Backpacking quilts are becoming increasingly popular as a replacement for traditional sleeping bags among hikers due to their reduced bulk, increased compressibility, and superior comfort—especially for those who sleep on their sides. While top quilts have traditionally been favored by those who sleep in hammocks due to their convenience in this type of sleeping setup, when paired with a sleeping pad they make for a terrific choice for those who like to sleep on the ground. Because they can be easily opened, backpacking quilts are perfect for the summer and other warm seasons.
For those on the market for a new backpacking quilt, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 finest options currently on the market and ranked them based on a variety of criteria, including price, insulation, temperature rating, weight, features, versatility (see below for detailed explanations of each criterion.)
Quilts like these are typically produced and sold by “cottage manufacturers,” which can be as small as a single person’s workshop or as large as a medium-sized company with dozens of employees. All of these brands make extremely high-quality items that outperform quilts made by mass-market gear manufacturers like ENO, Therm-a-Rest, Kammock, Sea to Summit, and NEMO in terms of weight and performance.
Buying a quilt from a small manufacturer allows you to tailor it to your exact specifications, whether it be the size, the features, the level of insulation (heavier or lighter), or the fabric colors. These days, more and more quilters offer “Stock” or “Economy” quilts, which are typically ready to ship right away and provide a more limited selection of customization options at a lower price point. If you’re on a tight budget or trying out a hiking quilt for the first time and are overwhelmed by the customizing options, these are a wonderful option. Even if the color of the quilt isn’t to your liking, the quality is guaranteed.
1. Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt
Whether you want to sleep on a hammock or on the ground, the Enlightened Equipment Revelation has you covered. It comes in a variety of lengths, widths, colors, temperature ratings, and fabric weights, and may be ordered as either a Custom or Economy model. The Revelation features a half taper, zippered/drawstring footbox, and a removable draft collar in addition to an excellent pad attachment mechanism. Both 850 and 950 fill power down are available for your selection. The total mass of a fully loaded Custom Revelation 20F is 21.3 ounces.
2. Katabatic Gear Alsek 22 Quilt
If you’ve ever felt like your quilt wasn’t wide enough to wrap around, you’ll appreciate the Katabatic Alsek 22’s slanted “wings,” which help the blanket stay securely wrapped around the hiker without adding unnecessary bulk. The Katabatic Alsek has a lightweight yet sturdy Pertex Quantum Ripstop shell and is filled with 900-fill down. Extra heat is trapped because of the longer footbox that is sewed into this quilt. While we’re fans of the Katabatic Palisade 30, we usually advise using something warmer during the shoulder seasons because to the light weight of these quilts.
3. Hammock Gear Burrow Top Quilt
The Hammock Gear Burrow is a premium top quilt that can be used in either a hammock or on the ground. It comes in two different base models, the Economy Model and the more expensive Custom version. Hammock Gear deserves a lot of credit for contributing to a larger quilt user base as the first cottage manufacturer company to develop cheaper, limited-function “Econ” quilts. The Burrow comes in many different shapes, colors, sizes, lengths, widths, fill powers, overfills, and footbox designs, but there is no draft collar choice. A fully loaded 20F Custom Burrow weighs in at 21 ounces, while a 20F Econ model of the same size and features weighs in at 26 ounces or less.
4. Zpacks Classic Quilt Sleeping Bag
The Zpacks Classic Quilt Sleeping Bag has a 3/4 length zipper so you can open it up on warm nights and use it as a quilt or zip it up for a draft-free sleep without the need to fuss with pad attachment straps. The Classic comes in a variety of sizes, widths, and temperature ratings, and is insulated with 950 fill power water-resistant down. To seal up any air leaks, simply tighten the bag’s elastic cord over your neck. Weighing in about 17.6 ounces, the Zpacks Classic 20F is the standard issue.
