Down sleeping bags deliver the maximum warmth-to-weight ratio but aren’t as versatile as a blanket when hanging out by the campfire. Rumpl, which makes blankets that look like sleeping bags, wanted to bump up the warmth factor by adding a wireless heating element to two of its models. I took a prototype of the Puffe- to the chilly deserts of Baja to find out how well it works.
What Is It?
Rumpl launched on Kickstarter in 2013 with the goal of making a blanket constructed from the same materials as a technical sleeping bag. That idea proved popular enough that the brand exceeded its funding goal by more than $200,000. Four years later, the San Francisco–based startup has a range of similar products. Now it’s partnering with two other Kickstarter-launched companies to release this heated blanket.
Power Practical, maker of the Luminoodle rope light, is supplying the battery pack. Heated-apparel company Ravean is supplying the carbon heating element. Those components are housed in Rumpl’s 54-by-80-inch down- and synthetic-insulated blankets. Priced at $374 and $249, respectively, the project is already funded to the tune of $296,825. The Puffe- will be available in general retail when the Kickstarter campaign concludes this week.
We tested the down version, which uses 600-fill duck down to achieve a 45-degree comfort rating without the aid of the heating element. While Rumpl’s blankets are intended more for casual use—picnics, beaches, bonfires—than dedicated backpacking, using the same comfort rating system as sleeping bags gives you some idea of how much insulation they provide.
Carbon heating elements run through the puffy blanket’s interior baffles. Ravean employs carbon to prevent burns from hot metal wires and to create an element that’s less prone to wear and breakage. A 12-volt Power Practical battery pack zips into one corner of the blanket. A lighted push button in another corner controls the heat level.
Heating works in three modes: low, medium, and high, which boost the comfort rating to 32, 25, and 15 degrees, respectively, and can run for ten, six, and four hours on a full charge. The battery pack is your typical USB-out design, so you can also use it to charge your phone or camera. Plug the pack into a 110-volt outlet to completely recharge it in 90 minutes. You can power the blanket using other 12-volt sources. Rumpl will sell you the Puffe- without a battery pack if you want to use your own.
Who’s It For?
My wife and I had our first child nine months ago. Over the holidays, we embarked on a weeklong road trip through Baja, Mexico, with our new daughter. The desert can get chilly, and with a young baby and a new mother along, staying cozy was a huge priority. The Puffe- was perfect for us.
Will it work for you? Like all of Rumpl’s products, it’s not intended to replace the technical gear required for hardcore outdoor activities, nor is it designed for ultralight backpackers, but it does learn lessons from their gear to bring comfort and versatility to lots of situations. We used it on the beach after swimming to warm up, in camp as we sat around the fire, and during the night as we slept in the rooftop tent on our Tacoma.
I suppose the big question here is why add the complication and cost of a heating element to achieve warmth when a thicker, heavier, more affordable quilt or sleeping bag could do the same thing?
For us, the answer lies in the combination of packability and instant warmth. The Puffe- can be up to 30 degrees warmer than the Down Puffy it’s based on yet packs into the same 6-by-12-inch package and is only slightly heavier—and that additional warmth is instantly available.
It’s also more comfortable to use in bed than a heavier blanket or sleeping bag. Spread over us at night, the Puffe- feels just as weightless as any ultralight down quilt while keeping us appreciably warmer. On the low setting, the battery pack lasted all night.
You don’t feel the individual heating elements—the entire quilt just feels warmer.
- Weatherproof fabric and heating elements mean you can use the Puffe- outdoors in poor weather or over your wet shoulders after a swim.
- Feels like it just came out of the dryer for hours at a time.
- Heat, and the comfort it provides, is instant.
- Really does last all night on low.
- The lighted switch is obnoxiously bright at night. We had to cover it with tape.
- The 12-volt battery system doesn’t come with a 12-volt charger, so you have to run it through an inverter to charge it in your car.
- A queen-size version would be better for two people (and a baby).
Should You Buy One?
You’re paying a $175 premium to add heat to your Rumpl. Worth it? It’s hard to make an objective justification for the extra money, but I know we absolutely loved using it in Baja. It’s built as well as a premium sleeping bag and brings a source of instant warmth and comfort to your outdoor experiences. For this new family, that makes it possible for us to spend more time outside.