The Best Quilts for Thru-Hiking of 2023
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 thru-hiking 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 2023. 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.
Best quilts for thru-hiking:
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation (AT Thru-Hikers’ Favorite)
- Katabatic Alsek (Best Pad Attachment System)
- Western Mountaineering AstraLite (Best Ultralight Quilt)
- Warbonnet Diamondback (Most Customizable)
- Hammock Gear Burrow Econ 20 (Best Budget Quilt)
- Katabatic Flex (Best for Side Sleepers)
- Therm-a-Rest Vesper (Most Packable)
- Feathered Friends Flicker (Most Versatile)
- Enlightened Equipment Accomplice (Best Two-Person Quilt)
Best Quilts for Thru-Hiking: 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?
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.
The general consensus for most quilt models is that they are not quite as warm as a mummy bag with the same rating. That being said, they are rapidly growing in popularity among thru-hikers: 51 percent of respondents to our annual Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Survey chose quilts over mummy bags in 2022.
Quilt aficionados appreciate the weight savings and freedom of movement their sleep system affords them. If you opt for a quilt, be sure to get a model wide enough to tuck around your shoulders to 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 cold and prefer a snug, tucked-in feel, go for a traditional mummy bag.
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 and 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 pack a quilt rated at least 10 degrees lower than the lowest temperature you expect to encounter on your hike. Alternatively, carry a lighter quilt supplemented with a liner or your puffy jacket.
It’s important to keep in mind that, unlike traditional sleeping bags, there is no industry-standard temperature rating system for quilts. Individual brands assign ratings 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.
Furthermore, there’s so much variability in individual comfort levels and backcountry conditions that we have to take advertised temperature ratings with a grain of salt.
On their own, these numbers only tell us so much. When considered alongside factors like fill power, fill weight, and other hikers’ feedback, we can get a better understanding of how warm a quilt is actually likely to keep us.
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 lofted to full capacity. High-quality down lofts more than lower-quality down, which means you get more warmth for less weight. So 900-fill has a better warmth-to-weight ratio than 700-fill. Look for quilts between 700 and 950 fill power.
While fill power is essentially a measurement of insulation density, fill weight is a measurement of the amount of insulation by weight contained in a quilt.
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.
Most quilts come in a few different lengths and (sometimes) widths. Smaller people can save weight and space in their packs by opting for shorter and narrower specs. But getting a quilt that’s too small will lead to cold drafts and disappointment, so choose wisely.
Specs will vary from brand to brand, but “regular” length quilts are often designed to fit someone up to 72 inches tall, and “regular” width quilts are in the ballpark of 55 inches wide across the shoulders. (Note that quilt lengths are often listed in terms of the maximum user height, whereas the widths denote the actual measurement of the quilt itself.)
If you’re unsure what size to get, most manufacturers have a size chart on their product page to help you out. Stomach sleepers will need somewhat more length to account for pointed toes, so if you’re a stomach sleeper who’s between sizes, size up. If you toss and turn a lot, you might want a wider option to ensure the edges don’t lift up and let in cold air.
About Our 2023 Picks
Quilts are simpler than tents and packs. They’re essentially bags of feathers, and your biggest decision 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 2023 instead.
We’ve chosen a selection of quilts that are lightweight, durable, and customizable: thru-hiker-centric models with good warmth-to-weight ratios. Be sure to check out all of the customization options for each model to fit your particular needs—many brands (especially cottage industry) have build-your-own options for fill power, temperature rating (all listings are in Fahrenheit), size, and color.
Since so many of these models have an array of customization options, we’ve listed the options we used to create the specs for each quilt. We stuck as nearly as possible to 20-degree, regular length/width, 850-fill quilts to keep things consistent.
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.
The following quilts are listed in no particular order.
The Best Quilts for Thru-Hiking of 2023
Enlightened Equipment Revelation (AT Thru-Hikers’ Favorite)
Weight: 22.54 ounces
Fill Weight: 16.1 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.71
Temperature Rating Options: 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, or 0 degrees
Insulation: 850-950 fill down
*Specs based on 20-degree quilt with 850-fill down, regular length/width, and 10D inner and outer fabric
Minnesota-based Enlightened Equipment is one of the original brands to popularize quilts. Their Revelation quilt remains one of the top models for backpackers.
According to our surveys, it’s been the most popular quilt/sleeping bag choice among AT thru-hikers (by a significant margin) for four years running. In fact, the Revelation and its counterpart, the Enlightened Equipment Enigma, together accounted for nearly half of all quilts and sleeping bags used on the AT last year according to our annual Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Survey.
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 Enigma. If you want to save Benjamins and/or camp in a swamp, 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. And just a heads up: custom EE quilts often have a long lead time (three-plus months as of January 2023).
