Quilts and sleeping bags are different in many ways, yet also very similar. Let’s take a look at what each has to offer, and which would be the best suit for you. Here are some of their main differences:
- Quilts are a lot lighter
- Sleeping bags take up a lot more space when compressed
- Quilts are a lot cheaper
- Sleeping bags and quilts have a different layout
- Sleeping bags have hoods which keep you warmer
- Some quilts lack boxes for your feet
- Sleeping bags have zippers which may get stuck
- Quilts are a lot more suitable for different types of weather
- Sleeping bags are easier to get used too
- Quilts are like a blanket, and you can move around freely inside
I’d say that one of the most important differences between quilts and sleeping bags is the huge weight gap.
Most quilts usually come in at around 1 lb and 5 oz or so, whereas sleeping bags usually way upwards of 3 lbs.
Quilts are light because they save all of that extra useless material and only have one side, unlike sleeping bags which cover your entire body.
Now, here is where you might ask the following question:
Well, if a quilt doesn’t have all of that extra material and only covers one side, won’t the back part of your body freeze?
Well, not at all actually, but we’ll talk more about why that is below, so keep on with me here.
Another key difference between quilts and sleeping bags is their volume, or how much space each takes up.
Quilts win yet again here, because not only are they lighter, they also take up a lot less space when you roll them.
For comparison, when rolled up, a quilt will be just a bit larger than a standard softball.
However, when you roll up and compress a standard sleeping bag, it’ll be significantly bigger at around slightly larger than the size of a soccer ball.
The small size of a quilt combined with its lightweight makes it a lot more portable than a sleeping bag.
You may have noticed an ongoing trend here, and that is that quilts are a lot more minimal than sleeping bags in pretty much everything.
This trend continues to hold true here, as quilts are significantly cheaper than sleeping bags and for a good reason.
They are made of fewer materials, require less space, and as a result obviously cost a lot less.
Though you could find some more affordable sleeping bags that cost around the same price as a high-quality quilt, I wouldn’t recommend them.
Cheap sleeping bags are notorious for having bad quality, so don’t be surprised if something goes wrong with your low budget sleeping bag and all of a sudden you don’t have a place to sleep.
If you think about it, quilts do pretty much the exact same function as a sleeping bag, however, they are also a lot cheaper and a lot more user-friendly.
Just wait until I explain how sleeping bags potentially even scam you with their “extra material” under you, you’ll be quite impressed.
Sleeping bags have a bit of a simpler design/layout than quilts do.
Their designs are meant to be more tubular, whereas quilts are flatter.
You can think of a quilt kind of like a blanket, except one that you can easily tie around your feet and neck.
Sleeping bags are definitely simpler to set up or get used to, as all you have to do is just hop in them.
No warmth will be escaping your body, whereas for quilts it’s a bit more work.
Since they are more like a blanket, you have to tie it around your feet and neck, or use an attachment system to tie the quilt around your sleeping pad in order to prevent all cold from getting in.
Also, sleeping bags come in a lot more options than quilts do as there are mummy bags, rectangular bags, single bags, double bags, queen bags, and a lot more.
For quilts, there’s pretty much only two types – a closed bottom quilt or a quilt that you can customize or adjust by using extra ties and chords.
Oh, and also modern quilts, which you can just easily attach to your sleeping pad.
This may be a deal-breaker for some of you, but I advise you to hold off a little before forming an opinion.
For those of you winter campers out there, sleeping bags are totally the winner here because of the hoods that they come with.
Sleeping bags are great at trapping in the heat with their hoods, and this is definitely a win on their side.
Unfortunately, quilts do not have hoods, but instead what I like to do is just toss a good old beanie on my head and I find that it works quite similarly.
If you are a bit more of a cold sleeper, there are also down balaclavas which you can buy that work just as good as the hood of a sleeping bag (my wife uses one).
More and more quilts are coming out with foot boxes (which is absolutely amazing!), however, older style quilts didn’t really have foot boxes.
Instead, what they had was a little tie or chord that you can use to tie the bottom around your feet, but you may see why that would be uncomfortable.
Sleeping bags also take the win here as they always have foot boxes, which is awesome for colder weather.
If you want to buy yourself a quilt, make sure to double-check that it has a foot box, or else your feet might be a bit cold.
Quilts don’t have zippers, as there is no need for them to have them. Instead, they come with chords and ties that work just as well.
As you may know, all sleeping bags have zippers, but although this could be good, it can also be bad and here’s why.
Sometimes, the zipper can simply get stuck and it can be incredibly hard to get out of your sleeping bag as a result.
Your choice though, it’s all up to preference with zippers, I’m just here to list the differences.
We’re getting there, I promise I’ll answer that initial question you may have had in the next difference, but here’s this one for now.
So, depending on the weather, you may like to buy and have sleeping bags meant for different degrees.
Well, this can get very pricy, but if you’re comfortable doing so, then, by all means, keep doing what you prefer.
However, for regular folks like me, I like to save me some money, or at least spend it on something that will last me a while.
We all know that sleeping bags keep you very warm, so take that as you will, but for me, I don’t really find sleeping bags to be very weather versatile since they keep me very warm all the time.
Quilts, on the other hand, are extremely weather versatile since they can be adjusted for all temperatures.
For example, if you get too hot you can just stick a leg out or pull the quilt down a bit. If you get too cold, you can strap it on to your sleeping pad and tuck yourself in nicely so that no heat can escape.
As I said earlier, quilts are pretty much like blankets, and since I’m not a very cold sleeper, I love the fact that I can do whatever I want with my quilt.
Drafts (Cold Air)
Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, here’s your answer to that initial question.
See, some people think that the back of the sleeping bag greatly protects you from the cold and keeps your back warm because of the down material that it is made of.
Though the special down material works, it doesn’t actually work if it’s being compressed or squished.
Down only works if there is a loft, and loft basically means that there is room or space so that the down material can be nice and poofy.
When the material is not being compressed, the loft creates a nice, big, fat barrier between you and the environment, thus keeping you warm.
In other words, the down material doesn’t even work if it is being squished or compressed (doesn’t have loft).
The thing that is actually keeping you warm is the sleeping pad, and both sleeping bags and quilts require a sleeping pad.
To sum it all up, the amount of drafts or cold air coming in is very much equal in both the quilt and the sleeping bag so long as there is a sleeping pad underneath.
It’s true, with a quilt you one hundred percent need a sleeping pad as they rely on them for warmth.
But like I explained above, sleeping bags also rely on a sleeping pad for warmth, and quite frankly, I’ve never heard a person use either a quilt or a sleeping bag without having a sleeping pad.
REI.com has a great guide on choosing the right sleeping pad if you don’t have one.
Sleeping bags have absolutely no learning curve.
They’re very easy to set up as all you have to do is just hop on them and zip yourself up!
However, with a quilt, it’s not that easy, but it’s not too hard either. There is that learning curve though since you have to get used to it and learn how to attach the straps here and there, as well as a few other things.
It shouldn’t be too difficult though, but the learning curve is still there, so quilts have a bit of the disadvantage here.
After reading about all the differences above, just choose what makes you the most comfortable.
For your side sleepers out there, sleeping bags could be a bit more comfortable since you are still kept warm while sleeping on your side.
Quilts are more for those who like to move around a lot while they sleep, and remember, if you’re buying a quilt, always get a wider quilt.
Sleeping bags offer more of the “cocoon” type of feeling while sleeping, whereas quilts are definitely freer and allow for tons of movement.
Just pick what makes you the most comfortable, and go for it!
Thank you for sticking with me until the end and reading the entire article!
Let me know in the comments below what you prefer – a quilt or a sleeping bag.