Sleeping bag versus quilt – there are no rules. When you go camping you can take whatever you want. You can go where you want, do what you want, eat what you want. You can sleep in your car, on the ground, or in a tent. Sleep in your clothes, in your underwear, or in the nude. You can sleep in a sleeping bag, in a quilt, or under a newspaper. But, if you want to get a good night’s sleep, should you sleep in a sleeping bag or in a quilt?
Many people don’t know that today you can get a manufactured sleeping quilt that is very similar to a sleeping bag. The only real difference is that there is no zipper. The quilt is simply a quilt, typically made from the same or similar material that a sleeping bag is made of. However, there are a few things to consider. What the shell (outside material) is made of, whether it’s a lightweight material, does it repel water, and will it dry quickly. What is the fill (inside insulation) material made of? Is it heavy, does it compress well, and does it dry quickly? Can you compress the quilt and carry it on your backpack like a sleeping bag? After reading this article you will be able to judge for yourself if your sleeping style is better suited for a sleeping bag or a quilt.
Everybody understands the typical sleeping bag. The name itself suggests that it’s a bag that you crawl into and sleep in. But a sleeping bag is not just a sleeping bag. Nor is a quilt simply a quilt. First let’s consider the sleeping bag—they are made of different types of material. Depending on your use, you’ll find that there are cotton, synthetic fiber, and natural materials. If you typically use your sleeping bag in warm weather, at home, or in a tent or camper then a regular rectangle style sleeping bag is a good choice. However, given the same set of circumstances a quilt is a good option as well.
A quilt will often be used with a sleeping pad. Simply lay on the pad, pull the quilt on top of yourself and you’re set. The downside is that if you toss and turn a lot then you could potentially kick the quilt off. You will have a hard time kicking off a sleeping bag because you are zipped inside.
The shell material that a quilt is made of is usually synthetic fiber, typically, nylon, polyester or some other synthetic material. These materials are lightweight, and are made of a tight weave which can repel water, and when they get wet will dry quickly. The same can be said of sleeping bag material. Quilts are a good alternative to sleeping bags specifically during warmer weather when you may want the freedom to vent your insulation more like a blanket instead of a sleeping bag. You simply lift a corner or one side of the quilt and you get cool air. Quilts are usually lighter and compress into a smaller package. There is a lot more freedom to moving around when using a quilt as opposed to a normal sleeping bag or a mummy bag.
Most quilts will have an open back and mummy-style foot for protection from drafts. The difference is that you don’t need back insulation like in a sleeping bag because you would just lie on it, compressing the insulation which helps keep you warm in the first place. You rely on your sleeping pad to insulate you from the ground. Quilts are lighter weight because they are slightly smaller than sleeping bags. They don’t have zippers which will reduce weight and can tear your bag, not to mention when they jam. Quilts are not just made to sleep in. You can take it with you to sit by the fire, wrap around you like a cozy blanket, or take with you to the picnic table while you’re waiting for a meal. You can’t really do that with the typical mummy sleeping bag.
Quilt fill materials are very much the same as in sleeping bags, typically, synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester or cotton. These fillers can be very lightweight and compressible. Making the quilt a great lightweight solution. They can also be filled with goose down, which is one of the best natural fillers found. Most quilts come with a pocket that allows for self-storage. Simply compress your quilt and roll it into the pocket that’s built into the quilt. You can even pack it into the cargo pockets of your hiking pants or shorts. Easy storage! With a sleeping bag you have to roll it up, tie it up, pour it into the stuff sack then tie it to your backpack.
The shell material and the fill material are designed to repel water and dry quickly, with the exception of goose down, which takes longer to dry unless you buy treated goose down, which will dry quicker.
So depending on your sleeping style you may find that you prefer a quilt to a sleeping bag. You’ll find that you can sleep on your side easier, ventilate easier, use it on a hammock, on the ground, on a pad in your car, in a camper or simply just sitting in front of the fire while eating s’mores and telling ghost stories.
Sleeping Bag Versus Quilt – Which Will It Be?
You make the call. Will it be a sleeping bag that you can zip yourself up in, cover your head with the built-in hood which will keep you warm and toasty? Or, will it be a quilt with all of the flexibility of quick and easy ventilation, lightweight package with its own pocket for storage, and the ability to use it like a blanket and take it with you wherever you go? It’s up to you.