AS Tucas Quilt

Discussion in 'Sleeping Bags & Quilts' started by Jmws, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Jmws

    Jmws Ultralighter

    I like down. Always have. Surrounded by my downy goodness I've always felt so much more comfortable and warm compared to those I've been with in their synthetic bags.

    Now, that's not to say synthetic doesn't have its place ... I get that ... and I completely understand when synthetic can be more useful than down ... but I've never had a problem using down. I've only been cold twice in the last ten years using my various down quilts or bags and on both occasions it has been my fault with the quilt or bag getting wet ... On my first trek-lite meet I managed to wriggle out from under my trailstar during the night as it was raining and only woke after the bag became completely sodden. The second was due to poor moisture management in my duomid (I had lowered all edges to the ground and not left any gaps for airflow). I have since learnt how best to set my shelters and now use a borah bivy when not using an inner. ... problem solved.

    However, having been out with the likes of @Jamess and his MLD and As Tucas quilts, @Enzo and @Dave Vaughan with their MYOG apex quilts I decided that maybe, just maybe it was time to give synthetic insulation a try. @Marco 's autumn discount appeared just as I was suffering from man-flu and in a moment of weakness I fired off a couple of questions to which he quickly replied. Marco was very helpful with suggestions to my anticipated uses; chiefly as a summer quilt in a variety of conditions and as an over-quilt for my down. Had he not been so quick, I might have been back at work ... with no new quilt. However, I decided to go for it and ordered an apex 167 quilt in medium wide.

    It took nine days from the point of order to delivery. One week to make and send and two days being couriered. Impressively quick ... and for once no extra postal or customs charges :)

    My first impressions are very positive. 650g by my scales (660g on the website) and the lightweight 12D Schoeller face fabric feels surprisingly soft and comfortable. Seams are minimal and stitching appears excellent to my untrained eye with no loose threads or blemishes. Holding the quilt up to the light reveals no apparent flaws with the apex. I feel that @Marco 's reputation for manufacturing excellent products is justified. The quilt is impressive in how small it compresses and can fit in a 4L stuff sack, although to be honest I will probably use a 9L dry bag or one of Paul's packing cubes since I do not like to overly compress my quilts. The only 'issue' I have ... and this is just a personal preference ... is that the external fabric is loose from the insulation (see last picture). Now I know that apex is a single sheet of material and is only attached at the edges but this surprised me and just doesn't feel right to me at the moment. I guess it is something I will learn to live with since down quilts are completely different. At least I will not have to shake to redistribute the insulation with this quilt.

    This Sestrals Quilt from As Tucas is my first synthetic quilt, and I am looking forward to putting it through its paces; namely multi day hikes in the damp drizzle of the UK and as a winter over-quilt. My first outing will be next month on or around Cadair and then again on the SDW meet. Hopefully pictures and comments to follow.

    Could I become a synthetic convert? Time will tell. But for now I can certainly recommend my experience with Marco and AS Tucas.

    Attached Files:

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  2. Dave V

    Dave V Moderator Staff Member

    That looks very nice mate. I must admit, I would go for an As Tucas if I wasn't making my own. I've seen a couple of @Marco products now and have been very impressed.

    Hopefully your'll report back after a few uses?

    ATB,Dave
    Marco likes this.
  3. Arne L.

    Arne L. Section Hiker

    I've used a As Tucas Sestrals Blanket for my Haute Route-section hike, week in Scotland, TMB and a number of shorter trips and overnighters.

    Earlier this year I bought a GramXPert quilt with an enclosed round footbox, with Apex 200. That one has been with me trough all of my trips this year; I reckon I've slept 30 nights inside of it so far.

    I've sold my As Tucas quilt to @Nevis , maybe he can share his experiences.

    I've told this a couple of times before but I don't myself going back to down. The ease of use & the 'brainlessness' of Apex works very well; for me.

    As for durability: I haven't noticed a decrease in warmth in my synthetic quilts. I stuff them loosely on the bottom of my pack.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this review, it's good to see more of these around.

    About the downside you encountered; it has never bothered me with both of my quilts. Truth to be told, I've never payed attention to it either.

