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The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024

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.

Our team has collectively tested legions of these puffy down cocoons, with current author and Senior Editor Chris Carter having put over 10 different sleeping bags through their paces in the past year alone. He snuggled up in these bags all over the world, from the snow-blasted Colorado alpine to the crisp open desert in the African savannah — and even while dangling thousands of feet in the air on a wobbly portaledge during big wall ascents in Yosemite. No stone was left unturned in an effort to narrow in on the most current, hardworking sleeping bags for this roundup.

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, and FAQ section.

Editor’s Note: We updated our Backpacking Sleeping Bags guide on March 21, 2024, to add the Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 15 — a sleeping bag that well lives up to its name, as well as the updated REI Co-op Magma 15, a bag with 9 different size options to fit campers of various sizes.

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024

Best Overall Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Therm-a-Rest Parsec 20


  • Shell Fabric 100% recycled ripstop nylon w/ DWR
  • Packed Volume 7.2 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 6 oz. (regular)
  • Insulation 800-fill hydrophobic down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 20°F
  • Comfort Temperature Rating 32°F
Product Badge The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • 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 10 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 7 oz.
  • Insulation 550-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 21°F
  • Comfort Temperature Rating 31°F
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • 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 15


  • Shell Fabric 20-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume 8 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 5 oz.
  • Insulation 650-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 15°F
  • Comfort Rating 26°F
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • 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 180


  • Shell Fabric 7-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume 5 L
  • Weight 14.1 oz.
  • Insulation 950-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 32°F
  • Comfort Rating 44°F
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • Insanely packable
  • Very warm
  • Lightweight


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

Big Agnes Torchlight UL 20


  • Shell Fabric Ultralight polyester ripstop with water-repellent finish
  • Packed Volume 14 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 5 oz.
  • Insulation 850-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 18°F (ISO-rating)
  • Comfort Rating 29°F (ISO-rating)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


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


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

Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20


  • Shell Fabric Ultralight nylon fabric (7D or 10D)
  • Packed Volume 8.5 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 3.2 oz — 1 lb., 5.2 oz.
  • Insulation 850- or 950-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 20°F (not EN rated)
  • Comfort Rating 30°F (suggested)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • 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
Most Inclusive Sizing Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op Magma 15


  • Shell Fabric Pertex 15-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume 8 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 3.6 oz. (medium size)
  • Insulation 850-fill power down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 9°F (ISO-rating)
  • Comfort Rating 21°F (ISO-rating)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • Extremely packable for the price
  • High down rating


  • Not as lofty as other options
  • Limited shoulder room
Best of the Rest

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15


  • Shell Fabric 15-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume 6 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 0.6 oz.
  • Insulation 800-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 15°F
  • Comfort Rating 26°F
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


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


  • Expensive

Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 20


  • Shell Fabric Pertex Endurance UL
  • Packed Volume 9 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 8 oz.
  • Insulation 950+ fill goose down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 20°F (not EN rated)
  • Comfort Rating ~30°F (not EN rated)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • Lightweight
  • Super warm
  • Thoughtful design


  • Snug, somewhat uncomfortable fit
  • Simple design

Montbell Seamless Down Hugger WR 900 #3


  • Shell Fabric GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper
  • Packed Volume 3.8 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 3.6 oz.
  • Insulation 900-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 32°F (ISO-rating)
  • Comfort Rating 41°F (ISO-rating)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • Roomy interior
  • Weather-resistant
  • Packable


  • Expensive
  • Less venting and breathability than other options

Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 15


  • Shell Fabric 20-denier recycled nylon
  • Packed Volume 13.2 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 6.5 oz.
  • Insulation 800-fill DriDown
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 16°F
  • Comfort Rating 27°F
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • Unique “walk mode” construction
  • Ability to reach out of bag without unzipping it
  • Warm and durable


  • On the narrow side
  • A bit bulky and heavy for the temp rating

NEMO Disco 15


  • Shell Fabric 30-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume 7.2 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 15 oz.
  • Insulation 650-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 17°F (ISO-rating)
  • Comfort Rating 27°F (ISO-rating)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • Expandable vents
  • Sturdy fabrics
  • Roomy
  • Waterproof foot


  • Heavy

Sea to Summit Flame 25


  • Shell Fabric 10-denier nylon
  • Packed Volume 6 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 7.5 oz.
  • Insulation 850-fill power goose down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 14°F (ISO-rating)
  • Comfort Rating 25°F (ISO-rating)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


  • 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

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 32


  • Shell Fabric 10D ripstop nylon with DWR
  • Packed Volume 3L
  • Weight 1 lb.
  • Insulation 900-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 32°F
  • Comfort Rating 41°F
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


