The Best Backpacking Quilt On the Market [Review And Buying Guide]

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After a long day of backpacking that ends at a chilly campground or in the midst of a forest, you need to make sure that you stay warm and toasty all through the night. However, it’s important to lighten the load you have to carry along the trails all day, so you want to make sure that you aren’t traveling with too hefty of a sleep covering. 

A backpacking quilt, instead of a sleeping bag, is a great solution to this scenario. Because backpacking quilts don’t feature hoods (which add weight) and have insulation (which is the heaviest part) only over the top of your body rather than all around you quilts are a much more lightweight option compared to standard sleeping bags. 

Backpacking quilts are also smaller overall than sleeping bags, making them easier to pack into a hiking day pack. Also, backpacking quilts provide more freedom of movement than most sleeping bags, so they are a much better option for those who toss and turn during the night or like to sleep on their sides.

The best overall solution in this product round-up is the Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt, which is a fantastic option for sleeping in conditions down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there are several other great options to compare and contrast so that you can choose the best backpacking quilt to fit your needs.

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS rating  Price
Best OverallTherm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt
  • Materials: 650 fill power goose down insulation (Nikwax treated for water resistance)
  • Temperature Rating: 35 degrees F
9.5
Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt
  • Materials: 700 fill power down
  • Ripstop nylon outer shell
  • Temperature Rating: 15 degrees F
9.5
Best Premium OptionNemo Equipment, Inc. Disco 15 Sleeping Bag Nemo Equipment, Inc. Disco 15 Sleeping Bag
  • Materials: 650 fill power down insulation (hydrophobic)
  • Ripstop nylon outer shell treated with durable water repellent
  • Temperature Rating: 15 degrees F
9.5
Best Budget QuiltBig Agnes Kings Canyon Ultralight Quilt Big Agnes Kings Canyon Ultralight Quilt
  • Materials: Synthetic insulation (PrimaLoft Silver)
  • Ripstop nylon outer shell with water resistance
  • Temperature Rating: 45 degrees F
9.5
Kelty Unisex Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag and Quilt Kelty Unisex Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag and Quilt
  • Materials: 600 fill power down (DriDown treatment for water resistance)
  • Ripstop nylon outer shell
  • Polyester taffeta lining
  • Temperature Rating: 20 degrees F
9.5
ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt
  • Materials: Synthetic insulation of recycled polyester fibers
  • Outer shell: ripstop nylon with durable water repellent
  • Inner lining: soft nylon taffeta
  • Temperature Rating: 40 to 50 degrees F
9
Mountain Hardwear Unisex HyperLamina Spark Sleeping Bag Mountain Hardwear Unisex HyperLamina Spark Sleeping Bag
  • Materials: Thermal.Q synthetic filling
  • Inner taffeta lining
  • Outer shell: wind-resistant tactel nylon
  • Temperature Rating: 32 degrees F
9

Product Reviews 

Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt: Best Overall

Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt
  • Ultralight (1.5 pounds) and compact (10x7 inches) 35-degree down quilt for minimalist backcountry travel and camping
  • 650-fill power Nikwax-treated Hydrophobic Goose Down is water resistance and dries three times faster than untreated down
  • Reflective ThermaCapture seams trap body heat, insulated toe box keeps feet warm, and full perimeter side baffles offer draft protection
  • Perimeter snap loops attach the quilt to a sleeping pad, sheet, sleeping bag, or another quilt for a customized, layered sleep system
  • Large size quilt fits heights up to six feet two inches, and measures 80 x 52 inches; includes stuff sack and storage bag

The Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt is the best overall quilt in this product round-up. Thanks to its roomy dimensions, ultra-lightweight body style, compact design, high-fill-power down filling, and water-resistant fabrics, this backpacking quilt will be sure to provide warmth and comfort for many years of camping and other adventures.

Filled with 650-fill Nikwax goose down insulation, the Therm-a-Rest Corus down is treated to be water-resistant. This helps prevent the down from losing all heat-retaining ability, as untreated down is destined to do when it gets wet. 

The Nikwax treatment is advertised to dry three times faster than down without the treatment, which can make the difference between shivering all night versus staying cozy and comfortable.

While its large size accommodates sleepers up to 6 foot 2 inches tall, the Therm-a-Rest Corus quilt is also ultra-lightweight at only 1.62 pounds, and it also can be packed down into a simple 10 x 7-inch rectangle to put into your backpack and forget about it throughout the day.

