"sub 2268 hiking" ~ John Abela

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Thanks everybody!
+John Abela

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

February 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in News & Updates

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Enlightened Equipment ‘Enigma APEX’ Quilt

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Enlightened Equipment 'Enigma APEX' Quilt

The Enlightened Equipment ‘Enigma APEX‘ quilt is a sewn-closed footbox + Climashield APEX synthetic insulated quilt being made by one of the biggest cottage quilt manufacture in America, Enlightened Equipment.

The ‘Enigma APEX‘ is a quilt that I have been using on and off for the last eight months. As a 100% synthetic hiker (no animal down products) getting the chance to acquire and use this quilt has been really great and it has impressed me in many ways!

After I did an interview with Enlightened Equipment, which you can read here, I was contacted by their ‘Research and Development Team‘, which is made up of a few EE employees that work on doing R&D (probably my favorite thing in the hiking industry), to see if I would be interested in testing a few products they have been developing and that needed some T&E (testing & evaluation). Given that R&D/T&E is a good part of what I do throughout the year I was more than happy to help them out. Now, many months later, some of the products they were developing have been brought to market, such as the Enigma APEX quilt. A few others are still in the R&D phase, and one or two items I think got the axe.

A lot of the gear that they asked if I would be up for testing I turned down, as I can only test so much gear over the course of a year, or where things that I just had no desire to test it – such as animal down products. In the end I said yes to three items, one of which was the Enigma APEX quilt. I was under a NDA on it until it was publically released, and still am not able to talk about the other two items I am testing, obviously. With the quilt being a R&D product it, was obviously, duh, provided to me for testing, without payment, and “no expectations of you from a publicity perspective” — in other words, they did not expect in any way for me to write anything publicly about the quilt, but they did not object to me doing so when I asked them if I could write up something about it. Okie, disclaimer/history explained, let us move on to what matters.

How I Configured Mine:

Enlightened Equipment 'Enigma APEX' Quilt FabricThose of you familiar with the Enlightened Equipment (EE) quilts know that you get a whole bunch of options for how to configure your quilt.

The options I went with were:

  • F40° Climashield APEX Synthetic Insulation
  • Length: regular
  • Width: slim
  • Inner: Red 10d
  • Outer: Black 10d

It worked out to be a pretty good configuration for me. Happy with the choices that I went with.

Configuration Insights:

I went with the F40° insulation because the vast majority of the nights I spend out on trail are well above the F40° temp range, and as I have learned over the last few years of using the MLD FKT Quilt, and the MLD Spirit 28, (and other synthetic quilts from other companies I cannot talk about) the ideal way to approach these type of synth quilts is to expect to be a bit cold (even more true if you plan on not wearing any thermals at night), this is not a result of bad ratings or insufficient insulation, or poor quality insulation, but just that the temp rating of synthetic insulated quilts seems to be a bit lower than what they are rated at/for, in my experience.

I do want to say that for the first time in my experiences with synthetic insulated quilts, I think EE has figured out a solid temp rating, because my F40° rated quilt tends to cook me out of it a lot more than what I would have ever expected. In fact, in one of my initial feedback responses to the EE R&D Team, I specifically asked them if they sent me the incorrect temp rated quilt, thinking I might have gotten a F30° or maybe even a F20° rated quilt. Turns out that was not the case, and for reasons unknown, my F40° feels more like a F30° most nights, and at times I feel like comparing it to the MLD Spirit 28 quilt that I have. I do not know if this means that an EE F20° rated quilt would be more along the lines of a F10° or not, but suffice to say, the temp rating on the quilt I have received is impressive.

I went with the “regular” length quilt as I am 5 feet 11 & 3/4 inches (~181 cm) in height. It was a good choice. I usually like a slightly too long of quilt, but it has worked out rather well. If I were to order another one I probably would not order the ‘long’ version and would stick with the ‘regular’ length.

I went with a “slim” width because I just do not need a super wide quilt. At ~145 pounds (~65kg) I have not had any issues with not being able to wrap the quilt around me. Note that I do not tuck my quilts under my sleeping pad, I have just never been a fan of doing that.

As for the colour, I went with a black outer, to help with heating up the bag when out on the trail (to help it dry faster in the sun) and a red inner, just because I was feeling adventurous on the day that I order the quilt.


