Hands-on Gear Review

Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 Review

Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15
Price:  $465 List
Pros:  Very warm for its weight, highly versatile, best available down, top quality shell material, overstuffed neck baffle is comfortable, five different cuts, large organic cotton storage sack.
Cons:  Best with optional down hood (~$65), ZPacks bags are warmer for their weight (but less versatile).
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  Quilt
Total Weight (oz):  24.6
Total Weight (lb.):  1.5
Manufacturer:   Katabatic Gear

Our Verdict

The Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 is an ultralight, high-powered furnace of a sleeping bag. It's a warmer version of our highest rated backpacking bag, the Katabatic Gear Palisade. It does take a while to order and receive this from its small Colorado manufacturer. We find it to be well worth the wait.

If you would rather a bag which is widely available from major online retailers, we recommend the Nemo Siren.

We recommend the Sawatch to anyone that wants a substantially warmer bag for below freezing nights in the spring, fall, or if used with a down jacket.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Last Updated:
Monday
April 1, 2013

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The Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 is one of the lightest 15 degree sleeping bag we've ever tested. It's very warm, very comfortable, and very light. This is a warmer version of Katabatic Gear's Palisade bag. We suggest reading that review for details on how and why the Katabatic quilt system is the best we've tested.

Choosing the right Katabatic quilt is challenging. Our testers reach for the Palisade on nearly every three-season trip and grab the Sawatch for trips with nights that will consistently be below freezing. The Alsek, which has a 22 degree rating, lies between these. The right bag will depend on how warm or cold you sleep and what clothing you bring. We've found that wearing a lightweight insulated jacket in the Palisade is plenty toasty. But the Sawatch is much warmer and only weighs a few ounces more.

The Sawatch is a better choice if you want one bag that can be pushed into winter conditions with a down jacket (if you do that we suggest getting a wider version unless you're really skinny- it's important to leave space for your down jacket to fully loft). This bag is ludicrously warm for its weight and amazingly versatile. See the specifications table above to compare its fill and material weight to the other bags tested.

Katabatic Gear quilts use the same general design but have different amounts of down fill. From left to right: Chisos 40  Palisade 30  Alsek 22  Sawatch 15  Blackwelder 0.
Katabatic Gear quilts use the same general design but have different amounts of down fill. From left to right: Chisos 40, Palisade 30, Alsek 22, Sawatch 15, Blackwelder 0.
Although this pad is lightweight  it doesn't offer as many benefits as our Top Pick for Lightweight  the NeoAir XLite.
Although this pad is lightweight, it doesn't offer as many benefits as our Top Pick for Lightweight, the NeoAir XLite.
Katabatic Gear Sawatch  the Palisade's warmer sibling  (upside down). No other quilt balances warmth  weight  and comfort as well as Katabatic Gear. Their unique pad attachement system makes all the difference.
Katabatic Gear Sawatch, the Palisade's warmer sibling, (upside down). No other quilt balances warmth, weight, and comfort as well as Katabatic Gear. Their unique pad attachement system makes all the difference.
Katabatic Gear Sawatch sleeping bag with the Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy in the Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid tent. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider pack. Early season conditions in Glacier National Park.
Katabatic Gear Sawatch sleeping bag with the Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy in the Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid tent. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider pack. Early season conditions in Glacier National Park.
Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 18, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Jan 18, 2014 - 11:01pm
spidey · Climber · Berkeley CA
Absolutely top notch quilt. This is my first quilt and I've only used it about 3-4 nights but it kept me warm into the teens in a surprise snowstorm in Tuolumne Meadows in September - in a tent with mesh walls and no partner to help warm it up. It was also plenty warm at Rae Lakes in October with just a light bivy sack - with temps probably around freezing, after a LONG day with no hot food or drink for warmth. I used it with a neoair XLight on this trip. The attachment system works with wider pads as well, but in a tent and especially in warmer temperatures, you may find you don't need to use the cords and clips, just keep it tucked around you.

This is a VERY warm quilt when it needs to be, but also vents well and weighs about the same as my MHW Phantom 32 (which is really only warm down to around 40 for me). The Sawatch paired with a Zpacks goose hood (or a hooded down jacket) is a great combo for shoulder season in the sierras and would probably work well for climbing shasta in the spring as well (with a down parka).

The quality and materials are top notch, the attachment system is a bit fiddly but it really works and you get used to it pretty quick. Regardless, it is 100X better than a MHW Zipper that gets stuck every time you use it. Highly recommended.

I'm 6' tall and about 160 and I got the regular length and regular width and am happy with that choice. Since I mostly sleep on my side, curled up a bit, and I got the Zpacks hood to go with it, I found I didn't need any more length. The width was fine for me but I'm pretty lean and was not wearing any thick down layers. For frequent winter use the long or long wide may be the way to go.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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