Cold weather sleeping bags
The sleeping bags for cold weather will preserve you warm in a cold or freezing camping environment. Their filling and fabric are thicker than the common bags and more insulating. And the stitchings are more thigh, the zippers draft-proof, the footboxes warmer. In this page you may expect to see just mummy bags with generous hoods and broad collars, to fit with a drawcord. And also, they are a little heavy, for the surplus filling.
Staying warm all night long is important is for restful sleep. For a little cold during the night may pass, but the quality of sleep can diminish. When the feeling of cold increases beyond a certain threshold, resting becomes impossible. And in cases of severely low figures, hypothermia can occur: the body temperatures goes below 95°F (35°C), with more or less severe health issues. Shivering and mental confusion are some examples.
We already wrote this in another pages, but will repeat it. If you plan to camp or go backpacking in cold conditions, go with some professional instructor or friend, and never alone. Still better, ask first your physician. Cold can sometimes play bad tricks, and we saw many cases of people getting sick or weakening even if nothing serious happened. So play smart, keep a good physical state, and don’t take useless risks.
Cold weather sleeping bags
NEMO Sonic 0
Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz. – 3 lbs. 9 oz.
Dimensions: length of 5’6″ – 6′ – 6.6′; girth shoulder 61″ – 63″ – 65″; hip 56″ – 58″ – 60″
Temperature rating: 0°F (-18°C)
Cons: not so warm at 0°F
Pros: spacious, light, elastic fabric, superb waterproofness
With a shell and liner fabric in 100% recycled nylon and 800-fill-power hydrophobic down, the Nemo Sonic 0 is warm and roomy. While being a mummy bag, it has a wide cut, and allows to turn and toss freely inside. We splept in it in any position, even bending the legs. Of course there there are a big collar and hood to keep the upper head warm, tough without space for an inside pillow. But the pillow can remain outside.
The baffles are vertical in the upper two-thirds of the bag and horizontal at the bottom. This mixed system avoids the filling to concentrate too much in certain zone and leave others unprotected. Two zippered vents are present, to allow fresh air enter when the night is warmer than expected. But the real surprise is it can withstand rain: the nylon fabric is really waterproof, though not completely. The interior down has also an hydrophobic treatment.
All this said, we like it for being portable too, with all its advantages, it’s not too heavy, and when packed, takes 9.5 x 13.5 inches in its stuff sack. But with its excess inside room, the Nemo Sonic 0 has a tendency of being a little less warm than similar, tighter models. With cold weather at 5-6°F, you may need some thermal underwear to rest at perfect comfort. Let’s say that after the first 15 minutes, when the bag is warm, you’ll be at ease.
Western Mountaineering Kodiak MF
Weight: 2.85 lbs
Dimensions: length of 6′ – 6.6′ – 7′; girth shoulder 66″ – 67″; hip 57″ – 58″
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: no internal pouch, expensive model
Pros: very comfortable, great warmth-to-weight ratio
The Western Mountaineering Kodiak MF has enhanced insulation and space. Being a 850 fill goose down bag, the feathers inflate and produce a 6 inches insulating layer over your body. The 0°F is realistic, but, because the bag is spacious, you may need some time to heat the inside to remain really warm. Also, thanks to this extra space, you can keep inside objects you don’t want to catch cold (power banks, thermos with tea, clothes).
The Microlite XP shell fabric is very light, thin and resistant, but we suggest to keep it away from sharp objects, or it could be shred. For sleeping inside, the Kodiak MF allows to move around, even for robust people, but lacks an inside pouch to keep little objects (you can keep them in some other little bag). The zippers and drawstring-equipped-hood block effectively the cold from entering, and we never awakened in the middle of the night.
The weight and size of this bag are really reduced for the thermal efficiency, and we think anyone could carry it on a backpack without trouble. The down is extremely compressible, but remember to always to pull out the bag from the stuff sack and let it “blow up” for an hour before using it. Finally, the Kodiak MF resists well to water, and by keeping a little attention it won’t get wet. It’s a great bag for icy cold weather days.
