Would you like to hear a story?
I was a major procrastinator during my college days. I would start working on my papers only when the deadlines were near.
Day and night, I would be writing my papers without even sleeping in order to submit them on time.
And guess what would happen the next day after I submit my papers?
I would feel exhausted and have a huge headache, which would waste my entire day. To worsen the situation, the headaches would last for a couple of days.
You must be wondering what has the story to do with backpacking sleeping bags.
When you are hiking, your body goes through robust toiling throughout the day. You need proper rest at night so that your body is re-energized for the walk the next day.
So you need the best backpacking sleeping bag to sleep well. You could act like a cowboy and get a roll on the ground, or you could get yourself a backpacking sleeping bag and enjoy a comfortable sleep.
Believe me, sleeping bag is one of the best investments you could make for hiking. After all, what would be better than a peaceful goodnight’s sleep after a tiring excursion? Well, nothing.
- Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags in 2017 (Top 10)
- Why are Backpacking Sleeping Bags Important?
- How to Choose Backpacking Sleeping Bags?
- The 10 Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags
- The Verdict
Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags in 2017 (Top 10)
Why are Backpacking Sleeping Bags Important?
Before jumping right into the list of the best backpacking sleeping bags, I want to talk a little about the importance of sleeping bags.
You do not want to spend your nights shivering in the cold with your back lying on the hard ground, tossing and turning throughout the night in order to find the perfect sleeping position.
The best thing about sleeping bags is that you do not have to worry about camping at any kind of place. Sleeping bags are easy to use and can be positioned anywhere. They prevent you from sleeping on the ground by proving insulation between the land and you.
Sleeping bags keep you warm, comfortable and dry. They let you get a sleep well, which in turn invigorates your body for the journey the next day.
Sleeping bags best come handy when you are on a hike in the woods or mountains and are in a dire need of sleep and rest. Also, when the hotel beds and accommodations are not able to provide you with the heat and relaxation you require, you can just lay down your sleeping bag and sleep with content.
A good quality sleeping bag will last for many years if you keep it with proper care and attention; some bags will last even for decades if washed and stored properly. Hence, these are good long-term investments.
On top of that, you stay safe from bugs and insects. There is a barrier maintained between your body and the moist ground, which prevents from getting wet or even sick for that matter.
Sleeping bags today come with various functions and give you the advantage of adjusting the temperature as per your consent. This further enhances the coziness and amplifies the sleeping experience.
How to Choose Backpacking Sleeping Bags?
Before you buy any backpacking sleeping bag there are a few things which you will need to consider in order to determine whether a sleeping bag is fit for you to take on a hike or not. These key factors range from the warmth sleeping bag provides to its material, design, and weight, etcetera.
Here are a few factors that you should consider whenever you are buying a backpacking sleeping bag.
Sleeping bags will be one of the heaviest among all your gears. Since you will be carrying lots of things and move around much, you do not want to carry a bag that will easily tire you with its heaviness. So you need to pay attention to the weight of the bag.
Choose a balanced bag that you will be able to carry with you easily even if you have to walk uphill for a considerable amount of time.
Down insulation bags are lighter compared to synthetic insulation ones. The average weight of down insulation bags will be approximately around 25 ounces and that of synthetic insulation will be around 40 ounces on an average.
So, choose as per your ease.
One of the major reasons why we take sleeping bags with us is to keep warm throughout the night. Sleeping bags provide you warmth by trapping body heat in an enclosed space.
Sleeping bags with more insulation are warmer as they trap heat better. Don’t choose a sleeping bag that has more interior space. Such kinds of bags are less efficient in proving warmth because there is much space left inside the bag.
Choose a sleeping bag that you find comfortable and relaxing. If you sleep tight and at ease all through the night, that means the bag is comfortable enough. It should provide you with the feel of sleeping at home.
However, an important concept that you need to remember is that comfort is a subjective matter. To some Western Mountaineering Ultralite might seem more comfortable than Western Mountaineering Highlite whereas to others it is just the opposite.