5. UGQ Outdoor Bandit Top Quilt
The UGQ Bandit is a top quilt that works just as well on the ground in a tent as it does in a hammock. Different sizes, shapes, colors, temperature ratings, and materials are on offer for both the Custom and Stock (Fast Track) versions. The Bandit from UGQ comes with your option of two sleeping pad attachment systems, 800, 850, or 950 fill power down, a zippered/drawstring footbox, half taper, draft collar, and back tensioning system to keep out the cold. The total mass of a fully loaded Custom Bandit 20F is 23 ounces. Bandits with synthetic insulation that is both lightweight and extremely compressible are also on the market.
6. Feathered Friends Flicker UL
Whether you prefer to sleep with your back exposed or wrapped up, the Feathered Friends Flicker UL Quilt Sleeping Bag has you covered. It’s insulated with 950 fill power goose down and has a draft collar and a draft tube with a zipper. The Flicker can be purchased in 20-, 30-, and 40-degree variations, as well as standard and long sizes, and narrow and wide configurations. Its adaptability and ease of use are two of our favorite things, especially in colder weather when you want to keep your sleeping area warm and cozy but don’t feel like fiddling with your sleeping bag’s straps. Having a weight of 25.2 ounces, a 20F Flicker UL is relatively light.
7. Enlightened Equipment Convert
The Enlightened Equipment Convert is a quilt sleeping bag that can be used in a variety of configurations, from fully closed (like a sleeping bag) to fully open (like a blanket). This makes the Convert a highly versatile piece of equipment, suitable for both tent and hammock camping, and allows you to adjust it for a comfortable night’s sleep. The standard issue 20F Convert has a weight of 26.45 ounces. Models with a draft collar and more lofty down can be ordered as upgrades for both stock and personalized items.
8. Warbonnet Diamondback Quilt
The Warbonnet Diamondback is a down quilt that takes advantage of the company’s constriction-point baffle pattern, which employs a series of constrictions in the baffle pattern to isolate both halves of the quilt, thereby minimizing downshift and enabling the placement of overfill precisely where it is most desired. There are both bespoke and budget versions of the Diamondback quilt. Numerous dimensions and lengths, hues, insulation varieties, foot box designs, a draft collar, a back tensioning system, and a pad attachment system are all up for grabs. The standard Custom Diamondback 20F, with all the extras, is 19.5 ounces.
9. Nunatak Arc UL Quilt
The Nunatak Arc UL quilt is made for using on the ground, but it may also be used in a hammock. Only available through a Custom order, it comes in a variety of temperature ratings, lengths, and widths, with and without a draft collar, a back tensioning system, a pad attachment system, and a number of different outer shell and liner fabrics that emphasize breathability or water repellency. For extra warmth in the winter, the Arc UL can have external snaps attached so that a synthetic quilt can be worn underneath. Goose down with 900 fill power, either treated or untreated, is also an option for the Arc UL. The fully loaded Custom Arc UL 20F weights 21 ounces.
10. Katabatic Sawatch 15F
An ultralight quilt for trekking, this one weighs in at just 700 grams (24.7 ounces) and packs down to a tiny size.
This quilt can be ordered with either 850+ or 900+ fill power down, Hyperdry down, and additional down for padding. My personal preference is for a fill power of 900 or higher in Hyperdry down, with an overfill of 1-2 ounces.
The Katabatic Sawatch has the most sophisticated mechanism for attaching a sleeping pad. As a result, this is one of the key justifications why it is the best available.
If you want the best warmth-to-weight ratio possible in a lightweight quilt, go no further than this one. This pack is ideal for hikers who want to minimize their load. All the quilts are the same, lacking a hood, therefore most trekkers use a fleece or down beanie to keep their heads warm at night. A storage bag is included as well.
Michael “Grizzly” Ivey, an ultralight hiker, recommends the 15F Katabatic Sawatch (-9C). He has never found a cold place under this quilt thanks to its expert construction. The ultralight thru-hiker or backpacker will find this to be one of the best quilts for camping. One of the most common quilts among thru-hikers, and for good reason. The ultralight quilt has few flaws, which are minor.
