Lightest Backpacking Quilt Tested
Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL Quilt
Temperature: No rating
At just 454g, the Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL Quilt is the lightest quilt on test, making it a great choice for summer adventures where weight, rather than warmth, is your priority. It’s not only ultra-lightweight; it packs down really small too, so it’s clearly designed with the minimalist backpacker in mind. There are a host of other handy features: a sleeve in the base of the quilt accommodates your sleeping mat, ensuring closer synergy between pad and quilt; a rather basic, but still effective, shock cord can be laced through six webbing loops to minimise drafts and cocoon the quilt around your mat and body; and top corner hand pockets enable you to wrap the quilt around your body while sat at a campfire or enjoying a sunset. At 203cm long and 152cm wide, the Kings Canyon UL is also the largest quilt on test, making it suitable for taller and larger customers.
Made from Primaloft synthetic insulation, there is no stated temperature rating for the Kings Canyon UL and the quilt does feel pretty light and thin, so it’s best to consider it a one-season bag for warm, summer nights only. I certainly wouldn’t want to rely on it in colder conditions. But that’s not what the Kings Canyon UL quilt has been made for. Instead, it is a versatile, breathable quilt with a range of uses. As Big Agnes puts it: the Kings Canyon UL ‘works well as an extra layer over your sleeping bag to provide more warmth’ and ‘is ideal for hut trips, couch surfing, or warm summer nights outdoors’.
Pros: very lightweight, good value, synthetic materials perform better when wet, versatile
Cons: only suitable for warmer nights, shock cord system is not the most sophisticated
Type: synthetic / fill power: Primaloft Silver / fill weight: 241g / stated temperature rating: none / length: 203cm / width: 152cm / foot width: 53cm / includes stuff sack.
Best of the Rest
Gruezi Biopod DownWool Quilt
Temperature: Late spring/ summer/ early autumn
DownWool is an amazingly unique type of insulation from Gruezi that’s essentially a warm blend of down and wool built specifically for outdoor sleep systems. Simple, yet incredibly effective.
Aside from the unique insulation that DownWool provides, it’s crucially also a natural form of insulation that reduces our dependence on synthetic materials. More specifically, it’s a blend of 70% RDS-certified down and 30% wool from the Alpine region, otherwise known as Almwolle (wool of mountainsheeps). The former provides the warmth, whilst the latter gives you a solid amount of breathability to keep the down nice and dry.
The outer fabric, on the other hand, is made of a breathable and water-repellant 20-denier 380T nylon that’s OEKO-TEX certified. This fabric is also built so that you can attach it to your sleeping pad with the removable elastic fixing system that’s supplied.
Other cool features include a zip at the end of the quilt that can be connected to form a toasty (drawstring closable) ‘footmuff’, a thermal collar placket to prevent heat escaping from your neck, double-sided elastic drawstrings for your head, a snap fastener at the top to fix the quilt as a cape, and an inner pocket for valuables and midnight snacks.
Pros: sustainable, cosy, RDS and OEKO-TEX certified
Cons: not the warmest on test
Three-season quilt / DownWool insulation: 70% RDS-certified down and 30% wool / PFC-free water-repellant impregnation (Bionic-Finish Eco with Ruco-Dry Eco Plus) / outer fabric: 20-denier, OEKO-TEX certified 380T nylon / attaches to sleeping pad / longitudinal side construction of chambers to prevent cold spots / ‘footmuff’ compatible / thermal collar placket / double-sided elastic drawstrings for head / snap fastener at top / inner pocket / 7L volume / pack size: 16 x 35 cm / unfolded size: 190 x 135 x 100 cm.
Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2023 – Read our full Gruezi Biopod DownWool Quilt review.
Rab Neutrino Quilt 200
Temperature: No rating
The Rab Neutrino 200 quilt is a lightweight, packable, versatile and warm quilt. It is a solid all-rounder, performing well across all categories. Made from hydrophobic down, with an 800 fill power and 200g fill weight, the quilt is pretty warm, despite the lack of a stated temperature rating. Rab states it’s suitable for ‘hut-to-hut touring or lightweight warmer bivis…in warmer, dry environments’. The boxwall chambers help to maintain loft and warmth, while an elasticated base will both keep your feet warm and help secure your sleeping mat. Like the Big Agnes Kings Canyon UL quilt, there are hand inserts making it easy to wrap the quilt around your body when you’re not sleeping; and there are also lashing points for securing the quilt to your sleeping mat, but you need to provide your own cord.
