Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
There are probably several different scenarios where you will feel the need to possess a sleeping bag, hence why you are reading this right now. However, when the climate gets cooler outdoors and the nights turn frigid, you need one that will keep you warm and toasty throughout the night. Thankfully, after you proceed to this buying guide, you will begin to learn what the most important factors are when investing in cold weather sleeping bags (and be witnessed the best sleeping bags in the world). Though be warned, high-quality comes at a price with most of these heavily-insulated sleeping bags.
When that temperature drops, you will absolutely absolutely start thinking twice about your decision, if you went with the cheapest option. It’s not that a great sleeping bag has to cost a small fortune, but price should factor in behind a few more important qualities.
- REI CO-OP MAGMA 10°
- Western Mountaineering 10
- Wide shoulder
- 850-fill down
- Hyke & Byke Snowmass 0 Degree Down
- Lifetime warranty
- Great value
10 Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
REI Co-op Magma
With this updated sleeping bag, there has even been an addition of zipper cover and an anti-snag strip, so that zipping is easy access. Not to mention, the access to the zipper around your torso and shoulders is very convenient.
All together, this bag is light weight, warm, and pretty darn high up there on the quality scale. It's a great place to start as a number one heavy-hitter.
- 850 fill goose down interior
- Includes stuff sack for storage
- Not the highest quality sleeping bag on the list
Western Mountaineering also decided to utilize down insulation with their sleeping bag, in the count of 850-fill. But, the high-thread-count in the fabric shell of the bag seals in that insulation to deliver the maximum amount of warmth possible (to the degree of 10 degrees Fahrenheit). Plus, the interlocking draft tubes prevent drafts from entering in.
With its full-length, YKK zipper, in times where the temperature is warmer than usual, you can simply unzip the bag to allow extra breathing room and ventilation.
To allow for extra layering, when the climate outdoors is insanely cold, there is a wide shoulder girth.
Not only does the 850-fill down insulation deliver impeccable warmth, it is also highly-compressible making it easy to pack. Speaking of packing, this sleeping bag comes with a storage stuff sack.
There are three different sizing options that you can select from and they all allude to your height. The options are for 5-foot-6-inches, 6-foot and 6-foot-6-inches.
Even with a slightly higher temperature rating of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, this is as elite as it gets. If you think about it this way, in climates that do reach in the negatives, the wide shoulder girth allows you to layer on extra clothing.
- A wide shoulder circumference adapts for extra layering of clothes
- The full-down collar seals in your body heat throughout the night
- Has 850-fill down insulation
- Has a somewhat disappointing temperature rating of 10 degrees Fahrenheit
Hyke and Byke Snowmass 0 Degree
As for your ability to pick up and go with this bag, it is relatively lightweight; it weighs in at around 4.30lbs. It packs down nicely into it's carrying case that is provided, so that you should still have plenty of room in your backpack for clothes, food, and other outdoor's survival paraphernalia.
To top it of, the Snowmass is quite durable, as it is constructed with a strong 100% nylon ripstop fabric that is also water repellent.
- Water repellent
- Great company that does a lot for the environment
- Some had issues with the zipper
Phanton Torch 3
Not only does the Phantom Torch 3 feature 800-fill down insulation, the down has been treated with a repellent that resists moisture and retains loft in damp conditions. Also, the face gasket blocks away drafts and helps to achieve a temperature rating of 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
A durable two-way zipper is present on the side of the sleeping bag (which you can choose) for an easy exit and extra ventilation.
With 10D nylon fabric that is soft to the touch, a natural footbox, and a six-chamber hood design, you are not only promised superb warmth but also comfort.
To allow for the easiest travel possible, Mountain Hardwear includes both a nylon compression sack and a mesh storage sack.
If you are taller than most, there is both an option for a regular size and long size. The long size fits up to 78 inches in length, while the normal 72 inches.
When assessing the Phantom Torch 3, it is difficult to answer the question of what is wrong? Honestly, past the tendency for the zipper to snag, you must dig very deep to come up with legitimate gripes against this sleeping bag.
- It is cut snug for the maximum warmth and weight
- Single-handed drawcords allow for an easy adjustment
- The draft collar seals the insulated heat inside
- The zipper has snagging issues
- While it is treated to repel water, it is not as weatherproof as other models
Kelty Cosmic 0 Degree
Kelty, the makers of the Cosmic 0 Degree, secures a 0-degree rating by utilizing 600-fill down that has been treated with a water-resistant finish and a full draft collar for sealing out cold drafts.
The 60-inch dual-sliding zipper, which covers most of the sleeping bag, is crafted with an anti-snag design.
Proving plenty of room for your feet is the natural-fit footbox and in conjunction with the ripstop polyester that feels terrific against your skin, comfort is certainly not an issue here.
While there is a stuff sack that comes included, the sleeping bag itself is rather bulky. Thus, it can be a hassle to consistently fit it inside of the sack when you are traveling.
Again, you get the option for either a long or regular version of the same bag. The only difference is the long version adapts for a longer length (78 inches), shoulder girth (64 inches) and width girth (60 inches).
Strip away the bulkiness and yet again, you are left with a sleeping bag that could easily be number one on this list. That speaks to the quality at play here and the fact that one small design issue can make the difference.
- Has a temperature rating of 0 degrees
- The off-set craftsmanship eliminates cold spots
- Thermal comfort hood features drawcords for adjustment
- For packing, the bag can be bulky and difficult to slide in the included sack
Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20°
The shell is breathable and water resistant, so you not only keep the cold out and toasty warmth in, but moisture should stay clearly at bay, too.
Best of all, this bag is highly compressible, so you can easily pack it and ensure that you have enough room for everything else you need in your backpack.
- Fantastic quality
Much like Marmot, Teton integrates a different kind of insulation (SuperLoft Elite fiberfill) and an innovative construction to keep you warm while eliminating cold spots. In addition, to fully maximize its 0-degree temperature rating, the zipper and shoulder draft tubes keep drafts from entering in.
As this bag is designed for two people, there are plenty of zippers to allow for easy access and ventilation. You can unzip this beast from both the sides and the bottom.
Truly noteworthy here is that the brushed flannel liner that is integrated into the inside of this bag resembles the texture of bed sheets, making it comfortable to the touch.
Let’s get this out of the way, this is indeed a Mammoth as it clocks in at 16 pounds. Yes, there is an included Oxford compression sack but for backpacking, this is going to be extremely heavy.
At 94 x 62 inches, this sleeping bag is enormous and is designed to fit more than one person.
To be honest, this is not the best sleeping bag for backpackers or anyone who plans on carrying their sleeping bag over long distances. Instead, this is ideal for individuals who are camping in the cold weather and looking for a massive size.
- It has room to sleep, two people
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
- Is rated to survive temperatures that creep in the single digits
- Has a massive weight of 16 pounds and is difficult to carry
- Due to its size, it is a hassle to maintain
Being rated to keep you toasty in temperatures that do not drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, this will adapt for average winter nights. To accomplish this, Big Agnes designed their King Solomon with 600fill down insulation and a ripstop nylon shell with a DWR finish to repel water.
No doubt, this sleeping bag has many ways of access. With double zippers on both sides, you can enter from either side and produce an ample amount of ventilation. In addition, when it is unzipped it can be used like a comforter.
Big Agnes takes pride in their dubbing of “The Mother of Comfort” and King Solomon is a great example of why.
As compared to the last double sleeping bag, this is significantly lighter and easy to compress. With the included mesh storage sack and nylon stuff sack, portability is a breeze.
Again, this is specifically designed to fit two people or can be utilized as one if you like a lot of excess room while sleeping.
In spite of the somewhat disappointing temperature rating, although it will keep you insulated on average winter nights (depending on where you are), the King Solomon certainly justifies its name due to its quality.
- You can use the top corner hand pockets to cover your shoulders
- For its size, it compresses very well and is rather light
- Properly sleeps, two people
- More insulation and a lower temperature rating would be ideal
The North Face Inferno
To prevent any heat loss, besides the 800-fill down insulation, there is both a full-draft collar and an implemented draft overlap. All in all, this is enough to hold up in temperatures that stay above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
While there is a half-way center zipper that allows for entry and exit, it could have been longer and side zippers would have been ideal. Unfortunately, the Inferno is severely lacking in this area.
Due to the manner in which this sleeping bag was designed, it is simple to sleep in it with multiple layers of clothing on.
As with most sellers, The North Face includes both a compression sack and storage sack for easy transport and carry. As a bonus, there is an internal pocket that can be used as a storage location.
The North Face provides you with the option of either a long or regular sized version. If you are over 72 inches in height, then you can select the long version which comfortably fits lengths of up to 79 inches.
For pure performance, this bag delivers in every area you want. It is highly insulated and is designed to prevent drafts, while also being comfortable to the touch. However, the zipper design is lacking and they may prove to be too big of an issue for you.
- Features a water-resistant fabric to keep water and moisture at bay
- The trapezoidal side baffle manages to eliminate the migration of the down
- It is designed with 800-fill down insulation
- The center zipper should be longer
- No side zippers for ventilation
The Col has a crazy 44oz of 800 fill down that gives it an incredible loft and insulation. The warmth- to-weight ratio is great compared to many others in this list. The cut of the bag is wide to allow for many layers and movement.
The zipper pull is glow in the dark to help you see where it was snagged.
The Col is great because of it's extra space that allows for a great deal of movement inside the bag. This makes it much more comfortable than other, more snug, bags on this list. One negative of the bag is the light-duty draft collar and thick material around the foot box that might not be the most comfortable.
With all the down and shell in this bag, it definitely makes for a larger pack size than some of the other bags on the list. However it still packs down quite well considering its size and will fit inside a 60-liter pack and allow for other winter gear.
Again, you have multiple sizing options so if you happen to be taller or larger than others, you can select the size that adapts to you best.
The Col is a great option for extremely cold weather. It is warm, weather resistant, and comfortable. It has plenty of down to get you through those cold nights but won't weigh you down on your trek.
- Very warm
- Weather resistant
- On the heavier side
- zipper snags
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
The Insulation and Temperature Rating
It should not surprise you that when breaking down the best cold weather sleeping bags, the first criterion (and probably most important) alludes to the insulation and warmth that they provide. For insulation, you typically either see down or synthetic. Synthetic insulation actually mimics the properties of down but retains them while wet. Of course, even though down does not insulate when it is wet, this is why it is treated with a repellent to resist moisture and dampness. As far as how to judge the performance of the insulation, the higher the fill the more insulating ability the down (which comes from either goose or duck) has.
Also, besides the basic insulation, the sleeping bag needs to be able to retain the heat and prevent it from escaping. This can be achieved with the type of thread, interlocking draft tubes and also a full draft collar. At the end of the day, though, temperature rating may be the most important factor of all. This rating is to inform you of how cold the climate can be outdoors until the sleeping bag will stop keeping you warm. Clearly, the lower the better.
The Location and Design of the Zipper/Zippers
The manner in which sleeping bags are designed makes the zipper location, and overall design, critically important. This is because they cocoon you inside of them. If you have full-length, or even ¾-length, zippers on the side it can make the entry and the exit significantly easier. The same can be said about the center zipper, if there is one, as the size of the opening can aid in the simplicity of access. But, side and center zippers also provide more conveniences, such as the ventilation. Just because you intend on using a sleeping bag in cold weather, does not mean you will not overheat from time to time. In these situations, it is nice to be able to zip the side of the bag open for breathability. As a side note, a lot of sellers give you the option for the zipper to be located on either the right or left side of the bag.
Unfortunately, snagging can be a real issue when it comes to zippers. While it is hard to avoid it all the time, look out for design integrations that lend a helping hand (such as anti-snag webbing tape).
How Comfortable the Sleeping Bag Is
Warmth and comfort truly do go hand-in-hand. However, because of how important warmth and insulation are, noteworthy comfort features would have been lost in the shuffle if they were included in that specific section. Thus, it deserves its own special recognition. When analyzing pure comfort, ignoring warmth for a second, it really comes down to the feel of the fabric and the form of the sleeping bag.
For example, fabrics such as nylon and polyester are soft to the skin and feel terrific. You may treasure a specific type of material over another, especially with your clothing. But, the form also comes into play. Most specifically with the footbox. In order to ensure your feet, have plenty of breathing room, you will want either a natural or trapezoidal footbox. Of course, you may prefer sleeping with extra-layering and if you do, pay attention to how wide the shoulder girth is as the wider it is the more clothes you can layer.
The Simplicity of Transporting It
It is not a bad assumption to assume that you plan on traveling with your sleeping bag. Granted, you could strictly use it for backyard camping or around the home. However, most will use it for activities such as backpacking, camping, hiking, etc. Thus, it must be transported to those locations. Now, depending on what you are doing, you may either have a short or long distance to travel with the sleeping bag. If long, then the simplicity of transporting it becomes vitally important.
No matter what, as you were witnessed to in this guide, typically, manufacturers will provide you with either a compression sack, stuff sack, or dry bag to carry around the sleeping bag. But, the weight and bulkiness of the bag can either make it a huge hassle to get inside or a piece of cake. If overly bulky or heavy, it can fit awkwardly in your backpack making for an uncomfortable experience. Also, if you prefer carrying as little weight as possible to ease the stress of your back, you do not want a sleeping bag that is over 10 pounds.