Katabatic Alsek 22 (Best Pad Attachment System)
Weight: 23.3 ounces
Fill Weight: 15 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.64
Temperature Rating: 22 degrees
Insulation: 850–900 fill down
*Specs based on 22-degree quilt 850-fill down and regular length/width
The wider angled “wings” on the Alsek quilt are a smart design choice to help users wrap the quilt around themselves more securely while saving weight. This quilt, which is designed, inspected, filled, and finished in Colorado, has a longer sewn footbox than others on this list. This makes it a good middle ground for people who want more protection than a mummy bag would provide without losing the mobility and freedom of a quilt.
In summer 2022 Katabatic introduced a short/wide size to their lineup, updated the fit to be two inches roomier across all sizes, and added an internal stash pocket in the top left corner. (These updates also apply to the 15-degree Katabatic Sawatch and the 30-degree Palisade.)
Katabatic is widely considerd one of the top quiltmakers in the industry. Their unique pad attachment system, which features a series of ultralight cords and clips, is one of their standout features. The pad attachments quietly shut down drafts without restricting movement or weighing you down with bulky accessories.
Materials and Features
14.1 ounces of 900-fill water-resistant down (or 15.2 ounces of 850-fill) account for most of the quilt’s weight, along with a durable, lightweight Pertex Quantum ripstop shell and taffeta liner. Katabatic offers an “overfill” option for buyers who think they might sleep cold and want the extra protection of additional down. The ultralight pad attachment system is included with the quilt.
Katabatic deliberately arranges the down in horizontal, rather than vertical, baffles so the user can shake down off to the sides on warmer nights and pile it on top when the mercury plunges. This affords more flexibility but means that you do have to keep an eye on down migration from night to night.
The closure system isn’t the most intuitive, but it becomes easier to use once you get the hang of it. The principle behind the horizontal baffles is great but in practice may not be for everyone.
Western Mountaineering AstraLite (Best Ultralight Quilt)
Weight: 17 ounces
Fill Weight: 10.5 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.62
Temperature Rating: 26 degrees
Insulation: 850+ fill down
*Specs based on 26-degree, 850-plus-fill down, regular-length (5’8) quilt
With the WM NanoLite, the AstraLite is one of Western Mountaineering’s two quilt offerings. The scant weight penalty (just 17 ounces!) is staggering, especially when you consider that this California-based brand is famous for its accurate temperature ratings. The total weight of the AstraLite is similar to just the fill weight of some quilts on this list—though in fairness, the “regular” length AstraLite is somewhat shorter than average, and the 26-degree temperature rating isn’t the most conservative on the list.
Materials and Features
The AstraLite features 10 ounces of 850-plus-fill European down arranged in horizontal baffles. The outer shell is 12 denier nylon ExtremeLite, while a soft 10D taffeta liner provides a smoother next-to-skin layer. The top of the quilt is adorned with a deliciously squashy “draft yoke” with a dip in the middle for your face. This draft collar is designed to lay snug around the shoulders and has an elastic drawcord to cinch it tighter when necessary. The footbox of the AstraLite is sewn-through.
The AstraLite runs short. Many quilts are actually longer from footbox to collar than the maximum recommended user height. For instance, the 78-inch Enlightened Equipment Revelation is designed for users up to 72 inches tall, and the 69-inch Katabatic Alsek can accommodate users up to 66 inches. In contrast, the 68-inch AstraLite is advertised as fitting people up to 72 inches tall, while the 76-inch-long Astralite is designed for people up to 78 inches tall. The 26-degree temp rating also may not be warm enough for some hikers in three-season conditions.
Warbonnet Diamondback (Most Customizable Quilt)
Weight: 24.3 ounces
Fill Weight: 15.6 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.64
Temperature Rating: 40, 30, 20, 10, or 0 degrees
Insulation: 850-fill duck down or 900-fill goose down
*Specs based on 20-degree quilt, regular length, 55 inches wide, 850-fill down, original cut, zippered footbox, no draft collar, no pad attachment system, no side elastics, no overfill, 15D inner and outer fabric.
Customization is the name of the game when it comes to the cottage gear industry, and we think no quiltmaker does it better than Colorado-based Warbonnet. You can tailor a whopping 16 different features on the Diamondback, giving you ultimate control over the warmth, weight, and price of the finished product.
Besides the color of the fabric and thread in different zones, they also let you customize the cut, footbox style, fabric weight, draft collar, whether and where to overstuff the baffles, and whether you want side elastic or a pad attachment system. That’s on top of standard choices like length, width, fill power, and temperature rating.
Warbonnet’s unique “constriction-point” baffle system limits down migration between the foot and torso areas by creating narrow choke points in each baffle. This allows you to overstuff the top and bottom of the quilt separately and manipulate the distribution of down between the two zones after the fact.
Materials and Features
Choose between 15D ripstop nylon and 20D ripstop polyester (go poly if you want cool patterns) for the outer fabric, the inner lining, and the footbox/draft plug. In terms of insulation, you have your choice between 850-fill duck down and ultra-premium 900-fill goose down.
