It’s no secret that sleeping bags are an essential part of camping gear. Without a sleeping bag, you’ll probably spend the night shivering in your tent when the sun goes down. But have you ever heard of a camping duvet?
Duvets—and no, not the kind that sit on your grandma’s couch—are a great companion for hikers and campers looking for a lightweight sleeping system for their outdoor adventures. Unlike a traditional sleeping bag, they are designed without a bottom or hood, helping to reduce weight and bulk.
While most campers opt for a standard rectangular or mummy sleeping bag for their outdoor adventures, camping duvets are most commonly used by backpackers, transiters and anyone who likes ultralight camping, such as hammock campers. They also make a great extra layer on top of a regular sleeping bag on extra cold nights.
We tested the Sea to Summit Cinder Down Quilt on a few camping trips this season to see what all the hype is about. This is what we found.
A down comforter that gives you all the warmth without the weight
The Cinder is a super-foldable down duvet designed for weight-conscious backpackers or campers who want an extra layer of warmth. Go for this quilt if you want more versatility for how you sleep outside, such as an extra layer during the colder seasons, a throw for around the fire or a lightweight option for warm weather camping.
Duvets make all the difference for people who want to travel with less weight or go camping with an extra layer of warmth. Like sleeping bags, duvets are filled with real or synthetic down and are used as a top cover when sleeping or hanging out at home or camping.
Being an avid car camper myself, an ultra-light sleeping system is not usually something I bring to the campsite. I’m used to packing heavier and heavier sleeping bags (or extra blankets) into my SUV when I know it’s going to get cold. However, when I heard about the Sea to Summit Cinder Quilt, I knew I had to give it a try.
Although pricey, the versatility and quality of the Sea to Summit Cinder Quilt make it worth the investment. This quilt can be used in a variety of ways and in all seasons: take it with you when backpacking as a lightweight alternative, throw it on top of your sleeping bag for an extra layer of warmth, or use it as a blanket when camping in the warmer months.
Lightweight and versatile
When heading out for a long trek or multi-day backpacking trip, it is imperative to consider how much weight is in your backpack. The Cinder Quilt’s ultimate use case was intended as a lighter alternative to a full-size backcountry sleeping bag. Because the quilt has no back or hood, it is much smaller than an average sleeping bag. Sea to Summit insulated this quilt with a super high 750+ fill power, ensuring a “lowest comfort temperature” of up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
It also comes with an included storage bag that allows you to compress the quilt even more. When compressed in its storage bag, the quilt is about the same height and width as two Nalgene water bottles and weighs just under 1.5 pounds (23.3 ounces).
If you’re not into backpacking but want a warm extra layer to take to the campsite, the Cinder is also a great option. This fall, while staying with a group of friends at Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit, I was thankful to have brought my Cinder Quilt. In mid-October we had unusually cold weather and temperatures dropped below 30 degrees at night.
To stay protected from the cold, I threw the Cinder Quilt on top of my regular sleeping bag before bed for an extra layer of warmth. Temperatures dropped to 31 degrees Fahrenheit the first night and the quilt kept me warm all night. Placing the sleeping duvet on my regular sleeping bag provided 10 degrees of extra warmth, as I usually sleep in 40 degrees in my regular sleeping bag without feeling cold. I decided to put the Cinder in my regular sleeping bag on night two when the temperature hovered around 36 degrees Fahrenheit and had to take the quilt out because I ended up getting too hot.
The Cinder is clearly a great option if you want to supplement the sleep system that already needs to get you more ready for cold weather. However, it is more versatile than that. The Cinder Quilt makes a fantastic throw blanket around the campfire (or even in your living room), thanks to a set of pouches in the top corners that allowed me to slip my hands in and hug the quilt even more tightly around my body. Talk about super cozy.
Smart design and functions
For such a simple quilt, the Cinder comes with a surprisingly thoughtful design and smart array of features. Sea to Summit designed this quilt with its own QuiltLock system for a more secure and snug fit around sleeping bags and sleeping mats.
On top of the poppers that secure the Cinder Quilt to any Sea to Summit sleeping bag, it also comes with four detachable and adjustable straps that allow you to secure the quilt around the back of a sleeping mat for a better fit. The detachable straps can also be loosened or tightened, depending on how much space you need for your body between the sleeping pad and the top duvet.
At the top and bottom of the quilt is a built-in drawstring that can be pulled tight to tie together and create a foot space in cold weather or around your neckline to prevent unwanted drafts. This comes in handy on cooler or windy nights, especially since this quilt doesn’t have a hood.
While the Cinder Quilt is a great option for spring, summer and early fall, when the cool weather months come, you may want to repurpose this as a standalone sleeping system. It makes a great extra layer on top of a regular sleeping bag; however, this quilt probably won’t just keep you warm in cold weather.
As mentioned, when I used this quilt in my regular sleeping bag while camping in the car, I started to feel hot – so hot that I started sweating. The result: My skin started sticking to the inside of my Cinder Quilt. Nylon, polyester, and taffeta quilts hold up best for warm-weather comfort, while nylon is known for clinging to your skin, especially when you sweat.
If you’re wearing this quilt in warmer weather, it’s best not to sleep in your birthday suit. Instead, wear a T-shirt (or long sleeves if that makes sense) and sleep pants made of a fabric known to wick away sweat, such as merino wool or synthetic material like polyester. You can also bring a sleeping bag liner to snuggle up in. That way, the extra layer prevents your skin from sticking to your sleeping mat and duvet.
The Cinder Quilt is no small investment. At $249, it’s a hefty price tag for a piece of outdoor gear. That said, the Cinder is comparable to, if not cheaper than, comparable quilts on the market. (We’ll dive into how it stacks up against the competition below.) Key features that factor into its high price are the fact that it’s insulated with 100% RDS down, insulated with a fill power of over 750, and its reputation of Sea to Summit as a brand that designs products that are built to last.
While no two duvets are made exactly the same, they all have one thing in common: They make great camping companions due to their versatility, packability, and added warmth.
In general, the more expensive the duvet, the warmer and more compact you can expect. The Cinder is very similar to competitors in the market in terms of weight, comfort temperature and price. However, in my testing, I found the Cinder Quilt to be a very high performing and reliable quilt for a very reasonable price.
Similar to the REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt and Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt, the Cinder Quilt clocks in at just over 1 pound and each of these bags falls within 5 degrees of each other for the lowest comfort temperature. The biggest differences come into play when comparing fill power and price. The REI Magma Trail is the most expensive comparable quilt ($329), but it packs the smallest to a volume of 3 liters in its stuff sack. Of the three duvets, the Magma Trail also promises the most warmth. The Therm-a-Rest Corus has a slightly lower volume of 4 liters in its stuff sack and has only a slightly higher price ($269.95) than the Sea to Summit Cinder Quilt.
Here’s a full look at these three very similar quilts:
Whether your adventures take you deep into the backcountry, your local state park, or a camping spot in your own backyard, the Cinder Quilt can be a useful piece of equipment to add to your camping checklist. Its versatility to use as a stand-alone comforter or an extra layer on top of a regular sleeping bag means you’re more likely to use it after your investment. From its packability to its durable design, the Sea to Summit Cinder Down Quilt is a piece of gear I can promise you won’t regret.