11. Sea To Summit Ember EB3 Quilt Review
In terms of warmth and weight, the Sea to Summit Ember is hard to beat. They’re made with ultralight materials and 850+ premium down that’s been ethically sourced. It comes with a tiny stuff sack that allows you to squeeze the bag down to a tiny 5L.
It can withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius), with a comfortable range of 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius). This quilt passed the test for me at those temps. The 17.7 oz / 500 g of down in the Ember quilt keeps the total weight at to 25.5 oz /725 g. This exceeds the total number of self-tested quilts produced by all other firms in this review combined. Therefore, the bag’s insulation is something I would put more faith in than with some of the other quilts in this study as the temperature drops.
Like the other quilts, it has many applications, especially in milder climates. It’s also obtainable with various heat ratings.
For the most part, I really enjoy this quilt. The pad attachment system is nice, but it pales in comparison to what you’d get with a Katabatic or an Enlightened Equipment pad. Nonetheless, I think this is one of the greatest blankets for backpacking, especially when the weather drops. It’s one of the greatest choices if you want to buy a quilt right now instead of waiting weeks or months for one to be made especially for you. In addition, there is a substantial amount of premium down therein.
12. Tier Gear Quenda 20F (-7C) Review
This is one of the lightest quilts we’ve reviewed, at only 22 ounces (or 624 grams). If you’re looking for a small, niche company from Down Under, go no further than this one from Tasmania, Australia. It is well manufactured and suitable for those who wish to significantly reduce the weight of their equipment.
It is made from water-repellent down with a fill power of 850+, much like the competition. Packing down into a tiny 2.5L compression stuff sack, it has the smallest pack size of any of the quilts or sleeping bags considered for this review.
This lightweight quilt may be your best bet if you live in Australia or New Zealand. It’s on par with, if not better than, the widely acclaimed Sea to Summit Ember 3, and it easily surpasses the Katabatic Sawatch.
The only drawback, and it’s a significant one, is the potentially lengthy wait times. Your ultralight trekking quilt may not arrive for a few months. It’d be quicker to just order anything off the shelf, like a Sea to Summit or similar brand.
The Quenda is offered in a wide range of sizes and temperature ratings, including -1C, -7C, and -12C.
The wait time for them might be anywhere from weeks to months, so you’ll want to plan ahead if you’re interested in buying one. Because of that, I find it challenging to endorse this product.
Backpacking Quilt Selection Criteria
When picking out a lightweight quilt for backpacking, keep these things in mind.
Packing light is a priority for many hikers and campers, and high-quality goose and duck down with fill powers of 800, 850, 900, and 950 is a popular choice for this reason. Quilts filled with down have a long lifespan and can be used for decades with careful care. While some producers simply stock down with a water-repellent coating, others provide it in its purest form. Since down is naturally water-resistant, it is debatable whether or not “treated” down maintains its loft and warmth as well in the real world as it does in the lab. Even so, a down quilt can be kept dry with some forethought and planning, such as by transporting it in a waterproof stuff sack, selecting suitable campsites that don’t flood in rain, and occasionally airing it out in the sun. In humid locations or on long cold weather excursions when it is difficult to dry your clothes, a quilt with synthetic insulation may be the better choice.
Quilt Temperature Ratings
Since the outdoor sector started using uniform temperature ratings for sleeping bags, their dependability has increased dramatically. Before that regulation was implemented, many manufacturers had inflated their temperature values by as much as 10 degrees. The only way to determine the quality of a hiking quilt is by trusting the product’s reputation and feedback from previous buyers because there is no industry standard for this. The general rule of thumb when shopping for a quilt for backpacking is to get one rated for 10 degrees below your needs. There is a huge financial motive for ultralight quilt manufacturers to advertise their products with ridiculously low gear weights, so be wary of testimonials that say otherwise. Due to their smaller stature, women tend to sleep colder than males. This suggests that they may benefit from an additional 15 to 20 degrees of insulation. Despite the evident demand, no one currently manufactures quilts designed specifically for women.
