UGQ Bandit Backpacking Quilt Review

As a tossing-and-turning side sleeper, I’ve struggled to dial in a sleep system that caters to my body’s wild temperature swings throughout an entire thru-hike. Despite starting with my share of doubts about the ultralight quilt hype, I’ve come to accept that it’s more than just a fad, and could in fact be the answer to my backcountry sleep woes.

At first glance, the UGQ Bandit Quilt is like any other — until you realize that no two backpacking quilts are alike. Specializing in high-quality, ultralight, and customizable backpacking quilts, UGQ is a cottage gear company that takes the philosophy of personalization to another level, offering endless options for even the pickiest of hikers. 

UGQ Bandit Quilt At a Glance

Due to the extreme customization offered for the Bandit, these specs are solely based on the quilt I tested for this review.

hiker poses with green and pink ugq bandit quilt wrapped around shoulders in desert landscape

Cozying up in my UGQ Bandit while making dinner in Canyonlands.

Price: $419.95
Weight: 22.17 oz 
Fill Power: 950
Temperature Rating: 20°F / —6°C
Length/Width: Regular (72″) / Regular (55″)
Materials: M10T (inner material) and MRS20 (outer material)
Additions: Zipper & drawcord foot box, dynamic tension control, full taper, and deluxe pad attachment (I opted for no overstuff and no draft collar)

Intended Use

Designed for the discerning backpacker who knows precisely what they want from their sleep system, the Bandit offers unparalleled customization and quality for those willing to invest in gear that matches their exact specifications, even if it means paying a premium. 

Circumstance of Review

I used the Bandit across a range of conditions throughout Utah this spring. On a lengthy backpacking trip in Canyonlands National Park, this quilt kept me warm and dry on a rainy stint in the desert, with temperatures fluctuating between the low 30s and 40s at night.

I also put the quilt through its paces during rigorous testing on 50-60 degree evenings in Moab and 30-40 degree nights at higher elevations in the La Sals, sans rain this time around.

UGQ Bandit Quilt Features

Dynamic Tension Control System

A game-changer for cold nights, UGQ’s Dynamic Tension Control allows for precise adjustment, ensuring a snug fit around the sleeper to minimize drafts. The quilt features adjustable elastic bands that, when taut, compress the quilt’s edges to seal out drafts and maximize thermal efficiency. On warmer nights, users can release the elastic, allowing the quilt to lay flat.

Seamlessly integrated into the quilt’s interior, the DTCS is compatible with the pad attachment system, allowing sleepers to tailor the Bandit’s warmth depending on conditions. For an extra $15, I’d highly encourage any quilt users to opt in.

Optional Full Taper for Weight Savings

I selected the full taper style, which allows for the quilt to decrease slightly in width from shoulder to foot box. The non-tapered version of the quilt is essentially a rectangle.

In contrast, the tapered design prioritizes warmth while reducing weight (less fabric), and creating a more snug foot box. I noticed minimal cold spots in the foot area when temperatures dropped.

The full taper of the Bandit allows for roomier shoulders and a more narrow foot box to minimize cold spots.

Pad Attachment Systems

At just a slightly higher weight penalty, I opted for the deluxe pad attachment system, which includes three sets of elastic straps with wafer clips. UGQ also offers an ultralight attachment system with loops and shock cord, or you can forego the attachment system altogether.

I found the wafer buckles much easier to adjust, whereas the static cord and toggle system can be more difficult to manipulate and adjust while you’re lying on top of a sleeping pad. The deluxe attachment was intuitive and easy to adjust in a crowded tent, ideal for cold nights when I preferred my quilt to act more like a sleeping bag. 

light green ugq bandit flipped upside down inside tent to show neon pink interior and black pad attachment straps

I opted for the deluxe pad attachment system: flat, elastic bands with wafer clips.

Ultralight, But Durable

UGQ has struck the quintessential balance between weight and durability, making it ideal for ounce-counters who don’t want to sacrifice quality. The outer material of my quilt is made from MRS20, an ultralight 20-denier nylon with DWR finish that maintains breathability and is highly durable. The inner material is made from M10T, a 10-denier nylon that’s known for its satiny softness.