One of the first customization choices you’ll have to make with the Diamondback is whether to go with a differential or standard cut. Differential cut is more expensive and simply means the outer shell is wider and longer than the inner lining. This reduces down compression when the inner fabric is taut, such as when your knees are pressed against the quilt.
Some of us struggle with decision-making, and the number of customizations on this bad boy is honestly mind-boggling. The godlike design powers Warbonnet affords its customers are great for gear nerds and hikers dealing with specialized, technical efforts that need to get the most possible out of their gear. More casual backpackers may consider it overkill. (Although if that’s the case, there’s always the stock Diamondback).
Hammock Gear Economy Burrow 20 (Best Budget Backpacking Quilt)
Weight: 24 ounces
Fill Weight: 14.5 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.6
Temperature Rating: 0, 10, 20, 30, or 40 degrees
Insulation: 850 fill down
*Specs based on a 20-degree, regular length, 55-inch wide quilt with a zippered foot box, no pad attachment system, and no overfill.
Hammock Gear, as you may have inferred, primarily markets their wares to hammock users, but the Burrow Top Quilt 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 $225 or as much as $285—reasonable all the way around—and weigh from 22 to 28 ounces.
The quilt is made in the USA, and the color, size, temperature rating, footbox style, and amount of overfill can all be customized. You can also choose to add a pad attachment system so that the quilt won’t slide off during the night. Most users report sleeping comfortably down to the rated temperature.
Worth noting: we think this is the best budget quilt for thru-hiking, even if it’s not the absolute cheapest quilt on the market. We’ve heard good things about the $200 Featherstone Moondance, for instance, but ruled it out because it’s not customizable and is only rated to 36 degrees—not warm enough for most thru-hikers in three-season conditions.
Materials and Features
The Economy Burrow 20 features 850-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 900 and 950-fill 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 $225 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.
Katabatic Flex (Best Quilt for Side Sleepers)
Weight: 21.2 ounces
Fill Weight: 12.5 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.59
Temperature Rating: 30 degrees
Insulation: 850-fill water-resistant duck down, 900-fill optionally water-resistant goose down
*Specs based on 30-degree, regular length/width quilt.
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 airflow even when changing positions throughout the night.
Materials and Features
Users have the option for 850 or 900 fill-power treated down (Katabatic uses ExpeDRY), 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.
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 (Most Compressible)
Weight: 19 ounces
Fill Weight: 13 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.68
Temperature Rating: 20 degrees
Insulation: 900-fill Nikwax hydrophobic down
*Specs based on 20-degree, 900-fill, regular-length quilt.
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 19-ounce weight are top-notch. This quilt packs tiny (a minuscule three liters!) and lofts with just a few shakes.
It’s 58 inches wide—four inches wider than the EE Revelation and six inches wider than the regular 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. Also, unlike many of the quilts on this list, there’s no ability to customize this quilt.
Feathered Friends Flicker UL 20 (Most Versatile Quilt)
Weight: 25 ounces
Fill Weight: 14.7 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.59
Temperature Rating Options: 20, 30, or 40 degrees
Insulation: 950+ fill goose down
*Specs based on 20-degree, regular-length Flicker.
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 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 of a 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/ventable nature of the drawcord). There is also no pad attachment system to speak of.
Enlightened Equipment Accomplice (Best Two-Person Quilt)
Weight: 37 ounces
Fill Weight: 27.8 ounces
Fill Ratio: 0.75
Temperature Rating Options: 0, 10, 20, 30, 30, or 50 degrees
Insulation: 850 or 950-fill down
*Specs based on 20-degree Accomplice with 850-fill down, no draft collar, and 10d interior and exterior fabric.
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 Accomplice double quilt. It weighs 37 ounces, which breaks down to just over a pound per person, in line with some of the lightest one-person quilts in this review. And at $480 for a two-person sleep system ($240 a person), it’s remarkably affordable. The Accomplice’s luxurious dimensions—82 inches wide by 80 inches long—make this backcountry quilt feel more like your comforter back home.
Materials and Features
The Accomplice is stuffed with your choice of 850 or 950-fill premium goose down (28 ounces fill weight if you go with 850, 25 ounces if you go with 950). The fabric is ultralight nylon: seven or 10-denier on the inside and your choice of seven, 10, or 20-denier fabric on the outside. You can also choose the color of the interior and exterior fabric and can choose whether to add a draft collar to the top of the quilt. The collar addition adds less than an ounce to the total weight and pays dividends in extra warmth so we highly recommend this customization.
Quilts already tend to be drafty relative to mummy bags, and it’s even worse with double quilts. If you plan to use this setup backcountry in anything other than mild summer conditions, you should also use either a double-wide sleeping pad or a pad coupling system to cut down on drafts from below. You should also use pad attachment straps to keep the quilt snugly in place throughout the night. Some folks say this quilt runs a bit cold, so consider ordering a warmer version than you expect to need.
More of the Best Thru-Hiking Gear
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 for thru-hiking aren’t just our opinions: they’re based on years of feedback from the thru-hiking community.
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