Best Sleeping Bag (2018) | Backpacking Sleeping Bags | Mountain IQ

Best Sleeping Bag 2018 – Expert Review and Comparison Table

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Looking for the best sleeping bag for your next adventure?

Whether you are looking for the best overall sleeping bag, the best ultralight sleeping bag, or a great budget sleeping bag, we have you taken care of.

Start with our comparison table and if you want more detail then dive into our full sleeping bag reviews.

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Best Sleeping Bags For Hiking & Backpacking

Gear

Rating

Warmth

Weight

Fill

Price

#1

Western Mountaineering MegaLight

(Best Overall Duffel Bag)

Western Mountaineering MegaLite

30°F

1.5lbs

800 fill Goose Down

Best Sleeping Bag - The North Face Cats Meow

20°F

2.69lbs

Heatseeker Pro Synthetic

#3

Brooks Range

(Best Winter Down)

Best Sleeping Bag - Brooks Range Drift-10

-10°F

3.34lbs

850 fill Goose Down

#4

Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL

(Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag)

Best Sleeping Bag - Feathered Friends Swallow Nano 20

40°F

1.19lbs

950 fill Goose Down

#5

Kelty Tuck 20

(Best Under $100)

Best Sleeping Bag - Kelty Tuck 20

20°F

3lbs

ThermaPro Synthetic

Best Overall Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering MegaLite 30

Western Mountaineering MegaLite

5/5 Overall Rating

Scoring 5 out of 5, The Western Mountaineering MegaLite sleeping bag takes the cake for best overall sleeping bag due to its high-quality materials, spaciousness/comfort, and versatility.

This made in the USA bag contains a lightweight shell fabric called “extremelight”. It is lightweight yet remains strong and durable.  Not only is the fabric strong, it will compact to a very small size. The MegaLite also has buttery smooth internal fabric in addition to the fluffy goose down. There is stiff fabric along the zipper for reinforcement to prevent catching and tearing.

With dimensions of 64” for shoulders, 56” for waist, and 39” for feet, you will be able to sleep in any position desired. Those who toss and turn while sleeping, this is the bag for you. If you aren’t a mummy bag person, you will most likely enjoy the MegaLite for its generous dimensions. High-quality nylon fabric and 13 ounces of European goose down will make you feel as cozy as you would be in your own bed at home.

Although this bag comes with a hefty price tag, the MegaLite performs the best in most climates and has an exceptional balance of weight and internal dimensions. At 1.5lbs, this sleeping bag will fit perfectly into your sleeping system. The MegaLite is roomy enough for camping but also compressible for long backpacking and mountaineering trips. With a temperature rating of 30°F, you will sleep comfortably in most cold conditions.

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Main Features
  • Spacious internal dimensions
  • High-quality materials
  • Lightweight and compressible
  • Made in the USA
What we like
  • Top scorer in comfort and versatility
  • Lightweight
  • Great size
What we dislike
  • High price tag
Key Takeaway

If you could buy one bag, the MegaLite does it all. The quality is superb and it is light, packable, spacious, and warm.

Best Value For Money Sleeping Bag

The North Face Cat's Meow

Best Sleeping Bag - The North Face Cats Meow

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The North Face Cat’s Meow is another budget bag in addition to the Kelty Tuck 20 (see below). The Cats Meow at $169, is also synthetic but lighter than the Kelty Tuck.

This is a staple North Face bag that has been around since in the 1970’s. Needless to say, North Face has had plenty of time to perfect the Cats Meow. It is lighter than most synthetic bags, outstandingly versatile, and durable against wet weather.

As a 20°F bag, tests have shown that it is warmer than the Kelty Tuck due to North Face’s Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation. This insulation is quicker at drying than some water resistant down materials. At 2.69lbs, it is heavier but not as heavy as some other synthetic bags.

The bag has features like a full-length glow in the dark zipper, hood, internal pocket, and compression sack. The Cat’s Meow is a top contender for a budget and general-purpose sleeping bag.

Due to its weight, this bag is not recommended for extended trips but best for short-term adventures like camping or kayaking.

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Main Features
  • Quick drying Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation
  • OK warmth to weight ratio
  • Handy features like glow in the dark zipper and compressible bag
What we like
  • All purpose bag at a great price point
  • Warm
  • Perfect for short-term adventures
What we dislike
  • Does not compress well
Key Takeaway

A fantastic price-conscious sleeping bag that you could take on almost any adventure. The Cat’s Meow will you keep you warm and dry, and you’ll never be stuck looking for the zipper at night.