Zippered Foot Box

Like all aspects of this quilt, UGQ offers several options for the foot box, such as a sewn box, fully insulated, or zipper-and-drawcord. My quilt has a zipper-and-drawcord foot box, which opens completely flat like a comforter or zips closed and cinches like a sleeping bag. This is a great option to extend the utility of a 20-degree quilt for warmer weather if you can only afford to purchase one quilt as a catch-all.

Many foot boxes leave a small hole in the center that can let drafts in, but UGQ includes an extra snap at the end to enable maximum heat retention. 

close-up of light green ugq bandit footbox cinched tight by two black drawcords with black zipper running up one side

The zipper-and-drawcord foot box is nice and toasty when all bundled up!

Rainbow of Colors

With nearly 100 colors to mix and match, I loved being able to express my personality through my quilt. I opted for a neon hot pink interior due to its uniqueness and utility if ever I needed a rescue (also because look good, sleep good, right?), and green-tea green for the shell. 

Fully Baffled

Unlike sewn-through quilts, the fully baffled Bandit prevents heat loss through seams, further increasing its warmth. UGQ carefully designs horizontal baffles in the foot box area and vertical baffles elsewhere to prevent down migration, keeping insulation where it’s needed most.

The vertical baffles allow for intuitive draping to eliminate dead air space, and the quilt strategically concentrates down in critical areas to maximize warmth without adding unnecessary weight. Furthermore, the baffles are made of an ultralight mesh, maximizing loft while maintaining weight efficiency.

close-up of perpendicular sets of baffles on light green ugq bandit

A closer look at the horizontal and vertical baffles on the Bandit

Sleeping Bags Vs. Quilts: The Need-to-Know

While traditional sleeping bags have long been the go-to choice for thru-hikers (myself included), quilts have gained popularity in recent years for their lightweight design and versatility. Most significantly, the bottom of a sleeping bag is often considered dead weight, since the down gets matted by a sleeper’s weight, rendering it useless. Rather, it’s the quality and R-value of your sleeping pad that’s instrumental in heat retention from below. 


Benefits of Sleeping Bags

Don’t get it twisted — I’ll still be holding onto my trusty sleeping bag for winter camping, mountaineering objectives, and nights when I want to snuggle deep down into my cocoon.

Sleeping bags offer comprehensive coverage, featuring an integrated hood and full-length zipper. Bags excel in trapping heat and minimizing drafts, making them ideal for cold-weather camping. For those who sleep cold, prioritize warmth and insulation, or simply prefer the sense of security from a mummy bag, an ultralight sleeping bag may be the preferred option. 

Switching to Quilts

In contrast, quilts offer a more minimalist approach to sleep systems, shedding unnecessary weight and bulk without compromising on performance. By eliminating the underside insulation of a sleeping bag, quilts are significantly lighter and more packable, making them popular with ultralight thru-hikers. Quilts also provide greater freedom of movement, allowing you to ventilate as needed throughout the night.

With so many customizations — foot box styles, pad attachment systems, additions such as hoods or draft collars, and more —there are seemingly endless quilt configurations on the market. 

UGQ Bandit Quilt Pros

Ridiculously Customizable 

The sky’s the limit with the Bandit, as you can customize virtually every nitty-gritty detail, from the color combination to the shape and closure of the footbox to the amount and type of down.

Dynamic Tension Control

I would not have considered the Bandit if it didn’t have the DTCS feature. Though you do pay extra for it, I could physically feel the difference in heat retention on cold nights when the quilt’s sides were limp versus tightened by the elastics. This system was a game-changer, and it wasn’t something I found incorporated into many other quilts. 

Ultralight AND Fully Featured

Ultimately, your quilt’s final weight depends on your customizations. However, as I was playing around with possible additions to the quilt, I never felt like I had to choose between features and weight.

While I didn’t opt for a draft collar or overstuff, I did select alternative options, such as the DTCS and deluxe pad attachments, but the final product was still impressively lightweight.

Accurate Temp Rating

I found the temperature rating with my UGQ Bandit to be fairly accurate. The nights I slept cold were likely my own doing, but the zipper-and-cord foot box made it absurdly easy to dump heat and use it as a blanket on warmer trips.

On the flip side, the pad attachment and dynamic tension control made the quilt feel almost like a traditional sleeping bag in colder weather. 