The temperature rating is another important factor to look for in a sleeping bag. This rating will depend on the weather, the climate and the clothes you choose to sleep on.
Choose a bag that can provide you warmth in the coldest temperature you expect to face. So,
Sleeping bags that come with temperature adjustment between 10F to 35F are good, as they will work for summer, winter and spring all.
There are two major types of insulation: down insulation and synthetic insulation. These two insulation types have their own pros and cons.
Down insulation is long lasting, compresses more and excels in cold and dry conditions. It is lightweight as well. It has excellent heat retention. However, it is expensive and requires special cleaning.
On the other hand, synthetic insulation is less expensive. It dries quickly and retains heat better when wet. It is easier to clean. But, it is heavier to carry and is less durable compared to down insulation.
So if you are in search of a durable and lightweight sleeping bag for colder climate and are ready to spend on a pricey product, go for down insulation sleeping bags.
On the other hand, if you want a quick drying bag for moist and wet climate in an affordable price range, choose synthetic insulation sleeping bags.
If you are a steadfast hike-lover who never misses an opportunity to go on a trek, no matter the weather, you should opt for a versatile three season bag. These sleeping bags mostly come in quilt shapes in which the quilt can be tucked in or left open as per the weather.
Three-season bags are also available in mummy shapes. These are versatile and handy. Since three seasons bags could be used in any season, you don’t have to buy sleeping bags for every season. And so you end up saving money, time and effort.
You need to choose a sleeping bag as per the size that you require. Slim sleeping bags will be better for people with a small and petite physique as well as for children.
Go for the bags that are a little bigger than your size but not too big as to leave much space inside as more space means less warmth. Select the bag according to the length and width of your body.
Most of the bags come in two sizes. The first size is the regular size for people with height up to six inches and the next size is a long size, which is appropriate for people above six feet.
Last but not the least, you can check for extra accessories in a sleeping bag. You may want to get a bag that has as many accessories as possible. These accessories may be chest or inside pockets,
The 10 Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags
There are many companies like Western Mountaineering and Kelty that manufacture some of the best available sleeping bags.
You definitely don’t want to invest in a low-quality sleeping bag that doesn’t meet you need and regret the investment. Keeping that in mind, I’ve tested, analyzed and reviewed the ten best backpacking sleeping bags.
The Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 is one of the best backpacking sleeping bags available in the market. A mummy-shaped bag with horizontal baffles, it is best suitable for average sized users with height below six feet.
A three-season sleeping bag, the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 is versatile as well as lightweight. It has a slimmer cut which leaves lesser area inside the bag hence keeping you warm all night. However, there is enough space to move from top to bottom and vice-versa.
The Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 weighs 29 ounces for a six feet option. One of my personal favorite features of this bag is that it is soft and feels great to the touch. It is extremely cozy and has an excellent loft. Moreover, it compresses easily which makes it easier to carry around.
A downside some people may face is that this sleeping bag can get very warm during the mid-summers. Apart from this, the bag is full of wonders and you will not be able to wait to use it again.
Even though the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 is a little costly, do not let the price of it fool you as for the quality you get it is worth every cent. With a durable and compact gear like this, what more can one ask for?
Features I like:
- Has an excellent loft
- Feels great to the touch
- Lightweight and durable
- Easily compressible
- Provides an adequate amount of warmth
- Can be used for all season types
You can call this bag sibling of the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20. Like the number one bag in the list, this bag is made in the USA by Western Mountaineering.
The Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20 is also a three season bag. It is a traditional mummy style sleeping bag.
A down insulation sleeping bag, it is made up of high-quality fibers. It is easily compressible and lightweight. A six feet option bag weighs around 32 ounces only.
The wider cut of this bag makes it suitable for people with wide shoulders to easily fit inside of it. I found the foot area to be comfortable as I could easily move my feet as per my consent.
The cost of Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20 may be a little high but it is comfortable, durable and warm. You will not have to face any zipper-snagging problem with this one.
