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For those trying to build their gear out with a more budget approach getting gear that will work but that will also not break the bank can be quite difficult and much more painful to sort through the details to get just the right gear.
My intention is to showcase the very best budget backpacking quilts possible to help you make a wise choice and know that the one you get is the best budget hiking quilt for your thru-hiking, at least as beginning gear allows.
Choosing inexpensive hiking quilts is much more complicated as you want to generally balance out the warmth to the cost you will pay. My feeling on budget gear is in the $250 or less amount as this core gear is what will allow you to manage to stay warm and comfy on the trail so let’s dive into to find the best backpacking quilt for the money.
My Choice for Best Hiking Quilts
|Gear Name||Fill||Temp Rating||Weight||Link|
|Featherstone Moondance 25||850||Limit – 26°F|
Comfort – 36°F
|Reg – 23oz||Check Prices|
|Hammock Gear Economy Burrow||800||Limit – 10°F|
Comfort – 20°F
|Reg – 24oz||Check Prices|
|Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt 35||800||Limit – 27°F|
Comfort – 37°F
|Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15||800+FP||Limit – 15°F|
Comfort – 25°F
|Reg – 23oz|
Long – 26oz
|Paria Thermodown 15||700||Limit – 15°F|
Comfort – 25°F
|Reg – 35oz|
Long – 38oz
|OneTigris Featherlite||Synthetic||Limit – 30°F|
Comfort – 40°F
|Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Hybrid||LoftTek|
|Limit – 15°F|
Comfort – 25°F
|Reg – 33.6oz|
Long – 39oz
|ENO Vesta TopQuilt||Primaloft|
|Limit – 35°F|
Comfort – 45°F
|Therm-a-Rest Corus 32||650||Limit – 32°F|
Comfort – 42°F
|ASTA GEAR 20D Sleeping Quilts||700||Limit – 31°F|
Comfort – 41°F
My Choice for Best Budget Quilts for Thru-Hiking
Now that you have seen my list of the top 10 budget quilts let’s dig into each and explain why I chose to rate them there and why they may be a perfect match for you and your long-distance hike.
Featherstone Moondance 25 – Best Backpacking Quilt Under $200
- VERSATILE SLEEPING BAG ALTERNATIVE: Unlike any other outdoor blanket, this top quilt has the capability to match the warmth of a sleeping bag and doubles as a blanket or underquilt for a hammock
- LIGHTWEIGHT & PACKABLE: Made with DOWNTEK PFC-FREE Water Repellent 850 Fill Power Duck Down Insulation, the quilt provides superior loft, warmth to weigh ratio, and packs small and compact--great for outdoor travel
- ACCESSORIES: Comes with a compression stuff sack and pad straps to connect with your sleeping pad. Pair this quilt with other camp gear to make the ultimate sleep system while camping in the backcountry.
One amazing option that is newer to the space, Featherstone has made other gear for a while but this budget backpacking quilt is something quite out of the ordinary! Using 850FP duck down that’s treated to manage moisture it packs a punch in a small price tag versus the normal competition in this space!
This quilt also has no issues being fully opened into a blanket so if you are looking for something that can cinch up in a colder night but open wide for those warmer summer nights then look no further!
Hammock Gear Economy Burrow – Runner Up
- Approximately 2-3 Weeks to Ship.
- This budget ultralight quilt is made with 20 denier nylon taffeta fabric that features a Nikwax DWR® (durable water-resistant) coating to help shed moisture.
- Wide width is highly recommended for adequate coverage when used in ground sleeping scenarios.
- Customizable color options for both inner and outer shells
- Customizable length and width options for the perfect fit
The Hammock Gear Economy Burrow is probably one of the best options for someone who wants a choice between a zippered or sewn enclosed foot box on their quilt as they provide some amazing customization options at under $200 that nearly no one can match.
