Best Backpacking Quilts [2024 UPDATE] — Ultimate Gear Lists (2024)


Author: Sam Brilleman | Updated: Feb 13, 2024
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The Short Version

The Long Version

Down compressed underneath you provides no insulating value, so why not discard it? And do you really need that hood? And while you are at it, why not get rid of that zipper too?

Throwing away a zipper, a hood, and some insulation might sound extreme, but that is exactly what a backpacking quilt does — and they are rapidly gaining popularity. A key benefit of a backpacking quilt is that it weighs less than an equivalent fully enclosed sleeping bag, but a well-designed quilt can also be more comfortable and versatile.

Many backpackers find the absence of a zipper makes a quilt less constricting than a traditional sleeping bag. Even when cinched around your neck, the girth around your upper body can be adjusted according to the temperature — reduce the girth to remove cold air pockets or increase the girth to allow for more airflow and wiggle room. Plus, in warmer weather a quilt can be opened flat… just like your comforter at home.

In this review we cover the best backpacking quilts on the market. All our entries are high quality, ultralight backpacking quilts, and most are generally comfortable down to about 35°F (2°C) – in other words, just above freezing.

Below freezing we usually opt for an enclosed sleeping bag that makes it easier to prevent drafts. But, for most three-season backpacking trips, the weight savings, versatility, and comfort offered by a quilt make it our first choice for backpacking bedding.

If you enjoy reading about the best backpacking quilts then you'll likely love stepping into some of our other gear reviews:

  • Best Hoodless Sleeping Bags

  • Best Sleeping Bag Brands

  • Best Backpacks

Need to know what to look out for?

A high-quality quilt can be a big investment. Plus, switching from a traditional sleeping bag to a quilt can also introduce new considerations. So before making a purchase, be sure to check out our buying advice at the bottom of the article.

Jump to Buying Advice


FILL POWER: 900 (850 also available)

FILL WEIGHT: 14.3 oz / 405 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 22.8 oz / 646 grams

PROS: Ultralight, warm, comfy draft collar, great pad attachment system, half zipper maximizes versatility

CONS: Slightly pricey

PRICE: $$$$

Although relatively pricey, Katabatic Gear quilts are hands down the best ultralight backpacking quilts on the market. They are very well made and with several thoughtful design features that dramatically improve warmth and performance.

Katabatic Gear's Flex Quilt is designed to be ultralight and packable without sacrificing versatility. The quilt’s zippered footbox effectively shuts out drafts on chillier nights but can be fully unzipped and used as a blanket in warmer weather. This kind of range makes it perfect for thru-hikers or anyone looking for a “do it all” three-season quilt.

The Flex includes a scarf-like draft collar which improves warmth retention in cold weather and also gives the quilt a much cosier feel. The opening on the underside of the quilt is elasticated, meaning that there is greater draft control when you are turning over.

Katabatic Gear also uses a novel patented pad attachment system that provides much greater draft control than the pad attachment systems found on the quilts of most other manufacturers. Although it can be a bit fiddly to use, this system is much more effective at securing the edge of your quilt from cold drafts when temperatures really drop. This means that the Katabatic Gear quilts can generally perform better in colder conditions compared with the competition.

If you prefer the simplicity and slightly lighter weight of closed footbox quilts, then check out the equally impressive Alsek 22F from Katabatic Gear.


FILL POWER: 850 (950 also available)

FILL WEIGHT:15.5 oz / 438 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 21.2 oz / 600 grams

PROS: Ultralight,cheaper, customizable

CONS: Not quite as feature-rich or warm as some of the competition

PRICE: $$$

If you'd prefer to save a few dollars, then the Enlightened Equipment Enigma is a fantastic buy. Although it may not have some of the high-end features found on the Katabatic Gear quilts (e.g. elastic binding around the bottom opening, or secondary cord clips on the pad attachment system) it is still a well designed, high quality, and ultralight backpacking quilt.

We gave it our best value award because it excels in terms of weight, comfort, and cost. However it doesn’t actually win out in any one of those categories. Zpacks is slightly better for an ounce counter, Katabatic is better for those who like a premium feel, and Hammock Gear is slightly better for someone on a tight budget. But the Enlightened Equipment Enigma is a close second in all of those categories.

