Have you ever considered switching from a sleeping bag to a backpacking quilt? Backpacking quilts are lighter weight than sleeping bags, they pack up smaller, and they’re much more comfortable for side sleepers since they don’t have a hood.
We recently surveyed 598 backpackers to see what kind of sleeping insulation they use for 3 season backpacking in order to measure how many use quilts compared to mummy or rectangular sleeping bags.
Backpacking Quilt vs Sleeping Bag Use
Nearly 21% of the backpackers we surveyed sleep with a down or synthetic backpacking quilt. That’s quite an amazing adoption rate when you consider that most backpacking quilts are handmade by a small number of cottage quilt manufacturers. These companies don’t have the marketing reach or retail presence of big gear companies, relying instead on word-of-mouth enthusiast recommendations to advertise their products.
Down vs. Synthetic Insulation Preference
Preference for down insulation over synthetic insulation is also higher among backpacking quilt users than for mummy or rectangular sleeping bag users: 84% of backpacking quilt users have down insulated quilts vs. 16% who have quilts with synthetic insulation. This not surprising since many backpackers switch to quilts to reduce their gear weight and down insulation tends to be lighter weight than synthetic insulation.
While preference for down insulation over synthetic insulation is also higher for sleeping bag users, the difference is much less pronounced, with 54% using down insulation with 46% using synthetic insulation.
About the Survey
This survey was run on the SectionHiker.com website which has over 270,000 unique readers per month, so a large pool of potential respondents. Readers were incented to participate in the survey in exchange for a chance to win a raffle for a piece of backpacking gear. There were 694 people who responded to the survey, but 96 responses were removed as being incomplete or irrelevant, reducing the number of recorded responses to 598.
While we’re confident that the results are fairly representative of the general backpacking population based on the size of the survey results where n=598 people, we can’t claim that the results are statistically significant.
There are also a number of ways in which the results could be biased including: backpackers who read SectionHiker.com might not be representative of all backpackers, backpackers who read Internet content might not be representative of all backpackers, backpackers who respond to raffle incentives might not be representative of all backpackers, our methods for recording responses might have been unconsciously biased, and so on.
The author is an expert in statistical analysis, survey, and experimental design and is sensitive to these issues. However, given the size of the respondent pool and the strong consensus among user responses, we believe that the survey results published here will be useful to backpackers and hikers who are interested in learning about backpacking quilts and the sleep insulation gear used by their peers.