Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15 Down Quilt Review

Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15 Quilt Review

The Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15 Quilt is a backpacking quilt with hydrophobic down insulation and a closed, non-adjustable footbox. The insulation is constructed in horizontal baffles over the footbox and vertical baffles on the torso.

When Outdoor Vitals first came on to the scene, they stated that their aim was to reduce the cost of entry to outdoor recreation. At $245, the StormLoft 15 is not a budget quilt. But the materials and construction quality also don’t seem to come close to a $245 price point, and there are several inconsistencies between the specs and the product we received. Most notably, the quilt is not EN-rated for temperature by an independent third party.

Specs at a Glance

  • Product reviewed: 15 degree F quilt. StormLoft Quilts also come in 30 degree F and 0 degree F versions.
  • Weight (manufacturer’s) 23 oz / 652 g
  • Weight (tested): 24.14 oz / 684 g, plus 0.5 oz / 14 g for the stuff sack
  • Dimensions (manufacturer’s): Length: Regular: 71″ / 180 cm; Long: 76″ / 193 cm | Max Width: 56″ / 142 cm | Neck Width: 40″ / 101.6 cm
  • Dimensions (tested): Length: Regular: 68″ / 172.7 cm | Max Width: 50” / 127 cm lofted (max of 52” / 132 cm when compressed flat)| Neck Width: 40″ / 101.6 cm
  • Stuffed size (tested): approximately 12” / 30.5 cm long, 25” / 63.5 cm circumference
  • Materials: 10 denier ripstop nylon shell and liner. Shell has been DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treated.
    Insulation: 800 fill power HyperDRY treated hydrophobic down (Responsible Down Standard Certified). 16.2 oz / 460 g stated fill weight
  • Included: 2 pad straps with wafer buckles, Drawstring stuff sack (not compression sack) made of the same material as the shell. Does not come with a large storage sack–you have to buy one yourself.

Inaccurate Dimensions

The Outdoor Vitals website says that the size Regular quilt is 71 inches long. The tag attached to the quilt says a size Regular is 74 inches long. I don’t understand why there would be a 3-inch discrepancy between the label and the website. In any case, I measured the quilt to be only 68 inches long when lofted (i.e. not compressed flat).

Unfortunately, the dimensions of the Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15 Quilt don't match the published specs
Unfortunately, the dimensions of the Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15 Quilt don’t match the published specs.

The StormLoft quilt has a narrow neck width of 40 inches (my measurements agree with the manufacturer’s spec). It curves out from there to what the manufacturer claims is a wide point of 56 inches, but which I measured to be 50 inches when lofted, and no more than 52 inches when squished completely flat.

These sizing discrepancies make me wonder if the dimensions given are of the cut fabric and don’t take into account either the seam allowances or the shrinking of dimensions due to loft when filled.

Materials and Insulation

The StormLoft quilt has a 10 denier ripstop nylon shell and liner, and the shell is DWR (Durable Water Repellent)-treated. There is a shininess to both the shell and the liner and while soft, they feel a little plasticky.

The insulation is 800 fill power HyperDRY treated hydrophobic down. This down is RDS (Responsible Down Standard) Certified, which means that it is guaranteed to not come from live-plucked or force-fed birds. I’m glad to see Outdoor Vitals using RDS down and happy to see that it is becoming an expected standard across the industry. I have noticed that the down has somewhat of a musty animal smell that has not dissipated after use and being hung up for two months.

Features in Use

The neck draft collar partially cinched
The neck draft collar partially cinched.

The StormLoft quilt has a cinchable neck with a draft collar. Draft collars are important (some would say essential) on colder-weather quilts to keep your body heat from escaping. There is a snap on either side of the quilt at the neck to close it. The drawcord runs through a channel of the shell fabric on the outside of the down-filled draft collar and cinches with a low-profile cordlock right below your chin. I like this cordlock – it’s not tiny, but it’s about half the height of most cordlocks I’ve seen of the same diameter. However, even though there is a down baffle between your neck and the cord, the drawcord is static, not elastic, so it’s very restrictive – like wearing a necktie to bed.

Mating buckles are sewn to the sides of the quilt, so you can either attach them to the included pad straps or clip them together around you. However, doing the latter feels like you are wearing a straightjacket, especially because the wafer buckles do not open easily. I had to use two hands, and sometimes struggled with two hands, to open them – especially when they were clipped together behind my back! I found that the most effective way to open them was to press down with my thumb while simultaneously sliding the buckle forward – as if I were dealing cards or snapping my fingers.