In colder weather secure the quilt around your body in one of two ways. Either directly around your body using the elastic straps or to your sleeping pad using the pad attachment system. However the pad attachment system doesn’t include secondary cord clips like on Katabatic Gear quilts, so it isn't quite as effective at keeping out drafts in seriously cold weather.

The "off the shelf" Enigma is made with 850 or 950 fill power down and a 10-denier ripstop nylon liner and shell. If your budget is tight, then the Enigma is going to be one of the best backpacking quilts you can get for your money. The Hammock Gear Economy Burrow is slightly cheaper, but it is also slightly heavier.

If the default sizing, temp ratings, or shell fabrics aren't exactly to your tastes then the Enigma Custom is worth looking at. Lighter 7 denier (for additional weight savings) or heavier 20 denier (for increased durability and water resistance) fabrics are available as well as a wider range of sizes and temperature ratings. But expect an increase in costs and lead time.

Finally, the Enigma has a sewn-in footbox. This ensures there is no possibility of cold drafts in the footbox and provides some weight savings. However, if you prioritise versatility then consider the Enlightened Equipment Revelation. The Revelation is similar to the Enigma, except the foot box can be unzipped so that the quilt can be laid flat like a blanket. If you choose the Revelation you should size up about 6" since the length measurements are taken when the quilt is laid flat.

Best for Ultralight: ZPACKS 20F SOLO QUILT



FILL WEIGHT:13.7 oz / 387 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 18.7 oz / 530 grams

PROS: Ultralight and packable,comes with a dry bag included

CONS: No draft collar, nylon shell is delicate, temperature ratings are generous

PRICE: $$$$

Zpacks make some of the best ultralight backpacking gear around and the Zpacks 20F Solo Quilt is no exception. It is one of the best quilts for ultralight hikers and those trying to minimise their pack weight.

Zpacks seem to regularly redesign and expand their quilt and sleeping bag line based on feedback from users. The latest incarnation of their quilt is warmer and roomier than its predecessor, and also uses hydrophobic down.

They offer their quilts and bags in 10F, 20F, and 30F temperature ratings, but the features of this quilt are focused on weight savings. The footbox is sewn in (and there isn’t a zippered footbox option available). The 950 fill power down provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio possible. Ultralight 7 denier ripstop nylon is used for both the inner and outer shells – which maximizes weight savings, but can introduce some longer term durability concerns.

The quilt has a flat clip to secure the collar when it is cinched in. But in the name of saving weight, you won’t find a draft collar here. There is however a flat clip on the centre of the underside of the quilt — which is handy for securing the sides of the quilt and stopping drafts when the temperature drops. The quilt also comes with a standard pad attachment system as well.

And although the Zpacks Solo Quilts comes with a pretty hefty price tag, they do ship all their quilts with an ultralight roll-top dry bag — something most manufacturers would have you purchase separately.

Best For Customization: UGQ BANDIT


FILL POWER: 800 (850 and 950 also available)

FILL WEIGHT: 15.2 oz / 430 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 21.6 oz / 612 grams

PROS: Reasonably priced, many customization options, optional draft collar and tension control

CONS: Can be long lead times, 800 fill power isn’t as packable

PRICE: $$$

The UGQ Bandit is another high quality backpacking quilt from a company that offers an array of possible customizations.

The Bandit comes with a default 800 fill power duck down, which means the price point for the base version is slightly lower than some of the competitors. But for those that want to spend a bit more and save some weight, UGQ offer both 850 and 950 fill power goose down as an alternative option.

UGQ have a list of several possible fabrics for the exterior, that come in a huge range of colors – so you can dial in your perfect design. The fabrics differ in weight, durability, and water resistance – and although the list can be confusing at first, UGQ provide useful guidance to try and help you make an informed choice.

The list of customizations doesn’t stop at the fabrics either. They also provide options for down overstuff (both the main body and/or the footbox), optional draft collar, a tapered or rectangular design, optional “dynamic tension control” (which is essentially an adjustable elastic drawstring around the bottom opening), and two pad attachment options. The Bandit is also available with a zippered footbox (most versatile option), boxed flat sewn footbox (lightest option), or insulated footbox (warmest option).

Features like the draft collar and the dynamic tension control add to the luxury feel of this quilt, even though it is one of the less expensive premium quilts out there. I found that adding the draft collar, dynamic tension control, overstuffing, and wafer clip pad attachment system (which they call “Deluxe”) was the way to go, since those additions provide additional comfort and versatility for very little added weight. But your mileage might vary depending on how you like to sleep and your budget.

