Tlisted here are instances once I’m completely happy to hold a quilt that’s method hotter than it must be. My 20°F quilt is darn close to assured to sweat me out if I tuck it tightly, however it’s straightforward to drape it loosely and I by no means want to fret about sleeping chilly. Nonetheless, typically I really feel like that peace of thoughts isn’t price the additional bulk and weight on my again. Generally all I need is the best device for the job. The Spirit Quilt 38° by Mountain Laurel Designs is simply that in the course of the hotter months when the times are lengthy and the mountains are of their climbing prime.

I picked up the Spirit 38° this summer season after my beloved rainbow 30° quilt was misplaced within the mail. Whereas I by no means thought of carrying something lighter responsibility than that, I made a decision to push my limits within the identify of feeling like a wannabe UL badass. And with a bushy beard sprouting from my face because of my laziness, how chilly may I actually get? Nighttime lows within the excessive Rockies had been proper at my Spirit’s restrict, so I used to be about to seek out out. The board was set, and I stuffed my pack. Would I remorse carrying such a light-weight quilt? Time would inform.

Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt 38° At-a-Look

The MLD Spirit 38 is a light-weight artificial quilt with a zippered footbox.

MSRP: $230 (As examined. $260 with optionally available poncho head slot.)
Weight: 17 ounces (As examined. 15-21 ounces primarily based on chosen measurement.)
Temperature Score: 38°F (Additionally accessible: 28° and 48°F)
Kind: Quilt, opening zippered footbox
Insulation: Artificial Climashield APEX
Material: 10D nylon interior and outer
Nation of Origin: U.S.A.

Meant Use

The product description on the Mountain Laurel Designs web site has lots of helpful issues to say, together with the next disclaimer: “The Spirit Quilt 38°, is a real Extremely Light-weight Specialists device; if you’re new to backcountry sleep quilt techniques and their use, please learn the whole product description and specs earlier than including to cart.” Now, I wouldn’t use these phrases — Extremely Light-weight Specialist — to explain myself, however I get the place MLD is coming from.

Their Spirit quilts, particularly their lighter fashions (38° and 48°) aren’t designed for simply anybody. With out understanding the constraints of such a chunk of drugs, it may be harmful to substitute a light-weight quilt for a basic mummy sleeping bag. With the previous, there’s a studying curve concerned, and one wants observe to extract the utmost heat from such a specialised design. So what does that imply? The Spirit Quilt, and particularly the 38°F model, is for backpackers who desire a sturdy, light-weight quilt for all circumstances, and aren’t afraid to discover ways to use it correctly.

Circumstances of Evaluate

October alongside the Gila. Good residing.

I examined my Spirit 38° from the center of summer season and into the colourful explosion of autumn. Summer time lows within the excessive Rockies had been much like October lows alongside the Gila River in New Mexico, and I pushed this quilt to, and a bit previous its listed temperature score. Most of my nights underneath the Spirit had been within the low 40’s (inside tent measurement), and I attempted to sleep in as few layers as potential to typically and precisely characterize its insulating talents. The quilt was additionally paired with a thrashed Zlite Sol (R-value of two), which didn’t do it any favors with its barely satisfactory floor insulation.

Moreover, I’m 5’7” and used a measurement medium, which I believe was a near-perfect match. I’d additionally take into account myself a heat sleeper, so please take my heat evaluation with a grain of salt except you burn scorching as effectively.

Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt Options

Connect the Spirit to your sleeping pad with a single elastic strap. Nothing fancy or offensive right here.

Non-obligatory poncho gap

In the event you’d like the flexibility to put on your Spirit like a poncho round camp, hands-free, then you may add a slot in the midst of the quilt to slide your head via. This’ll value you $30 and your dignity, however is perhaps a useful characteristic for you. My Spirit didn’t embody this.

Zippered footbox

Whereas the again of the quilt is at all times open, the footbox may be zipped closed from the toes to roughly the knees. Mixed with the drawcord closure on the backside, this enables the Spirit to have a closed footbox once you wish to hold your toes heat. On scorching nights, unzip and open it up right into a flat, virtually rectangular blanket.

