CAMPING & HIKING

Best Down Sleeping Bag: Improve Insulation and Heat Retention with an Upgrade

Best down sleeping bag
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Camping in the winter months can be a very daunting experience and with the wrong sleeping bag, you might find yourself shivering in the cooler temperatures. The best down sleeping bag has been designed to make life a little warmer on your camping or hiking trips and they provide much better insulation and heat retention than the standard synthetic sleeping bags.

With all the brands and the various types of sleeping bags on the market, it should come as no surprise that choosing one is not the easiest of tasks. Luckily, we have set out to find the top down sleeping bags and show you how beneficial these sleeping bags can be to your outdoor adventure.

It is worth mentioning that down sleeping bags are a little more expensive than synthetic sleeping bags and with the decline of demand for foie gras, down is not as commonly produced anymore.

key before choosing sleeping bag

Before we simply dive into the review section and reveal our top down sleeping bag selection, we have decided to add a buyer’s guide of top features that we believe you should consider before you buy a down sleeping bag. This comprehensive list of features served to be the criteria for us to judge the top sleeping bags and will surely help you make the best choice and get the best value for your money.

Key features to Consider Before Purchase

With the price of down sleeping bags already as high, we set out to choose some features that will allow you to save money and ensure quality. Many features are quite expensive and they are optional, but if you have a top down sleeping bag, you will have multiple years’ worth of use and even save money in the long term. Here are the most important features that you should look out for.

Type

One question you will need to ask yourself is whether you will be using the sleeping bag throughout the year or only during a specific time of year. There are three types of sleeping bags that you would be choosing from and these will vary when it comes to insulation and heat retention. We have decided to look at these three:

  • Summer: Summer sleeping bags are not as well insulated and they are designed for temperatures of 30 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. These sleeping bags will also allow you to completely unzip them and provide an opportunity for ventilation.
  • Three Seasons: The three seasons sleeping bags have been designed for the in-between temperatures and they will be great for fall and spring trips. These sleeping bags are also designed for temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above and will also often times have an incorporated hoodie for the colder mountain temperatures.
  • Winter: Winter sleeping bags are more like puffy cocoons and they have all the features you would find in the three seasons sleeping bag, but they are a little more insulated. Winter sleeping bags are also a little heavier and they have been designed for temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

winter sleeping bag

Weight

Next on our list we have the weight of the sleeping bag and we believe that this will come down to the purpose of your purchase. If you plan on hiking or backpacking, you might need to settle for a lighter sleeping bag, but if you plan on camping, a heavier and more insulated sleeping bag will be your best option.

Temperature rating

In Europe, a new system has been adopted and this system is called EN. The EN rating on a sleeping bag refers to the temperature the sleeping bag is capable of handling. The better the rating on the EN scale, the colder temperatures your bag can withstand.

sleeping bag temperature rating

You should also take into account of you are a hot or cold sleeper and base your decision on that.

Shapes

Sleeping bags are generally divided into three different shapes and these shapes will have various levels of thermal efficiency. Choosing the right one can make all the difference on those colder outdoor adventures. Let’s look at these three types:

  • Mummy: If you think of a mummy and the narrow size it resembles, you are on track with the mummy sleeping bag. These bags start out big at the top and they get smaller as you go down, which gives you better thermal efficiency and less space for the heat to escape to. Mummy sleeping bags have broad torso and shoulder areas and they are also smaller, more lightweight, and easier to pack up.
  • Rectangular: The rectangular sleeping bag is not as thermally efficient and the added space does allow the heat to escape from time to time. These sleeping bags are ideal for camping trips in warmer areas or even backyard campouts.
  • Semi-Rectangular: If you are claustrophobic, the semi-rectangular sleeping bag will give you a little more space, but still keep you a little warmer than the rectangular sleeping bag. Semi-rectangular sleeping bags are the ideal combination of the mummy and rectangular sleeping bags.

mummy sleeping bag

Compressibility

Down sleeping bags are notorious for the fact that they can be compressed to smaller sizes, but not all of them are the same. Depending on your purpose, whether that is backpacking or camping, the compressibility will play a huge roll. Super minimalists should look for something capable of compressing and fitting into a smaller space in the backpack.

compressibility of sleeping bag

We consider these to be a top selection of features that you should consider when purchasing a sleeping bag. Down sleeping bags also vary in the amount of down added and this will definitely impact the insulation, but having a fluffier sleeping bag can generally be more expensive.