The Rab Neutrino 200’s quilt-to-mat integration system is not as sophisticated as the Enlightened Equipment Revelation; and it’s not as warm as the As Tucas and Thermarest offerings, but as with other sleeping bags in the Neutrino range, the Pertex Quantum fabrics offer an excellent quality, weather-proof outer. All-in-all, the Neutrino 200 is a good overall performer at a mid-range price. It also comes with the rubber-stamping of the Rab logo, a well-respected brand with a dedicated and loyal following.
Pros: lightweight, warm, versatile
Cons: relatively expensive for specification
Type: down /fill power: 800 / fill weight: 200g / stated temperature rating: none / length: 180cm / width: 140cm / foot width: 70cm / includes stuff sack and mesh storage sack.
So, What are the Benefits of Quilts?
Quilts are not just a flat blanket. Modern-day quilts are sophisticated, efficient and versatile pieces of equipment. They often come with enclosed foot boxes up to knee level, while the upper two thirds of the quilt has a strap or clipping system enabling the user to tighten and seal the bag around their body and sleeping mat for increased warmth. Pretty neat, right?
Quilts have a number of advantages over traditional sleeping bags. First and foremost, they are lighter and smaller – thus they appeal to gram-counting, space-saving backpackers and hikers. Plus there is a clear logic to the omission of heavy and inefficient zips, hoods and backs.
Using a mummy-style sleeping bag, the insulation under your body is compressed by your weight, ruining its loft and rendering it almost pointless – so why not do away with the full-length zip and back altogether? And do you really need a hood when you’ve got a hat in your rucksack?
“Using a mummy-style sleeping bag, the insulation under your body is compressed by your weight, ruining its loft and rendering it almost pointless”
It’s not all about weight, however. quilts are also popular for their flexibility. For many, especially side-sleepers and those who toss, twist and turn at night, traditional sleeping bags are restricting and uncomfortable. Ever found yourself squirming and shuffling in your bag, hindered from settling by the tight cocoon you’re entrapped within? Then mummy-style bags are not doing you any favours. Quilts eliminate this problem perfectly.
Quilts are versatile too. If you feel hot, drape them loosely over yourself like a blanket; if you feel cold, tuck them tightly around your body; or if you feel in-between go for a half-way house. The opportunities are endless. Oh, and quilts are often cheaper than traditional down sleeping bags, which can mean only one thing – more money to spend on your adventures. Result.
What to Look for When Buying a Camping Quilt
There are a several factors to consider when buying a quilt, depending on whether warmth, weight or price are your priority. Generally, important features to look out for are the temperate rating, which will affect how warm you feel inside the quilt; as well as the presence of a footwell, either sewn or zipped, to help keep your toes toasty, and a strap system – utilising elastic straps, clips or snap buttons – to enable the quilt to be sealed tighter around your body, thus preventing cold drafts.
There’s also the down or synthetic conundrum. That’s a whole other debate but, put ridiculously simply, the former is warmer while the latter is better in wet conditions. Also remember that quilts are designed to work in tandem with a sleeping mat, which provides insulation below the body, and therefore a high quality mat is crucial for warmth. A top-end quilt will be rendered ineffective if combined with a thin, poorly-insulated mat, for example. And, finally, consider carefully whether you want an off-the-shelf quilt or a tailor-made one. Some brands provide a bespoke service, enabling you to build a customisable quilt that’s perfect just for you.
‘But are there any downsides to quilts?’, I hear the cynics question. Well, yes, of course, as with anything. Top of the range quilts have excellent temperature ratings – but, for winter camping in freezing conditions, mummy-style sleeping bags with hoods are far more likely to keep you warm. Furthermore, some thru-hikers, especially those who sleep on their back, may also prefer the cosiness of the cocoon; while side drafts and being fiddly to set-up are criticisms sometimes thrown at quilts. But, all in all, quilts are an excellent alternative to traditional sleeping bags for many outdoor enthusiasts – so why not give them a go?
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