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The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023

A good night’s rest is essential to getting the most out of your backcountry experience. We’ve found the best backpacking sleeping bags for every environment and budget.

(Photo/Eric Phillips)
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A good sleeping bag is one of the most important investments an avid outdoors person will make. To evaluate the best backpacking sleeping bags, we took key performance factors into account, including warmth, packed size and weight, materials, extra features, and value.

Our Buyer’s Guide at the end of this article details the performance features we suggest considering when narrowing down your choice.

Here, we break down the best sleeping bags for backpacking, which means a focus on weight and compression size. 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.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our handy comparison chart, comprehensive buyer’s guide, or FAQ section.

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023

Best Overall Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Therm-a-Rest Parsec (0-Degree)


  • Shell Fabric 100% recycled ripstop nylon w/ DWR
  • Packed Volume/Weight 7.2L/2 lbs. 6 oz. (regular)
  • Insulation 800-fill hydrophobic down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 0, 20
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Heat-mapped, zoned insulation
  • External zippered pocket
  • Baffled pocket of insulation at feet


  • On the heavy side
  • Expensive
Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Kelty Cosmic 20


  • Shell fabric 20-denier nylon
  • Packed volume/weight 10 L/2 lbs., 10 oz.
  • Insulation 550-fill down
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) 0, 20, 40 deg.
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Very affordable
  • Dual sliders on the zipper for ventilation


  • 550-fill down limits compression size
  • Less stylish
Best Value Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass


  • Shell fabric 20-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed volume/weight 8 L/2 lbs., 5 oz.
  • Insulation 650-fill down
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) 0, 15, 30 deg.
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Ripstop fabric
  • Plush liner
  • Ergonomic foot compartment
  • Can zip together with other MH bags


  • Less packable than other options
  • Small neck baffle
  • Heavier than bags with higher fill power
Best Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Rab Mythic Ultra


  • Shell fabric 7D ripstop nylon
  • Packed volume/weight 5 L/14.1 oz. (180/32-degree)
  • Insulation 950-fill down
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) 180 (32-degree) 360 (20-degree)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Insanely packable
  • Very warm
  • Lightweight


  • Tight to get in and out of
  • Expensive
Best Overall Women’s Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Big Agnes Torchlight UL


  • Shell fabric Ultralight polyester ripstop with water-repellent finish
  • Packed volume/weight 14 L/2 lbs. 5 oz. (20-degree)
  • Insulation 850-fill down
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) 20, 30 deg.
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Highly adjustable with expandable side panels
  • Accessory pockets
  • DownTek waterproof down


  • Heavy
  • Bulky
Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag for Thru-Hiking

Enlightened Equipment Enigma


  • Shell fabric Ultralight nylon fabric (7D or 10D)
  • Weight 17.9 oz. (850 fill, 30-deg., regular/regular, 10D fabric inside and out)
  • Insulation 850- or 950-fill down
  • Temperature rating offered (Fahrenheit) 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 0 deg.
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • High level of customization
  • Superior warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Does a great job of reducing drafts and cold spots for a quilt


  • Pretty long lead times on custom orders (2-4 weeks, sometimes up to 6)
  • Pull cord at neck often gets annoying
Best for Side Sleepers

Big Agnes Sidewinder SL (20-Degree)


  • Shell fabric Nylon ripstop with a PFC-free water repellent finish
  • Packed volume/weight 14 L/2 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Insulation Hybrid (650-fill + synthetic in hips and feet)
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) 20, 35 deg.
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Pillow garage
  • Zipper great for side sleeping
  • Ergonomic foot compartment


  • Less packable than other options
Best of the Rest

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15


  • Shell fabric 10D recycled nylon ghost ripstop 26 g/m²
  • Packed volume/weight 6 L/2 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Insulation 850-fill down
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) 15 deg.
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • High loft
  • 850 fill down
  • Circumferential neck baffle
  • Compression sack included


  • Expensive

Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 20/30


  • Shell Fabric Pertex Endurance UL
  • Packed Volume/Weight 9L/1 lb. 8 oz. (20-degree, regular length)
  • Insulation 950+ fill goose down
  • Temperature Rating Offered (Fahrenheit) 30 or 20
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Lightweight
  • Super warm
  • Thoughtful design


