The Best Backpacking Quilts of 2021
It seems like quilts are all the rage on-trail these days, and it’s easy to see why. They’re more streamlined than sleeping bags, and when used correctly, they can still be incredibly warm and comfortable. Emphasis on when used correctly. If you want to thrive (and most importantly, survive) with just a backpacking quilt, you’ll need to know how to choose one that suits your needs. Because a crappy night’s sleep is the fastest way to ruin the trip of a lifetime, you should opt for one of the best backpacking quilts for your next hike.
Note: we’re dealing specifically with quilts here, not sleeping bags in general. If you want to learn more about mummy sleeping bags instead, see our picks for The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2021. If you want to educate yourself on the finer points of the backpacking quilt/sleeping bag market, check out The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Sleeping Bags and Quilts for All Budgets.
Why should you trust us?
Because we’re so incredibly intelligent, of course! Attractive, too. (Not to mention extremely humble).
But if that isn’t enough to impress you, there’s also the fact that everyone who contributed to this article is an experienced thru-hiker with thousands of on-trail miles under their belt. We’re gear nerds who love putting our equipment to the test on trails long and short, and we’ve tested dozens of quilts in pursuit of a better night’s sleep in the backcountry.
Moreover, we survey hundreds of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers every year to learn about their behaviors, demographics, and—you guessed it—gear preferences. That means our picks for the best backpacking quilts aren’t just our opinions: they’re based on years of feedback from the thru-hiking community.
Best backpacking quilts:
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation (AT Thru-Hikers’ Favorite)
- Katabatic Alsek (Most Luxurious Footbox)
- UGQ Outdoor Bandit (Most Customizable Quilt)
- Hammock Gear Burrow Econ 20 (Best Budget Backpacking Quilt)
- Katabatic Flex (Best Backpacking Quilt for Side Sleepers)
- Therm-a-Rest Vesper (Most Packable Quilt)
- ZPacks Classic Sleeping Bag (Best Ultralight Backpacking Quilt)
- Feathered Friends Flicker (Most Versatile Quilt)
- Therm-a-Rest Vela (Best Couple’s Backpacking Quilt)
Best Backpacking Quilts: FAQs
Backpacking quilts are expensive and weirdly complex. Before we get into the best backpacking quilts for thru-hiking, here are a few pointers to help make the decision easier.
Sleeping Bag or Quilt?
The general consensus for most quilt models is that they are not quite as warm as a mummy bag with the same rating. Fully enclosed bags are still more popular than quilts, with just 34% of respondents to our 2019 AT survey using quilts during their thru-hike. Quilts are essentially sleeping bags without the underside, saving the weight of a full-length zipper and part of the bulk. The idea is that when you lie on a down-insulated sleeping bag, the down compresses enough that it doesn’t work to insulate, and users do just as well with a sleeping pad as insulation.
Quilt aficionados appreciate the freedom of sprawling sleep positions afforded by a quilt, and some have zippered footboxes to help trap heat. If you opt for a quilt, be sure to get an adequate width to tuck around your shoulders and avoid drafts. Because you’ll be missing out on the thermal benefits of a traditional insulated mummy hood, you may want to consider wearing a beanie or a separate down hood on cold nights. If you tend to sleep colder and you don’t mind a fully enclosed mummy bag (or you like it), go for a traditional sleeping bag model.
What Temperature Rating Should I Use for Thru-Hiking?
Most thru-hikers on the Triple Crown trails should be fine with a quilt rated between 15-30 degrees. You know yourself, though. If you tend to sleep cold, opt for something rated to a lower temperature. When in doubt, the rule of thumb is to go with one rated at least 10 degrees lower than the lowest temperature you reasonably expect to encounter on your hike. You can also carry a lighter quilt supplemented with a liner.
It’s important to keep in mind that unlike traditional sleeping bags, there is no industry-standard temperature rating system for quilts. Individual brands rate their bags according to their own in-house protocols (with varying degrees of transparency). This means you can’t reliably make an apples-to-apples comparison of quilt warmth across brands and models. Even if there were a standard temperature rating system for quilts, you should still take the data with a grain of salt, because everyone is different and conditions in the backcountry can vary dramatically.
