A sleeping bag is one of the most important pieces of camping gear. We’ve found the best backpacking sleeping bags for every use and budget.
We’ll say it again: A good sleeping bag can be one of the most crucial investments an outdoorsperson makes. It will keep you warm (but not too warm), cozy, and rested.
To evaluate the best backpacking sleeping bags, we took key performance factors into account, like warmth-to-weight ratio, temperature rating, construction, and other features.
We’ve collectively spent years camping, backpacking, and using sleeping bags, and all of that knowledge went into testing. Basically, as long as the bag is still available for sale, it’s a contender for this list.
Here, we break down the best sleeping bags for backpacking, which means a focus on weight and compressibility. If you’re looking for more all-around comfort-oriented sleeping bags, check out our roundup of the best sleeping bags for camping.
Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking: 2020 Review
We’ve divided our picks into categories. Check out the Best Overall, Best Ultralight, Best for Women, and more. Every bag on this list is among the best backpacking sleeping bags on the market right now, so be sure to read through the features and click through to find the best bag for you.
Best Overall Backpacking Sleeping Bag
When it comes to durability, packability, and overall comfort, Montbell takes the cake. The Down Hugger line as a whole presents a finely tuned array of bags, tailored to various temperature ratings, fill powers, and feature sets.
And Montbell’s “seamless” design helps promote more loft space for the down within the bag. So, at least in theory, you get a highly packable bag with an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio. In our testing, that’s exactly what Montbell achieved. Not only is the Down Hugger plush and warm, but it also provides a surprising amount of shoulder room.
And as the “WR” designation suggests, this bag has high water resistance. A GORE-TEX INFINIUM shell blocks drafts or wind and helps repel moisture like the condensation so often faced inside tents. It uses incredibly high-quality 900-fill down, which certainly adds to the sky-high price.
Pros: Roomy interior, weather-resistant, packable
Cons: Expensive, less venting and breathability than other options
Buy this bag if: You need a top-of-the-line sleeping bag that will block wind, resist moisture, and weigh nearly nothing in your pack
Packed volume / weight: 4.7 L / 1 lb. 6.1 oz. (long)
Insulation: 900-fill down
Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag
Perhaps the lightest sleeping bag money can buy, Rab’s Mythic Ultra lineup is all about shaving grams. When we first saw this bag at Outdoor Retailer, we knew it would advance tech in the sleeping bag space. Leveraging what the brand calls its Thermo Ionic Lining Technology (TILT), the Mythic Ultra boasts an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio.
It achieves this in three ways: First, Rab utilizes a unique trapezoidal baffle construction it claims prevents down migration and promotes more loft. Second, and more importantly, Rab coats thin fibers within the bag with titanium. This helps reflect radiant body heat back toward the sleeper, keeping the inside of the bag warmer without adding more down. Finally, it uses insanely good 950-fill down, one of the best warmth-to-weight insulators you can get in a sleeping bag.
While it stays light on features — there’s just a single one-eighth-length zipper — it proved the lightest and most packable option we tested. For the ultralight enthusiast, there’s no better bag available right now.
Pros: Insanely lightweight and packable, very warm
Cons: Tight to get in and out of
Buy this bag if: Every single gram counts
Packed volume / weight: 5 L / 14.1 oz. (180 / 32-degree)
Insulation: 950-plus-fill down
Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag
Kelty Cosmic 20 (20-Degree): $170-190
Sometimes a brand nails a design in virtually every respect. The Kelty Cosmic 20 made our list last year, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
For $180 — less when on sale — the Cosmic 20 packs reliable warmth into a welterweight package. Plus, the brand upgraded the taffeta lining to be softer and added an accessory pocket for small essentials.
For beginners who plan to commit to regular backpacking trips, the Kelty Cosmic 20 is an awesome gateway to adventure.
Pros: Super affordable for what you get
Cons: 600-fill down limits compressibility
Buy this bag if: You’re on a budget but want a bag that can hang with the big boys
Packed volume / weight: 13 L / 2 lbs. 10 oz. (long)
Insulation: 600-fill down
Best Women’s Backpacking Sleeping Bag
This bag is as close as it gets to a custom setup made just for you. Thanks to the very nice and non-catching zippers on each side, the user can custom fit the bag to them depending on their style of sleeping. And while it’s plenty light enough to carry for a long hike or ride (2 pounds 4 ounces for regular size), our testers found it luxurious enough for car camping trips.
