Quilts are becoming increasingly popular among hikers, backpackers and mountaineers because they are lighter, less bulky and more adaptable than mummy sleeping bags. Unlike a sleeping bag, a quilt leaves your back in direct contact with the sleeping pad (the bottom of the quilt is open) and doesn’t have any zipper. However, it is typically big enough to be partially tucked under your body. The main argument for using a quilt instead of a sleeping bag is that the insulation on the underside of a sleeping bag gets smashed by your body weight and is thus just an excessive weight to carry (note that smashed insulation provides very little warmth). Typically quilts also feature a foot box for better insulation in the feet area and come with straps so that they can be attached to a sleeping pad. Please note that a quilt is always used together with a sleeping pad – unless you want to have your back on the bare ground.
Quilts require less fabric and insulation than sleeping bags and are thus in average 30% lighter and smaller (when packed) even while using the same materials. As they don’t fit snugly around your body, they also allow you to wear clothes during the night for extra warmth. However, quilts also have disadvantages in comparison to sleeping bags. They have to be used with a sleeping pad and they don’t prevent air drafts as good as sleeping bags, since the warm air escapes to the outside when you wiggle around. Therefore, they are not recommended for very cold weather, but most quilts do offer sufficient warmth for 3-season hiking.
In this review we selected the best backpacking quilts for 3-season adventures. We were especially looking for highly functional products which have a great warmth-to-weight ratio. If you think you might want to go for a sleeping bag instead, check out our review of the Best Lightweight 3-season Sleeping Bags. As quilts leave your back in direct contact with a sleeping pad, many use them together with sleeping bag liners which significantly increase the comfort for very little added weight (a sleeping bag liner can weigh as little as 100 grams). Check out our review of the Best Sleeping Bag Liners here.
1. Buying a Quilt – What is important?
Quilts utilize either down or synthetic insulation. Down insulation is more thermally efficient (with a superior warmth-to-weight ratio) and compresses better than synthetic insulation. However, down insulation also has downsides; it is more expensive and unable to provide good warmth when exposed to moisture (sweat, rain, high humidity etc.). Nevertheless, as quilts are primarily intended for lightweight hiking, we only included quilts with down insulation in this review.
The quality of down insulation is measured by the fill-power index which ranges from 400 (low grade down) to 900 (high grade down). The higher the fill-power index, the better warmth for the weight the insulation provides. Down is often treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) so that it becomes better at retaining warmth when exposed to moisture. Such down is referred to as hydrophobic down.
The shell of a quilt is typically made either of polyester or nylon of certain denier. The higher the denier, the heavier and more durable is the fabric. In order to be lightweight quilts are typically made of low denier fabrics (denier value of up to 30). Generally speaking nylon is more durable than polyester.
While manufacturers often list temperature ratings for sleeping bags by the EN standard (scientific method to determine warmth of a sleeping bag, red.), they rarely do this for quilts. Nevertheless, they do typically list the lower limit temperature (temperature at which an average adult male will be comfortable) which they determine through their own tests.
For good comfort a quilt should be slightly longer than your body. Some quilts come in two sizes – regular and long. It should be also wide enough to be partially tucked under your body.
Quilts are typically very light as they don’t require as much fabric and insulation as sleeping bags. All quilts in this review weigh less than 2.6 pounds. To learn why it is important to use lightweight gear, read our article Why hike lightweight.
