Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Review

  • Ultralight Backpacker

Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Overview

Quilts are the future of ultralight backpacking. They may be the most representative example of an industry that is ingeniously hellbent on giving us exactly what we need —  but not an ounce more. A traditional sleeping bag sandwiches us in warmth, relying on the insulation on top and the sleeping pad below. Eventually someone realized that the bottom of the sleeping bag is essentially wasted material, space, and weight…and thus the quilt was born. (I feel like I’m writing a creation myth, but this happens to be entirely true.)

Leading the charge across the quilt frontier is a small Minnesota company called Enlightened Equipment. Their stated purpose in life: create the lightest, most functional camping gear in the world. Enter the Revelation quilt.

Fantastically light and packable, weather resistant, 100% customizable, and versatile, the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 quilt earns two of our awards: the Classic Pick and Budget Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker.

We know what you’re thinking — $290 for half a sleeping bag is not “budget.” In our estimation, there are a few core backpacking items that, if you want to significantly reduce weight, you have to cough up some money. If you want a cheaper sleeping experience, look for our Wilderness Backpacker or Car Camper recommendations for sleeping bags. They will be heavier (about twice the weight), but still totally usable.

In terms of the quilt market, the price tag of the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 is surprisingly affordable. Quilts like this are built with high-end down and premium materials, so relative to other quilts (and high-end sleeping bags), this is a budget option. Also, Enlightened Equipment allows incredible customization on all of their quilts. This means you can select a higher temperature range, no weather resistant stripes, and other tweaks to reduce the cost.

Grab a cup of coffee, snuggle up with our comprehensive quilt guide, and see the full Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 review below.

Revelation 20 Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 20.4 oz. (578 g) Crazy light for warmth at 20 degrees. You can get it lighter with higher fill down. Weight is the standout feature of quilts.
Type Quilt This is a true quilt, in that it doesn’t have a bottom. You drape it over yourself and can strap it to your pad for warmth. This quilt has a zippered toebox as well. More on quilt types in our Guide.
Size Regular / 6 x 4.5 ft. (182 x 137 cm) This size will fit most people. Enlightened Equipment allows a large amount of customization, so look through their options to see what fits you best.
Temperature Rating 20°F (-6.67°C) Not EN Tested, but trusted to roughly 20 degrees. You need to use the quilt perfectly, have a warm sleeping pad, and sufficient layers to be comfortable at this temperature. More on quilt temperature rating in our to Guide.
Insulation Type 850-Fill Zero PFC DownTek Down We chose 850-fill for this Revelation, which is the lowest fill power Enlightened Equipment offers. You can get higher fill power if you want. More on quilt insulation types (and weather resistance) in our Guide.
Water Resistant? Yes Enlightened Equipment uses the new Zero PFC DownTek for all of its down. This is treated to dry faster when wet and resist moisture better, making these quilts last a lot longer. On this quilt there are also two 20D weather resistant stripes on the top and bottom, which help to fend off moisture.
Fill Weight 13 oz. (368.5 g) This is how much just the down weighs in this quilt. This weight is more than half the weight of the entire quilt, so you know it will be warm!
Shell Fabric 10D Nylon, 20D Ripstop Nylon Enlightened Equipment uses 10D nylon for its basic fabric. This is very thin thread, yet surprisingly durable. For increased durability we added 20D ripstop nylon to the footbox and head area of the quilt. More on shell fabric and Denier in our Guide.
Baffle Pattern U-shaped Baffles Enlightened Equipment uses U-shaped baffles for its down quilts. These are basically vertical baffles down the center of the quilt, and then horizontal baffles near the feet. This helps to keep the down in place, and makes the quilt fit more comfortably. More on quilt baffle patterns in our Guide.
Zipper 20 in. footbox zipper This quilt doesn’t have a normal zipper, but it does have a small one at the footbox. This allows you to create a secure area for warmth for your feet.
Draft Tube? No Draft tubes follow zippers, and quilts don’t have zippers.
Hood? No The Revelation does not have a hood, which is standard for quilts.
Pocket? No This is an ultralight piece of equipment, and pockets are luxuries!
Manufacturer Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty Enlightened Equipment offers a lifetime warranty on all of its products if they have manufacturer defects or workmanship issues. This works well, but keep in mind that “warmth” is hard to assess as a manufacturer fault.
Retail Price $290 A low cost for a high-end quilt. Can get cheaper if you don’t purchase the weather resistant stripes, or get a higher temperature rating.
Price Check

Gear Review of the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20

Origins: Easing You In

I first discovered backpacking quilts when researching gear for a John Muir Trail fastpacking attempt in 2013. The more I read, the more excited I got. I was looking for something that would keep me warm in the potentially frigid climes of the Range of Light, yet would also be extremely light and compressible. Quilts looked to be the way to go, and the Enlightened Equipment Revelation was the best option in terms of price point, warmth, and weight.

