Have you been hearing about backpacking quilts, but aren't sure if they're right for you? If so, here are four reasons why you might consider one for your next trip.
1. Extremely Versatile
Backcountry quilts offer incredible versatility that is unmatched by traditional sleeping bags. On cold nights, quilts can be closed up to form a standard mummy sleeping bag. When the weather warms up, open up the quilt to provide the ventilation needed to keep you nice and comfortable. You can even adjust comfort throughout a backpacking trip as the weather changes. Finally, use it as a simple blanket while enjoying a backcountry meal outside your tent.
2. More Room to Move Around
Since quilts can open up like a blanket, they tend to provide more room to move around at night. If you're a side-sleeper that tosses from one side to another, a mummy sleeping bag can feel very restrictive. A quilt is more spacious and doesn't go all the way around, so it's easier to move within one without getting tangled up. Many quilts provide ways to strap them down to your sleeping pad, which reduced the potential for drafts.
3. Lighter and Pack Smaller
Quilts aren't designed to lay under you, so they minimize the amount of insulation and fabric that is needed. The lack of a hood and long zipper also reduce weight. This is why quilts tend to be about 20-30 percent lighter and smaller when packed than a comparable sleeping bag.
4. Keep you on your Sleeping Pad
As mentioned earlier, many quilts provide straps that can be used to secure the quilt to your sleeping pad (see below). This is great for minimizing drafts, but also has the added benefit of keeping you on your pad. Many of us have woken up in the middle of the night having slipped off our sleeping pad. This wouldn't happen with a quilt that is strapped down to your sleeping pad, which is a nice bonus.
When might a quilt not be ideal ...
The biggest downside of backpacking quilts is that they aren't quite as warm as a traditional mummy sleeping bag. This is partly due to the lack of a hood. In addition, some heat can escape through the small gaps between your quilt and your sleeping pad.
You can somewhat mitigate these two causes by wearing a hat, down hoodie, or a down jacket with a hood. Closing up your quilt as much as possible will also help prevent heat loss.
However, if you intend to backpack in very cold weather, a mummy bag will likely feel warmer and more comfortable than a quilt.
Investing in a quality backpacking quilt can provide a big improvement to your comfort on the trail. If you think that you might want to try one on your next trip, check out our Thermodown 15 quilts.