Those who’ve ever shivered at night during a camping trip will know just how much important good sleeping bags are. After a long, arduous day of hiking, there is nothing like slipping into a warm and cushy sleeping bag. Whether you’re on long hiking trips or a quick overnight camping trip, the right sleeping bag is necessary. The best backpacking sleeping bags not only save you a ton of heartache but also ensure a good night’s sleep.
Along with backpack and tents, sleeping bags are one of the ‘Big 3’ backpacking gear items. So, they are one of the biggest ways that you can save on weight. Apart from aspects like warmth, size, weight, and packability, the kind of weather also needs to be taken into account. We’ve combed through a sea of choices to come up with the best sleeping bags for backpacking that are warm, light, and versatile. Check out these 13 best backpacking sleeping bags and head out into the wild.
How to choose the right sleeping bag
Sleeping bags can make or break your night. Whether you’re camping on a lush mountain or hiking from settlement to settlement, choosing the right sleeping bag is important for a good night’s sleep. There are quite a few aspects to consider, which are listed below:
A sleeping bag’s temperature rating is an indication of the lowest temperature that it is designed to keep one warm in. So, hypothetically, a sleeping bag with a 15-degree rating should keep one warm when the mercury dips to 15 degrees. However, one also needs to consider factors like whether one sleeps warm or cold, the shelter above their heads, and the clothes one wears while sleeping. All these will definitely change the way one ‘feels’ in the bag. Buyers should ideally look for bags with lower temperature ratings as its harder to warm up in a bag as compared to cooling down in a warm one.
Fill and weight
Sleeping bag insulation is usually either synthetic-filled (a blend of manmade fibers) or down-filled (usually goose), with each possessing its own set of pros and cons. Synthetic is cheaper, can be cared for easily, and insulated when wet, but is bulkier, heavier, and deteriorated over time. Down is warmer, has great packability size, lighter, and long-lasting, but is difficult to maintain, expensive, and offers no insulation in wet conditions. So, the kind of down really boils down to the kind of hiking one os going to be doing. For instance, those who need to minimize weight will find only down-filled bags practical. Beginners, on the other hand, might find synthetic ones to be more wallet-friendly and value-for-money.
A related aspect to fill is the weight of the sleeping bag. A good bag combines high warmth and low weight, as well as packs down small in the compression sack.
Shape and Fit
Sleeping bags come in three broad shapes – mummy, tapered, and rectangular. In terms of thermal efficiency, mummy bags with their narrow feet and wide shoulders are ideal. Tossers and turners will prefer the spacious rectangular bags, while the tapered ones lie somewhere between both the above ones.
Sleeping bags come in different sizes as well. Some feature standard, unisex sizes, which generally means a man’s fit. Some bags have different lengths as well, so you needn’t struggle for space if you’re a tall person. Sleeping bags specially designed for women have extra feet insulation, narrow shoulders, and wider hips, but men might find it comfy too. It all really comes down to how comfortable one feels, no matter the size, length, or fit.
Zippers are the sleeping bag’s closure, so they’re very important? Some bags specifically list anti-snag zippers in the specs. Some have zippers on the left, while others have on the right. Also, the length of the zippers matters. Check for the presence of neck muffs or draft collars, which retain the warmth of the bag. Hoods are an important aspect as well, as are stash pockets for storing small items.
No matter the size, kind, and price of the sleeping bag you go in for, doing your homework is important to end up with the right kind of sleeping bag.
Nemo Disco 15 (CU)
The tossers and turners who like a little bit of wiggle room will fall in love with the Disco range of sleeping bags from Nemo. The Nemo Disco boasts of a distinct ‘spoon shape’ which makes the bag roomier than most sleeping bags in its category. This feature makes it excellent for both side sleepers and sleep-shifters.
Apart from this, the Nemo Disco 15 packs a punch with a gamut of useful features. It boasts of the brand’s signature ‘thermo-gills’ which are excellent for heat venting on warmer nights without letting cold air in. Plus, the Disco packs in much warmth in a relatively light package weighing 2.7 pounds. The product even includes a compression stuff sack, transforming it into a surprisingly small compact shape. What’s more, the bag features a 650-fill down specially designed to be highly water-resistant.
For outdoor exploits where the temperatures don’t go below 25° Fahrenheit, the Nemo Disco 15 is perfect. In fact, this sleeping bag is good-to-go for almost all normal three-season backpacking trips.
- Comfy and spacious sleeping bag.
- Features an external draft collar, pillow pocket, and stash pockets.
- The waterproof footbox keeps the feet warm.
- Certified to the RDS (Responsible Down Standard).
- Remains on the cooler side due to the roominess.
Kelty Cosmic Down 20°
The Kelty Cosmic Down 20° is for beginners and the budget-conscious public who don’t want to burn holes in their pockets when buying sleeping bags. The bulk and weight associated with this product are worthy trade-offs for buying this budget-friendly sleeping bag.
