Katabatic Gear Flex 22 Quilt Review

We tested the Katabatic Gear Flex 22 Quilt and this is our verdict.

November 30, 2023
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The Katabatic Gear Flex 22 is one of the most popular quilts amongst thru-hikers, and weekend hikers alike. It is one of the lightest quilts available for this temperature rating, uses premium down, has an excellent pad attachment system, and uses its signature differential cut to maximize warmth. It’s extremely versatile and can unzip to become a large flat blanket, or it can completely cinch up for those chilly nights.

Product Overview

Katabatic Gear Flex 22 Quilt

katabatic gear flex quilt
Pros

✅ Able to be fully unzipped

✅ Excellent build quality

✅ Great pad attachment system

✅ Comfort temperature rated

Cons

❌ Can feel slightly narrow

❌ Expensive

❌ A bit noisy

KEY SPECS

  • Fill weight: 850 or 900 fill power down
  • Total weight: 22.8 ounces (Regular, 900 fill down)
  • Packed Size: 7 x 12 inches 8 Liters
  • Hip x Foot width: 46 x 40 inches
  • Shoulder width: 54 inches (Similar to 63" mummy bag)
  • 22-degree comfort rating

To compare with other sleeping pads, see our best backpacking quilts post.


Performance Test Results

How We Tested:

I initially purchased this quilt for my Great Divide Trail thru-hike and have used it ever since. I have well over 100 nights on it and it is my primary quilt/sleeping bag that I use for at least 95% of my trips. I have used this quilt through multi-day mixed precipitation storms, heatwaves where the nightly low was over 75 degrees, and chilly alpine nights down to the mid-20s.

hiker using katabatic gear flex 22 quilt

Versatility

What initially drew me to this quilt was the versatility of being able to unzip the footbox. It isn’t a cheap quilt so I wanted to make sure that I could use it in a variety of environments while still being comfortable. For most hikers, including thru-hikers, this quilt will work great. It’s warm enough for those early-season spring nights, or late-season surprise snowfalls, but also not too hot for the heat of the summer.

I find that for lower elevation campsites, particularly in July and August I unzip the quilt, uncinch the footbox, and use it as a large blanket. Being able to use it as a blanket is a nice addition while hanging around camp, laying out and watching the stars, or those quick little walks from camp to watch the sunset. Fully sewn footbox quilts/sleeping bags don’t work nearly as well in this regard and I was surprised at how often I used my quilt outside the tent.

katabatic gear flex 22 quilt footbox

In lower-elevation campsites, the quilt can be used as a large blanket, adding warmth to camp activities.

Also, on a lot of my Great Divide Trail thru-hike, I had wet feet. I really don’t like the feeling of having wet feet all day and then having them cooped up in the bottom of a quilt without the opportunity to breathe. Even if I have the quilt zipped up, I almost always have the footbox open so I can let my feet air out overnight. If I change my mind in the middle of the night, it only takes a second to quickly cinch it up.

Lastly, the foot and the draft collar both have a snap if you really want to lock in the warmth. I have only used them a few times but stay noticeably warmer, particularly when doing up the draft collar snap. It keeps all the warm air from escaping out of the top of the quilt. It is worth mentioning that the draft collar snap can be quite difficult to unsnap, which is annoying as it’s around your neck.

One last thing about versatility, this is the only quilt I have found that can work without a sleeping pad. There are two little loops next to the attachment clips that allow you to run some straps (provided) through them to cinch it up around you. It’s a bit hard to explain so check out the picture below. This would be great if sharing a 2-person pad or if you’re car camping on a large pad where the normal pad attachment system won’t work.

katabatic gear flex 22 quilt loop attachment

Flex quilt can be tightened around the body by looping straps through the loops adjacent to the attaching clips.

Warmth and Weight

One thing I really appreciate about this quilt is the temperature rating. Katabatic Gear rates their quilts according to the EN Comfort Rating, while most competitors use the EN Lower Limit or an arbitrary spot in the middle. It’s nice to know that the quilt is intended to keep you comfortable with the temperature it’s rated to. It’s hard to understand what your “Lower Limit” actually means in practice. Keep this in mind when looking to compare quilt weights.

