Is the 30° Katabatic Palisade ultralight quilt the best backpacking quilt you can buy? There is a strong argument for that statement, and we will do our best in this review to give you the details you need to make the decision for yourself. The Palisade quilt falls in the Katabatic Elite Quilt series, featuring a little extra weight savings and secondary pad attachment clips to seal out drafts but less versatility than the amazing Katabatic Flex Quilt series. Both are awesome and built with the same quality materials but with slightly different purposes.
For those sleeping bag users who are quilt-curious but leery of giving up your tried and true mummy bag, one of your biggest hesitations is likely the thought of drafts getting through. However, if that is your impression or even experience with other quilts, I would challenge you to take a look at these Katabatic quilts as they are built differently to keep those pesky drafts at bay while still keeping the weight down. Your mind just might be changed regarding quilts.
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 is flat out impressive. This has been the case with every Katabatic Quilt we have tested, and the Katabatic Palisade was no exception.
Like the Flex 15 quilt, the Palisade 30° was impressive when it arrived and is absolutely built with top quality materials, design, and craftsmanship. It also proved to be incredibly warm (particularly for its temperature rating and weight), super comfortable, and feature-rich, all while maintaining its incredibly light weight.
Although this quilt is not the lightest quilt on the market, it features a plush draft collar, the best pad attachment system I have used to date, super high quality goose or duck down (multiple fill powers available), and silky soft Pertex Quantum fabric. Everything about the Katabatic Elite Palisade quilt screams quality.
Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review – Best Backpacking Quilt?
What features are needed for a quilt to be considered the “best” backpacking quilt? That is going to be different for everyone and may even change depending on the trip. That being said, there are some things that MUST hold true or you will pay the price when in the field. First and foremost for me personally is to stay warm; however, compact size, usability, comfort, and ease of setup all come into play as well.
Unlike other ultralight quilts on the market, the Palisade quilt (part of Katabatic’s Elite series) is packed with features but shaves a little weight off of the Flex Quilt lineup. A comparison to the Zpacks Solo quilt is not apples to apples as the Solo is a minimalist style quilt built to shave every ounce possible. However, the contrast between the two is a great example of the range of options you have in the world of quilts.
All of these features make for a super comfortable quilt but you are still able to keep the weight down in comparison to a sleeping bag because there is less overall material. The Elite lineup from Katabatic are their lightest weight quilts designed with the ultralight user in mind, yet they still maintain Cadillac quality and features.
The Specs: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
Unlike the Flex quilt, the Elite line of quilts from Katabatic feature a sewn-in footbox, saving the weight of a zipper and drawstring that forms the optional footbox of the Flex Quilts. However, the Elite gives up a little bit of flexibility without that draw string and zipper.
Some people will prefer the sewn-in footbox found in the Elite lineup while others may like the Flex lineup’s ability to open the footbox via the draw string and unzip the quilt entirely. 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.
Like all of the Katabatic quilts, the Elite Palisade 30° 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 15 degree long/wide version with duck down.
I found that at 5’11” with a 52 inch shoulder girth, the regular/wide version fits me best because I prefer to have the option to completely seal the quilt underneath me on cold nights and the wide version provides enough material to accomplish that task. With that being said, the secondary clips and elastic on the underside of all the Elite quilts do an outstanding job of sealing out drafts so the extra width really is not typically needed.
Here are the specs on the Regular length (6′)/Wide 30° Katabatic Palisade quilt I tested:
|Katabatic Palisade 30° Specs
|850 fill Hyperdry duck down
|6.5 X 11.5 inches – 6.5 Liters
|Pertex Quantum ripstop
|Pertex Quantum Taffeta
See the Differences Between the Flex and Elite Quilts
Versatility: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
Backpacking quilts are inherently versatile, which is one of the reasons to choose a quilt over a traditional sleeping bag. While the Katabatic Palisade 30° quilt is certainly versatile, it sacrifices some of the versatility that the Katabatic Flex offers in exchange for weight savings.
Even so, you have the option to leave the Palisade quilt detached 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 is not as versatile as the Flex Quilt lineup, it is still a quilt and can be used as a blanket, a quilt loosely attached to your pad, or a buttoned down sleeping bag.
