View Full Version : Jacks 'R Better Summer Universal Blanket

SGT Rock
2005-08-07, 19:45
I'll get a regular review up on the site as time permits. I still have to get one done on the HH Adventure racer.

Reviewer: SGT Rock

Age: 38

Height: 5'8"
Weight: 155 pounds

Experience: A few years of hiking http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/images/smilies/cool.gif

Similar Products Used: Nunatack Back Country Blanket, Hungry Howie Down Quilt, Jacks 'R Better No Sniveler

Locations/conditions tested: Slickrock Creek in Wester NC. 61F low with driving rain and high humidity.


Weight (advertised): 15 ounces

Weight (as tested): 14.7 ounces

Price: $168, but at this time there is an introduction sale of $149

Manufacturer web address: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/index_files/SUB.htm

Phone Number: (757) 209-7240

E-mail address: jacksrbetterquilts@cox.net

Design: Sewn through quilt made from 1.1oz DWR nylon containing 800 fill down.

Usage: Summer ultralight down top quilt or hammock under quilt.

Rating: 45F-50F


Construction, Design, or Initial Impression:
The quilt has quality construction and each is hand made, the stitch finishing is what you would expect from a good piece of gear. The quilt is basically designed in the same way as the No Sniveler/Nest with draw cords on each end, pull tabs for hammock attachment on the corners, and side tabs where the side pull outs for the hammock are. The big difference is the lack of a head hole like the other two blankets that JRB offers.

The 1.1 ounce DWR material feels more silky than my JRB No-Sniveler which I really liked and it breathes well, especially in warmer weather since it feels more like a nylon or silk sheet than a nylon tarp wrapped around you. I experienced some wet weather (it poured on me) and I went to bed wet. I was dry by the morning in my quilt.

This quilt was a good choice for me as a part of the BPL super ultralight challenge, where the idea was to get your base weight below 5 pounds. With the JRB quilt I was able to save about 3 ounces over my next lightest option. 3 ounces may not seem like a lot, but when you are trying to get your total pack weight below 5 pounds, you are already cutting corners to make it, and often you end up with "survival light" instead of ultra light. But with this quilt I was still able to have warmth, comfort, and not end up "Sucking it up" to make weight.


Initial Tests:
I initially just weighed it and played with packing it. There wasn't a lot of testing here because I have come to trust the Jacks to know how to put together an aftermarket piece for the Hennessy Hammock. Tabs lign up where they should, forms fit in the right way, and the gear is obviously designed by someone that not only knows how to backpack, but does so with the gear they make themselves.

Trail Test:
The quilt packs small, I mean small. When some people say their bag or quilt will pack to the size of a softball, it generally requires a trash compactor and a compression sack to get it. The JRB quilt packs down small like nobody's business. BUT, I do not travel that way myself since I feel that will degrade the down. I carried it in over-sized stuff sack and let it take up extra space in my pack.

I used it on a recent trail maintenance trip into the Joyce Kilmer/Sickrock forest. I was carrying about 15 pounds of tools, but thanks to this quilt, and other ultralight stuff, I was only carrying about 4.95 pounds of hiking gear!

So there I was...

We worked all day and made it to camp just as the sun was sinking down behind the high walls of the Slickrock Creek, and the rain came down hard just as I was finishing dinner. I got soaked!

I climbed into my Hennessy Hammock with a very small pad (just for butt and shoulders) and covered up. It was ~63F and there was a chill from the cold rain, but within minutes I was hot - hotter than I really wanted to be. but since the quilt is just a quilt, opening it up for some venting was no problem at all. I didn't have to fight a zipper or mated pad like some bags have, it was as simple as adjusting your temperature at home by pulling back the covers some.

So light, warm, and breathes well. Sounds like a perfect summer quilt.

I want to test the quilt as the temperatures cool down. The sew through quilting will undoubtedly keep this from ever replacing bags for fall or spring, but it sure is nice not to sweat to death under 2" of loft in the summer time, yet have a blanket that weighs half what a fleece blanket would of the same size while giving you the warmth potential to not freeze to misery when the temps do dip like we all know they can do in the southern Appalachians even in summer.

What would I change? I honestly can't think of anything now. But I will get back to this if I see something. For now I would say that this product delivers exactly what it promises.


Anything else worth mentioning:
I just want to also plug Peter Pan and Smee, the Jacks in Jacks 'R Better. They are hikers that have walked the walk and use their gear. Plus they come here and are willing to take questions and help out hikers with suggestions, complaints, and praise about their product. They are a couple of down to earth guys that have broke the code on how to make hammock camping in a Hennessy better. They specialize in aftermarket products for that hammock that other, bigger companies are starting to take notice of.