How To Choose A Reliable Ultralight Backpacking Quilt
  • Replacing your sleeping bag with a backpacking quilt will cut quite a few ounces from your pack.
  • Most big name brands have waterproofing built into their backpacking quilts.
  • Some quilts include loops or straps which are intended to secure the backpacking quilt around your sleeping cushion.

Sleeping under a backpacking quilt is one of the most comfortable and lightweight ways to sleep on the trail.

They give you comfort and warmth while keeping the weight in your pack down.

In this article, we offer some tips on how to help you find the best backpacking quilt for your next adventure.

This includes features to look for, why they’re important along with some of our favorite quilts.

Best Quilts


Also be sure to check out our buying guide and reviews page for backpacking sleeping bags.

Get Premium Comfort In A Backpacking Quilt

You might be the kind of backpacker who loves everything about the outdoors.

Connecting to nature, the physical exertion, the scenery.

But trying to sleep outdoors is a different story.

Therm-a-Rest Corus 35-Degree Down Backpacking and Camping...
The Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Camping Quilt includes perimeter snap loops with an included loop kit to marry two of these bags together to create even more space for you and one more camper.

At home, you sleep like a baby tucked away on your Tempur-Pedic mattress memory foam pillow.

But trying to get a restful night of sleep in a sleeping bag can be an absolute nightmare.

You feel constricted, the zipper’s jamming into your side, you can never get warm.

A good night’s sleep is essential to give your body the break it needs after a long day out on the trail.

Fortunately, a quality backpacking quilt can alleviate a lot of this pain and help you get the rest you so badly want in the backcountry.


Backpacking Quilts Are More Convenient

Figuring out how you’re going to rest in the backcountry is one the most important decisions for any backpacking trip.

Your sleeping bag will be one of the four biggest things in your pack (sleeping pad, sleeping bag, shelter, and backpack).

Outdoor Vitals Aerie 0 15 30 45 Degree Down Underquilt 800+...
The Outdoor Vitals Aerie 20°F Down Underquilt / Sleeping Bag can be used in combination with another sack to make a double sleeping bag

So aside from comfort, considering the bag’s portability is a must when it comes to this decision.

If you’re like most ultralight backpackers then you’re always trying to find ways to cut weight from your pack.

In many instances down to the ounce.

Replacing your sleeping bag with a backpacking quilt will cut quite a few ounces from your pack.

In some instances close to half as much!

This is why quilts have become so popular in the ultralight backpacking community.

What To Look For In A Backpacking Quilt

Buying a backpacking quilt is not an easy task, especially if you’ve never used one on the trail.

Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping...
The Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Quilt includes 22 oz. of high loft 700-fill power down.

There are many factors to think about when purchasing a quilt.

And many of these factors can differ from how you search for a sleeping bag.

Below is a list of qualities, features, and specs to keep in mind when looking for a backpacking quilt.

1.) Weight

Most of the appeal of quilts is that they can spare you a lot of weight over your conventional sleeping bag.

The lightest quilts are usually made from down.

A synthetic quilt can seem appealing from a price standpoint.

However, over time it will wear out faster, and weigh down your pack especially if its wet.

Be sure to stay away from low quality down, and heavier synthetic materials.

Therm-a-Rest Vela Quilt: 35-45 Degree Down Midnight, Double
The Therm-A-Rest Vela Quilt measures 84L x 72W and can fit someone up to 6 foot 6 so anyone under the size will find plenty of space in this mummy bag alternative..

2.) Down Fill Power

Down fill power (FP) is a sign of the quality of down utilized as a part of the quilt.

Higher fill power implies higher quality down.

Higher quality down implies less weight, more extended durability, better warmth maintenance, and more fluffiness.

Fill power is estimated in cubic inches in each ounce.

For example, one ounce of your average 850 fill power down can fill around 850 cubic inches of volume.

As you may expect the higher the fill power of the down in the backpacking quilt, the higher the cost.

When in doubt, stick to 850 or more prominent fill power down.