Given all the possible customizations and the quality of the manufacturing – the UGQ Bandit is without a doubt one of the best backpacking quilts on the market. If you want to read about the Bandit in detail — check out our full review here.




FILL WEIGHT:16.1 oz / 455 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 25.5 oz / 723 grams

PROS: Inexpensive, quality manufacturing, 20-denier fabric is more durable

CONS: A few ounces heavier than some of the competition


The Hammock Gear Economy Burrow is a well-designed and quality-built quilt that is available at a highly competitive price. This is the perfect quilt for those on a budget.

The use of 850 fill power duck down (instead of goose down) and a slightly heavier (20 denier) outer shell fabric means Hammock Gear can offer this quilt at a price point that beats most – if not all – of the competition.

Hammock Gear offer plenty of options for customization too. This includes colors, temperature ratings, down overfill, and the choice between a zippered or sewn footbox. If you are planning to sleep with the quilt on the ground (i.e. not in a hammock) then select be sure to select the “wide” width (55 inches) — the standard width for Hammock Gear quilts is tailored for hammock use and not ground sleeping.

If you are willing to pay extra to save a few ounces of weight, then Hammock Gear also offer a premium quilt range. The Hammock Gear Premium Burrow is made with either 900 or 950 fill-power down and a 10-denier outer shell.

Choosing the Premium Burrow instead of the Economy Burrow will save about 4 to 5 ounces depending on the model you choose, which puts the Premium Burrow on par with other premium ultralight quilts on this list. However, as you might expect, the higher fill-power comes with a higher price tag — meaning the Premium Burrow doesn’t have the same “best buy” status as its sibling the Economy Burrow.

So, if you are on a budget then the Hammock Gear Economy Burrow is the way to go. If you want to read about the Economy Burrow in detail — check out our full review here.


FILL POWER: 850 (950 also available)

FILL WEIGHT: 26.8 oz / 760 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 34.8 oz / 987 grams

PROS: Weight-saving, cost effective quilt option for couples

CONS: Two person quilts are less versatile, more draft-prone

PRICE: $$$

If you do most or all of your backpacking with a significant other, a two-person quilt can help you save some weight and gear expenses. Although our favorite two-person quilt, Enlightened Equipment’s Accomplice, is the heaviest and among the priciest quilt on this list, it is certainly far less than double the weight and price of any two ultralight quilts with a comparable insulation rating.

The snuggle-friendly Accomplice is also more heat-efficient, as the shared body warmth pushes its comfort limits further than you could get away with in separate quilts. The quilt has a closed footbox and features individual neck and side openings to allow each person to adjust for comfort individually. Like all Enlightened Equipment quilts, there are many options for customization, from down fill, to an added draft collar, to choosing both the outer and inner fabric colours for your quilt.

Unfortunately, two-person quilts can be harder to seal from drafts and their versatility is limited. But for the dedicated ultralight power couple, a two-person quilt is more often than not an excellent option.

Best for Restless Sleepers: NUNATAK ARC UL 20°



FILL WEIGHT: 15.3 oz / 434 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 22.4 oz / 635 grams

PROS: Ultralight, draft collar, customizable

CONS: Supply chain issues mean months long lead times for new quilts

PRICE: $$$$

For almost 20 years Nunatak have been making down equipment for ultralight backpackers. Don't be fooled by their relatively lo-fi website… these guys mean business when it comes to ultralight backpacking gear. Their products are high quality, their designs are innovative, and their customer service is great.

I also love that almost every feature on their quilts can be customized. You are able to choose between normal or hydrophobic down, liner fabrics ranging from 10 to 20 denier, shell fabrics ranging from 7 to 15 denier, down overfill, elasticated openings, and more.

The Nunatak Arc UL 20° is part of their ultralight quilt series. It offers a generous quantity of 900 fill power down and a cosy draft collar to maximize warmth. The Arc UL 20° has a sewn in footbox to maximize warmth and weight savings.

The quilt can be secured directly under your body with the supplied straps or attached to your sleeping pad using the simple pad attachment system. The pad attachment system is basically the same design as found on the Enlightened Equipment and Zpacks quilts with two flat clips on each side. It works well in all but the coldest temps (when small drafts begin to matter).