Feathered Friends Snowbunting- Cold weather sleeping bags
Weight: 2.85 lbs
Dimensions: length of 6 – 6.6′; 60″ shoulder, 56″ hip, 38″ footbox
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: tight, you cannot keep boots and material inside, little hood
Pros: great hydrophobic protection and warmth
At first sight the Snowbunting of Feathered Friends appears like a common, yet good-looking down sleeping bag. The truth is: it has a few uncommon qualities. Besides being warm at 0°F (though it’s perfect for us at 5°F) and quite easy to transport, weighting 2.85 lbs, it’s waterproofness is awesome. Rains and storms cannot make it wet, and neither snow: definitely it’s impervious to downpours, and perfect for cold weather.
It gets rapidly comfortable inside, for it’s quite tight: there is not much empty space left. Sadly, we cannot put in gear as boots or clothes to keep them warm (in some situations this comes handy). But speaking of sleep, you cannot move around, bend the legs or turn inside: just rest on your back. The collar and hood are surely mild and stop the drafts, but seem a bit little. The internal space of this sleeping bag is really compact.
The zippers are solid and didn’t snag with us, and the insulation has been satisfactory even in freezing, end-year nights. Now, do we recommend it? Yes, if you want to get warm rapidly after going to bed, backpack light and rest sure not to get wet, even if some water spills on the bag. On the other hand, if you want to turn inside during the night and bend and stretch your legs, you should look for a more spacious model.
Sea to Summit Basecamp Synthetic – Cold weather sleeping bags
Weight: 2lbs 15.3oz
Dimensions: length of 6′ – 6.4′; girth shoulder 76″ – 82″; hip 75″ – 80″
Temperature rating: 10°F and 20°F
Cons: not suitable for extreme cold weather
Pros: complete zipper system, can be transformed in a quilt
This model deserves our attention for having a special technology. Its synthetic filling, a fibre called Thermolite, imitates the physical properties of down to obtain insulation and lightness. This material is protected by a water-resistant nylon fabric, and creates a loop-like structure to trap pockets of air. Actually, it works, and we appreciate the quality of the internal nylon tissue. It has the cost of a synthetic bag with features of a down one.
Three zippers at the sides and bottom of the bag can open at the same time to ventilate the inside, transform the bag into a quilt or combine the bag with another (same model) and create a double bag. That’s versatile, and these zippers solide. Also, two elastic straps maintain, if properly positioned, the sleeping pad at its place. A further positive note is given for the pillow coming with the bag: we didn’t have to get another one fitting in.
All this said, the Sea to Summit Basecamp is roomy, warm, even at 10°F, though we use it always with a cotton liner. It’s alright to move inside, turn during the night and stretch arms and legs. Yet it’s not really a down bag, and it has some (acceptable) weight and size (8.8 liters stuffed): some hikers could find it a little heavy. Also, under 10°F it’s simply not enough. If you need to keep up with lower temperatures, look for another model.
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0
Weight: 2 lbs. 10.6 oz.
Dimensions: Inside Length: 80-92 in. / Shoulder Girth: 56-60 in.
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: a little narrow, especially for big-sized people
Pros: really light and warm
The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 is great for mountaineering, winter hiking and camping, thanks to its reduced weight and stuffed size (9.7 liters). The filling is in 850 power down, while the shell in recycled nylon: with this, the load in the packsack remains modest, leaving space for other materials. On the temperature side, we slept in it with a simple pyjama and found its rating really honest. We were comfortable at 0°F, even with wind.
The exterior fabric is windproof and waterproof, avoiding the need for an exterior Gore-Tex membrane. On the other side, the interior down is not water-resistant: a pity, for it would have added more value. As we already said, the bag is very lightweight, meant to be very portable. On the other hand, it’s a mummy model, and you cannot turn around inside: some people, specially those with large shoulders, may find it tight.
