Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Z-Packs Quilt Failure

Another trip, another kit failure. This time it’s the turn of the Z-Packs quilt I gave a positive review to here. In the review I commented that -

“...Quality is excellent. Materials and construction are first rate. I’m picky here and I wasn’t able to find fault with the stitching or materials...”

Unfortunately I will have to change my view on that after a blown seam during my cycle tour around Tasmania.

This isn’t a tear in the shell fabric but a horizontal seam that runs right around the quilt that that has blown. This seam joins 2 lengths of fabric together and it looks like not enough seam allowance was allowed, which has stressed the cut edge of the fabric, allowing it to fray, and eventually pull through. As somebody who makes gear I have seen this happen to some of my early stuff, but its pretty basic for a professional so I’m surprised to see it happen to my quilt. 

After the failure it got me thinking about quilt design and I’m wondering why that seam is there at all. Fabric rolls are generally around 60” wide, and as long as you want, so it shouldn't be necessary to join shell fabrics in this way. When sleeping in a quilt you are going to stretch and that pulls against any horizontal seams. I looked at other top quality bags and none of them had horizontal seams joining shell fabrics together. It’s possible there is a reason for this that I don’t know about, such as 7D fabric only available on a narrower roll, but even then it could be joined vertically. If I was buying another quilt I would lookout for these seams.

This was a failure that needed immediate repair in the field and it was quite tricky to fix with such light and fragile fabrics. I seared the fabric edge with a flame and then doubled over both shell pieces before sewing it all back together. ALWAYS, carry a needle and thread for such field repairs when out and about. The finished repair is quite strong and cosmetically ok but I worry about that entire seam. I’ve only dealt with a small 5cm section and the rest could fail at any time.

I spoke to headman Joe at Z-Packs about the failure who is out hiking across New Zealand at the moment and he said -

“...Thanks for the update. We are very careful on that middle seam now, much wider seam allowance. Thanks for letting me know. Repairs are always free if you need them...”

That’s a good comment from a guy that cares about his products. It also appears he is, either aware of problems with that seam, or was also concerned enough to make some changes. Guess the rule when buying new kit is wait until its been around for a year or two until all the problems have been ironed out.

How long did the Z-Packs quilt last? Around 95 nights or $4/night.