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Hands-on Gear Review
Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Review
Cons: Long wait for product to be custom made and shipped, foot box draw cord still leaves a little hole, lots of buttons and straps
Bottom line: The warmest quilt in our review also comes at an unbeatable price.
For the second year in a row, the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 wins our Best Bang for the Buck award due to its warmth and versatility and nearly unbeatable price. While the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 will set you back ever so slightly less, the Revelation 20 is far more customizable, can be used in so many different ways, and uses higher loft DownTek treated down. While we don't think we would be comfortable down to 20F as the rating of our test model suggested, we still found this to be the warmest quilt we tested, and have the simplest pad attachment or buckle-it-closed system. For those who like the design of a quilt and want to stretch their money the furthest, this is a great option.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Enlightened Equipment is an independent manufacturer of ultra light camping and thru hiking gear based in Minnesota that makes all of their products on site, on demand. All of their products are highly customizable when ordering; the Revelation comes with three choices of down quality (850, 900, 950), six temperature ranges (0F — 50F), five lengths and four widths, with a whole heap of color options as well. For this review we opted for the 850 DownTek treated down, a 20F temperature rating, sewn to regular length and width. When we ordered, this model was considered "On the Shelf," meaning they had stock pre-made to these specifications and would thus ship them out immediately. However, by the time we finished collecting all of our experiences and notes into this review, there were no longer any Revelation 20 models on the shelf, meaning they had to be custom made upon ordering, a process that takes 5-7 weeks from the time of ordering to product delivery!
How to Get It:
Enlightened Equipment products can only be ordered direct from the manufacturer. While the majority of their products are made to order, several versions of the Revelation 20 are often in stock for immediate shipment.
Get it online at: EnlightenedEquipment.com.
Compared to the competition, we found the Revelation 20 to be one of the best ultralight sleeping bags we tested, although it has a few drawbacks as well. As a quilt design, it is incredibly versatile, allowing one to open it up fully into a blanket, attaching it to a sleeping pad, or wrapping oneself up completely like a burrito and buckling it closed. While it is rated to 20F, we found that in no possible configuration would we be comfortable sleeping in temperatures anywhere approaching 20F, although there is no doubt it was the warmest quilt we tested. While we loved the versatility of its design, and the heaps of features that allowed it to accomplish this feat, in both cases we found the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL to be slightly higher performing. However, when it comes to cost combined with performance, this quilt really can't be beat, which is why we again call it our Best Bang for the Buck.
The Revelation 20 tied for third in our overall scoring, as highlighted in blue in the chart below:
For this review we tested the Revelation 20 with a 20F temperature rating. In order to accomplish this, Enlightened Equipment stuffed u-shaped sewn through baffles with 13 ounces of 850 fill power DownTek treated down. The down lofts nicely within the baffles, and we noticed minimal down shifting. Immediately apparent was that this was the warmest of the quilts in this review. In comparison, the 15F rated Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 used much lower 700 fill power down, leading to noticeably less loft, and an EN standard comfort rating of 28F, a bit higher than our Revelation 20. You can see how it compared to the competition in the warmth metric below:
In order to stay optimally warm, the Revelation 20 has dual foot box cinch straps that close up the end in conjunction with a short partial zipper that completes the foot box enclosure. Unlike the very similar design on the Flicker 40 UL, we found that even all the way tightened, the foot box still ended up with a hole at the bottom, leaving a small opening for heat to escape. Above the foot box zipper is a series of buttons and buckles (which can be snapped directly together for the closest, warmest fit, or attached to pad straps) that allow one to close up the quilt into a mummy style bag. At the top are a couple more buttons, creating a closer fit, and pull cords at the neck that help seal up the warmth envelope.
We found that the warmest way to sleep in this quilt is to fully button and buckle it up as tight as possible around oneself. However, much like the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30, a long narrow opening will still exist, revealing the limitations of straps and buckles compared to zippers. While we thought that its pad attachment straps were very easy to customize and adjust, much like all of the quilts we tested, holes and leak points still existed in this configuration, and when sleeping on cold nights your heat envelope becomes limited by the amount of insulation in your sleeping pad. Unlike the Backcountry Quilt 700, this quilt is not wide enough to fully wrap yourself up with overlapping material and insulation for a 100% enclosed system. At the end of the day, because it's impossible to fully close this bag up, we don't think it can ever feel as warm as a hooded mummy bag with the same temperature rating, like The North Face Superlight 15.
Our Revelation 20 weighed 18.5 ounces naked, or 19.3 ounces with the included two webbing straps for attachment to a sleeping pad. The included SilNylon stuff sack weighed an extra 0.6 ounces. This is virtually the same as the Flicker 40 UL, a quilt with a full-length zipper. While it is indeed very light, it is nowhere near as light as the lightest bags in our test, or nearly as heavy as the heaviest:
Worth noting as well is the fact that the included stuff sack for this quilt seems too large and doesn't compress the bag down nearly as much as some others. For instance, the Sea to Summit Ember II, a quilt that weighed virtually the same amount, compressed down into a compression stuff sack a fraction of the size that the Revelation 20 did. For those concerned with carrying only the smallest gear that they can, we recommend adding on an after-market compression sack.
