While a tent is a great way to stay covered and protected overnight, cold weather sleeping bags and other types of sleeping bags provide warmth and comfort too. The technology behind sleeping bags continues to evolve with new materials and fillings offering moisture wicking, improved warmth in colder climates and a variety of fills to suit people with allergies.
Natural, duck and goose down all remain popular options for people who want enough padding to handing the most varied climates during their trekking or camping expeditions. The coatings on the exterior of the sleeping bags is also improved from years’ past. Protective coatings like the hydrophobic ones avoid the bag getting saturated with moisture during hot nights or wet days.
The backpacking sleeping bags aren’t always the most expensive ones. They’re the products that offer the right combination of features to suit your personal needs. When you get overly hot in a sleeping bag, then a cooler one is better for you. Alternatively, the best lightweight sleeping bag could be ideal when wanting to pack especially light and compact for extensive summer trekking trips. Also check our written article of best backpacking tents to complete your backpacking kit.
1. Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
The Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is more in the budget line as typically many of the Kelty products are. That’s fine because this is an economical but capable sleeping bag made from a 600-fill DriDown filling. The exterior is made from polyester.
The product is provided in a choice of two color mixtures: Paradise blue / twilight or Dahlia / Grape juice (clearly the marketing team put time into coming up with some interesting color names here).
The temperate rating runs from 19-degrees Fahrenheit EN at the low end and 30-degrees F on the upper end. It’s fair to say that the entire bag doesn’t feel consistently warm throughout at times. The 19-degrees may handle 2-season situations, but 3-seasons will be a tough sell here. Better warmth and an improved build quality are needed to really handle colder temperatures well.So, this product may not be one of the best warm weather sleeping bags, but it does a decent job overall at a lower cost.
2. Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is a popular one with ardent campers who want adependable product that won’t let them down.
The bag is filled with 850-fill goose down for a truly warm feel. The draft tubes lock together nicely and work well together. There is a 5-inch lift below you to avoid feeling the ground when you sleep too.The shell is quite thin, so care is needed to avoid it becoming damaged during use. It is water-resistant and breathable to prevent moisture build-up.
The sleeping bag is rated down to 20-degrees Fahrenheit which ensures it can handle cooler temperatures at night too. The bag is a little slimmer than some, so large built people might prefer a different model. It’s light to carry though at just 1 pound 13 ounces.Overall, this bag is warmer than most and will suit people with a slimmer profile the best.
3. Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Flame 22
The Mountain Hardware Lamina Z Flame is a different type of sleeping bag. It is rated from 32-degrees Fahrenheit down to 22-degrees F. The weight is heavier than many bags at 2 pounds 11 ounces.
The main attraction with this product is that it uses a synthetic fill called thermal Q. Lamina is used to make the sleeping bag which offers better loft and isolation from the cold, wet ground below. The filling is isolated into zones, so only the parts of the bag that need more warmth deliver it as needed. The outer skin is made from nylon. There is a footbox to treat your feet differently than other bags.
The downsides of this bag are that it doesn’t provide the fluffy fill that down does, the insulation usually will lose its shape over time with synthetic fills and it doesn’t compress down in your backpack as well as other bags.With all that said, it is a good sleeping for people who need a synthetic fill because they are allergic to down fill.
4. Marmot Hydrogen Sleeping Bag
The Marmot Hydrogen Sleeping Bag a deep 800-fill goose down product that’s filled and finished by personnel in California.The two-zipper design with the ability to fold down part of the bag offers greater access in and out, plus improved air ventilation when getting too hot during the night. The footbox offers improved warmth when compared to other designs.
The Nautilus baffle hood with its riffles helps avoid heat escaping around the head at night preventing chills. The bag is rated from 33.6-degrees Fahrenheit down to 24.4-degrees F at the lower end. It isn’t a 20-degrees rated bag, so it’s not suitable for 3 seasons.
