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Quilt vs sleeping bag?

Quilt vs sleeping bag?

Camping quilts have been around for decades but are recently experiencing renewed popularity. If you're only looking to purchase one sleeping system you'll need to choose between a quilt and a traditional sleeping bag. 

quilts and sleeping bags

There are pros and cons to each style. Generally speaking, quilts offer a lighter, more compact bedding choice with more ventilation and legroom. Sleeping bags tend to be warmer and more snug, with no mat attachment systems to worry about.

Since there are so many variables to think about when choosing your camp bedding we decided to weigh in on why we chose what we did. As you'll see we are pretty even on both sides!



According to Jeff, quilts rock.  They pack small and compact and are perfect for guys his size (a Whole Lotta Man). That being said, his quilt was barely warm enough on his latest mountain trip when the temperature dipped to 2C overnight.  He has a sleeping bag for spring and fall camping but he fully unzips it anyway, so he is definitely in the quilt camp. 


Being one of the lucky people who doesn't need to move much as they sleep, Bryan likes the coziness of a sleeping bag.  Plus it's got a hood so you don't get drafts down the neck as much.  

Bryan and sleeping bag


For three-season camping, Kevin uses a quilt.  He says it's just like a nice duvet: comfy, warm, and he can cuddle with his wife.  Plus their double quilt packs down a lot smaller than two sleeping bags, so there's more gear room for dog stuff.


Since Tyler usually camps during warm weather he is all about the quilt.  He likes that it is not as restrictive as a sleeping bag.  Being an active young male with a high metabolism Tyler doesn't worry about quilts being slightly less warm than a comparable sleeping bag.


Although a side sleeper, Edith prefers the coziness of a sleeping bag.  Having a husband almost twice her size makes sharing a quilt a very drafty experience.  With a sleeping bag you always have the option to unzip, so she often sleeps with one leg out the bottom for comfort and temperature regulation.

Edith in sleeping bag


When James camps with his wife he prefers sleeping bags over a double quilt.  This allows for different body temperatures as one person may sleep a lot warmer than another.  His wife also gets hot feet.. although this could be quite pleasant on colder nights.


Sarah gets cold at night.  She likes the versatility a quilt offers but finds herself in the sleeping bag camp simply because she likes to be warm and snug.


Since she doesn't winter camp, Alison uses a quilt.  Another person's body heat  warms up a double quilt faster than she can warm up a single sleeping bag.  The opposite of Bryan, Alison is a mobile sleeper and likes to have one leg up.  A quilt is the way to go for her and the idea of spending the night in a mummy bag is not appealing at all (the word "nightmare" comes to mind).  

Alison and quilt

In conclusion, both the quilt and sleeping bag are quality choices.  We've summed up the pros for each system here:

Why quilts are awesome:

  • no zipper
  • light and compact
  • more legroom
  • more ventilation, therefore less moisture buildup

Why sleeping bags are awesome:

  • fewer drafts, more snug feeling
  • warmer (many have hoods)
  • no attachment systems to worry about
  • versatile (it can be a bag or a quilt, unzipped)

If you are camping in Saskatchewan, a bag or quilt rated to around -7C should be warm enough for three-season camping.  And don't forget that one of the most important factors for warmth is the R-value of your sleeping mat.  For three-season camping you'll want an R-value of at least 3; many women and side-sleepers prefer 4 or more.

Sleep tight everyone ;)

winter camping




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