  • Snug, somewhat uncomfortable fit
  • Simple design

Montbell Seamless Down Hugger WR 900 #3


  • Packed Volume/Weight 3.8 L/1 lb. 3.6 oz. (long)
  • Insulation 900-fill down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 15, 25, 30, 40
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Roomy interior
  • Weather-resistant
  • Packable


  • Expensive
  • Less venting and breathability than other options

Nemo Disco 15


  • Shell Fabric 30-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume/Weight 7.2 liters/2 pounds 11 ounces
  • Insulation 650 fill down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 15, 30
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Expandable vents
  • Sturdy fabrics
  • Roomy
  • Waterproof foot


  • Heavy

Sea to Summit Flame


  • Shell Fabric 10-denier nylon
  • Packed Volume/Weight 0.7 to 7.9 L/7.6 oz. to 2 lbs. 3.1 oz.
  • Insulation Ultra-Dry Down 850+ loft
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) Liner, 15, 25, 35, 48
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Lightweight
  • Good warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Wide range of temperature ratings


  • Price
  • Not the most durable fabric
  • A bit difficult to get into the stuff sack

REI Co-op Magma


  • Shell Fabric Pertex 15-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume/Weight 5 L/1 lb. 6 oz.
  • Insulation 850-fill down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 15
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Extremely packable for the price
  • High down rating


  • Not as lofty as other options
  • Limited shoulder room

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Eco AF


  • Shell Fabric Recycled 20D nylon ripstop
  • Packed Volume/Weight 8.5 L/2 lbs. 5 oz. (30-degree, long)
  • Insulation Synthetic
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 15, 30
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Glow-in-the-dark zipper
  • Lightweight
  • Lower ecological impact than other options


  • Very slim and tight
  • No venting options
  • White exterior will get dirty

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion (32-Degree)


  • Shell Fabric 10D ripstop nylon with DWR
  • Packed Volume/Weight 3 L/1 lb.
  • Insulation 900-fill down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit): 32
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Plush
  • Integrates with a sleeping pad


  • Steep taper inhibits side sleeping and shifting

Marmot Hydrogen (30-Degree)


  • Shell Fabric Pertex Microlight 20D ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume/Weight 6 L/1 lb. 7 oz.
  • Insulation 800-fill down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 30
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Sub-1.5 pounds
  • High down rating
  • Down defender


  • Restricts movement
  • Overly snug

Western Mountaineering Alpinlite (20-Degree)


  • Shell Fabric ExtremeLite
  • Packed Volume/Weight 5 L/2 lbs. (long)
  • Insulation 850-fill down
  • Temperature Ratings Offered (Fahrenheit) 20
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Wide girth allows extra layering in very cold conditions
  • Large draft tubes
  • High loft


  • Expensive

Rab Neutrino 600 (10-Degree)


  • Shell fabric 20D Pertex Quantum recycled nylon ripstop with DWR finish
  • Weight 2 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Insulation 800-fill down with Nikwax hydrophobic finish
  • Temperature ratings offered (Fahrenheit) -10, 10, 20, 30
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2023


  • Hydrophobic down
  • Chevron baffles distribute insulation well
  • High down rating


  • Not the most spacious

Backpacking Sleeping Bag Comparison Chart

Sleeping BagPriceShell FabricPacked Volume/WeightInsulationTemperature Ratings (°F)
Therm-a-Rest Parsec $620100% recycled ripstop nylon with DWR7.2L/2 lbs., 6 oz. (regular)
800-fill down
0, 20
Kelty Cosmic 20$155-18520-denier nylon10 liters/2 lbs., 10 oz.550-fill down20
Mountain Hardwear
Bishop Pass 15
$285-30520-denier ripstop nylon8 liters/2 lbs., 5 oz.650 fill down15
Rab Mythic Ultra$600-7407D ripstop nylon5 liters/14.1 oz. (180/32-degree)950-fill down 32
Big Agnes Torchlight UL$350-450Ultralight polyester ripstop with water-repellent finish14 liters/2 lbs., 5 oz. (20-degree)850-fill down20
Enlightened Equipment
$340Ultralight nylon fabric (7D or 10D)17.9 oz 850 or 950 fill down0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50
Big Agnes Sidewinder SL$300Nylon ripstop with a PFC-free water-repellent finish14 liters/2 lbs., 4 oz.Hybrid (650-fill + synthetic in hips and feet)20, 35
Mountain Hardwear
Phantom 15
$550-58010D Recycled Nylon Ghost Ripstop 266 liters/2 lbs., 4 oz.850-fill down15
Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL$549-629Pertex Endurance UL9L/1 lb., 8 oz. (20-degree, regular length)950+ fill goose down30, 20
Montbell Down Hugger$499GORE-TEX INFINIUM WINDSTOPPER Fabrics3.8 L/1 lb., 3.6 oz. (long)900-fill down15, 25, 30, 40
NEMO Disco$320-35030-denier ripstop nylon7.2 liters/2 lbs., 11 oz.650 fill down15, 30
Sea to Summit Flame$359-60910-denier nylon0.7 to 7.9 L/7.6 oz. to 2 lbs., 3.1 oz.Ultra-Dry Down 850+ loftLiner, 15, 25, 35, 48
REI Magma$399Pertex 15-denier ripstop nylon5 liters/1 lb., 6 oz.850-fill down15
Mountain Hardwear
Lamina Eco AF
$260-280Recycled 20D nylon ripstop8.5 liters/2 lbs., 5 oz. (30-degree, long)Synthetic15, 30
Therm-a-Rest Hyperion$430-52010D ripstop nylon with DWR3 liters/1 lb.900-fill down32
Marmot Hydrogen$399Pertex Microlight 20D ripstop nylon6 L/1 lb., 7 oz.800-fill down30
Western Mountaineering Alpinlite$670-715ExtremeLite5 liters/2 lbs. (long)850-fill down20
Rab Neutrino 600 $49520D Pertex Quantum recycled nylon ripstop with DWR2 lbs., 2 oz.800-fillLiner, -10, 10, 20, 30
best sleeping bags for backpacking
GearJunkie’s reviewers giving each sleeping bag a proper test; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Why You Should Trust Us

Every year, GearJunkie editors shut their laptops and take a long weekend to evaluate the best camping gear out there. We set up camp, unpack gear, crack beers, and spend days and nights testing, using, and abusing gear.

It’s not just about putting the gear through a battery of tests to stress it to its limits — although that does occur — it’s about using the gear the way you would.

Not only do we have decades of experience among the lot of us, but we are also critical and perceptive to the nuance of needs for each user. You may not agree with our opinions, but we strive to make our judgments fair and justified. We stick to the same standards and metrics for each product we test.

There are a lot of great sleeping bags to choose from and we are here to narrow the field and help you find the perfect one for you — one that fits your budget and your needs.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

The Enigma offers stellar warmth and packability at a super low weight; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

A good sleeping bag is a foundational piece of gear for the outdoor enthusiast. Consider where and when you want to use your bag. Are you planning a summer outing at low elevation or a winter getaway in the mountains?

Not every bag will cover the gamut of conditions you will encounter in the outdoors but most can cover a broad spectrum. A cold-weather bag will work in the summer but nasty, stuffy, sweaty nights will ensue. Just as with any piece of gear, choose the right tool for the job.

We utilize five factors to consider when purchasing a sleeping bag: warmth, packed size and weight, materials, extra features, and value. No one bag can excel in all categories without costing you a fortune. Our goal is to direct you toward the perfect sleeping bag for your needs and your budget.

Keep in mind that brands often offer multiple sizes in one bag. There will be short, regular, long, left zip, right zip, or a women’s version. Dead air space in a bag creates more air to warm up, creating a colder bag or at least one that requires more heating time. In some situations, extra space is beneficial.

For example, in cold environments, it is nice to have a few extra inches in the bottom of the bag to stash clothes to keep warm or a water bottle filled with hot water. Deciding what side you want the zipper on can come down to handedness, connecting to a partner’s bag, or preferring a certain side to sleep on.

Women’s bags often have more space in the hips and extra insulation. Usually, that adds extra weight for the same rated bag in a men’s version.