Footbox plug

Distinctive to the Spirit, MLD features a small insulated plug (identical supplies because the quilt), that’s supposed for use to plug the small gap left by the drawcord on the toes. For minimal additional weight or fuss, this factor blocks drafts from blowing the place they’re least wished.

Snap and drawcord neck closure

Like most/all quilts, a plastic snap button and drawcord assist seal the quilt round your neck. This helps to scale back drafts and is crucial at near-limit temperatures.

Artificial insulation

Climashield APEX is an artificial insulation that’s manufactured in massive, steady sheets. This form minimizes seams and stitching, which may each introduce potential chilly spots. Whereas this expertise doesn’t match the warmth-to-weight ratio or packability of most down insulation, it retains its insulating properties when moist, lasts a very long time, and is less complicated to scrub. And whereas it’s derived from petroleum merchandise, it dodges the sticky moral questions that encompass even ‘responsibly’ sourced animal merchandise.

Underquilt prepared

I like sleeping on the bottom, so I’m not precisely positive what it takes to show this quilt into an underquilt for a hammock setup, however apparently that is potential.

Pad attachment system

Easy and efficient, the quilt clips to an elastic strap that encircles your sleeping pad. From there, one can open or tighten the quilt as desired to match the circumstances. When the temperature drops, this will make an enormous distinction by blocking drafts and lowering extra useless air.

How’d It Do?

The material and neck closure of the MLD Spirit isn’t precisely plushy, however they get the job performed.

Nicely, I didn’t die. In truth, I used to be at all times snug whereas utilizing the Spirit 38°, and typically too heat once I chickened out and added clothes layers. So, as I hoped, it was the perfect quilt for summer season within the mountains, or the shoulder seasons in hotter climates. It could have been good for the Florida Path earlier this yr, and, I think about, nice for the useless of summer season on the AT.


The Spirit is a minimalist quilt that’s just about free from extraneous consolation options. As an illustration, there’s no draft collar to enhance the texture of the neck opening, and the outer/interior material are precisely the identical. With extra comfort-oriented quilts/sleeping baggage, the interior material is commonly chosen for its next-to-skin really feel, however that isn’t a precedence for MLD. As a substitute, as described on their extremely academic Material Mojo web page, the Spirit’s 10D ripstop nylon was chosen for sturdiness and energy. Its denser weave additionally contributes to the quilt’s heat in ways in which solely the nerdiest gearhead will perceive or respect (Hey, don’t take a look at me).

I convey all this up to not bash on the Spirit for being uncomfortable, however to focus on that plushy consolation shouldn’t be the highest precedence. So in case you just like the finer issues in life, then it is perhaps price monitoring down a sleeping bag with extra refinement. They exist and don’t essentially weigh extra.

As a substitute, MLD focuses on thermal effectivity. The Spirit is tuned to maintain you heat for as little weight as potential, which is arguably extra essential than material really feel relying in your priorities. Saving weight in your again will increase consolation all day whereas climbing, and most of the people put on garments to sleep anyway. Why do I care if the interior material is as gentle as pet fur if I’m nonetheless sporting my salt-crusted climbing shirt? That’s my, barely gross view, not less than.


Not likely a good comparability, however on the left is a 20°F down quilt. The MLD Spirit is on the best. The distinction in loft is important and the absence of baffles is apparent.

MLD breaks from different quilt and sleeping bag producers by resisting the characterization of their quilts with a single fairly, and extremely certified, temperature score. The true heat of a sleep system depends on so many components and the quilt is only one a part of this, so I get it. In addition to, there isn’t even a regular for testing quilt heat scores like there’s for sleeping baggage. So whereas that is as irritating as a hipster explaining the distinction between an americano and low, I respect MLD for not taking the straightforward method out.