Though lightweight equipment is crucial, you shouldn’t skimp on warmth by opting for a quilt that won’t perform in the elements. The insulation in a quilt is typically the lightest part of the quilt, with the fabric itself accounting for the majority of the weight. If the bottom of your quilt frequently gets wet, you should use materials that are breathable and treated with a durable water repellent (DWR). The inner shell fabric of a quilt takes the brunt of the wear and tear over time, so it’s important to upgrade if you intend to use your quilt frequently.
Standard and Custom Quilt Features
When you get down to it, most ultralight hiking quilts are basically the same thing. Yet, the quilts produced by each of the aforementioned companies have their own special qualities that boost their efficiency in their own special ways. Cold-weather performance can be enhanced by including features like draft collars, zonal insulation, closed foot-boxes, and external snaps for blanket layering. Strapless pad attachment systems are more practical and comfortable than their strapped counterparts, and those that feature a head-hole can be worn as a variety of different tops. Keep an eye out for these unique selling points since they can make or break your next hiking trip.
Sleeping Pad Attachment Systems
There is a wide range in the effectiveness of attachment systems for sleeping pads at preventing drafts from the sides. Because they are simpler to adjust in the dark and while lying on top of a sleeping pad, we favor ones with wide elastic straps and wafer clips (Enlightened Equipment, UGQ). Since it’s more challenging to use cords and/or mitten clips when your hands are cold, we find that these attachment systems are more efficient. When combined with a back tensioning system, all pad attachment systems perform better.
Sleeping Bags Vs Quilt For Backpacking
In comparison to ultralight sleeping bags, ultralight quilts for hiking offer a number of benefits. They are usually cheaper as they use less down and less material to provide the same warmth. With the exception of the foot box , there is normally no down on the bottom side of the quilt. The sleeping pads are attached using straps.
Thru-hikers who are trying to cut down on the weight of their gear for the several weeks or months they will be on the trail sometimes choose for lightweight quilts. But they are not without concerns that you should known about.
Which Ultralight hiking quilt is best will depend much on the ambient temperature where it will be used. For temperatures 30F (-1C) and above a quilt is the best option. They are typically more compact, lighter, and less expensive.
Choosing one of the best ultralight sleeping bags is preferable than a quilt when the temperature dips below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degrees Celsius). If the forecast calls for temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius), a mummy bag is a far better choice than a down quilt.
In addition, a four-season winter sleeping bag is an absolute necessity for any winter camping trip. The mummy-style winter sleeping bag is more comfortable in frigid temperatures.
There are no hoods on the down quilts. Unless you have consistently frigid overnight temperatures, this is not a problem. The majority of hikers wear beanies on all but the warmest nights because they are effective at keeping the head warm.
An ultralight down balaclava is ideal for those really cold evenings, and is also useful for camping and hiking on those brisk early mornings when the temperature drops dramatically.
How To Wash A Sleeping Bag Or Quilt
If you’ve recently invested in one of the excellent lightweight sleeping bags or quilts we recommended, it’s time to give it the care it deserves. Using a Sleeping Bag Liner will keep your quilt clean and may even make it warmer. However, a Merino base layer is what I reach for first.
If you want to know the proper way to clean your down sleeping bag, then you should read the Guide on How to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag.
What is a top quilt for backpacking?
If you prefer to sleep on the ground with a sleeping pad or in a backpacking hammock, you can do so under the protection of a top quilt. It’s essentially a down comforter in the form of the upper half of a sleeping bag (sans hood) with a footbox in the same style as a sleeping bag. Opened up, many top quilts can also serve as blankets.
