The right (or wrong) sleeping bag can make or break your backpacking or car camping trip. If you choose the wrong one, you’ll have a long and restless night — but if you do your research and pick the best bag for your target destination, you’ll sleep as soundly in a shelter as you do at home. Whether you want a lightweight bag for warm summer nights or a three-season bag to cover you for a variety of seasons, these are our recommendations for the best sleeping bags you can buy.
Western Mountaineering MegaLite 30
Why should you buy this: The MegaLite keeps you warm and won’t weigh you down.
Who’s it for: Anyone who plans to sleep outside, whether they’re camping or backpacking.
How much will it cost: $499
Temperature rating: 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 1 pound 8 ounces
Fill: 12 ounces of 850+ goose down
Why we picked the Western Mountaineering MegaLite 30:
Western Mountaineering goes to great lengths to ensure its products are made in the United States with the best quality materials possible. This excellence even extends to the down filling, which is harvested from healthy, farm-raised geese. The company also doesn’t treat its down with a water-repellent finish because it wants to avoid compromising the longevity of the down’s performance.
The MegaLite is the epitome of quality. The bag offers 12-ounces of high quality 850+ European goose down and 4-inches of loft, making it one of the warmest 30-degree bags on the market. It’s also lightweight, weighing a mere 1 pound and 8 ounces. This weight is even more incredible when you climb inside the bag and realize how roomy it is — 64 inches for the shoulders, 56 inches for the waist, and 39 inches for the feet. The MegaLite bucks is also incredibly compressible, stuffing down smaller than other comparable bags when in a third-party compression sack.
Instead of cutting down on insulation, Western Mountaineering opted for a lightweight 12D nylon shell. This provides enough durability for the bag as long as you’re careful to avoid sharp objects and prominent roots or rough stones. There’s also a full-length YKK zipper that’s handy in warmer weather when you want to use the sleeping bag as a quilt. Additionally, the company added a 1-inch wide piece of Dacron stiffening tape along the length of the zipper that prevents it from snagging any fabric.
The MegaLite is an all-around versatile bag. It’s warm enough for three-season usage — possibly even four seasons if you consider yourself a warm sleeper. The bag is right at home in the campsite but also remains light enough to carry while backpacking or mountaineering. With a price tag of nearly $500, the MegaLite is on the expensive side but you do get a lot of bag for the high cost. Take care of it properly and the MegaLite lasts a lifetime.
NEMO Riff/Jam 15
Why should you buy this: The men’s Riff 15 and women’s Jam 15 from Nemo are the first bags to incorporate two of Nemo’s award-winning technologies — its innovative Spoon shape and cooling Thermo Gills — into one product.
Who’s it for: The Nemo Riff/Jam 15 are for campers who place a priority on comfort when it comes to sleeping. The unique spoon-shaped design adds extra space where it’s needed most, making it ideal for side-sleepers.
How much will it cost: $399.95
Temperature rating: 15 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 9 ounces
Fill: 21 Ounces of 800 Fill Power down with Nikwax, Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified
Why we picked the Nemo Riff/Jam 15:
The Riff and Jam merge the best of Nemo’s innovative design into a single package. Both the Riff and Jam have a unique spoon shape that provides extra room in the shoulders and legs so you can move around in the sleeping bag and even sleep comfortably on your side. Both bags also have Nemo’s novel Thermo Gills feature which provides slits in the bag for temperature management. When you start to heat up inside the bag, open the Thermo Gills to provide much-needed air flow. It’s perfect for those times when it is warm enough to overheat but too cold to unzip the bag entirely.
The Riff and Jam also offer another Nemo exclusive called the Blanket Fold. This feature sits at the opening of the bag and allows you to fold it inside as a soft and cushiony draft collar to hold in the heat and give you the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket. This comfort does come at a cost as the Riff and Jam are not ultralight bags, weighing 2 pounds and 9 ounces — which makes them backpacking-worthy as long as you don’t mind a few extra ounces.
The Riff/Jam 15 have a temperature range that makes them a solid three-season bag suitable for spring, summer, and fall in the mountains. If your weather is typically wet, the Riff/Jam 15 have an added benefit — 800 Fill Power down with Nikwax water repellency. This DWR treatment allows the bag to keep its warmth even in wet weather. The Riff/Jam also are available in a 30-degree version suitable for backpacking and camping in warmer climates.