As a substitute, they clarify their evaluation of the quilt’s heat because it pertains to clothes layers worn in conjunction. The Spirit 38 ought to hold you heat whereas sporting gentle baselayers all the way down to 38°F. Add an insulated jacket, heat hat, and bivy/shelter, then you definately is perhaps good all the way down to 32°F. Add much more heat garments and also you is perhaps good to 25°F. In fact, the logic behind this is sensible and applies to all sleeping baggage — put on extra heat garments and also you’ll be hotter. Duh, is sensible, proper? This fact is commonly neglected.

In my expertise, MLD has it near dialed. I favor to sleep in a hooded puffy or fleece irrespective of the temperature for additional coziness, however to check the Spirit, I slept in shorts and my climbing shirt on a few nights that dipped to round 40°F. I wasn’t cooking, however I slept comfortably. On equally chilly nights once I did don my jacket, I used to be heat sufficient that I didn’t must fuss with the pad attachment system.


Right here’s the footbox in all of its glory. The zipper and plug do a fairly good job of closing it up.

In all honesty, I favor my quilts to have a closed footbox, and I solely took an opportunity on the opening design of the Spirit as a result of I’m not involved in regards to the temperatures within the 40’s for which it’s supposed. By no means have I ever felt like a completely opening footbox would enhance my life, and I’ve at all times been skeptical of the closure techniques. In truth, the one time I borrowed a Revelation quilt from Enlightened Tools, I may really feel a puff of chilly air sneaking in via the cinched closure each time I moved. It sucked. Toes are sometimes the toughest a part of the physique to maintain heat at night time, so why purposely construct in one thing that compromises this integrity?

Completely different quilt producers method this challenge in several methods, and I admit that MLD solved the issue. Connected to the footbox closure drawstring (so it received’t get misplaced), is a tube of insulation in regards to the measurement of a scorching canine bun or burrito off the Taco Bell worth menu. Cinch up the footbox round this plug and it blocks drafts. This can be a easy and efficient, albeit inelegant, resolution.

When the plug popped out earlier than falling asleep one night time, I instantly observed a draft on my toes, which was all of the affirmation I wanted that it really works. So, am I pleased with the footbox design? I like that it blocks drafts, however I stay unconvinced that zippered footboxes are price their weight. I’ve nonetheless by no means felt the urge to open it whereas I sleep, and that one time I popped my toes out to waddle round camp was largely for novelty.


The Spirit 38 is a comparatively light-duty quilt. Subsequently, although it makes use of artificial insulation moderately than down, it packs fairly small. I can’t think about anybody complaining about its packability and it’s tiny in comparison with my 20°F artificial quilt. In addition to, in terms of artificial insulation, you may’t beat Climashield APEX. It’s the perfect we now have whether or not you assume it compresses effectively or not.

Artificial vs. Down Insulation

The strengths and weaknesses of each down and artificial insulation have been defined in a lot of articles already.  Broadly, down is light-weight and compressible, nevertheless it additionally approaches uselessness when moist and is pricey.  Artificial insulation is reasonable and has good moist climate efficiency, however is heavier and extra cumbersome than down.

Regardless of the drawbacks, artificial insulation is a superb selection for many who need fuss-free heat in damp environments. On the PCT, every week of misty overcast circumstances step by step saturated my down sleeping again night time after night time till its heat was considerably compromised. This isn’t unusual on the AT both the place summer season humidity could make it tough to dry damp gear even on sunny days. So if you wish to fear much less, then take into account artificial.

Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt Execs

My accomplice hates how the footbox plug appears to be like, and I don’t blame her, nevertheless it works.

Footbox plug: I believe it’s ludicrous to have a footbox that doesn’t utterly stop drafts. There are quite a few methods to make sure that chilly air stays out, and MLD’s might be the least-sexy resolution, nevertheless it works. That’s what issues.

Value: Artificial merchandise are considerably cheaper than their down equivalents, which is nice for the budget-minded backpacker. The MLD Spirit is a high-quality quilt for a comparatively low worth. Whereas my 38°F model possible received’t minimize it as a do-it-all quilt, the Spirit 28 may very well be simply that. In order that’s a PCT-, CDT-, or AT-worthy quilt for simply $245? Not too shabby.