The quilt features an insulated, elastic footbox, so you won’t need to worry about drafts coming in. There are also full-perimeter side baffles and a neck snap to even further prevent cold air from leaking in and interrupting your sleep. These side baffles feature ThermaCapture seams, which are lightweight strips of reflective tape that help retains your body heat.

For attachment to a sleeping pad, another quilt, or a sleeping bag, the Therm-a-Rest Corus features snap loops along the perimeter of the quilt. With this feature, you can create layers of comfort and warmth for more effective insulation on the coldest of nights.

Finally, there is an included storage bag for easy transportability.

Pros

  • Efficient 650 fill power goose down insulation for warmth
  • Hydrophobic Nikwax-treated
  • Rated down to 35 degrees F
  • Ultra-lightweight for transportability
  • Can be packed down to a very compact size for easy travel
  • Full side baffles to keep drafts out, equipped with ThermaCapture seams for more heat retention
  • Fits up to 6′ 2″ tall sleepers (roomy) and allows for movement during sleep
  • Perimeter snap loops for attaching to a sleeping pad or sleeping bag
  • Includes a stuff pack/storage bag

Cons

  • Only comes in a lime green, yellow color
  • Not appropriate for nights colder than 35 degrees F

Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt: Best Three Season Quilt

Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt
  • ►WARM - Stay toasty warm due to the baffled construction and 22 oz. of high loft 700-fill power down which provides a temperature rating down to 15F (-10C).
  • ►LIGHTWEIGHT - No need to compromise on size and weight. The quilt comes in at only 2 lb. 3 oz. and the included compression sack cinches down to just 10 x 7 inches. Use the included sleeping pad strap to secure your quilt to an insulated sleeping pad for a lightweight and compact sleeping system.
  • ►DURABLE - The light, but durable, 20D ripstop nylon fabrics will ensure that the quilt performs for countless adventures.
  • ►VERSATILE - Our quilts offer incredible versatility that is unmatched by traditional sleeping bags. Open up the quilt for warm weather or close it up completely on those chilly nights. Since they're so easy to adjust, they're also perfect for hammocks.
  • ►LIFETIME WARRANTY - We're a US-based company that offers a lifetime warranty on all of our gear. If you have any problems with your quilt, let us know and we'll do our best to help!

The Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt is our choice for the best three-season quilt. Rated for down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the Paria Outdoor Products quilt promises to keep you comfortable on even colder nights while also being versatile enough for spring or fall temperatures.

The quilt’s 700 fill power down is efficient at keeping you toasty. Featuring cinch cords along with the foot box and collar, you can fully enclose yourself in the Paria Thermodown quilt fabric for maximum warmth. However, this quilt is a versatile option for warmer spring or even summer nights, because you can uncinch it to allow cooler air in as needed.

Available in a regular or long size (5′ 11″ and taller), the Paria Thermodown is versatile for those who need more space due to their height. Despite its taller size, the Paria becomes rather compact when packed down at just 10 x 7 inches. This makes it perfect for easily and quickly stuffing into your backpack.

With an outer shell constructed of ripstop nylon, the Paria Thermodown is durable and long-lasting. The Paria is also equipped with a pad strap for fully connecting to your sleeping pad to keep it in place all night long. Purchase of the Paria Thermodown also comes with a compression carrying sack and mesh bag.

Pros

  • 700 fill power down (very efficient at keeping you warm)
  • Available in two size lengths (regular or long)
  • Rated for 15 degrees F
  • Packs down small (10 x 7 inches)
  • Ripstop nylon for outer shell (durability)
  • Versatile for cold or warmer nights with cinching areas on the quilt
  • Pad strap for pad attachment
  • Purchase includes mesh storage bag and carrying sack

Cons

  • Slightly heavier at 2 pounds 3 ounces (regular) or 2 pounds 6 punches (long)
  • Only one color option (grey)
  • Expensive ($169.99)

