Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Review
Katabatic is a well-loved outfitter in the ultralight community, and their Flex 22 quilt provides another example of their excellent work. This three-season quilt is designed with ultralight hikers in mind. It is made of high-quality materials, which allows it to pack down small and light while continuing to provide better comfort than comparable quilts. Unlike the mummy-shaped Elite series which has an enclosed footbox, the Flex is more versatile with a zippered footbox that allows the quilt to be laid completely flat like a blanket.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt At-a-Glance
MRSP* USD $315+
Fill weight 13.4-18.1 oz
Total weight 21.3-27.6 oz
Packed size 8-9.5L
Size Options 5’6”, 6’, 6’ wide, 6’6”, and 6’6” wide
- 900 Fill Power Goose Down
- 850 Fill Power HyperDRY Duck Down
- 900 Fill Power HyperDRY Goose Down
- Exterior: Pertex Quantum Y Fuse Eco Riptstop (.85 oz/yd)
- Lining: Pertex Quantum Tafeta (1.0 oz/yd)
*Exact cost, weight, and dimensions will depend on customization options including size, down type, and overstuffing.
For hikers looking to invest in a well-designed quilt made of high-quality materials, the Katabatic Flex 22 quilt will keep your toes warm and your pack light. Flexibility is in the name for a reason, as this quilt can be laid flat for use as a blanket or cinched tight for use in colder conditions.
Circumstance of Review
I am 5’4″ and ordered the 5’6″ size quilt with 900FP HyperDRY goose down. The sizing was perfect for me in terms of length, though I wish there had been a Wide option for the smallest size.
I tested this quilt through last summer and fall in Ontario, Canada for both backcountry and front-country camping trips. For the most part, I slept on the ground using a Big Agnes Q-Core SLX sleeping pad, but I spent one night with the Flex in an ENO hammock (around 10°C / 50˚F overnight) and was perfectly comfortable with no underquilt or additional layers. I used the Big Agnes pad in the hammock as an extra warmth layer, but only partially inflated it.
Gear pieces I tested the Katabatic Flex 22 quilt with:
- Big Agnes Q-Core SLX sleeping pad
- MSR Freelite 2 tent
- Big Agnes HLV Fly Creek UL2
- Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Original sleeping pad
- Eagle Nest Outfitters Doublenest Hammock
Pad Attachment System
The pad attachment system (instructions detailed in Product Manual) is simple to use and effective. It comes with shock cords that can be attached to plastic primary and secondary cord clips along the length of the bag. The primary clips can be locked into place once the quilt is attached where you want it, and the secondaries are intended to increase the security of the bag to prevent drafts from sneaking underneath.
Alternatively, if you prefer not to fiddle with cords and clips, or if you are sleeping in a hammock set-up where you may not have a sleeping pad to attach it to, there is an alternative system included with the Flex. There are two detachable webbing straps that can be attached through loops on the quilt and clipped back onto themselves. This system requires less fiddling than the first and is simple to figure out without instructions. I admit the first system took me a while sitting down with the quilt and the instruction manual to figure out exactly how each piece interacted. The webbing straps are idiot-proof.
The footbox of the Katabatic Flex 22 quilt has an elastic binding around the bottom to keep out unwanted drafts. There is also a second line of defense against flailing sleepers in the form of a button that clips the footbox shut. Finally, there is a zipper that extends up about a third of the way along the length of the quilt to create a warm and cozy footbox. The baffles in the footbox are overstuffed for extra insulation in that area.
My preferred method of sleeping in a quilt is with the footbox closed and the upper portion of the quilt laid flat like a blanket. It provides the best of both worlds by keeping my feet warm while allowing freedom of movement for my arms and torso.
Optional Hydrophobic Down
One of the customization options offered when ordering your quilt is the type of down to be used. Generally, the higher the fill power, the lighter and warmer the quilt will be. You can choose standard 900 Fill Power goose down, or choose down that has been given HyperDRY™ water-resistant treatment. The hydrophobic down will do a better job of retaining down loft (i.e. warmth) in damp conditions. The exterior material of the quilt also has durable water repellent treatment to help protect the interior (and you) from moisture and chills.
The continuous horizontal baffles along the quilt mean that the down stays relatively evenly distributed along the length of your body. As you may be able to notice in the picture below, the footbox baffles are have more down stuffed into them for extra warmth in the feet. If you want to really customize the quilt to conditions, you can even move the down around within the baffles – more down on top of you will make you warmer, more down on the sides of the quilt will make you cooler.
Quilts are a revelation for people like me who toss and turn in the night. I find sleeping in fully zipped bags tends to make me wake up in the night so wrapped up from tossing that I can hardly move. However, the Katabatic Flex 2 is looser around the top, giving more room to move around while maintaining warmth in the footbox with the cinch and zipper. It’s a perfect compromise between comfort and warmth.
