We’ll say it again: A good sleeping bag can be one of the most crucial investments an outdoorsperson makes. Choose a sleeping bag wisely, and it will fit your body shape and chemistry perfectly. It will suit your activities and weather conditions. Extra comforts will add a slice of luxury to rugged adventures for literally decades.
But choose blindly and you risk losing comfort, money, and sleep. Don’t fret — that’s why we’re here. In addition to all the sleeping bags we’ve tested while camping the past year, we took more than 20 sleeping bags from top brands into the mountains of Colorado for a thorough camp gear test. Our goal: Find the best sleeping bags on the market right now. And not just our favorite, but also bags that meet the needs of the budget-conscious, ultralight enthusiasts, side-sleepers, and more.
To evaluate the best sleeping bags, we took key performance factors into account, like warmth-to-weight ratio, temperature rating, construction, and features. But we didn’t limit ourselves strictly to new sleeping bags on sale this year. Instead, we used the “REI factor”; basically, if you can buy at REI right now, it’s eligible for the test.
Got it? Good. Check out this year’s picks for Best Sleeping Bags and let us know if you love a bag you don’t see so we can test it in the future. And check back next year for our updated list, too!
Our top picks are divided into men’s, women’s, ultralight, and budget-friendly. We also included some select honorable mentions. Each has its own benefit for certain types of campers and sleepers, as you’ll see.
When it came to warmth, features, and overall feel, nothing topped Sea to Summit’s Ascent sleeping bag. We tested the 15-degree bag, but it is also available in zero- and 25-degree versions. While the Ascent’s 750-fill down means it won’t pack down as small as higher-loft bags, it provides a plush, comfy cocoon when open. Its large hood left ample room for a camp pillow or to shift your head without the bag constricting.
Similarly, Sea to Summit employed vertical baffles along the torso to prevent the down from shifting around when you do. And shift you can, because this bag is roomy! I don’t move much in my sleep, but I appreciated the Ascent’s generous shoulder and hip room; I’m 6’3″ with broad shoulders.
The Ascent also has a full-length zip on one side and a half-zip on the other, so those who run hot can flip the front down to vent quickly, or leave the sides open to vent more slowly. Plus, a foot zip gives those who regulate by exposing a few toesies an option. There’s also an internal phone pocket to help keep batteries from dying due to overnight cold temps. And last but not least, the 20-denier nylon shell felt silky but not insubstantial. More testing will yield a true durability grade, but we expect this to work well through years of use.
Weight (regular/long): 2 lbs. 7 oz./2 lbs. 10 oz. (15-deg); 1 lb. 14 oz./2 lbs. 1 oz. (25-deg); 2 lbs. 15 oz./3 lbs. 3 oz. (zero-deg)
The nights ran cold in Colorado’s Front Range, and, as a definitively cold sleeper, a few of the bags we tested did not stand up to temps in the teens. The Flame Ultralight was the saving grace in the bunch. Granted, it was also the most expensive bag in the bunch. But with this bag, you get what you pay for.
The bag is, as its name implies, ultralight, yet the amount of loft is impressive. It’s poofy, comfy, and squishy. And that squishiness packs down into a bag that’s about the size of a Nalgene. The bag has a great feel to it, and the bulk keeps noise down. The zipper is quality and designed not to catch.
It’s a simple bag — not too many bells and whistles. I’m 5’6″, and the regular-length bag still allowed room for movement without being too constricting. The 10-denier shell is lightweight, and I’m interested to see how the durability of 10-denier stands up over time. But this bag was by far the most comfortable and true to its temp rating. And as someone who likes to backpack solo, a 15-degree bag at under 2 pounds is a serious selling point. This is a great bag for the serious outdoorswoman. Hands down, this is both the best overall bag and the best backpacking sleeping bag for women in the bunch.
Weight (regular/long): 1 lb. 15.4 oz./2 lbs. 3 oz. (15-deg); 1 lb. 7 oz./1 lb. 10 oz. (25-deg); 1 lb. 2 oz./1 lb. 4 oz. (35-deg); 12 oz./14 oz. (48-deg)
Therm-a-Rest knows how to keep ounces at a minimum. We know this from its sleeping pads, and the brand’s backpacking sleeping bags prove no exception. In our test, no backpacking sleeping bag packed down into a smaller stuff sack or proved as svelte as the Hyperion. Weighing a scant 1 pound 4 ounces for a size regular, the Hyperion definitely merits consideration from lightweight backpackers.
