CAMPING & HIKING

Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag: Get Ready to Sleep under the Stars

Best sleeping bag for backpacking
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

You willll agree that with the modern way of life and the stress that comes along with it, people more often have a desire to connect with the great big wild. You must have noticed the growing popularity for hiking, backpacking and camping. However, getting ready to go camping always requires good preparation, and that includes, most of the time, having the best backpacking sleeping bag, doesn’t it?

Choosing the best sleeping bag for backpacking is pertinent when making the decision to head out into the wild. The choice isn’t that easy, though. Obviously, a key factor that each individual needs to consider is the location. If backpacking takes you to the desert then your sleeping arrangements will be vastly different than those heading up to the summits of a mountain range.

Backpacking sleeping bags in the wild

You might be wondering how will you know which is exactly the best model, and which one will suit you? Well, luckily we have written this article with the purpose of guiding you and helping you find the right backpacking sleeping bag for you. We will look at the most relevant features to look for, and then compare the best models so that you will be able to purchase the right one.

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightTemperature RatingBest UsePrice
Western Mountaineering Summerlite1 lb32°F or 0°COutdoors, backpacking, mountaineering, hikingCheck price on Amazon
Nemo Nocturne2.6 lb30°F or -1°CHiking, backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Mountain Hardware Lamina2.14 lb22°F or -5°COutdoors, hiking, backpacking, mountaineeringCheck price on Amazon
Sierra Dridown Backcountry2.1 lb31°F or -1°CHiking, backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Marmoth Sawtooth1 lb15°F or -9°CHiking, backpacking, mountaineering, alpine campingCheck price on Amazon
Kelty Cosmic3 lb20°F or -6°CHiking, backpacking, alpine campingCheck price on Amazon
Kelty Dridown2.1 lb20°F or -6°CHiking, backpacking, alpine campingCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

There are five main deciding factors to hash out when choosing the sleeping bag that is right for you. Taking each of these factors into account will add up to the best backpacking sleeping bag and will give you the confidence to take your dreams outdoors. Buying the right sleeping bag for you is key to making sure you are getting outside and enjoying nature. Each of the categories must be addressed both individually and as a larger group. The combination of these five factors will give you the best results.

Material

When trying to make the right decision on what sleeping bag will be best for you, one of the first things to discuss is the material. You want something waterproof, but not sticky, strong and durable, but not rough, and warm enough to last you through even the coldest of mountain nights.

Sleeping bag material

There are a few main types of materials that compose the outside of your sleeping bag. The main two fabrics are nylon and polyester. These two materials are both fairly strong and durable in their own right.

The material paired with many other add-ons and details will stand out from a regular sleeping bag. The stitching pattern is also a factor to consider when paying attention to the outside of your bag. The pockets of down, of baffles, hold the down feathers in one place to keep them from sliding and lumping up in the corners. This ensures that you will always have down to cover you and cushion you.

Insulation

The inside of your bag is a bit of a different story. Most bags are now equipped with goose down feathers, which are some of the warmest and softest material out there. They are lightweight and hold a ton of heat right where it’s needed.

Insulation of Sleeping Bags

DriDown is another type of insulation that is a bit more moisture wicking which can help if you are a sweaty sleeper too. Ask any experienced backpacker and they will tell you about a time in their early years when they tried to save money by buying a cheaper sleeping bag.

Waking up in the middle of the night from being so cold that your chattering teeth, is an eye-opening experience. It makes all the difference in the rugged terrains of the back country to get a good night’s sleeping before attacking the miles of the next day.

Taking this lesson from veterans may cause you to pay up now, but will prevent you from paying the ultimate price later. After all, the inside of the bag is just as important as what is on the outside.

Fill Power

Fill power is a number that corresponds to the volume of down feathers when they are at full size, or “fully fluffed”. The higher the fill power, the warmer your sleeping bag will be. For example, the higher the fill power number the more air space that can be trapped within the down, resulting in more warmth and insulation for you.

Fill Power

This number is often followed closely by the price tag, but is worth every penny as opposed to freezing in your tent. If getting by with a lower fill power works for you then by doing your research on the thickness and heating ability of different bags, you can more easily narrow down the contenders.

Weight

Anyone who had been backpacking before will tell you that weight can “make or break” your excursion. Carrying too much weight in your pack will not only cause cramping and soreness in your muscles, but it’s also highly inconvenient and inefficient when backpacking.

Taking into consideration your tent, potential sleeping pads, food, clothes, and other necessary supplies, a heavy sleeping bag could cause one to downsize in another area to compensate for another, which is something that could be potentially dangerous.

Sleeping bags in action

Taking less food or warm clothing because your sleeping bag it too large is never a good idea. Balancing the weight between your absolute essentials (food, shelter, water purification) and your less absolute essentials (clothing, gadgets, etc.) is one of the most critical decisions you will make before you head off into the wilderness.

Temperature Rating

Temperature rating really only comes into play when you already know where you are going. It is almost always better to plan for colder temperature than hoping for warm, but that may come with a higher price tag as well. Most bags come labeled with a temperature rating that suggests how cold it can be with the sleeping bag will still provide enough warmth.

Keeping in mind that you can also layer up inside your bag with thermal trousers or tops which will also keep you extra warm, so you don’t have to pay for the lowest temperature-rated bag. Some bags are rated for below zero temperatures while others could be around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and each have their own pros and cons.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Now that you know which are the key factors to look for, it’s time to decide which is the best sleeping bag model that you truly need. Your choice should be based on the type of needs that you have. Do you plan to camp in alpine conditions, or in summery ones? Analyze your trip and the kind of camping trips you regularly do, after that, take a look at these reviews, and you will know what model you want.

Western Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping BaWestern Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping Bagg

Price: $400 – $430

Material: Ripstop nylon & goose down

Fill power: 850

Weight: 1 lb

Temperature rating: 32°F or 0°C

Specific features: Easy ventilation, coil zipper with dacron stiffening tape

Best use: Outdoors, backpacking, mountaineering, hiking

Description: The Western Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping Bag is one of the best in the class. At about 1 pound in weight and an 850 fill power, this lightweight bag will does its job and goes above and beyond.

You can’t ask for more out of this bag when it combines the lightweight with awesome ventilation, and stiffening tape to prevent zipper snags this bag can withstand some of the toughest terrains. Light enough and warm enough for mountaineering, you will see this bag dotted across the summits of the tallest mountains in the world.

Despite not being exactly a sleeping bag to take to the extreme cold weathers, or for alpine camping, it will definitely fulfill most of your needs during winter camping. It can take up to 0 degrees Celsius, which is mot of the time good enough.

It still is considered a four-season sleeping bag and will keep you warm at night. Of course, if you are planning to camp in Alaska or in summits of very tall mountains, this should not be your first choice. But for a nice camping trip during winter, it will be enough.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Great quality
  • Good ventilation

CONS:

  • Pricey for a sleeping bag that can’t go below 0 degrees Celsius

Related: The Unigear Inflatable Camping Pillow is a great item to buy with this and any other sleeping bag. It is easy to carry, lightweight, and will allow you to inflate it on the spot to have a good night of sleep.

Check the price on Amazon

Nemo Nocturne Sleeping BoxNemo Nocturne Sleeping Box

Price: $320 – $350

Material: Nylon ripstop

Fill power: 750

Weight: 2.6 lbs

Temperature rating: 30°F or -1°C

Specific features: 3 season bag, stretch stitching, waterproof, box quilted, indirectflow gates, spoon-shaped

Best use: Outdoors camping, hiking, backpacking.

Description: The Nemo Nocturne Sleeping Box with quilted 750 fill, will make sure to keep you warm. With stretch stitching and it’s revolutionary spoon-shape, it allows the bag to move with you during your night’s sleep instead of bunching and rolling up and provides room near the elbows and knees.

The warm down feather stays in place as they are evenly distributed in a seamless rectangle pattern that covers the bag. Inspect flow gates keep the bag from using too much insulation in one area and is one of the best at maintaining allover warm and cozy coverage. Though this may not be best for some of the coldest situations, this 3-season bag will be a key player during the spring, summer, or early fall seasons.

Despite being a three-season sleeping bag, it is still a very warm one, and will be able to protect you during mild winter camping trips. However, it is important to understand that it’s still not a winter bag and not suitable for alpine camping.

PROS:

  • The spoon shape makes it more comfortable and ergonomic whilst sleeping
  • Very warm for a 3 season bag

CONS:

  • The shape of the bag is an advantage as it is a disadvantage, when you roll it to pack it, it’s going to take more effort than with other models

Related: The AMPM Inflating Sleeping Pad is a good add-on for this sleeping bag. Carry it around with you, and just inflate it right before going to bed, and ensure that you will have a comfortable surface to sleep on.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountain Hardware Lamina Sleeping BagMountain Hardware Lamina Sleeping Bag

Price: $150 – $200

Material: Nylon

Fill power: 850

Weight: 2.14 lb

Temperature rating: 22°F or -5°C

Specific features: ThermalQ insulation, comfort footbox, polyester lining

Best use: Outdoors, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering

Description: The Mountain Hardware Lamina Sleeping Bag has the best of both worlds. Nylon fabric for tough dependency and polyester lining on the inside that wicks away water. Coming in at only a little over 2 pounds, this mountain sleeping bag sure weighs in next to the competition. It features a special collar around the neck area to reduce drafts and keep the heat where it needs to be: inside the bag.

The way it keeps the warmth inside of it, makes it one of the best for alpine camping or for winter camping. This sleeping bag can stay warm even at minus five degrees Celsius, being one of the warmest in the list. It is a truly four season bag, and although it still not recommended for camping in summits of high mountains, it will be a great companion for the vast majority of the winter camping trips. Plus, the comfort it offers is great, overall this is an excellent model.

PROS:

  • Good affordable price
  • Very warm, with great insulation
  • Four season bag

CONS:

  • Not as durable or of great quality as others

Related: The Therm-a-Rest Lite Mattress is a good item to buy with any sleeping bag and bring along on any camping trip. It will allow you to sleep comfortable no matter where you are.

Check the price on Amazon

Sierra Dridown Backcountry Sleeping BagSierra DriDown Backcountry Sleeping Bag

Price: $280 – $430

Material: Nylon ripstop & goose down

Fill power: 800

Weight: 2.10 lb

Temperature rating: 31°F or -1°C

Specific features: Integrated comforter wraps, insulated hand/arm pockets, catenary shaped opening

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, alpine camping

Description: No zippers or Velcro for simple functions change the game for Sierra DriDown Backcountry Sleeping Bag.It also uses integrated comforter wraps so that you can easily adjust depending on the outside temperature, keeping you from being too hot or too cold.

At almost 3 pounds in weight you want to make sure you are ready for this bag. Three pounds tend to be on the higher side, but the other added features might just make this one worth the weight.

This is a very comfortable sleeping bag, with a fantastic insulation. As a matter of fact, it is probably the most comfortable one, the design is like a cocoon, and you will feel that way at night. This same design helps keep the heat inside of it, making it ideal for winter camping or alpine camping.

Nonetheless, despite the good insulation, it still isn’t the warmest model out there. You can find proper winter sleeping bags, as this one will come a bit short if you test it in rough temperatures.

PROS:

  • Most comfortable out there
  • Great insulation
  • Good quality

CONS:

  • Not ideal for tough winters
  • Warm but not as warm as it seems

Related: The Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow is the perfect partner for this sleeping bag. A comfortable, warm and portable pillow for you to take along with the sleeping bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Marmot Sawtooth Sleeping BagMarmot Sawtooth Sleeping Bag

Price: $220 – $260

Material: Ripstop nylon

Fill power: 650

Weight: 1 lb

Temperature rating: 15°F or -9°C

Specific features: Water resistant, anatomically designed footbox, two-way zipper with anti-snag slider, draw cord

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, alpine camping

Description: The Marmot Sawtooth Sleeping Bag is a total lightweight model. At only 1 pound, this bag seems like an easy no brainer, but there are more talents it has to offer.

The Sawtooth is built with strong, Ripstop Nylon that is both durable and highly water resistant. It has a specially designed footbox with wrap-around construction that will increase warmth in the area that, often times, need it the most. Pair the super warm footbox with its soft, down-filled collar boasts an easy access draw cord to seal up and keep the wind and cold out.

This is one of the great sleeping bags of the list if you plan to try it out in winter conditions. It can keep you warm even at minus nine degrees Celsius, which is a great feature. It is a proper four-season bag. With such a lightweight, it’s hard to think of a better option for alpine camping.

However, one thing must be pointed out, and it is the fill. Being only 650, this bag, although being extremely warm, will not feel as puffy or comfortable as others, and the insulation isn’t as good either. Yes, it gets warm probably faster than others with larger fill, but it won’t retain the heat as well as the others.

PROS:

  • Great price
  • Extremely warm and ideal for rough winters
  • Very light

CONS:

  • Not much fill
  • Not the best insulation

Related:The Klymit Insulated Sleeping Pad is a great item to buy with this sleeping bag. Being an insulated pad, it’s the ideal companion for a bag designed for winter camping. Together, you’ll have a bag and a pad that will keep you comfortable and warm as you sleep.

Check the price on Amazon

Kelty Cosmic Sleeping BagKelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag

Price: $110 – $190

Material: Polyester & goose down

Fill power: 600

Weight: 3 lb

Temperature rating: 20°F or -6°C

Specific features: 3 season sleeping bag, DriDown filler, comfort hood and collar

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, alpine or winter camping

Description: The Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag is one that should not be counted out. Twenty degrees Fahrenheit might be a temperature you will never experience when camping, unless you are a true lover of the outdoors. And if you are, you know how important it is to have a solid and a good sleeping bag that will get the job done even in that temperature.

This 3-Season (although can be even considered a 4 season) sleeping bag is completely water resistant, and with the DriDown inside, dries quickly on the inside as well. It has a quilted construction throughout which will keep the down feathers from rolling up or bunching up in parts of the bag, also making it easy to compress and pack.

Surprisingly, the fill isn’t very much, but it still retains heat and insulates very well thanks to the goose down feature. It is reliable in that aspect.

The only real setback is the quality of some of some of the materials. For example, the zippers aren’t the best, and tend to misalign, becoming a headache and sometimes forcing you to push or pull them too hard risking to ruin the sleeping bag.

PROS:

  • Warm
  • Great insulation
  • Great price

CONS:

  • Not the best quality
  • Zippers are very bad and tend to misalign

Related:The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is an excellent pillow to take in camping or hiking trips. Combined with the sleeping bag, you will have to lightweight accessories to carry around and sleep comfortably.

Check the price on Amazon

Kelty DriDown Sleeping BagKelty DriDown Sleeping Bag

Price: $200 – $250

Material: Nylon & goose down

Fill power: 800

Weight: 2.1 lb

Temperature rating: 20°F or -6°C

Specific features: DriDown, water resistant hood and foot area, dual-slider anti-snag locking zipper, included compression sack

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, alpine or winter camping

Description: The Kelty DriDown Sleeping Bag is lightweight with some good qualities to offer. It also features DriDown which allows faster drying for the inside layers, but only features waterproof treatment to the hood and foot areas on the outside of the bag.

Although these two places are highly important and need to stay dry, they probably shouldn’t be the only ones. It does offer a dual zipper that also locks into place for an all-night security of warmth and is anti-snag so there will be no ripping or tearing during an outdoor excursion.

Two words about the zipper must be said. Kelty makes excellent sleeping bags, incredible warm, comfortable and with fantastic insulation. However, the zippers seem to be a problem, as they sometimes come defective. This case presents also in this bag. Be aware that the zipper might constantly misalign and putting it back together tends to be a headache, with even the risk of pushing it or pulling it too hard and ruining the bag.

PROS:

  • Very comfortable
  • Warm
  • Good insulation

CONS:

  • Zippers are an issue, they misalign a lot

Related:The Osprey Ultra Light Raincover is commonly bough together with this sleeping bag as it is usually used to keep the backpacks dry. However, it can also be used to fully cover the sleeping bag when packed, and protects it from ever getting wet.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

 There are so many options when it comes to sleeping bags and they truly are one of the “make-or-break” decisions on a trip for a long period of time in the wilderness. Whether you are camping in the backyard or camping in another country, you should have the comfort of a quality sleeping bag that keeps you warm, dry, and well rested against the outside elements.

The key aspects of the best sleeping bag for backpacking are material (inside and outside); fill power, weight, and temperature rating. These details have a huge influence on what type of sleeping bag you want and need. Who you are as a backpacker is also something to consider.

Sleeping bags in front of the tent

If you find yourself only camping a few times a year, then a cheaper sleeping bag with low fill power and temperature rating might be fine for you. But if you plan on staying outside for more than a few days at a time, then making an investment in a great sleeping bag is one of the best things you can do to continue to enjoy yourself outdoors.

We hope that after reading this article you are ready to consider buying a sleeping bag as an investment, after all you’ll be ready to buy one knowing exactly what to look for.  What do you think? Is there any other question that might come into mind? If it does, or you have any other thing you might want to discuss, please write it in the comment section below, we would really like to hear what you have to say.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Mike Walker

    Really liked the idea of having a lot of leg room that the Nemo Nocturne Sleeping Bag provided. I am a side sleeper, and usually like to have one leg straight, and one leg fully bent, so I needed a bag with lots of rooms around the hips and legs. It has worked great on the few trips I’ve taken it on. Weight is very manageable, and it packs down very small. I am very happy with the bag, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a big roomy bag.

  • Mark Foster

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the Nemo Mike! I also love its roomy interior and for someone like me who toss and turns during sleep, this bag doesn’t roll or bunch up – pretty amazing, huh?
    If you want to try the best of them yet, go for the Western Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping Bag. I’ve been using this for some time and I can’t believe how lightweight it is. This is a big plus for me. Another thing is that it can really keep you warm and cozy on those cold outdoor nights.

  • Jim Clark

    The Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bag is an excellent bag that kept me warm down into the low 30’s. There was also plenty of space to roll around and curl up without sacrificing warmth, and I found the bit of extra space at the footbed useful for keeping clothes that’d be worn the next morning warm. The zipper does snag if the draft guard is right in the way, but when you’re aware it’s easily avoidable. If you’re looking for a solid 3 season bag you won’t be disappointed with the summerlite.

  • Mark Foster

    Hi Jim! This sleeping bag is indeed spacious and I love the extra “leg space”. There’s only a few sleeping bags that I feel comfortable in and the Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bag is one of them. In one of my trips, I had my Golden Retriever with me (it was just a short trip anyway) and he enjoyed snuggling and keeping warm in this sleeping bag. Amazing, right?

0
0
Total
0
Shares