Designed to replace a one-season sleeping bag or add extra warmth to your current set up on colder nights, the Cloud Cover hydrophobic goose down quilt is a versatile piece of kit from British do-gooders Alpkit. But does it have an application for hammock enthusiasts? We reviewed the Alpkit Cloud Cover to find out.
Without a toebox, zip or hood, the Cloud Cover quilt weighs in at a feather-light 520 grams, which includes 200 grams of PFC-free hydrophobic treated goose down. All this packs down into itself, in a neat zipped pocket to a pack that measures 27 x 19.5 x 6.5cm: marginally larger than a down jacket.
Laid flat, the quilt is tapered, measuring 130cm wide at one end and 95cm at the other, and 180cm in length. It’s certainly not the largest, so if you wanted to increase the size you could attach two together using the poppers.
To shape like a sleeping bag, simple fold in half and secure the poppers down one side, then secure the cord at the narrow end for a toe box.
Hydrophobic goose down fill
The goose down, which is responsibly sourced and RDS certified, has been treated with a PFC-free Downtek coating to extend the functionality of the down in damp conditions.
Like any down equipment, you’ll need to try your best to keep it as dry as possible, but this treatment does mean that you can actually use your kit in the UK without fear of totally wrecking it on the first outing.
What about for hammock camping?
Here’s what Alpkit have to say about the design and use of the Cloud Cover Quilt:
Why would we want to do this? Well firstly, as anyone who’s tried hammock camping in anything but hot, calm weather might be able to attest, you can get a little chilly on the bum and thighs at night when you have a draft under your hammock. Some people opt for a mat in the hammock, but an even better option is an underblanket: a hanging layer under the hammock that traps a layer of air to keep you warm through the night.
Why not use a hammock-specific underblanket? Well, the truth is that options are limited.
- DD Hammock Underblanket – £49, synthetic fill, very effective but also very bulky and heavy at 950g (pictured above)
- Snugpak Hammock Under Blanket – £58, synthetic fill, very heavy at 1,450g, packed at 23 x 23cm
- ENO Blaze Underquilt – $299.95, Downtek down, 800g, packed at 13.25 x 7 x 7cm
- Kammock Firebelly – $289, Downtek down, 800g+ packed at 36 cm x W 18 cm
- Outdoor Vitals StormLoft Down TopQuilt – $275+, 794+g
The list goes on, you get the idea: either cheaper synthetic down underblankets that are very chunky to pack and weigh a lot, or very expensive down options, usually from the States, that realistically you might not use enough through the colder months to get your money’s worth.
So could the £100 Cloud Cover fit the bill as a more affordable, packable, lightweight and effective option?
As soon as we had the green light in April to bikepack again, we headed out for a School Night Bivvi Club locally. With plenty of evening light, set up was pretty straight forward. I secured the quilt around either end of the strung hammock with a popper, then cinched in the end cords and attached at either end either to the hammock strings (head end) or hammock tabs (feet end). I teamed the set up with my trusty winter bag, an Alpkit SkyeHigh 500.
What ensued was a really cosy night’s sleep in temperatures down to two degrees Celsius. I don’t think I’ll have the chance to test again in colder temperatures before next winter to see just how effective it is for really chilly bivvies, but I can attest that it was a really good choice for this spring night, and packed down much smaller than the normal DD Hammock Underblanket at about half the size.
The Alpkit Cloud Cover verdict
I’ve been really chuffed by the performance of the Cloud Cover Quilt as a hammock underblanket: both lighter and more packable than competition at the same price, and much cheaper than other down fill rivals. Use it as a sleeping bag in hot weather, an extra layer when it’s chilly, a blanket for cosy rest stops (I’m thinking chilly Covid pub garden stops) or as Alpkit suggest: an emergency layer in the car boot, this neat little package really packs a punch.
At a whisper less than £100, you get a LOT for your money too, and then peace of mind that you’re investing in responsibly sourced and water resistant treated down that should last.
For very tall riders that like to lay straight, I can imagine that the quilt might come up a bit short on the feet, both when used as an underblanket or as a sleeping bag. I can see on the site that you can only currently choose ‘regular’ sizing — although Alpkit say they are significantly overhauling our sleeping bag size ranges for Spring 2022: an option for tall would make this a 10/10 item.
Last modified: 3rd June 2021
Agreed, I’ve fitted plastic poppers all along my hammock to match the ones I’ve fitted onto my Alpkit Cloud Cover quilt to ensure it always fits perfectly on my new Dragon lay flat hammock.
Not tried it below zero yet