Nemo Equipment, Inc. Disco 15 Sleeping Bag: 15 Degree Down: Best Premium Option

Nemo Equipment, Inc. Disco 15 Sleeping Bag
  • SWEET DREAMS - Backpacking is better after a great night's rest; The 3 season Disco is designed to give you the best sleep in the backcountry; 650 fill power Nikwax Hydrophobic Down is feather-light and toasty warm even when damp
  • SNUGGLE UP - Like your favorite comforter, NEMO's Blanket Fold gives some extra material around your face to cuddle up with; Cozy and practical, this helps regulate temperature
  • LET'S SPOON - The Disco's unique spoon shape is designed with extra room at the elbows and knees that make side sleeping comfortable if you don't like to sleep on your back
  • LET IT BREATHE - When you get too hot, ThermoGills unzip to let out warm air, allowing superior temperature control and added versatility; A waterproof, breathable footbox protects from condensation so your feet stay warm and dry
  • TECHNICAL SPECS - Weighs 2 lbs 14 oz (1.3 kg) with a packed size of 18 x 9 in diameter and a compressed volume of 6.9 L; Nylon Ripstop with water-resistant DWR; 1-person capacity fits men up to 6.5 ft tall; Left zipper

The Nemo Equipment, Inc. Disco 15 Sleeping Bag is the most premium option in this product round-up due to the bag’s effective insulation, overall comfort, uniquely designed shape, and durable materials. 

While this is actually a sleeping bag rather than a backpacking quilt, this Nemo bag features a unique spoon-shaped design for extra roominess, making it a more comfortable option than your standard sleeping bag.

Nemo markets the Disco 15 as the perfect bag for side sleepers, stating that 75% of people sleep on their sides instead of their backs. Because of this, the traditional “mummy” style sleeping bags are not roomy enough or comfortable enough for most sleepers. The Nemo Disco 15 aims to resolve this problem by offering a design better suited for side sleepers.

The Nemo Disco 15’s spoon shape was created with contours and more space at the legs and elbows, allowing for more freedom of movement than traditionally shaped sleeping bags.

Insulated with 650 fill power down, the Nemo Disco 15 bag is rated for three seasons down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is well suited for colder nights. The Nemo is also equipped with patented “Thermo Gills” that you can unzip to prevent you from getting too hot overnight. 

There is also a waterproof footbox that prevents condensation or sweat from building up, as well as a “Blanket Fold” collar and draft tube along the full length of the bag for extra protection from cool drafts.

With hydrophobic treated down filling and an outer shell of ripstop nylon treated with durable water repellent, the Nemo is guaranteed to be durable and reliable against moisture, whether it’s sweat, condensation, a spilled water bottle, or a rain shower.

You can even zip together a men’s and women’s Nemo Disco 15 to create a double sleeping space. The Nemo also features a built-in pillow pocket where you can stash away something soft, like an extra blanket or folded jacket, to create a pillow underneath your head and neck for extra support.

Pros

  • Rated down to 15 degrees F
  • More comfortable design for side sleepers and those who like to move at night
  • Hydrophobic 750 fill power down for warmth and water repellency
  • Draft collar, draft tube, and Thermo Gills for temperature regulation
  • Waterproof footbox
  • Durable YKK zipper
  • Outer shell is ripstop nylon (durability) treated with durable water repellent
  • Pillow pocket 
  • Can be zipped together with other Disco 15 bags

Cons

  • Very expensive ($279.95)
  • Kind of heavy (2 pounds 14 ounces)

Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL Quilt: Best Budget Quilt

Big Agnes Kings Canyon Ultralight Quilt
  • Ultralight quilt that is ideal for indoor camping--like hut trips or couch surfing, or warm summer nights outdoors
  • Design is a simple cover that you can tuck around yourself using the top corner hand pockets
  • Or use the webbing loops and included shock cord to lace the sides of the quilt together on colder nights
  • Features small pocket at the foot to slide your pad into and keep your quilt and pad connected
  • Works with any pad size or shape 80"x 60"/ 203x152cm (tapers to 21")

The Big Agnes Kings Canyon Ultralight Quilt is the best choice if you are on a tight budget. Featuring a very lightweight body style, soft, comfortable fabrics, and a durable ripstop nylon outer shell, the Big Agnes is an excellent choice if you want to find a cozy, lightweight, compact quilt that doesn’t break the bank.

Weighing in at only 1 pound, the Big Agnes Kings Canyon is one of the most lightweight quilts you may find on the market. Because weight is so important when packing for a long backpacking trip, the Big Agnes is an excellent choice for those aiming for the lightest weight possible. It packs down to only 4 x 6 inches, which is very compact and easily fits in a daypack.

The Big Agnes features snaps to attach to a sleeping pad to keep it secure. You can also snap the quilt around your body without a sleeping pad with the included six webbing loops if you wish for a tighter mummy-style fit to encase yourself in warmth.

