best camping quilts

Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags & Backpacking Quilts 2020

Find the best sleeping bag or camping quilt. No BS. Tested for performance and value.

There is an exceptional and light sleeping bag or camping quilt here for every type of backpacker. But you’ll need to choose carefully to get the best one for you at the right price! This guide help you do just that. In it we’ve selected the very best sleeping bags and backpacking quilts on the market. And we give you the solid data to back up those choices.

A good night’s sleep is critical for physical and mental recovery while backpacking. That’s why it is imperative to know beforehand that your backpacking sleeping bag or camping quilt is warm enough to comfortably handle the lowest temperature you might expect. While guiding in the Rockies one summer, night temps unexpectedly dropped into the 20s and I watched in horror as my client fainted when we started hiking the next morning. She had a “30 degree named” bag from a well known manufacturer that she trusted to keep her warm to 30 degrees. But in reality it only had a +40 F degree comfort rating, and thus she had collapsed due to “cold-exhaustion.” Don’t ever let this happen to you!

New July 2020 On a per-person basis, the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any +30 sleeping bag or quilt in this guide.


4 Reasons Why You Should Use Our Guide

The Market Place is Confusing, but We Can Un-confuse it!

First, while testing of sleeping bags in the EU is required, it is not in the US. As such, many sleeping bags in the US, even from well known brands are not tested. So you only have their say-so that their “xxx 30F” sleeping bag will keep you warm to 30F. This makes it almost impossible to compare sleeping bags, and more important, to know if you’ll sleep warm enough. We can help you!

  1. We we give solid, data-based performance and value ratings for all our sleeping bags and camping quilts. If we say a bag has better warmth to weight performance, you can look into our data comparison tables to see that it does rank better and compared to what.
  2. Our Comfort Temperature Model estimates the comfort temperature for all sleeping bags and quilts (even if it hasn’t been tested). As you can see from the story above, it’s super important to know the actual comfort temperature rating of your sleeping bag or camping quilt. In fact it’s so important, we’ve created our own mathematical model, which can accurately predict any bag or quilt’s comfort temperature, even if it has not been EN/ISO rated. An added benefit is that in addition to being transparent about comfort temperatures, this model will also save you both weight and money, allowing you to find the best sleeping bag or quilt at the lowest cost.
  3.  PRO TIPS: WE give you Pro Tips that you won’t get elsewhere to get the best out of your sleeping bag and quilt. These are based on 20 years of hard-earned field use of ultralight backpacking sleeping bags and camping quilts all over the world in all types of conditions. And yes, we’ve been using ultralight camping quilts for 20 years!
  4. We present Sleeping Bags, Quilts, and Alternates on a level playing field. Most guides only give quilts & alternatives a passing mention. Here, you get to choose what’s best for you based on unbiased performance, value and the pro’s an con’s for each category. But we strongly suggest you at least peak at all three categories before making a final decision!

Quick Picks for Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags & Camping Quilts

  1. STAFF PICK Sleeping Bag: Thermarest Hyperion 20 F Sleeping Bag. Lightest traditional sleeping bag in this guide, with highest warmth/weight
  2. STAFF PICK Backpacking Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F camping quilt Super light, great warmth/weight, reasonable cost
  3. VALUE Sleeping Bag: REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag Lowest cost traditional sleeping bag, great cost/warmth rating, especially when on sale
  4. Major Retailer Quilt: REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30 good value and frequently on sale
  5. STAFF PICK Thru-Hiking Sleeping Bag: Zpacks 20F “Classic” Sleeping Bag Crazy light! Best hybrid between a sleeping bag and quilt.
  6. VALUE Camping Quilt: Hammock Gear Economy Burrow +30 Camping Quilt By a large margin, the best cost/warmth performance of any bag or quilt.
  7. Cost is No Object: Enlightened Equipment Enigma +20 F 950 7D Camping Quilt. Off the chart warmth/weight performance!
  8. STAFF PICK 2-PERSON: per person, the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any +30 sleeping bag or quilt in this guide.

Top Pick Highlight | Thermarest Hyperion 20F Sleeping Bag

STAFF PICK: The Thermarest Hyperion 20F Sleeping Bag has the best weight to warmth ratio of all the ultralight backpacking sleeping bags we looked at! This is achieved through the use of 900 fill power down, a relatively lightweight shell fabric (10D compared to 15-20D for some other bags reviewed here) and a snug fit. In addition, Thermarest states that they intelligently distribute the down in their bag for optimal warmth. We believe that this allows Thermarest Hyperion 20F to be lighter than almost all similarly comfort temp rated bags. A high R Value  Therma-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite sleeping pad will ensure you get all the warmth out of this sleeping bag.

What Makes a Great Backpacking Sleeping Bag or Backpacking Quilt?

The best down backpacking sleeping bags and down camping quilts all exemplify the following three traits – 1) warm, 2) lightweight, and 3) affordable. If a bag checks all of those boxes, and you can comfortably sleep in it, you’ve got yourself a winner! In this guide, we highlight a wide range of winners, the very best backpacking sleeping bags available in 2020. For ease of choice, we’ve sorted those winners into three separate categories, Traditional Sleeping Bags, Camping Quilts, and Alternative Sleeping Bags. We explain the pros and cons of each type. Lastly, within each category, we’ll also provide a range of price points to make sure you get the very best sleeping bag you can afford.

video bacpakcing sleeping bags & camping quilts

Video Version of Guide

For those that prefer video, and like to see the actual quilts and sleeping bags in hand, this is a detailed deep-dive explaining all the gear, what’s great and how I use it

Also See

Three Categories of Sleeping Options

  1. Traditional Backpacking Sleeping Bags 3.2 Performance*, 2.7 Value*
    The mummy bags that hikers are most familiar with. A safe, conservative choice.
  2. Backpacking Quilts (AKA camping quilts) 4.3 Performance, 3.8 Value
    Lighter and less expensive than Traditional Backpacking Sleeping Bags.
  3. Alternative Sleeping Bags 4.6 Performance, 3.1 Value
    Lighter than Traditional Sleeping Bags. Design is between a sleeping bag & a camping quilt.

* The Performance and Value scores above are on a scale of 0-5, with 5 being the best score. The Performance Score is for warmth to weight and the Value Score is for warmth to price.

1. Best Traditional Backpacking Sleeping Bags | 3.2 Performance | 2.7 Value

1.7 lb average | $420 average

Traditional “mummy” backpacking sleeping bags have become lighter over the years and these are among the lightest options while still keeping an eye on value. On the upside, everybody is familiar with this type of sleeping bag and they are easy and intuitive to use. On the downside, they give up both warmth to weight (W2W, performance) and cost to weight (C2W, value) ratings  vs. the camping quilt, or compared to alternative sleeping bag categories. We have avoided sleeping bags with similar performance that can cost in the range of $500+ to $600 — so you might not see some well regarded bags that exceeded this limit.

  • Thermarest Hyperion 20F Sleeping Bag | highest performance at a reasonable price
  • REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag | value, easily available from a trusted source
  • Sierra Designs Cloud 20F Sleeping Bag | value and performance with a few quirks
  • Montbell Downhugger 800 #1 Sleeping Bag | light and a good value for colder sleepers

Note 1: From this point on, if we mention a temperature rating for a sleeping bag, it means the “comfort” rating, and not the “limit” rating of the bag.

Note 2: And we are including/comparing sleeping bags with approximately a +30 F comfort rating (ISO tested, or our modeled comfort temp if untested). The exception is when we include an approximately a +20 F comfort rating bag for colder sleepers or harsher environments.

The 3 Q’s and Pros and Cons | Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Expand the accordions below to get all the info.

Is it warm enough? These bags are the most conservative choice for warmth. They are almost draft free, have a warm hood and can seal up to a warm cocoon.

Is it light enough? We selected these to be among very light lightest sleeping bags on the market and they should save most hikers a fair amount of weight. That being said, the are still heavier than the best Camping Quilts, and Alternative Sleeping Bags in this guide.

Can I afford it? A high quality down sleeping bag is not cheap. But then again what is being warm and getting a good night’s sleep worth? If you want to save money, and are willing to think outside the box, then you might take a look a the camping quilts in this guide. They are lighter, less constricting and less expensive.

Bonus Q | Can I sleep in it? – This is tricky for conventional sleeping bags. As a plus, they are simple to use and most folks already know how to sleep in them. If you don’t mind the snug fit of a mummy bag, and that confinement doesn’t rob you of sleep, then these are great. But if you are a bit claustrophobic or hate confinement they can be problematic. Also they do not vent as well or adapt to warmer weather as well as camping quilts, which have a broader temperature range.

Pro for Sleeping Bag Category: most conservative choice for warmth, draft free, familiar and easy to use, light (but not the very lightest), huge choice of models and manufactures, readily available online and from brick and mortar stores.

Con for Sleeping Bag Category: can be expensive, some hikers may not like the confinement of a mummy bag fit, moderately expensive. Harder to adapt to warmer conditions vs. a quilt. In very cold weather, not as accommodating to wearing a lot of clothes inside the bag as a quilt.

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20 Down Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Thermarest Hyperion 20 F Sleeping Bag $410

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: +20 F (-6 C) Limit | +32 F (0 C) Comfort

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +32 F (0 C)

WEIGHT: 20 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 3.5

COST TO WARMTH: 2.2

FEATURES: 900 fill dri-down, 10 D nylon shell, baffled construction, pad strap system

SHOULDER GIRTH: 57″ / 145 cm (claimed); 54” / 137 cm (actual)

STAFF PICK: The Thermarest Hyperion 20F Sleeping Bag is one of the very lightest 32 degree comfort rated bags on the market. Not surprisingly, it has the best weight to warmth ratio of all the sleeping bags we looked at! This is achieved through the use of 900 fill power down, a relatively lightweight shell fabric (10D compared to 15-20D for some other bags reviewed here) and a snug fit. In addition, Thermarest states that they intelligently distribute the down in their bag so that 70% of the down is on the top section of the bag, this should in theory put more down where it is needed. We believe that is at least part of what allows Thermarest Hyperion 20F to be lighter almost all similarly comfort temp rated bags. The pad strap system is helpful and not something you find on any other of the bags here with the exception of the Sierra Designs Cloud bags, and they are removable if you don’t want the minimal extra weight they add.

BEST FOR: Hikers who are willing to pay a modest premium to get one of the very lightest +32 F comfort bags available. (And it’s $100 to $200 less expensive than many better known and heavier sleeping bags)

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Hikers who don’t like narrow bags and are allergic to high prices. 10D shell fabric requires reasonable care in the field.

down backpacking sleeping bag - rei magma 15

REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag | $379 (frequently lower on sale)

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: +16 F (-9 C) Limit, +28 F (-3 C) Comfort,

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +29 F (-2 C)

WEIGHT: 28.2 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 3.0

COST TO WARMTH: 3.0 | 4.0 when on sale

FEATURES: 850 fill DWR goose down, 15 D nylon shell, narrow leg area, insulated neck baffle

SHOULDER GIRTH: 56″ / 142 cm

SIMILAR MODELS: Magma +30 Sleeping Bag

Our pick for a Value Sleeping Bag (especially when on sale!): The only bag under $400 in this category and under $300 when on sale, the REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag M’s & W’s is a good blend of both cost/warmth and weight to warmth — placing solidly in both measures. In particular it’s one of the better values in a +30 comfort rated sleeping bag, and that’s when not on sale. As such, the REI Co-op Magma 15 is a great all-around 3-season choice for many campers, allowing you to go light without going broke. And of course it’s backed by REI.

BEST FOR: Hikers wanting a full featured 32F sleeping bag that’s light but not excessively expensive. Readily available.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Hikers who dislike the tightness of a mummy bag as the leg area of the Magma is quite narrow. Hikers that must have the very lightest sleeping bag and are willing to pay for it.

ultralight backpacking sleeping bag - sierra designs cloud 20F

Sierra Designs Cloud 20F | $399

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: +15 F (-10 C) Limit, +26 F (-3 C) Comfort

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: 26 F (-3 C)

WEIGHT: 29 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 3.2

COST TO WARMTH: 3.1

FEATURES: Zipperless entry, downless torso section, sleeping pad sleeve, competitive price, 800 fill dri-down, 15 D nylon shell, true mummy style bag

SHOULDER GIRTH: 60″ / 152 cm (including non-filled section under torso)

SIMILAR MODELS: Sierra Designs Cloud 800 0 F, Feathered Friends Swallow YF 20

The Sierra Designs Cloud 800 20F is a very reasonably priced sleeping bag. It incorporates a zipperless closing system that works surprisingly well. It is not as fixed tight as a zipper entry but stays put very well and is not in our minds a degrading quality of this bag. Sierra Designs also eliminated further weight by removing down from directly under the torso section of the bag, down that is normally compressed when you sleep anyway. This essentially gives you near the weight benefit of a quilt but with the full wrap around convenience of a mummy bag. At the same time it is a true mummy style bag with insulated head space. The women’s version is slightly narrower in the shoulder and footbox and 2” shorter but carries the same amount of down fill so expect this to be slightly warmer than the men’s version.