All the bells and whistles really make this bag exceptional. The interior loops allow for a bag liner, and the interior mesh pockets hold gadgets and other small things to keep close (and warm) at night. Plus, it can both expand and cinch around your body, it packs down easy and small, it’s filled with water-repellent DownTek down, and it keeps you warm and cozy across a wide range of temps.
Pros: Highly adjustable to cinch tight or expand, accessory pockets
Cons: Heavier and bigger than most options on this list
Buy this bag if: You like being tucked in tight some nights and having extra room during others
Packed volume / weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz. / 14 L (20-degree, long)
Insulation: 850-fill down
Most Sustainable Backpacking Sleeping Bag
With recycled materials in every single component and no dyes, Mountain Hardwear’s Lamina Eco AF aims to find sustainability throughout every inch. The Lamina Eco AF’s shell and lining comprise 100% recycled poly. And the zippers, insulation — even the cinch cord toggle — contain at least some recycled content.
And as you’ll no doubt notice, there’s no dye used on this bag. That makes it look as much art deco as environmentally responsible. Of course, as you may guess, this bag gets dirty quickly. But if sustainability is your primary concern, that shouldn’t bother you.
As a sleep unit, the Lamina Eco AF has a very slim cut. So don’t expect much room to move your arms — or anything else. But its recycled synthetic insulation feels lofty and warm, and it won’t be a hassle if it gets wet.
Pros: Glow-in-the-dark zipper, lightweight, lower ecological impact than other options
Cons: Very slim/tight, no venting options
Buy this bag if: You monitor your own carbon footprint closely
Packed volume / weight: 8.5 L / 2 lbs. 5 oz. (30-degree, long)
Best of the Rest
The market for lightweight, pack-friendly sleeping bags is huge. There are tons of well-made, comfortable, high-quality bags.
Don’t see what you like above? Any one of the bags below made the grade during our testing and might be perfect for your needs. So check out our recommendations and comparison shop.
Nobody in the game does plush and cozy quite like Therm-a-Rest. Consistently one of the best options for reliably warm and super-packable sleeping bags, Them-a-Rest’s Hyperion offers up both in spades.
Coming in just over a single pound, the Hyperion saves weight with 900-fill hydrophobic down and svelte SynergyLink sleeping pad connectors. Yet it still affords big, easy-to-grip zippers and a pillowy, cinchable hood.
Pros: Lightweight, packable, plush
Cons: Steep taper inhibits side sleeping and shifting
Buy this bag if: You want as much cozy as you can cram into a pound
Packed volume / weight: 3.5 L / 1 lb. 6 oz. (20-degree, long)
Insulation: 900-fill down
Western Mountaineering built the Alpinlite to mimic everything fans loved about its UltraLite bag, only with the addition of extra shoulder room. And indeed, the size long offers up 65 inches of shoulder girth, affording a few extra inches over most of the competition at a similar weight.
The brand also designed the shell fabric to be extra breathable, promoting as much loft as possible. And a jumbo, 3D-insulated collar helps seal in as much heat as possible for alpinists and serious backpackers.
Pros: Wide girth allows extra layering in very cold conditions
Buy this bag if: You want a 20-degree bag you can use with extra layers for even colder expeditions
Packed volume / weight: 12 L / 2 lbs. (long)
Insulation: 850-fill down
The Swallow stands as Feathered Friends’ most popular sleeping bag, providing a happy compromise between the spacious cut and light weight of the brand’s Swift and Hummingbird models. The Swallow UL packs down very small thanks to 950-plus-fill down, higher loft than most of the other bags on this list.
Pros: Very lofty and packable, breathable outer shell
Cons: Pricey, high loft can make stuffing difficult
Buy this bag if: You need a high-loft, technical bag that blends weight savings and extra room
Packed volume / weight: 8 L / 1 lb. 10 oz. (30-degree, long)
Insulation: 950-plus-fill down
Sierra Designs Cloud 800 (20-Degree): $400-420
Sierra Designs owns a coveted space within the outdoors in which it has the respect of seasoned adventurers and meets the comfort expectations of eager newcomers. Coming within a hair of 2 pounds, the Cloud 800 will make the cut for many backpackers.
