Selecting the best ultralight quilt for the situations you are going to encounter can be a tough job, given the large number of options on the market today. We conducted real-life testing of these 6 top tier ultralight quilts to find out each of their breaking points and help you decide which of these is the best ultralight quilt for your needs. On the one hand, I completely realize that everyone sleeps differently, so temperature performance may be a little different for you than it was for me, but this at least gives you a baseline to go from.
For me personally, I’m looking for the best quilt for backcountry hunting and backpacking, so being lightweight is important. Additionally, I’ve got to have something that will keep me warm when I need it to, so a good dependable quilt that isn’t a hassle to get set up is important. So, which of these came out as the best ultralight quilt? Let’s take a look!
The Best Ultralight Quilts We Tested
For this review we set out to find the best ultralight quilt on the market, and were able to test the following top-notch, ultralight quilts:
- Sea to Summit Ember III
- Katabatic Flex 15
- Zpacks Solo Quilt
- Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt
- VIAM Outdoors Quilt
All of these ultralight quilts are excellent quality, but there is no better way to test their performance than out in the field. This meant sleeping many nights outside when I knew the temperatures were going to be pushing the lower limits of these quilts, but it was a great way to find their actual performance.
I tested every one of these quilts personally while wearing the same exact set of base layers (First Lite Wick ultralight long sleeve shirt and some mid-weight merino bottoms), as well as using the same pad (the Exped Downmat Winter UL with an R-Value of 7.1). I wanted to make sure everything was as equal across the board as possible to bring the most reliable results possible.
Katabatic Flex 15 Quilt | Best Ultralight Quilt
The Katabatic Flex Quilt was absolutely impressive during the testing of these best ultralight quilts. The quality of the build, fabrics used, loft, and features made the Katabatic Flex Quilt stand out among the group – so much so that it earned our “Backwoods Best Quilt” award. If you are looking for a super versatile, insanely comfortable, well thought-out design, the Katabatic Flex should be considered. The Flex Quilt features a huge draft collar, amazing loft, high quality 900+ fill down, a YKK zipper, and a snap and drawstring footbox which completely seals out all drafts if you have it cinched down.
You also have the ability to customize some features of the Katabatic Flex Quilt. Katabatic gives you lots of size options and the option to overstuff the Flex for extra warmth. The design of the pad strap system, along with the elastic around the edges of the underside of the quilt, is rock solid and does a fantastic job of making drafts a thing of the past for quilts. All in all, the Katabatic Flex Quilt was flat-out awesome.
I do wish there was a 2nd button around the collar (similar to the Enlightened Equipment Enigma), but that’s being pretty nit-picky. While the Flex Quilt isn’t the lightest of this group, coming in at 27 oz for the 15 degree model, it’s by no means heavy, especially for a 15 degree quilt that kept me warm below the stated temp rating. All Katabatic temperature ratings are a “comfort” ratings, so you’ll stay warm down to the temperature they give you.
Watch Our Video of the Katabatic Flex Quilt
For all the details on why the Katabatic Flex 15 Quilt earned our “Backwoods Best Quilt” award, READ OUR FULL REVIEW ON THE FLEX 15.
Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt
The Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt is a well-known staple among the best ultralight quilt options on the market. It’s tough to do much quilt research without coming across Enlightened Equipment Quilts, and there is a reason why. Enlightened Equipment Quilts are made of top-notch materials and can be purchased off the shelf or completely customized with specific materials, down fill, size, and features you prefer.
For this review I ordered a Custom Enigma Quilt with the highest down fill offered: 950+ fill, the lightest weight material offered (their 7D nylon), and an added draft collar. I was shooting for the lightest weight I could get to see how it compared to the other best ultralight quilt I tested – the Zpacks Solo Quilt.
The Enigma Quilt has long been considered one of the best ultralight quilts on the market and performed amazingly well for me. This 30 degree quilt kept me warm down to an impressive 28 degrees. The loft of this 950+ quilt is super impressive, as you can see in the picture above. I was extremely impressed with the Enigma Quilt all around. I wasn’t a huge fan of the elastic pad strap system, but it did a pretty good job of keeping drafts out, with one small modification I cover in my full review and video of the Enigma Quilt.
Watch Our Video Review Of The Enigma Quilt
To see all the details of what I liked and didn’t like about the Enigma Quilt, check out our FULL REVIEW ON THE ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT ENIGMA QUILT.
Sea to Summit Ember Quilt
The Sea to Summit Ember Quilt is a bit different than the other quilts I tested in this review. While almost all the other quilts featured a pad strap design that keeps the quilt on top of the pad (VIAM Outdoors is the only other exception), the Sea to Summit Ember is designed to have your pad slide into the footbox of the quilt.
Another design difference is the absence of a button or clip at the collar of the quilt. Instead, the Ember Quilt features hand pockets and a draw cord. I could see this working really well for stomach sleepers, but it wasn’t the best for me as a side sleeper.
The Sea to Summer Ember was one I wanted to test in my search for the best ultralight quilt, because the design is very different and interesting compared to a standard ultralight quilt. If you are familiar with Sea to Summit, you know they use high quality materials, and the Ember is no exception. It features 850+ fill Ultra-Dry down, a 10D nylon shell, and a 7D nylon liner. This combination is the same used in their Spark Series Sleeping Bags, which I’m a huge fan of.