BEST FOR: Hikers wanting a good value 30 degree F bag and who are able to accept a zipperless entry.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Hikers who feel the need to have a fully zipped up mummy bag, though we would argue this is a perception and not a real warmth issue.

down backpacking sleeping bag - Montbell Downhugger 800 #1

Montbell Downhugger 800 #1 | $469

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: +11 F (-11 C) Limit, +23 F (-5 C) Comfort,

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +21 F (-6 C)

WEIGHT: 36 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 2.9

COST TO WARMTH: 3.1

FEATURES: 800 fill DWR down, 20 D nylon shell, Neck baffle, unique baffles allowing more stretch

SHOULDER GIRTH: 53″ / 135 cm

SIMILAR MODELS: Montbell Downhugger 650 #3 (lighter 30 F EN rating and $230 cheaper)

The Montbell Downhugger 800 #1 is a true 20F comfort rated bag. It is also a significant step up in weight and warmth compared to the other bags we reviewed here. However, we include it in the interest of cold sleepers who know that a 32F comfort rated bag won’t deliver what they need for 3 season comfort. The Downhugger series of bags incorporate a diagonal baffle system and a few other construction approaches which Montbell states give the bag more give and stretch and also help to keep the down closer to your body and avoid drafts. Our assumed temperature rating still predicted a comfort range of 21 F, which is nearly identical to the EN tested comfort rating of 23F.

BEST FOR: Colder sleepers looking for a good value for money, it was one of the most economical 20F range bags we reviewed.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Warmer sleepers who don’t need a bag rated to lower 20 F and don’t have the change for a $400+ sleeping bag.

Runners Up

A Few Other Backpacking Sleeping Bags to Look At

Sea to Summit Spark Ultralite 3 18F: 23.5 oz | Comfort Temp 29 tested | 3.1 Weight to Warmth | 2.6 Cost to Warmth
Feathered Friends Swallow YF 20: 28.7 oz | Comfort temp 27 modeled |3.4 Weight to Warmth |  2.4 Cost to Warmth

So what happened to traditional favorite bags like the Western Mountaineering Ultralite and Summerlite?

Yup, these indeed are still great bags and many of them are solid choices. They missed making a top picks by being slightly lower rating for warmth/weight and/or warmth/cost or possibly another reason. And some of these bags were simply too expensive to make our top picks since there were less expensive options with better/similar performance. All sleeping bags and quilts are listed in a table here. Again, be sure you look at the comfort rating of the bag!

2. Best Backpacking Quilts / Camping Quilts | 4.3 Performance | 3.8 Value

1.2 lb average | $290 average

The best backpacking quilts are both more weight efficient and cost less money compared to traditional sleeping bags. Therefore, as a category, they beat out traditional sleeping bags in both W2W (performance) and C2W (value). The Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 950 7D camping quilt had the highest W2W rating of any bag or quilt in this guide. Backpacking quilts require some knowledge of how to effectively use them, so be sure to read our Pro Tips for sleeping in Camping quilts.

Finally, while the ISO sleeping bag test has no contingency for testing quilts. It is possible to test quilts following most of the ISO standard. See more on Note 3 in our Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator. That being said, as a category, the modeled comfort temp predictions for down backpacking quilts in this guide seem to be very close to their named temperatures. That is, “Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F Camping Quilt,” is predicted to be a +30 F comfort temperature quilt. Bravo for quilt manufacturers!

Is it warm enough? The quilts selected here are easily able to keep you as warm as a traditional sleeping bag when accompanied with the knowledge of how to sleep in a quilt effectively. Again, our side panel tips on this. Many experienced hikers use quilts effectively in the temperature range we are targeting in this guide – around 30 F.

Is it light enough? We selected these to be among very light lightest camping on the market and they should save most hikers a fair amount of weight — even against the best sleeping bags. In summary, if weight to warmth is your highest priority and you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, camping quilts are where it’s at.

Can I afford it? A camping quilt is going to save you money for the same sleeping warmth compared to a sleeping bag. If you are budget constrained learning to use a quilt is going to open a whole new category for you and lower your overall pack weight by at least half a pound.

Can I sleep in it? – Many people can with the right knowledge. They are not claustrophobic since they can easily be vented which also makes them adaptable to a wider range of conditions than a traditional mummy bag – meaning a better night sleep in varying conditions. They are also able to accomodate a hiker wearing additional clothes, like a puffy jacket without compressing down and compromising insulating capacity. On the downside, it does take a bit of skill to avoid drafts in a quilt. Most hikers maange to learn this skill without difficulty. But a few, especially restless sleepers, never get the knack of it. There are some clips bottom closure hardware to help with this issue.

Pros: Lighter than traditional sleeping bags, just as warm, and the cost less. Non-restrictive and comfortable. Easily adapt to a broad range of temperatures by either opening up the quilt in warmer weather, and closing it down in colder weather. And if it’s really cold you can wear a down jacket in it without it being tight or claustrophobic.

Cons: For those that don’t get the knack of sleeping in a quilt, they can be drafty. Limited choices from mainstream manufactures (altho a good selection from well-established cottage manufactures). No hood, altho this can be solved with a warm hat or hood.

Top Picks | Camping Quilts / Backpacking Quilts

  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 / Enigma 20
  • Hammock Gear Premium Burrow +20
  • Hammock Gear Economy Burrow +20
  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation +20 with 950 FP down and 7D fabric
  • Warbonnet Custom Diamondback Camping Quilt +30

Why a Backpacking Quilt is Lighter and Less Expensive than a Traditional Sleeping Bag

A detailed analysis with the facts to back it up

First if you take a look at our supporting data tables for sleeping bags, backpacking quilts, and alternative sleeping bags you’ll see that as a category camping quilts have better weight to warmth (performance) ratios, that is for the same warmth they weigh less. Quilts have a better cost to warmth (value) ratio, that is for the same warmth quilts cost less.

Backpacking Quilts 4.3 Performance, 3.8 Value | Sleeping Bags 3.2 Performance, 2.7 Value

For more details and analysis open the accordion below.

Why Backpacking Quilts are Lighter & Less Expensive than Sleeping Bags


Note: This analysis is about 3 years old. Nonetheless the rankings are still very close, and the conclusions vaild.

1) Quilts Are Lighter

On a sleeping bag, the down under you is “wasted.” That is, that down is compressed by your body reducing its warmth to near zero. It’s your sleeping pad that keeps your under-body warm. A down quilt simply removes the down under you (and the fabric enclosing it) saving nearly half a pound vs a sleeping bag. Finally, quilts don’t use a zipper, which is a surprisingly heavy component of a sleeping bag.

Weight Comparison (chart above): Red arrows show quilts. The three lightest are all quilts, the Hammock Gear Burrow, Hammock Gear Burrow Econ Quilt, and Enlightened Equipment Enigma.


2) Quilts Are a Lot Cheaper!

Hoods and zippers are some of the most complicated and/or expensive sections of a sleeping bag to produce, and quilts forego them. This means that the manufacturers can instead use more down, or higher quality down and fabrics for any given price point. And per above, removing the down and fabric from the bottom vs. a sleeping bag also saves cost (high quality down is expensive!).

Price Comparison (chart above): Red arrows show quilts.  Every down quilt is less expensive than any down sleeping bag. The least expensive down sleeping bag or down quilt is the very light Hammock Gear Burrow Econ Quilt. It is even less expensive than the two budget synthetic sleeping bags The North Face Cat’s Meow 22 and REI Lumen 20!

 3) Quilts Are Comfier

Quilts are completely unrestrictive and much more comfortable than mummy bags. And because they ventilate so easily, you rarely ever suffer from having brought too warm of insulation. Finally, quilts more easily accommodate wearing clothes inside them (like a down jacket on an exceptionally cold night) without squeezing you and compressing insulation. This keeps you warmer and more comfortable vs. a sleeping bag.


ultralight backpacking quilt - enlightened equipment enigma down camping quilt

Enlightened Equipment Enigma 30 $290

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +29 F (-2 C)

WEIGHT: 17.9 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 4.5

COST TO WARMTH: 3.7

FEATURES: 850 fill DWR Duck down, 10 D nylon shell, sewn footbox, new for 2020 optional draft colar ($20 upcharge and additional 1 ounce)

SHOULDER GIRTH: 51″ / 130 cm

STAFF PICK: The Enlightened Enigma Quilts achieved the highest warmth to weight rating for Camping Quilts. As such, we consider this version of their quilt line to be the “gold standard” for camping quilts. In addition, the Enlightened Equipment quilts offer an optional draft color. The regular length version of these quilts (which we used for comparison) are 2 inches shorter than the Premium Burrow, however, for those who need greater length a “long, 78 inch” version is also available (1 inches shorter than the Premium Burrow long) and an about .67 ounces added weight. The Enlightened Equipment website also provides a very good sizing chart if you are in doubt about what is best.

BEST FOR: Those looking the highest performance 30F degree camping quilt. Highest warmth to weight rating!

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Restless sleepers, or those not willing to learn how to sleep in a camping quilt

ultralight backpacking quilts hammock gear premium burrow down camping quilt

Hammock Gear Premium Burrow +30 $285 (sewn footbox)

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +31 F (-0 C)

WEIGHT: 18.5 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 4.0

COST TO WARMTH: 3.5

FEATURES: 850 fill DWR Duck down, 10 D nylon shell, zippered version able to open flat

SHOULDER GIRTH: 51″ / 130 cm

SIMILAR MODELS: Hammock Gear Economy Burrow +30

RUNNER UP: Over the years Hammock Gear and Enlightened Equipment have been going at it, neck-to-neck to make the best ultralight camping quilts. As such, Hammock Gear has a strong following among quilt proponents and for good reason. For years the Hammock Gear Premium Burrow Camping Quilt has one of the best weight to warmth and cost to warm value quilts on the market. And we find the baffling on the HG quilts to control down a bit better. But you really can’t go wrong with either the EE or HG quilts. Note: If you are wondering about using Hammock Gear Quilts for non-hammock sleep systems, don’t worry, their quilts aren’t just for hammock sleepers. Using the wider 55” option is recommended for those using their quilts without a hammock system.

Also note the stellar value of the Economy version | Hammock Gear Economy Burrow  of this quilt. It’s under $200 and uses 800 fill power down and as a result is also 1.5 ounces heavier. Nothing else on the market comes close!

BEST FOR: Those looking for a top of the line 30F degree quilt with exceptional warmth to weight and warmth to cost ratings.

NOT AS GOOD FOR:  Restless sleepers, or those not willing to learn how to sleep in a camping quilt

ultralight backpacking quilt - hammock gear economy burrow quilt

Hammock Gear Economy Burrow 30F $195 (sewn footbox)

Top Value Pick

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +31 F (-0 C)

WEIGHT: 21.8 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 3.4

COST TO WARMTH: 5.0 highest value in this guide.

FEATURES: 800 fill DWR Duck down, 20 D nylon shell, zippered version able to open flat

SHOULDER GIRTH: 51″ / 130 cm

SIMILAR MODELS: Hammock Gear Premium Burrow +30F..

Hammock Gear Economy Burrow 30F is hands down the best value in this guide — and by a large margin! Or put in other terms, it’s It’s 1/2 the cost and 1/2 a pound lighter than most comparable high-quality down sleeping bags. In addition, it still has a very high warmth to weight value. As noted in our comments about the Premium version of this quilt, Hammock Gear has a strong following among quilt proponents. This version of their burrow quilt line is an attractive economical option for anyone looking for high quality quilt from a highly respected supplier. This version uses 800 fill power down (vs 850 on the premium version) and is about 1.5 ounces heavier. You end up the winner, with a sub $200 sleep system that lighter than most top quality down sleeping bags. Actually it’s, less expensive than almost all +30 comfort rated synthetic bags.

BEST FOR: Budget conscious quilt users looking for the best value for money in a sub-30F degree quilt and willing to accept slight weight increase vs. a premium quilt.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: For those looking for the very lightest camping quilt. Restless sleepers, or those not willing to learn how to sleep in a camping quilt

ultralight backpacking quilt - enlightened equipment enigma

Custom Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 950 $415

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +22 F (-5 C)

WEIGHT: 19.3 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 5.6 (highest in this guide!)

COST TO WARMTH: 3.4

FEATURES: 950 fill DWR Duck down, 7 D nylon shell, sewn footbox, new for 2020 optional draft colar ($20 upcharge and additional 1 ounce)

SHOULDER GIRTH: 54″ / 137 cm (claimed); 51” / 129 cm (actual)

SIMILAR MODELS: Enlightened Equipment Enigma 30, 950 fill & 7D fabric

Highest warmth to weight performance of any sleeping bag/quilt in this guide! The Custom Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 with upgrades to 950 fill power down and 7D shell fabric represents the limits of ultralight camping quilt technology. At a warmth to weight value of 5.6, it exceeds the upper limit of 5 for our scale. This quilt will give you a true 20F of sleeping comfort (of course when used properly as we describe in this article), but at just over pound! But of course, there is an increase in price using premium 950 fill power down and ultralight 7D fabric. The similar Custom Enlightened Equipment Enigma 30, 950 fill power down & 7D shell fabric has a 5.1 W2W making it the highest rated +30 comfort quilt in this guide — if you are willing to pay the price.

