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Debate: Quilt vs. Bag
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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.