Weight: There are lighter quilts on the market, and a few are even hotter than the Spirit 38. Nonetheless, when you get to a sure level, it hardly appears like an oz. right here or there issues. At 15-21 ounces, relying on the scale, I’m extra anxious about getting my meals amount proper than my Spirit in terms of reducing weight.

Cruelty-free: I’m not right here to push my vegan agenda, however even down produced in settlement with the Accountable Down Normal (RDS) is exploitative. Positive, it doesn’t permit for live-plucking, force-feeding, or different merciless practices, nevertheless it nonetheless permits the commoditization of residing beings in a method that eliminates their consent and values their lives as lower than our personal. I’m not saying that geese want governmental illustration, solely that, as people, our technological advances permit us to now select compassion over exploitation. By changing down with artificial insulation, we keep away from arbitrarily defining “accountable”, and remove an avenue in the direction of animal exploitation.

Made in USA: High quality customized quilts made proper right here in the perfect rattling nation between Mexico and Canada. ‘Murica!

Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt Cons

Not many seams to talk of. That makes the MLD Spirit hotter, but additionally fussier.

Weight: Screw it, this could be a professional and a con. In the event you care about weight above all else, then you’ll in all probability wind up with a down quilt. However please, please, please, hold it dry.

Free material: One of many strengths of the Spirit’s APEX insulation is that it is available in a single, steady sheet. Stitching pokes holes in that fancy material and may contribute to chilly spots the place the insulation is compressed, so it’s extra environment friendly when there is no such thing as a want for baffles or quilting. The draw back is that the massive, unanchored panel can billow and get caught in odd methods. At worst, I wrestle to get my clammy toes into place. Nonetheless, as soon as I’m there, it’s all good. 

Extremely specialised: The Spirit 38 isn’t the ‘one quilt to rule all of them’. I’m thrilled to have it in my quiver for warm-weather journeys, however I’d really feel restricted if it was the one quilt I owned. Because of this, I view it as a luxurious merchandise for gear nerds or Florida Path fanatics. You would possibly be capable to make the hotter, Spirit 28 work for nearly something, nevertheless, in case you like what MLD is laying down however don’t already personal a hotter choice.

Last Ideas

Carrying my MLD Spirit like this was a enjoyable second and saved my legs heat, however I’m nonetheless not absolutely onboard with the opening footbox.

The Spirit 38 from MLD has helped me attain my sensible restrict when lightening my backpacking equipment for summer season within the mountains. It’s simply sufficient quilt to maintain me snug in delicate circumstances, and bringing it alongside has made an enormous distinction to my backpack’s quantity. Whereas my 20° quilt gives a reassuringly silly quantity of heat and is sort of at all times overkill, there’s one thing that feels good about carrying not more than what I would like.

Nonetheless, whereas I may convey one of many many 40°F quilts available on the market at the moment, I really consider that MLD’s no-frills, dogged concentrate on performance-to-weight matches my type of backpacking. I don’t want something fancy to be snug and completely happy within the backcountry. Not that my tolerance for grodiness and plasticky material makes me higher than anybody, however I do get a kick out of by no means altering my garments.

And although I favor a closed footbox on my quilts, I like MLD’s plug design. It appears to be like funky, nevertheless it works effectively and is a utilitarian resolution that sums up the strengths of the Spirit. In the event you’re available in the market for an artificial quilt, then the MLD Spirit is actually one to contemplate. It’s the epitome of ultralight performed proper, and performs precisely as promised.

Store the MLD Spirit Quilt 38°

Related Artificial Quilts

Enlightened Tools Revelation APEX 40°F
MSRP: $220
Temp score: 40°F
Weight: 18.8 ounces
Insulation: Climashield APEX

Enlightened Tools Enigma APEX 40°F
MSRP: $230
Temp score: 40°F
Weight: 17.1 ounces
Insulation: Climashield APEX

Learn our overview of the Enigma APEX right here.

Zenbivy Mild Quilt 40° Artificial
MSRP: $139
Temp score: 40°F
Weight: 23 ounces
Insulation: 1d/3d polyester mix

Disclaimer: The MLD Spirit 38° was donated for the aim of overview.



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