The Magma (left) and the Phantom on the right may have the same temperature rating, but our testers agree that the Phantom is warmer; (photo/Eric Phillips)


Temperature ratings are a great place to start when selecting a sleeping bag. Most of us have a favorite campground, mountain range, or beach that we plan on visiting regularly. Determine the coldest night in that locale and you have your minimum comfort range.

The Therm-a-Rest Parsec provided excellent warmth in testing with its 800-fill hydrophobic down. Lightweight options such as the REI Magma 15 and Therm-a-Rest Hyperion save a lot of weight by using lighter fabrics or shorter zippers. They offer similar temperature ratings but usually have less loft and durability. If you know that you run cold, give yourself a margin of comfort above the listed rating.

Fill ratings for down are determined by measuring the amount of loft one ounce of down will expand to. For example, one ounce of 850-fill down lofts to fill 850 cubic inches. This means that more air is trapped in tiny fibers between the feathers compared to lower ratings, trapping more warmth. Down bags will always be warmer, by weight, than synthetic bags due to the superior loft of the down at any rating.

A warm sleeping bag is a camp comfort game changer; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

The International Standards Organization does laboratory testing to attempt to rate sleeping bags scientifically by reducing variables. A mannequin with sensors is placed in the bag to test temperature changes in a controlled environment. Of course, we are not mannequins! Metabolic rates, preference, and tenacity can alter which bag is better for you.

Still, the ratings are a great way to compare warmth across brands. We recommend that cold sleepers choose a bag on the warmer end of the spectrum, even for summer camping.

The duration of your trip and the variety of landscapes and climates you’ll experience along the way also play an important role in narrowing in on the perfect temperature rating. If you’ll be tramping through snow in the mountains and plodding across blistering deserts all in the same trip (and don’t plan on changing bags halfway through), make sure to pick a bag that will keep you comfortable in each environment. You don’t want to overheat in the desert, or freeze to death in the highlands. Find the happy medium that will protect you from start to finish.

Sleeping bag liners can help boost the warmth of a summer bag to be suitable for colder temps. This is a possible lightweight solution for long trips like thru-hikes that bring you through a broad spectrum of temperatures. This silk liner from Sea to Summit is one of our personal favorites for this purpose.

Packed Size & Weight

You want to balance weight, warmth, and packability when deciding on the best backpacking sleeping bag for your needs; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Packed size is of particular importance when backpacking. While regular camping sleeping bags focus more on comfort, you want your backpacking sleeping bag to have an appropriate warmth-to-weight ratio for your adventure. The weight and packed size of a bag are directly tied to the materials it is built from. Down always packs smaller than synthetic insulation at the same temperature rating but is on average more expensive.

Anyone looking to minimize pack weight should consider something like the REI Magma 15. This bag packs down to three liters and weighs just 1 pound, 12 ounces. Compare that to the NEMO Forte with synthetic insulation which is much bulkier at over 3 pounds with a similar temperature rating.

The ability to pack your bag into the smallest stuff sack possible means more room for gear (or snacks!). The Rab Mythic Ultra is insanely compact and is great for warm summer bivvies when you want to be ultralight or to add to another bag to multiply the warmth. It’s a good idea to consider the volume and storage capabilities of the backpacking backpack you plan to use on your excursions before choosing your sleeping bag, as this will be one of the bulkier items in your kit.

Best Sleeping Bags Stuff Sack Sizes
A size comparison of many of the bags on this list stored in their stuff sacks; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Materials and Construction

A bag’s insulating material will greatly alter its weight-to-warmth ratio. The downside of down (ahem) is that if it gets wet, it loses its warming power.

Virtually all modern, high-quality sleeping bags (like those in this guide) use a hydrophobic down, such as the Nemo Disco 15. Hydrophobic down requires treating the down material with a durable water-repellent (DWR) product.

This chemical treatment coats the down and inhibits moisture from absorbing into it as readily as untreated down. This treatment also allows damp down to dry more quickly. This is not a waterproofing treatment. Hydrophobic down products will do better at resisting water, but they are not impervious to it.

Unlike down, synthetic insulation stays warm when wet but is bulkier and heavier than down. If you plan to be in heavy rain or on a raft trip, consider the NEMO Forte. The other benefit to synthetic insulation is that it is less expensive to procure than down.