Learn more about temperature ratings in The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Sleeping Bags and Quilts for All Budgets.
Wait, I’m Confused About Fill Power Vs. Fill Weight
So are most people.
Fill power refers to the space one ounce of down occupies in a cylindrical container when allowed to loft to full capacity. High-quality down has a higher loft than lower-quality down, which means you get more warmth for less weight. I.e., 900 fill has a better warmth-to-weight ratio than 700 fill. Look for quilts between 700-950 fill power. Anything more than that is just fluff.
Can I Relax if My Down Has a Water-Resistant Treatment?
You can sort of chill out. We recommend you opt for a quilt with treated down to give yourself some leeway if it gets damp or comes in contact with condensation on the walls of your tent. Treated down will retain its loft and insulating abilities for significantly longer than untreated down, but you still need to prevent your bag from getting saturated. There are a few varieties of treated down on the market—keep an eye out for Nikwax, DriDown, DownTek, and HyperDry.
If you’re really concerned about your down getting wet, a synthetic quilt is another option. Those models tend to be bulkier, though, and there aren’t many synthetic quilt options. Synthetic fill has come a long way in the past few years, but down still has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio overall.
About Our 2021 Picks
Quilts are simpler than tents and packs. They’re essentially bags of feathers, and the biggest variable will be choosing between a quilt or mummy bag (see above). There’s sufficient diversity in the sleeping bag/quilt market that we’ve chosen to break traditional sleeping bags and quilts into separate listings. For this review, we’ll focus on quilts.
Prefer to browse traditional sleeping bags? Head over and check out The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2021 instead.
We’ve chosen a selection of quilts that are lightweight, durable, and highly customizable—thru-hiker-centric models with a good warmth-to-weight ratio. No matter what you choose, remember to treat your sack-o’-fluff with care. During sunny breaks, shake out your quilt and let it dry in the sun. As often as possible, remove it from the compression sack to allow a full loft, and never store it compressed when you’re not hiking.
Note to the comments section: the following quilts are listed in no particular order.
The Best Backpacking Quilts of 2021
Enlightened Equipment Revelation (AT Thru-Hikers’ Favorite)
Weight: 19.18 ounces
Temperature Rating Options: 40, 30, 20, or 10 degrees
Insulation: 850-950 fill down
The Revelation is one of the top quilt models for backpackers, from one of the original brands to popularize down quilts. According to our surveys, it’s been the most popular quilt/sleeping bag choice among AT thru-hikers (by a significant margin) for three years running.
The footbox has a 20-inch zipper, plus a shock cord you can tighten around the bottom to further seal heat. Opening the zipper and shock cord all the way will make more of a classic quilt shape. U-shaped baffles keep the down in place and help prevent clumping. The regular width is 54 inches, which is narrower than several others on this list. When in doubt, go wider. If you like the looks of the Revelation but would prefer a sewn footbox, check out the Enlightened Equipment Enigma. If you want to save Benjamins, the Revelation APEX has the same design as the standard Revelation but uses synthetic fill.
Materials and Features
Users have the option for either 850 or 950 fill on the customized Revelation. The down on the stock quilt is 850 fill, and all down comes from an RDS-certified supplier. The face fabric is DWR-treated nylon. This quilt does not come with a hood, but does have elastic you can strap around your sleeping pad to help hold it in place.
If you’re between sizes, opt for a wider option here. This quilt is light enough that the extra space and grams are worth the increased coverage of a wider model, and some users reported draftiness and a higher temperature comfort than listed on the quilt specs.Shop the Enlightened Equipment Revelation
Weight: 22 ounces
Temperature Rating: 22 degrees
Insulation: 900-fill down
The wider angled “wings” on the made-in-the-US Alsek are a smart design to help users wrap the quilt around themselves more securely while saving weight. This quilt has a longer sewn footbox than others on this list, making it a good middle ground for people who want more protection that a mummy bag would provide without losing the mobility and freedom of a quilt.