Best Under $100 Sleeping Bag

Kelty Tuck 20/22

Best Sleeping Bag - Kelty Tuck 20

3.5/5 Overall Rating

The Kelty Tuck 20 is a wonderful sleeping bag for its value, design, and price. At $89, you will experience some exceptional features. This bag turns into a wearable cocoon with the opening of the foot box. You are also able to fully unzip the bag to lay flat as a blanket.

This bag has fantastic ventilation and temperature regulation. When too hot, you are able to unzip the foot box completely to allow your feet to ventilate, while your body remains covered.

The temperature rating is at a consistent 20°F as it is insulated with Thermapro Synthetic, designed to retain heat and compress. The Tuck includes many other features like a hood, internal pocket, and anti-snag zippers.

The Tuck is fairly roomy, yet there are no cold spots due to the effective quilt construction. At 3 lbs, the bag is on the heavier side, but not unmanageable.

Synthetic bags generally weight more than down. The Tuck can be compressed but still remains quite bulky. If you are looking for a basic sleeping bag that is inexpensive and will handle warm climates and mild winter conditions, the Tuck is for you.

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Main Features
  • Good temperature regulation and ventilation
  • Hood, internal pocket, anti-snag zippers
  • Thermapro Synthetic
What we like
  • Can be used as a sleeping bag or blanket
  • Under $100 and does everything you need it to do
What we dislike
  • Heavy and bulky
Key Takeaway

This is a great bag at a great price point. Ideal for beginners in camping/hiking or those who need a simple bag and don’t mind the weight and bulk.

Editor's Choice

Feathered Friends Swallow Nano 20 

Best Sleeping Bag - Feathered Friends Swallow Nano 20

4/5 Overall Rating

The Seattle based Feathered Friends Company specializes in custom high-quality down products at a competitive price.

The Editors Choice comes in at a close second to the MegaLite but at a better price. The Feathered Friends Swallow Nano 20 will be in the $429-$450 range as opposed to the $470 for the MegaLite.

Not a huge difference, but every dollar counts.

The Swallow Nano 20 withstands a temperature of 20°F, has 16.8 ounces of 900-fill goose down, and a water-resistant shell. You can’t go wrong with a lightweight bag made of high-quality materials.

However, Nano doesn’t compete with MegaLite’s spacious internal dimensions. Nano has dimensions of 60” at the shoulders, 56” at the hips, and 38” at the feet.

You will feel more constricted in this bag compared to the MegaLite even though they are both mummy style.

Main Features
  • Luxury materials and down
  • Light weight and compact
  • Custom made to order
What we like
  • Better price point than MegaLite
  • High quality
  • Cozy
What we dislike
  • All bags are made to order, longer order times
Key Takeaway

This USA made bag is a strong competitor to the MegaLite. It outperforms in temperature rating, weight, and cost. 

Best Compact Sleeping Bag

Marmot Phase 20

Best Sleeping Bag - Marmot Phase 20

4/5 Overall Rating

The Marmot Phase 20 is comparable to the MegaLite and Swallow Nano 20. It earns gold stars for its weight, packability, and warmth. At 1.44lbs, with a temperature rating of 20°F, and 850+ fill power goose down, you will not be disappointed with the Phase 20. It contains all the inner makings of a fantastic sleeping bag.

The Phase 20 has an excellent balance between weight and warmth. It is filled with 14.1 ounces of down to keep you warm and the down is treated with DWR to be weather resistant. The hood is exceptionally cozy and contains heat. The internal fabric is soft and silky and includes a pocket for your belongings. The full-length zipper allows you to open the bag for ventilation when hot.

The Phase 20 is one of the most lightweight 20°F bags on the market. This is because of its ultralight shell fabric, high quality fill, and low-gauge zipper. It is by no means a “wide” bag but does have adequate room in the shoulders and hip. All of this and it still compacts like a dream. It is lightweight enough to take on extended trips but also insulated to stay at its temperature rating. 

The Marmot phase is designed for three season use. It is just as pricey as the MegaLite or Swallow Nano 20 but it is lighter in weight.

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Main Features
  • Lightweight 20°F bag
  • High-grade materials and down treated with DWR
  • Extremely compressible
What we like
  • 3 season use
  • Usable in various weather conditions yet still compact and compressible
What we dislike
  • Pricey
Key Takeaway

A great value for money 20°F bag, it is superb for its lightweight and compression.

