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.
- Western Mountaineering Megalite
- Ultra compactable
- Sea to Summit Spark 3
- Lightweight materials
- Mountain Hardware Hyperlamina
- Water resistant
10 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 3
What is special about this sleeping bag is that it is designed to offer you warmth, so that it can be used all year round, but it only weighs 1.38 pounds.
The main benefit of this bag is its compressed packing size. It's 1/3 size bag that packs down to fit in a compressed bag that can fit in the palm of your hand.
Materials / Comfort
This comfortable sleeping bag feels soft and comfortable to the skin. It is 100% nylon that is treated with DWR, which will offer you protection from moisture. The inside is filled with 850 dry down and European goose down. This means that you will feel warm during colder nights of backpacking and camping.
If you are looking for a bag that offers you a lightweight option that can be packed down to take up minimal room, then this is your bag. It features a 3YKK zipper that is durable. And the bag will keep you feeling very warm with it's premium down fill.
- Small pack size
- Interior fabric feels very nice against the skin
- Shoulder room, so that you can wear any extra layers you may want
- 25F bag
- Interior dimensions may be a bit tight for some
- A bit expensive
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
Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree
The shell of this sleeping bag is both waterproof and breathable, so you can rest assured that you won't feel over heated and that moisture won't sneak it's uncomfortable way in.
This bag is rated for 20 degree weather, and it is filled with 850 down fill, so that you are surrounded by soft and warm comfort. The down means that this sleeping bag packs down small.
This bag weighs in a 1.8 pounds, so it's not the lightest sleeping bag on the list, but it's definitely not the heaviest.
If you are looking for a sleeping bag that you can purchase knowing it can be used all year long, this is an option you will want to consider. It's lightweight enough that it won't weigh you down.
- No catch zipper design
- Great compression size
- Too warm for summer nights
- Slightly on the snug size for larger sized people
Outdoor Vitals Down Sleeping Bag
Packed Size: This sleeping bag also packs down very well, and compresses into 11x8x8 inches, so it is very easy to carry. You’ll love how light it feels and how easily it compresses when you need to take it with you.
Materials/Comfort: The outer shell material of the Outdoor Vitals Down Sleeping Bag is made from Rip-stop polyester, meaning it can keep water out and also help protect the down in the bag. Plus, the down insulation makes you feel the warmth in this bag, which can handle freezing temperatures.
Temperature Comfort Level: This sleeping bag is able to hand temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it a very warm bag. You’ll feel cozy and safe even when the weather outside dips to freezing.
Easy to pack and carry
Might not be as warm as advertised
Teton Sports Tracker Ultralight Sleeping Bag
Packed Size: The packed size of this sleeping bag is 14x9.5, meaning it is a very compressible sleeping bag. You’ll be able to save a decent amount of space in your backpack if you purchase this bag.
Materials/Comfort: The outer shell of this Teton sleeping bag is made from Ripstop polyester fabric, meaning this bag is quite durable. Also, the material has the ability to repel water and keep you very dry at night.
Temperature Comfort Level: Made with Teton’s “Polarlite” insulation, this sleeping bag is designed to provide an extra boost of warmth during the freezing weather. This sleeping bag can help you withstand temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some zippers can snag
Can feel tight on some people
Aektiv Outdoors 15 Degree Ultralight Mummy Down Sleeping Bag
Packed Size: The packed size of this bag is 6x7 inches, which is very small. In fact, this sleeping bag packs down so well, it will take up very little room in your pack.
Materials/Comfort: The outer shell of Aektiv’s Outdoors Sleeping Bag is made to be fully waterproof, meaning it is more than just water resistant. It will help shield you from water and keep you dry as you sleep outside.
Temperature Comfort Level: Aektiv’s Outdoors Sleeping Bag is rated to keep you warm in temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also keep you warm down to 0 degrees Farenheit if you also use a sleeping pad.
Packs down small
Could be more durable
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed
Packed Size: The packed size of this sleeping bag is 8.5x16, meaning it packs down small enough to be safe saving. That makes this sleeping back convenient to carry and pack.
Materials/Comfort: Made with a durable polyester outer shell, this sleeping bag helps to repel water as you sleep. Plus, the insulation in this sleeping bag is made with 24 ounces of duck down that has been treated with a molecular polymer to help it better repel water.
Temperature Comfort Level: The temperature comfort level of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this is a 3-season sleeping bag that would allow you to use it at temperatures of around 15 degrees Fahrenheit if you get a good sleeping pad as well.
Might feel too snug on some people
Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
Packed Size: The Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag compresses down into 8x14, meaning it does save space in your pack. You’ll love how easy this sleeping bag is to compress and carry along with you.
Materials/Comfort: Kelty’s Cosmic Sleeping Bag has a polyester shell, but it doesn’t feature ripstop fabric so it won’t be as durable as some other bags. However, for the price, it is still a viable option.
Temperature Comfort Level: Kelty’s Cosmic Sleeping Bag is designed to be a 3-season sleeping bag, and can handle temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It does keep you warm, and it can keep you even warmer if you sleep with a sleeping pad.
Packs down well
Could be more durable
Might not feel as warm as advertised.
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags
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 Important Factors 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.
Q: Do I need to use a sleeping pad with my sleeping bag?
If you can afford one, you should always use a sleeping pad under your bag to protect the underneath of your bag and to add warmth. It will keep you warm and safe when temperatures get very cold, and also add an extra level of comfort.
Q: What do I need to know about the zippers on my sleeping 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.
Q: How can a sleeping bag liner help me?
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.
Q: Should I wear clean clothes when I sleep in my sleeping bag?
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.
Q: How often should I use my compression sack?
Only use it when you need to pack your sleeping bag down and carry it along with you. 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.
Q: Do I need to worry about keeping my sleeping bag clean?
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!