Which is Best: Quilts or Sleeping Bags?

Quilts or Sleeping Bags: Ultralight sleeping bag next to a tent on a hilltop during sunset

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Imagine camping under the stars, surrounded by nature’s beauty, but you’re shivering in your sleeping bag or feeling confined in your quilt. It’s a scenario no camper wants to face.

In this post, we’ll answer a common question among hikers and backpackers: ‘Quilts vs. Sleeping Bags: Which is Best?’ We’ll explain these sleep gear options and their significance. Let’s begin.

What’s the Difference?

You might be wondering, “What’s the difference between quilts and sleeping bags?”.

The primary differentiator between quilts and sleeping bags lies in their design, as the insulation materials used are usually the same.

Now, let’s delve into these fundamental concepts to gain a better understanding of why these pieces of gear are essential for outdoor enthusiasts.

Quilts Unveiled: Pros & Cons

Quilts or Sleeping Bags: A person holding a quilt in a scenic mountainous high altitude region

Quilts, beloved by ultralight enthusiasts, resemble oversized blankets tailored for outdoor enthusiasts seeking warmth and comfort without the extra bulk.

In contrast to sleeping bags, quilts lack hoods, zippers, or complete enclosures.

Pros of Quilts:

  • Lightweight: Quilts are a bit lighter than sleeping bags, making them an ideal choice for hikers who want to lighten their load. Among options with similar temperature ratings, quilts are approximately 5-10% lighter.
  • Space-Saving: Their compact design takes up less space in your backpack, leaving room for other essential gear.
  • Temperature Regulation: Quilts provide excellent temperature control, allowing you to adjust them easily for warmer or cooler nights.
  • Freedom of Movement: With no zippers or hoods to restrict you, quilts allow for more natural sleeping positions and ease of movement. This also works well if you plan to use a hammock.
  • Customization: Many manufacturers such as El Coyote in the US and GramXpert in the EU, provide customization for fill power, fabric, width, and length to meet your specific needs.

Cons of Quilts:

  • Draughts: Quilts may not offer the same level of protection against cold draughts as traditional sleeping bags, particularly in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Learning Curve: Using quilts effectively may require a bit of practice, as you need to learn how to secure them to your sleeping pad to prevent drafts.
  • Head Coverage: Quilts lack a hood, so you’ll need to rely on additional headgear like beanies or hoods from your clothing layers to keep your head warm.
  • Setup Time: Quilts can take a bit longer to set up compared to simply climbing into a sleeping bag.

Sleeping Bags Demystified: Pros & Cons

Quilts or Sleeping Bags: An ultralight down sleeping bag on a grassy hilltop during sunset

Sleeping bags, like portable cocoons, shield against the elements and have evolved to cater to diverse camper preferences in the last decade.

Pros of Sleeping Bags:

  • All-Encompassing Warmth: Sleeping bags cocoon your entire body, providing warmth from head to toe, which is especially valuable in frigid conditions.
  • Minimal Setup: They are easy to use; just climb in, zip up, and you’re ready to go.
  • Diverse Options: The sleeping bag market offers various designs catering to side sleepers, tall individuals, and more, ensuring a fit for everyone.

Cons of Sleeping Bags:

  • Bulk and Weight: Sleeping bags can be bulkier and slightly heavier, which makes them less suitable for the most avid ultralight backpackers.
  • Limited Movement: Their snug design may restrict freedom of movement and natural sleeping positions, especially for restless sleepers.

Which is Right for Me?

So, which option should you choose?

You should choose a sleeping bag if…

  • You aim for the most warmth without worrying about cold drafts at night.
  • You’re okay with carrying a bit more weight to ensure a bit more security.
  • You appreciate a fast and easy setup when preparing your bed for the night.
  • You mainly plan to do your sleeping on solid ground, not in a hammock.

You should choose a quilt if…

  • You are a beginner, and this is your first camping trip.
  • You’re working on lightening your pack ounce by ounce.
  • You like the freedom to move or spread out while you sleep.
  • You will do hammock camping in the future.


In the age-old quilts vs. sleeping bags debate for outdoor adventures, the answer depends on your preferences and camping style:

  • Quilts, like oversized blankets, offer lightweight comfort but may not provide extreme cold protection or draft resistance.
  • Sleeping bags are warm fortresses with easy setup and various designs for different preferences but can be a bit bulkier and heavier.

We hope that this post made your thought process a bit clearer, and you now have a better understanding of what you should go for. Happy camping.

Interested in an ultralight quilt or sleeping bag? Check out our TOP 5 guides for the lightest options on the planet.


Should I get a quilt or a sleeping bag?

The choice between a quilt and a sleeping bag depends on your specific needs and preferences. Quilts are like oversized blankets, offering lightweight versatility and freedom of movement, making them ideal for ultralight hikers. However, they may not provide the same level of warmth in extreme cold conditions.

On the other hand, sleeping bags are like cozy fortresses against the elements, providing reliable warmth and protection, but they can be bulkier and heavier. Consider your unique camping conditions, mobility preferences, and comfort requirements when deciding between the two.

How much lighter are quilts than sleeping bags?

Quilts are generally lighter than sleeping bags, making them a preferred choice for ultralight backpackers and those looking to shed pack weight. On average, quilts can be 10-30% lighter than equivalent sleeping bags, depending on factors like size, materials, and temperature ratings.

However, the exact weight difference varies between brands and models, so it’s essential to compare specific products to determine the precise weight savings for your needs.

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