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Is there any better feeling than crawling into a sleeping bag at the end of a long hike? That’s a rhetorical question, but when an ultralight backpacker tries to answer it, we take notes.
“I’ve been exclusively using a backpacking quilt for the last couple of years,” says Justin “New Shoes” Tucker, Field Mag contributor and 2022 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. “I toss and turn a lot in my sleep, so a quilt allows for more freedom of movement than a sleeping bag since you aren’t fully enclosed. They also tend to be lighter and made with less fabric without sacrificing warmth, which makes them easier to carry.”
Once a niche item for ultralight hikers, highly-packable backpacking quilts have been gaining mainstream popularity because they offer many of the same perks of traditional mummy-style sleeping bags without the bulk and weight. As noted above, many simply find quilts simply more comfortable, regardless of their superior weight saving properties, whether backcountry camping or star gazing in your local national forest.
To fill in any remaining blanks and point those considering converting to a quilt themselves in the right direction, we’ve put together the following guide to the best backpacking quilts from both cottage industry standouts and longstanding outdoor brands.
Backpacking Quilts vs Traditional Sleeping Bags
When it comes to comparing sleeping bags to quilts, it’s not quite apples to apples—while they share a function, they vary in shape. Quilts are designed to drape over your body, forgoing the hood, zippers, and back side of a conventional sleeping bag—the thought here is that while you’re sleeping the down feathers compressed underneath your body provide little warmth value, leaving your sleeping pad to do most of the work keeping you insulated from the ground.
While quilts don’t undergo the same standardized temperature rating tests that sleeping bags do, they are often rated to a degree by the manufacturer. And unlike your typical mummy bag, quilts tend to better accommodate restless, side sleepers, and different body types, with some cottage industry quilt-makers even offering customers the option of picking their preferred length, width, fill power, and more.
What sleeping bags hold over quilts is the ability to keep cold air drafts out and body heat in—that’s the whole purpose of a zipper and hood, after all. To combat drafts, many quilts feature draft collars, partially-enclosed footboxes, and lightweight anchor systems to either secure your quilt to your pad or even secure your quilt around your backside and legs in a partial lower-body mummy shape. Cold head? Sleep with a hat on. Quilt too light? Sleep with your puffy jacket on. In fact, many ultralight backpackers and hardcore hikers will wear all their clothing and outerwear to bed to increase body warmth and reduce the fill power required within their down quilt. Then again, if you’re regularly camping out in sub-freezing temps or tend to really run cold at night, a traditional down mummy bag is likely a better option.
What to Consider When Choosing a Quilt
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing between a conventional sleeping bag and a quilt for backpacking, but it basically comes down to the warmth-to-weight ratio: both synthetic and down quilts tend to offer more warmth per ounce than comparable sleeping bags. They can help save you a few bucks, too (so you can pack in more instant coffee). And of course, personal preference is always a factor. Only you know what keeps you comfy! Nonetheless, to help narrow down the options, we tapped into our network of die-hard trail lovers to get their recommendations for ten of the best lightweight quilts for camping and backpacking. Read on and happy camping!
10 Best Quilts for Backpacking & Camping
If you’re not ready to give up all the perks of a traditional bag, consider this versatile hybrid approach. Basically a hoodless bag with a full-length zipper, the lightweight Flicker UL Quilt from OG Seattle mountaineering brand Feathered Friends—available in 20, 30, and 40-degree models in short, regular, and long—lets you choose your own adventure: fully encase yourself on cold nights, cinch just your feet in, or unzip completely (in its open quilt form, it’s large enough for two).
Weight: 22 oz | 1 lb 6 oz | 626 g
Down Fill: 950+ Goose Down
Available in 20-degree and 40-degree versions, the newly introduced quilts from the best known ultralight backpacking gear brand are pricey, but extremely high quality and capable of pushing shoulder-season camping well into fall territory. Both versions—which we’ve tested in Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness—feature a partially enclosed sewn footbox, pad attachment system, and drawstring closure to synch around your shoulders on chilly nights. The 20-degree model specifically boasts lofty 1.5-inch, 1000 fill power RDS-Certified Grey Goose Down baffles to keep you cozy all night long. A micro-ripstop nylon shell fabric with water-resistant DWR coating add durability and longevity without tacking on extra weight.
Weight: 20.1 oz | 1.25 lbs | 570 g
Down Fill: 1000fp RDS-Certified Grey Goose Down
Trail wisdom says you should always bring at least one little luxury on overnight hikes, and while the Alsek quilt isn’t quite the same as, say, a summit Snickers (which we highly recommend), it does come with its own small comforts. With the ability to select your length, shape, and preferred fill power—including 900 goose down to 850 duck down insulation—this handmade quilt is high quality and well loved. Recent updates to the popular quilt design include a slightly roomier fit, an internal pocket for keeping your phone or water filter warm at night, and overstuffed baffles to keep toes toasty.