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The Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt all tucked in before bed.

Late that summer I found myself taking those first steps of the 212-mile trail with the Revelation compressed deliciously into my 25 L pack. Yes, my pack was 25 liters and weighed 17 pounds for six days on the JMT. (You can read more about that adventure in my book, In The Footsteps of Greatness.) That first afternoon on the JMT I ran into another fastpacker, and when we set up camp for the night I noticed that he had the same quilt! Enlightened Equipment has a reputation among the gram-counting community, so that shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, but back in 2013 it was.

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A few beauty pics never hurt anyone.

Fast forward to 2017 — I have used my own Revelation for years, and was given a new and slightly updated version by my Editor to test. I’ve taken a legion of trips with the original quilt (including a fastpack of the Tahoe Rim Trail), and two with the new version.  Below you will find an amalgamation of all my experiences using both Revelation quilts.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

I loved the Revelation the moment I took it out of the box. How can a serious gearjunkie love something immediately? Weight. The Revelation 20 is shockingly light. It’s advertised as one pound four ounces, and feels even lighter than that. Even high-end, $400-plus down sleeping bags are around two pounds. The idea of having to carry so little to stay warm is immediate gratification. And the Revelation I tested for Backpackers.com is made of 850-fill DownTek (hydrophobic material), six-feet long, rated to 20 degrees, and has two weather-resistant stripes for increased durability — there is no skimping anywhere.

Then when I stuffed the Revelation into my pack — that same 25 L pack that appears much too small to do anything useful with, except maybe extreme ultralight backpacking — I literally gave myself a high five for being clever enough to use the quilt. This actually happened.

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The Revelation next to a 32-ounce water bottle. It’s smaller than some sleeping pads, and can be compressed even further.

If you’re like me, you are accustomed to dedicating a large percentage of your pack to your sleeping bag. Even if you’re smart and take it out of the stuff sack, shove it into the bottom of your pack, and let it mold to every nook and cranny, a typical sleeping bag takes up some serious space. But oh, sweet Virginia, the Revelation almost disappears in your bag it’s so small. Like packing a cloud.

Digging Deeper

I’m a sucker for light and packable (if you couldn’t tell), so everything else is just gravy. That said, Enlightened Equipment uses some high-end, organic gravy. The Revelation sports some very cool qualities.

It has removable straps, which come with all the Enlightened Equipment quilts. These help to secure the quilt to the sleeping pad, making sure you trap in as much warmth as possible.

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The Revelation uses straps to secure itself to the bottom of a sleeping pad. On the left you see it without the pad, on the right with the pad.

The Revelation also has a zippable toebox. You can zip it up so that it conforms tightly around the bottom of the sleeping pad and your feet for extra warmth, or leave it unzipped and use it like a blanket on temperate nights. This flexibility is an awesome feature that I have used extensively in both ways.

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This 20-inch zipper creates a cozy footbox for chilly nights. Note the snaps at the top, which buckles closed to make sure the zipper doesn’t open on you. The closed footbox can rest on top of the pad or, when you’re really cold, you can slip the pad into the footbox for increased warmth, as shown.

This version has extra weather resistant fabric on the footbox and head area to decrease the chance of the quilt getting soaked. I didn’t test it in extremely wet conditions, but the thicker fabric is nice insurance.

enlightened-equipment-revelation-review-outdoors-1
The grey parts of this quilt use 20D ripstop nylon instead of 10D nylon. They are more durable and repel water better, keeping your toes and head warmer.

Comfort

If comfort is measured by your ability to get a good night’s sleep, I give the Revelation an A+. From ice-crusted Sierra passes to desert slot canyons, I have slumbered like a milk-intoxicated infant in this quilt.

Warmth

Both Revelations I used (my own and the test sample for this review) are rated to 20 degrees. That’s the most common temperature rating, and will get you through most seasons. You can set the temperature of your Enlightened Equipment quilt, so it’s important to understand the delineation.