Note: This quilt is in the guide for two reasons. 1) Using 950 fill power down and 7D shell fabric, it is meant to compare to the +20 Alternative bags which also use these expensive materials. 2) It is an insane light true +20 comfort temperature sleep option for cold hikers or those venturing into areas where temperatures are expected to be quite cold.

BEST FOR: Those looking for the lightest true 20F degree quilt, and who have the budget to pay for something that is extremely light for the warmth it delivers.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Budget conscious hikers who are unlikely to be in sub +20 F conditions.

enlightened equipment accomplice 2-person quilt

Enlightened Equipment Accomplice 2-Person 30 F | $420 (stock)

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: approx. +30 F (pending)

WEIGHT: 30.1 oz (15.5 oz per person)

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: approx. 5.5 or higher (per person value, pending)

COST TO WARMTH: pending

FEATURES: Extremely high warmth to weight ratio. Super warm and comfortable, with wide foot box for sprawling sleepers, head and neck openings to seal out drafts, includes elastic pad attachment system, DWR finish on the face fabric, options for customization on temperature rating and fill.

SHOULDER GIRTH: 86 in / 218 cm

SIMILAR MODELS: +10, +20, +40 models with customization of down fill and fabrics

On a per-person basis, the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice has highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any +30 sleeping bag or quilt in this guide. Weighing in at just under pound per person, this quilt doesn’t skimp in coverage either. Two people can sleep comfortably either close together or spaced apart, and not worry about blanket stealing…. there’s plenty to go around. Thanks to sharing radiant heat (and with less space to heat up on your own), couples can stay warmer while not sacrificing space and quilt wrap. We’ve listed the stock model here, but users can customize their fill, temperature rating, and face fabric. This quilt has straps to attach to your sleeping pad, but you don’t have to use them all the time. Our test model (+20 version) had a 20-degree rating kept us truly warm on the coldest nights on our test trip (well below freezing). We slept in just long underwear.

BEST FOR: Pairs of hikers who want to save weight and share body heat, and know they can sleep comfortably together.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Hikers that can’t share blankets nicely! Hikers who want a fully enclosed mummy bag, or don’t know if they’ll sleep as well in a two-person bag/quilt.

ultralight camping quilt - warbonnet diamondback custom

Warbonnet Custom Diamondback Camping Quilt 30F $280

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +31 F (-0 C)

WEIGHT: 18.1 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 4.0

COST TO WARMTH: 53.5

FEATURES: 850 fill DWR Goose down, 10D nylon shell

SHOULDER GIRTH: 51″ / 130 cm

The Warbonnet Custom Diamondback Camping Quilt 30F (Sewn Footbox) is a close competitor to Enlightened Equipment and Hammock Gear and worth a hard look. It has one of the highest warmth to weight values for a reasonably priced quilt. Warbonnet has done some innovative things. They have restricted down movement in the longitudinal baffles, added a draft collar option, and Adjustable Side Elastics that cinch the edges of the quilt to reduce drafts. And of course there is a 950 FB down option.

Tip | Where Are All the Other Camping Quits?

We understand there are many quality suppliers not included here. The focus of this guide was on the top picks in each category based on use of our “assumed comfort rating” and the backpacking quilt’s W2W and C2W values. But other great options exist for the ultralight hiker and for that reason we list below other recommended suppliers which we did not cover specifically in this guide. And to be clear, there are some good choices, we aren’t discrediting anybody!

Camping Quilt Listings – JacksRbetter, Katabatic gear, Montbell, and Thermarest, Loco Libre, etc. are listed here.

3. Best Ultralight Alternative Sleeping Bags | 4.6 Performance | 3.1 Value

1.2 lb average | $384 average

Alternatives to the first two categories are what we are calling hoodless sleeping bags. As a category alternative sleeping bags beat out traditional sleeping bags for both W2W (performance) and C2W (value). They do not have a hood like a normal sleeping bag but do wrap under the torso area unlike a camping quilt. These hoodless bags are more like sleeves that slip up over your body up to your neck. They have extremely good warmth to weight ratios, use a very high 950 fill power down, very thin 7 denier nylon shells which lowers weight but also increases cost.

  • ZPacks Classic 20F
  • Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL

Is it warm enough? These alternative sleeping bags are just as warm as a conventional sleeping bags, except that like quilts they lack a hood. As such, to achieve their comfort temp rating you’ll need to wear a hood or a warm hat. A plus, these alternate sleeping bags do not have potential drafts of a camping quilt. And the Feathered Friends Tanager has a generous girth allowing easy pairing with a down jacket for increased warmth.

Is it light enough? We selected these to be among very light lightest sleeping options on the market and they should save most hikers a fair amount of weight. Their weight to warmth  values are among the best in this guide, beating all sleeping bags, and all but the very best camping quilts.

Can I afford it? These are near the top of the pack for value. Generally they are a better value to on par most sleeping sleeping bags, and compete well with most camping quilts. That being said the REI Magma +15 on sale is a better deal (albeit much heavier), and a number of the camping quilts are a better value, especially the Hammock Economy Burrow.

Bonus Q | Can I sleep in it? – If you are an average build hiker and can sleep in a narrower UL stye mummy bag then you will likely adapt to these alternative sleeping bags without a lot of issues. But if you are claustrophobic these bags might be problematic – the sleeve-like Feathered Friends Tanager 20F has no zipper but a generous 62″ girth. And the Zpacks Classic has a pretty narrow girth of 55″ when zipped up (altho it does have a zipper to allow you a quilt option in warmer temps).

Pros: The very lightest option for those looking for a warm, draft free sleeping experience — in some sense, combining the best of a camping quilt and a traditional sleeping bag. Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag has a nice zipper option to vent and regulate warmth, essentially it can be a quilt or a sleeping bag at the user’s discretion. Feathered Friends Tanager has a very generous 62″ girth that is intended to be used with a warm down jacket (like their Eos) to extend the temperature rating of the bag another 5-10 degrees. Making this a highly adaptable and cost saving option that will work in a very broad range of conditions.

Cons: Could be claustrophobic for some hikers, very limited buying options, more expensive than a camping quilt. Also 7D fabric is delicate requiring more user care. Need to use a hood or warm hat for full warmth.

zpacks classic sleeping bag 20F orange, open

Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag 20F $379

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +25 F (-4 C)

WEIGHT: 19.3 oz  (Standard girth / Medium length option)

WEIGHT TO WARMTH* 5.0 (2nd highest in this guide!)

COST TO WARMTH** (lower better): $1.60

FEATURES: 950 fill DWR Duck down, 7 D nylon, 3/4 zipper.

SHOULDER GIRTH: 55″ / 152 cm

STAFF PICK:  Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag 20F had the 2nd highest warm to weight rating in this guide — but it has a zipper, while the other was a zipperless quilt — making this a significant achievement! What we really like about the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag is that it combines the best attributes of a quilt and a sleeping bag. It has the weight of a quilt and can be used unzippered, just like quilt. But when it gets cold you can zip it up into a draft free, sleeping bag mode. In normal Zpacks fashion it uses the lightest material options – 950 fill power down and a lighter 7D nylon shell. Those materials come at a price making it more expensive than most camping quilts, but less expensive than most sleeping bags.

Note: To compare with other similar quilts in our review the data here refers to the Slim girth (55”) and medium length (72”) configuration.

BEST FOR: Those who want one of the very lightest and warmest backcountry sleeping options And who like the flexibility of using it as both a quilt and a sleeping bag!

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Campers that don’t like a snug fit (alth this has a zipper to solve that in all but very cold conditions). Hikers that abuse their gear.

Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL Sleeping Bags

Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL $369

EN/ISO TESTED TEMP RATING: N/A

MODEL PREDICTED COMFORT TEMP: +29 F (-2 C)

WEIGHT: 18.6 oz

WEIGHT TO WARMTH: 4.1

COST TO WARMTH: 2.8

FEATURES: 950 fill goose down, 7D nylon, accommodates down jacket

SHOULDER GIRTH: 62″ / 157cm

The Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL (Crazy Freaking Light) has no side opening, making it simple tube of down and fabric. This definitely saves weight (no zipper, no hood), and it reduces drafts vs. a camping quilt. Not surprisingly the Tanager 20 CFL has a warmth to weight (W2) value competitive with many quilts even with its generous 62″ girth*. But that wide girth has a reason, and that’s to allow it to be used with a down jacket. Feathered be used with their Eos Down Jacket for additional warmth. And it is in this configuration that the Tanager 20 CFL shines as its wide girth allows plenty of room for a down jacket without compressing its down and allowing enough room for a hiker with the jacket on!

Note: All other things being equal, wider girths get a lower W2W rating vs. bags with narrower girths. This is simple math.

BEST FOR: Those wanting to really push the weight limits for a 30F sleeping option to near 1 pound, who like the idea of more draft control with the enclosed design. And especially for those who like the “designed to be used with a down jacket” angle.

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Those that can’t deal with a zipperless bag. Those who are hard on their gear. Those on a budget.

Supporting Data & Pro Tips for Sleeping Bags & Camping Quilts

down backpacking quilt - Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F down Camping Quilt

Top Pick Highlight |  Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F Camping Quilt

STAFF PICK: Warm, comfortable & incredibly light, the Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F Camping Quilt has the best weight to warmth ratio of all the +30 comfort camping quilts we looked at — beating out the best sleeping bags! And it is a good value to boot. the Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F allows us to camp most places in the world for 3+ seasons in complete warmth and comfort. It’s light and well mannered and comfortable in mild conditions but can just as easily handle cold. This system when combined with a warm down jacket can handle some truly cold conditions. For instance, Alison and I used this system camping on the Southern Patagonia Ice Shelf.

PRO TIP | Will my Sleeping Bag be Warm Enough?

Almost warm enough is not good enough for a full night of restful, recuperative sleep

Buyer Beware, bags with “+20 F” in their name may not be “warm” at +20F*. The “model name temperature” for a sleeping bag (e.g. “ABC +20F Sleeping Bag”) is almost always the limit rating and not the comfort rating. That is, in our experience they are only warm/comfortable down to around +32 F. To corroborate this we note that ~ +32F is the EN/ISO comfort temperature rating for most +20F limit rated sleeping bags. Or put another way, +32F is the lowest temperature that our staff of seasoned athletes (men and women) find they will be warm enough and get a decent night’s sleep in a +20F limit rated sleeping bag. In support of this we should mention, that the ISO limit temperature test protocol indicates that the sleeper (implied male) might need to have “a curled up body posture” to keep warm. We do not find this reasonable or conducive to getting a good night’s sleep for either men or women!

This is why we have selected +32 comfort rated sleeping bags for this Guide (ISO tested, or our modeled comfort temp if untested). We find that for our staff of seasoned athletes (men and women) and most outdoors hikers feel that the Comfort Rating for a sleeping bag more accurately predicts the lowest temperature that we can reliably stay warm and get good night’s sleep. And for us, +32 F comfort rated sleeping bag is a good choice for all around 2+ to 3-season use for most hikers (men and women). The exception to this is when we include an approximately a +20 F comfort rating bag for colder sleepers (some women, but some men as well) or harsher environments.

* Note: Most cottage quilt manufacturers buck this trend. Our Top Pick quilt manufacturers including Enlightened Equipment, Hammock Gear, and Warbonnet DO who use the comfort temperature in the quilt’s name!

Read the Fine Print!

To be fair, manufacturers like REI, Therma-Rest, Montbell, Sierra Designs, and Sea to Summit not only test their bags to EN/ISO standards but also provide both the comfort and limit ratings for their bags. But you need to read the fine print on the label or scrutinize their website for the small details to find the comfort rating.

Nonetheless, they still name their sleepings bags in “big print” with the more optimistic limit rating. Their claim is that using the limit rating for men’s and unisex bags is an industry standard. But we’d push back on that one and say that people are never going to read the small print. Instead they are going to trust the manufacturer that the sleeping bag will be warm to the temperature in the bag’s name. On the other hand, they are well ahead of other manufactures that don’t test their bags at all!

Above is the label for the REI Magma 15 sleeping bag, which has a comfort rating of +28F — and they are clear about that on the label. But unfortunately, many (most?) hikers do not read the fine print and assume that they’ll sleep warm to +15 degrees. (And yes, with a +28F comfort rating it’s still a great bag and was our value sleeping bag pick!)

The Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator

Will Save you Weight and Money

Note: Sleeping bag temperature rating testing is not required in the US. As such, a surprising number of sleeping bags are untested as to what temperatures they are appropriate for, this includes ones from well known and well regarded manufacturers. This is where we come in.

One thing that sets this guide aside from all other guides, is that we’ve created a model, the Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator (AAWE), to estimate the comfort temperature of sleeping bags (even if the bag has not been ISO 23537/ EN 13537 tested). Our AAWE model takes into account the physical properties of a sleeping bag or camping quilt, the amount of down, and other parameters to accurately estimate within a few degrees the comfort temperature range of almost all tested and untested sleeping bags, camping quilts, and alternatives. This allows you, the consumer, to make apples-to-apples warmth comparisons between sleeping bags without confusion. This also gives you powerful tools to compare warmth to weight (performance), and warmth to cost (value) between sleeping bags, so you don’t spend more money than you have to.

In summary, Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator saves you both weight and hard earned income by allowing you without confusion to find the lightest and warmest sleeping bag or camping quilt at the lowest cost. You win!