If you manage to use these features as your guidelines and judging criteria, you should have a top down sleeping bag in no time.

A Word of Warning

Even with new technology and methods to treat the down, it is still not recommended that you select a down sleeping bag when it comes to wetter conditions. Down sleeping bags will fall flat when there is too much moisture and once they do get wet, they can be very difficult to dry out. Synthetic sleeping bags will be your best option in the tropical conditions.

wet down sleeping bag

With that being said, let’s have a look at the top down sleeping bags you will find in the marketplace.

Best Down Sleeping Bags

Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree 600 DriDownKelty Cosmic 20 Degree 600 DriDown

Type: Three Seasons

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Advanced Dridown technology, lightweight, added hood for insulation, anti-snag side zippers, promotes comfort with foot box

The Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree 600 DriDown sleeping bag is uniquely designed for women and it is one of the most comfortable sleeping bags you will find. This sleeping bag contains 600 fill of down and this will allow the bag to stay fluffy and keep you warm in the cooler temperatures.

The bag is designed for three seasons use and while it might not be ideal for the winter, the bag still features an EN rating of 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is a mummy sleeping bag, which will ensure that not as much heat is lost and you will be able to comfortably sleep at night. The mummy design might be narrow, but the manufacturers have included a foot box that will allow your feet to lie naturally.

An added hood has been incorporated and if the temperatures do drop significantly, you will be able to use the hood to keep you insulated and stop the heat from escaping through your head. AN anti-snag zipper has also been added and this will definitely make life easier for you and keep you warm when the bag has been fully zipped.

We highly recommend this sleeping bag for the outdoor enthusiastic women and believe that the sleeping bag will be the ideal bag or many of your camping trips. We do recommend that you include some sort of blanket if you plan on camping in those ice cold winter temperatures.

Check the price on Amazon

NEMO Salsa Sleeping BagNEMO Salsa Sleeping Bag

Type: Three Seasons

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Lightweight, easy to compress, included DownTek water repellent technology, durable outer shell, added stretch technology

The NEMO Salsa Sleeping Bag has been designed as one of the most versatile sleeping bags you will find. The sleeping bag has been constructed from durable 30D nylon and it features 650 fill down to ensure that you have maximum loft and comfort whilst sleeping.

The sleeping bag is also a three seasons sleeping bag, but it does feature a minimum rating of 15 degrees Fahrenheit, which make is a great multifunctional sleeping bag to have.

DownTek has been added to the materials to repel some of the water. This technology does not make the sleeping bag waterproof, but you will notice that it should hold up longer in wetter environments. The bag is also very lightweight and easy to compress, making it ideal for backpacking.

Another great feature of this sleeping bag is the ability to stretch and accommodate larger people. The mummy design will stretch out you will not have to cuddle up to get inside. Afterward, the bag will just go back to the normal size without damaging the materials.

This might be a three seasons sleeping, but we do recommend the bag for winter conditions as well. As you start getting into the minus temperatures, this sleeping bag might not be ideal, but it will be great for ice backpackers and campers.

Check the price on Amazon

Sierra Designs 3-Season Sleeping BagSierra Designs backcountry-Season Sleeping Bag

Type: Three Seasons

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Unique opening at the top, lightweight, durable nylon construction, includes sleeves for sleeping pad, additional hand/arm pockets, stylish design

The Sierra Designs 3-Season Sleeping Bag is one of the most unique designs we have seen. The opening of the bag is not on the side like that of most traditional bags, but it is in the middle and this means that the bag will remain warmth without letting a draft inside.

