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Re: Sleeping bag vs quilt vs no zipper, no hood bag.

I've been considering getting a lighter bag, but during my research I've found that quilts seem to be the big thing now. I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me as to the pros and cons of quilts or hoodless/zipperless bags. I've always used a regular bag. I'm a flip-flopper, my physical problems keep me from staying in one position for more than a few hours (doesn't matter if I'm home or on the ground). I sleep mostly on one side or the other, but sometimes face down or on my back. I'm kinda leaning toward the hoodless/zipperless bags because I roll around so much. Thoughts?

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4 Replies

People I know chose quilts for their JMT hike ...and Enlightened Revelation custom 20 for him and a katabatic (850 fill duck down overstuffed to 10 for her) Quilts save weight and sometimes money for the same warmth.  They have a more flexible temperature range but can be drafty if you don't use them correctly.   They are probably not great below about 20 so winter use is dubious but for 3 season use they can work very well. There are lots of custom options making it hard to decide if you have not experience with them.  Even "cheap" they are a $200+ purchase so you want to feel like you are buying something that is right and is going to work for you.

You use them with an insulating pad (eg Therma rest x-lite R-value 4.2 is a good 3 season pad).   The idea is that the down you lay on has no loft so is a waste.  A sleeping bag's long zip is not necessary since the quilt's back is open and the bag's built in hood only works if you are a back sleeper and is only necessary if it is very cold so the quilt eliminates it. 

There a number of styles.  Sewn food box, zipped foot box, full zip  etc. Also different ideas about the paneling and down distribution and pad attachments (helps with drafts).  Instead of a hood you can wear a beanie or a down "helmet" in cold weather.   Some even wear down booties and gloves.

I will probably get a quilt when I upgrade my current bag for something lighter... a value Kelty lightyear 20 650 fill down bag (~3.5lb)...and expect it to weigh about half that bag for a 20 degree quilt slightly depending on the fillpower and sizing I choose. 


@OldGuyotI have both the Kelty Cosmic 20 (2 3/4 lb) and Cosmic 40 (1 3/4 lb).  I like both of them, no issues other than weight. I've stayed warm in the 20 when it got to around 5 by wearing a heavy baselayer, thick socks, beanie, and my el-cheapo down jacket.

I'm wondering if my constant flip-flopping would be an issue with a quilt, I seldom sleep over an hour at a time, and need to change positions to alleviate pain. That's where the thought of the zipperless/hoodless bag came in.

I don't mind spending some bucks if it's worthwhile. I've been looking for something along these lines: 


At 26.2oz, 28.5oz, and 27oz for the long version, these look pretty good to me. Somewhere I've seen a hoodless/zipperless bag that you basically just slide into, although it escapes me now.

I'd be saving around a pound, so that's pretty significant.  Decisions, decisions, LOL


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

The Flicker is on my short list too...Since it had a full zip it lowers the risk of suffering from drafts on a colder night and reviews indicate high quality. A possible problem with that it you are sleeping on a zipper and the zipper might abrade a sleeping pad.  My friend punctured my X-lite I lent them with some attachment on the Katabatic quilt...we are not sure how...they were able to field patch it but...

Where I am torn is to whether go lighter and get a cooler bag for summer use.  Generally I go to the Sierra where it often freezes at night in the Summer and the LightYear 20 works for I think I want a 20.   On the other hand the 20 is a bit warm in the summer most other place... a quilt mitigates that but it would be nice not to carry the extra weight.

As far a moving around I have basically the same experience.  Part is side sleeping and a pillow helps with that.  I have found just always wearing a merino base layer also regulates the temperature better than not wearing anything much...I can open the bag or close it and still remain comfortable...I would do the same with a quilt. However I would probably get one with a good but optional pad attachment system to keep the quilt in place on the pad...Katabatic is suppose to be one of those..there are other designs like the UGO Bandit can come with what the call dynamic tension control ...basically shock cord tensioners in the quilts spit that stiffen the edges of the quilt and help it remain in place. In theory this kind of thing lets you turn on the pad and the quilt doesn't move.  This is unlike a mummy bag which half want to turn with you and half doesn't requiring a reset at some point in the night.

Too much to choose from really...why I haven't.

I find myself feeling  too confined by no-zip bags, sadly. Sadly, because I appreciate how much lighter no-zip bags/liners can be. I have thought about cutting a no zip bag down to about 2 feet, then using it like a wrap.