November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Debate: Quilt vs. Bag
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 11:24:56 MDT Print View

I'm a Newbie to Ultralight and have been checking out Quilts. Can't find some definitive info on them such as pros/cons, temp rating, 3 to 4 season use, and what type of sleeping pad.

Any info and all info on the topic would be great!


Josh Greninger
(thinkpol) - F
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 11:41:34 MDT Print View

Basically the argument against bags is that the down beneath you is being compressed and therefore loses its loft and most of its insulating power.

People instead use sleeping pads to insulate themselves from the ground (or air if you're a hammocker). Hammockers also use underquilts attached to the bottom of the hammock with shockcord.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 12:26:58 MDT Print View

I like quilts. I find them more pleasant to use than a sleeping bag because they're easier to get in and out of. If you really toss and turn in the night then you might not like one because whenever you roll over you need to tuck the edges back in around you.

In general, quilts are less ideal for winter use because it's hard to totally seal out all drafts, so when it's really cold it becomes more of a battle to keep it all tucked in. For 3 season use it doesn't really matter if it's perfectly sealed or not. You can also use a quilts with straps to secure it to your sleeping bag (Katabatic Gear has some clever designs in this area) but in general I don't like this because I find it more constricting. I like to be able to just fling my quilt off and get up in the mornings.

I use a GoLite Ultra 20, which is a 20F rated (but realistically more like 30F) quilt and that is good for 3 season use. I have used in the winter (ie. 10-20F) in combination with a down jacket and pants. This is a nice setup for winter use because you don't have that cold shock when you get out because you're still wearing quite a bit of down.

For the sleeping pad, I would just use whatever you like. Quilts don't really require a different pad than you would use for a sleeping bag. I guess you might want a slightly warmer one because you are relying on it for all your ground insulation. I use a short NeoAir year round with clothes/pack under my feet.

- Lighter
- Easier to get in/out of

- Can be drafty depending on how you sleep

Edited by dandydan on 06/11/2010 12:28:07 MDT.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Other Differences on 06/11/2010 12:29:44 MDT Print View

What prompted me to try out a quilt was the fact that I don't sleep on my back with my arms at my side anymore making the hood of a mummy much less useful to me. With a quilt I have no zipper problems, can toss and turn to my hearts content and regulate temps better. It is also much easier to move around in and throw on or off.

As a trade off you will have to wear some type of hat or head insulation for cold temps, deal with drafts on occasion, and be much more limited in your purchasing choices.

I have entirely converted to quilts but have yet to try the concept at sub zero temps, something that I don't do very often anymore, but my summer quilt (a converted WM Highlite @ 14oz and good to freezing with base layer and hat), can fit inside my new 3 Season quilt (Katabatic Sawatch @ 23.5oz), which gives me a great deal of loft for 37.5oz.

Heath Pitts
(heathpitts) - F

Locale: Nashville
compromise on 06/11/2010 12:32:59 MDT Print View

I went back and forth on this until settling for a bag without down underneath. I bought both the Big Agnes horse thief for temps down to around freezing (when adding clothes) and lost dog for hot summer temps. Can't exactly use it like a quilt but the bags are very large so you can toss and turn. This, along with being hoodless, were the advantages of a quilt that I wanted and so far I am liking my choice.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 12:37:20 MDT Print View

Quilts work better when you can sleep on your back all night without tossing and turning. If you really move around a lot in a quilt, you'll probably want to use a bivy or something like it that will reduce drafts. Being comfortable in a quilt requires taking time to make proper adjustments.

Quilts can be very light thanks to having less material, but offers the capability to work during all 4 seasons...cinch it down and use a bivy in the winter, open it up completely during the summer. This allows my zero degree sleeping system weighs less than 3.5 pounds including 4 season pad, bivy, down balaclava and quilt. It can go to about 2 pounds during the summer if I dropped everything except a full length Z-Lite or Kookabay pad....less than 1.5 pounds with a thinlight pad. It's nice to have one piece of gear you can use all year long.

A sleeping bag is super easy to use if all you want to do is be warm. It takes almost no effort to prevent drafts. You can use it like a quilt during warmer seasons, but you still carry the weight and bulk of a winter bag.

Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Quilt Questions?? on 06/11/2010 18:04:18 MDT Print View

From the responses I am not too sure. I am a stomach sleeper through and through. Mummy bags are a little lacking. I have to flip the bag upside down when I am in it. Pain the the a$& but do-able. Some say the quilt is perfect for stomach sleepers while others think it's perfect for back sleepers. I know a forum like this and a debate like this is the nature of the beast of But why not try!

They also seem good for 3 seasons but what do you do in the winter? I have only packed a few times in the winter; most of my time is 3 seasons but I just want to know.

