Winter sleeping bags (zero degrees) for the best experience
We made a review of winter sleeping bags choosing the most recent and performing ones. For sure winter is the most delicate season for outdoor camping, with all the issues arising with cold or well-below-freezing temperatures. Then, the sleeping bags in this category have to be warm, windproof, safe, and, if possible, not very heavy. But the cherry on top would be to have them also of little size in their stuff sack and cheap.
In this review you will find winter sleeping bags able to withstand temperatures ranging from 20°F to -40°F or even below. These models are among the best performing ones in the cold season, and amazing to let you rest well. They are warmer than normal summer, camping, ultralight, backpacking or simple cold weather sleeping bags, and aim to deal with various degrees of frost. For sure, with all their benefits, they cost more than average: expect the prices going up.
Indeed, in the light of their cost, they can last properly for fifteen years, with proper maintenance and storage. As usual, we consider outdoor winter camping a special activity for hunters, alpinists, hikers and passionates. It’s to practice with professionals like mountain guides or instructors, in no circumstance alone. Make a checkup with your doctor before doing something like this. You have to be healthy and energetic.
Best winter sleeping bags
Marmot Col -20
Weight: 4 lbs. 7.3 oz.
Dimensions: Regular size: fits up to 72 inches; shoulder girth: 63 inches; hip girth: 56.7 inches
Temperature rating: -20°F
Cons: heavy, no full-light zipper
Pros: great insulation and waterproofness
We start this review with the Marmot Col-20, a bag with excellent, almost unbelievable resistance to wind and water. It’s an elephantic 800-fill-goose-down model with a 44oz filling: that’s a huge quantity, keeping a permanent protective layer between the inside and the exterior temperatures. Thus the -20°F rating is real, and we never had trouble in sleeping on a mountain plateau in the Alps while seriously climbing in winter time.
The outer shell in Pertex Shield® ripstop tissue is very waterproof: rainy snow could not penetrate it even in abundant quantities. As long you don’t rip the fabric and sleep in a normal tent, you won’t get wet. Instead the interior down is not water-repellent, but there is no need at all; the bag is already impermeable. There is space inside: although the general design is of a mummy bag, you can move and turn widely.
More on space
That’s very useful in cold mornings, when you want to change and start to dress as much as you can inside the bag, or keep some gear away from freezing. This extra room doesn’t diminish the heating power of the bag, because the filling is very thick. The hood and draft collar are heavy, and put a deep amount of down around your head and neck. With the cinch cord, it’s easy to close the fabric around the face and stops drafts from entering.
On the weight and volume side, the Marmot Co-20 is quite huge, with 17.7 liters of compressed volume and weighting 4 lbs. 7.3 oz. In reality keeping it in a backpack is not however such big deal, for people in good shape. However the zippers tend to snag sometimes on the draft tubes: it’s like a little glitch. This model is really good for expeditions and spending a good amount of time working and living in cold and harsh climates.
The North Face Inferno 0 – Winter sleeping Bags
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
Dimensions: regular, fits to 72 inches; shoulders girth: 64 inches; hip girth: 60 inches
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: front zipper a little short
Pros: lightweight, the feet are warmer thanks to the footbox
Despite its peculiar name, the The North Face Inferno 0 performs well at quite cold temperatures. The insulation is correct, and we slept even at 0°F in underwear. Entirely with 800-goose-down filling (and a fill weight of 1 lb. 13.3 oz.), this bag is particularly waterproof thanks to two factors. First, the exterior fabric called Neovent Air blocks moisture from entering. Second, the interior down has an hydrophobic treatment, particularly on the hood and footbox.
The front zipper allows to enter and exit easily form the bag, and goes down to the waist. However it’s a little short, not going down to the feet. Also, it’s the only zipper available to vent inside if you feel too warm (it happens at 20°F). The interior space is more than enough to be comfortable and keep near you little objects, just not boots. Piece of cake: an internal pouch helps to keep at hand what you need the most at night.
The draft collar and hood are thick, and with the cinch cord they close on your face sealing thermally the bag. Definitely it’s a good model for alpinism or backpacking in winter times, for its reduced burden and making 23 liters when stuffed (it can be compressed even more). It may take space in your packsack if you travel on foot. But with a decent, acceptable care and washing, such a bag can last at least fifteen years at peak performance.
