Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags
After a long day on the trail, you will need to rest up for the explorations of the next day. Having a sleeping bag that is light on your back, warm, comfortable and best suits your needs will make that easier. There is a huge market of sleeping bags with each having different features to offer, which makes choosing one difficult. The last thing you want is to be lugging around a heavy bag all day or be shivering all night.
All of the necessary qualities required for this type of activity is precisely what we have reviewed in this guide. Reviews from actual users have been included so that you don’t have doubts about how each sleeping bag will work out in real life out on the trails.
5 Best backpacking sleeping bags
Western Mountaineering Megalite
This 1.8 oz bag is one of the lightest on the entire market, making it easy and light to travel with. It’s extremely light weight does not give up quality or durability. The statement “less is more” is definitely true for this bag. The outside of this bag is made of ‘Extremelight.” This is a very lightweight, high-thread count, top of the line 12D shell fabric. Reviewers loved that even after many seasons of using this bag, the light fabric remained intact and was very tough. Sharp objects should still remain away from the fabric, but the normal wear of nature will not impact this bag. The outer shell was also found to keep the goose down inside the bag.
The Megalite folds up easily into a cotton storage sack. Users note that it is very easy to compress it into the bag and that there is even a little extra room in the bag afterward. It packs approximately 30-40% smaller than other sleeping bags. Surprisingly, it is still a spacious and comfortable sleeping bag, even though it packs down super small. When packed down in its sack, it is about the size of a cantaloupe, which is pretty impressive.
Materials / Comfort
Reviewers enjoyed the feeling of the brushed nylon fabric on the inside. You will not be confined to the mummy-like position in this sleeping bag. Spacious dimensions give room for hikers with wider shoulders or for those who like to sleep with their knees bent. Testers of this bag felt it was roomier in the lower body than other bags of this style. The dimensions of this bag are 64” for the shoulders, 56” at the waist and 39” around the feet.
Temperature Comfort Level
This bag is on the warmer side of 30 degree F sleepers. Several reviewers report that it is still very warm in even cooler temps. This is due to the 850+ quality European Goose Down that it is filled with. If you need to use this bag in cooler temps, adding a sleeping pad or sleeping bag liner will keep you warm through the evenings. Also, the continuous horizontal baffles built in this bag aid in regulating temperature. This allows you to move around the bag without hitting a dreaded cold spot. The Megalite is equipped with a full-length zipper, allowing someone to have it all the way zipped for chilly nights or more open for ventilation on warmer evenings. The zipper was created with a 1” wide stiff material along each side of the zipper to avoid the outer layer from getting caught or tearing. Users also note that the zipper never snags.
- Full-length zipper
- Quite expensive
Sea to Summit Spark SPII
When you are looking to save space in your pack, having a sleeping bag that is only 18oz and the size of a 1-liter water bottle is ideal. That is how small the Spark II can compress down to. A carrying bag is included with the purchase of this sleeping bag.
The main benefit of this bag is its compressed packing size. A user noted that he got the bag compressed down to a length of 7-8”. That’s very significant if you need to be size and weight conscious.
Materials / Comfort
If you like to be snuggled in and don’t toss and turn too much, then this bag could be for you. It provides users a snug fit when inside and there is not a lot of extra room to move around. It was created like this to keep the bag light and as efficient as possible. On the downside, some people did not like the tight fit. There is very limited space inside if the user needs to wear extra layers of clothing on cooler nights. Reviewers who tucked into the bag on chilly nights found that the inside was soft and comfortable next to the skin. The inside is made from 15-denier nylon fabric. The outside of the bag uses 10-denier nylon fabric and 850+ Ultra-Down Dr® (90/10 European goose down) which is really soft and cushiony. The outside is also treated with water repellent so moisture does not affect the down’s weight or loft performance. The baffle system around the Spark II was created differently over the legs and torso, which helps lay out the down spaciously and efficiently.