This quilt is filled with PrimaLoft Silver, a synthetic type of insulation. Its temperature rating is approximately 45 degrees F, so it is best for milder nights when you don’t plan to need extra warmth.

The Big Agnes quilt is constructed with an outer shell of ripstop nylon, making it just as durable as the more expensive options. This nylon is also treated with water repellent treatment, so you can feel secure in case of moisture or condensation.

Note that the Big Agnes also comes with a carrying sack and mesh bag included.

Pros

  • Weighs only 1 pound
  • Inexpensive option
  • Nylon ripstop fabrics (durability) 
  • Hydrophobic treatment 
  • Very compact (4 x 6 when packed away)
  • Snaps for attachment to the sleeping pad
  • Includes storage bag and compact carrying sack

Cons

  • Only rated down to 45 degrees F (not meant for chillier night

Kelty Unisex Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag And Quilt: Most Hydrophobic Down Quilt

Kelty Unisex Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag and Quilt
  • Cosmic Down 20 Degree DriDown means more moisture defense & quicker drying in the cold & wet, versatile for 3 seasons use, that's Kelty Built
  • Features: 550 fill DriDown, dual-slider locking zipper, Full draft collar, Thermal comfort hood & natural fit foot box, Zipper draft tube w/ antisnag
  • DriDown is treated to create a hydrophobic finish on each down plume, allows you to stay dry longer, loft better, & dry faster than untreated down
  • Sleeping Bag Comfort Rating: 20 F / -7 C, EN Rating 21 F / -6 C. 50D polyester taffeta liner
  • Dimensions: Fits to 6 ft 6 in, Weight 2 lbs 13oz, Stuff Size 8 x 14

The Kelty Unisex Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag and Quilt is built with water resistance in mind, so this is our pick for the best quilt if you will come into contact with moisture but still want to purchase a down quilt.

Featuring 600 fill power down, the Kelty Cosmic 20 quilt has a comfort rating (for cold sleepers, a.k.a. women) of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it a great choice for chillier evenings when comfort is most important.

The quilt’s down is treated with DriDown, an extremely effective hydrophobic finish designed so that each plume of down has been covered so that the water resistance is complete and consistent throughout the entire bag, avoiding cold spots. The DriDown also promises to dry very quickly, so you won’t have to worry about sleeping in a cold, soggy quilt.

With enough space to accommodate tall sleepers up to 6 feet 6 inches tall, the Kelty Cosmic 20 quilt is comfortable for both men and women. Short (up to 5 foot 6 inches) and regular (up to 6 feet) sizes are also available. Either way, the Kelty Cosmic 20 packs down rather small to only 8 x 14 inches, so it can fit inside a backpack quite easily. 

Built with an outer shell of ripstop nylon, the Kelty Cosmic 20 quilt promises to last for many years. The Kelty also features a draft collar to keep you extra toasty, as well as a thermal comfort hood for those who would like to even further enclose their head. 

For versatility, there is a two-way zipper that you can unzip from either the bottom or top of the bag, so you can customize the bag’s heat retention throughout the night. This will prevent you from getting too warm. When fully zipped, the Kelty Cosmic 20 forms a true mummy-style sleeping bag for those seeking the ultimate warm sleeping experience.

Pros

  • Very effective hydrophobic DriDown treatment
  • 600 fill power down for warmth down to 20 degrees F
  • Rather compact when packed for carrying in a hiking bag
  • Two-way zipper (can be more open style or a mummy-style)
  • Ripstop nylon outer shell (durable)
  • Comes in various size options for men and women

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Somewhat heavy at 2 pounds 10 ounces (short), 2 pounds 13 ounces (regular), and 3 pounds 2 ounces (long)

ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt: Best Quilt for Spring and Fall

ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt
  • WEATHER READY: The warm and affordable counterpart to the Ember 2 UnderQuilt (sold separately), with a temperature rating of 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, the Spark TopQuilt makes for the coziest hammock partner.
  • WARMTH STAYS IN: Features an easy to use convertible footbox that makes for a quick entry and exit, all while keeping the heat in. Made from the softest nylon taffeta lining, you won't want to leave.
  • FOUR-SEASON HAMMOCKING: Feel safe and stay dry knowing that the Spark is finished with DWR (durable water repellent), which repels moisture and keeps you comfy and secure through any storm.
  • COMPACT CAMPING: Includes a nylon compression stuff sack for easy storage and only weighs 27 ounces. Unfolded Dimensions: 6'8" x 4'2".
  • PLEASE NOTE: ENO attempts to reduce potential waste by using every bit of fabric available in production, so the color of the stuff sack and stitching might vary from what is pictured.

The ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt is our pick for the best quilt for fall or spring backpacking trips. With a temperature rating of 40-50 degrees, the ENO quilt is a solid choice if you’re looking for a cozy, durable quilt that is best equipped to handle the milder nights without compromising on comfort and style.

This ENO Spark TopQuilt is constructed with an outer shell of ripstop nylon, so you can feel secure that it will last for many years without developing holes or tears. The outer shell is also treated with durable water repellent for protection from condensation and moisture. The inner lining is a very soft nylon taffeta that will keep you comfortable.

Featuring synthetic, all-recycled insulation made up of polyester fibers, the ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt is sure to effectively stand up to moisture without becoming too heavy or losing all heat retention properties. The quilt’s offset quilting style keeps the loft in place and helps prevent cold spots from developing through the night.

The ENO Spark is marketed as a “3-in-1” design, as it can be used as a top quilt, hammock quilt, or sleeping bag. Its size is large enough to fit sleepers up to 6 foot 2 inches tall. The footbox style is that of a hook and loop, equipped with an adjustable drawstring so that you can customize the amount of airflow at your feet.

The ENO Spark quilt also comes with a carrying sack for portability, although the packed downsize is not as compact as other options we’ve reviewed thus far.

Pros

  • Not too expensive
  • Hook and loop foot box with drawstring
  • Includes nylon carrying sack
  • Lightweight (1 pound 11 ounces)
  • Ripstop nylon fabrics for durability
  • Durable water repellent treatment 
  • Recycled insulation (environmentally-conscious option)

Cons

  • Only one size option
  • Large stuff sack size (18 x 12 inches)
  • Not suitable for nights colder than 40-50 degrees F

Mountain Hardwear Unisex HyperLamina Spark: Best Mummy Style Quilt

Mountain Hardwear Unisex HyperLamina Spark Sleeping Bag
  • Synthetic
  • Proprietary welded Lamina construction enhances loft and eliminates cold spots
  • Thermal Q insulation has outstanding compressibility and maintains excellent loft
  • Performance mummy cut is snug, reducing girth, weight, and bulk and maximizing thermal efficiency
  • Materials: Insulation - Thermal.Q / Shell - 22D Dpbby

The Mountain Hardwear Unisex HyperLamina Spark Sleeping Bag is our choice for the best mummy-style quilt in this product round-up. With a cozy and comfortable fit, synthetic insulation, compact pack size, and lightweight design, this quilt is a great choice if you’re looking for a traditional sleeping bag style.

The Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark is insulated with Thermal.Q synthetic filling. The “Lamina” design means that the insulation is welded closely to the lining of the bag itself, keeping cold spots out more successfully than standard stitches would. The insulation is also designed to be extra thick at your feet and core for the most effective body heat retention. 

The synthetic filling also features a hydrophobic treatment to prevent condensation from building up. The lower limit (for men, or warmer sleepers) of this bag is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while the comfort rating (for most women, or colder sleepers) is 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Designed as a mummy-style cut, the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark bag hugs you tightly all night and prevents drafts effectively. There is even a hood built into the top of the bag to keep cool air away from your head, which is where most of your body heat is lost.

For ventilation, the bag features a half-length zipper crafted along the front and center of the body so that you can unzip it if you become too warm.

The outer shell is made of a wind-resistant tactel nylon with an inner taffeta lining for softness and comfort. With a long version (which fits sleepers up to 78 inches) and regular version (for up to 72 inches), the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark is comfortable for nearly anyone who prefers a mummy-style sleeping bag.

This bag is rated down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is not suited for the coldest of nights. The Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark weighs only 1 pound 12 ounces for the long style, and 1 pound 10 ounces for the regular size. The packed downsize is a fairly compact 6 x 12 inches, so this quilt is a good option for longer backpacking trips.

Purchase of the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark includes a stuff sack and a separate mesh bag for storage.