* EN 13537 is a European standard test for the temperature ratings on sleeping bags manufactured and/or sold in Europe. It was recently superseded by International Organization for Standardization, ISO 23537-1:2016 test. Again, while some manufacturers in the US test their sleeping bags and quilts to this standard, it is not required in the US and many do not.

Tip | Clothing, Sleeping Pad and Sleeping Bag is a Combined System!

You can get by down to mid-20s F with a +30 F comfort bag combined with good clothing system and a warm sleeping pad.

First, the ISO sleeping bag test protocol assumes one layer top and bottom of long underwear and a warm hat. Possibly more important, the test protocol also assumes a sleeping pad with an R-Value of 4.8, which is a quite warm pad. For instance the popular NeoAir Z Lite is only R2.0 (less than 1/2 that value), and the Therma-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite is just R4.2. Happily our favorite pad, the Therma-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite Women’s exceeds that with R5.4! And the Therma-a-rest Xtherm for just a few ounces more has a whopping R6.9!

Second, combining you clothing with your sleeping bag and pad makes a warmer, more flexible and lower cost system. If you take our recommended +30 F comfort rated sleeping bags and combine it with one layer top and bottom of long underwear and a warm hat, plus a Therma-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite sleeping pad. You should be comfortable down to 30 degrees or so. But what if the temperature suddenly drops to the mid-20s? That’s where you warm down jacket comes in. Wear it in your sleeping bag and you’ve effectively made it a lot warmer. 1) This saves you money since you didn’t have to go out and buy a heavier and more expensive +20 comfort bag. 2) You can use that warm down jacket in camp — keeping you warm sitting around and enjoying camp (or at a cold rest stop) vs. having all your warmth in the +20 bag which would force you into your sleeping bag far earlier just to stay warm.

Related Materials: See our Best Sleeping Pad for Backpacking 2020 | Complete Guide. Note that a warm sleeping pad is a light and inexpensive way to upgrade your sleep system.

What is a Camping Quilt AKA Backpacking Quilt?

No, it’s not just a flat blanket! A modern down camping quilt strips away the heaviest and least effective features of a sleeping bag — leaving you with a supremely efficient and light cocoon of warmth. As such, it is a hoodless, backless, zipperless sleeping bag with a fully enclosed foot box opening at knee level. The upper 2/3 of the quilt can be loosely draped over the user for comfort and venting, or tucked in with a seal for maximum heat conservation.

ultralight backpacking quilt

Down backpacking quilts are cheaper, lighter, and have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than traditional backpacking sleeping bags. As such, they’ve become a staple in ultralight and lightweight backpacking kits. The ultralight down camping quilts in this guide are the best on the market. They can accommodate users on virtually any trip, anywhere in the world, in any season and any budget!

Camping Quilt vs Backpacking Sleeping Bag?

Camping quilts are significantly lighter and less expensive compared to a traditional sleeping bag. They are non-restrictive and comfortable, so great for people who can’t deal with the tight fit of a mummy bag. Backpacking quilts easily adapt to a broad range of temperatures by either opening up the quilt in warmer weather or closing it in tight around you in colder weather. And when it gets really cold, their more flexible shape allows you to wear a down jacket to bed to increase warmth without it being tight or claustrophobic vs. traditional sleeping bags which usually don’t have enough room to wear extra clothes. The major downside of quilts is for restless sleepers, or people that never master keeping the quilt over them. The resulting drafts can reduce the inherent warmth of a quilt. Finally camping quilts lack a hood, but unless it’s very cold a warm hat will solve that issue nicely (and lab testing also supports this). Also the sleeping bag temp rating tests are also done with a hat.

Traditional sleeping bags are reliable, tried and true. They are simple and easy since most campers have used them for years — so they have no learning curve — a comfort and a relief to many campers. They have a full hood which ads warmth and reduces drafts. And the full zipper makes sure that your body is always covered with down and draft free. As temperatures drop below 20F, even some quilt aficionados start to seriously eye traditional sleeping bags. As above, downsides to traditional sleeping bags is more weight, higher cost, a more restrictive fit, and less room to layer clothes inside to increase warmth.

Tip | Sleeping in Backpacking quilts

We know a lot of hikers and backpackers avoid quilts because they think they will be cold or perhaps they have tried them and couldn’t sleep warm in them. It’s true that using a quilt effectively requires some knowledge and skill. That knowledge isn’t complicated and it isn’t hard to implement. Having those simple skills opens for you the weight, flexibility and comfort of using a quilt. They easily adapt to a wide range of conditions, most likely allowing you to use a quilt comfortably in true 3+ season conditions, or more specifically a 30 F rated camping quilt could easily be used temperatures that could range from 20-40 F.

First, all the assumptions that apply to mummy style sleeping bags also apply to quilts. You need to use a good sleeping pad (with an R-value of 4.8 or greater under the new rating system. Note that most pads on the market are NOT this warm!) and have long underwear or sleeping clothes and a warm hat.

In addition, sleeping warm in a quilt requires something to replace the hood in a sleeping bag – a down hood or a warm hat of some sort work best. You can also wear a hooded puffy jacket while sleeping. You could say we are adding weight to a quilt system which compromises the advantage over sleeping bags, but we disagree and note that the sleeping bag temp rating tests are also done with a hat. All the clothes you are using with a quilt are more than likely clothes you would already have with you. In other words, you are likely packing with you a puffy jacket or a hat of some sort, so why not use it for part of your sleep system? Double use of gear is a fundamental principle in achieving lower overall weights in your pack. Because it is expected that a sleeper will be wearing additional clothes, a quilt needs to have a girth of around 51″ to 55” in order to accommodate the additional sleep clothing.

It is likely that you will need to learn to pay attention to how you roll over and move within a quilt to avoid having gaps form on the sides. This easily becomes an unconscious skill that does not detract from the quality of your sleep. To reduce the need for this many camping quilt manufacturers supply an adjustable pad attachment system that prevents gaps from opening on the sides. Controlling draft can also be addressed by incorporating an extremely lightweight and breathable bivy sack (a modest increase of few ounces vs. a ground sheet) while providing a lot of benefits!

Bring a Warm Hat

Quilts usually do not have a built in hood. Most just go to bed in the same warm fleece hat they were wearing around camp. This is more comfortable vs. a fixed sleeping bag hood as your hat actually moves with you when you turn — especially for side sleepers. Some quilt manufacturers offer optional, unattached down hoods.

zpacks classic sleeping bag

Top Pick “Alternate Sleeping Bag” | Zpacks Classic “Sleeping Bag” 20F

STAFF PICK: Zpacks Classic “Sleeping Bag” 20F had the 2nd highest warm to weight rating in this guide! What we really like about the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag is that it combines the best attributes of a backpacking quilt and a sleeping bag. It has the weight of a quilt and can be used unzippered, just like quilt. But when it gets cold you can zip it up into a draft free, sleeping bag mode. [Note the Zpacks Classic “Sleeping Bag” is shown upside down showing it’s zipper and how it can spread out like a quilt. Normally the bag is used with the zipper under you!]

Tip | Down only? What about synthetic fill?

Yup, we only have down sleeping bags and down quilts in this guide. We believe the case for down over synthetic fill is compelling. The weight advantage of down, the compressibility of down and the longevity of down over the years are all significant advantages. The main argument for synthetic fill is it’s lower initial cost, but over a few years there’s degradation of synthetic fill’s ability to loft, so advantage is lost. The other argument is that a synthetic bag keeps you warm even if wet. But really? Are you going to sleep in a wet sleeping bag and carry it around soaked? We don’t think the average hiker is going to do that. We also know that paying attention to where you camp, using an adequate shelter and taking time to dry things out occasionally is a much more reasonable strategy for keeping your sleeping system functioning well.

backpacking sleeping bag rei co-op magma 15

Our pick for a Value Sleeping Bag: At under $400, the REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag is the lowest priced backpacking sleeping bag in this guide. But as of writing, it’s under $300 on sale. At the sale price, it is the best value bag in this guide (4.0 cost to warm rating). Even at full price, it’s our top pick for a value sleeping bag.

camping quilt hammock gear economy burrow

VALUE Camping Quilt: with a cost to weight of 5.0 the Hammock Gear Economy Burrow +30 Camping Quilt has by a large margin, the best cost/warmth performance of any bag or quilt. In fact it is costs less than almost all synthetic sleeping bags!

Disclaimer

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. For product reviews: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.

137 replies
  1. Greggory
    Greggory says:

    Alan,

    I’ve been trying to find a good ultralight summer sleeping bag since I get a little sweaty in my 30F bag in the summer.

    When looking I found the Sea to Summit Spark Sp0 (liner/50F). Do you think this is a good option? Do you know anything about it? I haven’t been able to find anything online.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Greggory, good Q. One issue with sleeping bags is that a very large portion of the weight is the shell of the bag. As such reducing the amount of down to make 50 degree bag does not dramatically reduce weight — as the shell is essentially the same weight as +30 bag. And then you have a bag that can only be used a small portion of the year to boot. AS such, I would suggest not getting a bag warmer than +40F COMFORT RATING. And this is where quilts really shine in that you can vent a lot of extra heat out of them in warm weather and bundle up on cold weather. Many times in warm weather I am sleeping most of the night with the quilt pushed down to navel level. Altho it can easily be pulled up if needed for warmth. Super easy to kick a leg out too! One of the reasons we love quilts. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  2. Paul Rombach
    Paul Rombach says:

    Alan
    Thanks for the great article. I am 6’6″ tall and wear size 16 shoes. I am a back sleeper so my arms at my side or meeting in the middle present a girth of 66 inches. My Sierra Designs bag mummy bag did not keep me warm at a recent 20 degree campout. I am considering a quilt, but I am concerned about the length and the ability to fit my big feet in the footbox. Can you point me to a few choices to look at.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Contact either Hammock Gear or Enlightened Equipment. They will both make custom quilts for you. And of course this is an advantage as you won’t get custom out of mainstream sleeping bag companies. Best, -alan

      Reply
  3. Norman
    Norman says:

    The comfort ratings as shown on your chart range from about 22 – 32 degrees. Do you have any equipment with ratings in the single digits. Most of my camping starts in late October and runs through to January. I have been camping every year for many years in the mountains of Virginia, and often the night temperature drops into the teens, and at many times the single digits. Wind can be very strong at times, so, how well would a quilt provide low temperature comfort? Any equipment recommendations? Thanks a many!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Norman, I also camp in the mountains of VA in winter — it’s my home stomping grounds. I’ve been down into the low teens, in a +20 quilt, with down jacket and pants. And I wasn’t remotely cold. [As such, it’s my standard setup for the blue ridge in winter.] The advantage of using the down jacket and pants (and booties) to boost the warmth of your sleeping bag/quilt is that you can use them in camp at night and in the morning to stay warm and mobile when it’s really cold. It’s really nice on long winter nights not to have to hit the sack too soon just to stay warm. Otherwise if your only thing to keep you warm is a 0F bag then you end up in the bag way too early and way too long on a winter night. That being said, if you go the quilt option and want something warmer than +20F, both EE and HG make very nice 0F and 10F quilts. For sleeping bags I suggest you get one from a mfr that actually tests their bags and try and get one with at least a +10 comfort rating. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  4. Chris
    Chris says:

    I think you missed what I believe to be the three most influential quilt manufacturers currently:

    UGQ
    Nunatak
    Katabatic

    Did you reach out to these companies for samples?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Chris, we are familiar with both Nuntak and and Katabatic — both companies produce high quality quilts. Katabatic quilts are in the data tables and you can check out how they did on W2W and W2C. That being said, collecting the bags + quilts, all the data and modeling them was a HUGE effort. There was only so much we can handle in the time we had. In the future we may include UGQ, Nunatak and some other quilt and sleeping bag manufacturers and they may be modeled/tested and added to the data. Best, -alan

      Reply
  5. Josh Spice
    Josh Spice says:

    Hey Alan, EE says they use LIMIT temp rating with their quilts, not comfort as you say.
    https://support.enlightenedequipment.com/hc/en-us/articles/360021022052-About-our-temperature-ratings

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Josh. And that does need a bit of clarification — we’ve revised the post a bit to make it more understandable. Bottom line, there is on official way to test a quilt as the ISO standard does not support quilts. See Note 3: in Supporting Data | Backpacking Sleeping Bags and Camping Quilts:

      “While the ISO sleeping bag test has no contingency for testing quilts. Thus, while it is possible to follow most of ISO sleeping bag test protocol for a quilt, whatever resulting temperature ratings related would not be “official” until a few quilt specific protocols are defined.”

      That being said, we do know of at least one manufacturer that has to the best of their ability tested a down quilt using as much of the ISO protocol as possible. Thankfully, our model correlates well with those values. And from an engineering standpoint, the logic of what would make a sleeping bag warm would apply equally to a quilt. That being said, as a category, the modeled comfort temp predictions for down backpacking quilts in this guide seem to be very close to their named temperatures. That is, “Enlightened Equipment Enigma +30F Camping Quilt,” is predicted to be a +30 F comfort temperature quilt. We are fairly confident that once the ISO protocol was revised for quilts that it would test close to a +30F comfort temperature. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
  6. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    Have you ever heard of the Sierra Madre Research Inferno and if you have how would you compare it to these suggested quilts? The top quilt and bottom quilt use treated 800fp down, has a hood, zipper-less, and combined weigh 3.1 pounds. Also do you know of any retail or cottage company that makes or sells a top quilt with a hood?