What is the advantage of using a backpacking quilt instead of a sleeping bag?
Compared to sleeping bags, backpacking quilts have the advantages of being less bulky when packed, being easier to compress, and being more adaptable in various weather conditions. People who sleep on their sides or who toss and turn throughout the night will appreciate these pillows as well.
How wide should a backpacking quilt be?
In order to keep drafts at bay, ground sleepers require additional fabric and insulation be tucked under their sides. For ground sleepers, a width of 55 inches is very typical. For larger people, a wider option may be preferable.
How long should a backpacking quilt be?
Since several inches of fabric are lost when forming a foot box, it is important to know if the length includes the foot-box or not when determining the appropriate size for a quilt. Quilters frequently include suggested user heights when quoting sizes, so keep that in mind.
What is a backpacking quilt pad-attachment system?
To prevent cold air from seeping under the sides of your backpacking quilt, you can attach its sides to the top of your sleeping pad using a quilt-pad attachment system. For the most part, pads are attached to quilts by means of elastic straps and clips. The clips’ male halves attach to matching female clips that are embroidered onto the blanket. These are very diminutive and difficult to detect. When combined with a back tensioning system, all pad attachment systems perform better. Most people don’t bother with the pad attachment system when the weather is warm, but it comes in handy when it gets cooler at night.
What temperature should a quilt be rated for?
A man can’t go wrong with a 20-degree (Fahrenheit) quilt because it can be easily aired out in warmer weather. We advise getting a 10-degree quilt because of the lower heat generated by a woman’s body. We also suggest a 10-degree quilt if you suspect you are a cold sleeper.
Is there a temperature rating standard for quilts, like sleeping bags?
In contrast to sleeping bags, quilts do not adhere to a universal standard for temperature ratings. To replicate the effects of a sleeping bag hood, however, some testing facilities use the sleeping bag standard test on quilts, complete with a down hood. If you are uncertain, you should inquire further with the quilt maker regarding the basis for the temperature rating. Whenever possible, it’s best to purchase a quilt with a temperature rating that’s 10 degrees lower than the absolute minimum you anticipate experiencing.
What is a draft collar?
You can prevent warm air from escaping during the night by wearing a draft collar, which is a tube of fabric (typically filled with goose or duck down) that sits just below the hood of your sleeping bag or at the head end of your backpacking quilt and wraps around your upper chest and neck. If you sleep on the ground, the draft collar’s adjustment controls should be placed over your chest, where you can reach them with your hands regardless of your sleeping position.
What is the difference between a quilt with a zippered footbox vs a closed footbox?
For more airflow during warmer months, unzip the quilt’s footbox and use it as a blanket. Besides zippers, drawstrings are commonly used to close and vent foot boxes. Like sleeping bag foot boxes, closed ones are sewn shut at the bottom. Since they prevent drafts, these foot boxes are warmer than those with zippers.
What is a quilt back tensioning system?
A quilt’s rear hole can be sealed off from drafts with this adjustable system that draws the quilt’s sides together. It is most useful for people who sleep on the ground, as it improves the attachment system for a sleeping bag. Various manufacturers refer to this feature by a variety of names, including Dynamic Tensioning System (UGQ), Adjustable Side Elastics (Warbonnet), and Edge Tension Control.
Why is a differential cut on a backpacking quilt important?
Differential cutting involves making the shell fabric of the quilt a slightly different size on the inside and outside, allowing the down filling to maintain its loft even when pushed or pulled. The down would compress and release all of its trapped heat if the inner and outer fabrics were the same size.
Is it worth adding down overfill to a quilt?
How the quilt is pieced together has a significant impact on the answer to this question. In order to provide the maximum amount of warmth for a specified temperature rating, most quilts are created with an optimal baffle height and a differential cut. Depending on the quilt’s construction, adding an extra layer of overfill could help prevent down from migrating within. Get in touch with the quilt maker if you have any questions. It may be more efficient to simply upgrade to the next size warmer quilt.
