What is a Sleeping Quilt?
If you're an outdoor enthusiast or a seasoned backpacker, you may have come across the term “quilt” or "sleeping quilt" in your quest for the perfect centerpiece for your Sleep System. But what exactly is a sleeping quilt, and how does it stand apart from traditional sleeping bags?
Simply put, sleeping quilts are ultralight alternatives to traditional sleeping bags, both provide warmth at night, however quilts more closely resemble blankets in shape. Unlike sleeping bags, quilts do not have a full-length zipper or a hood. This material reduction offers more freedom of movement while reducing weight and bulk.
Why Choose a Sleeping Quilt for Backpacking?
What is a Sleep System?
Exploring Quilt Options
Enlightened Equipment Quilt Models
Why Choose a Sleeping Quilt for Backpacking?
Weight and Packability: For backpackers, minimizing weight and pack volume is crucial for comfortable backpacking. Backpacking quilts are significantly lighter and more compressible than sleeping bags of a comparable temperature, making them ideal for ultralight or long-distance backpacking, where every ounce matters. Beyond innovative design, our quilts are built with ultralight materials and insulation to provide the best comfort and weight options. Learn more about quilt compression from our sleep system compression article here.
Comfort and Freedom of Movement: The open design of a quilt allows for easy temperature regulation and ample room to move around during sleep. Also, side and stomach sleepers can roll comfortably without being suffocated by a hood. The less fully enclosed nature allows for ventilation by exposing body parts to ambient air, meaning a wider range of comfort.
This wider range of comfort allows backpackers to optimize insulation, staying warm in cold conditions and preventing overheating in warmer climates. The sum of all these things is with a quilt, users can toss and turn, stretch out, or even use it as a blanket on warmer nights, enhancing overall comfort in the wilderness.
Cost-Effectiveness: Quilts are less expensive than sleeping bags due to their reduced material costs. Less fabric and insulation is neccesary to build a quilt of a comparable temperature sleeping bag. This in addition to their durability, versatility, and potential weight savings, backpacking quilts often provide better value over time. Moreover, many manufacturers offer customization options to tailor quilts to individual needs, adding to their long-term cost-effectiveness. For more information on quilts and their pricing check out our article ‘Why are quilts so expensive?’ And for further comparison between sleeping bags and quilts, check out our article on quilts vs sleeping bags.
What is a Sleep System?
A backpacking sleep system refers to the gearthat a hiker or backpacker uses for sleeping during their outdoor adventures. It typically includes essential items like a sleeping bag or sleeping quilt, a sleeping pad, and shelter such as a tent or hammock.
The components of a backpacking sleep system work together to provide comfort, insulation, and protection from the elements while minimizing weight and pack size. Here's a brief overview of the key components:
Sleeping Bag or Sleeping Quilt
The main insulation layer is either a traditional sleeping bag or a quilt. Sleeping bags are fully enclosed and feature a zipper to keep you warm, while sleeping quilts are open at the back and are lighter and more customizable.
A lightweight, inflatable or foam pad that provides insulation between your body and the ground. Sleeping pads also offer cushioning for a more comfortable night's sleep. Check out How to Choose a Sleeping Pad to learn more about sleeping pads and how to choose one.
A tent, tarp, hammock, or bivy sack provides protection from rain, wind, and insects. The type of shelter chosen depends on the individual's preferences, weather conditions, and the desired level of comfort.
All Together Now
By carefully selecting and optimizing each component of the backpacking sleep system, hikers and backpackers can create a comfortable and lightweight setup that enhances their overall outdoor experience. A well-designed sleep system is essential for a good night's rest and plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful and enjoyable backpacking trip.
Exploring Quilt Options
Length & Width
Quilts come in various lengths and widths to accommodate different body types and preferences. Choosing the right size ensures optimal coverage and insulation. Unlike oldschool sleeping bags, it is important to choose a bag or quilt that’s sized snugly. If your quilt is too big, your body will have a harder time insulating the dead air space within. If a quilt is too small may cause drafts during movement or fail to insulate your body properly. Learn more on our quilt sizing guide.
Quilts are available in different temperature ratings, indicating the range of temperatures that provide sufficient insulation. The two biggest factors for the question of, “What temperature quilt should I get?” can be answered by two factors: knowing yourself, and knowing the trips you’ll be taking.
Knowing yourself can consist of factors like age, sex, sleeping preference (hot or cold), metabolism, athleticism, and experience.
Knowing your trip considers factors such as temperature, altitude, humidity, wind, weather, caloric intake, or exhaustion. And by no means is that an exhaustive list. For a troubleshooting approach to a cold night, our article “Why am I cold at night?” explores the topic in more depth.
Although we’ve subjected our quilts to EN testing, we evaluate our quilt temperature ratings by employing our own testing methods, incorporating customer feedback, and utilizing our design expertise of more than a decade of building quilts.
Down and synthetic insulation are the two main options for quilt insulation. Down feathers come form either ducks or geese (as a byproduct of the meat industry; we don’t pluck birds), and have naturally insulative properties. Feathers create loft by trapping air within the quilt baffle systems in micro-air pockets.
Synthetic insulation is a sheet of tiny, woven fibers that emulate feathers without any animal product. Because our ClimaShield APEX Synthetic is a sheet, it is not loose like feathers are, and does not require baffling systems.
