Sadly, horizontal baffles have gotten a bad reputation, and we are here to defend them! If you’ve experienced cold spots and down migration just because of some tossing and turning, it’s likely that the baffle chambers were improperly shaped and/or underfilled. In fact, this problem occurs in quilts/bags with vertical baffles, too! So, it’s not a problem with baffle direction, but baffle design.
Horizontal baffles allow you to adjust the amount of insulation that is on top of your body. When the weather warms up, you can move varying levels of insulation to the sides, keeping you from overheating. When that cold front comes through, you can pile the down on top for extra warmth. Therefore, we believe that horizontal baffles allow you to stay comfortable in a wider range of conditions, making your quilt much more versatile than if it had vertical baffles. Sounds perfect for a thru-hike, eh?
We believe strongly that horizontal baffles are a benefit to the versatility of ultralight sleeping bags. Therefore, we spent a lot of time designing and testing (redesigning and retesting) ours to avoid this problem. Every baffle chamber of every temperature rating and every size Katabatic quilt has been meticulously designed, and its down content individually determined. Too little down or an oversized baffle leads to unwanted shifting and cold spots. Too much down or an undersized baffle prevents the down from lofting properly, resulting in unnecessary weight, and reduced compressibility. Finally, different temperature ratings warrant different baffle volumes and varying fill density. Some manufacturers use the same sleeping bag shell, put a different amount of down in it, then slap a new temperature rating on it. These are a few causes of poor performing baffles (horizontal OR vertical) you’ve heard about, and a few of the issues that we worked tirelessly to address before we sold a single ultralight sleeping bag.
The bottom line: Don’t rule out all horizontal baffles! They are the most effective way to keep you comfortable in a wide range of conditions (even if you toss and turn). They just have to be thoughtfully designed and executed. Still not convinced? We invite you to read the reviews. Our quilts have always been made with horizontal baffles, and our customers and other independent reviewers consistently give us the thumbs-up for warmth and serious comfort ratings!