    Reply
  7. Macy
    Macy says:

    hey alan and alison,
    I’m considering snagging the HG Premium Burrow 20* with say 2 oz of overfill to replace my REI Magma 17 in order to lighten my load in advance of Skurka’s Utah trip. One, do you think they will be fairly comparable in warmth? I’ve not used a quilt before and am intrigued but leery as a cold sleeper. Two, how critical is a bivy with the quilt when used with a mid shelter in 30* nights?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi there, I think that if you sleeping technique is good that the burrow will be warmer (y my calc’s the HG +20 is about 5-8 degrees warmer — the comfort rating of the Magma 15 is +28 and the Hammock gear’s comfort rating is close to it’s +20 rating). The mid will help keep drafts down. But the best combo for the Utah is the quilt with a bivy and leave the Mid inside your tent unless it’s raining. Have a great trip, -alan

      Reply
      • Larry
        Larry says:

        Hi Alan, that’s not correct. Macy was asking about replacing the REI Magma 17, which is a discontinued women’s model (the men’s version was called the Magma 10), but has identical specs to the women’s version of the REI Magma 15. It has a comfort rating of 17°F and lower limit of 3°F, so will be warmer (if likely heavier). REI names their women’s bags with a number close to the comfort rating, and their men’s bags with a number close to the lower limit rating. The discontinued REI Magma 10 had a comfort rating of 22°F and a lower limit rating of 10°F, and was the same price as the current Magma 15, so was a better value warmth-wise.

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Sorry, I assumed we were talking men’s models of bags for REI. So if we are talking women’s version of the REI Magma 15 vs. the HG +20 unisex quilt then the Magma would be +3 warmer [comfort rating to comfort rating]. Likely close enough that might not be able to tell the difference — but fairly sure that the HG +20 won’t be warmer. But knowing that the quilt it needs to be better than a +17 f comfort bag… if one were to get a +10 HQ Quilt. Then it would likely be warmer and lighter. Best, -alan

  8. Mike G.
    Mike G. says:

    Hey Alan,

    Great information here. In regards to quilt length, do you recommend sizing so the quilt comfortably comes up to your shoulders or would you go longer to be able to pull the quilt over your head? I’m 6’ 3/4” and I’m right on the line of most quilt manufacturers specs. If I go for the shorter length, I’ll have it be able to come up above my shoulders, but not be able to pull it up to my face or head. I wouldn’t be compressing the down, just not fully covered by the quilt. Longer I can do that, but more weight and cost.

    Wasn’t sure if you had a preference or recommendation when sizing for length.

    Thanks for all the great info!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Mike. Good Q. I would go with the longer quilt. I know you’re not supposed to… but some mornings for the last 1.0 to 0.5 hours I have been known to bury my head in the end of the quilt for a blissful last few minutes of super warm sleep. Also having extra room in the foot section to keep shoes from freezing is also a plus. Hope this helps. Wishing you a great year of trekking. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  9. Niv Geron
    Niv Geron says:

    Hi Alan,
    Great review for the subject.
    I currently have a 30F Enigma and a 20F Igneo from REI. I am starting the PCT this coming april.
    I am not sure which way to go. The Enigma seems not warm enough, but the REI has an extra 400g.
    is there a weight-efficient way to boost the Enigma warmth (liner, down pants/socks, etc.)?

    Thanks a lot,
    Niv.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Niv, I think you can likely get by with the 30F Enigma supplemented with a warm!, hooded! down jacket and possibly down pants for the colder sections of the hike. You’d likely want to test this combination late winter/early spring to see what temps you can sleep down to. Liners add almost zero warmth so skip them. Hope this helps, and wishing you a great PCT hike. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
      • Randy Lee
        Randy Lee says:

        Interesting about liners. So you would say products like the SeaToSummit “Thermolite Fabric Reactor liner (that I already bought but haven’t used) that claims to add 20F to a bag is vastly overstated?

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Randy, I would agree this sounds hugely overstated, but S2S does test their sleeping bags to ISO standards so it is possible that they have test data to back that up. BUT I would check to make sure they do have that test data. The other thing to consider is what is the weight of the liner vs buying a bag with a bit more down. A few more oz of down greatly increases the warmth of a sleeping bag. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

    • Jonathan Ferris
      Jonathan Ferris says:

      I took an REI ignio 20 out in weather that didn’t get below 32 and I was cold with ALL my extra clothes on (even resorted to my rain jacket and pants in the wee hours of the morning). The fabric was thin and you could feel the slightest breeze come through. It is only 600 fill and was super light. I didn’t bring a tent with me, but I usually never sleep in a tent anyway. returned it.

      Reply
      • Alan Dixon
        Alan Dixon says:

        Jonathan, if you read this guide carefully you should not have been surprised. First, read about why we use “comfort rating” for sleeping bags and quilt. Second, the only Igneo in the 20s that we see is the Igneo 25 and that is only comfort rated to +35 F. Finally, as you point out wind is a factor. An the sleeping bag tests are done in a wind free environment. Altho I am fairly sure that it was simply convective heat loss from the surface of your bag that was causing it to sleep colder (and not wind actually penetrating the fabric). Take home, if you want to sleep warm below freezing get a sleeping bag or quilt that is comfort rated to below 32 F, and keep it out of the wind (or get a +20 comfort rated bag to add some margin for wind). Hope this helps, -alan

        Reply
        • Jonathan Ferris
          Jonathan Ferris says:

          Hi Alan, Thanks for the deeper dive. Wish I had read this article before I impulsively bought the bag. At least now I know what I am looking for! (I have been using my wife’s 25 year old REI bag (don’t know the rating) that has always been tried and true without the need for a tent (in the right weather conditions of course).

  10. Mike G
    Mike G says:

    Hi Alan,

    I was wondering what your advice was for storing your quilt in your bag? What size stuff sack do you use? Is it a drawstring stuff sack or roll-top dry bag? I was looking at getting a dyneema bag storage bag, but wasn’t sure what would work best.

    Eventually looking to upgrade to a full dyneema waterproof system…for now, I’l start with some bags ;)

    Keep up the great work. Thanks!

    Mike

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Mike, nice to hear from you. We use larger Dyneema Stuff Sacks from Hyperlite Mountain Gear. Large is better as we don’t like to overly compress our down. Down fluffs up faster, and last longer if it isn’t super scrunched. And it is a lot easier to stuff into a large sack with cold hands in the morning.

      For our quilt we like the roll-top version, but honestly a drawstring if fine so long as you have a pack liner or use a Dyneema pack like the HMG SW 3400. Hope this helps and wishing you a great year of trekking. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  11. Mike
    Mike says:

    Hey Alan,

    Thanks so much for your thorough quilt review. I got one primarily based off your review and won’t be going back to a mummy outside the coldest temps.

    I was wondering if you had recommendations for hammock under quilts? There’s just as many options out there and would love your thoughts on some good ones to check out.

    Thanks for all the great content you put out!

    Reply
  12. Mike G.
    Mike G. says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the detailed info about quilts. Just pulled the trigger on the Katabatic Gear Flex 30.

    I was hoping you could expound on how to use continuous baffles to keep you warmer or cooler? Any pro tips to help expand the range of a bag up and down.

    Thanks for all the great info you put out. It’s really helpful and I always consult your site before any major purchase!

    Happy hiking!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for the kind words about the site and wishing you years of enjoyment with your new quilt. As to the baffles, to stay warm, fluff and massage down to be above you each night for maximum warmth. If you need to be even warmer, pair it with a down jacket. The jacket’s added insulation plus its hood will add a lot of warmth. To stay cool, just put an arm or a leg out. It’s a quilt :-). Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  13. Mario
    Mario says:

    Hello Alan,
    I was having a conversation about these quilts the other day not knowing much about them, but after reading this article and examining the main points in having a quilt, it occurred to me I could “make” one by tearing out my sleeping bag zipper/hood and stitching up the bottom third (my 20 degree bag was maybe $50). Have you known anyone to try this thrifty method? I am new to your site and have been jumping around through articles so forgive me if you have covered this in any way.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Mario, This would be a lot of work, especially if you haven’t been dealing with down. And in the end you’ve just opened up a sleeping bag so won’t get most of the weight benefits of a true quilt (e.g. you will still have the same girth of a down bag vs. the girth of a quilt, + older heavier fabric and likely not as high quality down). As I see it you have two options. 1) the least expensive is to just use your down sleeping bag unzipped and see if you like the quilt concept and if it works for you. 2) or you could get a hammock gear Economy quilt for around $150. In summary, I really don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to semi-dismantle your +20 bag. Hope this helps. Wishing you a great year of sleep in the backcountry. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  14. Vlad
    Vlad says:

    Hi Alan, my Sierra Club mentor recommended your site and I’m so happy he did.
    I’ve placed an order for an EE Revelation quilt, 30-deg 850-fill regular/wide and it weighs about 19.6 oz (13.56oz fill). Now I’ve seen the Thermarest Vesper quilt, 900-fill, 32-deg, regular length, and it weighs 15oz (9oz fill). Prices are similar.
    I’m debating whether to return the Revelation and get the Vesper. Any thoughts on the two quilts? Does the Revelation have any benefits to outweigh the 30% extra weight compared to the Vesper?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Vlad, good question. The first thing is to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. That is, the same quilt dimensions and same fill amounts, type of footbox, etc. First thing to note is that the EE quilt has about 50% more down. So assuming that the quilts are even remotely the same size, the EE is gonna be warmer — probably significatnly so. That alone might indicate that the EE is a better value. Second, both use 10D fabrics so that should not account for any weight differences, unless the Vesper turns out to be trimmer, thus using less fabric. And unfortunately I am out in the field this week and away from the two quilts, but my recollection is the Vesper has a tighter footbox. It will be almost a week before I can measure the two quilts side by side. Hope this helps. Best, -alan

      Reply
      • Vlad
        Vlad says:

        Thank you, Alan. Good point about the dimensions and the fill weight differences. Turns out the EE Revelation I ordered is 6″ longer and the foot box girth has 5″ extra vs the Vesper regular. The Rev it is. Much appreciated.

        Reply
  15. Ed
    Ed says:

    Alan,
    I’m looking at the Hammock Gear Burrow Econ. I’ve got a couple questions.
    1) When you did your comparison, did you use the standard or wide Burrow? It recommends that the wide be used for the ground. You seem to be a similar build to me, except maybe you are a little taller.

    2) Does the overfill provide any better warmth protection. I’m teetering between getting the +20 or +30 Burrow. I live in So Cal, but have been getting up to Yosemite area and above 8000ft usually. In my current sleeping bag (Marmot Mavericks 30 [1430g]) I start to get chilly in the mid 40s. But I have no desire to camp in the snow.
    – How much additional overfill did you get?
    – You put it in the longitudinal baffles, do you mean the ones running down the length of the quilt or the ones in the footbox?

    3) Is there a benefit to pay for the sewn foot box over the zipper? Surprisingly it’s more expensive to have the sewn foot box which is the opposite of some folk’s claim to the opposite. Why do you say there would be cold spots with the zipper?

    4) Lastly, did you go with and/or do you recommend the sleeping pad attachment kit?

    Thanks in advanced. I have been devouring your website for reining in my pack load weight. I had already gotten a 6 Moons tarp and bug net before finding your site. Probably go with the quilt next, then the pack update last (even though it’s a beast from the 80’s).

    Warm regards.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Ed, nice to hear from you. This is going to be a short response as I am leaving for an international trip tomorrow. Anwaya here goes. I use a custom burrow with a 46 to 48 inch width, but I’ve been sleeping in quilts for two decades. And I am 5’8″ and 160 lb, so not very big. If you are new I would suggest you get 50 inches or wider until you are sure that you can control your quilt and not get drafts during the night. I do not use the pad attachment kit. Never have with any quilt other to test the system and I didn’t like it (but some do and use one). That being said if it’s really cold, and I am into in an enclosed shelter I do use a bivy (only adds a few oz over using a groundsheet). If you sleep a bit cold, I would put 2 oz extra in the longitudinal baffles the ones that run the long way on the quilt. BTW per temp ratings, the industry convention is that +20 has a “comfort rating” of around +30. I go with the sewn footbox as it is lighter and a bit more compressible — and I never feel the need to expand the footbox. I also have very cold feet. If you sleep hot and/or want to unzip it into a fully flat blanket type quilt, then the zipper would be good. Hope this helps and good luck with lightening your load. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
      • Nick
        Nick says:

        Hello Alan,
        I stumbled upon your site after I had already made a significant quilt purchase and being that I’m fairly new to hiking light, I was wonder if you would mind checking out the UGQ outdoor LLC quilts if you haven’t already and giving your take on value to weight, and how it compares to some of the other possibly better known quilts that you mentioned such as the enigma or the burrow.
        Thank You
        Nick

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Hi Nick, there are a number of great cottage quilt manufacturers out there. Possibly more than I can review/evaluate products from. But UGQ options, spec’s pricing, and lead times appear very similar to HG and EE quilts. And I haven’t heard anything that would indicate that they are any worse or better than HG or EE. Maybe I’ll order a Bandit to look it over. Wishing you a great year of trekking. Warmest, -alan & alison

  16. Michael
    Michael says:

    I’m searching for lightweight quilt/blanket for summer camping. Any recommendations?

