Synthetic and down quilt delusions

Marco during an ultralight alpine ascent.

If you're shopping for a new quilt, I bet you've come across the following claims:

"A synthetic quilt keeps you warm even if it gets wet, it dries pretty fast, and it's much cheaper than a down quilt."

"A down quilt is twice lighter than a synthetic quilt, packs up to 3 times smaller, and can last for decades."

Thus, which one is better, a synthetic quilt or a down quilt? Which one should you buy?

Although these marketing claims are not false, they are closer to being myths than truth.

Benjamin and Joe drying their socks over a fire after during a trip in Norway.

A wet sleeping bag is synonym of a bad night, period. With a damp synthetic quilt you can manage a decent, even good, sleep. But don't expect miracles.

If your quilt is damp, you can dry it provided you stop several hours in a sunny day. If it's really wet, don't count on drying it until you're back at home.

Synthetic sleeping bags have a bad reputation because most of them are entry-level, cheapo bags. You know, a pretty heavy, bulky and overrated bag. If you want a premium synthetic quilt, you have to pay for it.

Marco camping in a forest during a foggy and damp morning.

Down has a higher warmth to weight ratio than synthetic insulation. But unless you're looking for a winter-class sleeping bag, insulation can represent less than half the total weight of a bag. Pair this with the increasing performance of modern synthetic insulation and the weight difference for a 2-season or 3-season quilt is not so big.

You've probably been warned about not over compressing a synthetic sleeping bag. But did you know than down insulation also breaks when over compressed? Did you know than the higher its cuin value the more delicate is? So yes, you can compress a down quilt to a tiny size, but you're breaking its insulation.

Lifetime of down insulation is longer. But don't expect that a sleeping bag used during 10 or more years perform anything close as it did when new.


PS1. I'll reveal my reasons to choose a synthetic quilt (like the Sestrals Quilt) in the upcoming post.

PS2. I'll also reveal my reasons to choose a down quilt (like the Foratata Quilt).

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