There isn’t the space to store a jacket or boots inside, just tiny objects in the inside pouch. Interesting to note, this bag comes with a side zipper, on the left or right side. A left-side bag can combine with a right-side one to become a double. To conclude, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 is really good for hiking with low temperatures, camping in the cold and travelling with a light packsack. Yet the space inside is limited.
Western Mountaineering Versalite 10
Weight: 2.13 lbs.
Dimensions: length 5’6″- 6’6″; Inside Girth shdr/hip/foot (in): 62″/53″/39″ – 63″/54″/39″
Temperature rating: 10°F
Cons: not waterproof, quite high price
Pros: spacious, very light and warm
With the Western Mountaineering Versalite 10 we touch another sleeping bag privileging comfort and ease of transportation. As a mummy bag in 850-fill goose down, by its shape keeps efficiently the natural body heat. And it allows also to move inside, having a relatively discreet room. A warm collar and hood cinch around the head and face to stop the cold outside: but they are so thin that the head remains without support.
If you are used to sleep with a pillow, consider the opportunity to buy one with this bag, or will have to rest with your head bent backward. But if you are hiking and very attentive the weight of your pack, the Versatile 10 is surely very interesting. With a little more than 2 lbs, it’s very easy to carry, almost like a summer bag. Now, is this a real 10°F bag? For us, natural warm sleepers, the answer is yes. It’s a good choice for winter.
However, if temperatures go, let’s say five degrees lower, you will start to fill it. 10°F is not just a measure of comfort, but also of real protection against freeze: under this level we feel the cold penetrating. On the waterproofness level, the score is low: rain and snow penetrate the thin exterior fabric and wet it quite easily. All this said, it’s a bag to consider having for hiking in cold weather, even if the cost is quite high, at more than 600$.
Marmot Trestles Elite 0 – Cold weather sleeping bags
Weight: 3 lbs 8.3 oz
Dimensions: fits up to 72-78 inches; shoulder girth: 62-64 inches
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: not so soft, quite heavy
Pros: affordable, good insulation, waterproof
This very affordable, synthetic-filling sleeping bag enters in our list for its temperature rating and affordable sticker price. The insulation is provided by a blend of three fibers to obtain warmth, loft and soft feel. Despite our initial doubts (synthetic bags are colder than down, normally), we tested this bag at 0°F during a mountain vacation and found it valid. We could sleep with it at 0°F, though wearing wool socks and cap and thermal underwear.
Yet, if you aren’t a warm sleeper and remain in the night without warm clothes, you will probably feel uneasy in it at 0°F. For this is a good bag, but not as other, more advanced (and expensive) models. The water resistance is present, but limited, protecting the bag from droplets and little spills. Otherwise it won’t keep up with intense precipitations: if you want a real protection, get a waterproof Gore-Tex cover to be sure.
The weight on the other side is there, and the volume it takes is considerable: 22.1 liters in to a pack are quite a lot. So, if travelling by car is not a problem, backpacking with it can be uneasy. Verify the space available in your backpack before taking something like this on your shoulders. The zipper system allows to unfold the superior side of the bag to move the arms, ventilate or do some little activity like drinking or texting.
Kuiu Super Down Sleeping Bag 15°
Weight: 1 Lbs 15.7 oz – 2 Lbs 2.7 Oz
Dimensions: fits up to 6 fts, 6 in; Shoulder girth: 62-64 in
Temperature rating: 15°F
Cons: no pillow, quite expensive, not for very low temperatures
Pros: really warm and cozy
The Kuiu Super Down 15°F targets in specific mountain hunters, needing warmth and lightness. But also backpackers can appreciate its qualities, to say: a reduced weight, a waterproof goose down filling and robust exterior fabric. It’s a mummy bag, and leaves no big space to move inside nor to keep the boots warm. But it takes very little time to feel warm inside, and the thickness of the down creates the sensation of serious insulation.
