The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Western Mountaineering Astralite Review

A very lightweight and warm quilt designed for three season use.
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Price:  $400 List | $400.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, warm, seals well for a quilt
Cons:  Hard to vent, pad attachment system not intuitive
Manufacturer:   Western Mountaineering
By Ethan Newman  ⋅  Nov 1, 2018
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Warmth - 30% 7
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 4
  • Features - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Western Mountaineering Astralite is an ultralight hoodless quilt, and one of the lighter options we tested. It's Western Mountaineering's first round of quilts, and brings a high standard of fabrics and down to the table. For how light it is, it's really warm and uses a neat insulated draft yolk to seal in the heat. While there are a few things we didn't love about the Astralite, for those who put a high priority on warmth and weight, it's a great choice. This is a high-quality product.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Cowboy camping on the way into The Barracks in southwestern Utah. The bag is cozy once you wiggle into it.
Cowboy camping on the way into The Barracks in southwestern Utah. The bag is cozy once you wiggle into it.

Warmth


Although the Astralite isn't the absolute warmest in the review, it has more down fill in the quilt than bags of similar weight, and we felt it. Once we were all cocooned up in the quilt, we felt plenty warm for a 26℉ bag. The closed footbox, insulated draft yolk, and elastic closure also help it seal up more than any other dedicated quilt, almost as much as a hoodless mummy like the Feathered Friends Vireo.

Weight


Because of the way EN 13537 testing works, quilts are ineligible for an EN warmth rating. Still, Western Mountaineering generally uses more conservative standards than most in the sleeping bag biz. For the 10.5 oz of 850 down in the quilt, it lofts impressively and feels quite fluffy even after we crawled into it. We found that the Astralite kept us plenty warm down to freezing, although to get down to its 26℉ rating we would need to treat it like the ultralight quilt it is, and layer well.

The Astralite packs down quite nicely and is one of the lightest bags in the review.
The Astralite packs down quite nicely and is one of the lightest bags in the review.

Comfort


Laying in the quilt once it's been attached to an insulated pad feels like being surrounded by a very warm cocoon. Both the shell and liner fabrics feel nice on the skin, even when the draft yolk was brushing against either side of our lead tester's face. When our more restless tester used the bag, the bag more or less stayed in place even as he rolled around all night. Not ending up in the middle of the night entangled in your bag or quilt is a huge plus.

The pad attachment system of the Astralite is very secure but isn't intuitive  and is very hard to vent.
The pad attachment system of the Astralite is very secure but isn't intuitive, and is very hard to vent.

However, the Astralite comes in two cuts, 5'8" and 6'4", without much splitting the difference. We tested the 5'8" model, and it was about as tight as our 5'8" tester would want to sleep in, but a 6'4" quilt seems overkill. Our 5'5" tester found it adequately sized. Additionally, with the odd elastic closure system, it's hard to avoid sleeping on top of the toggle, which is annoying.

Versatility


Although this is technically a quilt, it almost seems like Western Mountaineering made a hoodless mummy bag, replaced the zipper with a web of elastic, and called it a quilt. If anything, it's less drafty than most mummy bags because the only opening is right where the insulated pad sits. Because of this, though, the bag is nearly impossible to vent anywhere except at the neck, and even then the collar is too lofty to let much out. Instead, the best way to tweak the temperature for this quilt is to adjust clothing, but it's hard to do that in a quilt with a "performance cut". We probably would go with a different quilt if the temperatures were much above 45℉ or much below its 26℉ rating.

The EE Revelation and the WM Astralite above the East Fork of the Virgin River. The Astralite is lighter but less versatile.
The EE Revelation and the WM Astralite above the East Fork of the Virgin River. The Astralite is lighter but less versatile.

Features


All in all, the Astralite is a simple quilt, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The built-in straps work well attaching an insulated pad securely while allowing the footbox to move freely. The draft collar is a nice shape and seals out a surprising amount of cold air without feeling like it was choking our testers.

We particularly liked the draft yolk of this quilt. It hugged the face nicely and sealed out drafts without feeling claustrophobic.
We particularly liked the draft yolk of this quilt. It hugged the face nicely and sealed out drafts without feeling claustrophobic.

We didn't love the closure system for the Astralite, as it seemed you could have it either tight or tighter, and the toggle sat under the shoulder blades of the taller tester. The quilt seals tight enough that getting into the bag felt like the camping version of NASCAR drivers entering their cars through the window. But for those that don't mind trading extra features for a fantastic warmth to weight ratio, this might not be a big deal.

Best Applications


This bag seems best for fast and light thru-hikes, bike-packing, and other trips during shoulder season or mountain temperatures. It packs down smaller than similar bags like the Feathered Friends Vireo UL or the Zpacks Classic 20. It might be a bit much on warmer trips, but if you like the design, there's a 38℉ version available as well.

Value


At $400, this certainly isn't the cheapest option around, but the quilt has top-notch materials and construction. It's rare to find deals on Western Mountaineering goods, so you'll likely be paying full price for this bag. For the right person this bag is worth the money, but for those looking for a better all arounder, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Conclusion


The Western Mountaineering Astralite has an aggressive warmth to weight ratio, and for those looking for a packable sleep system for three season temperatures, the Astralite is a fine choice. However, the lack of versatility leaves something to be desired. We think that with a few design tweaks the Astralite could be a much stronger player in the quilt game.


Ethan Newman