Materials and Features
Thirteen ounces of 900-fill traceable down make up the bulk of this bag, with a durable, lightweight Pertex Quantum Ripstop face fabric. Katabatic offers an “overfill” option for buyers who think they might sleep cold and want the extra protection of additional down.
The closure system isn’t the most intuitive, but becomes easier to use once you get the hang of it. At just 52 inches wide at the shoulders, this is on the narrow side for a backpacking quilt. For that reason it probably isn’t the best option for broad-shouldered hikers and side sleepers (Katabatic makes a wide version of the quilt that would likely be better suited, but price and weight go up accordingly).Shop the Katabatic Alsek
UGQ Outdoor Bandit (Most Customizable Quilt)
Weight: 22 ounces
Temperature Rating: 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 degrees
Insulation: 800 fill duck down, 850 or 950 fill goose down
*Price and weight based on the base model: an 800-fill, 20-degree, 72-inch long, 55-inch wide, 20d ripstop nylon, fully tapered quilt with a drawcord footbox, no draft collar, standard pad attachment system, no overstuff, and no dynamic tensioning.
Customization is the name of the game when it comes to the cottage gear industry, and we think no quiltmaker does it better than Michigan-based UGQ Outdoors. You can customize a whopping 16 different features on the Bandit, giving you ultimate control over the warmth, weight, and price of the finished product. For maximum warmth, we recommend opting for the sewn/insulated footbox, draft collar, and side tension control system that helps keep the quilt tucked in around you to minimize drafts. The temperature ratings are accurate bordering on conservative, and we think this quilt is made with unparalleled build quality and attention to detail. We also like that UGQ’s products are made in-house in Michigan.
It’s lightweight (even if we max out on dimensions, add-ons, and extra features, while sticking with the heaviest down and shell fabric options, the 20-degree quilt still weighs just two pounds). Affordability is a function of features: the base 20-degree model is reasonable at $235, but the price can quickly wander skyward. Opting for premium materials, generous dimensions, and maximum add-ons will cost roughly $500.
Materials and Features
The Bandit is always made with a 10d nylon taffeta inner lining, though you can choose the color. You can choose the shell fabric: 20D ripstop nylon is the default, 10D polyester taffeta is the ultralight-est, 10D nylon ripstop is the middle ground, and for a little extra moolah (the two 10D offerings also come with a nominal upcharge), you can get the quilt with beautifully patterned 20D shell fabric ranging from delicate paisleys to bold watercolor-like forest prints. All shell fabrics are downproof and come with a DWR (water-resistant) finish. In terms of insulation, you have your choice between 800-fill duck down and ultra-premium 850 or 950-fill goose down.
Instant gratification is not one of UGQ Outdoor’s merits. As with many custom cottage manufacturers, the company makes its quilts to order and warns customers that the lead time between placing an order and actually receiving the product is currently eight to nine weeks. This shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re able to plan well in advance.Shop the UGQ Outdoor Bandit
Hammock Gear Economy Burrow 20 (Best Budget Backpacking Quilt)
Weight: 26 ounces
Temperature Rating: 0, 10, 20, 30, or 40 degrees
Insulation: 800 fill down
*Price and weight based on a 20-degree, regular length, 55-inch wide quilt with a zippered foot box, pad attachment system, and no overfill.
Hammock Gear, as you may have inferred, primarily markets their wares to hammock users, but the Burrow topquilt is available in a wider 55″ version that’s suitable for ground-dwellers too. Depending on the dimensions and features you choose, the 20-degree quilt can cost as little as $160 or as much as $270—reasonable all the way around—and weigh from 22 to 32 ounces. The quilt is made in the USA and can be lightly customized with several choices of color, size temperature rating, footbox style, and overfill. You can also choose to add a pad attachment system, if you use a sleeping pad, so that the quilt won’t slide off during the night.
Materials and Features
The Economy Burrow 20 features 800-fill, Responsible Down Standard-certified, water-resistant down inside a 20D nylon taffeta water-resistant shell. A combination of vertical and horizontal baffles is designed to minimize down migration and maximize next-t0-skin comfort.