    It's lovely kit, I hope you can make excellent use out of it.
    Jmws, Marco and Dr.Matchbox like this.
  4. Nevis

    Nevis Section Hiker

    Haven’t used it myself as my GF has blagged it!! She loves it and finds it lovely and toasty :) It gets shoved in an oversized dry bag and stuffed in the bottom of her pack with no issues. Just wish i could blag it back and use it my self! Might have to take it on a cheeky overnight solo camp and take it with me :)
    Marco and Arne L. like this.
  5. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    That looks great. The flaw you highlight iis of course a feature, no stitch holes to let water in and no sew thru to form cold spots. An advantage over down. A good choice of fill weight too IMHO, warm enough for most of the year, and combined with an ultralight summer down bag, a great winter combo.
    My 450g of 850fp quilt with apex 67 overbag was really toasty at -3 ish, so think it'd be warm to ~-8.
    Jmws and Marco like this.
  6. Marco

    Marco Ultralighter

    Thanks for sharing your first impressions. Really looking forward to read your initial trip report :)

    Probably you'll find a place for both synthetic and down quilts. Down still offers the best warmth to weight ratio, but as @Arne L. points out, the easy of use and care is a great advantage of synthetics.
    Arne L. and Jmws like this.
  7. Marco

    Marco Ultralighter

    That's the rationale of current design. In older models both shell and liner fabric weren't sew to insulation. Some users (those who sleep in shorts or without socks) experienced some liner drag. Thus we modified the design and now liner is sewn to insulation along footbox lid. There two pieces of insulation are already sewn, so there is no performance penalty.

    A key advantage of small scale production is that you have a chance to improve design and implementation in every single piece you manufacture :)
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  8. oreocereus

    oreocereus Section Hiker

    As pointed out, the loose shell fabric is normal with synthetic designs: no need to sew through means no cold spots and no potential weak points. It doesn't have the same aesthetic, and doens't look as neat I guess. I have a rather pricey custom apex jacket, though it looks like I'm wearing a trash bag. A very cosy trash bag.

    Both look like good products, and with similar design rationales (wide and long cuts). Altough a blanket is inherently different, why did you go for the gramxpert finally?
  9. Arne L.

    Arne L. Section Hiker

    Multiple reasons.

    I don't really like 'open' footboxes. Even sealed up, they're not really all that sealed up, although Marco's design is pretty brilliant.
    The areas where I hike can be pretty cold, even in the height of summer, so I wanted a enclosed footbox. I also wanted something warmer then the 167 I had in my blanket.

    I just contacted GramXpert, not really set on buying a quilt. I asked them if it was possible to build a quilt with an enclosed round footbox with Apex 200 and they simply said yes. It worked out relatively cheap too.

    It was a bit of a gamble because there wasn't/isn't all that much info to be found surrouding them, but the quick communications & friendlyness of Kajo made me trust them.

    I received the quilt extremely fast, in just a week it was at my door.

    I'm very glad I did. The footbox is roomy but not too roomy, the width & length are just perfect. Build quality is very good as well.

    I can't recommend them enough. Or Apex in general.
    Marco, FOX160, Shewie and 1 other person like this.
  10. Marco

    Marco Ultralighter

    It might be a small performance difference between a truly closed footbox (quilt) and one that is openable (blanket). However, for me key difference is the shape. The footbox of a quilt has a better shape than that of a blanket, and is well suited to be used as an over quilt. When I don't need the versatility of a blanket, I choose a quilt. It's also simpler and sightly lighter and more compact. If you look for versatility a blanket is a better option.

    I haven't the opportunity to try a GramXpert quilt. However I've read good things about them. It's always a good thing that new players enter the market: that pushes everyone to do a better job and customers have more options ;)
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
    Arne L. and Chris2901 like this.
  11. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    Totally agree with @Marco. I tend to make cinched down footboxes as I prefer the flexibility to be able to vent hot feet, but it is less efficient weight wise. Horses for courses. The overbag I made is all shaped and sewn.
    Marco likes this.
  12. Jmws

    Jmws Ultralighter

    Exactly the dilemma I had. Shaped footbox or traditional style open quilt. Both have their place depending upon your requirements. I really like to ability to open my HG Burrow footbox when needed and the versatility it affords. For most of the year I do not have a problem with a cinched footbox. However, in this case I took @Marco 's advice and went for his closed/shaped footbox since my primary use outside of summer will be as an overquilt. The enclosed shape should maintain the position of the quilt it is covering and it is marginally lighter.

