Backpacking sleeping bags

The backpacking sleeping bags find place in a packsack while you explore some natural park and enjoy the beauty of nature. Or see the sunrise between the mountains far from the cities. Or even stay for good periods of time in some wilderness. You must then have a backpack with all the basic gear you need for the journey and some more. You will surely need a sleeping bag, for it will insure a good rest. We have searched the best models available in the US at the moment.

Of course we recommend more mummy sleeping bags to save space in your backpack, and add more thermal insulation. In our view it’s better to optimise the gear we bring with us and choose the lightweight. But if you really want a spacey sleeping bag to move inside and rest in a variety of positions a rectangular one will do the job. All depends on your habits and wants. The central idea is to get the best with the least.

On the contrary camping sleeping bags are carried on cars, directly where a camp will be. Like this the bags can be bigger, heavier and more comfortable. They have commonly more room to move inside, for the torso, arms, legs and feet. The summer models are for the good season. Instead the double models are spacious enough to host two people, like partners or spouses. The budget models come at a discount price, but sometimes have really good features.


Best backpacking sleeping bags

Kelty Cosmic down 20 Degree

Kelty Cosmic - backpacking sleeping bags

Weight: 2Lb. 13oz

Dimensions: fits to 5′ 6″ – 6′ – 6’6″; shoulder girth: 58-62-64 inches; hip girth: 55-57-59 inches

Price: 170$

Tested comfort: 32° F

Cons: doesn’t stand very low temperatures

Pros: confortable, little budget, internal stash pocket

A budget-friendly, light and down bag. Equipped with two zippers, allows to open the bag even from the bottom. It measures 7 x 13 inches when stuffed, and has a filling partly in 550 down, partly in polyester. It’s very good for backpacking beginners and in warm temperatures. An internal stash pocket can keep warm a headlamp or a cellphone. This bag is good for the money you put in, in a three-season perspective, although you could feel some cold in early spring or late autumn.

After sleeping in it, we remark that it’s quite spacious for the shoulders and arms, easy to zip and unzip when you want to get up in the night to light a cigarette. With a little care we avoided to have annoying snags of the zippers who risk to scratch the tissues. Honestly, we use it from mid-spring to mid-autumn, for it’s the period where it gives the best service. For the cold season it’s more likely we’ll need a tougher, thicker bag.

Nemo Disco 15°

Weight: 2 lb. 11 oz.

Dimensions: fits to 72 – 78in. ; shoulder girth: 64-66 inches; hip girth: 59-60 inches

Price: 298$

Tested comfort: 25°F

Cons: a little hard to warm up, heavy

Pros: pillow pocket, spacey, footbox, draft collar

The Nemo Disco 15° is a mummy bag, but spacey enough at the level of elbows and knees to let the user shift positions. The 650 fill down insulation guarantees insulation and warmth, while an integrated pillow pocket allows to stuff some clothes inside and have a support for the head in the night. Note also the “Thermo gills”, that allow venting in the bag without losing temperature. The external nylon fabric is treated to be hydro repellent.

The zipper on the left side allow to unite the bag with another, right-zipped one and create a double “bed”. A draft collar stops cold air from entering inside. It has a 9 x 12 inches size when stuffed. It’s very good to sleep inside comfortably, but is bulkier than other, tight models. Also, a footbox protects the feet from humidity to keep them warm and dry. Finally it has also a lifetime warranty, which is always appreciable.

Egret UL 20/30 Women’s Sleeping Bag

Egret UL 20/30 Women's backpacking Sleeping Bag

Weight: 1 lb. 11 oz.

Dimensions: fits to 5’3″-5’9″in. ; shoulder girth: 54 inches; hip girth: 56 inches

Price: 539$

Tested comfort: 20°F

Cons: high price,

Pros: high quality down, easy to carry and pack

A really light and soft sleeping bag, thanks to the 950+ goose down. It’s specially designed for women, focusing on warmth, with extra filling around the feet and chest. Besides, for more warmth, a collar with an extra layer of down around the neck insures heat preservation. It’s not waterproof, but a normal nylon cover will protect it from humidity. Certainly it’s pretty and well designed, but also expensive, more than the average models.

Certainly the ladies will appreciate the insulation power for any season save winter, and the delicate interior fabric. When you are inside, it seems like staying in a goose pillow (the 950+ down filling is to experience), and continuous baffles go from bottom to top, allowing to shake all the down up to the top of the bag. However when strong wind blows, the feeling of cold will increase despite the down: if happens, better to close the tent.