Truly the only downside to the Arc UL 20°—or any Nunatak quilt—is how hard it is to actually get one. The company is simultaneously experiencing soaring demand for their exceptional products and significant supply chain difficulties. For now, Nunatak has ceased fulfilment of custom orders and international shipping (other than Canada). Watch for a new batch of quilts as they become available on the website. Act quickly, because they are usually sold out again within days.

Best for Fastpacking: THERM-A-REST VESPER 20



FILL WEIGHT:12.3 oz / 350 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 19.4 oz / 550 grams

PROS: Ultralight, cozy draft collar, you can see it in person at retail stores (including REI)

CONS: No zippered footbox option

PRICE: $$$$

The Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 is an awesome backpacking quilt manufactured by a company renowned for their comfortable and innovative sleep systems. We don’t really have a bad word to say about the design or comfort of the Vesper. It didn’t quite make our top pick overall (the Katabatic Gear Flex) or top pick for ultralight hikers (the Zpacks Solo Quilt) but it sure wasn’t far behind in either of those categories.

The Vesper is filled with 900 fill power hydrophobic down. Such high fill power is great because it provides the best warmth to weight ratio and compressibility, however it also drives up the cost of the quilt since the fill is a major cost component for high-end sleeping bags and quilts – something reflected in the pricing of the Vesper.

The Vesper is offered in two different temperature ratings – 20F and 32F. The quilt we have chosen to include here is rated to 20°F (-6°C), making it suitable for most 3-season trips. But, if you only plan to use your quilt for summer trips or in warmer climates, then perhaps consider the Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32.

Therm-a-rest have chosen a 10-denier shell fabric for the Vesper. Although seriously ultralight, this is actually a slightly heavier fabric than some competing ultralight quilts such as the Zpacks Solo Quilt, which has a 7-denier shell.

Therm-a-rest have also designed the Vesper with a sewn-in footbox to minimize weight and maximize warmth – there is no zippered footbox option, which may be a deal breaker for some who value versatility. On the other hand, the exceptional warmth-to-weight and packability of the Vesper makes it a great option for backpackers who want to go fast and light – including those into fastpacking. Read our full review here.




FILL WEIGHT:6.5 oz / 184 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 13.3 oz / 378 grams

PROS: Ultralight

CONS: Not as warm as others in our list, no zippered footbox option, expensive for the warmth and fill power

PRICE: $$$$

Western Mountaineering have a long standing reputation for making some of the best quality and warmest sleeping bags on the market. But it is only recently that they have made a foray into the world of backpacking quilts. They have started with two models: the Nanolite (rated to 38°F / 3°C) and the Astralite (rated to 26°F / -3°C).

The Nanolite is only going to be warm enough for summer use and in warmer climates, whilst the Astralite might be the more realistic investment for many 3-season hikers. If you are looking for a seriously ultralight quilt for use in relatively predictable, warmer, climates then the Nanolite will almost be a feather in your pack.

Both the Nanolite and Astralite use a 12-denier shell fabric with a 10-denier liner. In terms of durability and weight these fabrics land somewhere in the middle relative to other ultralight quilt manufacturers. Some of the novel design features include the unconventionally shaped draft collar, that is intended to hug around your neck regardless of whether the top of the quilt is laid flat or cinched in.

The footbox on both quilts is sewn closed, which means they cannot be opened up as a blanket (and Western Mountaineering have chosen not to offer a variant with a zippered box). We find this an interesting, and potentially undesirable feature of a quilt that is only going to be sufficient for warmer climate use anyway. Nonetheless, it allows Western Mountaineering to push the weight savings and warmth rating of this quilt to their limit.

Overall, the Nanolite is a worthy entry for Western Mountaineering into the world of backpacking quilts. It is seriously ultralight and very well made, but it is also expensive (especially for the warmth rating and fill power) and —depending on where you hike – may not pack enough warmth for all-round 3-season use.

Best for Off-The-Shelf: REI CO-OP MAGMA TRAIL



FILL WEIGHT:10.5 oz / 298 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 19.0 oz / 539 grams

PROS: Less expensive, draft collar, you can see it in person at REI stores

CONS: Not as warm as others in our list, no zippered footbox option

PRICE: $$$

REI is another manufacturer to recently make a first foray into the world of backpacking quilts. Their initial — and only — entry so far, is the Magma Trail Quilt 30.