Another feature that I really liked in the Flex is the down collar around the top. It can cinch as snug as you like and does a great job keeping the neck cozy and drafts out.
Quilts vs. Sleeping Bags
Quilts provide better warmth to weight than sleeping bags by eliminating redundant features like down underneath your body (which gets compressed and loses loft as you sleep on it), full zippers (unnecessary weight), etc. However, that introduces the potential for drafts to creep in throughout the night through the underside of the quilt. This is mitigated by a quilts greatest strength – versatility. There are a variety of ways that quilts can be attached to/around sleeping pads in order to secure them so that drafts cannot enter.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Pros
The Katabatic Flex 2 quilt is made of high-quality materials and is made in Colorado. Snuggling down into the quilt at night feels kind of like being enveloped in a soft, warm marshmallow. I mean that in the best of ways! The high-quality materials used in this quilt are bolstered by Katabatic’s commitment to ethical and sustainably sourced materials. The down is certified through the Responsible Down Standard. This means that it comes from farms that are vetted for the ethical treatment of animals and sustainable supply chain processes.
Short Chain PFCs
The fabrics used in the have been treated with durable water repellent (DWR). Unfortunately, the treatment is not entirely free of perfluorinated compounds (PFC), a persistent and toxic group of chemicals that are found in most synthetic fabrics and almost all DWR treatments. However, Katabatic uses a shorter chain PFC (C6 fluorocarbons) than those found in traditional DWR treatments (C8 fluorocarbons). The shorter chain means that it breaks down more quickly and is less persistent than the longer chain chemicals.
I really love having pieces of gear that can be customized to suit a variety of conditions. If I am going to blow a lot of money on a piece of gear, I want it to a) last a long time and b) be useful for a lot of different activities. Because of features such as multiple pad attachment options and the unzippable footbox, I have used this quilt in the full heat of summer as well as cool autumn evenings. I’ve sat around the campfire with it, used it in hammocks, and brought it on many different kinds of trips (hiking and otherwise).
Katabatic put a lot of thought into this quilt. They included features that make it customizable to all different kinds of outdoor trips, from thru-hikes and weekend canoe trip to bikepacking and simply sitting on my back porch. The Flex certainly earns its name.
Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt Cons
For some reason there is no Wide option for the smallest (5’6″) size. Due to my size, and the fact that I toss and turn so much at night, I would have liked to order the 5’6″ in wide if that had been an option. Ordering the 6′ Wide seemed like overkill since I barely scrape past 5’4″ in height. Hopefully, this will be a customization option that Katabatic will consider adding in the future.
This quilt weighs slightly more than comparable quilts from competitors, but I would say that the temperature rating on the Katabatic is more accurate than some competitors like Enlightened Equipment.
The zipper on the footbox is prone to catching on the surrounding material unless you zip it carefully. Because the Pertex material is so lightweight, I worry about tearing it with a thoughtless zip in the middle of the night. I also found that the zipper unzips itself a little through the night, likely due to my restless flailing. It would be nice if there was a button at the top of the zipper like the one on the footbox to keep it closed through the night. I also don’t think that the footbox really needs to take up an entire third of the quilt. A shorter footbox would be comparably comfortable, and reducing the zipper length by 30-40% would shave weight. Maybe that weight difference could go into a zipper sleeve to prevent potential tearing.
Overall / Value
The closest comparison to the Flex 22 would be Enlightened Equipment’s Revelation 20. It has a similar footbox, weight, and cost. I took a custom Revelation 20F on my 2017 PCT section hike and was repeatedly disappointed by the difference between the warmth rating and the actual comfort level experienced on colder nights.
In contrast, the Katabatic Flex 22 lives up to its temperature rating. When I get too cold overnight, I don’t sleep. So temperature rating is a huge factor for what gear I will purchase. If this is a key feature for you as well, consider taking advantage of Katabatic’s overstuffing option when ordering a quilt.
This is a big-ticket item, especially if you add any customization options. However, for those looking to invest in high-quality, durable, ultralight gear, the Katabatic Flex 22 quilt is a worthy investment. So far, I think I like it better than my Revelation 20, and definitely better than any sleeping bag I own. The ability to set it up in different configurations makes it perfect for longer trips such as thru-hikes.
- MSRP: $280+
- Weight: 19.18 ounces
- Temperature Rating Options: 40, 30, 20, or 10 degrees
- Insulation: 850-950 fill down
- MSRP: $375+
- Weight: 22 ounces
- Temperature Rating: 22 degrees
- Insulation: 900-fill down
- MSRP: $235
- Weight: 22 ounces
- Temperature Rating: 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 degrees
- Insulation: 800 fill duck down, 850 or 950 fill goose down
The Katabatic Flex 22 quilt was donated for purpose of review.
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