So far, I have learned more than all the searching on the web.

My summer equipment has done well. I have a Lafuma X600 for my summer bag which is only 20oz. So far so good.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 18:31:21 MDT Print View

I am a real tosser (in many ways) but I find sleeping under a quilt (sometime my WM Ultralite opened up quilt style) better for me because I always use a silk liner and tend to get tangled up inside a mummy style bag.
My guess is that you will not know till you try it.
I do also have a top bag (a Macpac) and like that a lot except that it is too heavy (now) compared with the JRB quilt or the WM bag.
All 3 season use only.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 20:03:29 MDT Print View


Set yourself free.

Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
quilt vs bag on 06/11/2010 20:36:32 MDT Print View

my last trip out I used my bag as a quilt every night, mostly because my bag was far too warm for the conditions (I only own one down bag).

I slept much better than I generally do with the bag all zipped up. Easier to move around, easier to get comfy (I'm a stomach sleeper), easier to regulate heat, etc. Just worked better for me. I could see myself being cold in shoulder seasons/winter with such a system though.

My next major purchase is likely to be a 30-40 deg quilt...just don't have the coin currently.

Nobody You Know
(DirtbagLiving) - F

Locale: Colorado
How??? on 06/11/2010 21:31:18 MDT Print View

What prompted me to try out a quilt was the fact that I don't sleep on my back with my arms at my side anymore

Can people really sleep like that?

Chad Mason

Locale: Arizona
Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/11/2010 21:43:27 MDT Print View

I use Montbell UL Super Stretch bags. I like them because I can unzip them to go quilt style when it's warmer or zip them all the way up when it's cold.

Ian White
(DeuceRegular) - F

Locale: Southern Jefferson
quilts and bags on 06/12/2010 00:34:19 MDT Print View

I spent a lot of time looking around before I made my last bag choice. I considered quilts and looked very seriously at a few, but ended up buying the Marmot Hydrogen 30f sleeping bag. I typically use it as a quilt, but like the idea that I can zip it up when it gets cold.

I found that quilts are not always lighter. When buying a sleeping cover, I suggest looking at the total fill weight of the down and the loft in comparison with the total weight of the product. Then look at the ration of down to overall weight of the product.

Also, if going for a bag, continuous baffles are nice in that they allow you to move the down to where it is needed.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/12/2010 03:26:24 MDT Print View

There is no definitive information on gear. All choices are compromises.

As for quilts, I've not had success in chilly weather. When it's cool, I prefer the wraparound warmth and windproofness of a sleeping bag. Don't we carry sleeping bags for cold weather?

I'd like to try a high quality down quilt, but it's fringe item that isn't worth the risk/cost to me.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Quilt vs. Bag on 06/12/2010 06:32:33 MDT Print View

I am a side-sleeper that turns all night long. The lightest bags were not working for me as they are meant to be used on my back.

I tried the Ultra 20 and loved the comfort of it, if not the actual rating. (I'd call it a 30 F at best) So I bought a Nunatak Arc Alpinist and love it. Since then I sold all my bags rated above 0 F and bought two more Nunatak quilts. I have had my Arc Expedition down to 13 F, I got it at the end of winter, but hoping to take it around 0 F this winter. All my trips lately I have been using an Arc Specialist, as seen below in Itasca State Park on the North Country Trail.Specialist quilt

Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Convincing! Good 3 Season Quilt???? on 06/12/2010 10:14:23 MDT Print View

OK, you guys got me. Suggetions on a 3 season quilt that is under 2 lbs or better yet 1.5 lbs?

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
3-season quilt on 06/12/2010 11:13:52 MDT Print View

Mark here is a review I wrote on the Alpinist. It covers 3-season temp ranges in the mountains I prefer well, and the weight is where you are looking for. We have a couple members here that make quilts too.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Convincing! Good 3 Season Quilt???? on 06/12/2010 13:21:23 MDT Print View

JacksRBetter makes lots of 'em. I like my No Sniveller.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Convincing! Good 3 Season Quilt???? on 06/12/2010 15:05:16 MDT Print View

Say YES to...

No Sniveller!!!!

John L Collins
(WVCubDad) - MLife

Locale: Not too far off the Tuscarora Trail
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/12/2010 18:05:55 MDT Print View

After reading Lighten Up!, the BPL Field Guide and a lot of articles on this site, I've been using my old Coleman bag more as a quilt than a bag. I've also gotten bigger since I bought it and really hate getting zipped all the way in to it.

Recently I bought an Alps Razor liner bag as an alternative to my heavier old bag for summer use and ended up on a recent camping trip using it as a quilt.

