Photos courtesy Nick Nolte; Nick Nolte at Horseshoe Bend

Camp Quilts

Written by Mare Czinar Category: Citizen Hiker (hiking blog) Issue: May 2018
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photo courtesy Nick Nolte; Nick Nolte at Glacier National ParkAs a military veteran and aerospace engineer, Nick Nolte – no, not that Nick Nolte – knows a thing or two about ultra-lightweight materials. Now the Phoenix resident has combined his passion for the outdoors with his tech training to create his own line of camp quilts, a lightweight alternative to sleeping bags for trekkers who want to pack the essentials while keeping weight to a minimum.

“Noltech [Outdoors] quilts... ensure you will keep warm without the need to carry a heavy traditional sleeping bag,” the inventor says. “A quilt is a different design that’s made a little smaller than a sleeping bag and removes the zipper. [Any] insulation that you compress by sleeping on fails to keep you warm, so why carry the extra weight?”

Made locally from ethically harvested goose down, 10 taffeta nylon fabric (think parachute material) and a HyperDRY coating to speed drying time, the quilts were aggressively field-tested prior to rollout. “I’ve had customers hike the John Muir Trail and the Appalachian Trail with one of my quilts,” Nolte says. “They’ve been tested pretty hard and hold up very well.”

The quilts also perform well in the Arizona high country – especially when warm weather inspires Phoenicians to head to the mountains in droves, cramping space and overloading facilities. One of Nolte’s favorites: Inner Basin Trail near Flagstaff, one of the most stunning hike destinations in Arizona, with plenty of long-distance loop
options and primitive camping opportunities.  

photo courtesy Nick Nolte; Nick Nolte showing off his Noltech Outdoors camp quiltNolte’s plans for his fledgling company ( include altruism. “I hope to build the business into a place where I can give back [by] sponsoring maintenance programs on the trails that I enjoy hiking.”

LENGTH: 8 miles round trip
RATING: Difficult
ELEVATION: 8,600-10,990 feet
GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, head east on I-40 to US 89 north. Continue 17 miles north on US 89 to FR 420 at milepost 431.2 (across from the turnoff for Sunset Crater). Turn left and veer left onto FR 552, following the signs 4.5 miles to Lockett Meadow. In dry conditions, the road is passable by carefully driven passenger cars. 
NOTE: Flagstaff forest roads usually begin opening in May depending on their conditions. Check for updates.
FACILITIES: Restrooms, camping and trailhead parking are free.

The Payson Packers trail group shows Yavapai County hiking newbies how it’s done.