The bag features a durable nylon construction and whilst it might not be as stretchable, the bag will keep you insulated with the 600 fill down inside. This sleeping bag also has its own sleeping pad sleeves and these sleeves will allow you to turn your sleeping bag into bed and improve the comfort of sleeping in the wild.

On the inside of the bag, you will also have a removable comforter, which can be washed, but does take some time to dry out. Hand and arm sleeves are incorporated into the comforter’s design for use outside of the sleeping bag.

This is one of the more expensive sleeping bags you will find, but with all of the features it has, it should come as no surprise that we highly recommend it for women. Unfortunately, the sleeping bag is not designed for men, but it will certainly make a nice gift for your wife and even encourage them to go out more.

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TETON Sports LEEF Sleeping Bagteton sports leef ultralight mummy sleeping bag

Type: Winter

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Very well insulated, ultra lightweight, easy to compress, extremely durable outer shell, includes multiple pockets, backed by a lifetime warranty

The TETON Sports LEEF Sleeping Bag has been designed for the super minimalist. The bag is designed for the coldest of winter temperatures and features a survival rating of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are looking for comfort, you should add 15 to 20 degrees to that rating to get the comfort rating, but should the temperatures plummet, this will be the sleeping bag you need to survive.

The bag is very lightweight and easy to compress. You will even receive a compression bag when purchasing the bag and this should be great for carrying along on your backpacking trips. The outer shell is extremely durable and the added microfibers will ensure that bag is optimally lofted to keep you warm.

A full-length zipper has also been incorporated and this will ensure that the draft does not get inside your bag, which will allow you to stay warm for longer. The bag is; however, not as protected against moisture and you might find the bag falling a little flat in the wetter areas. You will also be backed by a lifetime guarantee to ensure you get your money’s worth.

We highly recommend this sleeping bag for the winter backpackers. The lightweight design and better insulation will ensure that you stay warm. The bag is also available in white and this could bring a little style to your tent.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Vitals OV-Light Sleeping BagOutdoor Vitals OV-Light 35 Degree 3 Season Mummy Sleeping Bag

Type: Three Seasons

Shape: Mummy

Special features: 2 for the price of 1, lightweight, can be zippered together, easy to compress, durable outer shell, includes water repellent DWR

The Outdoor Vitals OV-Light Sleeping Bag is not as much a down sleeping bag as a synthetic sleeping bag and does include a synthetic fill. The bag features a comfort rating of 35 degrees Fahrenheit and this should keep you warm in the spring and fall.

One of the biggest draws for this sleeping bag is the 2-for-1 deal. You will receive 2 sleeping bags for the price of one and these sleeping bags can easily be zippered together to increase the heat retention by 25%. The bags are also very lightweight and they are easy to compress, which makes them ideal for the backpacking couple.

The sleeping bag has also been treated with water repellent DWR, but since synthetic fill has been used, the bag will definitely not fall flat in the wetter conditions. The durable nylon ripstop outer shell will improve the durability and keep the bag from being snagged or punctures.

This is one of the cheaper sleeping bags you will find and it is definitely a great budget buy. The sleeping bag is also backed by a lifetime warranty and we highly recommend it co couple hiking or backpacking in the tropical regions of the world.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman North Rim Sleeping BagColeman North Rim Extreme weather sleeping bag

Type: Three Seasons

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Large design, made for cold temperatures, stretchable, provides ventilation, really affordable

The Coleman North Rim Sleeping Bag has been designed for the three seasons camper and the bag does not only provide good insulation when it is fully zipped, but it also allows you to unzip the bottom area to ensure that you are able to get good ventilation and have a cooler night’s sleep in warmer conditions.

The bag sports a huge design and if you still do not fit in the bag, you will be able to stretch the bag to your heart’s content. The bag features a soft polyester fill and this fill is also waterproof, which means that you should be able to comfortably sleep inside the bag without any fear of it falling flat.