Usage Thoughts:

The Enlightened Equipment Enigma APEX quilt has impressed me, it really has. I am not going to compare it to other synth quilts out there (I almost never compare ‘product a’ vs ‘product b’, that is just not what I do) but I would put it into the top/highest quality of synth quilts that I have tested over the last two years (five of them so far) and as such am happy to write this article about the quilt.  If it sucked, I simply would not write about it, as I have not the other ones I have tested. Hell, if it was even so-so/half-ass I would probably not write about. Something has to impress me to get me to write about it these days.

The highlights: To keep this article from being a bazillion words long, let me just highlight what I feel are the top quality aspects, the key points, of the Enigma APEX quilt.

  • From a performance perspective: I have found the quilt to be at the excellent level of things. The temp rating on the quilt seems to be better than what I expected.
  • From a fabric perspective: I have found the quilt to be good but not the best quilt fabric I have used. It is a tiny bit slippery/slick.
  • From a durability perspective: I have found the quilt fabric to be up there with the other top end synth quilts that I have used. The quality of build is exceptional, as one would expect from Enlightened Equipment.
  • From a features perspective: The quilt features all of the things I would expect it to have in what we have come to expect ultralight quilts to have.
  • From a drying out perspective: The quilt has gotten a bit wet a few times. A couple times from condensation, but mostly from me just sweating out at night. Each time it has dried out very quickly once I set it out in the sun. At night when I sweat it out, when I wake up and realize it, I just flip the quilt inside out and go back to sleep (an awesome thing about using a synthetic quilt) and by the time I wake up in the morning it is all dried out and ready to get stuffed into my pack.

So do I have any negative things to say about the quilt? Meh, there is one thing, but it is a 100% personal issue and has nothing to do with the quality/performance of the quilt itself. I personally find the depth of the footbox on Enlightened Equipment quilts to be significantly too deep. I have to bend my knee almost 3/4 of the way up to my chest in order to get my foot out of an EE quilt. At night, when I wake up just enough to roll over to my other side, or to kick my feet out of the footbox to vent, having to lift my feet that far up, bending my knees that far, it is just enough to pull me out of that subconscious ‘i’m sleeping but rolling over‘ into a state of moving my body enough to almost waking me up. Again, absolutely one of those personal, a how it affects me, kind of thing. I solved this by having a friend cut down the footbox by 6 & 1/2 inches (16.51 cm). As I do not really care for quilts with foot boxes, if this had not been something that I was pre-product-release testing, the simple solution for me would be to not get this particular quilt, and instead buy something along the lines of the Enlightened Equipment Itasca quilt, and see if I could talk them into making it with synthetic insulation instead of animal down. Again please, do not equate my personal issue with foot boxes with there being a reason to not buy one of these quilts.

Enlightened Equipment 'Enigma APEX' Quilt Branding

Two other quick things that I thought I would share, just as a type of side-note for my fellow long time quilt users:

  • There is a slightly larger than normal piece of hardware (a ‘drum lock’ I think it is called??) at the center of the top side of the head end of the quilt, you know, the one used to secure/tighten the shoulder/neck draw cord. While I do like the position of it (better top-center than having them on the sides of the quilt, which results in you sleeping on them all night long, man do I hate quilts with side/end hardware) just note that this little drum lock is a tiny bit larger than the traditional mini cord lock that most of us are use to. I do like this drum lock, it is way easier to use with gloves on, and thus why I have highlighted it, I like things that make things easier.
  • The under-pad hardware is not removable without cutting it off. That said, I do not know of any other quilt out there that has a way to totally remove the under-pad hardware (anybody know of one?) without cutting it off. It seems like giving users the ability to detach vs cutting would be a no-brainer, but given, it seems, nobody does, I guess nobody has come up with a way to do it.

That about wraps up everything that I wanted to share about the Enlightened Equipment ‘Enigma APEX‘ quilt. I am super happy to have been able to help and give feedback to Enlightened Equipment on this quilt before it was released, and have enjoyed continuing to use it after it has been released. The number of high end, top quality, synthetic quilts available to us within the hiking industry is not very large, so it has been really awesome seeing Enlightened Equipment introduce a really great synthetic quilt into their quilt line-up.

Enlightened Equipment Online:

You can find Enlightened Equipment online at:

Enlightened Equipment ‘Enigma‘ website page:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EnlightenedEquipment/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC17Rzur2rLoKtx8ZtCbV0yA

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/enlightenedequipment/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/enlightenedeq

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

August 29, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Posted in Thoughts on Gear

[Massdrop] Zpacks Nero Backpack

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Hey everybody,

Our good friends over at Zpacks teamed up with our good friends at Massdrop to bring the Zpacks ‘Nero’ Backpack to the Massdrop website, at a rather nice discount.