Weight: 22.2 oz | 1.38 lbs | 629 g
Down Fill: 900 fill power Hyperdry certified goose down
Price: Starting at $360
Leave it to a bunch of midwesterners to design a true cold-weather camp quilt. Handmade in Michigan, the Aries is overfilled with 900-fill goose down to ensure non-shifting insulation thickness. There are no sewn-through seams (meaning to cold spots), and a baffled foot box and draw-cord toggle at the neck keep drafts to a minimum. There’s even an optional hood and collar for especially frigid nights outdoors. Also available in 20, 30, and 40 degree versions.
Weight: 27.11 oz |1.68 lbs | 768 g
Down Fill: 900 fill power Hyperdry water-resistant certified goose down
Don’t expect a sleek website or clever marketing when you go to place an order for a Coati Quilt. The founder, Dan Timmerman, is a mountain biker who got inspired by some friends hiking the Appalachian Trail to start experimenting with making ultralight gear. His company grew through word-of-mouth (i.e. r/Ultralight) and has garnered a reputation as a fan favorite of hardcore ounce counters and weight weenies. These made-to-order quilts are the real deal: made on a solar-powered sewing machine, they offer a customized fit and plenty of high-tech features. Rumor has it Dan is a real pleasure to work with, too (seriously).
Down Fill: Hyperdry 900 fill power down
Whether you’re a long-distance hiker or a casual backpacker, you can’t really go wrong with this best-selling quilt. With models available in 10-degree increments from zero up to 50-degrees, and the option to add a collar, there’s really something for every climate and every type of hiker—even the coldest cold sleepers. Keep it open on warmer nights or use the 20” zipper and shock cord combo to tuck your feet in when it gets chilly—unique U-shaped baffling ensures the 850 or 950 fill down insulation stays in the optimal position for warmth regardless. This quilt is easily among the lightest on the list.
Weight: 19.18 oz | 1.19 lbs | 543 g
Down Fill: 850 - 950 fill power
If Goldilocks were an ultralight backpacker looking for a general-purpose quilt for her trekking endeavors, she’d probably land on the just-right Arc UL 30—the lightest quilt on the list for the temperature rating. Designed to strike the ideal balance of weight and bulk with the warmth needed for the mountains—with many customization options available—this made-to-order quilt has an ultralight breathable shell and optional overbag which can add another 15 degrees to the rating.
Weight: 19.1 oz | 1.19 lbs | 540 g
Down Fill: 900 fill power
Another totally made-to-order option from Michigan, the Bandit is our favorite budget-friendly—yet high quality—ultralight backpacking quilt. There’s literally dozens of customizations options to consider: Do you want to add on a deluxe set of wafer clips and elastic straps as a sleeping pad attachment system? Fully tapered for thermal efficiency, or rectangle shape for maximum coverage? How about 900, 850, of 800 fill power? If you’re craving full control over your comfort, this might be the right option. Insulated, sewn footboxes come standard—though for $8 extra you can have it overstuffed with an extra ounce of down. Looking for the best ultralight quilt, this might be it.
Weight: 20.77 oz | 1.29 lbs | 588 g
Down Fill: 800 - 900 fill power
The Therm-A-Rest Vesper is another favorite ultralight backpacking quilt, but not everyone who buys a backpacking quilt is taking on a Triple Crown trail, so we had to throw in a luxury option. Enter the Vela Double Quilt, a great, versatile choice for couples (or even a family) looking to split weight on overnight trips: cozy 650-fill down, side baffles around the perimeter to combat drafts, elasticized footbox, and snap loops that can mate with another Theram-A-Rest quilt or blanket. Bonus: It’s readily available from REI co-op.
Weight: 35 oz | 2.18 lbs | 992 g
Down Fill: 650 fill power Nikwax Hydrophobic Down
While not technically a backpacking quilt, Rumpl’s classic camp blankets earn a spot on the list for being colorful, affordable and accessible. The Nanoloft Puffy version is made entirely with 100% recycled materials—recycled 30 Denier ripstop polyester outer with DWR coating and recycled synthetic insulation—and comes with a stuff sack the size of a Nalgene. Plus it’s water repellent, machine washable, and available in a double widt.h A standout option for casual campers and warm-weather backpackers.
Weight: 28.8 oz | 1.8lbs | 992 g
Down Fill: NanoLoft® Down-Alternative Insulation
*all weights are measured from the most regular, middle fill size