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


  • Steep taper inhibits side sleeping and shifting

Western Mountaineering AlpinLite


  • Shell Fabric 12-denier ripstop nylon
  • Packed Volume 5L
  • Weight 1 lb., 15 oz.
  • Insulation 850-fill down
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 20°F (not rated)
  • Comfort Rating ~30°F (not rated)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


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


  • Expensive

Rab Neutrino 600


  • Shell Fabric 20-denier Pertex Quantum recycled nylon ripstop with DWR finish
  • Packed Volume 21 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Insulation 800-fill down with Nikwax hydrophobic finish
  • EN Temperature Rating (lower limit) 10°F (ISO-rated)
  • Comfort Rating 23°F (ISO-rated)
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024


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


  • Not the most spacious

Backpacking Sleeping Bag Comparison Chart

Sleeping BagPriceShell FabricWeightInsulationEN Temperature Rating (Lower Limit)
Therm-a-Rest Parsec 20 $440-500100% recycled ripstop nylon with DWR2 lbs., 6 oz.
800-fill down
Kelty Cosmic 20$155-18520-denier nylon2 lbs., 7 oz.550-fill down21°F
Mountain Hardwear
Bishop Pass 15
$285-30520-denier ripstop nylon2 lbs., 5 oz.650-fill down15°F
Rab Mythic Ultra 180$600-7407-denier ripstop nylon14.1 oz.950-fill down32°F
Big Agnes Women’s Torchlight UL 20$350-450Ultralight polyester ripstop with water-repellent finish2 lbs., 5 oz.850-fill down18°F (ISO-rating)
Enlightened Equipment
$355Ultralight nylon fabric (7D or 10D)1 lb., 3.2 oz — 1 lb., 5.2 oz.850 or 950-fill down20°F (not EN rated)
REI Co-op Magma 15$429Pertex 15-denier ripstop nylon2 lbs., 3.6 oz. (medium size)850-fill down9°F (ISO-rating)
Mountain Hardwear
Phantom 15
$580-61015-denier ripstop nylon2 lbs., 0.6 oz.800-fill down15°F
Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 15$320-34020-denier recycled nylon2 lbs., 6.5 oz.800-fill DriDown16°F
Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 20$609-629Pertex Endurance UL1 lb., 8 oz.950+ fill goose down20°F (not EN rated)
Montbell Down Hugger$499GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper1 lb., 3.6 oz. 900-fill down32°F (ISO-rating)
NEMO Disco 15$320-35030-denier ripstop nylon2 lbs., 15 oz.650-fill down17°F (ISO-rating)
Sea to Summit Flame 25$359-60910-denier nylon1 lb., 7.5 oz.850-fill goose down14°F (ISO-rating)
Therm-a-Rest Hyperion$430-52010-denier ripstop nylon with DWR1 lb.900-fill down32°F
Western Mountaineering AlpinLite$670-71512-denier ripstop nylon1 lb., 15 oz.850-fill down20°F (not EN rated)
Rab Neutrino 600 $49520-denier Pertex Quantum recycled nylon ripstop with DWR2 lbs., 2 oz.800-fill down10°F (ISO-rated)
best sleeping bags for backpacking
GearJunkie’s reviewers giving each sleeping bag a proper test; (photo/Eric Phillips)

How We Tested Backpacking Sleeping Bags

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 our readers do.

Not only do we have decades of experience among the lot of us, but we are also critical and perceptive to the nuance of the needs of 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.

Editor-in-Chief Adam Ruggiero, a seasoned hiker, bikepacker, and all-around outdoorsman, broke trail with this guide in May 2020, wrangling together our initial selection of 11 top-shelf sleeping bags. Tester Chris Carter took over the reins in 2022, and has been poring through online catalogs, bugging the pros, and hustling to gear shows to narrow in on the most current, deserving selection possible.

Chris has significant experience cocooning himself in down burritos, having thru-hiked the Triple Crown of long trails in the United States: the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. He knows the importance of a sound night of sleep on a backpacking excursion, and doesn’t skimp on any element of his sleeping kit.

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.


An appropriately rated sleeping bag is key for getting a warm, full night’s rest and waking up ready to tackle another day on trail; (photo/Chris Carter)

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 Co-op 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 Co-op Magma 15. This bag packs down to three liters and weighs just 2 pounds, 3.6 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 180 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 180 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 NEMO Disco, which stands out because of its expandable zippered gills that increase the bag’s circumference — 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 10 L 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 3 L listed pack size in the regular length. Compare that to the NEMO Disco at 6.2 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 180, 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.

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 Co-op Magma 15 and Rab’s Mythic Ultra 180 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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