Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
451 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best backpacking sleeping bags

Last Updated December 2019

You need a sleeping bag for an upcoming hiking trip. You find yourself scrolling through pages and pages of similar-looking bags. Your head starts to fill with all of the possibilities, prompting a flow of questions. How much should the bag weigh? Are there different insulation options? What’s the difference between a backpacking sleeping bag and a regular sleeping bag? Do I need to purchase both? How do I know?

A little more research shows that backpacking sleeping bags differ in several ways from camping sleeping bags, and a backpacking sleeping bag is what you’re looking for. They are made to be more lightweight, to pack down smaller, and to be more efficient, providing a greater amount of warmth in a smaller size.

Now you’ve narrowed your search to backpacking sleeping bags in particular. And yet, you still have hundreds of options. It could be that you’re looking for specific features or certain colors. Whatever your situation, we’ve got a shortlist of great backpacking sleeping bags for you, and we provide the information you need to navigate your shopping experience.

A down backpacking sleeping bag can weigh more than one pound less than a synthetic sleeping bag with the same temperature rating.

Considerations

Temperature rating

Each backpacking sleeping bag has a temperature rating that reflects the minimum temperature in which the bag will keep you warm. It’s recommended that you choose a temperature rating slightly lower than what you expect to experience. That way, you’re prepared if the weather suddenly turns colder on you.

The average backpacking sleeping bag will keep you warm in temperatures ranging from 20°F to 30°F. However, a backpacking sleeping bag designed for extreme cold will work in temperatures as low as 0°F.

Insulation

There are two types of insulation to know about: down and synthetic. Down insulation is a pricier option, but it also provides more warmth and weighs less. For those who don’t know, down comes from underneath the outer feathers of geese or ducks. Its purpose is to keep the birds warm and insulate their bodies from the cold. Humans adopted the use of down for keeping themselves warm.

Synthetic insulation runs a little cheaper than down insulation, and for the most part, it accomplishes the same purpose. Synthetic insulation will keep you warm, but it weighs more than down. A positive feature of synthetic bags is that they keep you drier in wet conditions.

Heights up to six feet

Able to keep occupants warm during below-freezing temperatures, this backpacking sleeping bag has a quilted construction, an insulated footbox, and a Thermolock draft tube to maintain heat retention. It also boasts the ZipPlow zipper system to ensure no fabric will be snagged during zipping.

Weight

Most backpackers think the lighter the sleeping bag, the better. The weight of the sleeping bag depends on the amount of insulation as well as what the rest of the bag is made of. It’s recommended to shoot for a backpacking sleeping bag that weighs three pounds or less. It will state somewhere on the sleeping bag packaging how much the entire bag weighs.

If you’re looking for greater warmth and comfort in a down bag, consider reducing the weight of other pack items so you can comfortably carry a slightly heavier sleeping bag.

Backpacking vs. camping bags

Sometimes folks don’t know if they are going to go camping more or backpacking more. They want to purchase a sleeping bag that would work for both types of excursions. Here’s the trick: a camping sleeping bag will not always work for backpacking, but a backpacking sleeping bag will always work for camping.

The key is how much the bag weighs and its bulkiness. Backpacking bags are made to be lightweight. Camping sleeping bags aren’t made to be light or compact because they aren’t meant to be carried for long distances.

DID YOU KNOW?

A sleeping bag is one of the four heaviest items a backpacker will carry. The other three are the pack itself, the sleeping pad, and the tent.

Backpack sleeping bag prices

On the lower end of the price spectrum, a backpacking sleeping bag will cost between $20 and $30. These will definitely support you in temperatures between 20°F and 30°F. There won’t be many other features or pockets because this price point is the most basic.

Between $40 and $60, you’ll find an array of mid-range backpacking sleeping bags. These bags can help you withstand temperatures as low as 15°F and tend to have more features.

If you’re willing to pay over $60, you’ll find many choices that are larger — some that are designed for multiple people. You will also find sleeping bags that are able to keep you warm in below-freezing temperatures.

The combination of a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad is often referred to as the “sleep system” by backpackers who hike regularly.

Tips

  • Think of who you are purchasing the bag for. Some backpacking sleeping bags are catered to people of certain heights. Match the bag length with the height of the person who will be using it the most — or the tallest person, if that’s more practical.
  • To test a backpacking sleeping bag, try creating a mock scenario in the backyard. During colder temperatures, sleep in the bag in a tent. If it’s not warm enough, you will know.
  • Purchase different backpacking sleeping bags for different climates. Choose a down bag for colder climates and a lighter synthetic bag for warmer weather.
  • Be aware of your own allergies. There are hypoallergenic versions of many sleeping bags.
  • Down sleeping bags will last longer than their synthetic counterparts. It may be worth spending the extra money to ensure you won’t have to purchase a replacement in a few years.
EXPERT TIP

When backpacking, a loaded pack should weigh no more than 20% of the hiker’s body weight. Weigh the pack before hiking to ensure you meet this recommendation.


Staff  | BestReviews

Mummy design for extreme temps

This hiking sleeping bag uses high-quality material to ensure water-resistance as well as comfort while maintaining a manageable weight of three pounds. The bag itself is 87 inches in length — about seven feet — and 33 inches wide, which is about three feet. Backpack with ease with this portable polyester personal backpacking sleeping bag.

Other products we considered

Of course, we can’t feature all of the best backpacking sleeping bags that are available. However, in addition to those on our shortlist, there are a few more worth mentioning. The Hyke & Byke Eolus 0 Degree F 800 Fill Power Hydrophobic Goose Down Sleeping Bag is a special sleeping bag because it’s filled with hydrophobic goose down, which can withstand wet weather. It also is a four-season bag, designed for comfort in all temperatures.

Another great choice is the Coleman Big Basin 15 Big and Tall Adult Sleeping Bag, which is designed for those who are “big and tall.” It can accommodate those who stand 6’6” or shorter. It is also wider than most other backpacking sleeping bags.

Body heat escapes first from your head. Mummy sleeping bags not only keep your body warm, but they also have mummy-style hoods to prevent heat from escaping through your head.

FAQ

Q. Can multiple people sleep in one sleeping bag?
A.
There are specific sleeping bags made for more than one occupant. For example, queen-size double sleeping bags are comfortable for a pair of people. If a sleeping bag was created for only one occupant, it’s recommended to not try to stretch it for a second person.

Q. Can I store my sleeping bag in a bag different than the one it came in?A. Yes, but it will most likely increase the weight of the sleeping bag. The carrier the sleeping bag comes in is lightweight and waterproof to protect the sleeping bag. If you use a bag of your own, keep in mind that you might be losing those qualities.

Q. Will a sleeping bag keep me warmer if I bundle up while sleeping in it?A. It depends on what you’re wearing and how many layers. A sleeping bag keeps your body heat inside of it to keep you warm. If you’re wearing so many layers that your body heat isn’t released inside the bag, it’s possible for you to actually be less warm than you could be.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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