Hammock Gear also offers a Premium Burrow topquilt that uses higher quality 850 and 950-fill goose down and 10D ripstop nylon.
Our biggest beef is the lack of a true draft collar along the top of the quilt. There’s a horizontal baffle chamber there that is supposed to fill that need, but given the inherent draftiness of quilts, we feel a more substantial collar is warranted. Also, although this is our pick for the most budget-friendly quilt, the price tag still comes to $200 for a 20-degree quilt optimized for ground-sleepers and thru-hikers, which isn’t that much less than the base model of the UGQ Bandit above.Shop the Hammock Gear Burrow Econ 20
Katabatic Flex 30 (Best Quilt for Side Sleepers)
Weight: 20 ounces
Temperature Rating: 30 degrees
A true “blanket style” quilt, the Flex has a zipper from the base of the footbox (similar to the EE Revelation) that can be unzipped for more ventilation on warmer nights. The footbox is not sewn shut, but utilizes an elastic binding that hikers can cinch tight. Because nothing is entirely sealed, drafts and heat loss are inevitable. If in doubt about sizing, go for a wider option to ensure maximum coverage.
Tossing and turning bodes poorly for most quilt users, since it tends to introduce drafts. However, the Flex (especially the 58″ wide version) is well-suited to the task. Its generous shoulder width, the ability to fully unzip into blanket mode, and Katabatic’s phenomenally secure pad attachment system all help to minimize air flow even when changing positions throughout the night.
Materials and Features
Users have the option for 850 or 900 fill-power treated down (Katabatic uses HyperDry), or 900 fill-power untreated down with a variation in pricing. The shell is a tightly woven, DWR-treated Pertex Quantum Ripstop. The down is strategically distributed based on heat loss.
While this quilt offers more flexibility in the zippered bottom closure and elastic footbox cinch, it does mean less heat sealing on colder nights. As with all quilts, take the temperature rating with a grain of salt and if you’re on the fence, go for a warmer rating or the overfill option.Shop the Katabatic Flex
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 (Most Compressible)
Weight: 19 ounces
Temperature Rating: 20 degrees
Insulation: 900-fill Nikwax hydrophobic down
The quilt addition to Therm-a-Rest’s sleeping bag line has no problem keeping up with the OG cottage industry quilts. You don’t get the same customization you do with smaller brands, but the high-loft down and sub-one-pound weight are top-notch. This quilt packs tiny (a miniscule 3 liters!) and lofts with just a few shakes. This quilt is 58 inches wide—four inches wider than the EE Revelation and six inches wider than the Katabatic Alsek. This provides more protection than narrower models, lets users secure it around their shoulders, and provides plenty of coverage even when changing positions or sleeping on your side.
Materials and Features
This bag is stuffed with 900-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down and has broad, horizontal baffles to hold the fill in place. The footbox is structured and insulated, which also prevents air from seeping in. Further protection comes from the snap-around draft collar and straps to help secure it to your sleeping pad.
Like all quilts, you will have to account for the fact that it’s not sealed entirely around you, and the potential for drafts coming in from the sides is unavoidable.Shop the Therm-a-Rest Vesper
Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag (Best Ultralight Backpacking Quilt)
Weight: 17 ounces
Temperature Rating Options: 30, 20, or 10 degrees
Insulation: Downtek water-resistant 900-fill goose down
This sleeping bag/quilt hybrid has a 3/4-length zipper that lets it easily transition from quilt mode to mummy mode and back again. This makes it a good compromise for those who have trouble choosing between a quilt and a traditional bag. ZPacks “overstuffs” each baffle compartment, accounting for loss of insulation due to down compression. ZPacks has a detailed sizing chart for their quilts—be sure to choose the right length and width, and if you fall in between sizes, we recommend choosing the larger size.