As any of you Zpacks fans know, Zpacks almost never offers deals on their gear. Every few years they sometimes do a Christmas/holiday discount, but even that has been rare.

Over the last year Zpacks has worked with Massdrop on a few different Drops/Deals, including the Duplex, but this time around it is the new Nero backpack.

You can join this Massdrop drop at:


The normal price for the Nero is $199.00 USD.

The discount price that Massdrop has been able to offer is: $174.99

That is discount of $24.01 for the mathematically inclined.

The Nero is available in army green, azure blue, black, or gray. The azure blue and army green are in my photo attached to this article.

You can read my initial thoughts/insights into the new Nero backpack within this article of mine.

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

August 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Deals

Tagged with , , ,

[For Sale] Zpacks Rain Garments. Top & Bottom.

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Putting up for sale my Zpacks Rain Garments.

These are the last version of the white fabric, considered the best MVTR rain gear Zpacks has ever released. Those of you who know how special this fabric is probably know that you will never find another matching pair of these again.

Top & Bottom, sold ONLY as a set.

Size: Large.

Specs: 135 grams for the jacket and 90 grams for the pants

$260 shipped USA ONLY

Drop me a message if you would like to buy them!


90 grams for the pants


135 grams for the jacket

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

July 20, 2017 at 11:04 am

Posted in Gear Announcements

Peak to Plateau, Kailash 1/4 Zip

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Peak to Plateau, Kailash Quarter Zip - Front

Back in November of 2016 I posted over on my facebook page about a kickstarter project for a Yak wool baselayer, from the company Peak to Plateau, called the ‘Kailash 1/4 Zip‘.

Being one of the few people in the long distance hiking community, it seems, that has really invested time and money into putting to the test Yak wool garments, it was hard for me to not back this project.

Earlier today the garment showed up. As anybody that has done kickstarter knows, any non-digital kickstarter that shows up, is a good thing, and at five months past the Kickstarter estimated date of delivery, that is something that does not bother me all that much. Small start up companies, trying to get all the cogs in order, working with products (in this case, yak wool) outside the normality, well, they deserve some leniency.

So to get into the specs of this garment…

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Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

July 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm

[Deal] Zpacks Bear Bags

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The Zpacks Bear Bag kit includes… the bag, cordage, a carabiner, and a cute little rocksack.

It is not all that often that I share about price deals via my website, I think the last one was when I reviewed and offered a coupon for the Solumbra BodyShade Tshirt (which I now have 500+ days of wearing, and hope to have a follow-up review out soon), and as all of you know, Zpacks pretty much never offers deals (sometimes for the holidays they do), but every so often they work out a deal with my good friends over at Massdrop — Yep, I am a huge fan of Massdrop, check out my MD profile if you want to follow me over there.

Anyway, right now there is a Massdrop deal for the Zpacks bear bags, what has pretty much become one of the de facto bear bags for thru-hikers.

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Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

June 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Posted in News & Updates

Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD) ‘Core’ Backpack

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Getting ready to unpack my MLD Core 22l backpack.

Greetings Adventurers!

Back in February of 2016 I ordered a Mountain Laurel Designs ‘Core 22L’ backpack for use as my primary summer backpack – it was my first backpack from MLD and it will not be my last – quickly fell in love with this backpack!

The MLD Core is offered in two different volumes, a 22L (1300ci) and a 28L (1700ci) volume – I went with the 22L knowing that I could get all of my gear into it and about three days worth of food. YMMV.

One really has to ask themselves what the targeted market is for a backpack as simple as the MLD Core. Let me try to share my thoughts on that.

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Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

May 28, 2017 at 7:59 am

Zpacks ‘Solplex’ Flex Tent (free standing) Upgrade

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Zpacks Solplex Flex (free standing)

The new ‘Flex’ (free standing) option for the Zpacks ‘Solplex’ shelter. A view of the back side of the shelter, showing the Flex pole system.

Greetings Adventurers,

Zpacks has released their Flex, free-standing pole system, previously only available on their Duplex shelter, for their solo ‘Solplex’ shelter, and is being called the Zpacks Solplex Flex Tent Upgrade.

For a bit of background, the Zpacks Solplex was released on November 12, 2014, if my records are correct.

It currently sits at the #3 spot on my Lightest Fully Enclosed Solo Shelters Comparison chart, which is crazy impressive, only being beaten out by the MLD Patrol and the Zpacks Hexamid.

At 439 grams (15.48 ounces / 0.96 pounds) the Solplex offers the most weather protection of any sub one pound shelter on the market.

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Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

April 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm