I’m very picky about my personal backpacking gear, the stuff I use on personal trips when I’m not “working” and reviewing someone else’s gear. Here are the sleeping bags, quilts, and sleeping pads that I use year-round on a regular basis (90-120 nights/year.) Many of these items are old friends that have withstood the test of time and I’ve been using for years and years. Consider these my “top” gear picks…the stuff that I recommend to friends without reservation.
Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag
The Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag ($349) is a quilt that can be zipped up as a hoodless sleeping bag, fully opened and used as a blanket, or even hung under a hammock as an underquilt. It also has a draft collar to hold onto your body heat when you shift around at night. I use it on the majority of my warmer weather trips and like the versatility it provides. That 40 degree temperature rating is conservative and I’ve taken it down to 30 degrees. It’s filled with 950+ fill power goose down and weighs 19 ounces.
Loco Libre Gear 20 Ghost Pepper Down Quilt
The Loco Libre Gear Ghost Pepper 20 ($304) is a semi-custom down quilt made with a unique chevron style baffle, which limits the amount of down shift by catching it in the corners that the baffle forms every time it changes direction. This eliminates cold spots and means that the down stays in place, so you can stay warm. My Ghost Pepper has a draft collar and closed footbox, which I prefer when sleeping in cooler weather. It’s filled with 850+ goose down and weighs 24.4 ounces.
Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Sleeping bag
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 ($485) is one of my oldest gear, purchases although the price has gone way up since I bought mine. I mainly use the UltraLite on early spring and late autumn hikes in cooler weather. It’s quite warm with horizontal baffles so I can move the down where I need it. The UltraLite’s hood is less oppressive than many other mummy-shaped sleeping bags, but still very warm when needed. It also has a chest draft collar. The UltraLite weighs 29 ounces and is filled with 850+ fill power goose down. I’ve hiked across Scotland twice with this sleeping bag and will probably take it with me again next year when I hike the Cape Wrath Trail. It’s more confining than a quilt, but I still like the comfort it provides.
NEMO Sonic 0 Sleeping Bag
The NEMO Sonic 0 ($500) is a 850 down fill power winter sleeping bag that is cut wide around the knees and torso making it comfortable for back or side sleepers. It’s a relative newcomer in my “inner circle”, but I really like it. Weighing 48 ounces, the Sonic 0 has zippered vents down the front, called Thermo-Gills that allow you to vent the warmth of the sleeping bag up to 20 degrees without having to unzip the bag and introduce drafts. I mainly use it for winter camping/backpacking when I want more space in my bag for those very long winter nights and when I have to sleep with my water and boots in my sleeping bag to keep them from freezing.
UGQ Outdoors Zeppelin Underquilt (20 Degree)
Loco Libre Gear Cayenne Pepper Underquilt (40 Degree)
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Inflatable Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Foam Sleeping Pad
Gossamer Gear 1/8″ and 1/4″ Thinlight Foam Insulation
I’ll be publishing more of my gear closet top picks in the coming weeks since so many of you have contacted me about the gear I use. In the meantime, if you have any questions about these items or need clarifications, just ask. I’m happy to help out.Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed on SectionHiker.com, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!