This bag does not overwhelm users with extra features — a single full zip provides access and the lone venting option. The Hyperion does sport two removable straps that help keep a sleeping pad from shifting during use. And a sleeping pad is a must here, as Therm-a-Rest saves weight by strategically placing 70 percent of the down fill along the top and sides, and just 30 percent underneath.
Not only did Kelty win best budget sleeping bag, but it also proved the most surprising option we tested. Under $200 for a legitimate sleeping bag is dirt cheap. And with the Cosmic 20, Kelty managed to make a solid bag that is both comfortable and packed with some handy extras.
Whereas zippers often provide an easy place to reduce costs, the Cosmic 20’s zips were large and easy to grab but didn’t snag in our tests. This 600-fill bag felt plush and cozy, but it wasn’t restricting. So those with broad shoulders may consider this option. The mummy hood cinched down very comfortably, and an external accessory pocket is perfect for a cellphone.
The Cosmic offers a dual-zip along one side for venting, but that’s it. And like the Ascent, 20-denier nylon lends a satin-like feel. The trade-off with this budget bag is the down — 600-fill keeps the Cosmic 20 from winning any packability awards. But for the price, this is the best bag we tested.
Down can be expensive, and I’ve spent the past 5 years in a zero-degree synthetic bag that has held up to a ton of abuse and has kept me warm in a ton of oddball circumstances. I also (weirdly) prefer the denser feel of a synthetic bag; it’s a bit more like sleeping under a hefty blanket, which is my at-home go-to.
With synthetics, you often hear complaints of weight. But compare weight and temps to the best overall bags we chose, and the Igniter isn’t that far off, maxing out at 2 pounds 12 ounces with a 20-degree rating. Its Climashield APEX synthetic insulation is designed to keep its loft and keep you warm, even in wet conditions.
This bag also feels intensely durable. The abrasion-resistant Pertex 20-denier shell is burly, and a DWR treatment further pushes its water-resistant features into a selling point. The packability of synthetic just can’t match down, but again, that’s not too big of a deal depending on use scenarios. This could be a great bag for overnight canoe trips, occasional backpacking, emergency car kits, and car camping — and it could easily do it in three seasons.
Don’t sleep on Sierra Designs — unless you’re literally sleeping. The brand that helped pioneer quality gear for the outdoors offers some very affordable, dialed options that are both accessible for new adventurers and will continue to meet their needs as they gain experience.
The California-founded brand has an array of down and synthetic sleeping bags and quilts. We tested the 20- and 50-degree Synthesis mummy bag. And it proved an exceptional synthetic bag. Zippers on both sides provide great venting options. And Sierra Designs’ patented, zipperless, vented footbox allows users to flick out their feet without leaving the comfort of the bag. Combined, the footbox and side zips permit a wide range of sleeping positions (shown above). Best of all, the bags are very affordable to boot.
The word that comes to mind with this Big Agnes women’s bag is “techy.” Here’s a list of the things you get with the Daisy Mae: free range hood, pillow barn, free range footbox, zipper garage, DownTek, and interior loops. And that’s not even all of it. The bag sounds kind of like a software engineer’s hobby farm when you read off all its features.
That being said, it’s fun. This bag has my favorite cellphone pocket by far. And it abides by an improved sleep system that incorporates the bag with the pad, ensuring you three stick together all night long in a sleepy, comfy ménage à trois. I like the loft of the bag, but personally, I like my bag to move with me rather than stick to the pad, and I prefer down all the way around because of this.
With all the tech specs, this bag runs comparatively heavy. But Big Agnes sleep system die-hards will love this new-to-market bag. And it’s great for couples, as the brand’s bags are designed to zip together to easily create a double sleeping bag.
The wildcard in our test was KUIU — after all, you won’t find this brand in REI. But one of our editors is an avid hunter, and he swears by his zero-degree KUIU Super Down bag. And it makes sense. After lying in it, I found this bag is a veritable sanctuary in the bitter cold (he’s used it well below zero). And given the high-quality down, it’s not bad even on moderately warmer nights if you simply zip it open and use it as a comforter.
