I started my PCT hike mostly with what I already had. One of those items was a Marmot Helium 15 degree 850 fill down bag, circa 2010 or so. I had used it for the odd car camping and bike touring trip and the few overnight backpacking trips prior to the PCT. It's a great bag, although it was overkill for the PCT. It used to weigh about 2 lbs 5 ounces. I'm thinking I'll hit some consistently cold temperatures in Colorado and possibly New Mexico on the CDT this year, so I'd like to use it. My preferred bag, the Feathered Friends Vireo weighs less than a pound so it's a big jump to add roughly 10 degrees of warmth.
Rather than wring my hands over buying a new quilt, I did some googling and found out it's fairly simply to butcher a sleeping bag into a quilt to save weight. My friend Anne offered to help since I am essentially inept with a sewing machine. So I provided some beer and promised to make dinner sometime in exchange.
We followed the instructions here: http://purebound.com/homemade/sleepingbag/ although backpacking light has a slightly more complicated method here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=34665
First step was to pin and sew seams in where we would cut to limit down loss, although if you use the baffles as borders it could be avoided:
Then the scary part of actually cutting the hood, zipper and draft tube off. You'll want a vacuum handy!
Sewing up the edges:
Anne ended up finishing the seams another night and added 4 pairs of tie-outs to the long edge of the quilt. I tied some shock cord loops to be able to stretch the quilt open for my sleeping pad. During the fitting session with the expert advice of Annes mom, Annette, we decided to sew the footbox together for about 8-inches to prevent drafts.
Hood and zipper gone:
Below is the foot box. Anne stitched the seams all the way around first, then came back and did the footbox. I guess you could save a few grams of thread doing it a better way but we're shooting for durability here. This puppy has to last about 4,000 miles.
Total weight savings was 7 to 8 ounces! Not bad for $0. My lighter bag + bag liner is about 23 ounces and is good down to about 30 degrees. I'm hoping to take this now 30 ounce quilt down to about 20 degrees comfortably.
Last weekend I went on a little bushwacking overnight with Philip Werner to test the quilt out and was pretty warm after I pitched the tent low to keep out the drafts: http://sectionhiker.com/bushwhack-bailout/
The knee was sore on Monday so I'm glad we bailed out early. I'm hoping it's a good sore since it wasn't at the patella and I can keep upping my hikes. The White's are a good proving ground since the hiking I have planned won't include nearly as much rugged terrain. Stay tuned for more planning fun!