Zpacks 20-Degree Solo Quilt Review
Over the last 5 years, I have spent over 500 nights camping in the backcountry during all four seasons. Yet before any of that, Zpacks was one of the first brands I learned about when I began researching ultralight backpacking gear. I carried a Zpacks Arc Haul backpack the first time I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2018 and since then, I’ve been fortunate to get my hands on a pretty wide variety of backpacking gear.
Most recently, I joined some thru-hiking friends on a couple of sections of the Appalachian Trail to test out the Zpacks 20F Solo Quilt. I’ve used quilts by Enlightened Equipment and Katabatic Gear, but this was my first from Zpacks and the first sewn-in footbox I’ve ever used.
Zpacks 20F Solo Quilt At-a-Glance
MSRP: $389-$469 ($429 for my medium length/standard width)
Weight: 16.2-20.5 oz (18.3 oz)
Temperature rating: 20°F (estimated to correspond with ISO Transition Range)
Color Options: Azure Blue, Orange, Black, Green
Fabric: 7D, .51 oz/sqyd Ventum Ripstop Nylon
Packed Size: 6” x 12”
Fill Power: 900 Downtek PFC-free water-repellent down
Circumstance of Review
I picked this quilt up in the fall of 2023 to do some backpacking on the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail. I was out several times at the beginning and end of October to backpack several nights through the Grayson Highlands in Southern Virginia, as well as through the entire AT section of the Smokies. Nightly temperatures were between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (I did my best to get in some cold nights, but we were unfortunately fortunate with pristine backpacking weather this fall in the south).
When testing a quilt, I find it’s important to note the sleeping pad that it’s paired with. I used the most up-to-date version of the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT, an inflatable sleeping pad with an R-value of 4.5 (a pad I reviewed recently as well). About half of the nights I camped on the ground in my tent, and the other half on wooden bunks of AT shelters. I only encountered one night of misty rain, during which I was camped in a Smokies shelter.
As for my profile, I am 6 feet tall and weigh 205 pounds. I used the medium, standard quilt, and it was a perfect fit.
Customizability: The Solo Quilt comes in a variety of temperature ratings, in increments of 10 degrees Fahrenheit from 10 to 30 degrees. At each of those temperature ratings, there are also 3 lengths offered (short , medium , and long ) as well as 3 widths offered (slim , standard , and broad ).
Sewn-in Footbox: The quilt is an open blanket, with the exception of the bottom 18 inches or so which form a sewn-in footbox. This allows the bottom of the quilt to securely trap heat while shaving weight from the rest of the quilt. It can be attached to a sleeping pad or allowed to hang loose while sleeping.
900 Fill Power Premium Goose Down: Responsibly sourced, certified DownTek PCF-Free water-resistant goose down stays dry 90% longer than untreated down.
Vertical Baffles: Placed on the upper segment of the quilt, these tightly spaced compartments keep down in place and evenly distributed to prevent cold spots. They are also packed with 30% more down than necessary to maintain the desired loft height.
Water Resistance Measures: The same black fabric is used as a liner no matter the color choice to minimize dry time when left in the sun. Both the liner and shell fabrics are also treated with “C0” DWR, which is a more environmentally friendly version of classic PFC DWR.
Strap Attachment: The quilt has a snap button at each of the hips that can attach to either the other side of the quilt or the included strap attachment. The latter secures the quilt to any sleeping pad.
Roll-Top Dry Bag: Included with the quilt is a .9 oz roll-top dry bag. This helps pack the quilt down as tightly and efficiently as possible, while protecting it from moisture ingress.
How Warm Is It?
Here it is, the most important yet difficult-to-communicate component of any sleeping bag or quilt review: how warm is it? To give as much helpful information as I can on that, I’ll share my experiences with it in two parts: how it fared for me over the time I used it, and how I think that compares to experiences with similar quilts.
In a Vacuum
As mentioned earlier, the nighttime temperatures when I used this quilt ranged from about 35-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Every night I used it, it was paired with a Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT.