The Kelty Cosmic Down 20° neither breaks the bank nor skimps on features. An excellent 600-fill waterproof down insulator keeps one reasonably warm enough, with the added hydrophobic feature for wet conditions. The product ups the ante of the Cosmic line with the thinner yet durable 20D nylon shell fabric. A cozy hood and the soft lining helps users to maintain the right amounts of ventilation and remain toasty even in 20° Fahrenheit weather. A conveniently adjustable draft collar allows hikers to allow heat to escape without having to unzip the bag.
What’s more, when it’s compressed, it’s about the size of a bowling ball and almost unnoticeable in the backpack. All-in-all, the roomy cut, three size options, and easy-pull zippers make the Kelty Cosmic Down 20° a great product.
- Affordable for a long-lasting sleeping bag.
- Warm and cozy.
- Presence of stash pockets.
- Decently heavy.
- Fairly bulky and not as compressible as others.
Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20°
For all those looking for ultra-light sleeping bags, the as-light-as-a-quilt Thermarest Hyperion 20° is more than perfect. The specifications of the sleeping bag are staggering – a total weight of just 1.2 pounds, a 900-fill goose down, and the eponymous 20° Fahrenheit lower limit. Also, did we mention that it packs down to a ridiculously small size while providing amazing warmth?
Most of Hyperion 20°’s amazing specs can be attributed to the narrow, heat-saving shape on this well-constructed sleeping bag. This spells great for those people who love themselves a snug-fit sleep. The mummy sleeping bag is crazy light, fully-hooded and enveloping, and compresses down to the size of a 1-liter water bottle. The exceptional quality of the 900-fill down leaves less dead air space, thus making for a fabulous warmth-to-weight ratio. Moreover, the 20° Fahrenheit level is the lower limit, with the actual comfort limit of the bag being even lower. This essentially means that it’ll help users stay warm even in temperatures colder than 20° Fahrenheit.
For a price of $410, the Hyperion is fairly expensive. However, the price makes sense when one takes into account the overall beauty of the sleeping bag.
- Certified to the RDS.
- Features pad connectors.
- Made of high-quality, expensive, and ultra-light material.
- The bag cannot be opened fully on warmer nights.
- Design can be a bit restricting for on-the-side sleepers.
Western Mountaineering UltraLite
If there’s one sleeping bag that has made it to most lists of best backpacking sleeping bags, it’s the Western Mountaineering UltraLite sleeping bag. Adventurers intending to go on higher elevation fall trips or who sleep cold will find the sleeping bag ideal.
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite boasts of 17 ounces of 850+ fill hydrophobic down which makes it comfortable even in near-zero temperatures. Plus, it even has an excellent draft collar, continuous horizontal baffles, and a full-length zipper for amazing venting possibilities. On colder nights, more feathers towards the top ensure that heat is trapped within even when one moves around. On warmer nights, the feathers below allow extra heat to escape, keeping you from feeling hot and stuffy. In fact, one can sleep warm and snug in this bag across a range of temperatures, right from 10° to 55° Fahrenheit.
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite works on the adage that sometimes, ‘simple is better’. It lacks additional venting zippers or organizational pockets, which help the sleeping bag save weight. Even though it’s on the pricier side, the UltraLite is a great value-for-money product with a decade+ lifespan.
- Exceptional loft.
- Lightweight and compact.
- Best-in-class warmth.
- Legit draft collar.
- Really pricey at $510.
Nemo Sonic 0
The Nemo Sonic 0 was designed for the finicky sleeper. The roomy cold weather sleeping bag is cut wide around the torso and knees, making it extremely great for side/back sleepers. The Sonic 0 boasts of the particularly innovative ‘thermo-gills’ feature, just like Nemo’s Disco line of sleeping bags. It allows the sleeper to adjust the bag’s warmth sans having to open the zipper and without the cold air seeping in. The body-hugging design and an 800-fill hydrophobic down will have users sleeping soundly even in sub-zero temperatures. A well-insulated mummy hood makes sure that one doesn’t exhale into the hood especially when they’re sleeping on the side.
Additional top-of-the-line features in the Nemo Sonic 0 include a taped zipper and the recently redesigned and improved zipper draft tubes and draft collar. Furthermore, the roomy nature of the bag makes it ideal for those who don’t like confined spaces. The Nemo Sonic might be on the pricier side at $450, but it is well-designed to suit a range of environments and is versatile to boot.
Mountain Hardwear Lamina 30
If you’re going to be out hiking in a wetter environment, then synthetic insulation in sleeping bags works better than a down one. Not only are they less pricey, but they often dry faster as well. Case in point is the affordable workhorse that is the Lamina 30 from Mountain Hardwear.