Wafer buckles connect to the pad straps or each other, but they are hard to open
Wafer buckles connect to the pad straps or each other, but they are hard to open

The StormLoft line of quilts is color-coordinated, with a black exterior and a different color lining for each temperature rating (0*F Green, 15*F Blue, 30*F Red). I actually slept with the quilt inside out the first two times I used it because I’m so used to seeing a black lining fabric and a brighter color exterior on quilts (a black lining hides dirt and also dries faster in the sun). I didn’t figure it out until I was inspecting the stitching on the footbox and turned it inside out – or should I say right-side-out! – and noticed the Outdoor Vitals logo on the footbox. Checking the website confirmed that the black side is indeed the exterior.

The footbox is sewn and baffled, and appears to be differentially cut (bigger on the outside to accommodate lofting.
The footbox is sewn and baffled, and appears to be differentially cut (bigger on the outside to accommodate lofting.

Those first two nights, the footbox felt restrictive for my size 9 feet, but it must be sewn with a differential cut, because, upon turning it right side out, my feet suddenly had more room. The footbox is fixed, and can’t be opened up for warmer weather. A fixed footbox is generally less drafty than an adjustable footbox on colder weather quilts. There is a triangle of a double layer of the shell fabric stitched at the opening to spread the load and reduce the possibility of ripping the footbox seam when you kick your feet in and out, but I worry such a light fabric in this application would also be vulnerable to ripping out at the seams when stressed.

Temperature Rating

The quilt has horizontal baffles at the footbox and vertical baffles over the torso
The quilt has horizontal baffles at the footbox and vertical baffles over the torso.

A sleeping quilt’s function is to keep you warm enough to support a good night’s sleep for your body to recover for the following day. The main question consumers ask of sleep insulation is, “Will this keep me warm at X temperature?” In order to know the answer, you have to know a bit about your own body’s sensitivity to cold, and you also need to be able to compare apples to apples when looking at insulation. The EN-rating system is meant to provide an industry standard for temp ratings so you can compare similar products. To be EN-rated, a product is sent to an independent, third-party tester, and the results are returned to the company.

If a product doesn’t use this standard, what information do you have to go by? The word of the manufacturer. Unfortunately, Outdoor Vitals does not get their quilts EN-rated. What they do is “field testing,” where employees take their insulation outside to within 5 degrees of the stated temperature and verify whether that temp is accurate for them. We don’t know what the field testing protocol is, e.g. if they have to spend an entire night in the system in order to confirm the temperature. They say that their temperature ratings correspond to the Lower Limit temperature, which is the lowest temperature a warm sleeper would want to use the bag. But since it is an individual’s assessment, it is highly subjective and doesn’t give us data to compare it to similar products.

For back sleepers, the curve of the shoulders hugs them nicely, but on my side and stomach I longed for more coverage
For back sleepers, the curve of the shoulders hugs them nicely, but on my side and stomach I longed for more coverage.

I did not experience close to 15-degree temperatures during the testing period. But I can say that I used the quilt completely tucked around me in the low 50s and did not overheat. As a cold sleeper, if the rating is accurate, I should be able to take this quilt down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. But my experience with it in the 50-60*F range raises serious doubts about that. While the quilt looks impressively lofty, I noticed some baffles with cold spots where, if you held the quilt up to the light, there was bare fabric with no down between the shells.

For back sleepers only

As I described above, the neck draft collar is the narrowest part of the quilt at 40 inches, and then it is radiused (curved) out to a width of 50 inches before curving back in to form the footbox. In one of their videos, Outdoor Vitals says that the curved shoulder area is to reduce the amount of fabric that needs to be cinched up at the neck. This works, for back sleepers – you have sufficient coverage over your shoulders with the neck cinched.

The quilt's upper corners are curved, but I missed having those corners to tuck the quilt around me when sleeping on my side and stomach
The quilt’s upper corners are curved, but I missed having those corners to tuck the quilt around me when sleeping on my side and stomach.

However, I’m a rotisserie side- and stomach-sleeper. As such, I tend to not cinch the neck and use the upper corners of a quilt to pull it tightly around me. But on the StormLoft quilt, those corners are cut off so there’s nothing to grab. As I moved from side to side I kept opening up the quilt to drafts at my shoulders because of this shaping as well at my sides due to the width being less than advertised.

Assessment

I do not recommend the Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15 Quilt as a good use of your backpacking funds. In addition to the specific issues outlined above, I just don’t see anything compelling about this quilt. It’s not an economy option, it’s not a premium option, and it’s not bringing anything new to the table. For less money, I’d recommend a Hammock Gear Economy Burrow Quilt (which both Philip and I like) as a nicer-feeling, higher-quality, and more versatile quilt that has been EN-temperature rated by an independent testing lab so you can trust its temperature rating.

Disclosure: Outdoor Vitals donated a quilt for this review

About the author

Greg Pehrson is an ultralight backpacker who was bitten hard by the MYOG (make-your-own-gear) bug. He repairs, tinkers, and builds gear, often seeking to upcycle throwaway items or repurpose things from outside the backpacking world.

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