Best Winter Down Sleeping Bag

Brooks Range Drift-10

Best Sleeping Bag - Brooks Range Drift-10

4/5 Overall Rating

The Brooks Range Drift-10 can take anything winter throws at it, at a price of course. This is the most expensive sleeping bag tested at $750.

The drift scores high in warmth, weight, comfort, and weather resistance. It is the best overall winter down sleeping bag. The drift is spacious, has over 2lbs of down alone and remains just over 3lbs in total. Drift achieves the perfect warmth-to-weight ratio.

At -10°F, the drift will have you insulated in 36oz of 850 fill-power down. There are vertical baffles all down the bag, keeping the insulation in place and preventing cold spots. At 3.34lbs, it is a heavier bag but well worth it for the comfort and warmth.

The drift’s interior is spacious and the bag also has a cozy hood and draft collar. There is an internal pocket to hold your belongings.

The Drift is one to beat for weather resistance. The outer shell is treated with DWR (durable water repellent), Downtek (treatment to speed up drying time), and a durable draft tube to prevent any moisture from entering through the zipper.

These 3 levels of defence make this bag perfect for winter camping, ski touring, and mountain climbing. The drift utilizes the highest quality materials and remains reasonably light in weight. The price certainly reflects this. 

Main Features
  • Excellent weather resistance
  • Spacious and warm
  • Extra comfortable with 2lbs of goose down
What we like
  • Perfect warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Comfortable
  • Perfect for winter treks and skiing
What we dislike
  • Price tag
Key Takeaway

The drift is amazing at keeping you warm and comfortable in the coldest and wet of conditions. With its warmth-to-weight ratio, it is difficult to beat and the price is up there to show for it.

Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag

Feathered Friends Flicker 40UL

Best Sleeping Bag - Feather Friends Flicker 40UL

4/5 Overall Rating

At a weight of 19.01oz and still versatile enough to use in warm or cool conditions, the Feather Friends Flicker 40 UL easily tops other ultralight bags on the market. This bag is extremely lightweight and has 950+ fill down.

With this bag being so lightweight, it packs down to a size where you might even forget you are carrying it. The shell fabric is also naturally water resistant which will never wear off.

There is great attention to detail in this bag. Especially in the durable full-length zipper, neck collar, and drawcords at the foot box and neck collar.

There is no hood in this mummy bag, so you are able to fully unzip it for it to become a blanket for two. This is especially handy in warmer climates. The Flicker is 6’ 6” long as a blanket and 6’ long when the foot box is cinched. This is plenty of room for anyone who is up to six feet tall.

This bag takes gold for versatility. Not only could you use this as a standard mummy sleeping bag, you could use it as a blanket, or even wrap it around your body while at the campfire.

The beauty behind the Flicker is that is multi-purpose and ultralight. If you will be sleeping in colder climates, Feather Friends offers a 20°F and 30°F version of this bag. There are also wide and long versions available.

Main Features
  • Ultralight at 19.1 oz
  • Naturally water resistant
  • Versatile for warm or cold climates
  • Can be used as a sleeping bag or blanket
What we like
  • High quality
  • Lightweight
  • Multipurpose
What we dislike
  • 40°F temperature rating, not as warm as other bags
Key Takeaway

A brilliant lightweight and versatile sleeping bag. Ideal for those who want a very compact bag and won’t be in exceedingly cold climates.

Best Sleeping Bag For Women

Rab Neutrino 400-Women's

Best Sleeping Bag - Rub Neutrino 400-Womens

4.5/5 Overall Rating

If you are a woman in the market for a new sleeping bag, the Rab Neutrino 400 is an amazing lightweight bag that will fit perfectly to your shape. At 28oz, the Neutrino 400 nails the warmth to weight ratio.

You can expect a shorter bag than a typical men’s one, which allows for more down per square inch. This means a warmer bag and less dead space.

Rab has specifically created a down for their Neutrino line that is hydrophobic. Meaning that it will not absorb water, dry faster, and retain its shape for longer. 

All of Rab’s down is ethically sourced and traceable under the European and Feather Association Codex.

The Neutrino 400 soft interior fabric has an internal pocket and a cozy hood. It is mummy bag that isn’t too constricting and still remains comfortable.

This bag has an ergonomically shaped foot box allowing for your feet to feel perfectly covered and cozy. It compresses to a small size and remains super light at 28oz.