It will keep you warm and cozy all night despite freezing temperatures. Hence, I can say that the Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20 is worth every penny you can muster.
Features I like:
- Wider cut
- Compressible and lightweight
- Very warm and durable
- Made with high quality fibers
- No catch zipper
The North Face Furnace Down Sleeping Bag 20F is a three season sleeping bag, suitable for both beginner and outdoorsmen. It is a light and warm sleeping bag. It is also one of the most comfortable sleeping bags present I’ve used.
The North Face Furnace Down Sleeping Bag 20F is a wide bag which gives you adequate space for tossing and turning throughout the night. It compresses easily and packs down small, which makes it easily portable. It is a unisex mummy shaped bag.
The North Face Furnace Down Sleeping Bag weighs around 50 ounces for the long-sized option, making it one of the heaviest bags in the market. Its weight can become a problem to many people.
The best thing about this bag is that it is super roomy on the inside. I had chucked in my water bottles and hiking clothes in the sleeping bag along with me and yet there was enough space to roll around.
Another best feature available is that there is an inside pocket where you can safely keep your phone. The temperature rating of this bag is spot on. And not to forget to mention, this bag comes for a very reasonable price.
I recommend you not to take this bag with you on a long trek because the heavy weight will easily tire you. As a result, you may need to stop now and again to catch a little breath, which is never fun.
Another complaint you may have with the North Face Furnace Down Sleeping Bag is that its zipper gets stuck at times.
Features I like:
- Spot on temperature rating
- Has an inside pocket
- Wide enough
- A “makes you feel at home” sleeping bag
- One of the most affordable bags
Constructed from high-quality materials, the Sea to Summit Spark SP II is soft and super warm. A plus point to this bag is that it has a hood that makes it very comfortable for you to relax your head in.
Will you believe me if I tell you that this sleeping bag weighs only 18 ounces? Crazy, isn’t it?
Well, it is true. This bag is one of the lightest bags present in the market. It is highly compressible and is easily available in major online retailer sites.
However, there are two major disadvantages of the Sea to Summit Spark SP II. The bag is not much durable or versatile for that matter even though it does come at a reasonable price.
Features I like:
- Super light
- Packs down to a minimal size
- Highly compressible
- Keeps you very warm
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 3-Season bag is a combination of a traditional mummy bag and ultra-light quilt design. It is a versatile all season sleeping bag that comes with good sleeping pad integration.
The wider cut and heavier shell material of this bag make it heavy weighing around 37 ounces. The heavyweight may prove to be a major downside to some consumers.
You can use this bag in cold and warm nights alike. In colder seasons, the quilt can be tucked in the opening to trap the air inside and be warm. In warmer seasons, the quilt can be allowed to rest outside the opening.
However, the quilt may come untucked at times causing cold air to sweep in. This may make the whole sleeping experience pretty uncomfortable. Apart from being drafty, this sleeping bag also gets bulky when packed as it is not very compressible- another one of its shortcomings.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 3-Season is a zipperless bag, and will prove to be very comfortable once you find the perfect position to sleep in.
Features I like:
- Versatile for all seasons
- Moderate price
- Zipperless design
The Kelty SB 20 DriDown weighs approximately 33 ounces and comes with a stuff sack. It is compressible and warm. The bag is water resistant and hence keeps you dry at all times by acting as a barrier between your body and the wet tent walls.
Being a roomy bag, it is very comfortable. You can roll around even if you are a large sized person. The waterproof toe and head hood make this bag suitable to use during wet seasons.
The negative aspect of the Kelty SB 20 DriDown is that the fabric is not so breathable. Also, the feet may get moist and damp at times. Because warm air cannot be trapped well in this bag, you cannot use it during the colder seasons.
Features I like:
- Great bag for the price
- Water resistant
- Warm and comfortable
Built for wet conditions, the Mountain Hardwear Hyperlamina Flame is a synthetic insulation bag. It is one of the most economic bags of the list. The effective and innovative construction of this bag is one of the best features of this bag making it have a high warmth to weight ratio.