    Most seem to be around 4°C (40°F) comfort temperature which is too warm for summer. A simple blanket for ~10°C without fancy foot box, straps etc. would be perfect. Especially since it’s easier to wear additional clothing under a blanket in case it gets colder.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Michael, look in my post on Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear. The Double Black Diamond Packable Down Throw is likely what you want. This quilt is available for $20 at Costco at certain times of the year or around $33 at Amazon.

      Reply
      • Michael
        Michael says:

        Thanks for the reply, Alan. Unfortunately the Double Black Diamond looks unnecessarily wide. It’s intended for my girlfriend who’s 1.7m (5.577ft) tall but very slim. Narrower but a tiny bit warmer would be great. Doesn’t even have to be down (as long as it’s light) and doesn’t have to be dirt cheap.
        Otherwise we might have to go for the HG Economy Burrow 5°C (40°F) and just hope that it’s not too warm. There are tons of sleeping bags in this temperature range but I don’t want to go with something like the Millet Baikal 750 ( https://www.millet-mountain.com/ld-baikal-750-women-s-sleeping-bag-trekking-purple-1.html ) because it’s a sleeping bag and weighs twice as much.

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Michael, you might also want to checkout Loco Libre’s 50 and 60 Degree Top Quilts. Very light (6-8 oz in a lot of sizes) and reasonable prices. Warmest, -alan & alison

        • Michael
          Michael says:

          Hi! We ended up ordering quilts from https://www.gramxpert.eu/

          Simple, synthetic Quilts with just 400g weight for a 8°C temperature rating. Probably doesn’t pack as small as down but a great advantage is that the insulation doesn’t shift around (no cold spots).

        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Sounds like a nice quilt Michael. I think the posts list the main advantages of down so no reason to reiterate it here — but synthetic usually has a lower cost and a warm(er) when wet option (assuming you really get the quilt that wet). Wishing you many warm nights of sleep. Best, -alan & alison

  17. Dogwood
    Dogwood says:

    A quilt is best not perceived as a stand alone piece. It’s rare to use a quilt as a stand alone piece, very rare in the real world in backpacking situations. It’s part of a sleep system where the sleep system’s various components have significant consequences on sleep quality, warmth, various other performance traits, etc. and cumulatively on total sleep system costs, bulk, wt, and complexity normally more significantly so than conventional sleeping bag based sleep systems. Making stand alone quilt comparisons to stand alone conventional sleeping bags ignoring these import significances leads to faulty comparisons in regard to total wt, total cost, etc of the different based systems.

    Making quilt to conventional sleeping bag comparisons ignoring build quality, decades of design experience, warmth claims that are generally agreed upon, durability possibly required for some use, etc for high end bag companies like FF and WM ignoring higher end costlier quilt manufacturers like Katabatic and Nunatak in bar graphs that include cost on the X axis is skewing cost results to meet quilt presuppositions such as quilt based systems are less costlier or lighter wt.

    Reply
  18. Dave
    Dave says:

    I have an EE revelation rated for 0 degrees. Crazy loft on the quilt. Still under 2 pounds. I am a side sleeper and roll back and forth which is so easy to do with a quilt. Hard to do this in a mummy bag BTW. I camp every month with my Boy Scout Troop throughout the coldest months of the year in the mid west. I use it for when temps at night are below 50 degrees. The nice thing is the comfort, you don’t have to cinch it down on the warmer nights(above 30 degrees IMO), use it just laying on top of you. I have used it down to 0 degrees, and slept so warm it was ridiculous. You will need some sort of head covering to keep your head warm at night on the cold nights.

    The strap system they use to keep the quilt from letting cold air in on the sides is amazing. I got the long /wide size as i am a bigger guy, and it has plenty of room to spare.

    I will never go back to a sleeping bag ever.

    Reply
  19. Paxton
    Paxton says:

    Hi Alan,

    I bought a HG Econ 20* quilt recommended by your for my JMT hike this past summer. It was phenomenal and I appreciate the post here. Do you pair quilts with a bivvy at all? I have now upgraded from a tent to a tarp and see many people use Bivvy’s. I cant really understand why to be honest. I carry a ground sheet and then put my pad and quilt on top. Only pitch the tarp when I need to. Thoughts?

    Also, the womens NeoAir XLite is only 5’6″.. I have seen people use the torso length pad and then sleep on their bag down by their feet.. But I don’t see you using any sort of insulation to extend out the length. I’m just over 6′ so Im curious on what you may think

    Paxton

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Paxton. No a bivy is not necessary with a tarp and I know people that sleep with just a quilt under a tarp. BUT in most cases it helps. First you can just cowboy camp in the bivy and not setup the tarp — super fast and efficient. This is what Alison and I do about 90%+ of the time in the Sierras. The bivy doubles as a groundsheet, controls gear inside the head area (makes things like phones, hats, gloves, headlamp easily accessible and not in the dirt), and it provides backup bug protection in case we hit a bad patch of skeeters. Second, the bivy shell fabric provides some protection for your quilt from overspray in blowing winds and rain. Finally, it does control drafts when sleeping out in the open, especially on windy nights (essentially providing a large dead-air space around the quilt which significantly increases warmth). That a lot of benefits for +4 oz (Polycro groundsheet 2 oz vs bivy 6 oz).

      As to the W’s X-Lite, everybody I know from about 5’6″ to nearly 6’5″ use it. For me once the pad extends to mid-calf I see little need to put anything under my feet. At worst a heel or a toe might touch the ground which is not an issue for warmth or comfort (my quilt is insulating under me except for the very small area where my heel hits). And I side-sleep about 75% of the time, in which case all of my body fits on the pad. Others (when back sleeping) put their backpack or a piece of clothing under their feet. Hope this helps, best, -alan

      Reply
  20. Jeff.
    Jeff. says:

    Alan,
    I was one of your clients on the mid-July fundamental backpacking class in RMNP. I really got a lot out of the class; far more than I thought I would.

    My question:
    I currently have a 20 F down Revelation from EE which I love. But I’m thinking of picking up a 40 or 50 degree Revelation quilt for warmer temperatures where the 20 degree quilt is just too much. I’m struggling with down vs. synthetic for a summer weight quilt. At 50 degrees, the weight difference is only 1.2 oz (but at 40 degrees, the difference is 4.4 oz…presumably because you have to jump to the next available thickness in synthetic where down is scale-able). Here are my thoughts, most of which come from reading too many internet posts…
    1. Ease of cleaning. Theory is that a summer weight quilt would be used in…the summer; and get dirtier due to increased sweating and fewer or no sleeping baselayers to keep body oils off the quilt.
    2. Uniformity of insulation distribution. At these fill weights (something like 5 oz of down for a 50 degree), I wonder if there will be spots where the down gets so thin that it doesn’t insulate. Synthetic is a sheet of batting with uniform thickness throughout.
    3. Moisture control if using a double quilt system for cold weather. The theory that moisture going through the quilt will hit its dew point and condense within the insulation, and to make sure this happens inside an easier to dry synthetic outer quilt. This is not a primary concern. I haven’t done any really cold camping, but if I’m buying a second quilt, I’d like to cover as many bases as is practical without sacrificing its primary purpose.
    4. Counterpoint that negates all of the above. Both you and Andrew Skurka recommend down without any reservations. I haven’t seen either of you recommend synthetic over down for any situation, and that speaks volumes.

    Thanks for listening and I appreciate any thoughts you have to share.

    Best,
    Jeff.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Nice to hear from you Jeff. Lots of thinking going on there :-). To be brief, I would go with a +40F quilt with very light 0.67 oz/yd2 fabric. A good manufacturer can handle down distribution, altho fluffing it up before use will keep it that way. With care there should be little need to wash it (if ever). Hope this help. Happy hangin’ -alan

      Reply
  21. sistema capoto
    sistema capoto says:

    Magnificent site. Plenty of useful information here.
    I am sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thanks to your effort!

    Reply
  22. Lane
    Lane says:

    Hi Alan,

    I was wondering if you could add a section or give some recommendations on the best 2 person quilts. Looking for one to use in Patagonia next January with my wife.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Lane, thanks for the inquiry. I would recommend that you checkout the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice. Wishing you a great trek in TdP. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Lane, sorry for the late reply. I was in the field for an extended period. Unfortunately the Match Burrow is not yet in production. For now you’ll need to look at the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice. Wishing you a great trek. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  23. Lane
    Lane says:

    Looking for a double quilt to share with my wife. I saw above where you mentioned a “match burrow”. I can’t seem to find any for 2 people. Are you just sharing a normal quilt, or am I not seeing the right thing?

    Lane

    Reply
  24. Glen
    Glen says:

    Hi Alan,

    Please stop me from buying a sleeping bag. I toss and turn and always wake up freezing in my quilt, the pad straps are fidgety and have broken two in two nights trying to adjust them at 4am…

    Sincerely, liking the look the look and weight of western mountaineering summerlite and ultralite..

    Glen

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Skip the straps. Try a Bora Bora or Mountain Laurel Designs Bivy. Only a slight weight increase over a ground sheet and should stop your issues with the quilt. Best, -alan

      Reply
  25. JP
    JP says:

    Alan, thanks for your wonderful site! I find nice tips and inspiration every time you publish an article. I live in the NW DC suburbs so have taken advantage of Sugarloaf Mountain many times, and am working with my sons’ Boy Scout trip to go lighter.

    I’ve got some copy edits I didn’t want to pollute the comments with, if you’d like to email me.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for the kind comments JP. And yeah, rushing the post out has its’ drawbacks. And I am not the best copy editor of my own work :-). Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  26. Chris
    Chris says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thought you’d like to know that the prices for the HG quilts has gone up a bit and the Econ now has longitudinal baffles.

    Reply
  27. Alex Gipe
    Alex Gipe says:

    Hey Alan,

    I have checked out the HG quilts but am also interested in Under Ground Quilts (UGQ) Bandit model. Do you have any experience with these? They have the similar construction to the burrows except with out the horizontal chamber at the neck line. I am debating about a 20 or 30 degree quilt, for the use of 3 season camping and possibly cold weather shoulder season trips. Is it worth going down to the 20 for this or will it make the quilt to hot for summer? Also UGQ makes tapered and non- tapered versions of their quilts, for ground sleeping does it make sense to go with a non-tapered bag so you have a bit more material to hang over the edge of the pad at the hip area?

    Thanks

    Reply
  28. Rudi
    Rudi says:

    Hi Alan

    Thanks for your great article. I’m in the process of buying a new bag/quilt and not quiet sure with what temperature rating I should go. I’m looking for a 3-season quilt which I can take up to the north (Alaska, Sweden) during summer. My first idea was, that I could go with a 30F quilt since I carry a light down jacket and a dry pair of woollen socks anyway and being able to push that rating near 20F.
    But I have some concerns and I’m not quiet sure if this will work as expected. What is you opinion on this? I see that you use the Burrow 40 yourself, are you running a similar approach? How far down do you push the temperature limits of this bag?

    Thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      I am in Patagonia between treks so a short reply. If in doubt, I would go with the +20. Only few oz or more and will even handle moderate winter temps. +30 would be about as warm as I would suggest for an all around bag. And if it’s going to be could pair it with a warm down jacket. Best -a

      Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      OK, they were going to use longitudinal baffles but haven’t managed to get this design change into the standard workflow for the Econ line. So, good point, I will amend the piece with this info. Best, -alan

      Reply
  29. Tim
    Tim says:

    Your description shows “longitudinal” baffling, but on the manufacturer website, the images show the opposite. Can you advise?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Tim, what quilt are you talking about? (And apologies for the late reply. This one somehow fell through the cracks for a few days.) Best, -alan

      Reply
  30. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Hi Alan,

    Should shorter men (I am 5’5″, maybe 5’6″) consider a women’s sleeping bag as to not have 6″ of wasted insulation below one’s feet for height they don’t have? Or is the fit too different and one ought to stick with men’s bags? FWIW I am about 135lbs and wear size small shirts.

    Reply
  31. Mike
    Mike says:

    Hey,
    thanks for all this great research. It has been a HUGE help!

    I have been working on reducing pack weight and the last item on my list is my sleeping bag. I like the idea of switching to a quilt however I own a WM Antelope. I am wondering if you think the switch is worth it to a cheaper +20°F Hammock Gear Econ Quilt vs being OK with the extra weight for a premium style bag.

    [My typical trips are long weekends. East Coast and Mid West. Early spring to late fall. (Winter trips seem to be over for now).]

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Mike,
      It all depends on 1) how much $ you are willing to spend to save a pound (39 oz vs 23 oz) and some bulk, and 2) if you think you are willing master sleeping under a quilt vs. a sleeping bag. Those are decisions you’ll need to make for yourself. For me (and I am camping in the same locals and temps you are) a +20 (or even +30 quilt boosted with a warmer jacket when needed) would be ideal an that is is what I use. But again that’s for me. Hope this helps. Wishing you a great hiking season. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  32. tony
    tony says:

    HI,

    My sleeping bag (Zissou plus 15F, 700 fill, 2 lb 9 oz) is 3o inches wide at the shoulder. If I open it up,its 60 inches wide. The quilts are 54 inches wide. So where is the weight savings? The quilt should only be 10% lighter and a little for the hood for the same fill..