The Lamina 30 might not be the perfect sleeping bag out there, but it sure has grit. Up against a range of bags that cost infinitely more, the sleeping bag holds its own with its versatility, especially how its synthetic insulation performs when it’s wet. Its Thermal Q insulation feature retains half the bag’s warmth even when it’s soaked, which is more than one can say about most other sleeping bags. The sleeping bag also boasts of a durable, water-repellent shell, as well as anti-snag and two-way zippers for easy ventilation. The draft collar and the contoured footbox keep the cool air out and make for a more natural sleeping position, and are the ultimate cherries on top.
- Keeps one comfortably warm even in sub-zero temperatures.
- Has upper-body stash/storage pockets storage on the outside.
- It doesn’t compress down to a very small size.
- Heavier compared to other winter bags.
NEMO Kyan 35 (CU)
The well-designed Nemo Kyan 35 has a lot to love with its tiny packed size and moderate weight. The entire package is tied up with a neat little bow that is the extremely reasonable price tag. All these make it one of the best sleeping bags backpacking and hiking.
Typically, synthetic insulation sleeping bags are not only heavier but also larger than their down counterparts. However, the Nemo Kyan 35 breaks all stereotypes with its Primaloft Silver synthetic insulation. The synthetic insulation also works wonderfully better in soaking conditions, retaining warmth even when wet. Thus, we’d particularly recommend Kyan 35 for novice backpackers who might face difficulties in keeping their sleeping bags dry in wet climates. Another reason the Kyan 35 scores is the full-length main zipper, which offers excellent venting capabilities.
However, one of the most distinguishing and impressive features is its packed size, which is one of the smallest compressed volumes ever. Why this is especially impressive is because it matches the size of a premium 900-fill power bag costing twice as much. Plus, it has a pretty sweet compression sack which is adaptable to boot. Despite its less-than-wanted warmth efficiency, the Nemo Kyan 35 is a fabulous sleeping bag at a price that can’t be beaten.
- An excellent warmth-to-weight ratio for the price of $200.
- Extremely compressible.
- Lots of venting options.
- Great compression sack included.
- It could run a bit colder than its temperature rating.
NEMO Kayu 15° (CU)
Nemo Kayu 15° isn’t the lightest sleeping bag out there, but it’s perfect for luxurious backcountry slumber if convenience and comfort are your top preferences.
The NEMO Kayu 15 holds its own with the best big-brand bags from REI, North Face, and Big Agnes, which is one of its best features. It boasts of a responsibly-sourced, high-quality, hydrophobic down fill of 800, which makes for a warm sanctuary for all backpacking seasons. The down is also cozy and super lofty and swathes the body for all-night comfort. For the conscientious ones out there, NEMO’s products are also PFC-free. This means that they are waterproofed in ways that are less detrimental to the environment as compared to traditional methods.
The sleeping bag also has snag-less baffles open from bottom to top, allowing users to shake all the down filling to the top for particularly cold nights. Combined with the draft tube and the full-length zipper, and you’ll never feel cold in this bag. What’s more, the Nemo Kayu 15 has a totally dialed-in fit and a well-designed hood which seals extremely well. Last but not the least, the nifty little thermo-gills feature allows for excellent ventilation, considering its a sleeping bag, after all.
- Excellent fabric choices.
- The responsibly-sourced down.
- The so-so zipper track and draft collar.
Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20°
The Alpinlite is one of Western Mountaineering‘s most popular designs and the Alpinlite 20° is one of the best backpacking sleeping bags on this list for its high quality.
Each detail on the Alpinlite 20° is crackerjack, right from the exceptional, high-quality materials to the full-length draft tube. The wider cut of the sleeping bag is designed to be more suitable for those with wider shoulders and are okay with more weight for a more plush and snuggly fit. A generous five inches of loft space and continuous horizontal baffles allow for shifting down around to make oneself snugger on warmer nights. On the other hand, the draft collar with a cinch cord makes the bag cozy in even freezing temperatures. The high-quality exterior differential cut fabric and the 850+ fill down keeps the weight down and makes it more lightweight and compressible. What’s more, the awesome no-snag, no-catch zippers are not only easy to slide but hellishly reliable as well.
At a price of $500+, the Alpinlite 20° is pricey, yes, but it is a truly versatile, high-quality, three-season sleeping bag.
- Lightweight, comfortable, and warm.
- No-snag, no-catch zipper.
- Full-length draft tube and excellent loft.
- 360° down collar.
- Slightly on the expensive side.
Big Agnes Dream Island (CU)
For car-camping couples looking for double sleeping bags, the Dream Island from Big Agnes is one of the best out there. It’s comfy, warm, and spacious to boot. Also, it has a huge plus-point – a built-in sleeping-pad sleeve. This means that you never have to get annoyed with the pad and the bag getting misaligned while you’re sleeping. While the signature pad sleeve, which replaces the bag’s synthetic polyester insulation, needs to be bought separately, it essentially makes the bag a huge queen-sized bed. This essentially translates to a good night’s sleep.