In addition, their temperature ratings are done to comfort as opposed to limit which means you will be able to lay fully extended at the temperature you purchase with the right sleeping pad under you, whereas most use the limit temperature to look better on a label.
The only drawback and the reason I moved them into runner-up is the 4-5 week lead time that’s frequently needed to receive your quilt once ordered as when in a time crunch this can be a deal-breaker.
Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt 35
- Think Outside: Part blanket, part bag, all cozy, the Nitro Quilt brings the best of both worlds together in this backcountry collision of features. With an integrated hood plus a hand/arm pocket, you can seal in warmth and still have room to move around.
- Features: Oversized design and larger size for more coverage and more comfort | Full-length, insulated hand/arm pockets help to seal out drafts and seal in warmth | Hide-away hood provides insulation for your head when temps drop | EN rating gives you tested and proven performance
- Materials: 800 Fill Power fluro-carbon free DriDown & 15d nylon ripstop fabrics for an ultralight weight bag | Shell: 15d Nylon Ripstop
This quilt is quite unique with an integrated hood for those who have cold heads and need extra insulation to keep their heads warm, this is paired with some similar arm pockets to help ensure your arms and hands don’t get uncovered and you have a quite amazing little quilt.
This is rated for 35 degrees but there is an upgrade to a 20-degree rated version for only about $30 more if you decide to push it and would rather have the extra warmth for those colder early spring and late fall times on a thru-hike.
Outdoor Vitals StormLoft 15
- CADILLAC OF TOPQUILTS: The new StormLoft topquilt not only features premium treated down but features the best materials in a superior baffling design for the most warmth and least weight!
- LIGHTEST WEIGHT MATERIALS: Feel as light as a feather while packing our new lightest weight fabric (10D) and highest quality down (800+FP).
- HYBRID BAFFLE DESIGN: Stay warm everywhere with our hybrid baffling system that optimizes both the stability of down for warmth and minimizing seam weight for lighter packs!
- STORMLOFT DOWN: Certified 800+ fill power down both responsibly sourced and DWR treated. Enjoy lighter packs with premium quality down in your hammock top quilt that is more resistant to moisture!
This is the quilt I have been rocking since its re-release and it has been with me through cold nights down to the 30s while I lay in nearly no clothing other than their synthetic balaclava to make sure my head stayed nice and warm.
This quilt has been an amazing value purchase for me and has served well for me in the colder months while I only wish there was an option to have a zippered foot box as this is sewn closed only. Since these are not custom units they are able to ship immediately and typically be received on very short notice.
Paria Thermodown 15 Down Quilt
- WARM - Stay toasty warm due to the large baffled construction and 22 oz. of high loft 700-fill power down which provides an excellent temperature rating down to 15F (-10C).
- LIGHTWEIGHT - No need to compromise on size and weight. The quilt comes in at only 2 lb. 3 oz. and the included compression sack cinches down to just 10 x 7 inches. Use the included sleeping pad strap to secure your quilt to an insulated sleeping pad for a lightweight and compact sleeping system.
- DURABLE - The light, but durable, 20D ripstop nylon fabrics will ensure that the quilt performs for countless adventures.
Paria Outdoors is another smaller manufacturer in the outdoor space and I have used many of their gear options with good results, the Thermodown 15 though is a solid quilt at a much better price than many of the others while offering warmth in those pesky colder temperatures.
Each quilt is stuffed with high-quality down to keep you nice and toasty but also it can be opened up on those warmer summer days to keep you comfortable.
