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A Quilt That’s an Even Better Sleeping Bag: Sierra Designs Elemental Quilt Review

It's a bag! It's a quilt! It's both. Sierra Designs is joining the ranks of brands like Enlightened Equipment, Sea to Summit, and REI Co-op to offer a roomier, more versatile twist on the sleeping bag: the Elemental Quilt.

Editor Mary murphy in the sierra designs sleeping bagEditor Mary murphy in the Sierra Designs sleeping bag; (photo/Chris Peters)
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The only true constant is change. If there’s anything that perfectly epitomizes that statement, it’s Colorado’s weather. Specifically, the early spring months many of us lovingly still know as “winter” or “false spring.” It was during this time, beginning a couple of months ago, when I started testing the Sierra Designs Elemental Quilt.

Obviously, testing a 35-degree Fahrenheit sleeping bag this time of year is tricky, and I had to rely a lot on “nicer” weather windows. Even when it was on the colder side, I was still able to find half a dozen places and scenarios in which to accurately test a bag of this rating. I tested it on a hut trip, in a winterized cabin, and dry camping in my vehicle a few times. Now, I’m preparing to embark on an overnight backpacking trip. And I fully plan on bringing this sleeping bag-quilt crossover along.

In short: The Elemental Quilt is not a one-size-fits-all piece of gear, nor will it work for every camper in every situation. But the Elemental Quilt is worth checking out, especially if you are looking for something that offers synthetic fill and a roomier design. This quilt will serve tossers-and-turners, wigglers, or side-sleepers well. It’s a darn fine piece of sleeping gear, thanks to the convertible bag-quilt combo design.

Sierra Designs Elemental Quilt 35 Degrees


  • Materials 100% recycled 10-denier nylon ripstop shell, 20-denier nylon taffeta liner
  • Fill 100% recycled SierraLoft Eco synthetic insulation
  • Size/length 78"
  • Temp rating 35F
  • ISO Rated Comfort 40F; ISO Rated Limit: 31F
  • Bag type Mummy, quilt/convertible
  • Features Adjustable hood, draft collar, double-layered footbox, insulated pockets
  • Verified weight 2 lbs. 4 oz. (with bag)


  • Great warmth for bag of this rating
  • Lots of configuration options (for sleeping/wearing)
  • Zippers slide well
  • 2 lb. weight is impressive for synthetic 35-degree bag


  • Wrinkles easily
  • Footbox design could be more streamlined
  • Only comes in one size (not good for users 6' or taller)

Winter & Spring Elemental Quilt Testing

I had ample time to test my Elemental Quilt sample. It was the timing that proved tricky to nail down. In all, I tested this bag in temps down to 10 degrees F — well below what this bag is rated to — and up to about 45 degrees F. I used it a couple of times as a bag and a couple of times as a quilt — and often in between bag/quilt mode too. I tested it between January and April 2023, all throughout Colorado.

On an ice climbing trip, while hanging out in the shade of the canyon, I also used it as a supplemental warmth layer. That was mainly to test the footbox, pockets, and wearability function.

Finally, I completed a snow test: lying down in this bag on the frozen ground in the snow to test the overall warmth and durability of the recycled shell fabric. I stuffed and unstuffed it, packed it down, and dragged it around camp, just for good measure.

Warmth, Comfort, Compression

Testing the hand pockets, zippers, and removable footbox design outside.

I’ll start with the colder scenarios in which I used this bag: winter camping and staying overnight in a cabin and hut. In these two cases, temps were below 20 degrees F. That’s definitely colder than what the Sierra Designs Elemental Quilt is rated to. In one place, I had a working gas heater; in the other … not so much. I love to camp and had several blankets and quilts in preparation. But this was straight-up roughing it in the cold.

Thankfully, the first time using the Sierra Designs Elemental Quilt, I was super impressed by its warmth. Maybe because I already had on several pretty warm layers. Or maybe because the bag was warmer than the snowy world outside. Either way, for its official temp rating, the bag is warm — and stays warm.

