Gryphon Gear may be considered one of the new kids on the block when it comes to the ultralight quilt market, but don’t let the status fool you. Gary Benninger, founder of Gryphon Gear, has been making down-filled backpacking and expedition gear for himself and friends since the 70's. Gryphon Gear had been a pet project for him for a number of years, but after retiring from automotive engineering, he decided to get to work on building the company, which includes quilts, hooded and hoodless sleeping bags, and other innovative things like an aluminized Dyneema-lined sleeping bag.
Of the available options offered by Gryphon Gear, the Aries Quilt will be the most appealing to the Ultralight Backpacker. It comes in 10F, 20F, 30F, and 40F variations; 46”, 54” and 64” widths; and regular or long lengths. An optional draft collar can be ordered with it, which I recommend for extra comfort. Every quilt uses a differential cut, which means the circumference of the shell on the outside of the quilt is greater than on the inside. This ensures maximum loft and keeps the quilt well centered on the pad as you turn in the night. All of Gryphon Gear’s quilts use 900 fill power down.
Aries 30F Regular/Regular Specs
- 2.25 in. of loft
- 13.34 oz. of 900 fill power HyperDRY® RDS certified down
- 19.96 oz. total weight
- 80% overfill to prevent down shifting
- Durable 10D nylon shell with DWR
- Differential cut
- Fully baffled internal construction
- Snap and draw cord at neck to keep shoulders warm
- Removable pad straps
What I Like About the Aries Quilt
Over the last 10 months I have been able to get out for a number of backpacking trips in the midwest, Wyoming, and Vermont with temps ranging between the high 20’s and the 70’s, and my Aries 30 has performed extremely well. Gryphon Gear’s philosophy of “More down, more loft, more warmth” especially shines when temps dip toward freezing, as this quilt is comfort rated to the advertised temperature.
A few features I really appreciate on the Aries 30 are the slightly larger neck snaps, thicker nylon neck cinch, 10D shell material, and the draft collar. The neck snap and nylon neck cinch are larger than in other quilts I have used and their size makes them easier to use with gloves on, or when your hands are cold. The 10D shell material Gary is using has an almost old-school feel to it. Rather than the tacky or clammy feel that modern ultralight fabrics often have, Gryphon Gear’s shell material feels softer and smoother — a bit nostalgic and reminiscent of the sleeping bags I used as a kid. The draft collar adds some nice warmth when you need to pull the quilt in around you on a cold night.
A critical part of any quilt system is the pad straps that are used, and Gryphon’s system has worked great for me. It is similar to the systems you will find with many other makers with 1 elastic loop strap that attaches to your pad, and one straight strap that goes under you.
However, I did notice that the elastic loop strap can only be drawn in so that the buckles are 8” apart underneath you. I think I’d prefer the option to pull this in as close as possible underneath me. I also think that the clips on the edge of the quilt should be male/female rather than male/male so that the user could forego the straps and simply clip each side of the quilt directly together.
What separates Gryphon Gear from the competition though? What do they offer that you can’t already get in another more established brand? That comes back to Gary’s philosophy of “More Down, More Loft, More Warmth.” At each temp rating Gryphon is offering significantly more down, which means you pay the same or less, but get a quilt that is guaranteed to keep you warm to the advertised rating. It does make for a marginally heavier quilt, but in my experience this trade off has been completely worth it.
The bottom line is that Gryphon Gear is worth your consideration when you’re shopping for a quilt. They’re extremely well made by a person with decades of experience. They use familiar, tried and true features found in just about every other quilt on the market, and offer more down per dollar than anyone else.
Sean Gauvreau loves backpacking. Follow his adventures on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mittencamper/