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|Top Pick: Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt|
|Best Value: Therm-a-Rest Apogee Quilt|
|Best for Summer: Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL Quilt|
|Lightweight Pick: Therm-a-Rest Proton Blanket|
|Budget Pick: Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark Top Quilt|
For years, the mummy bag has been the staple of outdoor camping. Made from either synthetic or down insulation, the mummy bag wraps around your body in a tapered form with a hood that can cinch down while you sleep.
That’s all changed now, thanks to the rise of the backpacking quilt.
Backpacking quilts feature the same tapered form as mummy bags but lack a bottom layer and a hood.
The concept is to remove the insulation underneath you while you’re sleeping because this insulation is crushed by your bodyweight and becomes effectively useless. This means backpacking quilts can be lighter, more compact, and more efficient for hiking and camping — all while achieving the same goals as a traditional mummy bag!
Here we’ve listed and reviewed the five best backpacking quilts available today. Regardless of your needs, you’ll find the one that is right for you.
Top Pick: Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt
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Made with 650-fill hydrophobic down, the Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt is sporting some new-age technology for advanced hikers. Some hikers feel that water-resistant down is a great option and — if you’re worried about your down bag getting wetted out — it might be a serious solution to your needs.
With full perimeter snap loops, you can attach the quilt to your sleeping pad to make sure it doesn’t move off of you while you sleep. I personally don’t use this feature on my down quilts, but some find this very helpful for keeping the quilt centered at night.
To keep you warm, this quilt has an insulated foot box and full perimeter side baffles both designed to maximize warmth retention. Weighing in at just 22oz, this is a reasonably lightweight quilt with a temperature rating of 35F. I chose this quilt as our Top Pick because of Therm-a-Rest’s great industry name and dedication to supporting their products with exceptional customer care after the sale.
Best Value: Therm-a-Rest Apogee Quilt
Our Best Value pick, the Therm-a-Rest Apogee Quilt, is a great backpacking quilt at a reasonable price. It was even a contender for our Top Pick based on its relatively light weight, low temperature rating, and Therm-a-Rest’s great name as a large manufacturer.
Because of the use of synthetic insulation in this 35F degree quilt, the overall weight gets bumped up to 29oz as compared to the 22oz of the Corus. That comes with a significantly reduced overall price which might be a critical buying factor to some folks.
With the same perimeter snap loop system, you can batten down the hatches at night by pulling this backpacking quilt tight over you as you sleep. It’s meant to fit one person on a regular-sized sleeping pad such as the NeoAir Xlite (one of the best sleeping pads in our opinion). I encourage you to consider this as your choice for sleeping quilt if price is a higher priority than weight and bulk in your pack — that’s why it made our list as the Best Value pick!
One of the cool things about Therm-a-Rest’s quilt system is that the perimeter snap loops can mate with other Therm-a-Rest quilts and blankets similarly equipped. That means you have the option to cuddle up with your partner at night with relative ease and comfort. This is a pretty cool feature you won’t find on other quilts.
Best for Summer: Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL Quilt
With a similar price and weight to our Best Value pick, the Kings Canyon UL Quilt is made for warm nights and high temperatures. That’s why it made our list as the best summer backpacking quilt.
The lower temperature rating of just 45 degrees compared to our Top and Best Value picks make it a 1-season quilt. Most people will only find this warm enough for summer season use.
That being said, a warm temperature bag is always too hot during the summer. Experienced backpackers always have different sleeping systems to adapt to the weather and this quilt makes a perfect summer season sleeping system.
Weighing in at 25 oz, the Kings Canyon UL Quilt can accommodate up to 60” shoulder girth and packs down to just 5” x 5” in a compression sack. That’s an impressively small size for a sleeping quilt! Exterior webbing and shock cord loops will help to make sure the quilt stays in place if you toss and turn by wrapping around the bottom of your sleeping bag. I highly recommend using these if you move a lot in your sleep.
Lightweight Pick: Therm-a-Rest Proton Blanket
There’s a reason Therm-a-Rest keeps making it on to our list — they’re producing some innovative and helpful gear! At just 18oz, the Proton Blanket earns its spot on our list by being lighter than any other backpacking quilt available from a major brand.