- Comfy: 20D Ripstop Nylon Outer Shell with 380T Polyester Pongee Lining and SEE Polyester filling makes it an ultra-lightweight backpacking quilt that's soft, breathable & wind-proof
- Versatile: A lighter alternative to standard mummy sleeping bags, this sleeping quilt offers quick entry and exit and with a convertible footbox which helps keep the heat in
- Lightweight & Compact: Weighs only 35oz (1000g), folds up small, about the size of a gallon jug, easy to put into your backpack and travel around, and spreads out 6.5ft by 2.8ft offering plenty of sleeping space
- Warm: Stay toasty warm due to the baffled construction which provides a temperature rating down to 41°F (5°C), can also be used with a sleeping bag or underquilt, then you get a toasty winter sleeping system | Dimensions: 200cm *85cm (6.6ft *2.8ft)
This was actually the first quilt I bought for the family before the great Texas freeze in 2021, it is a durable and quality built quilt that uses synthetic fill which has allowed me and the family to stay warm to around 40 degrees with comfort when paired with Paria Recharge Pad.
While this won’t take you to the coldest temperatures on some of the longer thru-hikes for someone looking to get themselves into hiking and backpacking it is a very inexpensive option that fits easily into kit.
Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Hybrid
- FAIL-PROOF INSULATION: For years outdoor lovers have wanted the benefits of down insulation (lightweight, warm, compressible) without the downsides of down (fails when wet). Our new LoftTek Hybrid insulation utilizes cutting edge science to give you the benefits of down, without the downsides! This means you'll sleep warm and comfortably even if your backpacking quilt gets wet!
- ULTRALIGHT WEIGHT: 650+ fill power LoftTek Hybrid insulation fills the ultralight backpacking quilt, which gives you best in class weight to warm ratios with mainly synthetic insulation. We wrap the hybrid insulation in a baffled (not sewn threw) lightweight ripstop shell to complete the camping top quilt! As a result, you don't have to sacrifice pack weight to stay comfortable and confident in your gear!
- WATER RESISTANT PROTECTION: Mixing 80% LoftTek with 20% 800+ fill power down creates a synergy allowing the benefits of down, but the moisture advantages of synthetic. Water simply drains out of the outdoor vitals topquilt while staying completely warm and lofted!
I love Outdoor Vitals gear, they are always innovating and have always provided me solid performance and I currently use their Stormloft Down Top Quilt which is slightly more expensive. This is a synthetic version that is similar to the Stormloft which uses LoftTek as a “hybrid” approach to a hiking quilt.
The insulation is 80% synthetic fibers to help maintain warmth even in the dampest and wettest conditions and 20% down to provide a little extra loft and warmth.
ENO Vesta TopQuilt
- WELCOME TO FOUR-SEASON HAMMOCKING: PrimaLoft Synergy insulation is constructed of both fine- and ultrafine-denier continuous filament fibers to form tiny air pockets that trap body heat and keep out cold, providing warmth down to about 35 - 45F.
- DURABLE WATER REPELLENT COATING: The Vesta Quilt features a ripstop nylon shell that has a Durable Water Repellent coating to help shed moisture and keep you dry. If cold weather is cutting into your hammock season, it's time to Blaze it up.
- QUICK AND EASY SETUP: With shock-cord suspension rails, setup is a breeze, and any re-positioning or adjustments can be made without getting up.
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASILY PACKABLE: Weighing only 28 ounces
Eagle Nest Outfitters has created gear linked to hammocks for a bit and the quilts are nothing new to them, this version sees you getting a synthetic quilt that is able to sustain you down to around 45 degrees with comfort which is perfect for many new to the hobby.
They are pretty light versus others in this list at 28 ounces but with the temperature, this is a nice balanced weight to warmth.
Therm-a-Rest Corus 32
- Lightweight, comfortable and warm top-rated camp quilt from Therm-a-Rest is extremely packable for camping and backpacking adventures
- 650-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic down absorbs 90% less water and dries 3 times faster without using dangerous PFCs; compact quilt fits easily into a pack
- Box Baffled construction uses mesh walls to maximize down loft and minimize cold spots; full perimeter side baffles and snap closure keep out drafts
- SynergyLink Connectors integrate the quilt with a mattress for optimal efficiency and comfort; easily pairs with a Therm-a-Rest bag, blanket or sheet
Providing the owner a liberating feeling of unrestricted movement throughout the night, the Therm-a-Rest Corus 32 down quilt offers comfort on 3-season backpacking and hiking trips or for layering in colder conditions.