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30

Weight: 1 lb. 12.6 oz – 2 lbs. 0.7 oz.

Dimensions: fits to 5’3″-5’9″in. ; shoulder girth: 54 inches; hip girth: 56 inches

Price: 235$

Tested comfort: 40°F

Cons: doesn’t protect from down-zero temperatures

Pros: good design, easy to unfold and fold, light

This 650 fill-power down bag is certified with the RDS (Responsible Down Standard) for not coming from animals subjected to unnecessary harm. A draft collar and face gasket prevent cold air coming in and warm one escaping. Also, the zipper shines in the dark and can be easily seen during nighttime. When compressed, the Bishop makes 7.8 litres, which is quite small, and saves room in the backpack. A great and anatomical footbox keeps the feet warm and also quite free to move.

When we slept in the Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30 we felt protected even by the drafts blowing outside the tent. The down stops the air entering up to a point, when the wind has moderate speed. In this bag we see the impact of the down on the general performances: with a higher filling (800-900), certainly the bag would be warmer, but also more expensive. This model is nice and respectable companion for three-season use.

REI Magma 15 – Backpacking sleeping bags

Weight: 1 lb. 12.2 oz.

Dimensions: fits to 72 – 78 in.; shoulder girth: 63 inches; hip girth: 57 inches

Price: 399$

Tested comfort: 28°F

Cons: not waterproof, thin material, not warm enough for winter

Pros: very easy to carry and tiny, good zipper

As a high quality backpacking sleeping bag, the REI Magma has a very good warmth-to-weight ratio. With a  850-fill-power goose down, it’s soft, very light and keeps well the temperature of your body. Its footbox is trapezoidal and insures good feelings. Furthermore it protects the neck and shoulders with an insulated yoke. It’s really easy to carry it in a backpack for long periods of time, even weeks. It can host a little pillow near the contoured hood.

The features of this bag are simple and effective: the internal pocket is ideal to keep a power bank or a headlamp, and the neck baffle is sizeable for different types. Moreover, it gives, while stopping the cold air, a surface to rest in. The zipper is protected by a woven barrier to avoid snags and blockages. While it’s certainly a three-season bag, it’s probably too hot for summer use, and will find its best performance in spring and autumn.

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20

Weight: 2 lb. 6 oz.

Dimensions: fits to 72 – 78 in.; shoulder girth: 60-62-76 inches; hip girth: 56-58-71 inches

Price: 169$

Tested comfort: 20°F

Cons: a little heavy

Pros: zipper with antisnag slider, internal stash pocket

Among mummy models, the Marmot Tresles Elite Eco 20 is made of HL-ElixR Eco Micro recycled synthetic fibers, and offers an alternative to down sleeping bags. Despite of its materials, it’s pretty light and small when packed, approaching the size of the down models. The hood and the bottom blanket insure to maintain the body heat, and it’s a good offer for its price. The sleep in it is more than agreeable, but a few people feel a little tight inside.

At an outside temperature of 28°F, we could sleep in it in short very well. The inside nylon feel silky and doesn’t irritate the skin, even without a tee-shirt. Also, there are zippers on both sides, one on the full length of the bag and one shorter: it’s handy to sleep with and remain ventilated. When stuffed in our bag packs, it takes the size of a football balloon, but leaves quite enough room for clothes, shoes, camping gear, etc.

Western Mountaineering UltraLite

Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz.

Dimensions: length 5’6″ – 6′ – 6’6″ ; shoulder girth: 59 – 60 inches; hip girth: 51 – 52 inches

Price: 540$

Tested comfort: 20°F

Cons: high price, hood closure a little awkward

Pros: very confortable and light, legit draft collar, awesome loft

Probably one of the best 3-season sleeping bags actually on the market, it has a very effective 7 ounces of 850+ fill power down. The temperature-keeping power is increased by the draft collar, controlled by a drawstring. While being very light and warm, it has a packed size of 8,7 litres, for it contains a good amount of insulating down. A pity it cannot withstand frosting temperatures, because with that it would be perfect.

The bag is built with horizontal fabric containers, or baffles, where the down rest. You can move the down along these to move the insulating material up or down the bag depending on the conditions. Finally, the overall price tag is high, tough. Obviously this bag is high class, but, if used properly can last for more than ten years. We have other bags we bought in 2009 and they’re still in a very good state, and received very little repairs.

Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20°

Backpacking Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20°

Weight: 1.9 lbs.

Dimensions: length 5’6″ – 6′ – 6’6″ ; shoulder girth: 63 – 64 – 65 inches; hip girth: 55 – 56 inches

Price: 585$

Tested comfort: 25°F

Cons: high budget, very warm for summer

Pros: versatile, lightweight, good loft

The Alpinlite is a  wider-fitting, extra comfortable mummy, backpacking bag conceived for cold temperatures in winter. It’s great in every aspect, from its weight and ability to withstand freeze to a really tiny packed size. This bag is almost not felt when stuffed in the backpack, and won’t slow you down when travelling in some long trip. It’s a little larger of the Western Mountaineering Ultralite model and allows to move more the legs and feets.

The zipper is put in line with hard materials to avoid snags; the draft tube, hood and collar work very well. The 850+ down fill is of superior quality, likely to last for many years. Being so light, it’s appropriate for backpackers who need to transport a lot of stuff with them, like 60-70 pounds of gear. On the contrary the budget for this bag is quite expensive, so it’s better to buy it for real, frequent use. Surely mountain guides or outdoor workers will use it the most.

Sea to Summit Spark – Backpacking sleeping bags

Sea to Summit Spark - backpacking sleeping bags

Weight: 19 ounces

Dimensions: length 6′ – 6’6″ ; shoulder girth: 58 – 60 inches; hip girth: 50 – 52 inches

Price: 339$

Tested comfort: 28°F

Cons: doesn’t withstand cold season, a little narrow

Pros: very light and easy to carry

Truly a most small packing bag and light, the Sea to Summit Park is a good choice for those who want to spare a maximum of space in their knapsack or have a second sleeping bag around. The 850+ fill-power Premium goose down is great, but keeps you warm from late spring to early autumn, and no more. Even in summer, if you sleep outside the tent, you may feel the wind passing through the external tissues.

The main convenience of this model is the extreme portability. It’s almost not felt in a knapsack and when stuffed is really tiny. The outer fabric is treated with a durable water repellent finish, who honestly blocks droplets and humidity, but we don’t think would stop even a light rain. We tested the bag, sleeping at 27-28°F, and it was really hard to rest without a liner and a warm suit. For late autumn and winter, it’s better to take another bag.

Zpacks Classic 20°

Backpacking Zpacks Classic backpacking sleeping bags

Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.

Dimensions: length 5’6″ – 6′ – 6’6″ ; shoulder girth: 55 – 60 – 65 inches; hip girth: 55 – 60 – 65 inches

Price: 449$

Tested comfort: 10, 20, 30°F

Cons: no hood to warm the head, small foot box

Pros: waterproof stuff sack, ultralight,

The Zpacks Classic is another example of very good manufacture combining lightweight and warmth. Its fluffy 900 fill power down filling is inserted in box baffles and keeps the temperatures very well. The only problem is that without a hood, in cold times you need to wear a hat or a hooded jacket in order to protect your head. The foot box is also a bit tight and feets are a little compressed. No draft tube covers the zipper.

Among backpacking sleeping bags, this comes with three temperature ratings: 10, 20, 30 degrees. We tested the 20°F one at 20-25°F and found it held the warmth, but not completely. Sleeping was uneasy and we woke up from time to time, and felt the air in the face. The absence of a hood is greatly felt. Finally, by wearing more warm underwear we were fine. To conclude, it’s a robust three-season backpacking sleeping bag, great also for not-so-cold winters.


Conclusion on backpacking sleeping bags

We have briefly reviewed some of the finest backpacking sleeping bags at the present day. Surely there are other great models and we plan to add more useful information and tests in other pages. Maybe the biggest novelty in the years to come will be a new generation of synthetic, warmer and more efficient bags. By doing a great deal of mountaineering and hiking, we realise the importance of choosing the right gear for the right season.

These bags are not the whole show, though. If you are interested something warmer, to withstand lower temperatures, we have made a review of sleeping bags for cold weather and winter too. You can check it to see if there is something you like. They are thicker, more insulated and waterproof, ready for winter activities. Finally, there are also the ultralight ones, privileging portability and versatility, for fast traveling while hiking or climbing.

Diamond sleeping bags