Sierra Designs Nitro UL 0
Weight: 2 lbs 8 oz
Dimensions: regular length 78in, shoulders girth 62″, hip 56″, foot 40″; long length 84in; shoulders girth 64″, hip 58″, foot 42″
Temperature rating: 15°F
Cons: exterior fabric not impermeable
Pros: good price deal, waterproof down, excellent warmth
The Sierra Designs Nitro UL 0 is another example of ultralight down sleeping bag, ideal for backpacking and hunting, since it doesn’t take too much space in the packsack. The weight is also reduced, and shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. The 800-down filling is PFC-Free and hydrophobic, with the technology Dridown, and the total fill weight is of 26 oz: hence the waterproofness. Instead the shell and liner fabric are in nylon, and soft at touch.
Avoiding heat loss
The draft collar is very effective, as a tube of down resting over the chest to seal the heat inside the bag. So, when moving, the warm air inside isn’t pushed outside. Also, the design of this bag is quite peculiar, for its zipper goes down just to the hip, but to allow some venting, there is a foot vent. So you can open it at the bottom of the bag and let the feet outside if the temperature it’s too warm. This vent is made with overlapping fabric, and yet, when sealed, we didn’t notice any drafts coming inside.
Warm sleepers rest like babies in it at 15°F; cold sleepers a little less, and should aim at getting thermal underwear or another bag. We stuffed this bag in its sack for a final volume of 9 liters: that’s interesting for campers and hikers who need to bring a good deal of material with them. And who, of course, want to keep their packsack light. In conclusion, the Sierra Designs Nitro UL 0 is very interesting for its lightness, insulating power and relatively low price.
Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 0
Weight: 3 lbs. 2.1 oz.
Dimensions: inside length regular: 86 inches; long: 92 inches; girth: shoulders 62, 64; hips 53, 56
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: cannot keep big clothes or objects inside
Pros: inexpensive, DWR shell fabric, zipper visible at night
Mountain Hardwear created another winter down bag, able to face wind and rain, and yet at a little price. On the outside the Bishop Pass 0 has a 20-denier ripstop (resistant to ripping and tearing) nylon shell, enriched with a durable water repellent. Hence the impermeability, strong enough to resist light rains but no immersion in water. Instead the 650-fill-power down weighting 2 lbs. 1 oz. insures the thermal properties.
Speaking of warmth, the Bishop Pass 0 surely insulates well, even at level at the head and neck: and the footbox wraps the feet for no cold feelings. The hood and draft collar have an adjustable face gasket to prevent the cold from entering. The two-way glow-in-the-dark zipper can open at the bottom of the bag to ventilate. To sleep with this bag at 0°F however we recommend to wear a wool cap and socks, adding thermal protection.
While this bag is light, it’s not the lightest in this category, making 3 lbs. 2.1 oz. Anyway, it’s acceptable for the temperature rating and the basic features, like a stash pocket. On the side of the stuffed size, the 11 liters volume is also to considerate while preparing a backpack, and yet comprehensible. The Bishop Pass 0 can resist short periods of exposition to the rain, but after will start to get wet. In submerging it in a lake, it absorbed quickly water.
For a price of less than 350$, the Bishop Pass 0 is interesting: a four-season sleeping bag in down and quite light. About the comfort, it’s undeniably cozy, but there is no space enough to keep inside boots and a lot of material: just little items. Furthermore, it can unite with another Mountain Hardwear bag with a zipper on the other side to create a double one. It has value for campers and hikers motivated to spend some night in harsh winter conditions.
Marmot Never Summer – Winter sleeping Bags
Weight: 3 lbs. 14.8 oz.(regular) – 4 lbs. 1.1 oz. (long)
Dimensions: fits up to regular: 72 inches; long: 78 inches; Girth: shoulders 64, 65; hips 59.1, 59.8;
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: a little heavy
Pros: interesting price, dual zipper
The Marmot Never Summer is a functional, winter sleeping bag with the advantage of having a dual zipper. With it, all the superior part of the bag can be folded and allow more movement to the user while inside. With an outer shell in ripstop nylon and a 650 power down filling of 36 oz., this four-season model offers warmth, and a good amount of room to move and sleep in. First, it’s warm and effective in the cold season.
