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Katabatic Gear Palisade 30 Review

A high quality quilt with a tall foot and leg enclosure much loved by thru-hiking enthusiasts but certainly has flaws.
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Price:  $350 List
Pros:  Light, packs down really small, the best pad attachment system
Cons:  Doesn’t wrap all the way around, less versatile than other quilts, enclosure systems require lots of fiddling
Manufacturer:   Katabatic Gear
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Weight - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Features - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Katabatic Gear Palisade 30 was an Editors' Choice Award winner for multiple years in the past. While little has changed from previous versions, except for the notable upgrades of Pertex Quantum fabric and ethically sourced Goose Down, our head tester for ultralight gear has changed, and he simply cannot rate many of the Palisade's qualities as highly as his predecessor, even after extensive testing in the Himalaya. Furthermore, advances in ultralight technology and design by other manufacturers have brought stiffer competition. This is still a well-made and well-loved quilt that uses a unique and successful pad attachment system and still has a great warmth to weight ratio. However, when compared as objectively as possible to the fierce competition in this year's review, its scores were relatively average.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $350 List$364.00 at Feathered Friends$300 List$410.00 at Backcountry
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$379 List
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Pros Light, packs down really small, the best pad attachment systemHighest scoring ultralight sleeping bag, best features, and most versatileVery affordable, highly customizable, versatile, lots of featuresWarmth-to-weight ratio, excellent fabric, best bag with a hood, versatileWarm for an ultralight bag, simple and versatile design, box baffle construction, waterproof stuff sack
Cons Doesn’t wrap all the way around, less versatile than other quilts, enclosure systems require lots of fiddlingNot as warm as others (in the version we tested), neck draw cords loosen over timeLong wait for product to be custom made and shipped, foot box draw cord still leaves a little hole, lots of buttons and strapsTight fit, shallow hood, expensiveA little constricting, small foot box, not the best neck draw cord design
Bottom Line A high quality quilt with a tall foot and leg enclosure much loved by thru-hiking enthusiasts but certainly has flaws.The highest scorer because of its versatile design that allows it to be a fully opened blanket or a fully zipped hoodless mummy.Offers the versatility of sleeping under it as a blanket or fully wrapped up, with a huge range of customizable options.A stellar choice for those looking for a warm, lightweight, fully hooded mummy.A top-scoring bag that's warm and versatile enough for full three-season use, while weighing impressively little.
Rating Categories Katabatic Gear Palisade 30 Flicker 40 UL Revelation 20 Summerlite ZPacks Classic
Warmth (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Comfort (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Versatility (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Features (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Specs Katabatic Gear... Flicker 40 UL Revelation 20 Summerlite ZPacks Classic
Style Quilt Center zip mummy bag or unzipper to be quilt Quilt Hooded Mummy Hoodless mummy
Manufacturer Stated Temperature Rating 30F 40F 20F 32F 20F
Measured weight, bag only (ounces) 19.4 oz 19.1 oz 20.9 oz 19 oz 20.3 oz
Claimed weight from manufacturer (ounces) 18.2 oz 20 oz 20.19 oz 19 oz 19.8 oz
Stuff Sack Weight (ounces) 0.5 oz 0.8 oz 0.6 oz 1 oz 0.9 oz
Stuffed Size 5.5" x 10" 7" x 10" 7" x 12" 6" x 12" 6" x 12"
Fill Weight 10.2 oz 8.4 oz 13 oz 10 oz 13.1 oz
Fill Power 850 Fill Power water resistant down 950+ Goose Down 850 Downtek 850+ goose down 900 fill
Construction Continuous baffles Continuous baffles U shaped baffled quilt Continuous baffle Vertical upper baffles and horizontal lower baffles, box baffle construction
Shell Material Pertex Quantum Ripstop .85oz/yd Pertex Endurance UL 10D nylon fabric 100% nylon ripstop .70 oz/sqyd (23.7 g/m2) Ventum Ripstop Nylon w/ DWR
Shoulder Girth (inches) 52" 62" 55" 59" 61"
Hip Girth (inches) 42" 48" 55" 51" 61"
Foot Girth (inches) 23.5" 39" 55" 38" 35"
Zipper Length No zipper Full length center zip 1/3 length at bottom Full length 3/4 length
Sizes Small, regular, long, regular wide and long wide Regular, long, and wide Short/regular, regular/regular, regular/wide/ long/wide 5'6", 6', and 6'6" Slim, standard, and broad (girth) short, medium, long, x-long and xx-long (length)
Temp Options ( degrees Fahrenheit) 5, 15, 22, 30, 40F 20, 30, 40F 10, 20, 30, 40F 32F 10, 20, 30, 40F

Our Analysis and Test Results

In our testing, we used the Palisade 30 on a 24-day trek through the Himalaya around the Manaslu circuit. We spent most of our nights in un-insulated guesthouses, but also camped out on numerous occasions in low temperatures ranging from 45F down to 10F. Upon returning home we further tested this quilt in summertime conditions in Colorado. With so many nights spent using this quilt, we feel experienced enough to justify our findings that this quilt, while it has many endearing qualities, and a cult following among the ultralight community, is merely average in our overall scoring, and was not rated the best in any single metric that we assess for. Much of this is due to the wider breadth of our review and the ever-increasing quality of ultralight gear on the market today.