The behemoth Dream Island measures more than 50 inches across, easily sleeping two of even those who toss and turn around. It boasts of a high-performance down fill manufactured from 50% post-consumer recycled polyester, maximizing warmth and loft. For those who get cold at night, Dream Island is a super warm sleeping bag with a 15-degree rating. The in-built pillow pockets are versatile for holding folded fleece jackets as improvised headrests. The sleeping bag does great on the extras as well. The rip-stop nylon shell fabric protects insulation as well as repels moisture. Zippers on each side allow for easy access for both sleepers to enter and exit the bag. Furthermore, the blended polyester/cotton lining offers excellent next-to-skin comfort.
For consummate car campers totting along with every possible camping equipment, the Big Agnes Dream Island is right up their alley.
- Roomy, perfect for two people.
- Warm and comfortable.
- Adjustable Hood.
- Weighty at about 19 pounds.
- Packs large.
Western Mountaineering MegaLite
The MegaLite from Western Mountaineering is quite a favorite amongst the backpacking community for its excellent overall performance. It is the sole ultra-premium bag combining luxurious comfort, good packability, and low weight into one solid package.
The ultra-warm Megalite packs a punch with an impressive weight of 1.63 pounds, resulting in an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio. What’s more, it packs down extremely small while boasting of roomy interior dimensions supplying superior comfort. The spaciousness also ensures lots of room for additional layering on colder nights. There’s even a full-length zipper that is excellent for venting heat on warmer nights. What’s more, the continuous horizontal baffles allow moving the feathers to the bag’s top/bottom depending on the weather conditions.
However, the quality which eventually places MegaLite a notch above its competitors is the comfort it offers. The bag boasts of several extra inches of upper body girth and doesn’t feel constrictive to even bulkier individuals. The added weight of the same is completely worth it, especially if one considers the bag’s use in the longer run. Clearly, the Megalite is an excellent sleeping bag for all kinds of overnight backcountry expeditions.
- Spacious dimensions.
- Super comfy and lightweight.
- Great loft.
- At $470, it’s on the pricey side for a sleeping bag.
- Hood is a bit awkward.
The North Face The One Bag
The One Bag from The North Face is a true three-bags-in-one sleeping bag. The fabulous product is one of the overall best backpacking sleeping bags on this list. It boasts of two completely removable upper layers and hence is said to be optimized for every backpacking season.
The One Bag offers outstanding versatility and value due to its excellent design. Its 40F, 20F, and 5F temperature rating configurations are ideal for a range of weather and backpacking conditions. The lightweight synthetic outer layer is ideal for summers, while the 800-fill down middle layer is ideal for cooler conditions. In winters and alpine environs, both can be zipped in for a snug, warm, and ensconcing experience. The best part about this bag is that the temperatures can be regulated as per the user’s needs.
The One Bag offers a whole lot of other benefits. Its excellent width makes it luxurious to sleep in and is wonderfully comfy for sleepers. Moreover, the U-shaped zipper design makes it very easy for sleepers to enter and exit the bag. Other amazing qualities of the bag include the comfortable hood design and the roomy footbox. Plus, the glow-in-the-dark zippers ensure that you don’t fumble around in the dark.
- Extremely close-fit and versatile.
- Tremendous value-for-money at $290.
- Excellent U-shaped zipper and hood design.
- Not very compressible.
- The compression sack is so-so.
Thermarest Hyperion 32 UL Down
Sleeping on the cold, hard ground can be very homely and luxurious with the right sleeping bag. That’s where one of the finest lightweight sleeping bags, the Theramaest Hyperion 32 UL Down, comes in. This bag is an excellent choice for seasoned hikers who’re indulging in long European hikes such as Mont Blanc or the Caucusus mountains.
Decked out with an enormously plush 900-fill GooseNikwax Hydrophobic Down, the Hyperion 32 is designed to keep one warm even in subzero environments. This is impressive considering the head-turning weight of 1.14 pounds. What’s more, it packs down to the nifty size of a 1-liter water bottle. The premium, 900-fill goose down boasts of Nikwax treatment which staves off the damp which affects the down, leaving it drier. A thermally-efficient box baffled construction holds the insulation around the core resulting in maximum warmth.
While the warmth-to-weight ratio isn’t right up there, the bag’s incredible weight makes it perfect for those long backpacking trips. And while the bag does cost a bit more at $360, the pounds are worth it when one spends a day carrying the bag around.
- Incredibly lightweight.
- All-rounder warmth rating.
- Packs super-small with a fantastic compression sack
- So-so warmth-to-weight ratio.