Made with high loft, packable Nikwax Hydrophobic Down, and Box Baffled construction for retaining heat and excellent temperature regulation.
ASTA GEAR 20D Sleeping Quilts
- This is a sleeping bag that can not only be unfolded as a quilt, but also worn as a camping costume.
- The unique U-shaped design increases the volume of the air, blocks the cold from entering, and more effectively maintains the temperature of the human body.
- Selection of high quality 700 + white duck down, high velvet content high fluffy degree high warmth retention.
- Walking sleeping bag, light and warm
- People sleep in the sleeping bag and their limbs stretch. The biggest feature is that they can walk in sleeping bags.
This is a Chinese clone of the Enlightened Equipment Rev-HOLE-ation but at a fraction of the cost and for someone looking for a choice in a budget starter quilt this is a unique and interesting gear choice.
Additionally, this can be converted to be worn as a clothing item on those cold mornings when getting out of the shelter is difficult!
How to Choose a Top Quilt for Your Thru-Hike
Choosing your top quilt is important for your overall warmth and comfort over a long-distance hike, like your bed and blankets at home the top quilt will weigh heavily into your overall warmth through multiple seasons where a thru-hike will take place.
Let’s take a dive into the many things you must weigh to get the right quilt for your trip as not all thru-hikes will have the same circumstances, this means making sure your gear matches the needs of the location, season, and weather that you may pass through.
I am pretty sure everyone will have this listed first, even if money is no object you want to make sure that the price matches the performance and needs from the gear itself, there are many times where the most expensive is not the best gear.
For others the price will mean the choice between one gear versus another, for example, I have a wife and daughter so I get a specific amount per year for gear choices and I must weigh what the gear provides me against the cost and what else I won’t be able to get if I choose to overpay.
This is where most top quilts shine against their similar sleeping bags, but for a standard 20-degree quilt with 850FP down you will get an amazing weight to warmth ratio that makes any worth purchase.
From this point forward though to drop weight you will sacrifice overall durability, like moving to lower denier fabrics, or in down that is more prone to damage over the course of use, like with 950 or 1000FP down.
This is the ability of the top quilt to pack down and compress, this allows you to use a backpack with less internal liters of space the more you can shrink the space needs of the quilt itself.
This is where down as the fill shines over the current synthetics as the synthetics tend to compress by up to 50% less depending on who makes them and what synthetic material is used.
As your backpack space is truly limited you want to get the most packable top quilt possible that also will give you the warmth you will require on the trail, this may at times mean a bigger backpack which is why you always want to purchase this ger before a backpack.
Temperature Rating & Weather
The next vital choice in a quilt is the overall temperature rating, these are many times listed as the “limit” or “comfort” and you should be clear of this before your purchase as comfort is what most people want from their quilt.
Limit typically means with many other clothes and or shivering as cold happens but you will not die, most don’t want to spend nights this way, and the understanding of this on a quilt before a purchase can help you to choose to upgrade to a 10 degree warmer quilt.
Weather matters as down loft will get worse the more moisture and humidity in the air, this causes down to deflate or compress down becoming less insulative and less warm. This means to get the same warmth you would need more down or a synthetic top quilt as synthetic fibers don’t perform worse when damp, a major positive.
Fill (Down Vs Synthetic)
There are two different options available that can be used to stuff your quilt, they are down, feathers from birds, and synthetics which are man-made replacements.
The preferred fill for a quilt is definitely down, starting with Goose, then moving down to other forms of down feathers. Down has a long life when well taken care of and cleaned when necessary, it has the best of most needs for a thru-hiker gear small and packable while being very light in weight.
For those who are allergic to down, which is more prevalent than many know, or those going to more wet or humid areas where the loft of synthetic is vital to overall warmth synthetic is perfect.