A warm night in the Black Canyon was a great excuse for Cowboy camping in the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30. We loved the adjustability of the pad attachment straps on this pleasant evening.
A warm night in the Black Canyon was a great excuse for Cowboy camping in the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30. We loved the adjustability of the pad attachment straps on this pleasant evening.

While it uses high quality down and is rated down to 30F, we found that the Palisade 30 still suffers from heat leaking issues inherent to virtually all quilts, limiting the low temperatures we find them appropriate for. We can certainly say that this quilt has the most effective pad attachment system that we tested, but also found it to be comparatively challenging to set up and fine tune, and the straps included for fully enclosing oneself did not work as well as most others. This quilt was slightly less versatile than others because it has a very tall enclosed foot box, and while it is indeed ultralight, doesn't offer a comparative advantage in the weight savings department. Overall, we think this is a great product, but can't call it the best of the best.

How to Get It:

Buyers should note that Katabatic Gear products are custom made in Colorado, and are not available from retail outlets.

Get it online at: KatabaticGear.com.

Performance Comparison



Warmth


The Palisade 30 is available with either 850 fill power hydrophobic treated down, or 900 fill power down that is untreated. We tested the 850fp version, which uses 10.2 ounces of down fill in continuous horizontal box-baffle style construction. The "continuous baffles" means that there are no barriers within the individual horizontally oriented baffles to hold the down in place, and Katabatic Gear even suggests on their website that you should move the down around as it suits you for a given temperature. We are slightly wary of employing this tactic, however, and must point out that there is the potential for the down to move around of its own accord, creating dead spaces without insulation.

Paulo showing a couple of the problems he encountered in Nepal: the fact that Palisade 30 is not wide enough to fully wrap around a person means unless they manage to lie on top of the opening all night  there is room for air leaks. Not only that  but he found the quilt a little too short to comfortably fasten it around his neck and above his shoulders  as shown.
Paulo showing a couple of the problems he encountered in Nepal: the fact that Palisade 30 is not wide enough to fully wrap around a person means unless they manage to lie on top of the opening all night, there is room for air leaks. Not only that, but he found the quilt a little too short to comfortably fasten it around his neck and above his shoulders, as shown.

We found that this 30-degree bag was roughly the same warmth as other quilts we tested. While we loved the down filled draft tube that serves as a neck collar, a feature not present on other quilts, we were disappointed that the quilt wasn't wide enough to fully enclose oneself on the underside. On truly cold nights, even our insulated sleeping pads radiated cold upward, and the slightest air leaks, which inevitably happen with quilts when turning or rolling over, meant that we slept colder than the rating of this bag suggested.

Weight


For this test, we used a 6'0" tall regular width Palisade 30. On our independent scale, it weighed 19.4 ounces alone or 20.1 ounces with the included pad attachment strings. It also comes with two adjustable straps and buckles for enclosing only the bag without attaching to a pad. The included stuff sack, which is pleasantly small and compact, weighs an additional 0.5 ounces.

We loved how small the Palisade 30 stuffs into its included stuff sack  and also appreciated its lightness  weighing in at only 19.4 ounces.
We loved how small the Palisade 30 stuffs into its included stuff sack, and also appreciated its lightness, weighing in at only 19.4 ounces.

Comfort


The first thing we assess for when considering comfort was the fit of a bag or quilt. In the case of the Palisade 30, we wish that our 6' version was just one inch longer. It felt slightly short, and when we needed to have the neck collar up over our shoulders, we found that it didn't quite reach as far as we wanted for it to be comfortable to have the neck buttoned up. We also found that while this quilt was plenty spacious enough when attached to a sleeping pad, if we tried to fully enclose it around ourselves, it became overly tight and constricting. We also had the minor complaint that the neck drawcord string pulled tight directly in front of the face, meaning if you are lying on your back, as this quilt is designed, the cord would be dangling directly into your face. We at least wish this feature was off to the side.

Paulo in the Palisade 30 after a night of camping in Nepal. Notice how the neck collar does not come up far enough for him to wrap it comfortably around his shoulders. He is 5'11".
Paulo in the Palisade 30 after a night of camping in Nepal. Notice how the neck collar does not come up far enough for him to wrap it comfortably around his shoulders. He is 5'11".