One interesting difference between the Palisade quilt and the Alsek (both in the Elite family) is that the Alsek features two snap buttons at the neck to make sure the quilt does not give you any unwanted gaps around the neck, while the Palisade features a single snap button like the Flex quilts.
I am unsure why that is but I would assume that the extra protection the second snap gives you generally is not necessary when you are bringing a 30 degree quilt. It could also just be a difference in versions as the Alsek quilt I tested is older than the Palisade.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Attachment System
The pad attachment system that Katabatic quilts offers is awesome. It adjusts to whatever size pad you are using and gives you two different modes. Simply loop the pad cords around your pad where you want it, cinch down each cord, and you are ready to attach the quilt.
There is also an elastic band and clip located on the lower third of the opening (on the back of the quilt) which I found very useful. This can be adjusted to let more air in on warmer nights or tightened all the way shut to make the Palisade act more like a sleeping bag. I was not sure how beneficial this function would be in “real world use” but it is a small feature that I really came to appreciate.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Attachment: Mode 1
The first mode is achieved by inserting the cord into the first, larger hole of the primary clips. This position allows the quilt to move freely and is best used on warmer nights when a draft might be welcomed. This mode gives you maximum freedom to move around but of course is not as warm.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Attachment: Mode 2
The second mode should be used when it is colder and you need to seal out drafts. This is achieved by moving the cord to the second position (smaller hole) in the primary clip which locks the underside of the quilt in place. You can still adjust the Palisade quilt once you have it in this second position but it does not move on its own unless you lift the clip and turn it at a 90° angle to the cord. Having the ability to make this adjustment in the middle of the night once temperatures drop proved to be extremely beneficial.
Like the Flex quilts, the Katabatic Palisade quilt also features an elastic band lining both sides of the opening, 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 have tried (including Katabatic’s 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 have tried to date. The secondary clip gives you four additional attachment points to further eliminate drafts, making this an incredibly efficient quilt.
Katabatic Quilt Pad Attachment: Mode 3
As we mentioned before, one of the things that makes the Katabatic Palisade quilt so awesome is its versatility. A third mode for using your Palisade quilt is to omit the pad cords mentioned above and use different straps that simply close the quilt (acting more like a sleeping bag) with no attachment to the pad. Instead of using the sewn in clips you loop the alternative straps or cords through the sewn-in loops (circled in the image above) and cinch them as tight as you like.
There is still a ton of flexibility using it this way as you can easily open the quilt up for warmer nights, or close it off with a simple pull of the strap. Pretty awesome to have this amount of flexibility in one sleep system!
Now, one word of caution on the Katabatic pad attachment system, and this goes for any quilt pad attachment system out there that has rigid plastic clips. Be cautious not to turn the clips the wrong way, then sit on them and poke a clip into your pad.
I once had an instance where my air mattress started leaking out in the field, and while I do not know for sure if the quilt clips caused the puncture, the location of the leak would seem to indicate that one of them was the culprit. So, be cognizant of where those clips are when cinching the pad cords and clips to minimize the risk.
how To Set Up Katabatic Pad Cords
Warmth Test: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
If warmth is what you are after, the Katabatic Palisade 30° quilt will not let you down. Because of my previous experience with Katabatic quilts, I had high hopes that this Palisade 30° would actually keep me warm down to the advertised 30 degrees and it did so easily.
I love that the temperature rating that Katabatic promotes is a true comfort rating rather than a “Lower Limit” or “Extreme Lower Limit” so you can be confident in selecting the right quilt for your anticipated conditions.
The loft of 2.25 inches on each side of the Katabatic Palisade is AMAZING and fully supports its comfort rating of 30° F. These quilts just scream quality and the same holds true in the warmth department. I have a number of other 30° quilts and their loft does not hold a candle to this Katabatic quilt.
Of course, pairing the quilt with a pad that is warm enough makes a massive difference but we will get into that next.
Have the Right Setup
It is worth emphasizing that having a pad with an appropriate R-Value is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to you staying warm. You could have a -40 degree sleeping bag but it will not perform as intended if coupled with the wrong pad. You will simply get cold from the ground up and there is nothing your quilt or sleeping bag can do about that because the down underneath your body is compressed. Pad insulation is an often overlooked but incredibly important piece of the puzzle.