It is a lightweight and well-designed backpacking quilt. Filled with 10.5 oz of 850 fill-power goose down, the Magma Trail has been rated to 30°F. This should be sufficient for use in milder overnight temps (e.g. 45°F / 7°C or higher), but is unlikely to be warm enough for use in alpine areas or deep into the shoulder season. Nonetheless the quilt does also include a draft collar to help keep you cozy when the temperature drops.

It is also worth mentioning that the footbox on the Magma Trail 30 is sewn in and REI do not offer an option with a zippered footbox. This limits the versatility of the quilt, since it cannot be laid flat like a blanket. We find this slightly frustrating on backpacking quilts with higher temp ratings since we are only likely to be using them in milder climates anyhow.

Like the other quilts in our list the Magma Trail 30 can be attached either directly around your body or to your sleeping pad using the included shock cord straps. In addition a flat clip is used to secure the collar of the quilt.

The Magma Trail Quilt is a nice initial offering from REI… it is lightweight, has a small pack size, and is relatively inexpensive. However, with a temperature rating of 30°F it likely won’t pack enough warmth for all-round 3-season use. And although it is lightweight, it’s warmth-to-weight ratio doesn’t quite compete with the other (more established) quilt manufacturers in our list. Lastly, although the price tag on the Magma Trail 30 is pretty reasonable, we believe that other manufacturers — such as Enlightened Equipment or Hammock Gear — offer better value for money.


Best Backpacking Quilts [2024 UPDATE] — Ultimate Gear Lists (1)



FILL WEIGHT: 14.7 oz / 417 grams

TOTAL WEIGHT: 26.2 oz / 742 grams

PROS: Versatile and high-quality design, full-length zip adds insulation

CONS: Expensive

PRICE: $$$$

The Flicker UL Quilt Sleeping Bag from Feathered Friends offers the perfect combination of comfort and practicality. With a full-length centre zip, a bottom drawcord, and a draft collar, for Feathered Friends to call this a quilt is perhaps a stretch. It is certainly no top quilt: fully zipped, it performs more like a traditional sleeping bag.

But featuring a drawcord-adjustable footbox, the Flicker UL does also work as a quilt when unzipped in cooler temperature. It also has webbing loops to be used as a hammock under quilt. We consider it the perfect “hybrid” quilt for folks unwilling to give up the cozy, draft-free sleeping bag experience but are intrigued by the versatility and weight-saving potential of backpacking quilts.

By adding a full-length zipper and featuring a durable 10 denier nylon shell, the Flicker is the heaviest and most expensive quilt featured here. But when thought of as a 26 ounce sleeping bag that functions just as well as a quilt, the investment begins to make sense. If you camp in colder climates or in the high alpine, the added protection and functionality is worth it.


Temperature Ratings

Backpacking quilts are similar to sleeping bags in that most manufacturers provide a temperature rating.

However many sleeping bag manufacturers send their sleeping bags for independent and standardised testing and then publish the “ISO comfort rating” so that consumers can compare apples with apples when purchasing a sleeping bag.

But no such industry standard yet exists for backpacking quilts, and so manufacturers simply determine their own temperature ratings.

This leads to inconsistencies across brands as well as providing little clarity for consumers as to what temperatures their backpacking quilt will actually be good for.

To make things even more difficult, some people are “hot sleepers” and others are “cold sleepers” and gender also makes a difference — women generally sleep colder than men.

We’ve found that most backpacking quilt manufacturers are overly optimistic with their temperature ratings. They often provide a temperature rating that can be considered a "lower limit". But that lower limit won’t be a comfortable scenario for most people!

If you are interested in a “comfort” temperature rating for backpacking quilts then we suggest adding 20°F to the manufacturer’s temperature rating.

For example, a 20°F (-7°C) degree rated bag is likely to be comfortable down to about 40°F (4°C) degrees. At that temperature we believe most people would sleep comfortably in just base layers.

Below that temperature we believe you would need to be adding warmth by wearing an insulating jacket, for example.

Hopefully in the coming years, with the growing popularity of backpacking quilts, an industry standard will be developed so that manufacturers can then send their quilts for independent testing and temperature rating. That way it will be much easier for consumers to compare across brands.


