First Look: Jacks ‘R’ Better High Sierra Sniveller Backpacking Quilt

posted in: Gear Reviews, Hiking Gear | 7

Typically, I’d want to get out with a new piece of gear more than a couple of times before dedicating a full post to it, but since I have several friends already asking about my experience with the High Sierra Sniveller and Jacks ‘R’ Better is also having a sale right now, I decided to post my first impressions of the quilt right away.

Why Buy?

I’ll go into more detail in a future post, but one of the main advantages of a quilt over a traditional sleeping bag is weight. Quilts are significantly lighter than a similarly rated sleeping bag. When down is compressed, it loses it’s ability to insulate. That means when you are using your down sleeping bag, any of the bag that is underneath you is essentially wasted weight. A quilt cuts down on this wasted material and you end up with a lighter sleep system overall or a sleep system that weighs the same, but is rated for a lower temperature.

For comparison sake, here are some specs on the down bags/quilts I’ve bought or considered buying over the last couple of years, in no particular order:

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Kelty Coromell Sleeping Bag Mountain Hardwear Phantom Sleeping Bag Jacks ‘R’ Better High Sierra Sniveller Quilt 
~$460 Retail ~$250 Retail ~$600 Retail $345 on Sale
800 Fill DriDown 550 Fill Down 800-fill Q.Shield down 800 fill Activ-dri down
40 oz 72 oz 43 oz 32 oz (2 oz over-stuff)
15 degree 0 degree 0 degree 0 degree
Sleeping bag/quilt hybrid 550 fill requires more down than 800 fill to insulate. More Down = Heavier Bag Overstuff gets the rating down to 0

 

As time allows I will conduct more research and add items to the list above, focusing on items that are in a similar price range, weight or temperature rating with the quilt. This will show a more direct comparison.

In addition to being lighter weight, I’ve read that side sleepers tend to find them more comfortable than mummy bags. I am a side sleeper and I’ve never had a good nights rest in a mummy bag. For my HST trip back in June, I purchased a used Sierra Design Backcountry Bed. The Backcountry Bed is sleeping bag-quilt hybrid. While researching quilts, the Backcountry Bed popped up at an unbeatable price that I couldn’t pass up. After using it on my trip, I was fairly certain that I would like a quilt even more.


My Observations

So far, I’ve used High Sierra Sniveller two nights on the trail and two nights car camping. The lowest temperature it’s seen so far is about 35 degrees.

  • The Good
    • I’ve never slept better while camping or backpacking.
    • While the quilt is rated for 0 degrees, I’ve used it in temperatures as high as 50. Laying the quilt out flat, or leaving the footbox open makes the quilt a versatile piece of gear, accommodating greater range of temps more easily than a traditional sleeping bag. The High Sierra Sniveller also has a hook & loop re-sealable head hole, allowing it be worn as a serape style layer around camp.
    • The High Sierra Sniveller  compresses well. It compresses down to the same size as my Backcountry Bed 600, but is rated 37 degrees cooler! (pic coming soon). It also weighs 20% less!
    • As time allows, I conduct more research and add more products to the table above, but the High Sierra Sniveller is competitively priced with quality sleeping bags of similar weight and ratings.
    • Jacks ‘R’ Better has excellent customer service. When I inquired about the quilt, one of the owners took the time to talk about my sleeping style, sleeping pad and other issues to ensure that I was getting a product that would work for me. If you are just curious about buying a quilt, I recommend sending the company an email or calling them!
  • The Bad
    • Does not include cords or straps for attaching the quilt to your pad. I ended up using shock cord.
  • The Bottom Line 
    • I am sold on using the High Sierra Sniveller over a traditional sleeping bag. I was honestly skeptical of the claims made by quilt companies, but I am a believer now.

Future Testing

Before publishing a full review, I need to test:

  • the quilt in cooler temperatures to see how accurate it’s rating is and to see if it becomes drafty at lower temps
  • the quilt’s durability

Please see the gallery below for photos of the High Sierra Sniveller,  as well as an explanation of it’s features.



Disclaimer: The product reviewed in this entry was provided to HikingGeek.com by Jacks ‘R’ Better.

7 Responses

  1. kabeiser

    I love JRB and my Sierra Sniveller. It is basically the perfect piece of gear. My only complaint is that it isn’t quite wide enough without using a lightweight (6ish oz) bivy that doubles as bug protection.

  2. Jan

    I completely agree with your terrific review. I bought the High Sierra Sniveller in September and I am completely satisfied with it. Since I get a little cold at night I had it over stuffed. It is one piece of gear I feel is absolutely perfect. I will never go back to a sleeping bag again. In addition, it has been nice using it on my bed while enjoying below zero temps in Montana this time of year! I am excited for all those folks who will discover this extreemly well made and versatile product.

    • TheHikingGeek

      Thanks for commenting. Glad to hear you’ve had a great experience with quilt!

  3. Ben W

    I picked one of these up for my wife, no overfill- regular length. Its the warmest sleeping bag/quilt I’ve seen or used to date. My wife is very cold natured, and has been warm and comfortable using this as a top quilt (in a hammock) down to about 10 degrees. JRB’s temps ratings seem to be underrated for most. We now own 6 of their quilts, and I have found the temp ratings for all of them to be this way. Maybe the Jacks sleep in the buff?!

  4. DavidP

    Thanks for the review! If I understand correctly, the idea behind a quilt over a sleeping bag is that by only covering ourself with the down we’re not buying or carrying extra down/fabric weight we’re just going to compress by sleeping on it. This makes a lot of sense, but in reading your review and a half-dozen listings for various down quilts, none of them mention what they’re replacing the lower layer of down with? I don’t see how one can rate a cover to a specific temperature without specifying what one is sleeping on at the time. No cover is going to keep someone sleeping on bare ground, or a simple air mattress warm to it’s rated temp. Don’t you simply end up carrying something slightly heavier to sleep on, offsetting weight savings of a quilt vs a sleeping bag? Please fill me in.

    • TheHikingGeek

      I apologize for the late reply!

      Down is lighter and packs down smaller than synthetic materials, which is great when it’s in your pack. When down is compressed (ie, you’re laying on top of it), it does not insulate because down’s ‘loft’ is what insulates the user. With this in mind, all of the down that is underneath you is essentially extra, unneeded weight. The thing that is keeping you warm is the sleeping pad you are on. Quilts remove the majority of this unneeded weight.

      When you buy a quilt, you can ask the company what R-Value they recommend for your sleeping pad, to get temp rating of of the quilt you want to buy. As a side sleeper I typically use a sleeping pad has an R-Value of 3.0 and is 2.5″ thick. Here is my primary sleeping pad: http://amzn.to/1sCaJms. If I sleeping in temps less than 20 degrees, I have a homemade pad I add for extra warmth.