    Tried the quilt out last night albeit in the house. Surprised at the warmth the apex 167 gave me. Slower to warm up than down but nonetheless warm. Looking forward to using it in the mountains in the next couple of weeks. Will post pictures and update my thoughts ... but so far so good. :)
    Marco likes this.
  13. Dave V

    Dave V Moderator Staff Member

    Footbox design / layout is a tricky one. I like both variants for various reasons.

    My Apex 67 quilt has a cinched closure with a 50cm zip then tabs along the quilt edge if I need to close up a bit. I find this perfect for this weight of quilt knowing how I will use it. Using it this year, from around the end of April when I made it up until four weeks ago its provided plenty of warmth for me and I have only used the cinched footbox a handful of times which has allowed me to cool off and similarly warm up as needed.

    My down quilt, Cumulus 350 has a closed footbox. When I've used this on colder camps, albeit only a few so far, I have been glad of the closed footbox. I find my feet warm up quicker, its an enclosed space to place items such as my water filter, phone, power bank etc to stop them freezing or loosing charge. At the same time its easy enough to pull a foot or both out if you get too warm and drape it over.

    I've just received the materials from @kamov for my Apex 133 quilt. This will be a slightly different design to my 67 quilt in that the closure will be cinched but without a zip. I'm going to put Kam snaps / grosgrain along the foot box and length of the quilt so it can be closed up. I'm making it slightly wider than the 67 quilt so that it can be used in conjunction with with the 67 or my down quilt for additional warmth and condensation protection for the down. I'll also make a few elasticated straps with Kam snaps that can be attached under my pad to pull the quilt down and wrap around me.

    I agree with @Marco for me, both down and synthetic have a place in my kit selection for verticality and usability.
    Enzo likes this.
  14. oreocereus

    oreocereus Section Hiker

    Where do you use your A67 quilt Dave? Apex 67 seems so so light for that length of time! I used an Apex 200 over summer :confused: (but I do tend to camp in high and exposed places).

    For whatever it's worth, I have had a couple of quilts, both with openable footboxes. For actual hiking I found that I never really messed around with opening or shutting the footbox. The only time it would be open intentionally was when I was using it as a blanket when living on friend's couches, simply for comfort. On a small sleeping pad i pretty always had the footbox closed, unless it was warm enough and I'd forgotten to close it when venturing off the couch :rolleyes: I'm a bit of a wriggly sleeper, so the footbox being closed helps keep the quilt actually on me. Kicking a leg out worked fine for me, even in reasonably warmer weather than my quilts comfort rating. I think i'm too lazy to sit up and faff with opening or closing the footbox. So after a couple of years, i feel reasonably confident that my next quilt will have a permanently closed footbox.
    Marco and Arne L. like this.
  15. Arne L.

    Arne L. Section Hiker

    Exact reason why I went with a closed footbox.
    Marco likes this.
  16. Dave V

    Dave V Moderator Staff Member

    I've not taken the quilt high up, it's been used on Dartmoor and once in the Peaks. I sleep pretty warm, the lowest temp I've used it in was +5C and tbh I was still comfy. I'm pretty sure the Apex 133 will easily see me to 0C. In my old Pipedream 400 bad, I was comfortable to around -8C and in a snowy outing with my Cumulus 350, the temp dropped to around -2 to -4C and I was more than comfortable. Anything above 2C, I find my Cumulus a little too warm. I generally sleep in leggings and a long sleeve top, if I feel a chill, I'd add my Hypertherm jacket and possibly my down boots but that's rare.
  17. oreocereus

    oreocereus Section Hiker

    Damn, I wouldn't be confident in my Apex 200 below 0c. And i'm meant to sleep warm, being a young male and all :rolleyes: I'm quite skinny though, so that might play a big role (under 58-ish kg, 5'10ish). I'm going to to an Apex 233 for most of my trips and eventually add an Apex 133 for warm weather trips.
    Dave V likes this.
  18. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    Dave, ul must be easy for you, sleeping that warm. Crisp packet in the summer! :)
    Dave V likes this.
  19. Dave V

    Dave V Moderator Staff Member

    I don't know how cool it got on the recent Trek Lite meet on Dartmoor but all I had was the 310g apex 67 ;) and I wasn't cold heh heh. I even left the doors or the Pioulou open.