Choosing between down insulation and synthetic insulation for your sleeping quilt depends on several factors, including your specific needs, intended use, and personal preferences. Here are some considerations to help you make the right decision:
- Superior Warmth-to-Weight Ratio: Down is known for its excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, and provides the best ratio of warmth to weight.
- Packability: Down compresses easily, making it highly packable and ideal for backpackers and ultralight enthusiasts who prioritize space-saving gear.
- Longevity: High-quality down can have a longer lifespan compared to synthetic insulation if properly cared for.
- Comfort: Down provides a cozy and fluffy feel, making it a comfortable choice for many campers.
- Ideal for Cold and Dry Conditions: Down performs exceptionally well in cold and dry environments, providing superb warmth in low temperatures.
- Moisture Resistance: Synthetic insulation retains its insulating properties when wet, making it a better choice for wet and humid conditions.
- Allergy-Friendly: Some people may be allergic to down, and synthetic insulation can be a good alternative for them.
- Faster Drying: Synthetic insulation dries quicker than down, which is advantageous if you expect frequent exposure to moisture.
- Budget-Friendly: In general, synthetic sleeping quilts are more budget-friendly compared to those with high-quality down insulation.
- Vegan-Friendly: For ethical reasons, some individuals prefer synthetic insulation as it does not involve the use of animal products.
Fill power is a measure of the loft and insulating capability of down feathers used in sleeping quilts and other outdoor gear. It represents the volume in cubic inches that one ounce of down occupies when fully lofted under specific testing conditions. A higher fill power indicates that the down has better insulating properties and can trap more air, providing more warmth per ounce of down used. However, the total weight of down is the final determinant of total warmth.
The difference between 850 fill power (850fp) and 950 fill power (950fp) lies in their insulating performance:
850 Fill Power (850fp): Down with an 850 fill power is considered high-quality and offers an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. It provides ample insulation and is a popular choice for most backpackers and campers. Sleeping quilts with 850fp down insulation are lightweight, compressible, and ideal for a wide range of weather conditions.
950 Fill Power (950fp): Down with a 950 fill power is among the highest quality available, providing exceptional warmth with minimal weight. It offers a superior warmth-to-weight ratio compared to 850fp down. Sleeping quilts filled with 950fp down are incredibly lightweight, highly compressible, and perfect for ultralight backpacking and extreme cold weather conditions.
For more about quilt compression, read our article on the topic here.
Enlightened Equipment offers quilts ins 7D, 10D, and 20D shell fabrics. These three options provide a choice of different weights, colors, as well as durability and breathability ratings. Learn more about our fabric choices for different situations. Learn more about our fabric choices for different situations.
Our Quilt Models
Enlightened Equipment offers a range of sleeping quilts meticulously crafted to cater to every adventurer's needs. Whether you're a hiker, camper, or backpacker, our selection provides a perfect blend of comfort, warmth, and customization, including synthetic variations of many models
The Revelation: The quilt that started it all. Invented in 2007, the Revelation uses shock cord and a snap to create a convertible footbox. The Revelation allows for maximum adaptability for a variety of environments by switching between a blanket and traditional footbox mode.
The Enigma: Simplicity is often king in ultralight equipment. The Enigma embodies that ethos. With a fully sewn footbox, the enigma features no seams for maximum warmth and minimum weight. Based on this construction, the Enigma is also our lightest quilt.
The Convert: Provides a middle ground between the coverage of a traditional sleeping bag and the lightweight materials and construction of the Revelation. This means it provides 360-degree coverage but no hood. The Convert includes a full-length zipper leading to a convertible footbox similar to the Revelation, allowing it to be both a tapered blanket or fully enclosed cylinder for maximum versatility.
The Conundrum:Our warmest quilt, features the enclosed footbox of the Enigma combined with full 360-degree insulation coverage. Including a fully adjustable draft collar and double draft blocking tubes, the conundrum is a haven for cold sleepers. The Conundrum features a ¾ length zipper for ventilation and most resembles a traditional sleeping bag, at a fraction of the weight due to our top tier design and material choices.
The Accomplice:is our twin sleeping quilt. The accomplice features a closed footbox and proprietary draft blocker to provide the ultimate twin sleeping experience. Twin draft control necklines allow for each sleeper to fine-tune their desired temperature for maximal comfort. The Accomplice also shaves nearly half a pound off two quilts of a comparable temperature rating, making it ideal to shave weight and pack volume.
The Revolt V2: is our revamped hammock underquilt. Featuring two lengths, vertical baffles and a differential cut, the revolt is the ultimate underquilt sleeping experience. Designed specifically for hammock users, the Revolt features easy to use shock cords that cinch to provide a warm, draft-free hanging experience.
The Itasca: combines custom quilt luxury with car camping functionality. At the same size as a queen comforter, the Itasca is the ideal companion for an RV, cabin, car camping, or cottage. It’s available in the same temperatures and colors as our other quilts, letting you flaunt trail flair at home.
In summary, down backpacking quilts offer numerous advantages for outdoor enthusiasts as a lightweight and versatile sleep solutions. Their unique design, customizable features, and ability to provide comfort across various temperatures make them a popular choice among backpackers.
So, whether you're a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking to embark on your first outdoor journey, consider the benefits of a down backpacking quilt and enjoy a restful night's sleep under the stars.