And with a unique zipperless design, it allows sleepers to wrap themselves in tight or stretch out — whichever makes them comfortable. Add in the brand’s self-sealing foot vent, and you have a bag most anyone can enjoy.
Pros: Zipperless design provides great fit for a variety of bodies
Cons: Not the lightest bag for the money, lower body can slide off of sleeping pad
Buy this bag if: You want a low-frills bag with plenty of venting options and room to move
Packed volume / weight: 11 L / 2 lbs. 1 oz. (long)
Insulation: 800-fill down
Looking for a technical synthetic bag? NEMO’s Forte line may be the most full-featured non-down bag out there. As with many of its sleeping bags, NEMO gave the Forte “gills.” On warmer nights, unzip the gills to help dump heat, even if the bag carries a lower temp rating.
Plus, NEMO designed the Forte with a spoon shape to accommodate side sleepers. The brand claims bump-outs at the knees and shoulders allow sleepers a little room to twist and turn.
Pros: Price, Thermo Gills help vent on hot nights, spoon shape adds a little wiggle room
Cons: Heavy for a backpacking pack
Buy this bag if: You’re less worried about weight savings than a versatile synthetic bag
Packed volume / weight: 12 L / 3 lbs. 2 oz. (20-degree, long)
Insulation: PrimaLoft RISE synthetic fibers
REI’s “best warmth-to-weight ratio” sleeping bag, the Magma aims to take on the sub-2-pound, ultra-packable market without breaking $400. And many agree that the Magma deserves a nod when shopping for ultralight backpacking sleeping bags.
At just over 3 L, the Magma 30 is remarkably packable. And the fact that it hits in the $300 range is impressive.
Pros: Extremely packable for the price
Cons: Not as lofty as other options, limited shoulder room
Buy this bag if: Pack space is just as important as price
Packed volume / weight: 3.1 L / 1 lb. 6 oz. (30-degree, long)
Insulation: 850-fill down
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag
It’s worth spending a bit of time finding the right sleeping bag. After all, this is a piece of gear that won’t only keep you comfortable at night but can also easily last through years of use. And while there isn’t a single sleeping bag that’s best for every camper out there, this buyer’s guide will help identify the best bag for you.
Take a moment to imagine your camping future. Do you plan to spend a lot of time in the backcountry? Or do you mostly car camp? Do you sleep outside all year round? Or just in the warm summer months?
With this in mind, let’s jump into three important factors for choosing a sleeping bag.
Sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, but it’s not always clear what that number means. Depending on the person, a 20-degree bag might keep you cozy down to 20 degrees, or it might be more of a survival number.
Sure, you’ll make it through, but you’ll spend the night shivering instead of snoozing. Women tend to sleep colder than men. And for that reason, women’s-specific sleeping bags tend to be warmer.
The important thing to determine is if you’re a warm or cold sleeper. We recommend cold sleepers choose a bag on the warmer end of the spectrum, even for summer camping. Options like the Rab Mythic Ultra and Therm-a-Rest Hyperion were among our resident cold sleeper’s favorite bags.
Packed size is of particular importance when backpacking. Being able to pack your bag into the smallest stuff sack possible means more room for gear (or snacks!). But, related to the point above, you’ll need to balance this with a bag that’s warm enough.
Anyone looking to minimize pack weight should consider something like the new-for-2020 Rab Mythic Ultra. This 32-degree bag weighs in at just 14 ounces and packs down impressively small.
From extra zippers to “gills that breathe,” there are all types of extra features being added to bags these days. Some are just marketing hype, but many really do make for a better sleeping experience.
The budget-friendly Kelty Cosmic has a great cellphone pocket, and the Big Agnes Torchlight UL integrates perfectly with a sleeping pad. Other features to consider are the ability to zip to bags together, extra zippers for venting, and a cinchable hood.
Have a favorite backpacking sleeping bag we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.