There are lighter quilts that advertise themselves as 20-degree quilts, but they are usually not Comfort Rated. Also, not everyone sleeps the same. You may find you sleep warmer or colder than some people, but being able to understand how you compare to an EN Comfort Rating is great for learning about what you want in a quilt.

katabatic gear flex 22 quilt attachment

Geometry

Katabatic Gear really likes to talk about their differential cut, which I didn’t really understand until I had one in my hands. Essentially the shell of the quilt is wider than the lining, so the down isn’t getting squished when you snug it up tight around you. It is likely something nobody would ever notice unless it didn’t have a differential cut.

Also related to the geometry of the quilt are the stretchy edges that naturally cinch around your body. Rather than relying on the pad attachment system entirely, the stretchy areas curl around you to keep drafts out.

view of katabatic gear flex 22 quilt

The quilt's wider shell prevents the down from being squished when tightly coiled around the body.

Sizing

Regarding sizing, I am 6’, weigh 165 lbs., and have broad shoulders. I have the regular size but would have appreciated getting the wider size. It’s only 4 inches wider but would offer that much more protection in colder weather and only weighs about 1.5 ounces more. If you are someone that sleeps on your side or rolls around a lot when you sleep you may want to consider getting the wide version, especially if you are close to the suggested width limit.

using katabatic gear flex 22 quilt inside a tent

You might want to consider grabbing the wide version if you roll over frequently or sleep on your side.

Pad Attachment System

This quilt has a fantastic pad attachment system. There are 2 small cords that go around your pad and then the quilt clasps to it. I used to keep the pad straps on my sleeping pad all year, but I now rotate between a couple of different pads. I drew a small line with a permanent marker on my pad to remind me exactly where the pad straps should be so there is no messing around when I hit camp.

Regarding the pad attachment system, there are 2 different settings. The first allows the quilt to slide side to side while still being secured to the cord. The second completely immobilizes the quilt and is great for ensuring there are no drafts coming in at all.

I have only used the second setting a handful of times but really appreciate the secure feeling of keeping in all my warmth. The first setting is great since it will allow you more room to move around in the quilt and if you sit up quickly it will detach and not cause any damage to your pad or your quilt.

katabatic gear flex 22 quilt footbox

I usually keep the footbox open so I can let my feet air out overnight, even if I have the quilt zipped up.


Why I chose this quilt

There were a few reasons I chose this quilt over some of the competitors' quilts. First, was the consistency of the product. I have heard from several people that some other quilt companies have struggled with temperature ratings and consistency. This was a big investment for me, and I wanted to be confident with my purchase. I think the build quality and temperature ratings are spot on.

Secondly, I wanted something that I could use in a variety of ways. On the GDT I knew I would be experiencing a huge range of weather conditions, and I wanted something that would work through all of it. Too warm of a quilt is definitely a thing. I also wanted this to be something I could use after my thru-hike, it helped me justify this as a lifetime purchase.

vie of katabatic gear flex 22 quilt inside a tent

The Flex is amazing and an excellent option if you're looking for a new quilt that will work for the US or Southern Canada.

Finally, as Down is an animal product I wanted to make sure I was making the most ethically informed decision with my purchase. Katabatic Gear uses high-quality Responsible Down Standard in all their products which is a 3rd party company that certifies the down is ethically sourced.

Things I would change

The face fabric and lining are Pertex Quantum which is a very popular fabric for down-insulated gear, however, it doesn’t have the same cozy factor as some other quilts I have come across. The Enlightened Equipment quilts have a different fabric that is much softer, and almost silent when rubbed together. This gives it a plusher feeling and is quieter when moving around at night. To be fair I haven’t had a single hole in my quilt yet and my friends with EE quilts have a handful of patches already.

I would also change up the snap near the draft collar so it’s easier to undo or come up with another system. It does a great job and staying snapped together but can be frustrating trying to roll around in the quilt to unsnap it.

katabatic gear flex 22 quilt draft collar

What’s included when buying:

  • Silnylon Stuff Sack
  • Storage Bag - 100% recycled, breathable fabric
  • 2mm Cords for attaching to your pad

Shop here

Austin Hager photo

About Austin Hager

Austin Hager is a B.C. based thru-hiker and mountain explorer. He's thru-hiked the Great Divide Trail and 100s of kms in the Rockies and the Kootenays. You can find him hiking, climbing or snowboarding throughout the mountains of Western Canada. 



About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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