    I am very lucky to sleep as warm as I do. I'm sure the cold with catch me out one day
  20. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    I'm not as warm a sleeper as you, but as long as I'm not too worn out my cumulus 150 does the summer fine, but I do make sure I have at least my hypertherm with me in case it gets chilly.
    Dave V likes this.
  21. Jmws

    Jmws Ultralighter

    My As Tucas drying after a damp night 1AD9C6FF-6E5E-4959-BBBA-2303168ADF6F.jpeg EB274B3E-345B-4B99-9FFC-A3A6AA560FAD.jpeg So a quick update. Took my 12 yr old on an overnight away from technology. Decided on the Minffordd path up to Llyn Cau, anti-clockwise around the lake to the far side and then a scramble/gulley climb up the side before heading to Cadair trig point for a night on the summit under the trailstar.

    Unfortunately the clear sunny skies gave way to mist and heavy winds. By the time we arrived at the summit (6pm) the visabilty was down to 100 feet and the wind was gusting at 50mph. The trailstar was proving difficult to pitch so we decided that a night in the bothy would be best, especially as the winds steadily began to gust at 60! Not what the forecast had promised.

    We were joined by two others around 9pm and spent a very noisy night in the shelter. Used inside my borah bivy (see pic above) @Marco ‘s quilt proved sufficiently warm enough for a comfortable night. Temperature hovered around 3-4 degrees with -3 being the recorded windchill.
    The curved quilt top was excellent for wrapping around the head and the material resisted the water dripping from the ceiling before I managed to get the bivy setup. As a restless sleeper the wide width allowed me to wriggle and I only managed to move it off me once during the night.

    The quilt survived my stuffing it into a 13 litre dry bag and has dried very quickly.

    Truth be told, I think I’m beginning to see the appeal of Apex. It’s simplicity of use particularly in the wet is a major factor here. Indeed I think this quilt may even become my go to quilt for damp conditions.

    Looking forward to further testing.
  22. Marco

    Marco Ultralighter

    Thanks for your feedback! Great to know you find the overall shape and size of the quilt so good for your needs. As I pointed out previously, our design is not the lightest, but probably the easiest to use and push to colder temps.

    Synthetic insulation excels in wet weather. It provides both a real safety margin and also peace of mind. I'm sure it will become your go to quilt for damp conditions, and maybe more ;)
    Jmws and Dave V like this.
  23. hungerast

    hungerast Trekker

    Question for you guys: Do you attach your quilts to your mat when it's cold? I tend to sleep tossing to and fro, so it sometimes happens that my quilt (As Tucas Sestrals 167) leaves a gap which lets in the cold air. The Sestrals is wider than other quilts which I like very much, but if I close the two snap buttons it doesn't give me the wriggle room I need. On my last trip I used the TaR attachment system which consists of stickers that you stick onto your pad. The counterparts for the quilt can be attached to the small loops for the snap buttons. Worked fine, mostly, but I still managed to rip off one of the sticker patches from the mat ...:(
    Marco likes this.
  24. Jmws

    Jmws Ultralighter

    1583156D-8097-4EB0-9C04-9B7043265284.jpeg @hungerast Like you I’m a restless sleeper and move quite a bit during the night. I’ve tried a MYOG approach to pad attachments by sewing loops onto the edges of my quilt and running shock cord under the pad. (Picture shows my loco libre winter top quilt with them).

    That said I’ve only used them twice and personally found them not to add anything. I still managed to shift the quilt during the night. Besides, the reason I switched to quilts was to overcome that confined feeling of a bag. I won’t be adding them onto my AS Tucas quilt as I don’t feel they are needed. I always wear leggings and a long sleeve top under the quilt.
    Marco likes this.
  25. Marco

    Marco Ultralighter

    As @Jmws says, you can try to attach some bungee cord to the quilt. The Sestrals Quilt already includes loops for that purpose (where the snap buttons are attached):

    quilt-cords.jpg
    I find this setup too restrictive, but works for some people.

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