Care and Repair for Ultralight Gear
Caring for your ultralight sleeping quilt is of utmost importance for several key reasons. Firstly, these quilts are often constructed with delicate and high-tech materials to strike a balance between warmth and weight. Proper care ensures that the quilt remains in top-notch condition and retains its insulating properties, allowing it to provide the necessary warmth during chilly nights on the trail.
Secondly, ultralight backpacking gear can be a significant investment. By taking care of your sleeping quilt, you extend its lifespan, ultimately saving you money in the long run. Regular maintenance, cleaning, and storage prevent wear and tear, avoiding the need for premature replacements.
Top 5 Principles for Care of EE Equipment
- Wash and Keep your Quilt Clean
- Be Gentle on Zippers
- Avoid Sharp Things and Carry a Patch Kit
- Stay Away From Campfires
- Manage and Redistribute Loft
Keeping your Quilt Clean
Cleaning quilts is important because a dirty quilt is less warmdue to a loss of loft. Over time, dirt or oil will diminish down’s ability to loft and make a quilt less warm. This means a colder night and a worse trip for you.
In between trips, we recommend wiping down a quilt with a damp, clean cloth to ensure no dirt or oil remains on the surface fabric. This helps minimize long-term accumulation of grime and prolongs periods between washing.
We recommend washing quilts annually either by hand or with our preferred partner eClean CO2 washing. CO2 washing is not only more sustainable but much more time efficient and with ideal results for stain removal and loft restoration. Learn more about why we choose to partner with eClean.
At some point, every quilt will need to be cleaned or suffer diminishing performance. We recommend washing after 50-80 nights of seasonal use or once per thru hike. Outside of this timing, it’s also a good idea to wash a quilt if it’s losing loft. This ensures long term performance and life for your quilt.
Be Gentle on Zippers
Our YKK #3 zippers are ultralight, demanding additional care due to the small tooth and slider side. The loss of a tooth or snags on fabric are common issues that can be easily avoided with a little care.
First, keeping the zipper clean is a massive element of caring for your equipment. A quick shakeout or blowing off the zipper of your equipment will remove any grit in a zipper, which can destroy a tooth. Nonclingy lubricant such as graphite can also be used to maintain a zipper long-term.
Another challenge with a zipper is fabric snags leading to damage. Forcing a zipper past snagged material can easily tear the fabric or damage the zipper. The simplest way to avoid this is using two hands on zippers, one to manipulate the slider, the other to align the two ends. Forcing the zipper can very easily destroy teeth or catch and damage the fabric. Pulling fabric out and away from the zipper can help clear the fabric snag.
If zippers aren’t your thing, consider choosing an Enigma for it’s sewn-in footbox, which provides the lightest and simplest experience for a footbox.
Avoid Sharp Things and Carry a Patch Kit
The trail is full of the unknown, and part of why we love it. This means a wild variety of environments, many of which feature sharp things. Sharp things are the enemy of our lightweight fabrics. The best way to ensure no snags or tears is to only take out your quilt or sleeping bag within your tent or tent.
If you’re camping with a tarp or bivy, it’s a good idea to police the area around your sleeping area for sharp objects. This not only keeps the quilt safe but prevents a potential sleeping pad puncture.
In case of a fabric snag, we highly recommend carrying a lightweight patch kit. A patch kit helps prevent a small snag or tear from leaking down during transit and compression.
Once a tear is patched, it can be repaired in more depth, but continuing to use a quilt with an open hole can worsen the problem and render damage irreparable.
Can Enlightened Equipment Do Repair Work?
We recommend our official partner Rugged Thread for any quilt repairs. For more information on Rugged Thread repair process and how to initiate a repair check out our Rugged Thread repair article.
Take Care around Campfires and Stoves
One of the most common causes of catastrophic quilt damage is fire. Our ultralight fabrics are petroleum based and melt very easily. A light ember or ash will very easily melt a hole in a quilt, and full on direct heat can often melt stitching beyond repair.
As cozy as it is to wake up in your quilt on a cold morning and cook breakfast, do so with care or not at all. Likewise, campfires are a massive hazard due to their shedding embers. Even embers from cigarettes can easily put a hole in a quilt, so take care with your gear.
Loft and Redistribution
The Importance of a Lofty Quilt
Quilt loft is directly correlated with warmth, to the extent it’s how we establish our temperature ratings. Therefore a dirty or poorly distributed quilt can perform worse than expected, leading to a cold night. Here are some support tips for maintaining loft in the field and storing quilts.
We include a cotton storage sack for all our quilts. This is our preferred option to store the quilt long term in a lofted state. Long-term compression can impede the quilt’s ability to loft. Short-term compression such as in transit or overnight on trips will have no effect on the insulation, just leave the quilt some time to loft before use. When preparing for a trip or unboxing a brand new quilt, take the quilt out to loft for a day or two. Our article on compression features more information and strategies for quilt storage.
Loft and Redistribution
When removing a quilt from storage on the trail, it's important to give it time to loft again. This consists of fluffing up the quilt and letting it sit, providing the down plumes time to regain their ability to trap air. This amount of time is correlated with the amount of time in storage.
Loft redistribution is a natural side effect of compressing and decompressing a quilt. The compression may cause clumps and cold spots in the down which impact the quilt’s warmth The process of redistributing down is simple: shaking from the bottom to bring down back up to the upper baffles.
Down clusters may also accumulate in corners, it’s best to redistribute this by gently massaging or pulling and pushing at the cluster until it loosens and can loft properly again.
Loft can be fully redistributed at home by putting the quilt in the dryer on No Heat with a few tennis balls. This will also require some manual distribution afterward to make sure all the down is spread out evenly.
Contact Enlightened Equipment Support
Finally, our support team is here to help with any questions you may have about fabric care for our gear. Our support team consists of experts with backpacking experience and expertise in our gear in specific. This means they can provide advice both in advance of trips and after potential damage to a quilt. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org