Additionally, synthetic quilts are significantly less expensive versus the same quilt with down fill, so for those on a budget they can be a perfect chance to get maximum warmth at the small cost of space needed and little extra weight.
Size (Length and Width)
When you look at a quilt, most are tapered from the top to the bottom and so you have two primary measurements that matter, shoulder width and foot box width, and the length from the toebox to the top hem of the quilt.
Most measurements here will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so you will want to take a good look at them but if you roll around a lot in your sleep looking for the wider quilt will help you sleep warmer more often.
Materials (Inner Liner and Outer Shell)
There are many materials that can be used to create a quilt, but there are typically 2 specific types used to make a normal backpacking quilt, the inner liner (the part that sites against you), and the outer shell (which is typically a thicker and more durable fabric).
The inner liner is what sits against your skin or clothing all night long, the inner liner is typically made of thinner fabric than the outer shell as it has much less of a chance to get torn.
Some people will go all the way down to 7D fabrics to help drop the overall weight of their quilts but for some this material feels slick or clammy against their skin and some report a “sticky” feeling if they sweat at all.
The outer shell is the tough layer that needs to be durable to the abuse of the trek, the thicker the fabric used the stronger the overall quilt will be, should it get caught on a branch or other obstructions.
As with the inner liner you can look to get lighter material to help drop the overall quilt weight but this will leave it vulnerable to damage which could cause a catastrophic failure of the gear if it should tear.
The baffles are the layout that holds the down into place, most companies have many different creations in the way they configure these as improvements and refinements occur to maximize performance.
The most common baffle layouts will be horizontal, vertical, or a mixture of the two. This means that they either go across your body (horizontal) or they go up the length of your body (vertical).
When they do a mixture typically you will get either the head or the foot area in one direction and the rest of the quilt going the other direction.
The issue with baffles that run horizontally over your body is that the down has a chance to move to the sides of your body which will leave the middle core of your body with less down if it migrates down due to gravity.
Sleeping Pad Attachment System
The pad attachment system is what will help keep your quilt anchored to the same area as your sleeping pad, the attachment system is much more important the lower the outside temperature.
While these are quite simple and seem unnecessary I would advise you if you are heading out to hike in colder temperatures to learn how to use them.
A draft collar is a special added area at the top of the quilt near your head that has more down and is added to help seal in the warmth and help in those times where the weather will be exceptionally cold to keep your core warm.
Common Top Quilt Thru-Hiker Issues
There are lots of amazing benefits to using a top quilt for your thru-hike, but there are also some specific issues that most hikers who haven’t used a quilt before may be caught off-guard on, and being prepared is the best way to get the best performance from all gear!
When you start using a quilt you may think you can skip on the pad straps that come with them or are available to add to your order, this is a bad choice as you will move in your sleep after a long day of exhaustive hiking.
The pad straps don’t restrict your movement but do help to anchor the backpacking quilt to the sleeping pad helping to keep you on the pad along with stopping an air gap from happening along with the draft that drops the temperature.
Additionally, many quilts today have some form of dynamic tensioning with either elastics or a cord to help tighten up the quilt under you to pull it in closer to the pad itself to help cut down on these problems.
Sub-Par Temperature Performance
For many who are on their first trips with a quilt, they quite regularly will complain of subpar performance and that the quilt doesn’t keep them warm to the rated temperature they purchased. This comes down to a few misunderstandings people have from their sleep systems along with the ratings on a quilt or sleeping badly.
For a temperature rating, most top quilts are rated to the “limit” temperature where you will be cold and possibly need additional clothing or you may shiver off and on. Basically that if you were to ball up you would be able to survive the night until the next day, this doesn’t sound too fun to me!
If the quilt is limit rated then you need to think about moving up 10 degrees, for example, from a 20-degree quilt to a 10 degree as this would help compensate as this would be closer to a comfort rating at the temperature you wanted.