Temperature Comfort Level
The Spark II is rated to 35 degrees F making this a 2-season bag. Reviewers felt this was pretty generous as they needed to wear heavy down jackets in the high 30’s and low 40s. The Sea to Summit Reactor Thermolite Sleeping Bag liner can be paired with the Spark II to make it more versatile in the cooler weather. Better performance for this bag was found in the high 40s. It has a wide fitting hood that can be adjusted with a drawstring. There is not baffle around the hood on this sleeping bag. However, users felt that the lighter-style around the head kept them warm and snug enough without making them feel claustrophobic. This bag was created with a 1/3 length #3YKK zipper, which can make getting in and out of the bag an interesting challenge. It is also a downfall if it is warmer and someone ones to just unzip it further down or unzip the feet for more airflow. Reviewers also noted that the short zipper did snag the outer layer a few times. It did not damage the material getting it undone, but could forsee it becoming an issue.
- Compressible (sack included)
- True mummy style (narrow)
- 1/3 zipper length
- Limited additional features
Mountain Hardware Hyperlamina Flame 20
For the fast and light hiker who wants a synthetic bag, this is the best one on the market. At 43 ounces, it is not the lightest on the market. However, with a synthetic sleeping bag, you can rest assured that if your bag it wet, you will not be cold. Synthetic insulation insulates far better if moisture enters the bag when compared to down bags.
Synthetic fill has a more difficult time packing small compared to down filling. When in its packed size, this bag is 7×16 inches, which is comparable to lower quality down bags. If packed size is really important to you, a down filled bag may be a better option.
Materials / Comfort
Most reviewers noted that the half zip design of the Hyperlamina made it easy to get in and out of. The zipper runs chin to belly button length and is located on the chest side of the sleeping bag. When fully zipped, the end of the zipper is protected behind the draft tube, so it doesn’t poke users all night. Reviewers liked the location of the zipper compared to other bags, but the short zipper does eliminate the option of venting the lower body on warmer nights. The zipper was also prone to snagging the outer material, which can lead to poor long-term durability if it rips the material. Reviewers reported that they thought the synthetic fill was overall very comfortable and that it maintained excellent loft.
Temperature Comfort Level
A little pack weight and size is given up for warmth in this bag. Testers agreed that this Mountain Hardware bag lived up to its 20-degree rating. The bags Thermal-Q fill keeps users remarkably warm, even when it is below freezing outside. The construction of this bag also has no stitching, so there are no small holes for cold air or moisture to sneak in through. Reviewers noted that the design of the hood of this sleeping bag was well thought out. Users felt that the hood conformed to their head without limiting movement or vision. The hood has a passive draft collar, which is secured by a velcro closure. Reviewers felt the draft collar was comfortable and kept the warm air inside the bag. They also noted that the velcro strip was strong enough to keep the tube in place all night. The bag provides a slim, snug fit, which helps keep the person inside warm. Most people loved the snug fit of the bag (slimmer people), but some didn’t like that it restricted their sleeping movements.
- Well designed
- Zipper snags
- No lower venting
- Tight mummy-bag
Marmot Hydrogen 30
Weighing less than 2lbs (1 pound 8 ounces) this bag is extra light on your back. This makes it a lot easier to keep moving on your backcountry adventures. The Hydrogen’s main feature is its lightweight build, but it does not give up performance and features for its lighter weight. The bag has slightly larger dimensions than others weighing around the same weight.
Another main perk of this bag is its stuff size. It comes with a small, lightweight, non-compression stuff sack that reviewers concluded does a very good job at compressing the sleeping bag smaller than other stuff sacks. However, some found that using an actual compression sack could make this bag 25-40% smaller overall.
Materials / Comfort
This bag was designed with Marmots patented trapezoid toe box, which is wider at the toes and narrower at the heels. This gives your feet more wiggle room and provides a more natural, comfortable fit. The Hydrogen has also been designed with a full-length zipper, which can be ordered on the left or right side of the bag, depending on your preference. Whatever side the full-length zipper is not ordered on, a second 12” zipper will be placed, allowing for more ventilation options or to fold down part of the bag. This is one advantage this bag has over other products, that typically offer only 1 half zipper or 1/3 zipper. Both zippers on the hydrogen have zipper guards to prevent snagging of the sleeping bag material, as well as an insulated draft tube to prevent cold air from entering. The inside of this bag has soft-brushed nylon feel, making it very cozy when you are inside of it.