When you dip beneath 850 fill power, you start to see feathers blended in with your down

This causes a drop in the weight effectiveness.

Therm-a-Rest Apogee 35-Degree Synthetic Camping Quilt
The Therm-A-Rest Apogee Quilt comes in 2 different sizes, Regular and Large. Both are ultralight at just over 1 pound for the regular and just over 2 for the large.

3.) Water Repellent Down

Water repellent spray has been a hot topic of discussion over the last few years in the backpacking scene.

Some people believe that spray coating can lessen the life of the down material in the long term.

Others question the ecological effect that the ingredients have on our planet.

You’ll see that most big name brands have waterproofing built into their backpacking quilts.

You’ll also get some added protection with some water repellent spray.

Down quilts with built-in waterproofing tend to naturally last longer.

While a waterproof down backpacking quilt won’t completely protect you from heavy amounts of water, it is sufficient enough to withstand light water exposure and keep you dry inside.

4.) Pad Straps

Some quilts include loops or straps which are intended to secure the backpacking quilt around your sleeping cushion.

This keeps it from shifting excessively throughout the night.

Whether these straps are necessary is debatable.

Simply put, not many backpackers utilize them.

Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL Quilt Ultra Lite Primaloft Silver...
The Big Agnes – Kings Canyon UL Quilt with PrimaLoft Insulation breathes much easier than a puffy sleeping bag and has a back pocket and straps for a sleeping pad to stay secured..

A lot of quilt straps tend to be clumsy and a minor disturbance, also that they add a bit of weight to the quilt.

I’ve discovered that the best strategy for protecting my quilt is by just placing the pad underneath my body.

This technique guarantees that drafts remain out, and doesn’t cost me any additional weight.

5.) Hoods

Backpacking Quilts do not have hoods, nor should they.

Simply utilize your down coat or a beanie to keep your head warm.

Many backpacking sleeping bags on the market include hoods, but you will not find this luxury with a quilt.

You’re also not going to find too many quilts with draft tubes.

While sleeping bags are now made with draft tubes to prevent heat from leaving the bag, a backpacking quilt has no need for one.

You’re own natural draft protection will come from how well you tuck the quilt underneath you.

This is just another trade-off from sleeping bag to quilts that has its advantages and disadvantages.

7.) Baffles

Simply put, you don’t need materials to be sewn through bewilders, you need boxed or 3D puzzles.

Sewn-through astounds sew both the inward and external shells of the quilt together to control down.

This leaves cold spots without protection, where cold air can undoubtedly make it inside your quilt, and warm can get away.

Boxed creates control around utilizing vertical bits of material to join the inward and external shells of the quilt, making no “squeeze zones” or places for loss of protection.

Here and there sewn through puzzles are worthy in a lightweight summer quilt. However, I decide on boxed perplexes when I can get them.

8.) Materials

Materials shouldn’t be an enormous worry for you.

Most producers now are utilizing the lightest and most fitting materials accessible.

You need a firmly woven, down-verification material that won’t permit down stuffing to infiltrate it and break out.

Lightweight materials are best, periodically a 10 or 15 Denier ripstop nylon can be the most ideally equipped contender for the activity.

A water-safe DWR coating is once in a while essential in a quilt.

If you are utilizing a moderate canvas and regularly find that rain sprinkles onto the foot of your bag/quilt, a few brands offer a piece of climate confirmation texture at the foot of the quilt for simply this reason.


In the end, you’re experience level and personal comfort will help you decide on the best backpacking quilt to go with.

There is a lot of variety to choose from, and some companies tend to have better reputations for quality than others.

Really the secret is to not overthink this purchase.

No matter what style quilt you get or the nitty gritty of the details there’s a good chance it will keep you warm, along with keeping your pack light and allow you to have an awesome time outdoors.

Last update on 2021-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Love The Outdoors?

Sign up for our mailing list for our FREE gear and trail guides


Erik grew up as a desert rat in Arizona. After exploring the backcountry of the west coast he came east for a job but still finds time to explore the beauty of the northeast.