Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping – 7 Practical Comparisons

Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping
Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Camping in a hammock is a wonderful way to get close to nature, and there are lots of ways to be warm and comfortable while doing it. Using a sleeping bag or overquilt are two ways to consider.

Sleeping Bag Vs Overquilt – You can burrow down in a sleeping bag, and it protects your top, back, and sides from the cold. In contrast, an overquilt has less bulk and weight, but your back is left exposed to the ground. Using further sleep gear with an overquilt is advised.

But there’s way more to it than that—I’ve done lots of research and pulled from my own experiences to provide a detailed head-to-head guide below.

FeatureSleeping BagOverquilt
WeightQuite lightLighter than a sleeping bag
ComfortDepends on bag type; mummy bags can be claustrophobicExcellent; you can move more freely
WarmthDepends on bag type; all-around warmthGreat warmth on top and your sides
VersatilityDepends on bag typeNot that versatile
Packed SizeCompact; bigger than overquiltQuite compact
ConvenienceCan be challenging to get intoVery convenient
PriceMore affordableExpensive

Sleeping Bag Pros and Cons – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

The first thing to note is that there are multiple types of sleeping bags. Mummy bags are best for staying warm, and rectangular bags are great for being roomy. I go into more details when comparing mummy vs rectangular sleeping bags directly.

I’m going to focus a lot on mummy bags as they’re the most comparable to overquilts. However, I’ll mention rectangular bags when needed.

Sleeping Bags – Pros

  • Many newer campers will already own one
  • Can be affordable, especially rectangular bags
  • Retain heat well
  • Different bags for different seasons; bags come with various temperature ratings
  • All-around protection; your back is protected from the cold hammock underside
  • Adding a liner can add 10 degrees of warmth

Sleeping Bags – Cons

  • Mummy bags can feel claustrophobic
  • Not always compact

Overquilt Pros and Cons – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Overquilts aren’t to be confused with camping blankets. You may hear an overquilt be called a “camping quilt”, and that’s often where the confusion lies. You’ll also hear them called a topquilt.

A camping blanket is a lightweight regular quilt made for camping. An overquilt is like a mummy sleeping bag without a back. 

Overquilts have the same tapered shape as a mummy sleeping bag, and many have a “foot box” you tuck your feet into for more warmth. However, they’re wider across your torso and your shoulders, and they don’t wrap around your body and zip you inside them.

Overquilt – Pros

  • Having an overquilt on you will feel more like you’re in a real bed vs being stuffed into a sleeping bag
  • Less fabric means they’re usually lighter and more compact
  • They’re more versatile than a sleeping bag while in use; you can move them around to adjust their comfort and warmth

Overquilt – Cons

  • They’re often down, and that’s expensive
  • Your back is left exposed to the cold under the hammock

Weight – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Overquilt

It depends on the bag and overquilt you select, but overquilts are generally lighter. There’s less fabric in them, so that makes sense.

Overquilts can sometimes be heavier than sleeping bags—for example, a synthetic overquilt vs a down sleeping bag.

Let’s compare two synthetic products from the same company:

This will vary from company to company. Always compare product weights directly if it’s important to you, though—don’t just rely on the “less fabric, less weight” logic.

Comfort – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Overquilt

Comfort is subjective, so it’s not up to me to determine this. However, overquilts seem to win when you think through things logically.

For example, mummy sleeping bags are constraining. They’re contoured to fit your body, and your legs are jammed tightly together while in them. If you like to wriggle while you sleep, then you won’t like this!

Overquilts are also tapered to fit your body, but they’re roomier above the hips, and you can easily slide a leg out of the quilt if you’re feeling too trapped.

And, as this camper points out, overquilts are often the better choice for bulkier people.

You can utilize a rectangular sleeping bag instead, but it’s often not as warm as an overquilt, as there’s lots of room for cool air to move around.

Warmth – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Sleeping bag

You’re always going to be warmer in a sleeping bag because your heat is trapped in there with you.

Overquilts are excellently warm, don’t get me wrong! They’re generally highly insulated, and often, the warmth difference is within a few degrees of a bag.

However, your back is exposed with overquilts, and you’ll likely get what’s known as “cold butt syndrome”—the cold air circulating under your hammock will make the back of your body chilly.

You can pair an overquilt with an underquilt or a sleeping pad. I compare the two here in sleeping pad vs underquilt in hammocks

But you won’t always need a pad or underquilt with a sleeping bag. The bag is insulated all around, and it’s zipped right up to your neck. This helps trap the warm air inside with you, especially in a mummy bag.

Versatility – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Rectangular sleeping bag

Overquilts and mummy sleeping bags have a pretty defined shape. This stunts their usability for other things, so they’re not that versatile.

That’s where rectangular sleeping bags come in.

You can lay a rectangular bag down and use it as a picnic blanket, use it as a quilt, wrap it around you like a shawl, and even zip it up with other bags. There are tons of uses for them!

If you want something versatile, then a rectangular sleeping bag is a good tool to have.

Packed Size – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Overquilt

Like with weight, overquilts usually win when compared to sleeping bags. There’s less fabric, so there’s less to condense down into a small shape. This can even apply when looking at the smallest sleeping bags.

Again, it depends on the brand and whether your bag/quilt is down vs synthetic. Down compresses smaller.

However, if your bag and quilt are both synthetic or both down, then the overquilt will be just a little smaller than the bag.

Convenience – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Overquilt

The general consensus among campers is that overquilts are way more convenient.

They’re easier to get into and more adjustable. With sleeping bags, you often have to wiggle around and bend in strange ways to get the bag to come up under you.

