This review discusses the best backpacking quilts currently on the market.
The value in a quilt lies in the combination of the practicality of a sleeping bag together with higher levels of insulation, warmth and use versatility not typically provided by a sleeping bag.
Below is a list of the top 5 outdoor quilts, so you can choose which one is best for you.
The Nemo Siren 45 quilt has a mummy shape to it suitable for three-season travel. It provides great lightweight practicalities: weighing 600 grams, warmth and insulation is not sacrificed.
This quilt is quite versatile and is suitable for mountaineering, camping, backpacking and climbing. In order to easily attach to a sleeping pad the quilt is constructed with a lacing system underneath it with an insulated collar.
With a fill-power of 850 down the warmth is ensured on your adventures. This kind of layer of insulation makes the colder conditions more bearable and what’s more - the neck and shoulders are also protected from unsightly gusts of wind. The coating of durable water repellent (DWR) also repels water rather well.
The lightweight Nemo Siren 45 is perfect for for three-season backpacking and camping. It's an upgrade from the 30 Siren Ultralight with the new more practical and useful for insulation vertical baffles. This quilt feels like a bed which you managed to pack with you on a trip!
The Paria Thermodown 15 quilt is a great option for three-season travel and cold weather. Useful for backpacking, camping using in hammocks. The performance of the quilt is quite durable with its 20-denier ripstop nylon that keeps it light, yet tough.
The lower temperature limit is at 15 F (-10C) and this making it more suitable for colder weather, while a 700 fill-power gives it significant comfort. Thermodown can be easily adjusted and is versatile so it can be closed and used as a hammock.
It is easy to store as it comes with a stuff sack and can be secured to a sleeping pad to provide greater comfort. One can move around easily with this quilt without feeling constricted.
The Paria Thermodown 15is a great lightweight quilt that will keep you comfortable on chilly nights outdoors. As it allows more freedom of movement it feels more comfortable than a sleeping bag.
The Sierra Designs 700 is an option for bigger campers to have a comfortable quilt. The zipperless design makes it a fan favourite. The 700 fill power down contributes to the unique design that has a wide cut and hood at the top.
At 30.9oz it is heavier than the other quilts available and may make travelling long distances a bit of a challenge. It does however provide great comfort because there are not many straps and buckles that require fastening. The quilt is big enough to be wrapped around you, contributing to a restful sleep.
It is incredibly versatile and functional and suits a variety of activities, including hiking, mountaineering, backpacking and climbing.
The footbox is tight-fitting which allows for significant insulation, not to mention additional pockets for your hands, so that you are able to maximise the comfort and warmth in cooler temperatures. There is a degree of resistance to abrasion in the 20-denier nylon shell.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry 700 is a good down quilt rated at 35F. It combines all the benefits of a down quilt with a hood and pockets, and therefore works well in colder weather conditions when you need more reliable protection for your neck and shoulders.
The Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32 is a great alternative for camping conditions when you don't need those heavy-duty sleeping bags, leaving enough room for other gear in your backpack.
It is extremely small when packed down and weighs less than a pound, while keeping the highest insulation rating of 900 which ensure a good level of warmth when needed on cooler nights or sleeping under the open sky.
It seems to also work well in humid and dumper conditions (after a rainy day or at down) thanks to an effective Nikwax hydrophobic down treatment. It also offers ThermaCapture lining to pile up your body heat for better warmth regulation.
To avoid slipping around, Vesper 32 is equipped with SynergyLink connectors which secure a sleeping pad underneath you. To avoid draft getting into the quilt, it has the snap neck closure, perimeter side baffles and even an insulated footbox.
Secured to your sleeping pad and reflecting your own body heat even in humid conditions, Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32 is a well-packable quilt suitable for pretty much any backpacking and camping trip within its generous temperature rating of 20F (-6C).
4/5 Overall Rating
The Magma Trail Quilt 30 is a rather lightweight and well-designed backpacking quilt. Offering 10.5oz of 850 fill-power goose down, it has a temperature rating of 30F / -1C, so can work on cooler nights although it might not be ideal for higher altitude adventures.
In order to understand quilt features that would provide the best experience, consider the following list of things to pay attention to before purchasing.
Natural Fill: The use of natural duck or goose down in the construction of quilts ensures the quality of your experience. This kind of fill translates into better warmth and insulation. Due to the nature of the down insulation and the fill-power thereof, natural fill quilts compress relatively well thus making storage and travel manageable.
Please note that the higher the fill power, i.e. 900, 850 and 800, the better it compresses. The more the air is trapped in a high fill-power quilt, the warmer and more comfortable your rest is going to be.
Water Resistance: Another benefit of down insulation is that it is by nature water resistant but a coating of DWR (durable water repellent) accentuates this desirable feature.
The quilts that have this kind of treatment have a shorter drying time, for your convenience.
Down insulation also contributes to a lighter quilt making the weight-to-warmth ratio more attractive.
Additional Insulation Features: Footboxes and sleeping pads that are in addition to the quilts maximise the warmth and insulation provided by the material and work to prevent cold drafts from impacting on a night’s rest.
The material needs to be treated with care in order for you to get the most out of your investment. Thus, airing it out and minimising exposure to unnecessary abrasive conditions helps see your down quilt through the long haul.
The temperature rating offered by quilt manufacturers helps one understand the lowest ‘limit’ to which one can sleep comfortably.
The quilts in this list have temperature ratings that give an idea of the coldest night that one can use them for.
It is, however, advisable, to pick a quilt with a warmer temperature than you would assume you need, to remain on the safe side.
Moreover, it is helpful to note that due to lower body mass, women have the tendency to sleep colder than men and would also need a warmer quilt. It is thus, helpful, to add 15-20F degrees of insulation in your search for the best option.
The way these quilts are designed points to a particular sense of innovation and ingenuity.
This comes across in the inner lining and outer shell of these backpacking quilts. The idea is to strike a balance between lightweight material and a fabric that is durable enough.
The conclusion lies in ripstop nylon, ranging in 10-20 denier. The element that ensures this durability extends to water resistance. If the shell is coated with a water-repellent substance this makes a variety of conditions more bearable.
It is of importance to consider whether the material of the shell remains breathable to maximise the comfort of your travel experience. If you know that the quilt is going to be used frequently, choosing one with a heavier outer shell will allow you to maximise the experience while increase quilt's durability.
It is helpful to be reassured that the backpacking quilt you choose works in a myriad of different ways.
The quilts that have a sewn-in footbox, which is designed for cooler conditions, have the tendency to limit how it can be used when in differing temperatures.
Quilts that can unzip fully provide you with more options. They can be used as blankets as well as an enclosed quilt.
When a quilt has a wider width it increases its application too. Wider quilts work well as hammocks.
If you are embarking on a variety of activities, it is helpful to note the degree to which your quilt is packable, to assist with transporting.
If you are a cyclist or through-hiker then packability may feature higher on the list of your priorities. However, it is important to be mindful of the fact that certain elements of the quilt’s usefulness will be sacrificed due to weight and size optimization, these include, warmth, economy and comfort.