The North Face HyperCat 20
Why should you buy this: Backpackers who want all-weather protection should look at the North Face HyperCat 20, which is crafted with a durable and lightweight synthetic insulation that stays warm even when it’s wet outside.
Who’s it for: Backpackers and car campers who explore in areas where wetness is a major concern.
How much will it cost: $239
Temperature rating: 20 degrees Fahrenheit, lower limit of 24 degrees Fahrenheit, comfort 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 1 pound 14 ounces
Fill: HeatSeeker One insulation
Why we picked The North Face HyperCat 20:
There is little argument that a down sleeping bag is warm — it’s perhaps the warmest material you can wrap yourself in. However, down insulation does have a significant flaw in that it loses its warmth when wet. Manufacturers have turned to a special water-resistant down that is treated superficially with a DWR like Nikwax but this technology is relatively new, and its effect on the longevity of a down bag is unknown.
While many sleeping bag makers use down in their high-end bags, manufacturers like North Face realize there is a huge market for synthetic fabrics, as well. These synthetic bags offer a significant advantage because they stay warm even while wet, though wet warmth does come at a cost — synthetic bags are often heavier and bulkier. Enter the North Face HyperCat 20, a synthetic bag that offers the wet warmth advantage of synthetic insulation but maintains a lightweight profile that rivals many down bags in the same temperature class.
So, how does the North Face manage to make a synthetic bag light as down? The answer lies in the materials. The company uses a unique HeatSeeker One insulation which utilizes blended Thermolite fiber technology. This type of insulation is manufactured with different-shaped fibers 22 percent lighter but equally as warm as round fibers. The result is a lightweight insulation that’s warm, durable, and compressible.
The North Face trims ounces by using a shortened center zipper and a narrow cut to reduce weight from extra materials. The company also distributes insulation, concentrating it on the top of the bag where it’s needed most. Other features include an ultra-light 20D nylon shell, a cinch-closing hood with glow-in-the-dark pull strings, an integrated draft overlap and draft collar, and a compression sack that’ll compress the bag down to 9.5 liters.
Salewa Fusion Hybrid Sleeping Bag: 28 Degree Synthetic
Why should you buy this: The Salewa Fusion Hybrid takes the lightweight qualities of down and blends it with the water resistance of Primaloft to create a bag that’s warm under all conditions.
Who’s it for: Hikers who want a bag that stays warm when it’s wet, yet lightweight like down.
How much will it cost: $275
Temperature rating: 28 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 4 ounces
Fill: 50 percent PrimaLoft, 50 percent down
Why we picked the Salewa Fusion Hybrid 28-degree sleeping bag:
When purchasing a sleeping bag, many face the age-old decision of down versus synthetic. It’s a difficult choice of whether to opt for the light weight and compressibility of down or the “warm while wet” feature of synthetic insulation. Thankfully, Salewa’s Fusion Hybrid sleeping bag features 50 percent down and 50 percent Primaloft, providing the best of both worlds in a single package.
Salewa designed its mummy bag for the mountaineer or backpacker who needs to be warm regardless of outside conditions. The Fusion Hybrid sleeping bag offers a 90/10 duck down (90 percent down, 10 percent feather) that’s lightweight, highly compressible, and warm when conditions are dry. Salewa also stuffed the bag with Primaloft which provides warmth even while wet. The result is a 650-fill power that stays warm down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and keeps 94 percent of its insulating warmth when wet. Furthermore, the down/synthetic blend dries four times faster than down alone.
Salewa didn’t stop wth the insulation when it designed its Fusion Hybrid sleeping bag as it also built-in all the convenience features anyone might need in a sleeping bag. Extras such as a drawstring hood, a draft collar and tube for warmth, and a foot section with its zipper make this bag a solid choice. When it’s warm outside, it’s also capable of being unzipped and used as a blanket and features a full-length, two-way YKK zipper compatible with other sleeping bags — a welcome bonus for those camping with a significant other.
Kelty Sine 35
Why should you buy this: The Kelty Sine 35 is the perfect 3-season bag. It’ll keep you warm in the spring and fall but is designed with exceptional ventilation to cool you off when temperatures start to climb.
Who’s it for: Backpackers who want a single bag for the summer that’s warm enough to carry over into shoulder seasons.
