Photo courtesy of Enlightened Equipment
When you’re camping, especially in the winter, staying warm is critical for both your health and being comfortable. Without the proper gear, winter conditions can cause mild illnesses, as well as serious illnesses such as hypothermia.
A camping quilt is a well-insulated blanket. A camping quilt allows you the freedom of movement that you would get with a regular blanket but a camping quilt has more insulation and a tougher outer shell than a regular blanket.
Now that you know what a camping quilt is, here’s what we cover so you know how to use it.
How to Use Your Camping Quilt
Car, RV camping, and Backpacking
Using your camping quilt is very simple. Many are designed to have a pouch (or footbed) at the bottom in which you will slide your feet, just as you would with a sleeping bag. You could consider a camping quilt to be a sleeping bag with no zippers.
There are many integrated mattress/quilt systems that are designed to work together. These quilts have snaps that allow you to attach the quilt to your mattress, another quilt, or a camping sheet. If you get overheated under your quilt, simply unhook as much of the quilt as you need from the mattress to allow more air to flow under the quilt.
Thermarest offers a wide variety of camping quilts for all applications, as well as camping mattresses that are designed to work with the quilt. Gear like ground pads are also necessary to keep your back well insulated when using a camping quilt.
If you’re camping in a hammock, you can purchase an underquilt. An underquilt is a camping quilt that wraps around both you and your hammock. Underquilts are critical in the winter if you plan to sleep in your hammock, as cold breezes can chill your back.
To use your underquilt, you must run one hammock strap through each end of the quilt when setting up the hammock. This method allows the underquilt to stay in place, and not slide down every time you move
ENO makes several different types of underquilts that are highly recommended. Although these are made by ENO, they work with most other hammock brands!
You can also use a camping quilt when hammock camping. There are two disadvantages to this, though. Camping quilts do not have any features that secure the quilt to the hammock. This will cause the quilt to gradually slide down, leaving you in the cold. The other disadvantage is that camping quilts don’t wrap around, so your back still may get cold in the hammock.
If you choose not to get an underquilt, you can place a ground pad inside of your hammock to lay on. Although you’re not on the ground, the ground pad will still insulate your back from the cold and the wind!
What Makes a Camping Quilt Different from a Regular Quilt?
There are many differences between the standard quilt and a camping quilt. Camping quilts are designed to perform outdoors, where the standard quilt merely keeps you warm. The following list will explain each of the differences, and why these differences make camping quilts well worth the investment.
- Camping quilts are designed to loosely drape over you and attach to your camp mattress. This allows the mattress to add additional insulation underneath you, as there’s less airflow going under the blanket. This design allows free movement, whereas a sleeping bag would restrict your movement.
- Camping quilts are very lightweight, making them much more comfortable to carry when you’re camping or backpacking. Many of these quilts are made with synthetic nylon or down, making them only weight ounces.
- The material in which camping quilts are made (synthetics or down) causes the quilt much more breathable than a standard cotton or wool quilt. While breathability may not seem important when it’s cold, it will make a big difference if you begin to get overheated during the night.
These differences can make or break both your comfort and your health when camping in cold temperatures. While both camping quilts and sleeping bags are very similar, a camping quilt weighs less, packs smaller, and allows for more movement than you would have in a sleeping bag.
Can You Take a Regular Quilt Camping?
Of course, you can! Just because camping quilts are designed for camping, it doesn’t mean that regular quilts will be bad. The main reason to avoid taking regular quilts won’t keep you warm. It is recommended to use a camping quilt, but if it’s not in the budget, you can get by with a regular quilt.
If you’re backpacking, you may want to avoid using a regular quilt. The average quilt weighs around 7lbs, whereas a camping quilt weighs around 1lb. This is a significant difference when you have to carry your gear on your back.
In addition to weight, a down or synthetic camping quilt will be much more compressible, making more room for other gear in your backpack. A standard quilt will merely fold, and in some cases won’t even fit in the backpack.
If you’re car camping or camping in an RV, a regular quilt will work just fine. While the disadvantages are primarily weight and size, these issues won’t matter as much if you don’t have to carry your gear very far. In this situation, a regular quilt is a great inexpensive alternative to a camping quilt.
Should you use a Camping Quilt or Sleeping Bag?
There are many things to consider when choosing between a camping quilt and a sleeping bag. While both have their advantages, it’s all depends on preference, as well as camping conditions. When it comes to insulation, always be sure to take a ground pad or camp mattress. Neither a sleeping bag or camping quilt will be able to insulate you from the ground that you’re lying on.
Camping quilts are excellent for many applications. If you are planning with sleeping with your partner, camping quilts are available in much larger sizes than many sleeping bags. This is also perfect if you have children sleeping in the tent as well.
Sharing a camping quilt can eliminate the issue of carrying multiple pieces of gear, thus, reducing the weight that you have to carry. Camping quilts often pack down smaller than sleeping bags, as they are meant to drape over you instead of under.
Camping quilts are more versatile than sleeping bags for year-round camping. Sleeping bags zip up to close out any air flow. If you’re camping in the summer, this can cause discomfort and other issues when you begin to overheat. A camping quilt is open on the bottom, and there is more room to move around under the quilt.
Being able to move around under the quilt, as well as being able to move it around as needed makes a camping quilt much more comfortable in the summer, while it can also keep you warm in the winter!
Sleeping bags are best for people that don’t move around very much in their sleep, as they can restrict movement. If you mostly stay in one position throughout the night, a sleeping bag might be a better option for you.
Although sleeping bags can restrict movement, they are often much better in frigid weather. Sleeping bags wrap tightly around the body, providing more insulation. To achieve this insulation with a camping quilt, you must have a ground pad or camping mattress.
One factor that many skeptics mention when considering a quilt, is how does a camping quilt insulate your back when laying on the ground? Sleeping bags wrap all the way around you, which provides more insulation. Although this that is true, there’s one thing that many people forget.
When you lay on the ground in your sleeping bag, the bottom of the bag is compressed, which compresses the loft of the sleeping bag. The ground will feel just as cold as it would when not laying in a sleeping bag. Whether you’re using a quilt or a sleeping bag, the ground pad or camp mattress is what insulates your back while lying on the ground.
To sum things up, it all depends on preference when choosing a sleeping bag or camping quilt. If you’re looking for the most lightweight option, a camping quilt and ground pad are the best options. If temperatures are going to be very cold, you may want to consider a sleeping bag and ground pad, since the sleeping bag wraps more tightly around your body.
Whether you’re RV camping or backpacking, a camping quilt is an excellent piece of gear to add to your collection. Camping quilts are offered in many different shapes, sizes, and materials, making them very universal for everyone. There are even options for those of you who choose to camp in a hammock.
If you plan to camp year-round, a camping quilt is a great versatile option, as it keeps you warm in the winter, and it’s breathable and lightweight in the summer!
No matter what you choose, always be sure that you have a good ground pad or camp mattress. Without these, your back will still get cold, and you won’t be nearly as comfortable while camping as you should be.