We really like this bag for the price and it is one of the most affordable bags you will find. The bag is designed for tropical areas with the additional polyester lining to keep you insulated if the temperature does plummet to low degrees. The bag is highly recommended and will be a great budget buy for the occasional camper.

Unfortunately, the bag does not compress as well and will take up a lot of space in your backpack.

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Hyke & Byke Snowmass Sleeping BagHyke Byke Snowmass 0 degrees down sleeping bag

Type: Winter

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Very well insulated, easy to compress, extremely durable outer shell, lightweight, treated with a water repellent for the down, large sizes available

The Hyke & Byke Snowmass Sleeping Bag has been designed for the coldest of winter temperatures and this bag is definitely ideal for those snowy backpacking adventures. The bag is extremely light and it neatly compresses into the smallest possible size, which makes this bag easy to squeeze into your stuffed backpack.

The outer shell has been constructed from ripstop nylon fabrics and this will ensure that it does not snag or puncture and if that does happen, the down has been treated with a water-repellent substance that will allow it withstand moisture and water in the area. The bag is also available in larger sizes and the material will allow you to stretch it until the bag meets your size needs.

The sleeping bag also features durable zippers and these zippers will be ideal for keeping out the cooler draft. The added hood or cap will also keep your head warm and significantly improve the heat retention of the bag.

We highly recommend this for backpackers planning to venture into the snowy mountains. The bag will certainly keep you warm and compared to various other brands, this sleeping bag is also really affordable.

Check the price on Amazon

Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping BagThermodown 15 Degree Down Mummy Sleeping Bag

Type: Three Seasons

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Lightweight, Easy to compress, extremely durable, available in multiple sizes, very well insulated, smaller design for better heat retention

The Thermodown 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag is another affordable sleeping bag designed for the super minimalist. This sleeping bag is not as well insulated as many of the winter sleeping bags, but it still features a comfort rating of 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The bag is also available in multiple sizes, which means that you could potentially invest in the whole family.

This bag has some of the best heat retention features on the market and it sports a smaller design and opening that should keep any draft from entering as well as keep the heat on the inside of the bag. The inner part is also well insulated and the ripstop nylon will provide with much-needed durability.

You will also receive a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer and with these materials, it should come as no surprise that this will be one of the most used sleeping bags you could ever own. We highly recommend this sleeping bag for hikers and backpackers and the small compression size should be ideal for stuffing it in the small areas of your bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Vitals – Down 0 Degree Sleeping BagOutdoor Vitals - Down 0 Degree Down Sleeping Bag

Type: Winter

Shape: Mummy

Special features: Very well insulated, lightweight, small compression size, 800 fill down keeps the bag lofted, water repellent included, lifetime warranty

Last but certainly not least, we have the Outdoor Vitals Down 0 Degree Sleeping Bag and this is definitely rated as one of the best you could find. The sleeping bag is constructed from durable ripstop fabrics and this will certainly allow the bag to be durable and not get punctured or snagged that easily.

The bag features a staggering 800 fill down and this makes it one of the most insulated and warmest bags on the market. The down has been treated with water repellent materials and this will ensure that you can occasionally use the bag in mildly wet conditions. The bag is also easy to roll up and compress and will be very lightweight, which makes it ideal for backpackers.

We highly recommend this sleeping as one of our number one picks and when looking at other down sleeping bags, this sleeping bag certainly stands out in terms of fill and cheaper pricing. The sleeping bag is also backed by a full lifetime warranty and this will ensure that you do get your money’s worth.

Check the price on Amazon

Now you should be ready for the coldest of outdoor temperatures

We would like to thank you for reading this article and we do hope that you are now able to get the best value for your money when looking for a down sleeping bag. We would like to encourage you to let us know what you think of our selection and if you think we might have missed any of your favorites.

man on sleeping bag

Please also let us know if you have used any of these sleeping bags and what the results were in your experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

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