Overview & Field Usage
Oh it is sad when a review comes to an end, especially when the product is good and I have to return the gear (boo! hiss!). About a month ago I received samples of the ENO down-filled hammock quilts to review and after some great field results, I’ve got them packed up and ready to return. In case you missed it, I already published my initial review of these quilts in a video, so in this installment I will focus mainly on how the quilts performed and my recommendations.
I’ve had the opportunity to take the quilts on a few camping trips including several backyard tests. In a nutshell, I’m very pleased with the warmth and I can vouch for their temperature ratings. The quilts also pack down to a reasonable size, thanks to the 750 fill-power down, and they are very smooth to the touch and very comfortable to sleep with.
I consider myself a “normal” sleeping (neither too hot or too cold) and on most of the tests I only wore a fleece top and bottom with wool socks and a cap. In each test, I stayed warm and comfortable with the quilts. On one particularly cold camping trip with my kids, the temperatures dropped down to 23°F (-5°C) and yet we stayed toasty warm in the ENO quilts. These quilts are well-within their stated temperature ratings.
The overall build and construction of the quilts is very good and after using them in the field I have found no visible issues like loose threads or ripping seams, etc.
Blaze Under Quilt
The Blaze under quilt is a full-length down-filled quilt that drapes under the hammock. The construction is basic but has all the features you’d expect in a hammock under quilt, including differential baffles so that the quilt can be pulled tightly to the hammock and still allow for full loft underneath. It is important to hang a quilt with differential baffles correctly otherwise you could inadvertently compress the insulation. The Blaze is built with one side made from a bright color and the other a slate grey. The bright color is the inner fabric and should face the hammock.
The Blaze is constructed by what appears to be three baffles sections: left, center, and right. I was initially concerned that I would feel drafts where the sections join with one another because it looks like there is a gap in the insulation. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and I never felt any cold spots where I guessed.
The quilt attaches to the hammock by means of a shock cord that runs through the long edges of the quilt and forms loops on both ends. These loops are meant to clip into the carabiners that come stock with ENO hammocks. To use the Blaze with other hammocks, you may need to add mini carabiners, quilt hangers, or use a toggle to attach the quilt to the hammock, depending on how your hammock is equipped.
The short ends of the Blaze also have lengths of shock cord attached with a cord lock so you can cinch up or loosen the ends to seal or vent the quilt as necessary.
The one real innovative design piece on the Blaze is the use of cord locks at the four corners where the shock cord exits the channels on the quilt. These minuscule cord locks are attached to the quilt and effectively provide four points of adjustment so the quilt can be positioned exactly where needed along the shock cord. These cord locks also prevent the quilt from sliding and sagging in the middle, which is a common problem with many under quilts, particularly heavier full-length quilts. I love this simple design solution and I may retrofit some of my other quilts to make use of this idea. Brilliant!
Nearly all hammock under quilts on the market today use lengthwise baffles. One of the primary reasons for this design is to prevent the down insulation from “falling” down the tubes and settling in the middle of the quilt. However, besides KARO step baffles, most quilt baffles (including the ENO Blaze) don’t have chambers inside the baffles to prevent lateral shifting. Thankfully, this usually isn’t a problem, and in some cases the open baffles are good because you can “shake” the down to where you need it (instead of having it slide into unwanted places on its own).
As with any down-filled quilt, one of the first steps you should always undertake after unpacking a quilt is to shake it out. This helps to loft the down, but it is also useful for shifting the down inside the baffles so it is equally distributed.
On one night, I didn’t shake the Blaze very well and I began to feel a cold spot on my back. This troubled me because the temperature was in the mid-40s°F (5°C), well within the comfort rating, but I guessed what the problem might be. I got out and shook the quilt and positioned the down better and went back to bed without any more issues.
One advantage of a full-length quilt like the Blaze that has equally-sized baffles is that I can shift the down to achieve a sort of “overstuff” effect. For example, as it got colder, I can shift more insulation into the middle of the quilt to give the highest loft around my torso where I need it and less under my legs and feet where I don’t. This proved to be an effective way to make this quilt perform past its stated temperature rating and get us down to the 20s°F (-7°C)1.
Ignitor Top Quilt
The Ignitor is also a great insulator designed for hammock camping. The snap and hook-and-loop attachment for the foot box is a good combination that creates a pocket for your feet and lower legs. (I think a better choice would be Omni tape that has both hook and loop on both sides to minimize snagging. The hook side on this quilt is more prone to snagging when unfastened.) I like that I can unhook the foot box and open it up for nights that were warmer (in my case, indoors). The nylon taffeta fabric on the inside has a nice feel that was comfortable against my skin.
As a quilt-style bag, the Ignitor works well in a hammock: no slithering, shifting, or squirming into a sleeping bag. The quilt just drapes and tucks around me like a blanket.
The Ignitor has a draft collar of sorts around the head area, but the quilt lacks a hook or snap to wrap the quilt around my head. I didn’t find that the collar really helped or added anything since there is no cinch strap or enclosure that made it effective (a draft collar is typically used to fill in the gaps created when the fabric is cinched). As a quilt, it was just as easy to snuggle the top of the quilt around me, so the draft collar ended up buried around my chest and not really used as intended.
The Blaze under quilt is a standard, no-frills under quilt, although the corner cord locks are a brilliant design decision. I loved the full-length size, and coming from someone who typically uses a 3/4 under quilt, the Blaze felt absolutely gigantic. In fact, with a minor modification (adding a snap or two on the channels), this quilt could easily be used as both a top or under quilt. That is the beauty of a full-length under quilt. The width on both quilts is 48 in (122 cm), which is plenty for shoulder coverage.
If I had one recommendation for the build on the Ignitor top quilt, it would be to remove the draft collar, or add a draw cord at the chin and snaps on the corners that would allow me to better cinch up the quilt around my head to prevent drafts. As it is currently built, the quilt must be tucked in as the only method for securing it. Having a hammock helps somewhat, but it isn’t foolproof.
Finally, I wish these quilts were more competitively priced. Besides the Blaze’s corner cord locks, the quilts themselves are fairly simple—the build, the fabric, the baffles, the fill power, the weight—everything is good, but nothing that warrants a premium price. Granted, down-filled sleeping gear is always going to be costly, especially when compared with inexpensive synthetic alternatives, but with ENO’s buying power, overseas manufacturing, and lower fill-power down, I would expect a price more in line with what’s currently on the market.
Would I like to have a set of ENO quilts? Absolutely. These quilts are well-made, pack well, and perform well. However, At the time of writing this article, you can buy a full-length quilt from a competitor that has better fill (900 fill-power goose down) for less than the 750 fill-power duck down offered by ENO. Time will tell what the market will bear.
The advantages that ENO does have is supply and distribution. A lot of cottage vendors hand-make quilts as orders come in, often creating weeks or months delay. Shipping costs also add to the overall cost of a cottage quilt. In contrast, the ENO quilts can be purchased off the shelf today, from a variety of retailers across the country. The question then becomes whether you can wait and if it is worth it.
|MANUFACTURER||Eagles Nest Outfitters Inc|
|YEAR OF MANUFACTURE||2013, made in China|
|MANUFACTURER RECOMMENDATIONS||None listed.|
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear.
- This technique can be used on any similarly-built down-filled quilt. ↩