Having already been superfans of the Thermarest Vela 4°C Down Double Blanket, we were really happy when a -6° version recently hit the market. We have reviewed multiple sleep system products from Thermarest over the years. Thermarest is one of the companies that fit under the umbrella of Cascade Designs (along with brands like Sealline and MSR, for example. In the Thermarest line, we’ve looked at the Thermarest Antares Sleeping Bag and NeoAir Xlite Mattress, the Thermarest NeoAir Camp Mattress, and a whack of stuff from MSR and SealLine (which we won’t link out to because we want to focus on the Vela.)
Note that, because we’ve already reviewed the warmer-weather version of the Vela, we’ll keep this review a little shorter than usual and focus on the updates. If you think we’ve missed something, check out the original review. Chances are good you’ll find the info you need there. Because our earlier review was way back in 2014, both current versions of the blanket (I think of it as more of a duvet…) have changed. We’ll get into those details below, just click on the arrow at left in the orange bar to dive in.
The good people at Thermarest are diligent about putting together videos on their products. Here is something done recently, profiling the Vela series.
The biggest difference between the two Velas we've reviewed on the site is the temp rating. Note that, although the quilt is listed at 20F / -6C, the "comfort rating" is 0C. In other words, if you are going to run this in temps below zero, you had better invite a warm partner to keep you comfy.
This zipped-pocket feature has become de rigeur for most bags and quilts. With the Vela, you get two pockets—one on each side for both of you to stow your phones/goodies.
This ingenious little tab feature means you can pair this Vela with another Vela, or a sheet. We find that the quilt tucked around the edges well enough that this wasn't really necessary.
Here are all the elements of which I spoke. Starting with the bottle of whisky and moving below right: 1) the Vela, the Freelite 2 tent, the Thermarest Universal sheet X2, Neoair Uberlight mattresses X2. We used a compression sack to make the Vela small enough to fit into the sleeping bag compartment of a Deuter Vario Backpack. One person carried the tent, one person carried the Vela. It worked out really well.
Lining: 20D Polyester Taffeta
Shell": 20D Polyester w/ DWR
Fill: 650 Fill Duck Nikwax Hydrophobic Down RDS
The Thermarest Vela Double Down Blanket is great for people who feel constricted by normal, cocoon-style, sleeping bags. It’s also great for couples who can use their body heat to stay warm and close when the mercury drops. We are such fans that we have two Velas, which one we bring depends on the temps.
We did a five-day hike in the Rockies this fall and the -6° version was perfect—even for when the nights dipped below the freezing mark. Because we had 5 day’s worth of supplies on our backs, the weight, at 1.27 kg, was really appreciated. One of us carried the Vela, while the other carried the MSR Freelite 2 tent. Win, win!
Paired with a Thermarest universal sheet and a Thermarest pad, like the Neoair Uberlite, the Vela becomes part of a light-weight, super comfy sleep system. I often have bad sleeps in the backcountry (doesn’t everybody..) so I really appreciate the added comfort the Vela affords. Put simply, it helps me sleep better!
Of note, if you are sleeping under the Vela in below freezing temps, ensure that your sleeping pad has a good R-Value. The Vela is on top of you only, so you have to ensure that your pad insulates you from below. Also, some people are ok sleeping directly on their sleeping pads—pas moi; I like a sheet. I recommend the Thermarest universal sheet because it lets you snap-attach your Vela to your mattress, which helps seal out drafts and the cold in general.
Though we used the Vela early fall, it would (and will) work really well in a backcountry hut that'd accommodate side by side sleeping.
Context is everything. Here's Floe Lake where we spent the first of four nights under our Vela Down Quilt. It performed very well and let's you snuggle with your sweetie.
Price: $484.95CAN / $369US
Temperature rating: -6ºC / 20ºF
Weight: 1.27kg / 2lbs 13oz
Fill Weight: 0.89kg / 1lbs 15oz
Compressed size:23 x 41cm / 9 x 11"
Insulation: 650 Fill Goose Nikwax Hydrophobic Down RDS
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation. You'll need to login or register before you can comment but it only takes a few seconds, then you're good to go.
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