    Tony

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Qs Tony. Some reasons aside from girth and lack of hood that make the quilts listed lighter than your Sierra Designs Zissou 3S Plus Sleeping Bag:

      • A major reason the 30-denier shell fabric for the Zissou (~1.6 oz/yd2) is about 2x heaver than the 15D or 10D (0.9 or 0.67 oz/yd2) fabric on many of the quits. Since the shell material is a major weight contributor of sleeping bag or quilt this really matters. And of course there is no material under you or on a hood in a quilt which also saves weight.
      • 800 to 800 fill power down vs. the 700 fill power on the Zissou. E.g. your down is about 20% heavier for the same warmth. That is 15,000 in3 of down weighs 21.4 oz for your bag and only 17.6 oz for 850 fill power down quilt (and in the quilt more of that down is over your body because there is no down under your body so it’s even wamer).
      • Less weight for draft tubes, zippers, drawcords and toggles etc. There are more of them and heavier versions in your bag. Yes, these do add up.

      Hope this helps answer your Qs. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  33. James M
    James M says:

    Hey Alan,
    I’m looking at getting a quilt to replace a failing mummy bag. I like the price of the hammock gear burrow econ but I notice on their website that all the quilts have horizontal baffles, whereas in your pictures of the burrow and econ have vertical baffles for about ⅔. Is this something I should consider? Will down shifting to the sides be a problem?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      James an excellent Q. I just talked with HG. They are so overwhelmed with orders than they haven’t managed to integrate the vertical baffles into their top quilts as of yet. That being said, the current horizontal baffles should be fine. I’ve used them successfully for years. I you do find the down thinning on top.. a quick shake and/or sweeping of your forearm arm across the quilt will quickly get the down back on top. Wishing you a great year hanging. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  34. Susan
    Susan says:

    Hi,

    Do you cover your face? I slept the other night when the temperature was 24 degrees F with the wind chill 18 degrees F with my whole head within my bag with a small air hole. I think I would have a frozen face without the ability to cover my whole face and head. Burrrrr

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Susan,
      Apologies for the late reply. I took some time off during Thanksgiving to be with family. I don’t cover my face. I find that if I am warm enough in my bag then my face does fine down to at least +10F. Verified again recently in a cold snap in the Sierras. That being said, you do need to keep wind off your face for that to work, either using a tarp, a tent, or even a bivy sack. Wind chill is brutal. And I guess you know it’s not a great long term plan to keep your face in your bag overnight. Breathing into your bag or quilt creates a lot of condensation that will eventually make it wet and less warm. Wishing a great hiking season. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  35. Greg O
    Greg O says:

    You mentioned several times that you and many other men sleep on the Women’s version of the NeoAir XLite. Assuming you’re taller than 66″, are your lower legs not supported by the mattress? If not, what do you place under your legs to keep them warm and at the same level with the rest of your body?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Greg, apologies for the delayed reply. My climbing partner is 6’5″ and also uses the W’s. Mostly it’s your feet that might stick off the end if you are lying straight out on your back. Many people don’t mind this, in fact I prefer not having my heels pressing into the ground. But yes you can stick something under your feet if that is a problem. And when I side sleep, like most people I am semi-bent so that all of my body including my feet are on the pad. For me I would not want a pad any longer. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  36. Jonathan C
    Jonathan C says:

    Alan,
    Nice overview of quilts. I’ve just recently gotten my first (a synthetic summer quilt), but I’ve been enjoying it so far and am likely going to pick up a warmer down quilt for spring/fall.

    One benefit of quilts that you may considering mentioning is that two quilts or a quilt and bag can be fairly easily combined as layers to further extend your sleep system range at no additional cost. As an example, if you had a 50F synthetic quilt for summer and a 30F down quilt for spring/fall, you could combine them for a roughly 10F rated sleep system if you felt inclined to do some winter camping. See here for additional info (https://support.enlightenedequipment.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002770588-Quilt-Layering).

    Thanks again for all the great info!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Yup Jonathan, quilts are hugely flexible and adaptable vs. sleeping bags. And the other warmth extension option that I point out in the post: they are far more accommodating and flexible to allow you wear a lot of clothing under them vs. a sleeping bag. Supplementing with a warm down jacket is usually first choice to extend the temperature range of a bag, as I am already carrying it. Best, -alan

      Reply
  37. Trey
    Trey says:

    Alan,
    Thinking I want to get a quilt, but I’m curious about the width. As a bigger guy with a bit of a beer belly, it need a little more space than your average backpacker. Because these are designed for use with hammocks, are the wide sizes going to be equivalent to a normal width sleeping bag? Do you think the wide size from HG (55″) is enough for a bigger guy when used on the ground, or should I look at the wider EE bags? Like the price of HG, but they are narrower. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Trey, no worries about “ground sleeping version” or a larger size. Hammock Gear does custom sizes* and will do a custom size for you if the 55″ if you think may not be wide enough. You can even talk over the phone with them and get recommendations on the right dimensions. * I get all of my quilts from them to my spec’ed dimensions. Warmest, -alan

      Oh, and you might want to try and use bed sheet as a measuring device to get an idea of how much width you might need in a quilt. -a

      Reply
  38. Adam A
    Adam A says:

    What are the volumes of the quilts in their stuff sack compressed? I currently use the North Face snow shoe mummy bag, which has been great. I have used it unzipped just like a quilt as long as I have had it. I am thinking about getting one of the HG quilts, because I am looking to save a little weight but mostly reduce volume…

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Adam, sorry for the delayed response. Your comment came in while I was in the midst of site upgrades.

      Just as guess I’s say that a +20 down quilt would be in the range of 1/3 to 1/4 the volume of your TNF Snowshoe bag, which is both +0 and has much bulkier (vs. 800 fp down) Climashield insulation. The exact difference would depend on the size and temperature rating of your quit. BUT it will be a lot, lot less volume! Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  39. Alex
    Alex says:

    I am looking for a good two person quilt for my wife and I for a backpacking trip in Hawaii in July and then later in Canada in August/September. Recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Alex Enlightened Equipment makes one, the Accomplice. Hammock Gear also makes a beautiful and very light (the quilt Alison and I use — based on my design and refined by Adam) but they haven’t put it into official production. You can always ask…

      Reply
  40. DGray
    DGray says:

    Hi Alan, I agree with so many who appreciate your site. I also greatly appreciate the class you show in responding to comments, and always with an affirming positive attitude.
    I was curious about the direction of the baffles on quilts. I understand that vertical baffles (from head to toe) would keep the down from shifting and falling to the sides, and I see that most companies you list use this construction. I don’t understand, however, why a couple of the models shown here (EE and Hammock Gear) would switch to horizontal baffles for the footbox area. Is this just for aesthetics, or is there a function that I’m missing? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      DGray, excellent Q’s about quilt baffling. I had my own thoughts but thought it would be better to get it from Adam, the owner of Hammock gear. Here’s his response (which by the way I agree with 100%):

      There are a couple of reasons the Hammock Gear Burrow 2.0 transitions the baffle direction from horizontal to longitudinal and then back to horizontal again.

      • The head end of the quilt has at least one horizontal baffle because I think it feels nicer against the face. If you run the longitudinal baffles all the way up to the head end near the face, all the stitch lines can create an uncomfortable feel next to the skin.
      • Having at least one horizontal baffle at the head end also gives us the opportunity to offer fabric options. Some cold weather campers like the top of their quilt to be built with waterproof material so that it is less likely to absorb condensation from the user’s breath during the night.
      • We switch back to horizontal baffles in the leg area because it makes the transition to constructing the footbox much cleaner. Again, aesthetics are important in this area. We also don’t mind doing this because we notice much less down migration in the leg section of the quilt anyway.
      • Another reason for the back and forth baffle direction is that it breaks up the long chambers to further stabilize the down.

      These are just some of the reasons that Hammock Gear does it that way. Other gear makers might have different reasons. :)

      Reply
      • Andrew
        Andrew says:

        Hi there, great info on your site. I’m looking to buy my first ever quilt and am in the same boat as DGray.

        Maybe I’m missing something, but when I look at the Hammock Gear Econ Burrow 20 on their website, it looks like the whole thing has horizontal baffles, not just the top and footbox area. As you have mentioned, vertical baffles help prevent the down from falling towards the sides. Is a quilt with all horizontal baffles a terrible idea to consider then?

        Thanks.

        Reply
  41. Mindy
    Mindy says:

    Great article! I think I will be moving on to a down quilt. I have the women’s NeoAir and have found that I often unzip my -10 bag and roll around at night just like you described with a quilt. Has kept me more comfortable and warmer in -20, on the ground in a tent, where I would usually be a bit cold all zipped up. Thank you.

    Reply
  42. Kayla M
    Kayla M says:

    Hi Alan!

    Great article, you’ve absolutely got my curiousity buzzing. I have a couple questions- I can’t be the only one who feels this way- I find the weight of a blanket on top of me very comforting in helping get to sleep, indoor or out- but particular outdoor. In your opinion (or report from a friend) do you find the quilt warm, but lacking a sense of ‘security’ or leaving you feeling a bit more exposed? Do you find any major difference between single and 2-person quilts? How do you attach a 2 person quilt to your sleeping pads? Thanks again for a meticulous review!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Kayla,
      Weight of a quilt will be close to that of a sleeping bag of similar warmth. That is the same amount of down/fabric above you equals similar warmth. The quilt is a lot less confining and claustrophobic. Not entirely sure about your “security” Q. I would say they are similar for me. No difference.

      If 1 person quilts are great, 2 person quilts are incredible. Not only is the quilt warmer but you get the shared warmth of two people, which equals maximum warmth! My wife who sleeps incredibly cold is quite warm and happy snuggled against me under a shared quilt–down even to the single digits under a 2 lb shared quilt. The pad issue is solved with pad straps like these here.

      Warmest, -a

      Reply
  43. Alex Gipe
    Alex Gipe says:

    Hey Alan,

    First off, great website, you have really inspired me to get my base weight down and leave the kitchen sink at home. I’m starting to think about moving to a quilt from sleeping bags. I mostly backpack in the WA Cascades, and have just started getting into Snow camping, but most of my trips are 3 season temps ranging from 40-80 F. My question is about the foot box configuration on quilts. I’m looking at the Hammock Gears Burrow and Econ line, thinking about a 20 or 30 bag. Which Foot box do you suggest, sewed or snap? Oh, Im a side sleeper if that maters much.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Definitely sewed. Warmer, and easier to deal with. Snap is only if you think you would ever want to spread it out square, like a normal quit. I.e. no foot-box. Have fun in the Cascades! Best, -a

      Reply
  44. Sven
    Sven says:

    Alan, I’m curious what setup you use in winter, let’s say around 0F? And combining a quilt with a down jacket, what’s the lower limit you find comfortable?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      I find that a +20 quilt (possibly with +2 oz of down in the torso area) along with a down jacket like the Feather Friends Eos (or Helios) does me down to about zero. If I am sleeping under a tarp (no tent) then I might use a 6-7 oz bivy sack. Note that since I need a ground sheet anyway the additional weight for the bivy is only a few oz. [And as always there is significant individual variation on how warm people sleep.] Best, -alan
      Wating out the storm

      Reply
  45. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    First, glad that I stumbled upon your site. Lot’s of great information for somebody just staring out backpacking. You mentioned that you learn to to move a bit more quietly when you shift during sleep.

    My issue is that I am a side sleeper and tend to “open up” the bag when sleeping or take the whole bag with me and expose the my back to the cold.

    Any recommendations for a side sleeper?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      I think you can do it Daniel. And for what it’s worth, I am a side sleeper too. I change sides about every 30 to 60 minutes.

      The key to staying warm in a quilt is to not “gap out.” That is, frequently let a lot of cold air in from the side. It is an easily learned skill, to check and re-adjust the quit as necessary when you turn at night. It’s been years since I consciously thought about this when I do it. If you are ground sleeping, I suggest you get your quilt a bit wider (than “hammock width”) so that it drapes nicely to the ground with a bit extra to make sure you get good coverage and no gapping. I and most men and women I know use this pad: Therm-a-Rest Women’s NeoAir XLite. It’s quite warm (R 3.9), light, and about the right size. The quilt makes a nice seal draping down along the sides of the pad. Finally I do bring a down jacket with a hood. The vast majority of the time it’s my pillow when I sleep. But on the rare nights that I am not warm enough, I put it on under the quilt. Then I am toasty again. I would say that this combo should get you down to +20. Personally I’ve gone down as low as +12 with just such a quilt/clothing combo (+20 fairly trim quilt, and 10 oz down jacket). And I slept well. Have a great year hiking. -a

      BUT everybody is different… so final test and assessment is with you. Best, -alan

      Reply
  46. jeff
    jeff says:

    Hi Alan, Who makes a good non-down quilt? I can’t seem to google any up! My gf is a vegan, so she won’t sleep in down.
    I am too, but got a used katabatic anyhow. ;)

    Reply
  47. Matt Schroeder
    Matt Schroeder says:

    Alan – really diggin the site. Thanks for putting so much effort into helping out so many with simple straight forward info!

