Quilt sleeping bags and sleeping bag quilts, as they’re sometimes called, are best thought of as hoodless sleeping bags. They usually have full length zippers, so you can completely block external drafts from stealing away your body heat, you can open them partway and use them like a quilt, or all the way like a blanket. Some come with a drawstring footbox so you can vent them on warm nights, or insulated draft collars that wrap around your neck so heat can’t escape out the top of the bag.
While some quilt manufacturers offer hoodless sleeping bags as an alternative to backpacking quilts, for people who “aren’t quite ready to give up the familiarity and security of a traditional sleeping bag,” they do provide advantages that regular quilts don’t. I have backpacking quilts that I enjoy using when I sleep in a hammock or on the ground in warm weather, so this isn’t an apology for hoodless sleeping bags or a negative appraisal of quilts. Like all backpacking gear, hoodless sleeping bags have their advantages and disadvantages and it’s useful to understand what they are so you can make the best choice for your needs.
|Make / Model||Type||Zipper||Pad Straps|
|Enlightened Equipment Conundrum Sleeping Bag||Hoodless SB||3/4||Y|
|Enlightened Equipment Convert Sleeping Bag||Hoodless SB||Full||Y|
|Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt||Quilt||-||Y|
|Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt||Quilt||-||Y|
|Feather Friends Flicker 20 UL 20 Quilt Sleeping Bag||Hoodless SB||Full||-|
|Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL Sleeping Bag||Hoodless SB||-||-|
|Katabatic Gear Flex Quilt-Style Sleeping Bags||Quilt||1/2||Y|
|Katabatic Gear Elite Quilt-Style Sleeping Bags||Quilt||-||Y|
|Nuntak Arc UL Quilt||Quilt||-||Y|
|Nunatak 3D Quilt||Hoodless SB||3/4||-|
|NEMO Banshee||Hoodless SB||Full||-|
|REI Magma Quilt 30||Quilt||-||Y|
|Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt 20||Quilt||-||Y|
|Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt 32||Quilt||-||Y|
|Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag||Hoodless SB||Full||-|
|Zpacks Solo Quilt||Quilt||-||Y|
|Zpacks Full Zip Sleeping Bag||Hoodless SB||Full||N|
Ease of Use
Hoodless sleeping bags are easier to use out of the box, since the only difference between them and a traditional mummy sleeping bag is the absence of a hood. You just need to spread one out on top of a sleeping pad, let it loft up a bit, and you’re good to go. It’s like driving a car with an automatic transmission instead of a manual.
Hoodless sleeping bags are compatible with all types of sleeping pads and there’s no fussing around with a pad attachment system, which you have to admit takes a little practice to dial in. The quality of quilt-to-sleeping pad attachment systems also varies widely. Some are intuitive and well integrated with their quilts, while others are abysmal corded affairs that you just want to rip out and throw away. Less seasoned and occasional backpackers and campers may find themselves struggling to stay warm because they haven’t worked the kinks out in advance.
Better Draft Protection in Colder weather
Hoodless sleeping bags provide better protection in colder weather because they provide 360 degree protection from drafts when they’re zipped up all the way. Many experienced quilt users add a bivy sack to their sleep system when temperatures drop to 20 degrees or less and drafts from their pad attachment systems become more noticeable. Hoodless sleeping bags can eliminate the need carry a bivy sack since they don’t suffer the same issue.
Greater Range of Use
Hoodless sleeping bags can also provide a greater range of use if they have full length zippers. For example, you can use them as a blanket when camping as a couple, draped across a double sleeping pad or two connected ones. I own a hoodless sleeping bag which has gear loops sewn to the sides so you can use it as a hammock underquilt. Hoodless sleeping bags are also available with continuous baffles, so you can shake the down from the bottom part of the bag to the sides and top in cold weather. Quilts baffles are usually oriented in a way that prevents this.
The chief disadvantage of a hoodless sleeping bag over a quilt is that it’s heavier because you lie on a portion of the insulation and don’t get any benefit from it because it can’t trap hot air. While quilts have a big weight advantage over mummy sleeping bags with hoods, the same isn’t true with hoodless sleeping bags. Compare the quilts and hoodless sleeping bags made by Enlightened Equipment or Zpacks at different temperatures if you don’t believe me. I think you’ll be surprised at how slim the weight difference is. Does that weight difference offset the overhead and pitfalls of using a pad attachment system? That’s a decision you’ll want to consider carefully.
Backpacking quilts are making their consumer debut this year with the introduction of mainstream products like the REI Magma Trail Quilt 30 and the Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 or 32 Quilts. Before you jump on the quilt bandwagon, I’d encourage you to compare quilts and quilt sleeping bags. They’re both good alternatives to a mummy sleeping bag if you want to reduce the weight of your sleep system and enjoy the freedom of sleeping without a mummy hood.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
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