I find that temperature ratings on quilts, while evaluated as fairly as possible, still make for a sizeable range for various users. I typically find them to be accurate for me, and based on my usage, that seemed to be the case with the Solo Quilt. Even on nights in the mid-30s, I was comfortably warm through the night. On one of the coldest nights, I crawled into bed pretty cold and damp, and it took me a while to warm up. Once I did, however, I stayed toasty until I got up the next morning.
On the other end of the spectrum, I found myself borderline too warm when it didn’t get as cold. I cowboy camped one night when I don’t think it dropped below 50 and I ended up having to take my arms out of the quilt to cool down a bit.
Compared to Others
The other two quilts I have spent the most nights in are the Enlightened Equipment 20 Degree Revelation, and the Katabatic Gear Flex 30, each of which I have slept in close to 200 nights. All three are comparable, though neither of the other two have a sewn-in footbox.
While it’s tricky to compare quilts with such close temperature ranges, especially when using them with different sleeping pads, I thought the 30-degree Katabatic quilt was really close to the 20-degree Enlightened Equipment quilt. That said, I primarily used an insulated pad with the Katabatic quilt, so maybe the ratings are actually perfectly 10 degrees apart.
Relative to those, I thought the Zpacks quilt was pretty much right where it should be. With an insulated pad, I’d expect to be completely warm all the way down to the 20-degree mark. With a standard inflatable pad (read: non-insulated) with a below-average R-value, I wouldn’t want to test it too far below freezing.
The One Flaw
Ounce for ounce, this is a lighter quilt than either the EE or Katabatic, which is a huge plus and the main reason I wanted to try this one out. However, in just six nights of use with it, I did manage to develop a hole. It’s small and extremely easy to patch up, so alone it is not a particularly significant defect. However, I think it’s worth noting that even though this was a small, easy-to-fix hole, it is the biggest hole I have ever gotten in one of my quilts. I have hundreds of nights on the others and only six on the Zpacks.
Could it have been a weird coincidence and user error that I got a little hole at all? Absolutely. And, again, it’s a pretty small hole that any old gear tape will close right up, no problem. But, maybe this quilt isn’t quite as durable as some of its competitors. That may just be the price of such a light quilt. And for that to be the only drawback for such an awesome product seems totally reasonable.
Zpacks 20F Solo Quilt Pros
Ultralight: The Solo is as lightweight as anything comparable that I’ve ever come across. This is simply as lightweight as you can get considering the temperature rating.
True to Temp Rating: In a world where subjective testing is used to determine temperature ratings, I found that the 20-degree rating is as true to form as any I’ve used before.
Highly Customizable: It’s become somewhat of a standard in quilts, but it should still be acknowledged how customizable this quilt is, in everything from color to size and temperature rating.
Zpacks 20F Solo Quilt Cons
Somewhat Fragile: I’ve put a lot of miles on a lot of quilts and I’ve never damaged one as quickly as I put a hole in the Solo. There’s a chance that it was user error, but as someone who is typically pretty delicate with my gear, I think this damage is notable.
Expensive: In order to get the best on the market, you gotta pay the best on the market. This price tag is certainly up there.
This is an excellent, high-quality quilt. It runs a little pricey, but as a core piece of a backpacker’s arsenal, it’s a piece of gear where it’s worth considering investing heavily. Picking up a quilt like this is a great way to shave some weight while still staying comfortable and safe in the backcountry.
This is virtually as ultralight as quilts get, and with that comes the drawback of being a bit less sturdy. At the end of the day though, this is an elite piece of gear for long-distance ounce-conscious hikers.
Similar Ultralight Quilts
Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 Degree Quilt
Weight: 18.4 ounce
Fabric: 7D ripstop
Katabatic Gear Alsek 22°F Quilt
Weight: 22.2 ounces
Fabric: 10D ripstop shell, 20D taffeta liner
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 20 Degree Quilt
Weight: 20.1 oz
Fabric: 7D ripstop
Disclaimer: This product was donated for the purpose of review.
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