You’ll easily be comfortable sleeping at 30-35 degrees F, likely colder depending on your sleeping layers and if you run warm/cold. How? The bag has a center zipper, which I’ve come to love. It doesn’t seem to lose or leak any heat. Without seams along the sides of the bag, I never noticed any drafty areas, from the hood down to the footbox.

However, this bag does use synthetic over a down fill. So it’s not exactly bursting with plush, feathery baffles. For a synthetic bag, it performed well. I knew that this wasn’t just because of the fill, though. The warmth factor also had to do with design touches like a draft collar to prevent cold near the head and neck, a double-layered footbox, and insulated hand pockets.

Testing the draft collar, hood, and bag vs. quilt function in a winter cabin; (photo/Mary Murphy)

The center zipper means there’s no draftiness on any one side of the bag. And on top of the draft collar, the hood adjusts nice and tight to really seal out cold and lock in warmth. The draft collar also acts as the edge or border when the Elemental is in quilt mode. And you can loosen the hood all the way so it’s not in the way.

I think the biggest pros of this bag are its versatility and comfort, great weight, and warmth for the rating. I’d recommend opting for a compression sack if packing this for a backpacking trip because it can definitely compress down more than you think.

Is It a Quilt or Bag? There’s the Rub.

While its name says “quilt” — the Elemental, I think, would be better described as a convertible, or combo, sleeping bag. Because it is mummy style, there’s a hood at one end and a cut-and-sewn-out section of footbox at the other.

Fully unzipped in quilt mode, it measures 50-55 inches in width (along the side) by 70 inches. Around 10 of those inches at the bottom (one end of the quilt) are the flaps where the footbox folds and converts in quilt mode. It’s not a plain ol’ rectangle puffy blanket, but it still does definitely work as a quilt.

I ended up using it much more for sleeping as a bag, but I still utilized the quilt features. I liked being able to unzip down the middle, being able to unzip and convert the footbox to let my feet free, and used the hand pockets to wrap myself up.

One Size Fits Some

Packed size of the Elemental Quilt (left) inside a standard stuff sack; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Maybe the biggest con of the Elemental Quilt is that, for now, it only comes in one size. For the sleeping bag market, that’s pretty atypical. I’m used to seeing at least two options — regular and long — from both big and small brands.

Many brands also tend to offer the same model quilt or bag in different temp ratings, or even short sizes, and left-handed or right-handed zippered bags (which wouldn’t apply to this center zipper bag, anyway). We do expect Sierra Designs to offer more than one regular size for its Elemental Quilt soon.

But for now, if you are well over 6′ tall, this bag isn’t for you. If you hover around 6′, you could give it a try, but it may not feel the most comfortable or roomy. You may just have to unzip that footbox and let your feet hang out.

The size of the Elemental quilt, not compressed (no stuff sack); (photo/Mary Murphy)

Note on Weight

The brand claims this bag is sub-2 pounds. On our calibrated scale, it rang in slightly over, at 2 pounds 4 ounces — which is pretty on par with most lighter-weight sleeping bags. If you are planning on using this solely for backpacking, or long-distance thru-hiking, there are other sleeping bags (and quilts) out there that are lighter, like the Rab Mythic Ultra (14.1 ounces) or the Enlightened Equipment Enigma (17.9 ounces).

But I’m not mad about the slight discrepancy in weight. The Elemental Quilt is still light, warm, and easily packable.

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The Sierra Designs Elemental Quilt genuinely surprised me out of the gate. It has myriad options of configurations for sleeping (or just trying to stay warm). I typically use a mummy-style sleeping bag system, so I never opted for a trail quilt in the past. This was pitched to me as both. And while it does work great as a quilt, I found it to work even better as a bag, thanks to some of the convertible quilt features.

The Elemental doubles as the best of both worlds: it’s fairly lightweight in a cozy, versatile, synthetic-fill package. And if you don’t like using a bag, you can unzip it partially or fully and convert it to how you like. If there are more like these, I could be convinced that quilts are the way to go.

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