If the Sleeping Bag Will Properly Fit You
Sleeping bags are not fitted to be universal; though, they are designed to fit as many people as possible. This is where tall and larger folks hold a disadvantage. If you already know, for a fact, that you are too short to ever concern yourself with not fitting inside a sleeping bag, then length typically will not concern you. Given that most sleeping bags that made their way onto this list had a regular sized version of up to 72 inches in length (which works out to 6-foot), if you are under six-feet then length should be out of the question. Past length, measurements such as the hip girth and shoulder width are important as well. If you have any concerns, simply compare the dimensions of the regular and long versions.
One last point, if you are looking to sleep more than one person in one sleeping bag, there are some bags that are designed to be double-wide and sleep two.
Q: How to Store a Sleeping Bag?
Clearly, you are not going to use your sleeping bag 24/7. As such, it is important to understand that some care needs to be taken when storing it away. What was not previously addressed about down insulation is that the more it is compressed, the more loft it loses. If you leave it stored in a tight compression sack for too long, it could compromise the effectiveness of the sleeping bag. An alternative to a small compression sack is to store it in a large and breathable storage bag.
But, if the manufacturer does not provide this to you or you do not have the means to get one, then simply store it in a spread-out position in a cool and dry location. For example, you could spread it out under your bed or even hang it up in your bedroom. Also, be sure to fluff the sleeping bag right before you store it.
Q: How Do You Machine Wash a Sleeping Bag?
First of all, you should only wash your sleeping bag when it really needs it. Do not think that it is necessary to wash it after every use (maybe only once per year). Thankfully, you can machine wash a sleeping bag. However, due to their immense size, you may not be able to do so with your current washing machine. If you know for a fact that you need a larger machine, head over to the nearest laundry mat and use their front-loading washer. From here, you really do not need any special solvents or detergent to properly clean and wash them.
But, before you toss it into the washer, ensure that you unzip the bag and place the sliders halfway-up. Once this is done, you can throw it in the machine and wash it on a gentle cycle with warm water and a mild detergent.
Q: How Do You Hand Wash a Sleeping Bag?
Let’s face it, not all of you have access to a laundry mat or the desire to use one. If this so happens to be the case, you can clean a sleeping bag the old-fashioned way. For starters, you still want to ensure that you have a large area to wash the bag in (say a bathtub which will be used in this example). Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water and add as much soap or detergent as you deem necessary or that the manufacturer recommends (avoid a lot as you do need to rinse it out later).
From there, simply lay the sleeping bag in the sudsy water and begin to saturate every section of the bag. Allow the bag to sit in the water for approximately one hour and after that, you will need to drain the tub and refill it with plain water. Now, repeat the process except now you want to rid the bag of the excess soap. You may have to drain and rinse a few times, so this can end up being both time-consuming and annoying.
Q: What is the Best Way to Carry a Sleeping Bag When Backpacking?
Some of you may be planning on bringing your brand-new sleeping bag on your next backpacking adventure. To do this, you will ideally want to include it either on or in your backpack. The question is, what is the best way to do so? Truthfully, it depends on the design of the backpack that you currently have. If it is crafted with an internal frame, it will be easier to stuff it inside. For a short time, compressing the down insulated sleeping bag will not affect it. Plus, as you will not need the bag until you sleep for the night, you want to pack it on the bottom as tightly as it can go.
However, if you have an external frame backpack, stuff it in the included sack and strap it to the bottom section of the backpack.
Q: How Do You Dry a Sleeping Bag?
So, you should now have your wits about you the next time you wash a sleeping bag? But, what do you do when the washing process has concluded? No doubt, the easiest way is to place it in a drying machine. Though, great care needs to be taken to ensure you do not damage the fabric. When a sleeping bag becomes drenched, it is more prone to abrasions. As such, you need to carefully and gently place it inside of a large dryer.
If need be, you may have to go to a laundry mat (if not already there) for a large enough dryer. For a point of reference, if you can freely crawl into the dryer then it is suitable enough. Be warned, the drying process takes a while as you want to dry it on the coolest setting possible as heat can clump the insulation.
Q: How Do You Fold a Sleeping Bag?
Probably the simplest question that constantly gets asked in reference to sleeping bags is how to fold them. Even if they come with compression sacks, you still are responsible for condensing the size so they will adequately fit in the sack. To do so, make sure that all the zippers are fully-zipped and fold it in half length-wise. Now, starting at the open end of the bag, begin to tightly roll up the bag to the best of your capability. As you go, be sure to release as much air as possible as you literally want it as tight as humanly possible. Once you feel it is rolled up tightly enough, use the straps to secure it and place it in the stuff sack.
Sleeping bags are a terrific commodity but do not sell yourself short because you did not want to put forth some effort to find the best one. To be honest, most of the work is already done for you. Now, you just have to make a selection.