Do I Need a Draft Collar on My Quilt?

A man sporting a backpack (with a draft collar on his quilt inside).

Chances are: you’re an experienced backpacker. That might also mean you’re already equipped with the knowledge we’ll share with you today. Okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement there; these tips representing some special knowledge and all that talk. Nevertheless, knowing whether you need a draft collar on your quilt or not is something you’d call necessary backpacking info!

If you’re a beginner, you mightn’t even know what a draft collar on a quilt is. Or: there’s a chance you’re not familiar with quilts being a sine qua non of your average backpacker’s inventory. That’s why we’ll elaborate on those terms first! In the rest of the article, you’ll get a thorough answer to the question in the title: do you need a draft collar on your quilt?

You might want to consider opting for a backpacking quilt that comes with a draft collar. It won’t make much of a difference regarding the weight of your backpack, and it’ll provide you with some extra warmth (if you’re backpacking in cold weather). It won’t let any other warm air accumulated inside your quilt escape! 

Now, there’s absolutely nothing suggesting you should stop right there! Feel free to check out the rest of this text!

Table of Contents

Backpacking (quilts) 101

Before we consider our main topic of the day, it might be good to see some basic info concerning a certain piece of backpacking gear called a quilt! Here are some FAQs related to the item!

Backpacking vs. camping

This one’s the absolute kind of FAQ concerning the topic of backpacking so we might as well answer it first. What’s the main difference between these two activities? The thing is: backpackers hike to their campsite (carrying all the gear on their backs). On the other hand, campers are the ones that usually drive towards the same point. Also, backpackers are more mobile than their camping counterparts.

For a more detailed look into the backpacking vs. camping debate, read our article on the subject.

What are backpacking quilts?

Here’s the simplest answer: it’s like a sleeping bag created to suit the needs of backpackers worldwide. What’s the main attribute backpackers want their pieces of gear to possess? Can you take a guess? Of course, the word we’re looking for is LIGHTWEIGHT. Quilts are very popular with all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts (most notably: the so-called ultralight backpackers).

Now, that was a really loose definition, don’t ya think? Here we’ll show you other characteristics a backpacking quilt possesses:

  • In essence, a backpacking quilt is 1/2 of a regular camping sleeping bag. They take so little of the free space inside your backpack (and here’s how you’ll clean one).
  • Also, it doesn’t have the iconic mummy-style hood or a complete bottom layer. Additionally, there are no zippers either.

Now, that’s about all there’s to say about a single backpacking quilt’s main attributes.

Are backpacking quilts good for side sleepers?

Good question! You’ll wanna know that backpacking quilts are more versatile than their less-compressible older brothers (sleeping bags). That being said, they provide a whole lot comfier experience for folks who toss & turn in their sleep and are generally used to sleeping on their side.

Also, if you’re wondering why backpacking quilts are usually more expensive, you’ll wanna read this one!

Are there different types of quilts?

It’s safe to say that there are! Although, we can only differentiate between topquilts and underquilts. One’s for ground sleepers, the other is for folks that prefer hammocks. We’ll leave it up to you to figure out which is which.

Are backpacking quilts warm?

As we’ve already pointed out, backpacking quilts are well-known for their versatility; they allow their users to enjoy more freedom of movement than their camping counterparts (obviously: who else but sleeping bags). However, that’s got a price of its own – they tend to be a little colder than sleeping bags with the same temperature rating since there’s no mummy-style hood or a complete bottom layer. 

That’s exactly where draft collars enter the picture!

What is a draft collar on a quilt?

Now, here’s a term we’ll be using quite a lot today; a draft collar’s something you’d call a tube of fabric. Its position is quite clear: the head end of your average backpacking quilt. A draft collar’s usually stuffed with goose or duck down. Let’s see how it works!

How does a draw collar work?

So, what’s the deal with the so-called draw collars? What’s their function exactly? Here’s your answer: a draw collar is made with the intention to wrap around the high end of your chest, going around your shoulder tops. This way, it prevents the accumulated-while-you-sleep warm air escape into the night (due to your frequent or less-frequent moving while in dreamland). The thing is: all that nice, warm air you’ve accumulated during your sleep is basically forced out of your backpacking quilt when you move in your sleep.

Needless to say, this is a fantastic solution for backpackers who prefer to do their outdoor adventuring in colder climates. Okay, so that’s about it on the subject of FAQs concerned with backpacking quilts! It’s time to answer the question everyone’s set their eyes on: do I need a draft collar on my quilt?

A man backpacking out in the great outdoors.

Do I need a draft collar on my quilt?

So, here we are! Without further ado, let’s see if one should utilize a draft collar on their quilt or simply avoid carrying it!

It goes without saying, but one could guess we’re gonna talk about weight again. It’s like all backpackers ever think about, right? Of course, we’re only kidding; there are some good reasons why your usual backpacker would wanna travel light. Anyway, if a draft collar adds weight to your backpack, but keeps you warm at the same time, what should you do? Do you wanna bring it along?

You’re quite used to seeing this answer and there’s a good chance you’re not a fan of it, but there’s just no other way of talking about this subject: it’s not a YES or NO kind of thing. It depends on what’s your priority: going ultralight (draft collars, obviously, aren’t so popular among the ultralight crowd) or adding some extra warmth to your nights out in the open. Also, you’ll need to consider whether you’re a so-called warm or cold sleeper? Warm sleepers are the ones that end up waking up sweaty in the middle of the night, and cold sleepers are the ones that demand you find ’em some extra blankets (cause it can never be hot enough).

If you’re a cold sleeper, it’s safe to say you’d wanna consider buying a high-quality quilt that comes with a draft collar or adding the collar to the trusty quilt you’re sporting for all these years. A little extra weight won’t make that much of a difference (unless you’re something of a weight fetishist). All in all: you’d wanna sacrifice a little lightweightedness for a little extra comfiness (which is never something bad).

How do I make my backpacking quilt warmer?

Now that we’ve gone through the most important section of the article, we might wanna check out some other ways you can make your backpacking quilt warmer (besides utilizing a draft collar). For folks used to backpacking surrounded by harsh weather conditions (read: extremely cold temperatures), these might come in handy. Here are the ways you can make your nights in the open wild warmer (and comfier en général):

  • You could consider opting for a mummy-style sleeping bag instead. However, that’s just too easy.
  • You can try to utilize something of a cover for your backpacking quilt, made from the so-called breathable nylon. That’s the material windbreaker jackets are made from. 
  • You could try wearing a warmer (thicker) down jacket and pants. Also, you might want to consider wearing a hat & gloves combo. All in all: wear warmer clothing.
  • You can try wearing two quilts at the same time. Although, if you were to go for that option – why shouldn’t you just obtain a warm sleeping bag.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry and dehydrated! Even though this hasn’t got anything to do with clothing, going to bed hungry and dehydrated is a definite no-no when backpacking in colder climates! 
  • Oh, and what about sporing a good ol’ fleece balaclava? Just so your head stays warm throughout the cold night. 

Now, these were some of the ways you can guarantee yourself an experience that’s got nothing to do with freezing in the cold outdoors. While most of these will work, most backpackers would agree it’s best you only find a warmer quilt that comes with a draft collar. Adding this or that won’t hurt, but you should always rely on the warm quilt & draft collar combo for maximum comfiness.

A word or two before we’re off to sleep (equipped with a draft collar)

Alright, folks! That’s about all there’s to the answer to the question: do I need a draft collar on my quilt? Now you’re well-equipped for taking on more serious backpacking trails and in more serious weather!

If you’re wondering where to find extra backpacking tips, don’t hesitate to visit this section of our blog!

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