What does denier mean?
The thickness of individual fibers or threads can be measured using the denier, commonly abbreviated as “d” or “D.” Oftentimes, you’ll see a 10d or 20d tacked onto the end of a fabric specification when shopping for backpacking gear or clothing. Fabrics with a higher denier tend to be heavier and more long-lasting than those with a lower denier. A quilt made from a 10d shell fabric, for instance, will be less heavy and won’t last quite as long as one made from a 20d fabric.
What sleeping clothes should you use when sleeping with a backpacking quilt?
Wearing a long-sleeved jersey and long underwear, as you would in a sleeping bag, will prevent grime and oils from your skin from soiling the inside of your quilt. If extra warmth is needed while sleeping under a quilt, many people will also wear a fleece hoody or a down hoody. In extremely cold weather, you can also wear a fleece cap or a hooded down coat.
Are quilts good for winter backpacking and camping?
In a word, no. Although quilts are best used when the temperature is above 20 degrees, some people will drape one over their sleeping bag in the winter to increase its warmth.
When is a full-length zipper better than a 3/4 length zipper?
It is recommended that you get a quilt with either a three-quarter or full-length zipper if you live in an area with temperatures that drop below twenty degrees Fahrenheit, or if you tend to become chilly when sleeping. It allows you to sleep with the quilt open and draped over you in warmer weather by zipping it closed, but it keeps out cold drafts when it’s closed.
What is the difference between 800 and 900 fill power down?
Goose down and duck down are measured by their “fill power,” or their ability to fill a given volume. As an illustration, 800 fill power down will fill 800 cubic inches, while 900 fill power down will fill 900 cubic inches per ounce. Adding more down to an item usually makes it warmer. When compared to a quilt with the same amount of insulation but a lower fill power (such as 800), a 900 fill power down quilt provides significantly more warmth. This means that a quilt made with 900 fill power down can be lighter than one made with 800 fill power down while still providing the same level of warmth.
Is duck down warmer than goose down?
Fill power is a species-neutral method of comparing the insulation qualities of different types of down, such as duck down and goose down. To rephrase: duck down with 800 fill power is as toasty as goose down with the same rating. The insulation in a sleeping bag or quilt is a different color, but you can’t tell the difference because of how it’s sewn. Because there are so many more ducks than geese, duck down is also more affordable.
What is the difference between a stock quilt and a custom quilt?
Many quilt manufacturers offer stock quilts, which are pre-made, have a limited feature set, use slightly heavier fabrics, and are only offered in a handful of colors. Instead of high-fill-power goose down, they frequently employ down or duck down insulation. Even if a custom-made quilt is less in weight and available in your preferred color, purchasing a stock quilt from a retailer can save you time and money.
What is the best type of sleeping pad to use with a quilt?
Except for air mattresses, self-inflating pads, and foam pads, most sleeping pads are compatible with quilt pad-attachment systems. Closed-cell foam pads thinner than 1/4 inch and perforated Klymit sleeping pads are not recommended. However, Therm-a-Rest, Sea-to-Summit, NEMO, and Exped inflatable sleeping pads are typically the most compatible with blankets.
What is an underquilt for backpacking?
Travelers who prefer to sleep in a hammock will need an underquilt. As with a sleeping pad, it keeps your back warm while you sleep on the ground in a tent or under a tarp. Although you could use a sleeping pad in a hammock, an underquilt hung underneath the hammock would provide much more comfort.
What is the Responsible Down Standard?
Down and feathers should only be used if they have come from animals that have not been harmed in any way, which is why the RDS certification is so important. It is illegal to force-feed animals and to pluck or molt the feathers or down from living birds. Each step of the supply chain is subject to audit by an independent certifying agency. From the farm to the finished product, the unique identity of RDS down and feathers is protected by the certification process.