That’s not a good situation when out on the trail.
Warmth Test: Katabatic Alsek 22 Review
If warmth is what you are after, the Katabatic Alsek 22 shines brightly. The loft of the Katabatic Alsek is AMAZING and instills confidence that you will be warm on those cold nights. These quilts just scream quality and the same holds true in the warmth department.
I tested the Katabatic Alsek in some tough conditions, and one night in particular stands out. On this night (the same night I mentioned above when my air mat deflated), the temperatures dropped below what was expected for this trip and hit the mid-teens. It was supposed to be in the mid-20s, but a storm blew out clearing the skies and the cold air blew in. On top of the temps being well below the stated 22 degree rating of the Alsek, I was forced to use a closed cell foam pad with a 1.9 R-Value rating, which is nowhere NEAR enough for those kind of temps, but it was better than the ground.
To make matters even worse, the snow storm that had blown in while we were out hunting for the day caused my base layers that I had been sleeping in to get wet (Rookie mistake. I left them too close to the edge of our floorless tent). Even with those conditions and overnight temperatures dipping into the mid teens, I was able to stay reasonably warm (with no base layers, a pad not nearly warm enough for the conditions, and the Alsek quilt rated for 22 degrees).
Of course the part of me touching the ground was a little cold, but I could tell the Alsek was keeping me warm at least from the top down, proving to me that it had more that just the 22 degree rating in it. That’s always a comfort knowing because the elements can change quickly on you.
Having the Right Setup
It’s worth repeating that having a pad with an appropriate R-Value is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to you staying warm. You could have a -40 sleeping bag, but the wrong mat will severely limit the effectiveness of whatever quilt or sleeping bag you are using. You will simply get cold from the ground up and there’s nothing your quilt or sleeping bag can do about that. It’s an often overlooked but incredibly important piece of the puzzle.
Another thing massively important is to make sure you are not sleeping in wet or even damp clothes/socks. Always take something to sleep in that you know will be dry because the moisture will be a massive detriment to the effectiveness of your sleep system. In my debacle, I elected not to wear my base layers because they got wet, and wet base layers will make your night miserable. If your base layers are damp from sweat, you’d be better off not sleeping in them.
Materials / Down: Katabatic Alsek Review
The Katabatic Alsek quilt can be ordered with either 850 or 900 fill down, along with the option to choose water repellent down or standard down. You can even have the quilt overstuffed with down if you’d like. The Alsek quilt is offered in a number of sizes, and I found that the reg/wide version fit me best. I like a little extra width on a quilt so I can fully wrap the quilt underneath me on cold nights, so generally I lean towards wide models when it comes to quilts.
The materials and 850 fill power down is where this Katabatic Alsek quilt really stood out. When I laid the quilt out for the first time, I was instantly impressed with its loft and the softness of materials. Just by handling the Flex quilt I could tell it was going to be warm as it was obvious that Katabatic Gear did not skimp on the down fill at all.
The Alsek 22 quilt that I tested in the wide/long version came with an impressive 16.3 oz of 850 fill down. The combination of a 850 fill down and a generous portion of down makes this Alsek quilt stand out.
Stitching/Baffling: Katabatic Alsek 22 Review
Like the Flex quilt, the Alsek quilt uses a horizontal, continuous baffle system and adds a long vertical seem. The continuous baffle system allows you to move the down around if you want to adjust for various temperatures, but I had no issue with it migrating unintentionally. I experienced zero cold spots and it kept me warm down below its temperature rating of 22 degrees.
Katabatic Alsek 22 Quilt Foot Box
The Katabatic Alsek quilt also gives you an overstuffed foot box to keep your feet extra warm. I preferred the foot box of the Alsek over the Flex in that it seemed to give a little more room and the shape was a little more conducive to keeping your feet away from pressing against the edges of the footbox.
Draft Collar: Katabatic Alsek 22 Review
Another feature that makes the Katabatic Alsek quilt top notch is the extremely plush draft collar. A lot of quilts don’t come standard with a draft collar, but the Alsek quilt does. The draft collar also features a hefty drawstring that you can tell will last. Combine that with the stout draw cord and the plush draft collar, and you can really seal out drafts around your neck.
Another way the Katabatic Elite lineup of quilts is different from the Flex series is the dual snap closures. They really make a difference in making sure the collar doesn’t rotate open while tossing and turning, making sure those unwanted drafts don’t get in. I loved the dual snap feature! The single snap feature of the Flex quilt I tested last year was one of the features I didn’t love, and the Elite quilt solves that issue.
Keeping Your Head Warm With a Quilt
When using any quilt, you’ll need to have a way to keep your head warm. I’ve used a hooded base layer for those times when the temps aren’t too terribly cold, and that worked really well. However, if you want something a little warmer, Katabatic makes a couple of down hood options that give you amazing warmth to weight ratio. Both of the Katabatic hoods utilize their 850 fill Hyperdry goose down and Pertex Quantum Y Fuse material for amazing softness and warmth.
