Best Down Sleeping Bags

Updated April 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

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

17 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
102 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Why trust BestReviews?
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best down sleeping bags

Last Updated April 2019

When it comes to outdoor gear, down is an industry standard for warmth. Down feathers are the soft, fine feathers located underneath a bird’s exterior feathers. They insulate sleeping bags and jackets very well because they trap warm air against the body.

Some people have concerns about how the down is harvested from geese and ducks; it cannot simply be sheared like a sheep’s wool. Nevertheless, it’s prized by many outdoor enthusiasts because it is so lightweight, breathable, and packable.

Quality outdoor gear can be pricey, but the payoff can be priceless. Which down sleeping bag is right for you? Read on, and be sure to check out our shortlist of product recommendations before you buy.

With proper care, a down sleeping bag can last for decades.

Key considerations

There are two main styles of sleeping bags: mummy bags and rectangular, envelope-style bags. Your preferred sleeping position and where you are planning to use your sleeping bag may play a factor in which type of bag you choose.

Mummy-style sleeping bags

Mummy-style sleeping bags are suited for people who sleep on their backs. The compact, form-fitting design keeps you warmer than a rectangular sleeping bag by limiting the amount of air near your body. They close much more tightly, holding in warm air. In fact, when fully closed, mummy bags leave only your nose and mouth exposed to the air.

Since they heat so efficiently, mummy bags are often smaller and more packable than other styles. Rectangular bags would need to be large and bulky to achieve the same temperature ratings as high-quality mummy bags.

Rectangular sleeping bags

Unlike mummy bags, rectangular bags can accommodate a number of sleeping positions. They zip up the side and enclose you like an envelope. This means you have extra room — room to move but also room for heat to escape. Most of these bags are manufactured with a higher temperature rating, since casual campers do not usually plan trips on frigid days. These bags are a good way to split the difference between comfort and warmth.

Some down sleeping bag manufacturers try to combine the best features of both bag types. These convertible bags give you options, but they are usually less efficient than mummy bags and less comfortable than rectangular bags.

Temperature ratings

Many down sleeping bags are rated for specific temperatures. Make sure you know whether the temperature listed is a comfort rating or a survival rating. If you’re likely to use your sleeping bag near its lower limits, check product specifications to see if extra layers are necessary.

While some bags are marked with temperature ratings, others are called “two-season” or “three-season” bags. You should be able to use a three-season sleeping bag comfortably in spring, summer, and fall. However, a two-season sleeping bag may only be comfortable in late spring to late summer. Temperature ratings are more reliable than seasons, since seasonal temperatures vary in different regions.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

If you’re camping in bear country, remember to change out of the clothes you cooked in before going to bed.

Features

Fill power

If you’ve spent any time researching down sleeping bags, you’ve likely run across fill power ratings. A fill power rating measures the maximum number of cubic inches an ounce of down will fill. A higher fill power indicates that an item has larger clusters of down. Larger down clusters are considered higher quality because they better insulate and trap warm air. Notably, fill power does not indicate how heavy or firm a sleeping bag will be.

Water resistance

One of down’s few drawbacks is that it does not insulate well when wet. And once down is wet, it takes a long time to dry. When choosing a sleeping bag, look for one with a water-resistant exterior like nylon or polyester.

Some manufacturers treat the down itself so that it resists small amounts of moisture. Be sure to look for down sleeping bags with some manner of water resistance, especially if you plan to sleep in the open.

Stitching

Down can shift within a sleeping bag, creating cold spots. Manufacturers use different kinds of stitches to keep down in place. Some use what’s called “sewn-through” construction to join the bag’s shell and liner. This is the simplest stitching technique used on down. It can create cold spots at the places where the layers are sewn together and is best used on warm-weather sleeping bags.

High-quality down sleeping bags often employ the baffle technique. Baffles are vertical pieces of fabric that create boxes to keep the down in place. The boxes may be staggered or layered for extra protection against cold spots. Since baffling is a more complicated manufacturing technique, sleeping bags with baffles usually cost more.

Down type

Down is traditionally sourced from geese, although some manufacturers have recently started using duck down because it is less expensive. The ratings measure the same thing regardless of the feather source, so product quality isn’t affected. Still, you’ll find that goose down is used to make the highest-quality products because the fill power of duck down is not as high as goose down.