While sleeping at 15°F, we had no problems at all: the hood and draft collar close tight with the string and let no fresh air in. Waterproofness is really good, thanks to the exterior fabric and the interior 850+ fill power down, both treated with a water-repellent. Not all bags have their down prepared in this way, but when is the case, the impermeability becomes great. Its transportation and size didn’t bother us during a (three)days-long hike, for is actually quite light.
The fabric stops also the wind and drafts, which is quite appreciable in case of cold weather and storms. This bag has very good features, but surely comes for a certain budget. While not being the most expensive bag, it’s not cheap. So why to buy it? Hunters and backpackers who want to move fast and with little weight on their shoulders should consider this as an investment to have restful nights and joyful days.
The North Face Green Kazoo
Weight: 3lbs 6oz
Dimensions: Internal Length: 71,5″ – 83,5″; Shoulder Girth: 60″ – 64″
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: not perfectly waterproof
Pros: warm, comfy, compressible
While the North Face is one of the best brands in outdoor gear, the Green Kazoo has taken our attention for its spacey architecture and price. Even as a winter mummy bag, it’s huge and roomy at the level of shoulders and hips, and can hold a thermos of tea or boot liners inside to avoid freezing. Furthermore, you can move inside and stretch your legs after a hard day, especially if you’re hiking or snowboarding restlessly.
The 700-down filling is water resistant, and dries faster than normal down: yet the waterproofness is not complete, and droplets have the tendency to penetrate. Instead the Green Kazoo is windproof, and maintains insulation even with gale. The hood and draft collar seal the warmth inside the bag running over the chest and behind the neck and upper back: they are thick and leave no square centimetre of skin unprotected.
The draft tube behind the zippers is also down-filled, and prevents any cold air from entering. A stiff piece of tissue behind the zippers avoid these getting stuck in the fabric. To do better, it should have a second zipper over the first (this is present on some models for extreme temperatures). While the down of this bag is of a lesser grade than other with 800-900 filling, it’s still very effective in keeping you warm.
Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Dimensions: length of 73 – 80 – 85 in.; girth shoulder 55″ – 57″ – 58″; hip 48″ – 49″ – 51″
Temperature rating: 32°F
Cons: quite tight and relatively expensive
Pros: reduced packed size, very light to carry
We include in this page the Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20 for an advantageous warm-to-weight ratio, tough it fits just to 32°F, which is the freezing limit. It’s a bag appropriate for the not-so-warm season, and for the early spring and late autumn. Protected by 900-fill-power Nikwax goose dow, hydrophobic, the bag kept us warm at 31-33°F, but not below. Certainly the puffed hood helps, and drafts are blocked outside, but it remains a three-season bag.
The real strength of this bag lies in its lightness: it’s one of the most portable models for this temperature rating. Backpackers and travellers won’t almost sense it in the pack, so reduced is its weight, and it’s really tiny also when stuffed. Consider indeed that’s a mummy bag, and a little snug: there isn’t much space to put stuff inside while resting. Therm-a-Rest created a bag purposely to be extremely light.
There is little legroom, a decent footbox and the zipper is half-length: definitely it’s not the most comfortable bag to move or turn inside. The internal space is sacrificed. Also, removable straps help connecting the bag to a sleeping pad. As we said, the focus is on being small. Finally, it’s a good choice for those who want to travel fast and have little burden in their backpack, provided that temperatures don’t sink below freezing.
Conclusion on cold weather sleeping bags
We reviewed some of the best sleeping bags to face cold weather nowadays: the main features we consider are insulating power, wind resistance and impermeability. The intensity of cold can make very good camping, summer, ultralight or backpacking sleeping bags useless at certain temperatures. If you are looking for zero degrees, winter specific sleeping bags, you can check the page we prepared on the subject. You will find interesting models.
The materials and filling necessary to provide sufficient protection from cold weather are expensive: hence the price of these sleeping bags, well above that of budget models, or even the common double ones. The down filling, especially if waterproof, brings up quickly the price tag. As always, consider this money as well spent for a performing gear that will last for years to come and avoid you from catching a cold.