The bag weighs just 1 pound 7.3 ounces and it packs down well in the backpack, so it’s a good one to take on the road with you during summer months. Marmot also make the warmer Helium and their Lithium model handles sub-zero temperatures.Overall, the Marmot Hydrogen offers a good mid-point between being too hot or too cold. It’s made of quality materials and will suit a variety of non-extreme locations.
5. MontBell UL SSP Down Hugger #3
The MontBell UL SSP Down Hugger is a light 1 pound and 8 ounces, so it’ll suit people who want a light sleeping bag that packs down extremely well.The filling is not underdone. It’s a fill 900-fill goose down to keepsyou toasty at night. The temperature rating is 34-degrees Fahrenheit on the high end and 23-degrees F on the low end.
The 8D outer material shell is thinner than most other bags which are 12-denier and greater thickness levels. It does make this bag a little vulnerable to accidental tears or cuts, so you should be careful with the SSP Down Hugger.
The baffles are diagonally-based here, which is different from some other bags. The product is more stretchable than others, so moving around in the bag at night won’t feel as restrictive. Its form goes back to its original shape after an especially restless night of sleep. This feature is a significant selling point.The downside with this bag is the 8-denier fabric which is an odd decision. The company does offer thicker 15-denier and 20-denier bags too, but to achieve the super light rating they’re really pushing the limits of weight vs functionality with 8-denier material.
6. The North Face Furnace 20
The North Face Furnace is possibly one of the best backpacking sleeping bags for colder temperatures. It is rated from 26-degrees Fahrenheit right down to 14-degrees F.This is a value-oriented bag that’s priced accordingly.
It is filled with 600-fill ProDown goose down (not 800+ fill). There is a Heatseeker synthetic insulation for the back that prevents much compression to avoid feeling the ground beneath you when camping.
The bag is heavier than many at 2 pounds 12 ounces. It is shaped nicely with a wider top and good room at the hip level too. There’s also three different fittings for left and right-handed people, and taller people too.
7. Marmot Sawtooth 15
The Marmot Sawtooth 15 is a left-zip positioned 650-fill down sleeping bag. It is rated from 27.1-degrees Fahrenheit down to 15.6-degrees F on the low end, so it handles temperatures that get a bit cooler despite the less dense filling.
It is designed with a down filled collar and a suitable footbox to fit your feet comfortably. There is water prevention with the outer surface of the bag to keep the interior warm and dry. The YKK zipper features a convenient slider to avoid snagging on the material when zipping up or down.
The bag is heavier at 2 pounds 7.5 ounces, but there’s no shortness of warmth for the weight that it comes with. The extra warmth at lower temperatures for locations where the heat level can drop suddenly at night below what was expected.
8. Nemo Nocturne Sleeping Bag
The Nemo Nocturne is serious-looking sleeping bag with horizontal baffles providing a comfortable 3D bag that looks the part. The stitching is particularly good here to avoid gaps in warmth anywhere in the bag. The product is sold in either bark & racing red or aluminum & clover color blends.The bag feels very roomy and comfortable to use. There is a spoon design to it that suits the body’s ergonomics well. Good padding on the underside offers protection from hard ground too. The waterproofing is particularly good with Nocturne which is ideal when the tent springs a water leak.Overall, the quilted appearance and warmth is good. The warmth rating runs from 30-degrees Fahrenheit to 15-degrees which is ample for most backpackers.
9. TETON Sports LEEF Ultralight Mummy
The TETON Sports LEEF Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag is plain product that is offered in black or green color choices (the interior is the opposite color to the exterior).The product is clearly inside the budget category. The filler is PolarLite, a synthetic filling. It does manage to mold around the body shape during use. There’s a hood that comes in three sections to ensure your head is fully covered.
The zipper is hidden inside a tube to prevent unwanted drafts when unzipping or zipping up the bag. The inner liner is made from microfiber to be breathable and soft to make it more pleasant. There is an inner secure pocket to lock away electronic items of value. The shell is resistant to water and dampness, plus is less likely to tear or snag than other thin shells.