At $385, this is the best of the best women’s bag for a backpacking or mountaineering trip. It is perfectly contoured to a women’s figure, warm, lightweight, water-resistant, and compressible. Pair it with a sleeping pad and you have a 3 season backpacking bag.

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Main Features
  • Three season bag
  • Shorter bag for a women’s shape
  • Ethically sourced down and more down per square inch
What we like
  • Lightweight and packs to a small size
  • Ethically sourced hydrophobic down and a bag catered to women
What we dislike
  • Pricey
Key Takeaway

A versatile women’s sleeping bag, designed for fit and comfort. It is excellent for long backpacking trips due to its lightweight and packability.  

Other Reviewed Sleeping Bags

Western Mountaineering UltraLight 20

Best Sleeping Bag - Western Mountaineering UltraLight 20

4/5 Overall Rating

This is one of the warmest sleeping bags out of the other 20°F tested. It is even warmer than the MegaLite, which is rated the best overall. It weighs 1.81lbs and has 850+ of goose down.

This bag is lighter than the Swallow Nano 20. As a mummy bag, it will be narrow. This is great for temperature regulation and preventing cold spots. This may cause tummy and side sleepers a bit of restriction. This bag also has features like a draft collar and hood.

The shell is made of the signature Western Mountaineering “extremelite” fabric, which is awesome for its lightweight and compression. In fact, it packs down smaller than the MegaLite.

Western Mountaineering does a fantastic job at using the highest quality fabrics, rewarding you with an extra soft interior.

The UltraLite is wonderful for cold sleepers and those who plan on camping in higher elevations. You will not be sacrificing weight and bulk with this bag. It will retain heat perfectly and last you years.

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Main Features
  • Durable and lightweight shell and interior
  • Draft collar and hood
  • Extremely compressible
What we like
  • Luxury bag
  • Delivers warmth and is compact
What we dislike
  • Pricey
  • Narrower than the average mummy bag
Key Takeaway

A top of the line 3 season bag that will last you years if you take care of it. The UltraLite is worth the money if you are an avid hiker and camper and prefer an extremely warm bag.

Sierra Design Backcountry Bed 700

Best Sleeping Bag - Sierra Design Backcountry Bed 700

3.5/5 Overall Rating

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 is an excellent backpacking bag and is more affordable as opposed to the MegaLite and Swallow Nano 20.

At $250, it weighs 1.93lbs, has 700 fill power, and a temperature rating of 35°F. Not only is the bag super comfortable, it offers a roomy interior unlike most narrow mummy bags.

To enhance the roomy interior, the Backcountry Bed 700 has a unique design. There are no zippers or elastic cords, you simply slip in and pull the center flap over you like a blanket. This bag is great for tummy and side sleepers.

The Backcountry Bed 700 is best known for its comfort. The rectangular shape and open flap will provide you a good nights rest. You are also able to put your feet through the bottom opening to allow for ventilation.

The Backcountry Bed 700 regulates temperature well and the down insulated is treated for weather resistance. This bag compresses reasonably well, better than the synthetic North Face Cats Meow at $158.

At a reasonable price, the Backcountry Bed 700 a brilliant backpacking bag. It’s warm enough for cold nights, extremely comfortable and cozy, and but lightweight for long-term expeditions. The design is also different amongst other bags with a flap over blanket.

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Main Features
  • A more spacious rectangular shaped mummy bag
  • No zippers or closures, just a unique blanket flap
  • Warm yet compact
What we like
  • A great price
  • A quality, non-restrictive 
  • Comfortable
What we dislike
  • Not the lightest
Key Takeaway

It’s all in the name. This sleeping bag is more of a bed rather than your typical mummy bag. A great alternative for wanting a quality backpacking bag without paying $500.

Sleeping Bag Buyers Guide - Key Features 

A sleeping bag is one the most expensive things in your pack. A bag should be warm, lightweight, comfortable, versatile, and have helpful features. Read this guide and you will make the right decision.

Today’s market offers some of the best technology to date: the warmest of sleeping bags at the lightest of weight. Sleeping bags range drastically in price, quality, and versatility. It is difficult to know where to start and how to choose the perfect one.

Once upon a time, most hikers would hit the road with a 1-2 season sleeping bag and hope for the best. Now, sleeping bags are designed for 3-4 seasons. This way we can predict exactly which sleeping bag we will need depending on which temperatures we face.

