Western Mountaineering Astralite Review
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
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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. It was one of the warmest products we tested for its weight and has a lower rating than nearly any of the other quilts we tested.
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.
At 17.2 ounces, it seems a little heavier than expected, until you realize that it's quite light for a quilt rated to 26°F. 10.5 ounces of that weight is down fill, which means that most of the weight of the bag is in the insulation, not extraneous fabric. We think weight could have been cut a tad more by using a less complicated pad attachment system, but for its warmth rating, it's competitive.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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