You want your sleeping bag to be made of durable materials for shoving in and out of stuff sacks every morning and night; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

As we said before, down is warmer than synthetic insulation gram for gram. As the fill power (also called CUIN) rating for down climbs higher, so does the price. A 950-fill down does a much better job of trapping heat than a 600-fill down.

That is not to say that a higher value will be warmer; the amount of insulating material is also a factor. For example, a bag with twice as much 600-fill down can maintain heat as well as a bag with half that much in 950-fill, but it will consequently be markedly heavier.

For shell fabrics and liners, most sleeping bags from reputable brands will use synthetic materials that repel water and hold warmth when wet. The diameter of the thread itself used in fabrics is measured in deniers. A high denier count correlates pretty strongly to being a stronger material. So, a higher denier rating correlates with more durability.

The caveat to all this is that 20-denier Cuben fiber is stronger than 20-denier polyester because the Dyneema is stronger than the polyester fibers at the same thickness.

Some bags have a breathable membrane such as the GORE-TEX shell on the Montbell Down Hugger. Ripstop is a way of reinforcing fabric with heavier threads woven in to resist abrasion and tearing.

Durable sleeping bags will keep you warm and cozy for long months on the trail; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Taffeta is among the most common choices to line the inside of a bag. Unlike the coarse feel of ripstop, taffeta has a pleasant silky feel and is more breathable. This makes it an ideal choice as a next-to-skin fabric.

Pay attention to the fabric behind the zipper as well. A late-night trip to the bush can cause fumbling and tearing of fabric if it gets caught in the zipper, as we experienced on the Sea to Summit Flame. Top brands will sew sturdier material in the zipper zone to prevent this, but it adds weight.

Baffles in a sleeping bag are sewn separations that keep the down in place to prevent it from bunching up. It is important to consider baffle size and placement in a down bag. After years of use, the feathers tend to migrate into clumps. A little care and proper maintenance can prevent this.

The Montbell Down Hugger has done away with baffles altogether with a unique web design, while the Rab Mythic Ultra employs trapezoidal baffles to further prevent down migration.

Finally, draft tubes and collars are insulation-stuffed barriers between you and places that lose a lot of heat. This is in places such as along the zipper or around your neck. These barriers are crucial to keeping cold air out. Draft collars rest on the chest and neck area to keep the heat in the bag from escaping.

A nice lofty draft collar will keep cold air from seeping down into your bag; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Extra Features

The budget-friendly Kelty Cosmic has a great cellphone pocket, and the Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 can zip together with another bag that has a zipper on the opposite side. This is great if you want to cuddle with your partner.

A novelty in this category is the Mountain Hardwear Lamina ECO AF, which stands out because of its eco-friendly materials. Also, consider the expandable zippered gills that increase the circumference like in the NEMO Disco. This is advantageous if you are a side sleeper or want to draw your knees up at night. Most bags also allow two-way zippers to promote venting at the feet while the majority of the zipper towards the head stays zipped.

Extra features are what we consider to tip the scales between two similar products when making a difficult decision. With so many options on the market, the deciding factor when purchasing a new bag can be the difference between a static cinch cord instead of a bungee.

In our view, extra features are just that, nothing that affects the performance of a bag but only adds flair or novelty.

The Nemo Disco has two anterior zippered vents so you can regulate internal temperature; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Women’s-Specific Sleeping Bags

Some sleeping bags, such as The Big Agnes Torchlight UL, are designed with women in mind, and have features that some may find beneficial. As mentioned above, women’s bags are usually more spacious, accommodate wider hips, and have extra insulation (often in specific areas).

Some sleeping bags have a women’s-specific version that you can choose (which sometimes just means it’s shorter), while other models are designed solely for women. Sometimes the changes make a noticeable difference for women, other times a men’s or unisex model will work just fine.


You should expect to make a substantial investment for a long-lasting, high-quality sleeping bag. Don’t be surprised to see price tags that approach (or exceed) $500.

From high-priced bags like the Western Mountaineering Alpinlite to the economical Kelty Cosmic, manufacturers assure that their sleeping bags have undergone rigorous testing and development to ensure that they keep adventurers safe in some of the harshest environments.

five people standing in sleeping bags in colorado
Testing gear is serious business; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Buying a quality sleeping bag is as important as buying a good backpacking tent. It is not only a matter of comfort but also safety and well-being. Your sleeping bag is a crucial piece of gear to give you the night’s rest you need to tackle your goals and enjoy the backcountry.

