Review by Arnie P
Therm-A-Rest 2 C/35 F Alpine down blanket
The Alpine blanket is provided by Therm-A-Rest for review purposes.
I love the feel of a down blanket, I never had one to use on a backpacking trip. What follows are the details of the Alpine blanket.
Temperature rating: 2C/35 F
Dimensions: 48 x 76 in/122 x 193 cm
Weight: 21 oz/624 g
Features contained in owner’s booklet.
Comfortable: Unhindered movement and zipper-free ease of entry?just like home.
Compact: Highly compressible. Box baffled 700-fill goose down.
Ultralight: 20D and nylon zipperless, streamlined design.
Adjustable: Perimeter snaps mate 2 blankets or attach to your mattress with optional accessories.
The Alpine can be combined with optional Therm-A-Rest fitted sheet, and/or mattress. The web site indicates the above combinations provide for warmer and more comfortable sleeping, but also increases the total weight of the system. The Alpine can be used alone with most sleeping pads. I will be using the Alpine for backpacking, along with one of the 2 Therm-A-Rest air pads I own. I have the PRO 4 reg which I have been using and like a lot. I did notice it is about 6 inches longer than my height. I recently bought a woman’s Prolite and at 66 inches long it fits me well and saves about 8 oz in weight from the PRO 4 air pad.
When I opened the cardboard shipping box, the Alpine was inside a storage bag. The storage bag is made of mesh which I think is a nice feature. This allows for good ventilation. Also included is a typical nylon compression bag. I am calling it a compression bag although it does not have compression straps. The next thing I noticed was the blanket was snapped together so it looked more like like a sleeping bag than a blanket. It would take a very thin person and there probably would not be much room to move around. There is a small pocket near the top of the bag. This could be very useful to put a watch, flashlight, etc. It will be interesting to find out how well this pocket works. I did not find a small loop that I could use to hang the blanket up when not in use. Last summer I used my sleeping bag more as a blanket than a sleeping bag. I seem to always need a little more warmth in the predawn hour.
Trying it out
I tried the Alpine over each of my Therm-A-Rest pads and found that it fit over each of them. The air pads are 66in and 72 in, the shorter one having a little more sleeping bag to cover my head if needed. I had plenty of room and was surprised at how well the Alpine fits over the Therm-A-Rest air pads. I can see advantages of not having to deal with a zipper and in the hot weather I don’t need much protection for my head. I love the way the blanket floats on me, I can hardly tell it’s there except for the warm feeling I get. I was warm but did not get overheated. I am looking forward to using the Therm-A-Rest Alpine blanket on my upcoming backpacking trips. Please check back in a month when I will have more to say.
The next step in my trying out the Alpine blanket was to go on a series of one night local backpacks. Since my last report, I bought a Therm-A-Rest Z light pad. I now had essentially 2 air pads and one Z foam pad all made by Therm-A-Rest. I will now go into the differences I found while trying out the different sleeping pads.
My initial experience was to try each air pad on my futon bed by slipping the Alpine blanket over a pad. The foot of the Alpine stayed in place all night. I am a side sleeper and the side facing my back stayed in place fairly well. The side in front of me did open from my chest upward to the top end of the air pad. I found it harder to put the Alpine blanket on the Z foam pad since the foam pad tended to fold like an accordion. I did not sleep as well on the Z foam pad as on the air pads because I could feel the egg crate surface of the Z foam pad and was not comfortable.