The Mountain Hardwear Hyperlamina Flame is lightweight for a synthetic sleeping bag but heavier than down insulation bags. It weighs around 43 ounces.
I found that getting in and out of this bag is extremely easy. It has a very smooth feel to it which I loved very much. It is wind and water resistant. This bag gets warmer when the climate is wet.
The major drawback of the Mountain Hardwear Hyperlamina Flame is that carrying it around is tiresome as it is heavy and packs larger compared to other sleeping bags.
Features I like:
- Very affordable and comfortable
- Warm when wet
- Smooth touch
- Has multifunctional parts
- Wind and water resistant
The Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt is a compact sized sleeping bag which performs best during the cooler weathers. It weighs 26 ounces for the long-sized bag.
This bag comes with snap loops which can be attached to the mattress or left unsnapped as per the required heat. It has one of the most secured pad connections. The snap loops do not move once they have been clipped to the mattress.
The Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt has draft tubes on both sides of the quilt to keep out the chilly air. Also, it has a chest pocket to hold your wallet or mobiles and a foot compartment to keep your legs warm.
The price range of the Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt is easy on the pocket as well.
Features I like:
- Keeps you dry
- Keeps chilly air at bay
- Has a foot box
If the Sea to Summit Spark SP II bag was heavy for you then this is the one that you want to opt for. The Western Mountaineering Highlite is the lightest and also the smallest bag on the list.
Weighing only 16.2 ounces, the Western Mountaineering Highlite bag packs down to a minimal size of a football. It is highly compressible.
The bag is made up of high-quality lightweight materials. As a result, the bag is very fluffy. The whole time that I was sleeping in it, I felt like I was being cuddled by clouds.
The Western Mountaineering Highlite bag is however not a “one bag does it all” bag. It cannot be used in cold, rainy or snowy weather, as it is not much warm because of the general lack of insulation. It is fit only for the warm weathers.
Similarly, it has only a limited temperature range and lacks draft tube and draft collar.
Another con of the Western Mountaineering Highlite is that even though it is well sewn, it is not as durable as the other heavy-duty bags. However, with good care, this bag will last you a good run.
Features I like:
- One of the lightest and smallest bags
- Easily portable
- Perfect for warm weathers
- Highly compressible
The last bag on the list is the Kelty Cosmic Down 20. The cheapest bag among all the bags on the list, this sleeping bag is ideal for you if you are in search for a not so expensive bag that will get the job done.
The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 bag weighs 43 ounces. It is heavy and not very compressible. The bag also lacks softness. However, it has a roomy cut which gives you much space to roll around in your sleep, which is a plus point.
The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is not quite warm as it is made from lower quality fabrics and lower quality 550 fill down. So it will work best for you in summer and other warm climatic conditions.
I would suggest you not to take this with you in colder regions as it will leave you shivering throughout the night.
Nevertheless, the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is appropriate for budget packing and short summer trips. The price range of this bag is exceedingly affordable making it a favorite among budget-constraint people.
Features I like:
- An inexpensive bag
- Fit for short summer trips
- A great value for its price
All the sleeping bags mentioned in this list have their own specialties and benefits. You should choose a bag which will meet your requirement.
I prefer backpacking sleeping bags that are lightweight and compressible but at the same time provide enough warmth. Softness is a must for me.
My favorite sleeping bag is the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20. I have been using it for quite some time now and I do not have any complaints so far.
It is versatile and can be used for any season. As a result, it has saved much of my money that would else be wasted on buying several sleeping bags for different weather and climatic conditions.
This bag lets me move around in my sleep. But then again it is not much spacious as to be drifty. Hence it is perfect for me.
I would advise you to opt for an all rounder durable bag with the best of the features. Pick the bag that you feel will be the most suitable one for you, the one that will give you the feeling that you are sleeping in your own bed.