Sleeping in it is quite snug thanks to its warmth, the presence of a full-length zipper (allowing ventilation) and a frontal footbox zipper (also to ventilate). The hood and collar are warm and thick, but the draft tube behind the zippers is not perfectly hermetic, and some cold air sneaks inside. A possible solution we found for this problem is to wear a thin thermal suit in the bag. With this, you are pretty much sure not to wake up shivering.
The bag is quite impermeable, thanks to the hydrophobic down, yet it’s always best to use it inside a tent or cabin. Having it wet is always a unpleasant trouble. However, sleeping on your side or stomach is largely possible, because there’s enough space, and doesn’t give trouble for turning inside. In conclusion, it’s a good bag for its price tag, even if there are much better bags to use in similar conditions .
Mountain Hardwear Phantom GORE-TEX 0
Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
Dimensions: Inside Length: Regular 87in, Long 93in; shoulder girth: 64in; hip girth: 58in.
Temperature rating: 0°F
Pros: excellent waterproofness and insulation, RDS-certified down, quite light
Here we see a high-class sleeping bag for snow camping and alpine expeditions. Besides having a 850 down filling weighting 1 lb. 15 oz., the shell fabric with the WINDSTOPPER® technology (in GoreTex) is windproof, breathable and highly water-resistant. It can resist to wet snow and good amounts of water. For those who don’t know, GoreTex® is a stretched polytetrafluoroethylene breathable, waterproof tissue, very famous for its high performances.
On the inside, the Phantom GORE-TEX 0 has a nylon tissue, robust and smooth, and a mummy shape. But there is also a good deal of space to keep gear warm near the body, and to move (quite a lot) inside. Thanks also to the anatomical footbox and the big hood our nights in the snow have always been peaceful. The draft collar is very efficient and lets no cold air in. Further, there is also a cinchable face gasket to stop even more the cold from entering.
The zippers are solid, glowing in the dark, and protected with a big draft tube. While this bag has many qualities, its real strength resides in the GoreTex® shell, which gives a superior waterproofness and breathability. Among winter sleeping bags for hiking or stable camping, this one has one of the best possible fabric actually in existence. The downside is its cost, for it’s really a gear for professionals needing the best performance.
Feathered Fiends Ptarmigan EX -25
Weight: 3 lb 12.2 oz
Dimensions: length reg 6′, long 6′ 6″; shoulder 60″; hip 56″; footbox 38″
Temperature rating: -25°F
Cons: high budget
Pros: awesome insulation, very snug
The Ptarmigan EX -25 takes a special place in this review for being a bag for extreme frost. We recommend it for expeditions and mountain hiking, or travelling in very cold countries like the Himalayas or Alaska. The exterior fabric is in Pertex® Shield® , made out of nylon, uniting breathability and waterproofness. Furthermore, it’s very resistant, having a 15 denier with a 40 denier ripstop enhancement.
The inside filling is of 900+ goose down, weighting 1kg: it could seem excessive, but for -25°F, it’s not. The zipper descends to the waist with a thick draft tube, insuring no cold air sneaks in. Sleeping in it is very pleasant, for the taffeta lining is smooth and soft against the skin. We felt toasty at -10, -15 and -20°F in the Alaskan countryside. The hood contours the head and neck with a thick layer of down, and almost seemed not to be in full winter.
However, there are no vents in case it gets too warm. This bag is roomy enough to turn inside and take different postures, and also to keep some gear with you in the night. With some experience, we also changed the majority of our clothes inside before waking up in the morning. The Ptarmigan EX -25 is excellent for camping and backpacking in very cold temperatures, for coming with a little weight and relatively small stuff size (30L).
Therm-a-Rest Polar Ranger -20 – Winter sleeping bags
Dimensions: regular fits up to 6′, long fits up to 6’6″;
Temperature rating: -20°F
Cons: far from ideal waterproofness, quite expensive
Pros: extremely warm, side vents
The Therm-a-Rest Polar Ranger -20 is another bag for artic expeditions and mountain travels. Uniting a great insulating power to a design to avoid cold from penetrating, it’s a four-season bag able to face real frost. While on the outside the ripstop polyester fabric is treated with a water repellent, the filling is in 800 Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™. Besides conferring waterproofness, this down dries much faster than normal down.