Watch Our Video of the Ember Quilt
For all the details on what I liked and didn’t like about the Ember Quilt, READ OUR FULL REVIEW ON THE EMBER QUILT
Zpacks Solo Quilt
You can’t do a best ultralight quilt review without including the Zpacks Solo Quilt. This thing redefines “ultralight,” coming in at just 14.1 oz. for the 30 degree model that I tested. The Zpacks Solo Quilt is a minimalist-style quilt that takes out all of the frills but gives you as light a quilt as I’ve been able to find on the market.
I should note that when using a lower R-Value pad (the Exped Synmat UL) with an R-Value of 2.9, I got cold at about 35 degrees, rather than the 30 degrees I was able to squeeze out of it using it along with the Exped Downmat UL Pad. None-the-less, I was very impressed with the Zpacks Solo Quilt.
I loved the Zpacks Solo Quilt strap and found it to be one of the easiest to get set up. I found myself wishing there was a 2nd button around the neck area of the quilt, but was able to work around that and sufficiently keep drafts out. The cut of the Solo Quilt is quite generous and leaves you with enough room to move, but not so much that you lose efficiency. At the end of the day, the Zpacks Solo Quilt really is one of the best ultralight quilts out there when weight really matters.
Watch Our Video Review of the Zpacks Solo Quilt
For all the details on what I liked and didn’t like about the Zpacks Solo Quilt check out our FULL REVIEW ON THE ZPACKS SOLO QUILT.
VIAM Outdoors Quilt
The VIAM Outdoors Quilt was the only synthetic quilt I tested in my search for the best ultralight quilts. While most quilt makers tend to use down as their insulation of choice, VIAM Outdoors quilts use APEX insulation, which is a continuous filament insulation that helps eliminate cold spots. While synthetic insulation is heavier that down, it does a better job of retaining its insulation properties if you happen to get it wet. When wet weather is something you deal with regularly, the VIAM Outdoors Quilt is one to consider.
One of the things that is appealing about the VIAM Outdoor Quilt is the cost. You save a bundle of money vs. any of the other quits I tested. On the flip side, you add some ounces and the synthetic insulation doesn’t pack down as small as down, so there are tradeoffs, as usual. I wanted to bring the VIAM Outdoors Quilt into this search for the best ultralight quilt, because not everyone prefers down, and this quilt in one of the few synthetic quilts on the market.
For me personally, the VIAM Quilt didn’t quite hold to it’s temp rating. I tested the 10-degree model, but started getting a bit chilled in the low 20’s. I attribute at least some of that to not having the appropriately-sized quilt for me. I had a wide/long for the test, but really it was a bit too big. As you probably know, when your body has extra dead space to heat, your quilt or bag won’t be as thermally efficient, and I believe this was the case for me.
I’ve heard a lot of folks says these VIAM Outdoors Quilts hold to their temperature ratings well, so take my experience with the grain of salt, given that this was the wide model.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the draw strings used on the footbox and collar. I found them to be a little cumbersome to use (especially in the middle of the night), and never felt like I was able to get the footbox completely sealed off. Maybe I was doing something wrong, but no matter how I tried to cinch down the draw string, there still seemed to be a little gap where cold air could get in. This could easily be solved by stuffing your puffy jacket down in the bottom of your quilt on cold nights, and it wouldn’t be an issue at all on warmer nights.
The pad straps on the VIAM Outdoors Quilt are similar to the Sea to Summit Ember Quilt in that they are designed to go under the pad, with the quilt also tucking under your pad. The pad straps don’t have any adjustment, oddly, so you can’t adjust how snug or loose the quilt fits around you. I do wish the pad straps were more adjustable, as every other quilt I’ve tested has this feature, and it’s one of the things that adds to the versatility of a quilt. Some people prefer this design, and some prefer the quilt to attach on top of your pad. It just comes down to personal preference.
My Rankings for the Best Ultralight Quilts
Overall Best Ultralight Quilt: Katabatic Flex 15
Lightest Quilt: Zpacks Solo Quilt
Best Ultralight Quilt For Stomach sleepers: Sea to Summit Ember
Most Customizable Ultralight Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Quilts
Best Ultralight Quilt For Wet Weather: VIAM Outdoors Quilt
Best Ultralight Quilt Review: Conclusion
Each one of these ultralight quilts offers some great features and has their place among some of the best backpacking quilts available. Which one you lean towards depends on what features are most important to you. If finding the best ultralight quilt is most important and leaving a few frills behind is OK, the Zpacks Solo Quilt is awesome. If you want the best of the best, I’d go with the Katabatic Flex or the Katabatic Elite Quilt. The Sea to Summit Ember is a very unique quilt that is great for stomach sleepers, and the Enlightened Equipment Enigma is so customizable, you’ll be sure to get exactly what you want.
If a down quilt isn’t going to be the best option for you, a Viam Outdoors quilt is a great option, as it excels in wet climates vs down options. No matter which one you pick, they are all great options and some of the best ultralight quilts on out there.
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