For my money though the US Army poncho liner I bought as an ROTC cadet has been one of the best pieces of outdoor gear I've ever had and it is my go to once again for spring/summer/early fall sleeping gear.

So all that to say that I am now a quilt (sort of) convert.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
More Quilt Options on 06/13/2010 07:48:00 MDT Print View


The good news is that there are more quilt options now than ever before. Nunatak, Jacks r Better, Katabatic, Golite, and a number of individuals that on these forums like Tim Marshall, that can make you a custom quilt.

Another couple of options are purchasing a kit from Thru-Hiker or sourcing the materials and building your own. Another option is converting a sleeping bag. I have turned a WM Highlite to a summer quilt that weighs 14oz and is warm to 40f and a bit lower with clothing. Believe me, it took me a while to cut into such a nice new bag, but I got it during the MooseJaw sale and it seemed to be made for the conversion. I have also purchased a Golite Adrenaline 40f with the top zip for my son that will be converted as well. Converting the right bag can be much easier and cheaper than a kit, and less expensive than a ready made quilt.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
@ John, Sawatch dimensions on 06/13/2010 13:31:34 MDT Print View

What are the actual opened out dimensions of your Sawatch? The info on the website has me confused. The shoulder girth is given at 61". This is measured 4" in from both sides of a 20" pad, and includes 12" of pad. So i would guess the actual measurement would be 61" minus the 12" of pad. So 49".
Yet the opened out shoulder dimension is also given as 54" on the site.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/13/2010 13:38:57 MDT Print View

Hi Mark-

Great articles here as well as many good reviews on the site including several Jacks R Better bags and many others (but you have to be a member):

A second vote for Lighten Up! too- great book!


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/13/2010 13:45:55 MDT Print View

I agree with many comments above.

Quilts- lighter, more efficient warmth vs. weight, sleeping pad insulation on bottom is smarter, best for those who don't roll around a lot. Some quilts are wider and better for those who move around or side sleep (like me) while narrow ones are great for non-moving back or stomach sleepers. Also, quilts are great in combination with a bivy and ESPECIALLY with a hammock. Oh- and they are GREAT when it's warm out and you can open them up.

I have a few quilts and a few bags. I sometimes roll around at night which allows heat to exit a quilt. I've learned to move less and now it's automatic to put my hand on the edge of the quilt when rolling. But I still sometimes have gaps.

Love quilts. Wish I were a calm back sleeper so they worked better for me in all conditions.


Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
No-sniveller on 06/13/2010 16:13:16 MDT Print View

I find the JRB Ns to be too narrow for me as a side sleeper. However, JRB do a wider quilt now.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Physical Dimensions of Sawatch on 06/13/2010 16:43:04 MDT Print View

It's a bit hard to measure once the footbox has been sewn up but it is about identical to my Golite Ultra 20 and measures 52" when stretched. I would agree with the 54" shoulder and 44" hip width that is posted on the Katabatic website.

As a side sleeper that flip-flops back and forth between sides during the night, I have found that the width covers me. For reference I am 5' 9" 170lbs and my shoulder girth is 51" and my hip girth is 40". I had no draft or coverage problems and did not use the cords to strap the quilt down to the pad.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: No-sniveller on 06/13/2010 16:59:43 MDT Print View

I'm a moving side sleeper and I've found the No Sniveler to be fine for me, but I'm a pretty skinny guy. However I found the Nunatak Arc Ghost to be too narrow for side sleeping for me.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Re: No-sniveller on 06/13/2010 19:58:10 MDT Print View

The ghost is extremely narrow, I can't see a situation where I'd recommend a quilt 46" wide to anything but the skinniest stone dead mummy sleeper of a customer myself.

Even 48(no sniveler width), seems narrow for most non hammock users.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 06/13/2010 20:56:56 MDT Print View

The best/cheapest way to find out if quilting is for you is to take a traditional mummy bag and open the zipper all the way and throw it over you like it is a quilt. Try it in cold weather and see what you think. A quilt is, after all, just a bag without a zipper or hood (or is that a bag is just a quilt with a zipper and hood???)?

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Thanks John on 06/13/2010 22:50:49 MDT Print View

I'm a restless side sleeper, and the 55" width of my Arc Specialist is just about perfect for me.
The Sawatch looks tempting for colder weather if it is 54" wide.
The strap arrangement is a non-issue for me, as i don't use them. One of the attractions of a quilt for me is the freedom to move under it. I often curl up in a foetal position if it starts to get chilly. The straps would turn the quilt into a restrictive (for me) top bag in my opinion.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 06/13/2010 22:55:08 MDT.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
No-sniveller on 06/13/2010 22:58:25 MDT Print View

Even 48(no sniveler width), seems narrow for most non hammock users.