Laying in it is really warm: we have been more than toasty even at -20°F. This is also a result of the big hood, snorkel-shaped: it controls the frost created by breath and prevents cold wind from entering. The frontal zipper is backed big a big draft tube, and is almost temperature-hermetic. A baffled pocket around the feet adds comfort by heating really quickly the toes. A sleeping pad can be connected to the bag by special connectors.
With such thermic qualities, the Polar Ranger -20 weighs 3.44lbs. and packs in a 11 liters volume. It’s very portable and light for average people. In conclusion, it’s a striking bag for outdoor life in very cold conditions, where sleeping at an appropriate temperature is vital. We think however the impermeability isn’t the best, for a little water can penetrate, and a Pertex® or Goretex® outer fabric would perform much better.
Therm-a-Rest Questar 0
Weight: 3 lbs 1 oz
Dimensions: fits up to small 66in, regular 72in, long 78in; shoulder girth: 58, 63, 66in; hip girth: 58, 61, 64 in
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: no side vents, medium waterproofness
Pros: very comfy, affordable
This model insures a perfect sleep in the range of 3-12°F. In our experience, to rest well at 0°F you will need some thermal underwear and a cap: the experience of cold sometimes varies for people in different sleeping bags. We appreciate the thick, 20-denier ripstop polyester shell fabric: it’s robust, water repellent and doesn’t tear up very easily. Such tissue withstands any normal manipulation in a normal tent and won’t lose any filling.
Speaking of filling, the Questar 0 has a 650 fill-power Nikwax hydrophobic down, who dries much faster than a normal one. While being a mummy model, this bag has internal space and allows to move in different positions, yet maintaining the internal warmth. A footbox of thick down protects specifically the toes and feet. Furthermore, the draft collar is effective in stopping air leakages from the inside even when moving.
A zippered pocket is present outside the bag: I’d great to keep small objects accessible, but not insulated. For sure this is a winter sleeping bag, useful for intense use. Yet, a higher fill down would add more warm-to-weight ratio and thermal insulation, while being very easy to carry. We think it’s an acceptable gear for its reduced price. However, it’s possible to spend more and get much more in terms of warmth, impermeability and weight.
Feathered Friends Ibis EX 0
Weight: 3 lb 0.8 oz
Dimensions: length reg 6′ 0″, long 6′ 6″; girth 64″ shoulder / 58″ hip / 40″ footbox
Temperature rating: 0°F
Cons: high cost, a little big
Pros: wide and roomy, Pertex® shell, high-fill down
We include the Ibis EX 0 in our list for blending some very good properties in a single sleeping bag. First, the outer shell is in Pertex® fabric, one of the most advanced in terms of breathability and impermeability; and treated with DWR. With this, the bag will remain dry even with frequent bad weather. Moreover, the tissue is thick, with a 15 denier and a 40 denier ripstop: that’s a great deal of resistance for a bag.
Second, a 900+ down filling, weighting 1 lb 12.5 oz, and insuring high thermal retention. This is the best filling quality one can find in a bag. Third, notwithstanding the mummy shape, the Ibis EX 0 is roomy, and can host those who have big shoulders or want to keep a lot of gear inside. With a shoulder girth of 64 inches, you can move a lot inside. The price to pay for this is the bigger volume of the stuffed bag: 17 liters, 15 if you squeeze it.
However, the continuous hood is very warm around the head and the draft collar isolates flawlessly. Among winter sleeping bags, the Ibis EX 0 is very good for its temperature rating, keeps away moisture and rain, and offers space to roll inside. The problem we see is that it’s bulky and can take some space in your backpack (you can find tighter models). Also, it costs more than the average, and may not be for every wallet.
In summary if you’re already familiar with camping and hiking in winter season you will surely appreciate these sleeping bags: they’re one necessary piece of gear for the outdoor adventure. And they give unmatchable comfort. Yes, there are advanced experts in bushcraft and camping claiming they can sleep in the wild in full winter without a sleeping bag, building shelters and lighting slow-burning fires to get warm quickly.
Overall you can find a lot of videos on Youtube with the subject, but we think these methods are extreme and risky: they are just for emergencies. And also the people doing this admit they are sometimes uncomfortable. In essence, winter sleeping bags are the easiest and quickest way to have a restful night when the thermometer goes well down zero and avoid hypothermia. And the warmth they give lasts till the moment you get outside.