Another important thing that can compromise the warmth of your quilt or bag is sleeping in wet or damp clothes/socks. To maximize the warmth of your bag, have a dry layer to change into because moisture will be a massive detriment to the effectiveness of your sleep system. Wet base layers will make your night miserable, and even if they are only damp from sweat, you may be better off not sleeping in them.
Materials / Down: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
The Katabatic Palisade quilt can be ordered with either untreated or water-repellent 900 fill goose down. You also have the option to save a few bucks and go with an 850 fill water repellent duck down (this is the option I tested in this review). Additionally, you can have the quilt overstuffed with insulation.
Katabatic quilts are offered in several sizes, and I found that the regular/wide (length/width) version fit me best. I lean toward wide models when it comes to quilts because I like a little extra width so I can fully wrap it underneath me on cold nights.
The fabric and 850 fill down is where this Katabatic Palisade quilt excels. When I laid the quilt out for the first time, I could not believe how much loft it had for a 30° model. The material softness is extremely inviting, and handling the Palisade quilt I could tell it was going to be warm. It was obvious that Katabatic Gear did not skimp on the down fill at all.
The Palisade 30° quilt that I tested in the regular/wide version came with an impressive 13.2 oz of 850 fill duck down and a total weight of just 21.6 oz. It is tough to find a quilt or sleeping bag that will truly keep you warm down to 30 degrees F at such a minimal weight. The generous quantity of 850 fill down makes this Palisade quilt one of, if not the nicest, 30 degree quilts we have tested to date.
Stitching/Baffling: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
Like the Flex Quilts, the Palisade quilt uses a horizontal, continuous baffle system and adds a long vertical seam. 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 to below its temperature rating of 30 degrees.
Foot Box: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
Like all of the Katabatic quilts, the Palisade quilt gives you an overstuffed foot box to keep your feet extra warm. I preferred the foot box of the Elite series quilts over the Flex series because it seemed to provide a little more room and the shape was more conducive to keeping your feet away from the edges of the footbox.
Draft Collar: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
When you pick up a 30° quilt you might not expect to find a draft collar because it is not the sleep system most people have in mind when temperatures really drop. However, as you can see above, the draft collar is substantial. I LOVE the draft collar that Katabatic built. It does a great job of keeping drafts from creeping in through your head and neck area.
Keeping Your Head Warm With a Quilt
Another reason you may have shied away from trying a quilt is the fact that they do not feature a mummy-style hood to keep your head warm. I will admit, that was a concern for me the first time I decided to try one. It is true that you will need to have a way to keep your head warm when using any quilt in colder temperatures. However, for me personally, a head covering was not necessary until temperatures dropped below freezing.
That is just me and others may want their head insulated well before that. When temperatures start to get a bit chilly, my preferred method is to use a hooded base layer. However, if you want something a little warmer, Katabatic makes a couple down hood options with an 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 have also used the Zpacks Goose hood which is fantastic as well. Made of 900 fill goose down and weighing less than an ounce, it is 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 will likely not go back.
Pick the Right Sleeping Pad
Because it is even more critical when using a quilt, it is worth mentioning again that selecting the right sleeping pad is absolutely critical. As a general rule, I like to add around one point in R-Value when using a quilt vs a down sleeping bag to make sure the cold air from the ground is not the cause of a cold night’s sleep. That might be a overkill but I think it is worthwhile insurance. Check out our sleeping pad reviews for some great options to use with a quilt! Not digging a quilt? We have tested a ton of sleeping bags as well. Check out our sleeping bag reviews!
Weight/Compactness: Katabatic Palisade Backpacking quilt
The Katabatic Palisade quilt is a bit heavier and not quite as compact as other quilts I have tested with a similar temperature rating. As you can see above, it is much larger than a Nalgene bottle, but keep in mind as well that the included stuff sack is not a compression sack. If compressed, you will be able to reduce the size by nearly half of what is shown.