Temperature Comfort Level
Real testers and reviewers thought the bag was accurately rated for 30 degrees F. They also agreed that the hood of the bag added significant warmth when used on below freezing nights. The ergonomic, draw-string hood of the bag is designed like Marmots outerwear jackets, which is super effective at keeping warm air in, but not being too tight around one's face. The outer layer of this bag is treated with Marmots Down Defender, which is a strong water repellent treatment that allowed the down to stay drier 10 times longer than untreated down. Down Defender also maintains 150% more loft and dries 30% faster, to make sure you stay warm and dry. The outer layer which is made of Pertex Microlight 20D fabric to keep the bag durable, but light. Another perk of this fabric besides saving weight, is that most users thought it was very breathable.
- Excellent venting options
- Lightweight construction
- Very compressible
- Non-compression stuff sack
Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt
The competitively priced Quilt can only be purchased through Enlightened Equipment’s website. The perk of this is that you can choose the down type, temperature, length, width, outside fabric, inside fabric and optional weather resistance strips. Although this adds to the length of time it is delivered to your door, you will have a 3-season sleeping quilt that was built for your body type and your outdoor needs, without a big price tag.
People who have used this quilt were all surprised by the amount of comfort and warmth the quilt offers. Many stated they would never go back to the mummy-style sleeping bags. They fell in love with quality workmanship and versatility of this quilt. The customer service of this company also got great reviews.
The base weight for a 20 degree F quilt is 20 ounces. For an item that will keep you warm below freezing, it has been created very light. The included stuff sack weighs .5 ounces and the two elastic straps to hook it to a sleeping pad are .7 ounces all together. Compared to average three-season mummy bags, this quilt is about half their weight.
The quilt comes with a SilNylon stuff sack and measures 7×12 inches with the quilt inside. Reviewers noted that the stuff sack is a little large and that the quilt can be compressed smaller. However, if you use the stuff sack it comes with, the quilt will achieve its full loft more quickly than others when taking it out for use. It also comes with a breathable nylon storage sack.
Materials / Comfort
The Revelation can be easily attached to a sleeping pad with the two elastic clips that it comes with or it has space in the quilt where the sleeping pad can slide inside. These clips that it comes with will fix the quilt directly to the pad so no matter how you lay or toss while asleep, it will stay on top of the mattress pad. There are several fabric choices to choose from when creating this blanket. There is a 10D and slightly thicker 20D nylon. You can also choose 20D nylon strips for the head and foot of your quilt to add additional water resistance to those areas.
Being able to create a blanket for your body type adds to the comfort of this quilt. Short, regular and tall sizes are all options when creating your quilt. Users recommended ordering a length size up so that way you are covered head to toe on cooler nights. The same is true when choosing a width for your quilt. Slim, regular, wide and extra wide are all choices and it’s best to go a size up if you like to wear extra layers or bulky clothes while sleeping. All reviewers really enjoyed the customizable option for this blanket.
Temperature Comfort Level
The Revelation is excellent at retaining heat, just like a comforter at home would. The quilt can open up all the way creating a flat blanket, which makes it quite versatile. It could be used to cover two people on warmer nights or as a body wrap around a morning or evening camp. Reviewers found that hooking the quilt to the sleeping pad (not placing the pad inside the quilt) provided the greatest amount of warmth. The system of baffles helps your quilt retain heat and keep the down in place. It has vertical baffles at the torso and horizontal baffles at the feet, which users thought were designed well. This quilt is available in 50F, 40F, 30F, 20F, 10F and 0F temperature ranges. The 20 degree F quilt is recommended for most users as that will give the best warmth-to-weight ratio for all 3 seasons of backpacking. You can also choose from 850fp, 900fp or 950fp for your down type. The down is DownTek treated which will help your bag dry faster and resist moisture.