Most of the best backpacking quilt manufacturers offer options for either a zippered footbox or one that is “sewn in”.

  • A zippered footbox can be unzipped and the entire quilt laid flat like a blanket. When it is zipped up, the bottom of the footbox is usually cinched in with a drawstring. Some quilt manufacturers also provide a down-filled "dog bone" — this is a small piece of down filled material shaped like a bone that can be stuffed into the small centre hole when the footbox is cinched in. This means zero chance of cold drafts entering the footbox.

  • A “sewn in” footbox is permanently closed. In other words it is not possible to unzip the footbox so that the quilt can be opened flat like a blanket. Having a sewn in footbox helps to maximize warmth, as well as being slightly lighter than an otherwise equivalent quilt with a zippered footbox.

There is no best choice for the design of the footbox. Rather, you need to decide whether you want a zippered footbox to maximize versatilityor a sewn in footbox to maximize warmth and weight savings.

Note however that the additional weight savings from having a sewn in footbox are usually pretty minimal.


Goose (or duck) down provides much better warmth for weight and compressibility compared with synthetic insulation.

In fact high quality down is so superior to synthetic insulation in terms of warmth for weight that we only included down-filled quilts in our best backpacking quilts list.


Higher quality down has better insulating properties (i.e. provides better warmth for weight) than lower quality down.

The metric used to measure the quality of the down is known as fill power.

Fill power is actually a measure of volume. It is the space — measured in cubic inches — that one ounce of down will occupy. So a higher fill power means that each ounce of down will occupy more space.

More space being occupied = More loft & more trapped air = Better insulating properties!

High fill power goose down is also more compressible. That is, your backpacking quilt will pack down smaller when not in use. So for two (otherwise comparable) backpacking quilts the one with the higher fill power will pack down smaller.

Of course the higher the fill power, the higher price tag! And down is a significant component of the manufacturing cost for high end backpacking quilts.

So aim for the highest fill power that falls within your budget.


The quantity of down used in a bag can be a useful metric for assessing warmth and comparing between manufacturers.

But remember that the quantity of down (i.e. the fill weight) must be viewed relative to the quality of the down (i.e. the fill power)!

Fewer ounces of high fill power down can provide the same warmth as more ounces of a lower fill power down.

Also, differences in design (tapered vs non-tapered cut, length and girth, zippered vs sewn in footbox, etc)mean that fill weight alone is not sufficient metric for comparing the warmth of different quilts.

Nonetheless it is a useful and important metric to consider.


The so-called “bottom opening” is a trademark feature of the backpacking quilt. We believe that a true backpacking quilt does not have a full length zip along the bottom opening.

Note: Some products sold as “quilts” have a full length zip along the bottom opening. Although the manufacturers might refer to those as “quilts”, we do not. Instead we refer to them as hoodless sleeping bags — since we believe that more accurately reflects what they are.

The bottom opening on a true backpacking quilt is usually secured using elastic straps or shock cords that pull the two edges of the quilt together around your body.

Using this method the quilt is secured around your body, but it isn't attached to your sleeping pad in any way.

This system is easy to manage (because you aren’t strapped to your sleeping pad!) but it isn't particularly secure in terms of preventing cold drafts. For this reason, backpacking quilts also have the option of using a pad attachment system (described next).


When the temperature really drops, securing a backpacking quilt directly around your body doesn’t do a particularly good job of preventing cold drafts.

Let's not forget there is a big gaping hole on the underside!

For this reason, most quilt manufacturers also provide a “pad attachment system”.

The exact design of the pad attachment system differs across manufacturers. In general though a “pad attachment system” involves securing two straps around your sleeping pad. The edges of your quilt can then be attached to these straps using some form of clip or fastening.

This means that the quilt is secured down against your sleeping pad rather than just strapped around your body.

This method is much more effective at preventing cold drafts, since the quilt stays in place when you toss and turn during the night. But it can also be more fiddly to set up and adjust. Hence, we only tend to use a pad attachment system when we know the overnight temperatures are going to be really cold.

Also note that not all pad attachment systems are created equal!

Katabatic Gear quilts, for example, use a pad attachment system with both primary and secondary clips to provide even better draft protection. However having twice as many clips makes things even more fiddly to use.