Don’t be fooled, however, as the lightweight nature of the quilt really does make it more like a blanket than a sleeping bag. By saving weight, the comfortable temperature rating of this blanket skyrockets to 55-60F. That means this is really only a viable option for seriously hot weather. You’ve been warned that this is not an appropriate choice for cold temps!
Some may find that this top quilt makes a great addition to a versatile sleeping system by adding warmth when paired with an additional warmer quilt. Together, the Proton Blanket, plus a warmer quilt, might make a great winter or 3-season sleep system. I encourage you to experiment with ways to maximize your use of great hiking equipment.
Budget Pick: Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark Top Quilt
Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) took the hiking world by storm when they started offering the hyper-popular nylon hammock. Hikers quickly started using these hammocks from the backyard to the trail. The ENO Spark Quilt is another hammock-oriented offering from this popular company at a price that earned it a place on our list as the most affordable option.
With a Velcro adjustable convertible foot box, you can use the quilt in flat or mummy mode. This is a nice option to see a major manufacturer adopting for common use as it’s been popular in the cottage industry for years.
With an overall weight of 27oz and a temperature rating of just 50F, it’s about as warm as the Proton Blanket but at nearly twice the weight. This makes it a viable summer choice for the hottest nights or as an addition to a warmer overall sleeping system. For the budget-oriented price, though, it’s hard to complain!
How to Choose the Best Backpacking Quilt for Your Needs
There are many factors to choosing a backpacking quilt including weight, price, bulk, and insulation type among many more. Let’s go over a few critical decision points so that I can help you make the best choice for your needs when buying a backpacking quilt.
This is a critical decision point for any piece of backpacking gear. You’ll have to carry all of this stuff on your back for days or weeks at a time and every ounce adds up to extra pounds.
Ultralight backpacking quilts come with drawbacks, though. They’re more expensive, usually more fragile, and often sacrifice features to save weight. Before choosing weight as your primary buying consideration, be sure to fully understand the limitations of your choice!
You’ll need to pack your quilt into your backpack to carry along with you, so making sure that it’s as small a package as possible is critical. Synthetic insulation tends to be bulkier than down insulation. So, if bulk is a key consideration, be sure to pay extra for down insulation.
Of course, the colder the temperatures you’ll be hiking in, the more insulation you’ll need. Be prepared to accept that your quilt will be necessarily bigger and bulkier in some situations.
Down vs. Synthetic
Down insulation is made from duck or goose feathers which feature extremely high loft (inflation), light weight, and extreme compressibility (ability to pack into a small size). Down is rated in loft (volume) per weight and usually ranges from 500 fill power to 900+ fill power. High fill power numbers mean lighter weight and better performance but will cost much more!
Synthetic insulation is heavier and bulkier than down. Then why bother buying it? Well, for one, it’s usually cheaper. Also, synthetic insulations tend to retain a relatively greater level of insulation when wet compared to down. This means that if your quilt accidentally gets wet, it’s not such a big deal. Choose carefully.
Foot Box Options
Some manufacturers, especially in the cottage industry, offer many foot box options. Choosing a foot box with a drawstring and/or snaps means you can close the foot box like a traditional sleeping bag or open it up to lay flat like a blanket. Of course, these additional features add a margin of extra weight so that’s a consideration for some folks.
If you’re planning to go hiking with your partner and want to cuddle, buying an appropriately sized quilt with the ability to open up and lay flat can make the process much more enjoyable.
This is a critical but sometimes overlooked factor in choosing the best quilt for your needs. The real trick comes in choosing a temperature which is good for several seasons of use to minimize the number of different quilts you’ll need while still choosing a quilt warm enough to keep you comfortable.
In general, err on the side of “too warm” as it’s much easier to cool off at night than to get warmer. Don’t get yourself into an unsafe situation by trying to save weight or money.
I usually recommend that people look up the record low temperature in the area and season they plan to hike in. By choosing a bag that can handle record lows, you’re pretty well guaranteed to be safe in all but the most unusual weather.