Only offered in an 87-inch length as a single size option. The 3 pounds 8 ounces weight of this bag is also on the heavy side for a backpacker to carry, so it may suit men more than women for this reason.
10. Kelty Dualist 30 Degree
The Kelty Dualist 30 Degree is designed to be a 3-season bag with its 30-degree rating. Its ThermaDri insulation along with its DriDown filling and outer ThermaPro synthetic material aims to keep the warmth inside and the wet outside. Premium, custom materials all the way here.
There a convenient zipper that runs 60-inches long. A thermal hood for warmth and a good foot box do not feel constrictive either.The weight of 2 pounds 5 ounces is a good balance which is achieved using the various materials incorporated into the design.Overall, The Dualist 30 degrees is a good affordable bag for people who like to keep warm at night. It isn’t overly heavy and won’t let you down.
Seasons and Bag Uses
Sleeping bags are sold by heat ranges and seasons. Bags are usually given an EN rating to demonstrate that they’ve been independently tested. The temperatures run from a high level to a minimal level. The relevance here is that you don’t want to find yourself camping with a sleeping bag that cannot handle colder temperatures than it was designed for. In much the same way that mattress comforters come with a TOG rating confirming their warmth level, sleeping bags are the same.
The most important factor when choosing a sleeping bag is to select the right type. If you get a summer bag and try to use it in other seasons, you will be very uncomfortable or risk your health in winter conditions. It’s always tempting to go super-light, but the lighter a bag is, the fewer seasons it supports.
There are summer bags, two season bags, three-season bags and special cold weather bags. Let’s break these down to give you a better idea.
Summer and 2-Season Bags
Summer sleeping bags are cooler for hot climates when camping, but they can catch you out when mistakenly using the same bag for colder times of the year or other locations. Summer bags has lighter fillings and usually are lightweight products to carry around in the backpack.
The two-season bags are able to manage 32-degree temperatures and higher. They pack down well and are lighter than other bags, like 3-season and cold weather sleeping bags. The two-season bag is a good compromise because it’s warmer at lower temperatures than a pure summer sleeping bag but doesn’t add much weight to achieve that.
The three-season sleeping bag is more versatile because it handles temperatures from 32-degrees Fahrenheit down to 20-degrees. These bags stay cool enough in the summertime, but also handle colder temperatures for heavy trekking in places that get a bit colder.
The weight level for 3-season bags tends to be a bit heavier because of better fills to provide additional warmth. The three-season models cover a more varied weather and climate than 2-season or summer sleeping bags by being neither too hot nor too cold either.
Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
The cold weather bags suit temperatures from 20-degrees Fahrenheit down to sub-zero temperatures in many cases. These types of bags are less common. They’re designed for winter campers and people who go mountaineering where the temperatures inside the tent can get a little extreme.
Often times, a cold weather bag is made by mountaineering specialist suppliers that offer a wide range of suitable products for this type of activity.
Tips on How to Use These Sleeping Bags
Every sleeping bag reviewed has waterproofing features. The outer shell will have been coated to repel water. It’s important to avoid scratching or otherwise damaging this material so it retains the waterproofing features.
Some bags open on both sides, some on only one side. Some have zippers that only pull down so far. The better bags include a zip slider to make it easier to unzip and climb out. The more expensive bags usually will opt for a better-quality zip which does make a difference. Most cover the zip area to avoid drafts when first unzipping too.
The head area is managed better in recent designs with insulation and protection. The foot box is also more suitable to that part of the anatomy. Bags are roomy, but be sure to check whether a product has a slimmer profile that will suit petite frames better than larger ones.
The color choices don’t matter all that much. A sleeping bag is a sleeping bag. Focus on the temperature and material features.Keep your sleeping bag dry. If it gets wet, hang a clothes line outside and dry it out during the day. Doing so will avoid it getting mildew or other bacterial build up even if it’s waterproof anyway.