How Do Backpacking Quilts Work? | Hikers University

Looking to use a quilt on your next backpacking trip? They are vital for a comfortable sleep on your backpacking trip. But how do backpacking quilts work?

As a backpacker, you know that weight is everything. You want to travel as light as possible to cover more ground and see more things. That's why many backpackers are opting for quilts instead of traditional sleeping bags. But how do quilts work?

To use a quilt, you simply spread it out on top of your sleeping pad and slip it inside. The quilt can then be fastened closed using the tapes, Velcro, or snaps. Backpacking quilts typically have a waterproof or water-resistant outer layer to protect against moisture and keep the interior dry.

Backpacking quilts are a specific type of quilt that is designed to be lightweight and easy to carry, making them ideal for hikers and campers. Unlike traditional sleeping bags, which are typically filled with synthetic insulation, backpacking quilts usually have down feathers as their primary source of warmth. Down is a highly efficient insulator, and it compresses well, making it ideal for use in a backpacking quilt.

As backpacking enthusiasts, we have been using backpacking quilts for over a decade and know all about them. This guide will discuss all you need to know about backpacking quilts.

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What are Backpacking Quilts?

Backpacking quilts are a type of sleeping bag that is designed specifically for backpacking. They are usually much lighter weight than traditional sleeping bags, and they often pack down smaller. Additionally, backpacking quilts typically have a more versatile design that allows them to be used in various ways. For example, they can often be opened up and used as blankets or zipped together with another quilt to create a double-sized sleeping bag.

Essentially, it is a lightweight, Insulated blanket that can be used instead of a traditional sleeping bag. Backpacking quilts are typically rectangular and have either a single side or two sides (depending on the model) insulated.

Backpacking quilts are an excellent choice for backpackers who want to save weight and space in their packs. They can also be a good choice for those who tend to get hot while sleeping, as they can be opened up to provide more ventilation. However, backpacking quilts are not typically as warm as traditional sleeping bags, so they may not be the best choice for everyone. Additionally, because of their smaller size, backpacking quilts typically do not have all of the same features as larger sleeping bags, such as hoods and storage pockets. But for backpackers who are willing to sacrifice some of these features for weight and space savings, backpacking quilts can be a great option.

How Do Backpacking Quilts Work?

Backpacking quilts are a type of sleeping bag that is growing in popularity among ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers. Unlike traditional mummy-style sleeping bags, backpacking quilts are open at the bottom, allowing them to be used with a camping pad or hammock. This unique design not only saves weight but also allows for greater ventilation on warm nights.

So how do backpacking quilts work? Essentially, they work just like a regular sleeping bag, except they don't have a bottom. You'll need to use a camping pad or hammock when using a backpacking quilt. The quilt will provide insulation from the top, while the camping pad or hammock will provide insulation from the bottom.

Most backpacking quilts are made with down fill, an extremely efficient material for trapping heat. Down is also very light and compressible, ideal for ultralight backpacking. Synthetic fill can also be used in backpacking quilts, but it is less efficient than down and is usually heavier.

What are the Benefits of Backpacking Quilts?

Now that you know what a backpacking quilt is and how to use it, the question arises: should you use it? Below, we look at the benefits of using a backpacking quilt.


One of the best things about backpacking quilts is that they are incredibly lightweight. This is a huge benefit for backpackers, who need to carry their gear for long distances. Every ounce counts when you're on the trail, so having a quilt that doesn't weigh you down is key.

There are a few different factors that make backpacking quilts so light. First, they typically use much lighter materials than traditional sleeping bags. This includes things like down feathers and ultralight fabrics. Second, backpacking quilts often have less insulation than sleeping bags. This helps to cut down on weight and bulkiness.

These factors combine to make backpacking quilts an ideal option for ultralight backpackers. If you're looking to save weight and space in your pack, a backpacking quilt is worth considering.

Compact - A Real Space Saver

When space is limited, every bit counts. That's why backpacking quilts are such a great option for campers and hikers. Unlike traditional sleeping bags, quilts don't have extra material around the bottom. They're more like a blanket that you can wrap around yourself, making them more compact.

And because they're not as bulky, backpacking quilts are also much easier to pack. You can easily fit one into your backpack without taking too much space. Besides that, they weigh less than traditional sleeping bags so that you won't be weighed down on your hike.

If you're looking for a space-saving option for your next camping trip, backpacking quilts are the way. You'll be able to pack them easily and save space in your backpack.


Backpacking quilts are designed to be highly breathable, so you won't get sweaty or uncomfortable while you sleep. The fabric is typically made from a lightweight and porous material that allows air to circulate freely. This makes them ideal for use in warmer climates, as they won't trap heat like a traditional sleeping bag.

One of the main benefits of a backpacking quilt is that you can adjust the level of insulation depending on the temperature. So, if it's warm out, you can open up the quilt to let more air in and vice versa. This makes them much more versatile than a standard sleeping bag.

If you're looking for a backpacking quilt that will keep you comfortable in all kinds of weather, check out one of the many options available on the market. You won't be disappointed!

Versatile Design

When it comes to backpacking, having a versatile quilt is key. You never know what the weather conditions will be like when you're out on the trail. With a versatile quilt, you can always be prepared for whatever mother nature throws your way.

What makes a backpacking quilt so versatile? It all has to do with the design. Backpacking quilts are lightweight and packable yet still provide ample warmth. They typically have a water-resistant outer shell and are filled with either down or synthetic insulation. This makes them ideal for use in various climates and conditions.

Another great thing about backpacking quilts is that they can be used as a standalone sleeping bag or an extra layer of warmth in your camping shelter. When used as a standalone bag, they can provide a cozy and comfortable sleeping experience in cool weather. But when used as an extra layer in your tent or hammock, they can add valuable warmth on chilly nights.