Pros

  • Lightweight 
  • Comes in two sizes (regular and long)
  • Mummy style for comfort and warmth
  • Well ventilated with center zipper
  • Nylon outer shell resists cold wind entry
  • Soft taffeta lining
  • Mesh storage bag and compression sack included with purchase

Cons

  • Not as much roominess as the Nemo Riff 15 or true backpacking quilts
  • Rated for 32 degrees F, so not the best choice for really cold nights
  • Not ripstop nylon

Buying Guide: What to Look For in a Backpacking Quilt

Temperature Ratings

When selecting a backpacking quilt, one of the most important aspects to understand is the temperature rating. 

While most backpacking quilts have temperature ratings similar to those for sleeping bags, there is no full industry-standard way to measure temperature ratings for backpacking quilts. This leads to manufacturers coming up with their own temperature rating, so it can be complicated to decipher.

To help simplify the confusion, it’s essential to first understand that most women are “cold” sleepers (meaning, their body temperature at rest is lower) compared to men, who are “warm” sleepers. 

Some quilts will have what is called a “comfort rating” or comfort limit. This is the lowest temperature at which most cold sleepers (usually women) will be comfortable sleeping in this quilt. If you see a “lower rating” or lower limit, this is the lowest temperature at which most warm sleepers (usually men) will be comfortable sleeping in this quilt.

To be fully sure that you will stay warm (since, as we mentioned, there is no standardized testing protocol for quilts’ temperature ratings), it may be a good idea to add 20 degrees Fahrenheit to the advertised temperature rating. For instance, if the backpacking quilt is rated for down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, you should assume that the true comfort rating is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help ensure that you stay warm by accounting for any variance from the manufacturer’s recommendations.

More: NEMO Riff 15 Review

Footbox Design

There are two major style options for the quilt’s footbox design: a “sewn in” style or a zippered style. As the name indicates, a zippered footbox can be zipped shut to keep warm air in or unzipped partially or entirely, leaving an open space at your feet, while a “sewn in” footbox is always fully enclosed.

The zippered option creates more versatility, as you can zip or unzip the foot area depending on how warm or cool you’d like to be. Quilts with a zippered footbox may be ideal if you will be sleeping in uncertain temperatures or with temperature variations from night to night.

If the footbox has a “sewn in” design, however, there is no zipper. This design is great for maximum warmth, so this may be the ideal solution if you will be backpacking in very cold temperatures when you want to avoid frostbite on your toes. 

Also, a footbox without a zipper avoids adding the zipper’s extra weight, so the overall weight of the quilt will be slightly lighter due to this design choice.

More: How to Wash and Clean a Sleeping Bag Like A Pro?

Down Fill or Synthetic Fill

It’s important to understand the differences between down and synthetic fill when choosing a backpacking quilt. Below, let’s review some of the main benefits and drawbacks of each so that you can make an informed decision.

Down insulation:

Because down feathers are of a lighter weight and are more compressible than synthetic filling, oftentimes, quilts with down filling will be less difficult to hike with. You can easily compress these quilts down to fit into your compact hiking backpack, and they will likely feel less noticeable weight-wise. 

However, this all goes out the window if your down quilt comes into contact with water. Not only does down lose its heat-retention abilities when moist, which is a major issue, but it also becomes quite heavy and cumbersome. Down takes several hours to dry on its own.

Because of this, it may be important to choose a down quilt that features a durable water repellent (DWR) coating to help the down retain its temperature rating and prevent a soggy mess that takes forever to dry. 

Despite this, if you encounter soaking wet conditions, your best bet is probably to purchase a backpacking quilt with synthetic insulation instead, which we discuss below.

More: NEMO Disco 30 Review: Is It Worth The High Price?

But first, let’s review the other important component of understanding down filling: fill power. You will see this measurement displayed somewhere on the packaging or description of features for your backpacking quilt. 

The fill power tells you how many inches of loft (which traps warm air) is created by one ounce of the down. In other words, the fill power indicates how effective the down is in terms of heat retention. The higher the fill power, the more insulated the quilt will be.

A down backpacking quilt with a higher fill power will be more efficient at retaining heat at a given temperature rating, meaning that less of the down is needed. Therefore, the quilt can weigh less. As we know, the weight is an extremely important factor to consider when choosing a quilt that you plan to backpack with for hours or days.

Synthetic insulation:

A backpacking quilt with synthetic insulation is commonly filled with some variation of polyester. While polyester is a lightweight fabric compared to other synthetic fabrics, it is heavier than down filling. Polyester is also much less compressible than down, so the quilt will not be as compact or easily packable.