Extras

Special features may not make or break the quality of a down sleeping bag, but they do serve as nice extras that make your camping experience more enjoyable.

  • A stuff sack will help you squeeze your sleeping bag to its most compact size for packing.

  • A sleeping bag with pockets provides you with secure spaces to store items like glasses, your phone, and your car keys.

  • Quality zippers and zipper guards help prevent you from accidentally ripping your sleeping bag fabric.

EXPERT TIP

Compression sleeping bags are great for backpacking trips, but don’t use a compression bag to store your sleeping bag long-term. Instead, store it in a cotton bag or pillowcase.


Staff  | BestReviews

Down sleeping bag prices

Authentic down sleeping bags aren’t cheap. Even lower-end down sleeping bags can cost nearly $100. At this price, the sleeping bags will most likely be rectangular, have lower fill power (like that of duck down), and be sealed with sewn-through stitching rather than baffling. Zippers will be of lower quality, and material will likely not be waterproof.

Mid-grade down sleeping bags cost between $100 and $175. You will see more mummy-style bags in this price range, and they should have baffles. Duck down or goose down may be used, and fill power will be around 600. Quality zippers and zipper guards should prevent damage to the fabric. These sleeping bags may come with a packing bag.

Down sleeping bags of the highest quality cost $200 or more. They have baffled duck or goose down with a fill power of around 800. Almost all are mummy-style bags with thick, waterproof fabric, high-end zippers, and effective guards. They should feature pock

A sleeping bag pad can protect your down bag from debris like sticks, rocks, and pine cones.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Try wearing a hat while sleeping in a rectangular bag to avoid losing body heat.

  • Mummy-style sleeping bags hug the body, so check measurements carefully before ordering.

  • Wear clean clothes to bed, and wipe off sunscreen to keep your sleeping bag clean.

  • Wear a stocking hat or bandana to bed to keep scalp oil off a mummy bag.

  • A sleeping bag liner can help protect your bag and improve its temperature rating.

Other products we considered

The Ultra-light Goose Down Sleeping Bag from AEGISMAX works well both for drive-up camping and backpacking. It’s lightweight, insulated with goose down, and boasts an impressive 800 fill power. While it’s a tight fit for larger men, this bag has plenty of room for older children, women, and smaller men.

There’s no way you’ll be cold in Klymit’s Two-Person Double Sleeping Bag. Even with 650 fill power down, it compresses smaller than two full-size sleeping bags. The bag sports an oversized hood that can fit two pillows or convert to individual hoods. It’s a unique (yet pricey) idea that may be worth the money if you always camp with a partner.

If you have concerns about how a company obtains its down, look for sleeping bags from companies that advertise ethical sourcing.

FAQ

Q. How does synthetic insulation compare to down?

A. There’s a lot to like about synthetic down. It’s less expensive, hypoallergenic, insulates when wet, dries relatively quickly, and is not harvested from animals. It does have its drawbacks, though. Synthetic insulation tends to be bulkier, heavier, and not as insulatory. It’s not as durable, either. Compressing it for packing breaks down the fiber connections and reduces its  insulating power. Some sleeping bags combine the materials, but you still end up with bags that are bulkier and less durable than down, offer less water-resistance than synthetic bags, and still cost a lot. So, casual campers may prefer synthetic insulation for a number of reasons, but for the serious backpacker, it’s hard to beat a down sleeping bag.

Q. How often should I wash my down sleeping bag?

A. As infrequently as possible. Washing a down sleeping bag can reduce its loft and put the materials at risk for damage. Before you give it a full washing, see if a spot cleaning will get the job done. Use a toothbrush to scrub dirty spots with water and non-detergent soap, if necessary. Try to wash the surface only, and try to keep the down from getting wet. A rectangular bag often first shows dirt near the top of the zipper. Mummy bags tend to get dirty around the collar and hood first. Unless there’s a major accident, most down sleeping bags can go several years between full-blown cleanings.

Q. How should I wash my down sleeping bag?

A. It’s a challenging, time-consuming process. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, if you can find them. Avoid using a washing machine with agitators, because they could strain and rip the seams. A large home machine may do the trick, but many people have better luck with oversized laundromat machines. Hand-washing is also an option. None of these options may sound attractive, but don’t be tempted dry clean a down sleeping bag. The harsh solvents could damage the natural down and compromise its ability to insulate.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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