How much will it cost: $239
Temperature rating: 35 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 1 pound 14 ounces
Fill: 800 fill power DriDown
Why we picked the Kelty Sine 35:
The Kelty Sine 35 is fantastic down bag for those warm summer hikes that take you to distant mountains. The bag’s number one feature is its flexibility as it’s deal for both warm and colder nights, allowing you to pick one bag for 90 percent of your backpacking needs. It also accommodates a man-sized frame but has extra down for women who sleep cold.
As its name implies, the Sine 35 has a 35-degree rating when fully zipped — perfect for those occasional cold nights. When it gets warmer, the bag uses two well-placed zippers for ventilation; one which extends across the chest allowing for air flow and another that exposes the feet and lower legs, providing a way for cool air to seep into the bag without comprising warmth in the middle.
The Sine 35 is chock full of features. The Arc zipper system not only allows for cooling as mentioned above but it’s also set at an angle, allowing for natural arm movement across the body when unzipping the bag. There’s a natural fit toe box for comfort along with a zipper draft tube for warmth. Kelty designed the tube to be anti-snag, so you won’t need to worry about catching any fabric. Another bonus in the Sine 35 is the built-in pillow pocket at the head which allows you to stuff an extra jacket to create a pillow.
Big Agnes Thunderhead SL 30 Sleeping Bag
Why should you buy this: Big Agnes did away with zippers in the Thunderhead SL 30, and the result is a bag that’s lightweight and low maintenance.
Who’s it for: Minimalists who don’t want the fuss of zippers.
How much will it cost: $249
Temperature rating: 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 1 pound 12 ounces
Fill: 650-fill DownTek
Why we picked the Big Agnes Thunderhead SL 30:
The Thunderhead SL 30 from Big Agnes is a minimalist’s dream. The lightweight bag is simple in construction with a traditional cocoon shape and zipperless design. Only the top portion of the bag opens and is secured using a clip and loop system instead of a zipper.
Other standard features of the Thunderhead include a cinch hood, a wrap-around draft tube to hold in heat, and a vaulted foot box with some extra room to wiggle your feet. On the outside, the bag is covered in water repellant, lightweight rip-stop nylon, while the inside of the bag is lined with soft nylon taffeta. There’s even an integrated half pad sleeve designed to hold a small pad that’ll cover all the pressure points on your hips, shoulders, and head.
Patagonia Hybrid Sleeping Bag
Why should you buy this: The Patagonia Hybrid sleeping bag is the bag you want when weight matters on an alpine trek.
Who’s it for: Alpine Backpackers or mountaineers who already travel with a down parka and want a warm sleeping bag that weighs next to nothing.
How much will it cost: $299
Temperature rating: Varies based on layering
Weight: 1 pound 1 ounce
Fill: 850-fill Traceable European down
Why we picked the Patagonia Hybrid sleeping bag:
The Patagonia hybrid sleeping bag does away with unnecessary weight by using an “Elephant’s Foot” design. This style of bag concentrates the insulation in the lower half of the torso, requiring the user to wear a warm down coat as insulation for the upper half of their body. This style of sleeping bag tends to be light and compact, making them suitable for alpine pursuits where ounces are critical.
Everything about the Patagonia hybrid bag is ultralight from the Pertex Quantum outer shell to the featherweight nylon ripstop liner. Both the outer and inner surface of the bag have a DWR finish which helps keep the down insulation (and its owner) dry. Unlike other “Elephant’s Foot” bags that are shorter in length, the Patagonia hybrid bag is a full-length bag with insulation at the bottom and a nylon upper with a cinch hood at the top to keep in the heat.
Besides being light and simple in design, the hybrid bag from Patagonia also is versatile. Because you’ll pair the sleeping bag with an insulated jacket, Patagonia allows for the customization of the sleep system to fit your needs. On a cold night, the bag might pair with a heavily-insulated down parka, while on a warmer night, the bag goes perfectly with a lightweight parka and no additional layers.
Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Adjustable Sleeping Bag
Why should you buy this: The Bozeman is the perfect sleeping bag for kids — its unique design allows the bag to grow along with a child.
Who’s it for: Young children who love the outdoors
How much will it cost: $99
Temperature rating: 20 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 4 ounces
Fill: Synthetic Thermal.Q Thermic MX
Why we picked the Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Adjustable sleeping bag:
Sleeping bags for kids are a difficult niche to fill. Quality bags tend to be quite expensive as they are designed with longevity in mind. Unfortunately, kids grow so fast that this longevity is lost on them and their bags quickly become obsolete. As a result, few parents are willing to shell out $300 for a bag that’ll only last a year. Mountain Hardware realized this doesn’t have to be the norm and released the Bozeman — an adjustable sleeping bag that expands as your child grows.