Backpacking quilts with synthetic filling require more insulation (meaning, more filling and therefore more weight) to retain your body heat. This makes them overall heavier than quilts with down insulation.

However, one main benefit of synthetic filing is that when wet, polyester and other synthetic fabrics do not lose all ability to retain heat like down does. Suppose you will be backpacking in an environment that often brings rain or rivers. In that case, you may want to seriously consider purchasing a backpacking quilt with synthetic insulation to avoid sleeping in a soaking wet quilt all night.

More: The Best Budget Sleeping Bag Choices On The Market [Review And Buying Guide]

Pad Attachment Systems

Many backpacking quilts will be equipped with a pad attachment system, meaning that the bottom edge of the quilt itself is secured to your sleeping pad with included fastenings, cords, or straps. This ensures that the quilt stays tight to the sleeping pad and in place throughout the night. 

The pad attachment system also helps prevent cold drafts, so this is an essential component of the warmest sleeping quilts. 

Some backpacking quilts are equipped with cords that enclose the entire quilt around you rather than attaching to a sleeping pad. In this way, you can sleep in a sort of cocoon. Either way, the pad attachment system is vital to maintaining the quilt structure so that it most effectively keeps you warm.

Securing the Collar

Backpacking quilts are truly warm when they include features like a draft tube and collar. 

The draft tube is an insulated tube that lines the zipper inside the sleeping bag, keeping cold air from seeping in while you sleep. Similarly, the draft collar is also an insulated tube, or baffle, that is located around your neck and head, forming a sort of hood to keep you warm. Both the draft tube and draft collar help you to retain your body heat.

Properly secured draft collars will keep you warm by keeping out the cold drafts while also providing a cozy feeling, like the quilt is cuddling you. 

The draft collar should fully enclose your neck and include a secure attachment. Most draft collars are equipped with some type of clip or snap and drawstring system that keeps it cinched tightly. This cinch should also be adjustable in case you become too warm.

More: Top 5 Best Large Sleeping Bags for Big People

Shell Fabrics

The most common fabrics utilized in the construction of the outer shell of a sleeping bag or quilt are nylon and polyester. You will most often find that high-quality sleeping bags feature an outer shell made out of ripstop nylon. 

Ripstop nylon is especially suited for backpacking and other outdoor adventures because of its resistance to tearing, as its name implies. The ripstop nylon is designed and sewn into a series of durable square patterns that can take more stress than ordinary nylon or most other fabrics. The ripstop nylon ensures that the quilt will last for many years.

A main drawback of nylon is that it retains some water, meaning that your quilt will take longer to dry if you come into contact with water accidentally. To mitigate this problem, look for a nylon that has been treated with durable water repellent (you will see this labeled as DWR).

Polyester is another lightweight fabric often used in the construction of sleeping quilt outer shells. Polyester is also quite durable and resists tearing, and polyester also dries much faster than nylon does. Polyester also has a rougher texture than nylon and is more resistant to pilling. However, it is slightly less durable in terms of rip resistance.

More: Top 7 Best Rectangular Sleeping Bags

Conclusion

If you are a backpacking enthusiast looking for a lightweight sleeping bag to keep you warm, you might consider a backpacking quilt instead. Because these products are built specifically to provide an ultra-lightweight experience while retaining warmth, backpacking quilts are easily packed away and carried on the trails. 

Backpacking quilts are constructed with down or synthetic insulation, just like sleeping bags. Many are equipped with draft collars and other important features to keep you comfortable through the night.

The overall winner of this product round-up, the Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping Quilt, is the best option due to its warm 650 fill power down, comfortable and durable construction, lightweight and compact design, ThermaCapture seams for extra heat retention, and roominess.

Another solid option is the Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt for its versatility, compact size, 700 fill power down for heat retention, and durable ripstop nylon outer shell fabrics. There is also the most premium option, the Nemo Equipment, Inc. Disco 15 Sleeping Bag, rated for the coldest nights with ultimate comfort and durability.

Any of the backpacking quilts we reviewed would be an excellent choice to accompany you on your adventures when you want to keep it simple and lightweight. With a backpacking quilt, you won’t have to sacrifice ease of portability for comfort and warmth.

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Tim Fox

Tim Fox

Since the age of 10, Tim, a writer at Outdoor With J, has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors. Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Tim’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all. You can find more about him here

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