At 17 ounces for the 20-degree version, it’s the lightest quilt on this list—especially considering that Zpacks’ temperature ratings seem refreshingly accurate. The company estimates that their ratings roughly correspond with the ‘lower limit’ metric commonly used to denote sleeping bag temperature ranges, meaning the quilt will keep an average warm sleeper from hypothermia down to that temperature.
This “bag” is also available as a true quilt with no zipper, but as the two weigh virtually the same (in fact, the Classic weighs a shade less than the Solo Quilt), why not opt for the extra functionality of the zipper?
Materials and Features
The bag is stuffed with 950-fill DownTek treated down, and the Ventum nylon shell has a DWR treatment for added protection. Zpacks uses horizontal baffles around the footbox and vertical baffles along the length of the bag. This model is also available sans zipper, with a full zip, and several temperature rating options.
The zipper runs underneath the quilt as opposed to the sides, eliminating more draft areas. Some hikers might find it uncomfortable to sleep on, or somewhat annoying to get in and out of. It has an elastic drawcord around the neck, but no draft collar, and no pad attachment system.Shop the Zpacks Classic
Feathered Friends Flicker UL 20 (Most Versatile Quilt)
Weight: 25 ounces
Temperature Rating Options: 20, 30, or 40 degrees
Insulation: 950+ fill goose down
Similar to the Zpacks Classic, the Flicker can be zipped up to convert the quilt to a hoodless mummy. But while the Zpacks quilt has a 3/4-length zipper, the Flicker’s is full-length, stretching right down to the footbox. Whether this is a merit or an annoyance is up to you, but it does allow the bag to be fully converted into a blanket in warmer weather, and it’s wide enough in its unfurled state to accommodate two sleepers. It even has webbing strap attachments that allow it to be converted to a hammock underquilt. It may not be the cheapest bag on this list, but between its comfort/versatility and Feathered Friends’ characteristic attention to detail and use of premium materials, we think it’s worth it.
Materials and Features
Feathered Friends goes all out (as usual) with 15 ounces of 950+ fill goose down, some of the loftiest stuff money can buy. This insulation is sandwiched between ultralight 10D Pertex Endurance on the outside and 15D ripstop nylon on the inside.
The full-length center zipper can be annoying, and we prefer the warmth and security Zpacks sewn footbox to Feathered Friends’ drawcord version (but that’s a necessary concession if you want access to blanket mode, and some hikers may prefer the adjustable/vent-able nature of the drawcord). Like the Classic, there is also no pad attachment system to speak of.Shop the Feathered Friends Flicker UL
Therm-a-Rest Vela Double 20 (Best Backpacking Quilt for Couples)
Weight: 2 pounds, 13 ounces
Temperature Rating Options: 20 or 32 degrees
Insulation: 650-fill Nikwax hydrophobic down
We love the idea of a couple’s sleeping bag (if you’re backpacking with your partner, why NOT share body heat and cuddles?) but the reality is often too bulky to be practical. That’s not the case with the Vela double quilt. It weighs 45 ounces, which breaks down to 22.5 ounces per person, in line with some of the lightest one-person quilts in this review. And at $379 for a two-person sleep system ($190 a person), it’s remarkably affordable.
We’ve slept comfortably down to about 28 degrees in this quilt. With a liner, we’re confident we could push it close to the 20-degree limit without much issue. The Vela’s luxurious dimensions—82 inches wide by 80 inches long—make this backcountry quilt feel more like your comforter back home. Stash pockets at both top corners give both parties access to easy storage for small items.
Read our review of the Therm-a-Rest Vela 20.
Materials and Features
Although the Vela’s 650-fill down is far from the best on this list, it still feels generously lofted. The 20d ripstop polyester shell feels buttery soft against the skin and is generally delightful.
There are some inherent drawbacks to couples’ sleep systems, including that you’ll need separate bags if you ever want to adventure independently. Also, we’d love to see a version of this bag that was more streamlined to bring the weight down. Higher-fill down and a more tapered, rather than semi-rectangular, shape would likely shave significant weight without dramatically impacting comfort.Shop the Therm-a-Rest Vela Double 20
More of the Best Thru-Hiking Gear of 2021
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