If you ask a car person what they obsess over, it’s horsepower. For truck enthusiasts, they point to towing capacity. When you pose this same question to a hiker or backpacker, there’s no question the answer is pack weight. Hours are spent cutting excess strap lengths, meticulously weighing each item, and even trimming the length of a toothbrush handle, all to shave those precious ounces.
To put our own obsession over pack weight to the test, we decided to pack Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma Quilt for a trip through the woods. The ideal minimalist quilt when weight and simplicity are critical, it added a bit of a spring to our step and had us feeling as if we were walking in the clouds. After all, it was intently designed to decrease weight and space in a pack and to simplify a backpacker’s sleep system while keeping them warm — something we found it to accomplish with ease.
Specifically, the Enigma features a round sewn-closed foot box which provided more room for our feet while reducing dead air space that needs to be heated. With the foot box sewn closed, it required no fuss or adjustment and shedding the zipper shaved even more weight. This foot box should also prove to be perfect for cold weather trips, as it would help reduce drafts while maintaining maximum warmth.
Founded by avid backpacker, Tim Marshal, Enlightened Equipment specializes in creating custom-to-order ultralight equipment for anyone looking to spend time outdoors and who desires to experience it in the most comfortable way possible.
“A few years after getting into hiking, I went on a quick overnight with some friends,” Marshal told Digital Trends. “They were both lightweight, bordering on ultralight, and gave me a hard time about my 30-pound load for a one-night outing. One of them gave me Ray Jardine’s book and after reading it I was sold. That year , my family got me all the ‘Ray-Way‘ kits for Christmas and I spent the winter building Ray’s gear.”
Tim began making improvements to the actual kits and started developing his own unique designs, ultimately leading to what he makes today.
In the pack and on the trail
For our trip, we tested a six foot long Enigma with 850 down rated at 30 degrees. At first, we were skeptical — it’s not just light, it’s ultralight. At just 15.44 ounces and compressed in its stuff sack, the Enigma is not much larger than a softball, making it feel deceptively delicate. Herein sparked our doubts.
Due to the space-saving size, we were able to fit our entire sleep system, quilt, and sleep mat in the sleeping bag pocket of our backpack, in turn making extra room in the main compartment. This allowed us to make the decision to switch to a smaller pack, along with a combined saving of over 2 pounds in base pack weight. While on the trail, the hike was pleasant with a lighter, smaller pack and we were able to enjoy what may have been a more challenging 12-mile hike toting a heavier load.
Concerning our testing climate, our camp sat at just over 7,000 feet and the overnight temperatures hovered around roughly 35 degrees. Both nights we experienced a comfortable rest, though the quilt was a big difference for anyone used to a mummy bag. With the lack of a zipper and hood, the bag felt a bit drafty but not terribly cold. Packing up to head back out on the trail also made us really appreciate the Enigma’s size and weight all over again.
Placing the order
Even just visiting Enlightened Equipment’s website is like being a kid in a candy store. There are options to buy pre-constructed bags and quilts but the fun is in the fully customizable options. The Enigma uses DownTek-treated water repellant 850, 900, or 950 down, and temperature ratings can be custom selected from 50 to 0-degrees Fahrenheit. Length and width are also customly selected from short to extra-long, and slim to extra-wide.
The custom options don’t stop there as Enlightened offers 16 exterior and nine interior colors to choose from. These custom options do take time to deliver, as an average build and ship time for down filled products is roughly five to seven weeks — synthetic filled products even take two to four weeks.
“Time is our biggest challenge,” Marshal added. “I think we lose more customers to time than any other brand or company out there making gear. We can’t grow fast enough, launch new products soon enough, or deliver products quick enough. Time is our biggest frustration.”
Our final verdict
If you’re planning on making the jump into ultra-light backpacking or are a minimalist hiker, this bag is a no-brainer. It’s extremely light, compact, and provides you the customizable options to design it to meet your specific demands.
During our test, the quilt performed as we would have expected in terms of thermal capability. What particularly blew us away was its weight and ability to dramatically save space in our kit. We did experience a snag on the outer shell of the quilt which caused a small tear, and without a readily identifiable culprit, there was a mild question about the abrasion resistance of the material used. Currently, the answer to this question seems to exist only after we’ve put in months of use.
For now, Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma Quilt is a great addition to any camping quiver and one we wouldn’t want to leave home without.