Sleeping bags come in several shapes and sizes. For example, the shapes of bags include mummy, rectangular, semi-rectangular, and age/gender specific. The mummy shape is ideal for maximizing warmth while remaining lightweight. The rectangular shape is most “bed like” and offers roominess and comfort. Semirectangular is the in-between of mummy and rectangular. Age and gender are specifically designed to fit children, men, or women.

There are several ways brands categorize temperature ratings in sleeping bags. They are labeled with comfort, limit, and extreme (average comfortable sleeping temperatures) or seasonal ratings. The seasonal ratings are: one season: 40°F, two seasons: 32° to 40°F, three seasons: 23° to 32°F, and three+ seasons: 14° to 23°F.

There are two types of sleeping bag insulation: down or synthetic. Down compacts effectively and is pricier, while synthetic is bulkier and cheaper.

Here are the key features you should look at when buying a sleeping bag.

Warmth

Your body heat is what keeps you warm in a sleeping bag. Choosing a bag with high-quality insulation will retain that heat and give you a good nights rest.

Sleeping bags insulated with down are the most popular as they are lighter and compact easier. Down bags are fluffier and retain heat, but will absorb moisture in a wet climate. Purchasing a bag with water-resistant down insulation can prevent this issue. Fill power is also something to look for when purchasing a down bag. Anything over 800 fill power is considered high quality down and this is where down sleeping bags become pricey.

Synthetic, a popular campers choice, is a less expensive and more ethical option, as it uses no animal products. Synthetic does not compact well and will be bulky in your pack. Although, it does a better job when it comes to retaining heat when wet.

Top Tip

Choose a sleeping bag that will withstand lower temperatures than what you predict. When expecting near-freezing temperatures, purchase a 20°F bag, not the 35°F. If it becomes too hot, you will always be able to open the bag for circulation.

Weight/Packed Size

Your sleeping bag will be one of the heaviest items you will carry. It’s important you find a bag that gives you the perfect balance of warmth, comfort, and weight. It is recommended that you use a sleeping pad in conjunction with your bag for ultimate comfort. It is important that you are aware of the weight of your pack so you will be able to carry it comfortably. A rule of thumb is to keep your “sleep system” (sleeping bag and pad) under three pounds. You can achieve this with a sleeping bag under two pounds and pad under one pound.

The packed size is how compressed you sleeping bag can be. This depends on the down fill power or synthetic insulation, inner/outer fabric, and other features (zippers, velcro, etc.). When the fabrics are lighter and the insulation is higher quality you will have an outstanding compressible bag.

Top Tip

If you are going to spend more time carrying the bag rather than sleeping inside of it, place higher importance on the weight/bulk of the bag.

Comfort and Fit

The comfort of a sleeping bag relies heavily on your personal sleeping style. If you are a warm/cold sleeper, side, tummy, or fetal position sleeper, you will want extra space to move around or a warmer bag. However, remember you don’t want too much space as this creates cold spots. Down insulation tends to provide more cushion and comfort then synthetic. Add a sleeping pad to make your sleep even more comfortable.

It is a best to physically try out sleeping bags before purchasing to make sure it is the shape and size that you want.

Versatility

When purchasing a sleeping bag, especially an expensive one, you want to make sure you are getting the value you paid for. The bag needs to be versatile in that it can handle various conditions, environments, temperatures, and elevations.

For example, a sleeping bag which has horizontal baffles (the seams running across the bag, keeping the insulations in-tact on the inside), allows one to move upwards if it is too warm, and downwards if too cold. A longer zipper prevents you from feeling constricted and allows your body to vent in warmer months.

Features and Design

A sleeping bag can have many features of design, including shell fabric, draft tubes, zippers, neck baffles, and stash pockets. A simple design element, such as the zipper can really make or break a sleeping bag. If the zipper is poor quality, it can get caught or break, making your sleep uncomfortable and cold. The Marmot Phase 20 and Western Mountaineering Ultralite have excellent quality zippers.

Other features include a hood, pillow pocket, and an internal pocket for your belongings. A hood is crucial in the colder months for warmth and coziness. A pillow pocket is a great addition where you can put clothing for a makeshift pillow. An interior pocket is helpful to keep your phone and other belongings safe. These are all the features that a sleeping bag should have. The more design elements, the heavier the bag.

Stuff sacks come with most bags but they usually aren’t effective. It’s best to purchase one separately so your bag can actually be compressed to the fullest capacity. A sleeping bag liner is also a smart measure to keeping your bag new and clean, it will also add warmth.

Other features to look for:

  • Waterproofing
  • Thickness
  • Solid zipper

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