Nonetheless in cold weather when even the smallest of drafts can ruin your night's sleep, having the option to use a more secure pad attachment system can really make a difference.

At the end of the day, whether you use a pad attachment system or not just comes down to personal preference.


When it gets cold, you will want to secure the collar of the quilt around your neck. And when it gets really cold, you will want to cinch it in tight around your neck.

Most quilts have a flat clip or snap button for securing the collar and a drawstring to cinch the collar in tight.

You want to make sure the device used for securing the collar (i.e. the clip or snap button) is not going to be uncomfortable if you lay on top of it during the night.


A draft collar is a down filled baffle along the collar of the bag that stops warmth escaping when the top of the bag is cinched in around your neck.

A draft collar makes the quilt cosier when it is cinched in around your neck. It also helps with heat retention.

However in minimising weight some manufacturers of ultralight backpacking quilts decide not to include a draft collar. Its not a deal breaker, but we do prefer having a draft collar rather than not.


One possible fear when transitioning to a backpacking quilt from a traditional sleeping bag is the lack of a hood.

Personally I hate sleeping bag hoods. I am a front and side sleeper and so I just get tangled in them. The lack of a hood is liberating.

When it gets cold you can wear a fleece hat, a down jacket with a hood, or a separate goose down hood.

The other potential issue without a hood is the texture of your sleeping pad against your face. To solve that issue you can consider using a backpacking pillow or even a Therm-a-Rest sheet (although the latter is a bit of a luxury).


Many of the best backpacking quilts are made with innovative ultralight fabrics for the outer shell and inner liner.

Look for quilts made with a ripstop nylon in the range of 10 to 15 denier. These fabric weights should provide enough durability for a quilt that is well looked after whilst also providing significant weight savings.

If you really want to maximize weight savings then consider a manufacturer who offers a 7 denier shell material (e.g. Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, Nunatak).

However 7 denier is getting pretty thin, so durability may become a concern and you may also experience more down loss through the fabric.

If durability or water resistance is a concern for you — e.g. you regularly sleep out on rough terrain — then consider a bag with a slightly heavier outer shell fabric, e.g. 20 denier.

Where possible look for shell fabrics that are either water resistant by designor treated with a water resistant coating, e.g. a DWR treatment. These can help with preventing the down fill getting damp in places like the footbox (which can touch condensation on the tent wall during the night).


Is down better than synthetic insulation for quilts? Down is almost always superior to synthetic insulation in terms of warmth, weight and compressibility. While synthetic insulation can be cheaper, it usually doesn't provide the same level of warmth and isn't nearly as packable. Synthetic also loses its loft when it is compressed, degrading its insulating abilities over time. This happens with down too, but overall down has a much longer lifespan.

How are quilts different from sleeping bags? Backpacking quilts are generally lighter and more packable than a traditional sleeping bag, as they often don't have a hood or zipper and use less materials. They have a footbox design, either zippered or sewn in, which can be cinched in to reduce drafts. Rather than more material below your body, quilts are open at the bottom (above the footbox), relying on your sleeping pad to provide insulation from the ground.

What is down fill power? Down fill power is a measure of the quality of the down and indicates the warmth that can be provided per unit weight. Quilts with higher fill power will be lighter and more packable, but also more expensive.

What features should a good backpacking quilt have? A good backpacking quilt should have a high quality, ethically sourced down insulation, with a fill power of at least 800 or higher. It should also have a footbox design that is either zippered or sewn in, with an adjustable drawstring for extra warmth. A quilt should also have a temperature rating appropriate for the conditions you expect to camp in.

Can you use a backpacking quilt for winter camping? It depends on the conditions. You can use a backpacking quilt for winter camping if it is rated for temperatures considerably lower than those you expect to be camping in. Quilts are ill-equipped to protect you from temperatures far below freezing, but with a highly insulated winter sleeping pad and warm base layers you can still use a quilt in more moderate winter climates.


If you loved this gear review article, then you'll likely love traversing some of our other hiking and backpacking content:

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  • Best Sleeping Pads

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  • Goose Down vs Duck Down — WTF is the Difference?

  • Ultimate Guide to Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Or check out our entire list of Gear Reviews, Knowledge Base Articles, or Destination Guides for more hiking, backpacking, and outdoors related content.

Best Backpacking Quilts [2024 UPDATE] — Ultimate Gear Lists (2024)


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