Versatility


Like all quilts, the Palisade 30 ranked well when it comes to versatility. The option to either wrap oneself up tightly on a cold night or open the quilt up completely when it is warm makes quilts a great option for three-season comfort. That said, this quilt was less versatile than many of its counterparts. It has a fully enclosed foot box, but instead of coming up to about knee height, this footbox rises almost the entire way up the leg, making it a lot harder to remove the feet on hot nights. And as we mentioned above, the strap enclosure system doesn't allow one to fully close the gap on the bottom of the quilt. So, while we found it to be quite comfortable for temperatures between about 35-50F, we had a hard time reaching a comfortable equilibrium when it was either colder or warmer.

The separate strap system designed to allow one to close this bag up tight around you was clunky at best  taking a fair amount of fiddling and adjusting to get in place and tight each night.
The separate strap system designed to allow one to close this bag up tight around you was clunky at best, taking a fair amount of fiddling and adjusting to get in place and tight each night.

Features


One thing can be said about the Palisade 30 — it has a lot of features not found on other quilts. Many of them have been mentioned already, but we will describe in detail the best and worst this quilt has to offer. Unlike most other models we've tested, this quilt doesn't have adjustable straps that loop around a sleeping pad, which work to hold the quilt tight under the pad. The advantage of these strap systems is once they are adjusted right, you can quickly attach your pad every night and it will always fit the same, but they also tend to be really tight and constricting when your quilt is attached under your pad.

The yellow strings tie around your pad  and then the Palisade quilt clips onto the strings with these unique attachments. Depending on the angle of the plastic piece  they can either allow free movement of the quilt  or can crimp the string to lock in place.
The yellow strings tie around your pad, and then the Palisade quilt clips onto the strings with these unique attachments. Depending on the angle of the plastic piece, they can either allow free movement of the quilt, or can crimp the string to lock in place.

By contrast, the Katabatic Gear system uses two strings that you must tie around your pad each night, which customized attachment points sewn into the edges of the quilt clip onto. Except for the fact that they take longer to set up each night, these attachment points work far better than the strap alternatives — they are adjustable at any time, and they won't come unclipped in the middle of the night. See this link for more information on how it works.

The combination of the cord locking attachment point (behind) and the cord clip  which ensures the quilt can't come unclipped from the string. After the strings are set up to the right length and location on your pad  this is the best attachment system we tested.
The combination of the cord locking attachment point (behind) and the cord clip, which ensures the quilt can't come unclipped from the string. After the strings are set up to the right length and location on your pad, this is the best attachment system we tested.

While it has a fantastic pad attachment system, we were disappointed to find that the Palisade 30 has the clunkiest and least effective full enclosure system. It comes with two adjustable elastic straps and buckles for closing the underside opening, but there are no buckles or buttons on the quilt for them to attach to, and they must be looped through fabric loops and doubled up, then tightened, to work. Not only is this tough to accomplish when you are lying inside the quilt with your arms inhibited, but they simply don't close the opening all the way. Not to mention, you must carry these two loose straps with you in case you need them, and in our case, they were unfortunately misplaced on the ground while packing up in the dark and were unwittingly left behind. For the rest of our trek, we had no way to attempt to fully close our quilt.

The essence of ultralight: wild and remote vista  just enough warmth and protection  and a bit of cooked food for dinner. Hanging out in the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30.
The essence of ultralight: wild and remote vista, just enough warmth and protection, and a bit of cooked food for dinner. Hanging out in the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30.

Value


The retail price depends on the size, width, and type of down you choose in your quilt, which can create a pretty large range in price (all being relatively expensive). Since they are made by hand and to order, expect to wait a bit for your quilt to arrive after ordering, and don't expect to find any sort of internet closeout deals.

While the quality of materials and workmanship is quite good, we must point out that we didn't find this quilt to be the warmest, lightest, best fitting, or most versatile that we tested, and so would steer you towards one of the similarly priced quilts with higher rankings in those metrics.

Conclusion


In years past, the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30 has won our Editors' Choice Award as the best overall ultralight sleeping bag. Little has changed to the design, except to improve the fabrics and source the down ethically. However, our objective comparative testing ranked it roughly average in almost all metrics, and we didn't find that it scored the best in any single category. While this is a unique and much loved thru-hiking diehard, we feel like it costs a bit too much considering the level of performance.

A magnificent campsite  and a great place to test out the best ultralight sleeping bags and quilts. This is near the small village of Samdo on the Manaslu Circuit in Nepal  using the Palisade 30 and The North Face Superlight 15.
A magnificent campsite, and a great place to test out the best ultralight sleeping bags and quilts. This is near the small village of Samdo on the Manaslu Circuit in Nepal, using the Palisade 30 and The North Face Superlight 15.


Andy Wellman