The tent I am using is a light weight 2 person backpacking tent, which does not have a lot of head room. I prepared for sleeping in the tent by putting the air pad, sleeping bag, a silk liner, and my pillow inside. I then crawled into the tent and got the right amount of air into the air pad. Then I slipped the end of the Alpine blanket over the end of the air pad and slid the combination into place in the tent. I was able to tuck both sides of the Alpine blanket under the air pad like I did in the house while on the futon. I used a liner and I slid into the liner and then slid under the blanket. When I did this in the tent, the Alpine blanket did not stay under the air pad except for at the foot end. With a little maneuvering, I was able to slide the blanket on my back side under the air pad. I was able to get the front side under the air pad for the lower half of my body. During the night I woke up twice for nature calls and the back side stayed in place fairly well. The front side was not as well behaved. I think the big difference is that there is very little friction between the Alpine blanket and the mating surfaces on the floor of the tent and the surface of the air pad. I am a sound sleeper and do not turn much if I am comfortable. That I was comfortable, was evidenced, by my only waking twice during the night, which is typical for me. The temperature did drop from about 70 F to a low of near 40 F in the predawn hours. I was more surprised at staying comfortable at the higher temperatures. I think the ventilating qualities of both the Alpine blanket and of the 2-two wall design of my backpacking tent contributed to this comfort level. When I was ready to leave in the morning, the inside of tent was dry, but the under side of the fly was wet.
My experience with the other air pad was almost identical. The only difference was that with the shorter pad I had to make sure my head stayed at the very top of the sleeping pad, to avoid my feet pushing the blanket off the pad.
I contacted customer service and mentioned my problem with securing the blanket and that I did not want to go with a fitted mattress cover which would be too heavy for me to backpack. Customer service sent me a mattress snap kit to try. I feel confident that I will be comfortable with the Alpine blanket coupled with the shorter air pad when going on upcoming backpacks. In my next report I will explore using the mattress snap kit as a way to make the Alpine blanket more secure on my air pad.
A last look
This has been a productive month for me in terms of improving my gear situation. I did receive, from Therm-A-Rest, the snap kit which consisted of 4 male snap tabs and 4 female snap tabs. The instructions call for mounting the tabs directly onto the air mattress to correspond with mating tabs on the blanket. Since I was really pleased with the way the Alpine was secure at the foot end of the blanket, I decided that I would not use snaps on the end. Then I thought of making a strap consisting of a matching set of snaps attached to something. My wife had a piece of 7/8 in wide quilt binding tape in her sewing supplies. I cut a piece 18 ½ in long and sewed the snaps on with nylon thread. It was not very pretty, but it was good enough to try. My plan was to use the strap for the middle set of snaps on the Alpine blanket. It seemed to work well when I tried it on my air pad in the house.
Time to go for an overnight backpack
We had been having almost daily rain for some time, so when the forecast looked good for 2 days I went on an overnight backpack. It was hot during the day, over 80 F. It had cooled a bit by the time I was setting up my tent for the night, but was still warm. Attaching the Alpine blanket to an air pad in a backpacking tent is not quite as easy as doing so in a larger tent or in my house. Within a few minutes, I had figured that if I put the strap in place on the Alpine blanket then slid the air pad into the blanket, moving the combination toward the back of the tent worked very well. Even though it was hot, I still used my silk liner. I slid my legs under the blanket, and since it was warm, left the top part of the blanket at my back within easy reach, if needed. I was very pleased with the results. I slept as well as if I were in my bed in the house. At some point near dawn, I did reach for more blanket as it got cooler. The combination of 2 snaps and the binding added a mere 0.3 oz. My intention is to leave the strap I made attached to the Alpine blanket. I think that during the warmer weather this set up will work well. When it gets colder, and I have decided which of my air pads I will be using, I may follow the manufacturer’s procedure for attaching the snap kit. It does increase the warmth of the bag by making a more secure interface between the Alpine blanket and my air pad.
Weekend backpack to Mt Isolation
I have been planning this backpacking trip for a long time. This backpack finally happened and the weather was near perfect. Setup our tents in a primitive area. I quickly slid the Alpine over my inflated air pad and slide in with my silk liner in place on me. I slept very well as the temperature dropped from about 74 F to about 50 F.
I am very pleased with the results of using the Therm-A-Rest Alpine down blanket. I am looking forward to using the Alpine on many backpacks during the upcoming months. I wish to thank 4alloutdoors.org and Therm-A-Rest for the opportunity to review the Alpine down blanket.