With 865-fill down, this sleeping bag packs down very small given its super-plush, extremely warm profile. And while it looks big on the outside, this bag hugs the sleeper inside. So we don’t recommend it if you know you’ll be shifting a lot overnight. But if warmth is key — and the price is of no concern — this is a bag worth looking into.
No list of best gear would be complete without Patagonia. Whatever else you think of the outspoken and unapologetic brand, Patagonia makes great stuff. And this sleeping bag is no exception. The 850-fill down sleeping bag could easily win as some people’s favorite bag.
Not only is it a warm and highly packable 19-degree sleeping bag, but Patagonia bucks the side zip trend with a center zip. And we love it — it makes entering, exiting, and venting the bag much easier. Overall, this is a simple but bomber option. If you don’t mind paying the Patagonia premium, you won’t be disappointed.
If weight is king and you’re a side sleeper, Therm-a-Rest’s Vesper Quilt is the way to go. While not a true sleeping bag, the Vesper merits a look among ultralight enthusiasts. Laughably lightweight, the Vesper must be paired with a sleeping pad. And like its Hyperion cousin, two straps adhere the quilt to a sleeping pad.
But that’s about it. Besides a small footbox, the Vesper does not encase sleepers with any zippers or backing. That said, high-loft 900-fill down provides a soft, warm cover from evening chills. Look here if grams are your main concern.
For the money, it’s hard to outperform REI gear. As a retailer and producer, REI can skirt a lot of the overhead and markups other brands navigate. REI’s Magma line of sleeping bags are stellar, approachable, and, while not the absolute cheapest, very high quality for the money.
We tested the men’s 30-degree, though REI makes the Magma in both men’s and women’s in 15-degree and a quilt. At 850 fill-power, the Magma is plenty packable and light. It also sports an aggressively curved full-length zipper that allows sleepers to fold down more of the bag with a single zip and makes one-handed zipping easier.
NEMO wins the award for most unique design. Designed with lightweight backpackers in mind, the Kayu sports a pair of “gills” that can be unzipped to help dump heat without exposing the sleeper with the main zipper.
The Kayu, available in 15- and 30-degree options, offers a noticeably snug fit. This one is not for shifting around. But a cord guide along the hood marks a very conscientious touch by NEMO to keep sleepers from being poked in the face. Clearly, the brand considered novel design concepts to maximize comfort without impacting weight.
If you’re counting grams and not shifty, the NEMO Kayu should be on your list. And if you’re looking for a budget bag with gills, read our review of the NEMO Kyan 35 Synthetic Sleeping Bag.
Big Agnes made a splash when it added a clever sleeping pad sleeve to its sleeping bags. Since then, then brand has leveraged that innovative idea into a host of outdoor products, including tents, luggage, puffy jackets, and more.
But at its core, Big Agnes is a sleeping bag brand. Other brands have since copied some form of the sleeping pad garage, and Big Agnes can no longer set itself apart in that respect. But the Anvil Horn, available in zero-, 15-, 30-, and 45-degree ratings, still merits consideration. Vertical baffles throughout better accommodate shifty sleepers.
But the real note here is the Anvil Horn’s mate-ability. Buyers can choose left- or right-zip options and then pair opposite bags — great for couples.
Weight (regular/long): 2 lbs. 9 oz./2 lbs. 14 oz. (30-deg); 2 lbs. 2 oz./2 lbs. 5 oz. (18-deg) 1 lb. 12 oz./1 lb. 15 oz. (45-deg); 2 lbs. 2 oz./2 lbs. 7oz. (30-deg); 2 lbs. 8 oz./2 lbs. 12 oz. (15-deg); 2 lbs. 15 oz./3 lbs. 3 oz. (zero-deg)
Maybe the best zipperless sleeping bag you can buy, Eddie Bauer’s Flying Squirrel is as comfy as it is simple. Only available in 40-degree, the Flying Squirrel is not for those planning winter or deep shoulder-season expeditions. But for those who don’t chill easily and want a dynamic summer sleeping bag, this is it.
Packable 850-fill down graces the FS’s slim vertical top and horizontal bottom baffles. But the real seller here is freedom to move your arms, shift, and generally sleep like you would in your own bed. And it’s sub-2 pounds, with a very small pack size to boot!