The key to the Bozeman is an internal drawstring that shrinks the bag to the height of the child. This internal closure ensures the child stays nice and warm in a space sized specifically for their height. As the child grows, the drawstring can be adjusted to a new length. Each year the bag gets a little bit longer until the child is ready for an adult-sized model.
When deciding what to put in the Bozeman, Mountain Hardwear didn’t scrimp. The company started off with enough synthetic fill to produce a bag that’s comfortable down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring a full three seasons of usage. Mountain Hardwear also included a draft tube along the zipper and a face gasket to keep cold air out and the warm air in.
Big Agnes Sentinel 30
Why should you buy this: The Big Agnes Sentinel 30 takes all the features of a high-end sleeping bag and packages them into a form factor built for two.
Who’s it for: Couples who enjoy spending time together outside.
How much will it cost: $369
Temperature rating: 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 3 pounds 9 ounces
Fill: 650 Fill DownTek water repellent down
Why we picked the Big Agnes Sentinel 30:
The Sentinel 30 from Big Agnes is all about sharing your love of the great outdoors with your favorite person. The down sleeping bag is designed to hold two people comfortably with room for sleeping pads in the integrated sleeve. Rated down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the full package brings a bed-like comfort to your camping experience.
The most striking feature of the Sentinel 30 is its size — the double bag measures almost 9-feet across the shoulders and hips, accommodating two people up to 6-feet tall. It weighs 3 pounds and 9 ounces, which is reasonable for such a large bag. Instead of unpacking two sleeping bags and struggling to zip them together, campers simply roll out the Sentinel 30 and hop right into bed. Its weight, however, makes the Sentinel 30 more suited for car camping instead of backpacking.
Although it’s meant for two people, the bag does have some individualized features. Each person has the option to use their pillow in the integrated pillow barn and cinch the hood based on their need for heat. The bag also allows owners to choose between two individual sleeping pads — or one double pad — if both sleepers can agree on the firmness and thickness of the mattress pad. Each side also has its own zipper, meaning a person can get in and out of the bag without waking up their partner.
The Sentinel 30 is big in size and big in features. Thanks to DWR on the outside and water-repellant down on the inside, the Sentinel 30 is designed to keep you dry and warm even when the conditions turn wet. There’s also interior fabric loops to hold sleeping bag liners in place and a free range hood which allows you to lift your head without adjusting the hood.
The North Face Furnace 20
Why should you buy this: The North Face Furnace 20 keeps you warm in three season conditions at an extremely affordable price.
Who’s it for: Budget-conscious campers and backpackers
How much will it cost: $180
Temperature rating: 20 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 10 ounces
Fill: 550-fill water-resistant ProDown
Why we picked The North Face Furnace 20:
To find any down sleeping bag costing less than $200 is quite a feat. To find something as warm and lightweight as the North Face Furnace is truly remarkable. The Furnace is a high-quality mummy bag designed for comfort, providing you with plenty of room to move around, a fitted hood, and even draft collar to keep your body heat in and cold weather out.
North Face designed the Furnace with Pro-Down, comprised of water-resistant 550-fill certified Responsible Down which prevents moisture from disturbing its excellent lofting capacity. In addition to the Pro-Down, the Furnace features an anti-compression layer of Heatseeker Eco synthetic insulation on the bottom panel which reduces the occurrence of cold spots. These two stand-out features make the Furnace water-repellant, extremely warm, and (most importantly) ready to take on any type of weather.
The North Face Furnace is rated to an EN lower limit of 14 degrees Fahrenheit and a comfort limit of 26 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re looking for something warm enough for three season conditions, lightweight enough to take backpacking, and which won’t break the bank or sacrifice quality — the North Face Furnace should be on your radar.
Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3
Why should you buy this: An outstanding warmth to weight ratio for challenging the coldest winter weather.
Who’s it for: Winter campers and backpackers
How much will it cost: $630
Temperature rating: 3 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 9 ounces
Fill: 800-fill Q-Shield down
Why we picked the Mountain Hardware Phantom Torch 3:
When winter rears its head, the snow begins to fall, and the winds begin to howl, you don’t have to retreat indoors and out of the elements. You can camp or backpack all winter long with the Phantom Torch and keep warm at night, even when the temperatures dip below freezing.