This list of the best backpacking sleeping bags has something for every hiker and outdoor enthusiast — from the starry-eyed novice to the wizened wilderness sage.


What type of sleeping bag is best?

The decision primarily is a question of insulation types. Two categories prevail: synthetic and down. Synthetic bags, like the NEMO Forte, are bulkier and overall heavier when compared to a down-filled bag at the same temperature rating. They also tend to be less expensive and stay warm when wet (unlike down).

Down-filled bags, like the Western Mountaineering Alpinlite, tend to cost more and be more delicate to abrasion and tearing as feathers can leak out, diminishing insulation. The advantage of down-filled bags is they pack extremely small and can provide more warmth with less material and therefore, less weight.

A comfy sleeping bag makes life better for everyone; (photo/Honey McNaughton)
How much can I compress a down sleeping bag?

The short answer is more than you probably should. Compressing down feathers damages them over time but they can squeeze down magnificently.

Our testers have compressed a -40-degree bag into a 10L compression sack. That is not recommended but if you need space in your pack, you will do whatever you have to.

Packing down takes patience. Applying gentle pressure to remove air from between the down can squeeze it into tight spaces. Check with your manufacturer’s listed pack size. This is a good indication of how far to take it.

For example, one of our favorite sleeping bags, the Montbell Down Hugger, has a 3L listed pack size in the regular length. Compare that to the NEMO Forte at 12 L at a comparable temperature rating.

When you store your down sleeping bag, always put it in the large provided sack or bag about the size of a 55-gallon trash bag to prolong the life of the down and allow for full expansion while in storage.

Down backpacking sleeping bags compress down small, but pack some serious heat when you need them to; (photo/Honey McNaughton)
What is a good weight for a backpacking sleeping bag?

This is largely dependent on what your needs are. For backpacking, long hikes into a campsite with just a backpack to haul your gear, the general consensus is that you will want a pack under 3 pounds.

Ultralight sleeping bags, like the Rab Mythic Ultra, are measured in ounces, not pounds. Yet, with every ounce you sacrifice, most often you’re losing material.

This can mean less durable materials, less size or comfort, and potentially higher prices with more advanced tech. For car camping, weight will really be a secondary concern to comfort — it’s more what will fit in the trunk of your car. In that scenario, the roomy NEMO Forte starts to look pretty appealing.

Should I get a down or synthetic sleeping bag?

When it comes to warmth and packability, nothing beats down. That’s not to say that synthetic options aren’t warm or packable — or that someday synthetic insulation might catch up to or surpass down — but down is the hands-down winner for now. Consider the 32-degree Therm-a-Rest Hyperion that packs down to 3 L.

Synthetic bags do have their place, however. By its nature, synthetic is engineered to maintain its performance characteristics when it’s wet. The same cannot be said for down. While synthetic isn’t quite as packable, it has come a long way in becoming a pack-friendly option.

For example, the Big Agnes Sidewinder weighs in at 2 pounds, 4 ounces and boasts more room than most other bags we tested. If price is a primary consideration, synthetic is considerably more affordable than high-quality, high-loft down.

Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma is one of the lighter down options out there; (photo/Honey McNaughton)
What is the lightest backpacking sleeping bag?

From our testing, the REI Magma 15 and Rab’s Mythic Ultra are the lightest backpacking sleeping bags we recommend.

Is a 20-degree bag too hot for summer?

Warmth ratings are a guide, not a rule. The degree listed on a sleeping bag is a measure of a bag’s comfort zone. Typically, a 20-degree bag will keep the average user comfortable at 20 degrees, but we all regulate heat differently.

Many bags, like the Kelty Cosmic 20, feature dual zippers. This allows the bottom of the zipper to be opened as a vent while most of the bag stays zipped shut.

If you run cold, a 20-degree bag may feel too cold in 30-degree temps. If you run hot, you can get away with a 30-degree bag in 15-degree weather or below. Keep this in mind if you run hot or cold on either end of the spectrum.

A good night’s rest starts with a solid sleeping bag; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

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