The vast majority of my time cocooned in the Revelation has been on 30-40 degree nights, wearing my clothes for the next day. And I have been snug like a bug in a rug.

However, on the last night of my JMT trip in 2013, just miles from the summit of Mount Whitney, I found myself engulfed by the first snowstorm of the season. I don’t know how cold it got that night, but it was brutal. I was wearing every piece of clothing I had with me, with a silk sleeping bag liner, wrapped in my Revelation, and was uncomfortably cold. And that’s an understatement. I was dangerously cold.

It was probably slightly under 20 degrees that night (again, I didn’t have a method of measuring). My Revelation is a Narrow, rather than the Regular-sized Revelation I’m using now, and therefore too small for me. This led to slightly incorrect usage, and in extreme cold you have to use a quilt perfectly to get the accurate temperature rating.

Overall I don’t believe my discomfort was the quilt’s fault. But this is a public service announcement to make sure you get the right size, practice using it before you’re in the coldest night of your life, and to only use it for true 3-season backpacking. If you want to be comfortable (and safe) in sub-20-degree weather, get the Revelation 10 or 0.

enlightened-equipment-revelation-review-on-sleeping-pad
One way to make sure you are using your quilt’s temperature rating is with a well-insulated sleeping pad, like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm (pictured here). A quilt has no bottom, so your pad has to retain your body heat for this sleep system to work!

Durability

Damn impressive. This thing is so light and compressible that it seems almost delicate, but I have used and abused the Revelation for four years on countless trips, and it appears no worse for wear.

Fit

The Regular is 6 feet long and 54 inches wide, and offers just enough space for me to feel comfortable (I am 5’9” with fairly broad shoulders). The Narrow was a bit… narrower, and noticeably so. Neither size feels roomy. This is not your half-ton down comforter that you get lost in on cold winter nights.

The Revelation is sleek and utilitarian, with just enough space to get the job done. I like to sleep on my side and was barely able to do so, however the most comfortable position in this quilt is on your back.

You can order a Wide (58 inches) or XWide (64 inches) if you are bigger want more room to roll around.

Grievances

I have no true grievances, just a few observations. This is a quilt, not a sleeping bag, and therefore has no hood. Not a deal breaker, but for some it might be. Personally, I sometimes miss the warm, burrowing experience that is possible with a hooded sleeping bag. Make sure to wear a beanie or hooded warm jacket to make up for the lack of sleeping bag hood.

enlightened-equipment-revelation-review-strap-closeup
The Revelation quilt, or any quilt really, takes some getting used to. Knowing how to secure the quilt to your pad before you head into the wilderness is best.

The second observation is really about the category of quilts. The Revelation has a learning curve. When I first started using it I didn’t know exactly how to attach the bottom straps around my sleeping pad or that the sleeping pad could be tucked into the bottom of the quilt for added warmth. I eventually figured it out, but suffered a few (very) cold nights in the process. Take the time to learn the quilt  before venturing into the backcountry.

Final Word

If you are someone who likes to move like a ninja through the wilderness (and enjoys being morally superior to your friends because you have cooler gear), the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 quilt is a must have. When it comes to weight, packability, and versatility, you simply can’t beat this quilt.

Where to Buy Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20

We tested the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 with 850-fill down (PFC Free DownTek), rated to 20ºF, in a size Regular, which is a 6-foot width and a 54-inch width. We used 10D nylon for most of the quilt, and 20D ripstop nylon weather resistant stripes on the head and toebox.

Prepare to get specific with Enlightened Equipment, because every single spec is customizable. You can get higher fill down, different temperature ratings, different lengths and widths, and many different colors.

We recommend the 20-degree quilt for most people, as it will work in most seasons. We also like the weather resistant stripes for increased durability. However, if you really want a budget quilt, consider the 30 degree model with no extras, which will be $255.

Customize your quilt at Enlightened Equipment below.

Price Check
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Josh Mathe

Josh Mathe is passionate about squeezing every last drop from life, and helping others do the same. He is the best-selling and award-winning author of "I, Athlete" and "In the Footsteps of Greatness", as well as a speaker, fitness expert, nutritionist, ultra endurance athlete, and life adventurer. Josh is the owner of One10 Performance & Nutrition, and when not in office he spends his days in the mountains moving as fast and light as possible. Josh holds a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition, and is a certified sports nutritionist (CISSN), Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), and endurance coach. He lives in Sacramento, CA with his wife and three crazy animals. For more information or to contact Josh directly, please visit his website.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.