I’ve also used the Zpacks Goose hood which is epic as well! Made of 950 fill goose down and weighing less than an ounce, it’s more than worth its weight and keeps your head toasty warm. In fact, it can also be used to keep your head and neck warm while glassing, etc. Once you wear one, you’ll likely not go back.
Katabatic Alsek 22 Review: What I Liked
There is SO much to love about this Katabatic Alsek quilt. It’s super warm, lightweight, versatile, top-notch quality, and feature-rich. The plush draft collar, rock solid pad attachment system with additional attachment points, generous down fill, and Pertex Quantum shell material make this a favorite of ours here at Backwoods Pursuit. You can find a lighter weight quilt, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better one.
- Draft collar
- Dual snaps
- Quality of fill and material
- Pad attachment system
- Large storage bag included
Katabatic Alsek 22 Review: What I Didn’t Like
It was tough to find much I didn’t like about the Katabatic Alsek 22 quilt, but there were a few things that I thought could make it even better. As much as I love the pad attachment system, after having my mat gain a hole in the general area of the pad attachment system, it’s in the back of my mind to make sure I don’t accidentally push one of those clips into the air mat.
To be fair, I’ve been using the Katabatic pad attachment system for several years now, and this was the first time my mat lost air, so I know I probably don’t need to worry. It’s just as likely that the mat caught the hole from being stuffed in my backpack next to my Seek Outside Titanium wood stove, that went with my Seek Outside Cimarron Hot Tent but it’s none the less in the back of my mind that there’s a “chance” my air mat was punctured by the pad attachment system. I’ll make sure to use extra caution going forward.
Here are a couple of other minor things:
- Stuffed size for a quilt (not the smallest)
- No compression sack included
- Way to alleviate pad puncture concern?
Check out The Katabatic Alsek Video and how the Pad Straps Work
Pick the Right Sleeping Pad
Selecting the right sleeping pad is even more critical when using a quilt, so make sure you get one that’s warm enough. Generally, I like to add around 1 point in R-Value when using a quilt vs. a down sleeping bag to make sure the cold air from the ground isn’t the cause of a cold night’s sleep. Check out our sleeping pad reviews for some great options with a quilt! Not digging a quilt? We’ve tested a ton of sleeping bags as well. Check out our sleeping bag reviews!
Katabatic Alsek 22 Weight/Compactness
Finally, the Katabatic Alsek quilt is a bit heavier and not quite as compact as other quilts I’ve tested with a similar temperature rating. As noted above, you get a TON of features and a Cadillac of a quilt but it weighs a little more and doesn’t compress down quite as much as some others. At 25.5 oz (for the one I tested), you can certainly find a lighter weight quilt, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better quality and more comfortable one.
I’m more than happy to carry a little extra weight to ensure a good night’s sleep, but in some cases I elect for the lighter weight and go with a different quilt to shave some ounces. Even so, 25.5 oz is very light weight for an incredible 22 degree quilt that performs below its temperature rating.
How To Store A Down Quilt
Katabatic gives you a mesh storage bag with the Alsek 22 quilt and gives you a nice stuff sack for use on the the trail. I very much appreciate it when a nice, long-term storage bag is included when purchasing a high quality quilt or sleeping bag like this.
It’s easy to get home from your final adventure of the season, unload your gear and throw it all in a storage bin for the winter, but make sure you properly store your down sleeping bag/quilt as well as your insulated sleeping pad. Don’t leave that high quality quilt in its stuff sack long term as it could reduce the effectiveness of the down. Down needs to be lofted, not compressed when stored, and should be stored indoors if at all possible.
Here are a couple of storage options to keep your down quilt at its peak performance.
- Hang in a closet
- Lay under your bed
- Store in the storage sack provided (shown above)
Hanging a down bag or quilt is my first choice, but not everyone has the space for that. Most come with sewn in loops to stick on a hanger. Second to that, I prefer to store the bag lying flat under my bed. This allows the down to be fully lofted. Finally, storing in the provided storage sack is perfectly acceptable as well. The down is slightly compressed in those storage sacks, but nothing that will cause any damage to the down in your bag.
Another excellent tip for long-term storage of a high quality down sleeping bag or quilt (recommended on Katabatic’s website) is to throw the bag/quilt in the dryer on low heat for about 30 minutes. This helps ensure that any residual moisture from humidity or sweat vapor is gone so it doesn’t have a chance to fester and grow odor causing bacteria during storage.
My ratings for the Katabatic Alsek 22 Quilt
Katabatic Alsek 22 Review: Conclusion
Thew Katabatic Alsek 22 quilt was incredibly impressive in every area. This is a top-notch quilt that will keep you warm beyond its stated temperature rating (at least it did in my case). While the Alsek isn’t the lightest quilt you can find, it most certainly is one of the best ultralight quilts you can buy. The combination of top quality materials, superb craftsmanship, and attention to details in the design will not leave you disappointed with your purchase of a Katabatic Elite Alsek 22 Quilt.
The Katabatic Alsek 22 is now my go-to quilt for its combination of versatility, weight, warmth, and quality. The only tough decision I’ll have to make now is whether to take the Flex or Elite quilt. A good problem to have.
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