- Customizable design
- Affordable price
- Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
- Opens to a flat blanket
- Long shipping time
Criteria used for the evaluation
Finding the right balance of weight, pack size, comfort and warmth are the key features for a good night’s sleep. Here a is a further explanation on why these are so important:
Sometimes, every ounce in your pack counts. Carrying more weight than needed, can slow you down and wear you out. Many times, roominess in a sleeping bag is given up for less weight. That is one common complaint about mummy-style sleeping bags. Find a bag that is light enough, but also gives you the space you need to sleep comfortably.
The sleeping bag you choose should be compact enough for any backpacking application. You need room for many other items in your pack, so having this as small as possible is clutch.
Comfort is key! Check whether the bag you are considering has zippers and what the length of them is. This will determine what type of ventilation is possible and how easy or hard it will be to get in or out of the bag. Some bags have draft tubes around the zippers and draft collars around the hood to improve insulation. Sleeping pad loops or pockets are also convenient so you do not roll off the pad. What you wear to bed, metabolism and if you use a tent can all affect a person’s comfort level while sleeping in nature as well.
Look for bags that are versatile so they can be used through multiple seasons and in different weather. If you are looking for a specific temperature bag, winter, for example, check the temperature rating or EN number on the bag for a general guideline. Also, consider the type of hood on the bag and the types of zippers for venting. You want your bag to be warm enough on a cold night, but also comfortable enough on a summer evening.
Other things to consider
You will have to decide whether you want a synthetic vs down (goose or duck) insulated sleeping bag. Despite advances in synthetic materials, down fill continues to provide the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulation available. It is also easier to compress and excels in the cold. The one weakness of down filling is that it loses its ability to maintain warmth when it gets wet if not treated correctly. Synthetic on the other hand, is quick-drying, insulates well when wet and is non-allergenic. It typically isn’t as light or compressible. Another thing to look with a bag with down insulation is its fill power. This number is typically between 600 and 900 and measures the amount of loft or “fluffiness” of the down insulation.
Another important factor to think about should be the bag’s overall durability. In general, durability should be a major factor going into choosing all of your trekking gear. After all, what good is something if it falls apart at the time you need it the most.
The materials should be of good quality. You might even consider holding off on buying a product right when it is released onto the market. Sometimes it is smart to wait a bit, letting others put the gear to the test and looking at their reviews of how specific gear performs as well as any shortcomings that might be discovered. You probably don’t want to be the first one to discover that a what you paid a lot of money for, doesn’t quite hold up to your expectations. Let us try them out first, then you will have the info available to research.
We hope you found this guide helpful to finding the right sleeping bag for you on your backpacking adventures. Consider all options before making a purchase. As always, once you have purchased a bag or quilt, be sure to take proper care of it so it can join you on a lifetime of explorations.
- Use a sleeping pad under your bag to protect the underneath of your bag and to add warmth.
- Consider wearing clean clothes to bed. Sweat and dirt from the days excursion are the last things you want rubbing off on the inside of your bag.
- Most sleeping bags have zippers that need to be zipped with care. Although they are made not to snag the material, using extra caution and using patients will ensure no snags or rips in your bag happen from the use of the zipper.
- Using a sleeping bag liner will help keep dirt out and add to the warmth of the bag if needed. Sleeping bag liners can help retain 5-15 degrees F of heat to your bag. Once your trip is over, simply wash your sleeping bag liner and you are good to go.
- Avoid storing and keeping your sleeping bag in a compression stuff sack for an extended period of time. This can decrease the loft of your bag.
- Keep your bag as clean and dry as possible. Let it air out and dry completely before rolling up and storing for a long period of time.
These tips will help improve the longevity of your sleeping bag and make your investment worthwhile. The more you take care of it, the more it will take care of you. Happy Backpacking!