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Backpacking Quilts Review
Best Backpacking Quilts – List
- Sea to Summit Ember EB III Quilt
- Nemo Siren Down Ultralight Quilt
- Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt 20
- Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt
- Kammok Firebelly Quilt 30
|Feature/Product||Sea to Summit Ember EB III Quilt||Nemo Siren Down Ultralight Quilt||Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt 20||Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt||Kammok Firebelly Quilt 30|
|Weight||1 lb. 11 oz.||1 lb. 3 oz.||1 lb. 9 oz.||1 lb. 8 oz.||1 lb. 9 oz.|
|Weight (Metric)||757 g||540 g||708 g||700 g||708 g|
|Insulation Weight||14 oz.||10 oz.||15 oz.||12 oz.||n/a|
|Insulation Weight (Metric)||400 g||285 g||420 g||350 g||n/a|
|Type of Down||Ultra Dry Down||Power Down||DriDown||Nikwax Down||Downtek|
|Outer Material||15-denier Nylon||10-denier Nylon||15-denier Nylon||20-denier Polyester||15-denier Nylon|
|Packed Size||4.2 Liters||10 x 10 in.||13 x 7 in.||10 x 7 in.||12 x 7 in.|
|Packed Size (Metric)||4.2 Liters||25 x 25 cm||36 x 20 cm||25 x 17 cm||30 x 18 cm|
|Lower Limit Rating||14° F (EN Standard)||30° F||21° F (EN Standard)||32° F||30° F|
|Lower Limit Rating (Metric)||- 10° C (EN Standard)||- 1° C||- 6° C (EN Standard)||0° C||-1° C|
|Length||83 in.||71 in.||75 in.||76 in. (Regular); 80 in. (Long)||88 in.|
|Length (Metric)||210 cm||180 cm||191 cm||193 cm (Regular); 203 cm (Long)||224 cm|
|Straps for Sleeping Pad||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
1. Sea to Summit Ember EB III Quilt
The Sea to Summit Ember quilt comes in three versions; the EBI ( temperature rating 40°F), the EBII (temperature rating 30°F) and finally the EBIII (temperature rating 20°F), which we chose for this list. The Sea to Summit Ember EB III quilt is very light (it weighs merely 757 grams) and thus perfect for those who prefer lightweight hiking. Despite its low weight, it offers great insulation – it has the lower limit rating of -10°C by the EN standard. The shell and lining are made of 15-denier nylon which provides great durability for the weight. The quilt uses 750-fill power Ultra Dry Down which is treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) so that it resists moisture. Sea to Summit claims that Ultra Dry Down absorbs 30% less moisture than untreated down and is up to 60% better at retaining loft when wet. The Sea to Summit Ember EB III quilt also features a footbox with a drawcord and an adjustable strap system for easy attachment to the sleeping pad. Press studs down the side of the quilt allow you to close the lower half for better insulation. The Sea to Summit Ember EB III quilt is due to its low weight and superb insulation a great option for hikers, mountaineers and other outdoor enthusiasts who need reliable sleeping equipment for 3-season hiking.
2. Nemo Siren Down Ultralight Quilt
The Nemo Siren Down Ultralight quilt is with a weight of 540 grams even lighter than the Sea to Summit Ember EB III quilt, but on the other hand also less insulated – it has a lower limit rating of -1°C. The quilt has a super lightweight shell which is made of 10-denier ripstop nylon and treated with DWR in order to repel water rather than absorbing it. The insulation layer uses a high-grade 850-fill power down and thus provides great loft and warmth. The quilt has a lacing system on the underside so that you can easily attach it to a sleeping pad. Another great feature is the insulated collar which comes around your shoulders and prevents cold drafts. The quilt comes with a stuff sack and measures only 25 x 25 centimeters when packed.
- Insulated collar
- High-grade down
Where to buy?
Also available at:
3. Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt 20
The Sierra Designs Nitro 20 quilt is lightweight and provides good warmth. It has a lower limit temperature rating of -8 C° by the EN standard. The quilt features hand pockets which allow you to snugly enclose it around your body when the temperature drops. For good insulation it has an insulated hood and a tight-fitting footbox. It is also slightly wider than the other quilts on this list and thus better at preventing cold drafts. The quilt features a 15-denier nylon ripstop shell which provides great abrasion resistance. The insulation layer consists of 800-fill power hydrophobic down (DriDown) – each down plume is treated with DWR so that it stays dry longer when exposed to moisture. The quilt comes with a stuff sack and measures 13 x 7 inches (33 x 18 cm) when packed. It is also available in a 35° F version.
4. Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt
The Therm-a-Rest Corus HD quilt is another great choice for 3-season hiking. The quilt uses 650-fill power down which is treated with Nikwax so that it repels the water (hydrophobic down) rather than absorbing it. Therefore, it offers better warmth when exposed to moisture than regular down. The shell is made of 20-denier DWR treated nylon for good abrasion resistance and weather protection. The quilt has also an elastic footbox so that it keeps your feet warm at low temperatures. As it features snap loops it can easily be attached to a sleeping pad. It comes in two different sizes – regular (193 cm in length) and long (203 cm in length). The Therm-a-Rest Corus is also available in a 20° F version.
5. Kammok Firebelly 30
The Kammok Firebelly quilt is a great option for 3-season backpacking. The quilt is suitable for temperatures down to 30° F (-1° C) and utilizes 750-fill power water repellent down. The Kammok Firebelly quilt is with the total length of 88 in. (224 cm) a bit longer than other quilts in this selection and thus also slightly heavier for the warmth. Nevertheless, due to its length, it can be efficiently used as an underquilt for a hammock. It fits perfectly under the Kammok Mantis hammock tent. The quilt is also equipped with button snaps and cord ends which allow you to create a warm footbox. It comes with a stuff sack and straps for attaching it to a sleeping pad. When packed in the stuff sack, it measures 12 x 7 inches (30 x 18 cm). Read our first-hand review of the Firebelly trail quilt here.