Getting cuddly with the Solo Quilt v4 by Blue Bolt on the first night of my return to the Sierra Nevada. Off trail near Jigsaw Pass.
"What a strange contraption," I whispered to myself when I received and unboxed the Blue Bolt Solo Quilt v4.
Vapor Barrier Liner...?
These are features that I’ve rarely seen on an ultralight quilt. I quietly chuckled to myself, as I stuffed it into my pack. It seemed kinda quirky to be perfectly honest.
The Solo Quilt arrived just in time for a quick Spring overnight trip near Flagstaff, Arizona. With overnight lows expected to dip into the 30’s, it would be quite a first-round test. But also a fitting one, as the Blue Bolt Solo Quilt was designed specifically for cold and wet conditions.
I’ve put the Blue Bolt Solo through the wringer during the 2022 North American hiking season, including: on and off trail in the Sierra Nevada, as well as the Grand Canyon and Coconino National Forest.
What the Solo looks like in my typical setup. I usually use my Katabatic Pinon Bivy as a groundsheet, but set it up in “bivy mode” when I need protection from bugs or splashback. The Zpacks Altaplex Tarp protects me from rain, and the Cnoc Cork Trekking Poles hold everything together.
Specs of the Solo Quilt v4 by Blue Bolt
- 771g / 27.20 oz
- Size: Large (77in / 195cm)
- Shell: 10D Nylon Ripstop w / DWR
- Lining: 10D Sil-Nylon Vapor Barrier Taffeta
- Fill: 6 oz/sqyd Climashield APEX
- Comfort Rated to 25F / -4C
- Integrated hood
- Orange lining for SAR purposes
- Zippered footbox and body with running draft tube
- Zippers are orange for easy finding at night
- Comes with cotton storage bag and pad straps
Pros of the Solo Quilt v4 by Blue Bolt
This quilt is TEEMING with options. The Solo Quilt by Blue Bolt sports two integrated zippers that run around the footbox and up along the body of the quilt. It lets you vent or bundle to your content. You can use the quilt like a blanket when fully unzipped in hot and humid temperatures, or like a traditional sleeping bag, when cold temperatures have you shivering. The orientation of the zippers also lets you choose somewhere in between, without having to fiddle with different shock cords or straps like on a traditional quilt. The Solo Quilt's most versatile feature though is its hood, but more on that later.
Down products offer a wide variety of positives; there's no denying that. However, when the going gets tough, synthetic insulation has your back. Believe me, nothing is warm when it is wet. However, synthetic insulation can retain some amount of loft, and thus warmth, when wet. And when it's time to dry Apex Climashield in the field, you can simply lay it out in the sun. Eventually you'll want to properly clean it to bring out its full potential, but you can at least make it into town, or to the end of your trip, with a functional quilt.
The Enveloping Hood.
I love Cowboy sleeping, and I regularly tell backpackers such. On my first night using this quilt in the high Sierra Nevada, I got harrased by one pesky mosquito and a short drizzle of rain. If I were using a normal quilt or sleeping bag, I would have either had to just take the abuse from mother nature, or get out of bed to set up an enclosed shelter.
Enter the third option afforded by the Solo Quilt — pull up the hood over my face and drift off into dreamland. It was that simple. I didn't have to worry TOO MUCH about getting cold from wet insulation, since the quilt is made from synthetic Apex Climashield, and also includes an integrated (and super unique) vapor barrier liner to keep the quilt's insulation dry.
The Enveloping Hood.
Just in case your only experience backpacking is vicariously through YouTube, just a heads up: you smell. It's a patina that will linger on your gear longer than any shower you could dream of. Now imagine having to smell that smell all night long.
In all seriousness, it's not THAT bad. At some point, we all learn to live with our musk. But it is inescapable when you deploy the hood. For some, that'll be a deal breaker, no doubt. But for others, those who truly know the backpacking life, it'll be just another day (or should I say, night?) on trail.
It's true for all insulation, really, but especially so for synthetic insulation that mimics down and traps air to create warmth: over compacting the insulation will reduce its effectiveness especially with time.
Down can bounce back and loft up to keep you warm for years after condensing it repeatedly. Synthetic materials will not hold up reliably over time with that same usage. Therefore, it’s necessary to be careful to not over-compact the Solo Quilt. However, Apex Climashield is an extremely tankey material, and you should be able to get years of life out of your quilt.
The Solo v4 by Blue Bolt improves upon the traditional ultralight quilt and sleeping bag by applying creative and innovative techniques to achieve an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio. The bag is perfect for the ultralight thru-hiker, or the weekend warrior.
The Solo in its provided nice cotton storage sack. A great way to protect the quilt when not in use, while elongating the life of the synthetic insulation.
Rafael is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on Instagram, or read more of his work over on his website.