Quilt vs Sleeping Bag: What’s The Best One For Backpackers?

I think we can all agree that when we go backpacking, hiking, or camping, we want to pack as smart as possible. We want items that are light but also functional. One of the common discussions (or should I say arguments) among outdoorsmen is the choice between the right sleeping system.

Quilt vs. sleeping bag: What’s the best one, particularly for backpackers?

​The truth is you can get either. There are lots of quilts and sleeping bags out there that are worth getting, especially with manufacturers often making improvements to meet your standards. Sleeping bags seem to be more common, but modern camping quilts are making their way into more backpacker’s pack.

Why Go For Quilt Over Sleeping bags​

Quilts Are Lighter Than Sleeping Bags​

Quilts Are Lighter Than Sleeping Bags​

If you’re a backpacker, then you will agree with me that if it is light but still does its purpose, then it’s good. That’s exactly what a quilt offers. Sleeping bags surround the entire body, while quilts only have one side. Quilts also provide what matters, which is insulation on top of the sleeper.

Quilts take up less space. Since it uses less material, the volume is much lesser than a whole sleeping bag.

Quilts Keep You Just as Warm​

The main question people ask about quilts over sleeping bags is this: can it keep you just as warm? The answer is yes. Though sleeping bags include insulation at the bottom of your body, it isn't effective. Compressed insulation cannot provide warmth.

So, not only does it defeat its purpose, it is adding unwanted weight and space in your pack. If you’re still feeling cold, you can just layer up with the clothes you brought.

​Sleeping Bags Are Restricting

Sleeping bags are restricting

Quilts give you more freedom to move, which is great especially for side sleepers. You can do the same with an open sleeping bag. However, unlike a quilt, it won't have some attachment to your mat that will keep out the drafts if you move too much. So I guess it’s safe to say that a quilt is more comfortable because it’s not restricting.

​Quilts are also less hassle than a sleeping bag. Zippers on sleeping bags often get caught on the cloth, even if they say it’s designed not to.

Quilts Are Cheaper​

As a general rule, the more material it uses, the more it will cost. Quilts require less material than a sleeping bag and don't have a zipper, so it's also cheaper.

Common Quilt Concerns​

Common Quilt Concerns​

Since sleeping bags cover your entire body, it seals the warmth in and prevents the draft from getting in. However, modern quilts now have attachment systems that can prevent any draft from entering. They also help seal the warmth in. You can also just find a wide enough quilt that can hang down and prevent the draft from entering.

Another concern is that quilts don’t have hoods to keep the head warm. However, this shouldn’t be a concern because you can you can always make do with a beanie. You use it to keep warm in camp, so it can also keep you warm when you sleep.

The Main Difference​

The main difference

Via Amazon.com

The main difference between quilts and sleeping bags is that quilts only cover the top part of a body. Since it deducts the bottom insulation that sleeping bags provide, it’s lighter and smaller.

Anyways, the bottom insulation of a sleeping bag is ineffective because compressed insulation doesn’t work. A quilt will keep you just as warm, without it taking too much space in your backpack.

​Who Should Use Quilts?

Who should use quilts

Well, anybody can use quilts. They’re ideal for backpackers, bike campers, and basically, anyone who wants to pack light. They’re also popular among hammock campers. If you move a lot when you sleep, or if you sleep on your side, then you should consider quilts.


If I had to choose between a quilt and a sleeping bag, I would choose a quilt. However, every camper is different and in the end, it’s all a matter of preference. Some people like the feeling of being a cocoon in a sleeping bag. I prefer the quilt because it’s a space saver and lighter. I also tend to move a lot during sleep, so a quilt is better for me.

What’s your opinion on sleeping bags and quilts? Which do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.​

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