When you're backpacking deep in the wilderness, you have to carry everything you might need, which means that every ounce counts. One way to minimize the weight you have to lug around is to opt for a quilt instead of a sleeping bag. However, you want to make sure that you get the best backpacking quilts for the money. Here are some things to consider when shopping around:
Backpacking quilt vs sleeping bag
Before you start shopping, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of quilts versus sleeping bags to make sure it's a good choice for you. Here's a brief summary:
Backpacking quilt: The most obvious advantage to quilts is that they're considerably lighter and more compact than sleeping bags. On top of that, they provide better freedom of movement and don't have zippers or other components that can break or tear. The downside is they're not as warm and can even feel drafty.
Sleeping bags: While slightly heavier and bulkier, a full-sized sleeping bag is almost always going to be the warmer option. That means if you're backpacking in cold climates they're usually your best bet.
The qualities you want in a backpacking quilt
Once you've decided to opt for a quilt, the next thing to do is to compare the important qualities side by side to determine which is the best backpacking quilt for the money. These include:
Weight: Obviously, the lighter the better. My picks below range in weight from as little as 1 pound to just under 2.
Packed size: The smaller it packs down, the more space you have for other important items. One of the quilts on my list packs down to just 6 by 6 inches with the help of an included compression sack.
Quilt size: Take your height into consideration when looking at quilt dimensions to make sure you have enough coverage.
Temperature rating: This is an indicator of the minimum suitable in which a quilt will still keep you warm. If you know you'll be backpacking in areas that stay warm, even at night, a low temperature rating may not be as important for you.
It's also helpful to look at the insulation type. Real down is usually the warmest, though it tends to be the most expensive, too — and it's also slightly heavier. Synthetic options such as Primaloft have gotten increasingly warmer and often offer the comparable temperature ratings at a fraction of the price.
Lastly, look at the design. Ask yourself if you prefer a mummy-style blanket that wraps around you, or a regular flat sheet style. Some have added features like snaps, hooks, and loops to wrap it around your body or attach it to your sleeping pad.