If you are a backpacker or camper, you know the importance of traveling light. You are always in the pursuit to cut down on weight and bulk and travel minimalistic. However, you are all likely torn apart by the Sleeping Bag vs Quilt debate like many other people.
But don’t you worry, in this article we have got everything covered to help you choose the best.
What is a quilt?
Simply put, a quilt is a sleeping bag with some unnecessary parts removed. The idea is to keep the weight at a bare minimum and the bag as compact as possible. Mostly, insulation and fabric from the underside of the bag are removed from a quilt. That way, the quilt does not wrap your body; instead, it allows you to sleep on the sleeping pad with the quilt covering the top of you.
However, this design does not compromise the warmth as the down is effective when compressed under your weight. Many quilts also don’t include the hood or full-length zippers to manage the weight.
Pros and Cons of Quilts
- Quilts are almost 3-5 oz lighter than sleeping bags.
- They are far less bulky.
- Quilts are also cheaper than sleeping bags. Often they can cost $30-$50 less.
- These are custom made.
- More effective.
- Better insulation.
- Since they are custom-made, delivery takes time.
- You have to learn how to attach it well, so you don’t get draft.
- Hats are needed as these don’t have hoods
- Attaching the quilt to the sleeping pad is challenging.
What are sleeping bags?
Sleeping bags traditionally are mummy-shaped, i.e., wide around the shoulders and tapered down around the feet. A hood mostly covers the head. There is also a zipper running on the side length of the bag that allows you to enter and exit. However, many modern bags have eliminated the hood and have cut the zipper short to save weight.
While both sleeping bags and quilts are preferred, there are some pros and cons of each. Let’s take a look at those.
Pros and Cons of Sleeping Bags
- These eliminate draft better since they are enclosed.
- No learning curve and extremely easy to use.
- They are cheaper than quilts as they are mass-produced.
- Sleeping bags are delivered quickly.
- Sleeping bags are often heavier since they have more material to wrap you.
- They are also larger and thus take up more space.
- These are not very comfortable.
- Customization options are limited.
- Lacks effective moisture control.
- Not ideal for a wide range of weather conditions.
Sleeping Bag vs Quilt: Detailed Comparison
In this category of Sleeping Bag vs Quilt, sleeping bags steals the cake as they provided excellent protection against cold with their superior heat retention capacity. On the flip side, even if you snugly secure yourself on a sleeping pad covered with a quilt, one cannot guarantee a draft-free sleep. However, some users feel that quilts provide better warmth than sleeping bags as the former is loaded with down fills.
Since quilts have less material and insulation, they naturally compress down smaller. Thus, if you switch to a quilt for your next trip, you will have some extra space in your backpack for other essentials. You can also choose to store your quilt in a less compressed space. So you can simply loft it and go straight off to sleep after a fun and tiring day of camping.
Additionally, quilts last longer when they are not compressed very tightly. Why? Because down and synthetic insulation disintegrate with time as they are compressed and decompressed, thereby losing their insulation capability.
Finally, you can also pack your quilt in a small sack which is effective if you fly to your camping destination.
Even though quilts have a lot of advantages, sleeping bags are pretty easier to set up. Unlike quilts, you don’t have to worry about straps and clips. Simply pull up the zipper, and you are done! As such, there is no learning curve for sleeping bags.
However, quilts take a bit more time to set up as they have to be attached to the sleeping bags to stay in a place. For this purpose, snaps, clips, and hooks are used to keep the quilt in one place. However, if any of your quilt attachments comes loose, you will have cold air coming in.
Setting up a quilt takes a bit of time and practice. You need to learn how to attach the quilt and adjust the attachment to the correct tightness. It all takes some trial and error.
Quilts handle moisture better than sleeping bags, as your head is outside the quilt, which clinches around your neck with a drawstring. Thus, your moist breath does not cause vaporization inside the quilt.
In a sleeping bag, however, your breath gets into the hood, which is directed to the bag, causing moisture inside. Breath causes a significant amount of moisture, which clumps the down together, which loses the ability to provide sufficient insulation.
Quilts come in handy for a wide range of weather. On a cold night, you can attach your quilt to the sleeping pad and seal the foot box and neck collar to trap as much heat as possible. On a warm night, open the quilt like a blanket and drape it over you. The comprehensive temperature range feature comes extremely handy, especially if you have a long trip planned with a broad temperature change.
A sleeping bag, on the other hand, will only come in handy for fewer weather conditions. Your winter sleeping bag might not be ideal for your summer trip or vise versa. Thus most hikers and backpackers have two sleeping bags.
Quilts are cheaper than sleeping bags for two reasons,
i) they use fewer materials and less fabric,
ii) they have a more straightforward design and don’t have hoods. Thus, quilts are faster and easier to sew and are therefore cheaper.
As mentioned earlier, quilts are often $30-$50 lesser than sleeping bags. This is not to say that budget sleeping bags are not available. If you don’t mind weight and bulk, you can find a decent sleeping bag for around $200-$250 from a big store.
It must be noted that the price of sleeping bags and quilts depends on a few factors like insulation type and design complexity.
As can be seen in Sleeping Bag vs Quilt comparison, quilts have quite a few advantages over sleeping bags, and the most important one is the weight. However, since quilts are more space-saving, many hikers are making the shift from sleeping bags to quilts. Additionally, quilts are less expensive and cover many temperature variations. So, are you ready to make your pick for the next trip?