As noted above, you get a TON of features and a Cadillac of a quilt but it weighs a little more and does not compress down quite as much as others. At 21.6 oz (for the one I tested), you can certainly find a lighter weight quilt like the Zpacks 30° Solo quilt that weighs in at just 13.6 oz, but you would be hard pressed to find one that is better quality or more comfortable.
I am usually more than happy to carry a little extra weight to ensure a good night’s sleep, but in some cases I elect take the minimalist route and go with a different quilt to shave some ounces. Even so, 21.6 oz is very light for an incredible 30 degree quilt that performs below its temperature rating.
How To Store A Down Backpacking Quilt
Katabatic gives you a mesh storage bag with the Palisade 30° quilt and provides a nice stuff sack for use on the trail. I very much appreciate when a nice long-term storage bag is included.
It is 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. Do not 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 when stored. Avoid compression and store indoors if at all possible.
Here are a few storage options to keep your down quilt at peak performance:
- Hang in a closet
- Lay under your bed
- Store in the provide mesh bag
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 bag is perfectly acceptable as well. The down may be slightly compressed in those bags but not to a degree that will damage the down.
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 does not have a chance to fester and grow odor-causing bacteria during storage.
My ratings for the Katabatic Palisade 30° Quilt
The only downsides to the Katabatic Palisade quilt are that it is a bit heavier and doesn’t pack down quite as small as some other quilts I’ve tested like the Enlightened Equipment Enigma, and the Zpacks Solo Quilt. That being said, I’ll gladly take those two “downsides” in exchange for the extra warmth and comfort.
What I Liked: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
Quilts are not for everybody. Some folks simply will not want to go through the pad cord set up that is required to get the most out of a quilt. Others will happily spend a few minutes on setup in exchange for the weight savings and extra versatility you get with a quilt. Over the years of using these Katabatic quilts, I find myself grabbing them more often than not because they are just so darn comfortable and lightweight. Sure, setup can be a bit annoying if you get to your camp spot late and all you want to do is get in bed, but you get pretty efficient after a few times doing it.
If you decide a quilt is for you, the Katabatic quilt lineup is nothing short of amazing. High quality materials, incredible versatility, well thought out design, and warmth beyond the temperature rating are all welcomed features that will keep you grabbing this quilt.
The plush draft collar, rock solid pad attachment system with multiple clip options, 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 would be hard pressed to find a better one.
THINGS I LIKED:
- Draft collar
- Quality of fill and material
- Pad attachment system
- Stuff sack and long term storage bag included
What I Disliked: Katabatic Palisade Quilt Review
While you can likely tell by now that I am a huge fan of Katabatic quilts, a couple things stand out that are compromises vs some other options on the market. As much as I love the pad attachment system, after having my pad developed a hole in the general area of the cord clips while testing the Alsek last year, it is always on my mind to make sure I do not accidentally puncture the pad with one of those clips.
To be fair, I have been using the Katabatic pad attachment system for several years now and this was the only time my pad lost air, so I probably do not need to worry. It is just as likely that the hole formed from being stuffed in my backpack next to the Seek Outside Titanium wood stove that went with my Seek Outside Cimarron Hot Tent, but it is nonetheless in the back of my mind.
I will use extra caution when setting up my pad attachment system going forward to make sure this does not happen. Taking extra care to make sure the clip did not poke or pinch the pad seemed to solve the issue this year.
One other small thing I noticed is that the Palisade quilt did not have two buttons around the neck area like the Alsek. I like the second button in a backpacking quilt as it helps keep the top end of the quilt from rotating and creating a gap.
THINGS I DISLIKED
- Stuffed size not the smallest in comparison to other quilts
- Only one button closure around neck
- No compression sack included
- Pad puncture concern?
Conclusion: Katabatic Palisade 30° Backpacking Quilt
There are a lot of backpacking quilt options on the market these days and we certainly have not tried them all. However, of the various quilts we have tested to date, we have yet to find a manufacturer that we like more than Katabatic quilts. We have had the privilege of testing both the Flex and Elite lineups of Katabatic backpacking quilts and it is a tough decision to say which style I prefer more, but I personally lean towards the Elite quilts to save a few ounces. You cannot go wrong with either though, and if you are in the market for a top quality quilt, give Katabatic backpacking quilts a serious look.
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