Sleeping bags aren’t too difficult to use, though! They won’t be a burden if they’re your preference. You can still definitely use either a bag or an overquilt without it negatively impacting your night.

Price – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Winner: Sleeping bags

You might be shocked by this, but sleeping bags are often more affordable than overquilts! 

For example, look at the ALPS products compared in the weight section: here’s the sleeping bag, here’s the quilt. The quilt is more expensive.

Even when selecting random, low-cost, extreme budget options, sleeping bags are more affordable. Searching broadly for “sleeping bag” will often show you selections like this for under $50. 

The least expensive overquilt I found when searching proudly cost over $50 and the price climbs depending on the temperature rating.

The price difference gets even more extreme when looking at Rei, a popular outdoor gear brand. Rei has many sleeping bags for under $200, and there aren’t many over $300. Their overquilts are all in the $300–$400 range.

Rei’s overquilts are down, so the extreme price jump makes sense—down lasts a very, very long time, which I explore in this article answering how long do sleeping bags last.

Alternatives to Sleeping Bags and Overquilts – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

You don’t have to use a sleeping bag or an overquilt. Here are some other options you can consider.

Camping Blanket – Alternatives to Sleeping Bags and Overquilts

Camping blankets are bigger and broader. They don’t have a tapered shape like overquilts, and they’re a great choice if you truly want to feel like you’re at home and sleeping in your own bed.

Wool Blanket – Alternatives to Sleeping Bags and Overquilts

Wool blankets can keep you very warm, especially if you get more than one. I compare how you’ll do with a wool blanket vs sleeping bag if you’d like a more in-depth look.

They’re a great option if you want something softer and homier.

Emergency Blankets – Alternatives to Sleeping Bags and Overquilts

Do emergency space blankets work? Yes! If your budget is tight, then emergency blankets work great. They’re not as good as regular gear, but they’re cheap, can be bought in bulk, and are highly underrated.

Emergency blankets can help prevent hypothermia in an unexpected cold snap, so it’s good to always have one with you as a backup/emergency item anyway.

They’re also extremely versatile, which I explore in my emergency blanket vs bivy comparison.

Are Quilts Better Than Sleeping Bags? – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Quilts are lighter and have less bulk than sleeping bags, and they’re often less constraining. However, sleeping bags are snugger and usually warmer than quilts.

Overquilts win in a lot of the categories above, but it doesn’t mean they’re better—in every comparison, they basically win by a hair.

Can I Use A Sleeping Bag As A Quilt? – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

You can use a sleeping bag as a quilt, but it’s better to use a rectangular bag for it. A mummy bag is too tapered, so it won’t cover you the way a quilt will. If you can use a real quilt instead of using a sleeping bag as one, then do so.

Some sleeping bags zip out into quilts. These are called hybrid sleeping bags, and you might want to consider them if you’re indecisive about what you want.

Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping
Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Conclusion: Who’s The Winner? – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

Overquilts win in four out of the seven categories I explored above, but it doesn’t mean they win overall. It just means they’re marginally better in certain situations—sleeping bags are still a worthy competitor, and they’re my preference. I like all-around warmth.

But sleeping bags may not be your preference. Maybe you prefer the light, compact nature of overquilts, and that’s fine. And you may not like overquilts or sleeping bags. 

Every camper and sleeping system is different, so experiment. Play with different setups until you find the one that works best for you. Hopefully, my guide will help you decide what kind of setup you want to experiment with.

Frequently Asked Questions – Sleeping Bag vs Overquilt for Great Hammock Camping

What Are the Most Essential Differences Between Sleeping Bags and Overquilts? – FAQs

While both the sleeping bag and the overquilt serve to keep you warm when camping or backpacking, they are not exactly the same.

For maximum comfort and defense against the cold and damp, the human body should be completely encased in a sleeping bag. Common features include a hood for protection from the elements and a zipper for a secure fit. There is a wide variety of sleeping bags available, each with its own shape, size, and temperature rating.

On the other hand, an overquilt is meant to be used on top of a sleeping bag or hammock to provide additional warmth. They don’t seal off the room completely, but they do add to the insulation already present in the bedroom. Because they can be shed easily when you start to warm up, overquilts offer more flexibility than sleeping bags.

When compared to overquilts, sleeping bags are noticeably lighter and more convenient to transport. For the same level of warmth, overquilts and sleeping bags serve different purposes, with sleeping bags being heavier and bulkier. Unlike sleeping bags, overquilts typically pack down into a more manageable size for transport in a backpack.

If you’re trying to decide between a sleeping bag and an overquilt, the answer lies solely within your own personal preferences and requirements. A sleeping bag may be the best choice if you’re concerned about staying warm and dry while outdoors. An overquilt could be a better option if you’re looking for something that’s not too bulky but still provides warmth.

What is an Emergency Blanket? – FAQs

A lightweight and highly reflective sheet of material, an emergency blanket (also known as a space blanket or Mylar blanket) is used to help prevent hypothermia and provide protection in times of emergency.

Up to 90% of the user’s body heat is reflected back to them thanks to the blanket’s thin plastic sheets coated with a metallic film. The individual’s body heat is trapped within the blanket, helping to keep them toasty warm.

The emergency blanket is a standard item in the gear of campers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Also, many survival and first aid kits include them.

The highly reflective surface of an emergency blanket allows it to serve dual purposes as both a blanket and a signaling device. As a result of their ability to reflect light, objects of this hue are often visible from great distances.

To sum up, an emergency blanket is a must-have for anyone who enjoys spending time outside or who wants to be ready for any unexpected situation. Because of its small size and portability, it is a great addition to any emergency kit.

Ben Wann- Tent Camping Expert

My name is Ben Wann, and I’m a lifelong tent camper and backpacker who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.