Mountain Hardwear stuffed a healthy helping of 800-fill down into this performance mummy bag and its Q-Shield down has been treated to repel water and moisture, making it ideal for use in snowy conditions. In addition to quality down, 5-inch baffle spacing ensures maximum loft. The Phantom Torch is rated to an EN comfort level of 16 degrees Fahrenheit and a lower limit of 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aside from an impressive warmth to weight ratio, the Phantom Torch is extremely lightweight, making it ideal for use on a backpacking or alpine expedition. Tipping the scales at just 2 pounds, 9 ounces, it’s lighter than many of the bags on this list — including those that are significantly less warm.
When possible, our sleeping bag recommendations have been field tested across a variety of terrains and weather conditions. We try to test each bag under the conditions which it will be most frequently used. When testing a sleeping bag is not possible, we look at the features of the bag and compare it to existing models in our arsenal of gear. We examine how the bag has changed and what improvements, if any, were made for the current year. We also comb through product specifications and both manufacturer and retailer videos for insight into any new technology advances that were developed for these latest and greatest sleeping bags.
Buying a sleeping bag is a very personal thing. Everyone sleeps differently — there are warm sleepers, cold sleepers, side sleepers, back sleepers and more. Because of this variability, there is no perfect sleeping bag suitable for everyone. As a result, you have to spend time researching a sleeping bag before purchasing. Buying a sleeping bag comes down to three things: the type of insulation (down or synthetic) in the bag, the size and weight that you can carry, and the level of comfort you want in the field.
One of the biggest decisions you need to make about when purchasing a sleeping bag is the insulation. The insulation influences how warm you will be when you backpack. There are two basic types of insulation — down and synthetic — and they have very different properties.
Down is known for being lightweight and warm. It can be compressed to a fraction of its original size and takes up relatively little space in your pack. Down has an Achilles heel, though. When wet, it loses its ability to keep you warm. Down has a loft that creates air spaces between the feathers. When this air heats up, it’s able to keep you warm inside your sleeping bag. When down gets wet, it sticks together and loft disappears. As a result, the bag stays cold because it no longer has these air spaces to trap heat.
Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, does not rely on loft to keep you warm. The insulation itself is developed with specialty materials and woven fabric matrices that are designed to trap heat. When this insulation gets wet, it retains its ability to keep you warm. This capability is a huge benefit for backpacking in a wet area.
Like down, synthetic insulation does have a downside. The material is heavier than down and not nearly as compressible. As a result, synthetic bags are heavier and take up more room than their down counterparts.
Another major factor in choosing a sleeping bag is the temperature rating. You don’t want to pack a 50-degree bag in the dead of winter, nor do you want to pack a 0-degree bag in the middle of summer.
Each bag has a temperature rating which helps you chose the best model for your outings. Many sleeping bags list an EN rating, which is a testing standard used by most major sleeping bag manufacturers. This specification ensures the bags are evaluated using the same set of criteria, allowing you to compare an 800-fill down bag from Mountain Hardware with a 650-fill down bag from the North Face. There are usually two EN values listed for each bag — the EN comfort rating and the EN lower limit rating.
The comfort rating is the lowest temperature that the average woman will find comfortable, while the lower limit reflects the lowest temperature that is comfortable to the average man. These temperatures are calculated based on a person wearing a single layer of long underwear and a hat. Some bags don’t have an EN rating, so you’ll need to look at the insulation type and its relative reviews to see whether the bag lives up to its advertised temperature rating.
Do keep in mind ratings are only a guideline and should be applied to your unique physiology. Everyone is different — for instance, some people sleep warmer and are comfortable in a 30-degree bag when it is well below freezing while others sleep much colder and need a 30-degree model even during warm summer nights. Typically, three-season bags, with a range from five degrees Fahrenheit to 29 degrees Fahrenheit, are the most popular bags as they can be used from spring through the fall.
If you do almost all of your backpacking and camping in the summer, you’ll want a warm weather bag with a temperature range that extends from 30 degrees Fahrenheit on the low end to 55 degrees Fahrenheit on the upper end. For winter, you want to select a bag with a range that extends from four degrees Fahrenheit to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t worry if your bag is a little too warm or cold for the conditions. If cold, you can add a liner or an extra layer of clothing to boost 10 degrees Fahrenheit in warmth. Likewise, you can simply open a zipper to create a vent, or even unzip a bag fully and use it as a blanket to cool off.