As to your sleep system, a quilt can protect you from losses in heat to the air around you but many don’t realize that most of your heat is lost directly to the ground underneath you. Your choice of sleeping pad is going to make or break your overall warmth on those cold spring or fall nights!
For most looking for a traditional 3 season use sleep system, you will want to choose a sleeping pad with a minimum R-Value of 4+ and choose an insulated pad to ensure heat is held best but note these pads will typically make noises due to this active shielding.
Head Getting Cold At Night
For many people getting cold at night is what they want to avoid, normally with a mummy sleeping bag you have a hood area that the bag pulls up against it. What you need to do with a quilt is either get a longer quilt size so you could pull it up more and cover your head or look to buy headcovers like a Balaclava.
These easy-to-carry clothing items help keep that heat contained and the one I linked to above is made from a special synthetic which is vital as you will breathe into it introducing moisture all night long if you choose to get one make sure it is a synthetic or merino wool.
FAQ About Top Quilts for Thru-Hiking
There are many other questions that are asked about quilts that new purchasers will want the answers to before making a purchase.
Choosing the correct quilt that matches your backpacking style is important, but equally important is how to choose the correct size of top quilts for thru-hiking.
What is a Top Quilt for Backpacking?
A top quilt is a smaller, lightweight quilt that is sewn together at the foot in most quilts. Unlike sleeping bags, a quilt has no zipper running the length, and the back section that would be material has been removed.
The removal of this zipper and fabric has dramatically helped to lower the weight for the same basic protection and warmth. The sleeping quilt is made to keep you warm from losses to the outside air.
What is a Draft Collar on a Backpacking Quilt?
A draft collar helps prevent the cold from entering the quilt around your neck. You put your head into a downward position or close to your chest, and this causes heat loss through the top of the quilt.
A draft collar on a backpacking quilt will pull down over your shoulders and around your neck area, allowing no cold air in. This is not necessary for a quilt, but many hikers like to have it.
Why Thru-Hikers Choose Quilts Over Sleeping Bags?
A large part is due to the significantly smaller weight and packed size. Zippers are heavy and not able to be collapsed so having them and additional fabric removed allows for exceptional collapsibility and the same or similar warmth.
Weight over 2000+ miles is important and every ounce you can drop safely will only help you to be able to hike longer and with more ease.
How Wide Should a Backpacking Quilt Be?
This will depend more on your position and how you sleep, the amount you move, and based on this information you will be able to know what’s the right fit for you.
For many, a regular size will be fine if a back sleeper, but if you are a stomach sleeper or move lots in the night then the wider the better as this will allow movement but help to isolate and keep drafts out.
Are Quilts Better Than Sleeping Bags?
They are not always “better” but for most in a 3 season use, they will help remove excess weight and space requirements inside a backpack.
For those who go into winter and use the gear for a true four seasons sometimes a mummy bag will be better at protecting your head and neck area from the tremendous cold.
What is the Difference Between Fill Weight Versus Fill Power?
The fill weight is the actual weight of the down used to fill the space in the baffles. This weight is going to be lower the higher the fill power of the down allowing you to drop weight while not losing warmth.
Fill power is the lofting ability of the down and the higher the Fill Power the less total down you need to get the same amount of warmth, so as I said above you can drop the weight while still getting the same amount of warmth but the higher the Fill Power the more expensive.
The higher the fill power the more specific feathers are required but also the less of these feathers from the animals.
While I used to want to get a Revelation over the last 6 months I have been working to save towards a 20 degree UGQ Bandit from all the positives I have read and seen online I have become a convert for next season.
I currently use an OutdoorVitals Stormloft 15 degree bag that has served me very well through my needs but I want something with an open foot box and not a sewn closed as I found I prefer more foot freedom and the ability to move them, especially on warmer nights.
If you loved the detailed guide on choosing your top quilt then I think you will love my other gear-related guides below:
And Remember to HYOH as long as it doesn’t impact others and to always LNT!