    On the topic of down quilts, I really want to pull the trigger on one and stop using my 55oz mummy bag (ugh)…but I am hesitating because I HATE to get cold when I sleep. In general, I’m an average sleeper (not overly cold and not overly warm). I sleep on a closed cell foam pad (R2.6) with potential for nights down to 20F in the Rockies. Is there any reason to think a 20 degree long/wide down quilt + my pad + light clothes wouldn’t be adequate? (I’m 6’4″…hence the long/wide)

    Most nights on the trail are 30F – 50F, for what it’s worth.

    Thanks again.
    Matt Schroeder

    Reply
      • Alan Dixon
        Alan Dixon says:

        OK Matt. The key to staying warm in a quilt is to not “gap out.” That is, frequently let a lot of cold air in from the side. It is an easily learned skill, to check and re-adjust the quit as necessary when you turn at night. It’s been years since I consciously thought about this when I do it. If you are ground sleeping, I suggest you get your quilt a bit wider (than “hammock width”) so that it drapes nicely to the ground with a bit extra to make sure you get good coverage and no gapping. I and most men and women I know use this pad: Therm-a-Rest Women’s NeoAir XLite. It’s quite warm (R 3.9), light, and about the right size. The quilt makes a nice seal draping down along the sides of the pad. Finally I do bring a down jacket with a hood. The vast majority of the time it’s my pillow when I sleep. But on the rare nights that I am not warm enough, I put it on under the quilt. Then I am toasty again. I would say that this combo should get you down to +20. Personally I’ve gone down as low as +12 with just such a quilt/clothing combo (+20 fairly trim quilt, and 10 oz down jacket). And I slept well.

        BUT everybody is different… so final test and assessment is with you. Best, -alan

        Reply
        • Matt Schroeder
          Matt Schroeder says:

          thanks Alan. that helps. i think i’ll take the chance on the quilt and upgrade to a higher R-value pad (like the XLite) when i have a colder weather trip coming.

  48. Jane
    Jane says:

    Want to thank you for this article, Alan–it got me started on quilt buying, and then I looked for reviews some other places afterward also. I ordered one from one of the companies you recommend, and it didn’t seem to me the down was well distributed in the vertical baffles (even with my attempts to even it out) as well as I’d want for warmth over body, too much seemed to me to be in the side baffles rather than middle ones, so I returned it. I could just see a whole lot of daylight when I looked from under/inside it. (Don’t want to name the company, as it may have been just that one quilt.) Then I ordered from another of your recommendations–this time Loco Libre, because of the chevron baffles. It came a few days ago and is absolutely amazing. Can’t wait to try it out — a 20 degree Ghost Pepper. And you can’t get the down to move around if you try, with those zig-zag baffles. I think it’s going to be amazing to sleep under this.

    I love that all these are custom made so you get to choose so much–the colors and weights of outside/inside, width and style of footbox ( I got drawstring and snaps for versatility), and of course the warmth rating and if you want duck or goose, and any extra. I went with the 800 fill duck, which both you and George have said is fine–one extra ounce of weight was worth the dollar savings, for me. Both companies were very nice, but George at Loco Libre is just extraordinary, I’ll add.

    Can’t believe how light and soft and beautifully made this new quilt is. My old goose down sleeping bag was still working fine, but I’m looking for ways to save weight and space in my pack, and am completely sold on the concept. Your site is just all kinds of helpful to someone trying to figure this out on her own. (I also found out about the whole-fat dried milk from you. Got the PEAK brand and it is more than amazing.) So, wanted to come back and say thank you.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Jane. So glad that George took care of you. Yeah, the Ghost Pepper is a winner. Here’s to many warm nights in it. Best, -a

      Reply
  49. Jim
    Jim says:

    NICE!! About time we see some cottage vendors featured in a gear review! Hammock Gear, Loco Libre and Warbonnet all exceptional companies run by really great people! GET SOME!!! :)

    Reply
  50. Kenneth
    Kenneth says:

    Hi Alan,

    I am totally sold on the idea of transitioning from 40 years of sleeping bag use to a quilt…however, unfortunately for me I cannot use down products due to allergies. So I’m stuck with seeking out a good synth quilt. I know you’re a down man through and through, but was just wondering if you’ve heard any good feedback about any synth quilts? I’m looking at some interesting products from Locus Gear, Enlightened Equipment, and Mountain Laurel Designs. EE and MLD use Climashield Apex insulation, while Locus uses PrimaLoft One. The Locus is the lightest and longest so I’m leaning that direction. Do you have any info to share on any of these products?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Kenneth,
      Quilts are indeed great even in synthetic! I am very familiar with MLD synthetic quits and have used them on a number of trips in Alaska–so like 2-3 months of use in the field with them. I am a huge fan of MLD’s stuff. I am pretty sure that MLD can make you a quilt of whatever dimensions you want, so you might want to check with MLD. That being said, I also own down EE quilt which is very nice. I would guess that their synthetic stuff is equally good. I have no familiarity with Locus quilts. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
      • Kenneth
        Kenneth says:

        Great, thanks Alan! This is good to hear. In the interest of going as light as possible I ended up springing for the Locus Gear quilt…now on its way. I’ll report back how it works out once I’ve had a chance to try it. If it ends up not meeting my needs I think the idea of contacting Mountain Laurel Designs is a great idea. Thanks again!

        Reply
  51. Derek Walker
    Derek Walker says:

    Hi Alan,

    So just going for my first overnight excusion and have been looking for bags/quilts. I have leaned towards quilts and specifically the Jacks R Us quilts. Sorry for my ignorance but Im a bit confused in regard to over vs under quilts. Im going to be sleeping on a sleeping pad along the PCT so I was wondering what you recommend. Is it an over quilt? Does that mean Im directly on the sleeping pad or is there a thin batch of material underneath. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Another good Q Derek. Under quilts are just for hammock use. So what you want for the PCT is a top quilt, which can be used for both ground sleeping and in a hammock. The Jacks make great stuff I and I own every one of their Sierra Quilts. For you on the PCT I would recommend the “Sierra Sniveller Quilt” paired with a warm down jacket with a hood (just in case it you get an unusual cold snap). Dunno if they still offer a sewn foot-box but that would be my first preference. But a gathered end is fine too.

      And with a Quilt you will be sleeping directly on your pad. If it’s a foam pad or a NeoAir a thin layer of clothing (your trail shirt and pants are fine) will keep you from “sticking” to the pad :-) Have a great hike on the PCT. -alan

      Reply
  52. Gunnar
    Gunnar says:

    Alan, in your pictures of the WRHR it looks like you are pretty bundled up (warm clothes) most of the time, which has me thinking twice about my sleeping bag. Can you give me a best guess as to day and night temperatures in August? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Yup Gunnar, it can be pretty cold even in nice weather. If you scan through the discussion at the end of the WRHR Trip Guide you can see some photos from an early September trip I took in the Winds with a full-on two day blizzard. Below freezing is always possible even in July or August. Wishing you a great trip, -alan

      Reply
  53. jeff
    jeff says:

    hi alan
    Does a 85 inch length,59 inch width quilt, say, the jack r better, mt rogers quilt suffice for two people(around 5-8 foot)?
    What r value at a minimum would you recommend for an air mattress if temperatures in 40s?
    best,jeff

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      My wife and I stated with a semi-rect Western Montaineering bag of that size. Works fine if you snuggle a lot :-) Spooning is great. Good way to see if double person quilt works for you two. Two NeoAirs strapped together (z-packs makes good straps) is the way to go. Almost everyone I know uses the “women’s” NeoAir regardless of gender. Happy snuggling. -a

      Reply
      • Jed
        Jed says:

        Hi Alan,

        +1 for the couple bags! My wife and I used an EE Accomplice on our trip to the Redwoods in December last year. We love the weight efficiency but had problems with drafts and cold coming between our NeoAirs. The EE straps are elastic, so that problem may be solved by using the rigid ZPacks straps. Do you have additional suggestion about how to stay warm and happy? We’re headed to the Winds in August, where the “drafts” will be greater!

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Sorry for the late reply Jed. Super busy weekend and I’m just getting to answering comments. This is an good Q.

          We use the rigid Z-packs straps with Women’s NeoAirs. They work fine. Also when under a tarp or just cowboy camping we generally use a 2-person bivy. Totally solves any draft problems, and doesn’t weigh much more than the groundsheet it replaces. Also adds bug protection for light mosquito pressure. It’s a great pice of gear. Mountain Laurel Designs makes 2-p bivies. And O’ware has one as well http://shop.bivysack.com/BivySack-Two-Person-1BivyDouble.htm.

          Have a great hike in the Winds. Warmest, -alan

  54. Chris Ryan
    Chris Ryan says:

    Hi Alan,
    A few years ago I made a synthetic double quilt for my wife and me. Our experiences regarding the benefits of quilts compared to sleeping bags are similar yours, although I think the benefits accruing toa double are significantly greater (more bottom layer removed and the benefit of a radiator to share warmth with, so long as I avoid her cold toes).
    We are looking to move to a down quilt, and wondering whether you have any experience and/or recommendations about manufacturers.
    Regards, Chris

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Amen to double quilts Chris! By far the most practical and weight efficient way to go for a couple. Alison and I have been sharing a quilt going on 15 years. See our recent Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit Trek – Quick and Easy Guide to Essential Trip Planning for info on our new double quilt. Our shared down quilt was Hammock Gear Match Burrow at around 24 oz (700 g) for 2 people. We love it to pieces! BTW the quilt is relatively new (I helped design it) and it is not up on the HG site as an item. Go ahead and contact Hammock Gear and they can build one for you. Let me know how it goes. All the best, -Alan

      Reply
      • Chris Ryan
        Chris Ryan says:

        Hi Alan,
        It may be more appropriate for this to be taken off line, but I am not sure how to PM you – feel free not to post and (hopefully) respond directly.

        I tried to contact Hammock Gear about a week ago, but no response. I was wondering if you know whether they have ceased business or on holidays?

        I was trying to find some information to compare options, and while I appreciate its not responsibility to respond to such a request, you may be familiar with this information given your design role.

        Information I was looking for is:
        Width of the quilt at the shoulder / top of quilt
        For 20F and 30F temperature ratings:
        loft/thickness
        total weight
        shell weight
        fill weight
        cost
        stuff sac size

        Also interested in how the head end seals out drafts. Does it have a baffle / flap between the two of you similar to Enlightened Equipment Accomplice ?

        Thanks in advance,
        Chris

        Reply
  55. sack
    sack says:

    good point of view with the compressed air, but if you have that little extra under your backside it is not going to hurt you a bit, it would definitely keep some warmth and feel softer. when i go camping i usually take wool blanket so i can sit over fire n stuff like that, but the point is that you have to tuck yourself in really good and dont move so no air flow can get in, even when i sleep in home and my quilt raises or something i can feel colder air flowing in. sleeping bags may be a little bit heavier but definitely warmer than a quilt and you will have no worries about turning around. you can also use a sleeping bag as a quilt, just leave the zippers and use it as a form as a quilt shown in your pictures. ofc if you care about every single ounce… but for me i dont feel much difference whether its 17 or 20 pounds going long distances.

    Reply
  56. Carlos
    Carlos says:

    Hi Alan,
    Very interesting point of view that you only get with experience.
    A hammock underquilt will work too?
    What kind of pad(foam or air and R-value) would you recommend to complete this sleeping setup?
    Do you still use baselayer for sleeping clothes?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Carlos,
      A hammock underquilt would work as a top-quilt in a pinch for sure. But it’s not designed for that so it would be less than ideal. It might be a little tight on girth and would not have a footbox or a snap-seal around your neck/shoulders. So it would be more like a blanket. Probably OK in warmer weather. Not so good if it was cold and/or windy. As to a sleeping pad and R-values see my 9 Lb Full Comfort Gear List. I like the T-Rest NeoAir X-lite “Women’s” mattress with and R-value of 3.5-3.9 depending on inflation level. It works down to at least +20F for me. And yes, I usually sleep in my hiking pants and hiking shirt (I very often do not bring a baselayer). If it’s colder I will put on my fleece shirt. And if there is an unusual cold snap, I will put on my down parka. But only when it’s 10-20 degrees below the rating of my quilt. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
      • Alan Dixon
        Alan Dixon says:

        Oh, and in case I misunderstood your question. An underquilt would work very poorly as under-insulation when sleeping on the ground. They are great for hammocks tho! Intro to Hammock Camping Article

        Reply
      • Susan Black
        Susan Black says:

        Is a full size sleeping mat necessary with a sleeping quilt? Can you use a shorter pad with a quilt and still keep warm?

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Susan, you sleeping pad is a personal preference independent of sleeping bag vs. quilt. As such, your pad lenght choice remains the same whether you use a sleeping bag or quilt. Some like a full length air pad like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite recommended in this guide. While a bit heavier and more expensive than shorter pads they find the comfort worth it. Some can get by with a 1/2 length foam pad (approximately mid-thigh to shoulder). They use clothing, their backpack or other materials to pad areas not covered by the sleeping-pad. If you are just starting out I would recommend you use what you’ve already use, and if undecided go with the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite. Hope this helps, -alan

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