REI’s synthetic sleeping bag, the Zephyr competes on price with the likes of Sierra Designs. No frills here, just a basic bag that provides the price and water-fighting advantages of synthetic fill.
For the money, this is a worthy consideration for beginning, fair-weather campers. Plus, it’s available in men’s, women’s, and kids’ sizes in both 30- and 20-degree ratings.
Sea to Summit may have crushed the Best Overall for 2019, but they also have a great runner-up in its smartly designed women’s-specific Journey bag. We like the 18-degree for a flexible summer sleeping bag that can serve multiple purposes. And our favorite aspect is the bag’s ability to fully unzip into a quilt. The increased versatility of a bag that can be completely unzipped can’t be understated. It’s a great touch.
The brand also added extra loft at the feet (#yasss) and down chambers that map to a woman’s body. The double zipper is burly but can also allow you to vent or stick your feet out of the bag on warmer nights. It’s also able to zip into another’s bag for a snug session.
And this bag is snug. It was tight through my shoulders and didn’t allow for much wiggle room. Anyone taller than 5’6″ should opt for the long.
The Parsec stands out in Therm-a-Rest’s stable of otherwise low-profile and airy sleeping bags. With thick, cushy baffles and a declarative yellow color, this bag makes a statement.
Roominess is the name of the game here. While it’s a full — and ample — enclosure, the Parsec is easy to turn over in, and those with big shoulders will love it. It also has Therm-a-Rest’s removable pad straps and noticeably smooth zippers. Like most of Therm-a-Rest’s gear, the Parsec packs down well, and its accessory pocket is great for saving batteries in cold weather.
On the downside, the Parsec is not built to vent. And the unique, curving zipper takes some getting used to.
For anyone whose camp adventures will always include a car with plenty of cargo space, The North Face Homestead Bed is a contender — if not an obvious favorite.
This … is a different animal. Loads of synthetic fill mix with a brushed fleece lining to provide a cushy but element-resistant bedding. Though technically a sleeping bag, the top flap completely unzips to provide a campfire comforter. The major downside here, besides its gargantuan weight, is the feel. While comfy at first feel, we found the next-to-skin sensation plasticine and artificial.
This is noteworthy for those who run hot. This is a big, soft oven. That said, if you’re no in no rush to get out of bed, The North Face Homestead Bed provides a plush place to rest your bones.
It’s worth spending a bit of time finding the right sleeping bag. After all, this is a piece of gear that will not only keep you comfortable at night but can easily last through years of use. And while there isn’t a single sleeping bag that’s best for every camper out there, this buyer’s guide will help identify the best bag for you.
Take a moment to imagine your camping future. Do you plan to spend a lot of time in the backcountry? Or do you mostly car camp? Do you sleep outside all year round? Or just in the warm summer months? With this in mind, let’s jump into three important factors for choosing a sleeping bag.
Sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, but it’s not always clear what that number means. Depending on the person, a 20-degree bag might keep you cozy down to 20 degrees, or it might be more of a survival number. Sure, you’ll make it through, but you’ll spend the night shivering instead of snoozing. Women tend to sleep colder than men. And for that reason, women’s-specific sleeping bags tend to be warmer.
The important thing to determine is if you’re a warm or cold sleeper. We recommend cold sleepers choose a bag on the warmer end of the spectrum even for summer camping. Options like the Sea to Summit Flame Ultralight and Therm-a-Rest Parsec were among our resident cold sleeper’s favorite bags.
Packed size is of particular importance when backpacking. Being able to pack your bag into the smallest stuff sack possible means more room for gear (or snacks!). But, related to the point above, you’ll need to balance this with a bag that’s warm enough. Anyone looking to minimize pack weight should consider something like the new-for-2019 Hyperion sleeping bag. This 20-degree bag weighs in at just 1 pound 4 ounces and packs down impressively small. On the other hand, if you mostly plan to car camp, the nearly 5-pound Homestead Bed could be the plush nighttime nest of your dreams.
From extra zippers to “gills that breathe,” there are all types of extra features being added to bags these days. Some are just marketing hype, but many really do make for a better sleeping experience. The budget-friendly Kelty Cosmic has a great cellphone pocket, and the Big Agnes Anvil Horn integrates perfectly with a sleeping pad. Other features to consider are the ability to zip to bags together, extra zippers for venting, and a cinchable hood.
Have a favorite sleeping bag we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.
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