Yep - I would go wider than this if I had to do it again. At the time I got it I didn't know much about quilts and there weren't a lot of alternatives. Also the BPL review didn't mention it as an issue. Luckily I am skinny, so it is usable, but wider would make it so much better. Also my back injury seems to be getting better so I may be able to switch back to my preferred stomach sleeping position. I have also added some straps to my No-sniveller which helps keep it wrapped round me better.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: No-sniveller on 06/13/2010 23:41:45 MDT Print View

Hi Jason,

I wrote the No Sniveler review and you're right- I never saw the width as an issue. I'm a medium build guy- size large shirts at 6'1" tall. I'm a side sleeper too. I always found the No Sniveler's width to be great, as did other reviewers for the site who used it. I guess it's a preference thing- I could wrap the sides well under my body. But I'm definitely not a linebacker. :-)

My guess is that most average users would find the width of a No Sniveler, Nest, or Old Rag Mtn. to be fine...but that's just a guess!


john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Wider sniveller quilts on 06/14/2010 10:43:42 MDT Print View

Doug, jason, et al,

About a year ago Jacks 'R' Better brought out the JRB Sierra Snivellers specifically oriented to ground sleepers...A full 52 inches wide on the body portion and tapering to 42 inches at the foot box... Still featuring the iconic JRB resealable hidden head hole feature...Same price a regular No Snivellers.

Watch for the debute of the High Sierra Snivellers a wider alternative to the Rocky Mountain Sniveller used by Francis Tapon on his record setting CDT YOYO...Expect a June release.


Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Sierra Sniveller on 06/14/2010 14:25:07 MDT Print View

@Pan. I think the Sierra Snivellers came out a few months after I got my no-sniveller. I do now usually recommend people look at the Sierra Sniveller if they are ground sleepers.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Quilts on 06/14/2010 16:44:08 MDT Print View

Any sleeping bag can be a quilt. Just don't zip it. If you have never tried a quilt before, try your current sleeping bag unzipped. It'll be a lot bigger than a regular quilt, but you'll get an idea how it feels to sleep right on the pad and have to tuck everything around you again whenever you roll over.

I have a Golite Ultra 20 and sleep on my back, my sides and my stomach and I toss and turn a lot. I sleep fine, but it can be pretty drafty when it's cold, so I usually drape a down jacket over me inside like an extra blanket.

Richard Brownkatz
(Rbrownkatz) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 07/21/2011 12:18:36 MDT Print View

"For my money though the US Army poncho liner I bought as an ROTC cadet has been one of the best pieces of outdoor gear I've ever had and it is my go to once again for spring/summer/early fall sleeping gear."

I'd appreciate hearing some more about your experience with this, John, especially in the spring and fall. Last week I was on the AT in north Georgia and wish I'd left the sleeping bag home and brought my liner instead. Down to what temps have you been comfortable with just a liner? Do you pair it with a particular pad or bunch of clothes for more warmth? If you were headed (as I was) to a place where the nite tempos were exp\ected to be in the 60's, but have dipped as far down as 39 F, would you feel confident with your liner and whatever you might augment it with, like a down jacket?


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Debate: Quilt vs. Bag on 07/21/2011 14:06:03 MDT Print View

I having been using the poncho liner as a summer blanket. With long underwear bottoms, a light sweater shirt and no socks, I was plenty warm at 50 in the Big Sur mountains. 40 is a bit low for this, but it's possible. A bivvy would add a lot of heat. Historically it has been used as a sleep system for the jungle.
It's very light, packs small, and is very roomy. I throw it over my head and have enough room that even when rolling over, the drafts aren't too bad.
Avoid the cheap china ones. Buy one off of ebay that's specifically labeled USGI and has the proper label on it.

Francis DeRoos

Locale: Mid Atlantic
cottage quilt on 07/22/2011 12:41:33 MDT Print View

since you asked for a recommendation, what about a cyanocitta bag? it's made by one of our members, Javan (who posted on this thread already) and it's now on sale I got one at the beginning of the summer after having this same debate "quilt or bag" for 6 months. I couldn't be happier with the quilt. The nice thing about javan's design is that it has a fabric flap that closes the bottom of the quilt minimizing the drafts if your roll a bit. I couldn't be happier. also I'm 6 ft, 180 and this quilt fits me as if custom made.

Rowan Wood
Re: Quilt vs. Bag on 12/18/2012 22:50:24 MST Print View

hey Raymond, that's a great looking tent. Is that a tarptent..what is that?
sorry for going off topic.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Quilt vs. Bag on 12/19/2012 08:34:50 MST Print View

this is Raymond's tent.

Edited by annapurna on 12/19/2012 08:36:08 MST.