Although it took some adjusting, I found the Bandit’s 20-degree temperature rating accurate.

You Get What You Pay For

Even the cheapest base model of the Bandit is still a superb-quality quilt featuring premium materials, ethically sourced down, and superior construction. UGQ carefully designed each aspect of the Bandit, and I had no regrets adding additional features because I anticipate this quilt lasting a long time in my gear arsenal. 

Best Array of Colors

I’m a sucker when it comes to bright, unique gear, and UGQ caught my eye for this reason. The Bandit comes in every color, design, and pattern you could dream up. I’d bet my life that I sleep 86 percent better at night because the interior of my quilt is hot pink.

UGQ Bandit Quilt Cons

Super Customizable, Almost to a Fault

I know, I know — the customizability was one of my favorite things about the Bandit. Unfortunately, endless customization is a double-edged sword. As a first-time quilt user, the number of decisions I had to make was incredibly intimidating. It took me hours of research on fairly limited reviews to dial in the perfect formula.

It’s too easy to sabotage your own quilt if you don’t know what you’re doing. Since you’re the captain of your own ship, it can be easy to sacrifice weight for comfort, or vice versa. Fortunately, I was overall happy with my choices, but in hindsight, would have ordered a wider size, as the DTCS can narrow room in the shoulders quite a bit when tightened.

Rack Up the Bill

Your Bandit quilt could be very affordable … or very expensive. I basically doubled my quilt cost during the customization process. The cost ballooned very quickly and very easily, despite leaving some add-ons off the final product. If you’re looking for a fully-featured UGQ quilt, you better be prepared for the price tag that comes with it. 

Lengthy Ship Time

As with any cottage company, I expected to wait a while for my quilt. UGQ does offer a limited number of pre-made quilts with faster ship times. Otherwise, expect to wait at least four to six weeks (mine took significantly longer than that to ship).

Be Patient

Switching to a quilt takes some getting used to. Especially as a first-time quilt sleeper, and in a sleep system with so many customization options, I had to really put this quilt to the test on many nights of backpacking to fully understand it and figure out my preferences. 

Overall Value

The UGQ Bandit offers exceptional value for thru-hikers seeking a customized sleep system tailored to their exact needs. While the initial cost can be high, the quilt’s quality materials, superior performance, and ultimate versatility justify the investment.

With innovative features like dynamic tension control, reliable temperature ratings, and a wide range of personalized options, I’m pleased to admit that after my experience with the Bandit, I’m officially a quilt convert.

Shop the UGQ Bandit Quilt

Comparable Quilts

Enlightened Equipment Revelation Sleeping Quilt

MSRP: $420

Weight: 19.18 ounces

Katabatic Gear Flex 22 Quilt

MSRP: $429

Weight: 21.3 ounces

Feathered Friends Flicker UL Quilt

MSRP: $529

Weight: 25.2 ounces

The UGQ Bandit Ultralight Quilt was donated for purpose of review.

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Comments 2

  • OffTrail : May 17th

    I bought the 0 degree Bandit during their black Friday sale last year for my February start of the AT this year. It was well made and a beautiful quilt, but slept so cold I had to buy another quilt about a week into the hike to layer over it. When held up to the light there appeared to be few insulating feathers along the entire quilt. Even was cold using it alone in a hostel bunkroom (that had little heat). It sure is pretty but for the bulk I don’t think I would even take it on summer hikes. More for car camping as it takes up so much space in the pack.

  • Ted Holden : May 17th

    I bought the 40 degree version in Long and Wide with the option of dynamic tension control. I love it! It was much cheaper than the equivalent down EE quilt, and even slightly less expensive than the synthetic fill EE version. I used it in temps ranging from lows ranging from 5C to 8C (41 to 46 F) and the temp rating is accurate – it was very comfortable. It packs down very small but the stuff sack they provided with is is too small to make this an easy task. I takes me about 10 min. of hard work to get it into the stuff sack. I suspect that the the 40 degree quilt in regular length and width would fit much better. I ended up buying an off-brand compression sack to make this an easier task.

    One thing that drives me crazy about this quilt and the EE quilt that I have is the neck closure system. Why do all the manufacturers put the draw cord in the middle where it dangles in you face?!


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