When considering comfort, our first criteria was sizing of the sleeping bag. For our Revelation 20, we tested a quilt that was regular width and length, suitable for a 6'0" person. While we found the length to be more than adequate, we felt that the quilt wasn't quite wide enough, even though our head tester is quite thin. In particular, we found that when strapped securely around our sleeping pad, the fit in the shoulders and torso became constricting, especially when sleeping on our side. We also wanted it to be wider so that we could fully wrap ourselves up on the coldest nights, not leaving the long opening for heat to escape. While this opening is meant to be laid on top of to minimize this effect, we found that through the natural movements we make while asleep it was hard to keep this opening beneath us at all times, and if it moved to the side at all then a cold draft could be felt. That said, compared to the Sea to Summit Ember II, a quilt with a similar design, the Revelation 20 was far wider and more spacious, and didn't constrict nearly as much.
While we loved how nice the slippery smooth 10D nylon liner fabric felt against our skin, we also had minor complaints about the comfort associated with the various features. In particular, we found that to close ourself up as tight as possible meant that we needed to lie on top of the buckles, which was not as comfortable as lying on smooth material. We also noticed that the neck draw cord was right in our face when sleeping. The golden standard for quilts when it comes to the features not inhibiting comfort would certainly be the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700, which doesn't actually have any buckles, buttons, or draw cords to mess with your blanket vibe.
Quilts are by nature extremely versatile, and the Revelation 20 is no exception. This one piece of equipment can be used as a one person flat blanket, or as a quilt with the foot box enclosed to keep the feet a bit warmer. It can also be attached to a pad on those chilly but not cold nights, or wrapped tight around oneself for sleeping on the coldest nights. With all of these options, it makes for a great three-season sleeping bag that will serve you on both warm summer nights and through spring or fall storms.
However, we have already pointed out the warmth limitation that this bag has because of its design that leaves an opening in the heat-trapping envelope, regardless of configuration. Due to this design, this bag scored slightly lower than either the Flicker 40 UL or the Zpacks 20 Degree, which both used zippers to fully transform their quilt designs into tightly closed hoodless mummy style bags. Likewise, despite the warmer temperature rating, the Revelation 20 also isn't as well equipped for truly cold nights as the Backcountry Quilt 700, which is designed to be large enough to completely wrap oneself up in overlapping insulation.
In order to allow for such varied uses and versatility, the Revelation 20 comes with a ton of features. Dual bungee draw cords close in the foot box, in conjunction with a button and a short zipper. A series of buttons helps attach one side of the blanket to another in the narrower sections around the legs, and buckles with straps enclose the torso, or attach to a sleeping pad. Around the shoulders are again a couple of buttons to tightly close up the quilt, and there is a draw cord at the neck for sealing up the top on cold nights. With so many features, this quilt is destined for a high score.
However, the real value of features lies in how well they perform, and while the Revelation 20's features all worked well, they weren't quite as good as some of the competition. We liked the foot box enclosure system on the Flicker 40 UL a bit better. There wasn't a small hole in the bottom, and it likewise doesn't employ stretching bungee cord that makes it extra difficult to tighten all of the way. We also thought that if Enlightened Equipment is going to use a lightweight zipper, as they did to enclose the foot box of the Revelation 20, the could have used it a bit more and done away with the openings created by using the button design. Lastly, having the neck draw cord dangling in the face is not ideal, and doesn't quite live up to the design standard set by the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30, which has draw cord buckles recessed into the neck baffle, and cords that tighten and dangle outside of the sleeping bag.
As the warmest quilt in our review, the Revelation 20 is suitable for all sorts of three-season use. Its light weight means it would be a great choice for thru-hikers or ultralight backpackers, and it could also be used for any outdoor activity where weight matters, such as kayaking, canoeing, or bike touring. Despite the 20F temperature rating, we don't think it is a great choice for temperatures at freezing or below.
The version of the Revelation 20 that we tested, which comes as their standard "On-the-Shelf" model, will set you back $270.00, putting it on the low end of the price spectrum. While two other quilts — the Backcountry Quilt 700 and the Sea to Summit Ember II — are cheaper, they are certainly not as high performing. With such a low price and great versatility, this quilt was an easy choice for our Best Buy Award. So yeah, we think it presents a great value.
The Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 is a highly versatile quilt that can be used in a wide variety of ways, from blanket to fully wrapped hoodless mummy bag. With high loft down, it is easily the warmest quilt that we tested, ensuring that you can stretch its usage into the chillier spring and autumn months. While we tested a standard model that ships immediately upon ordering, Enlightened Equipment allows you to customize almost everything about this quilt, from the down fill to the sizing, colors, and temperature rating. Just be sure to place your order well before you need it, as these made-to-order custom products can take up to seven weeks to arrive on your doorstep.
— Andy Wellman
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