So, if you're looking for a versatile piece of gear to take on your next backpacking adventure, be sure to check out a backpacking quilt.

Freedom of Movement

Backpacking quilts are designed to provide maximum freedom of movement while you sleep. This is achieved by using various materials and construction techniques that allow the quilt to move with your body, rather than being restricted by it.

The benefits of this freedom of movement are twofold. First, it allows you to sleep comfortably, as the quilt's shape does not confine you. Second, it prevents the quilt from becoming tangled or constricting during the night, leading to discomfort or even injuries.

So if you're looking for a quilt that will keep you comfortable all night long, look for one that offers Freedom of Movement. It's the best way to ensure a good night's sleep, no matter where you are.

Less Moisture Buildup

One big advantage that backpacking quilts have over traditional sleeping bags is that they don't have as much moisture buildup. When you sleep in a traditional sleeping bag, your body heat gets trapped inside the bag and any moisture that your body produces. This can lead to a damp, clammy feeling overnight.

Backpacking quilts are usually made with lighter-weight materials that allow your body heat to escape more easily. This means that there's less chance of moisture buildup, and you'll stay more comfortable throughout the night.

If you're planning on doing any backpacking this summer, consider a backpacking quilt. You'll be glad you did when you're not waking up feeling sweaty and uncomfortable!

Are Backpacking Quilts Better than Sleeping Bags?

There are two main types of sleeping gear for backpacking - quilts and sleeping bags. Both have their own pros and cons, so which one is the better option for you? Here's a quick rundown of each type of gear to help you make a decision:

Backpacking Quilt Pros

Quilts are typically lighter and more compact than sleeping bags, so they are ideal for backpacking. They also offer more flexibility in terms of using them (for example, you can open them up and use them as a blanket).

Backpacking Quilt Cons

Quilts can be less warm than sleeping bags since they don't have a hood or zippered closure. They also might not be as comfortable for some people since you're not surrounded by fabric on all sides.

Sleeping Bag Pros

Sleeping bags are typically warmer than quilts since they have a hood and zippered closure. They can also be more comfortable for some people since you're surrounded by fabric on all sides.

Sleeping Bag Cons

Sleeping bags are usually heavier and bulkier than quilts, making them less ideal for backpacking. They also offer less flexibility in terms of how you can use them (for example, you can't open them up and use them as a blanket).

So, which is the better option - backpacking quilts or sleeping bags? It really depends on your personal preferences. If you prioritize lightweight and portability, a quilt might be the better option. But if you prioritize warmth and comfort, then a sleeping bag might be better for you. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which type of gear is best for your needs.

Things to Consider When Buying a Backpacking Quilt

Temperature Rating

When choosing a backpacking quilt, temperature rating is an important consideration. Different quilts have different temperature ratings, so it's essential to choose one that will be appropriate for the conditions you'll be facing.

There are three main types of temperature ratings:

  • Comfort
  • Limit
  • Extreme

Comfort rating is the temperature at which the average person will be comfortable sleeping. In comparison, the limit rating is the temperature at which the average person will start to feel cold. And finally, an extreme rating is the temperature at which the quilt will no longer provide any warmth.

It's important to remember that these are only averages - everyone is different and will experience different temperatures differently. That said, choosing a quilt with a comfort rating appropriate for the conditions you'll be facing is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.


Weight is an important consideration when choosing a backpacking quilt. The lighter the quilt, the easier it will be to carry on your back. However, you also need to consider the warmth of the quilt. A lighter-weight quilt may not provide as much warmth as a heavier quilt. Finding the right balance between weight and warmth is important when choosing a backpacking quilt.


When choosing a backpacking quilt, size is an important consideration. A quilt that is too small will be uncomfortable to sleep in, while a quilt that is too large will be cumbersome to carry.

The best way to determine the appropriate size for your needs is to measure your sleeping pad. The width of the quilt should be slightly wider than the sleeping pad, and the length should be long enough to cover you from head to toe.

Keep in mind that some quilts are designed to be used with a sleeping bag, so make sure you check the dimensions of both the quilt and the bag before making your purchase.

 With a little bit of planning, you can find the perfect backpacking quilt for your next adventure.

Down Fill Power

Down fill power is measured in cubic inches per ounce (in3/oz). The higher the number, the more insulating power the down has. For example, a quilt with 800-fill power will be warmer and lighter than one with 550-fill power.

If you're planning on using your quilt in cold weather, you'll want to choose one with a high fill power. But if weight is more important to you than warmth, you can go with a lower fill power.

Here's a quick guide to help you choose the right fill power for your needs:

700-800 fill power: This is the highest quality down and is typically used in expedition-grade gear. It's very warm and lightweight, but also very expensive.

600-700 fill power: This is a good all-around option. It's not as warm as the highest quality down, but it's lighter and warmer than synthetic insulation.

500-600 fill power: This down is often used in budget-friendly gear. It's not as warm or light as higher fill powers, but it's more affordable.

400-500 fill power: This is the lowest quality down that you'll find in backpacking gear. It's heavy and not as warm, but it's the most affordable option.

When choosing a backpacking quilt, fill power is an important factor to consider. The higher the fill power, the warmer and lighter the quilt. But keep in mind that high-quality down is also more expensive. Choose the fill power that best meets your needs and budget.

Water Repellent Down

If you're in the market for a backpacking quilt, one of the things you'll want to consider is water repellent down. Down is an excellent insulator, but it's not very good at repelling water. That's where water repellent down comes in.

Water repellent down is treated with a special coating that helps resist moisture. This can be a great advantage when you're out on the trail, and the weather turns for the worse. Water repellent down can help keep you warm and dry, even in wet conditions.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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