Post Summary: The Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking and Camping
Finding the perfect sleeping bag for your backpacking or car camping adventures can seem like an incredibly daunting task. There are so many different brands, styles, degree-ratings, and technical specs to think about and choose from. How do you even start?!
Don’t worry – we’re here to help you! This blog post is packed full of the best sleeping bags for backpacking and car camping. By the end, you will feel equipped to choose a bag that’s perfect for your unique adventures.
Keep scrolling for the best sleeping bags of 2021!
The Best Sleeping Bags For Camping and Backpacking in 2021
This post was written by Adventure Contributor, Whitney Matthews
Best Overall Down Sleeping Bag: REI Co-Op Magma
REI Co-Op Magma 30: $389 (See the Women’s version here)
- Weight: 1lb 12 oz
- Temperature Rating: 16 Degrees (Tested comfort: 28 Degrees)
- Material: 850-fill goose down
If you’re looking for the best sleeping bag for backpacking when it comes to comfort, quality, and price, the REI Co-Op Magma 30 is what you’re looking for.
This down bag was designed for optimal comfort in the shoulders, knees, and foot box – areas that are typically a bit snug in sleeping bags – and packs down to only 1.12oz.
Its packed size is incredibly small! The water-resistant 850-fill down is rated to comfortably withstand 28-degree temperatures, making it the perfect all-around bag for any backpacking adventure.
Best Men’s Sleeping Bag: Stone Glacier Chilkoot 15
- Weight: 2 lbs, 3 oz
- Temperature Rating: 15 Degrees
- Material: 850+ Fill Down
While this bag is pricey, you really are getting ALL of your money’s worth, especially if you’re someone who likes to camp during the colder months.
Weighing in at just over 2lbs, the Stone Glacier Chilkoot 15 may not qualify as an ultralight backpacking sleeping bag on our list (that would be the Feathered Friends Swallow Bag here, weighing less than a pound!), but with 850+ Fill goose down, you can count on this bag to keep you toasty during winter adventures.
This is a 4 season sleeping bag, ready for all sorts of mountaineering adventures. If you love mountain climbing or simply love being outside in the snow, this is the best winter sleeping bag for you.
Need some adventure inspiration? Take this sleeping bag to Sahale Glacier Camp in the North Cascades!
Best Women’s Sleeping Bag: NEMO Disco 30
- Weight: 2 lbs, 5 oz
- Temperature Rating: 30 degrees (Tested comfort: 31 degrees)
- Material: 650-fill down
The NEMO Disco 30 is a great down sleeping bag option for women who love to backpack. It will keep you warm in 30-degree temperatures and packs down to about 2.5 pounds. Nemo sleeping bags are known for their attention to comfort, so if you are a picky sleeper, consider diving deeper into this brand!
The bag has a water-resistant shell with 650-fill water-resistant down feathers and plenty of room to move around while you sleep – perfect for side sleepers! This sleeping bag is known for its extra roomy elbow and knee spaces so you can turn around easily in the middle of the night.
Best Budget Sleeping Bag: Synthetic: REI Co-Op Trailbreak 20 $109
- Weight: 3 lbs, 7 oz
- Temperature Rating: 20 Degrees (Tested comfort: 29 degrees)
- Material: Water-resistant polyester
This synthetic bag is the perfect option for anyone just starting out in backpacking or traveling on a budget. Synthetic-filled bags (opposed to down-filled) are often easier to maintain and a bit more water-resistant, which makes them perfect for overnight trips or a weekend adventure.
The REI Co-Op Trailbreak 20 is a warm, packable, and lightweight sleeping bag, without breaking the bank. This synthetic-filled bag is water-resistant, weighs in at about 3lbs, and will keep you warm in up to 20-degree temperatures.
Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag: SYNTHETIC Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30
- Weight: 2 lbs, 6 oz
- Temperature Rating: 21.6 degrees (Tested comfort: 32.2 degrees)
- Material: Synthetic – HL-ElixR Eco Micro recycled synthetic fibers
As we mentioned earlier, synthetic bags often aren’t as lightweight as down-filled bags, but the Marmot Trestles is one of the lightest synthetic sleeping bags out there, weighing in at just over 2lbs. This makes it an excellent addition to any beginner backpacking packing list!
It’s rated for 20-degree weather and is designed to be breathable and roomy, so you won’t feel super constricted. Still not convinced? This bag is also eco-friendly, made with recycled and chemical-free materials.
Best Cold-Rated Sleeping Bag: Therm-a-Rest Oberon 0F
- Weight: 1 lb, 11 oz
- Temperature Rating: 0 Degrees (Tested Comfort: 14 degrees)
- Material: 800-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down
Are you a cold-seeker looking for the perfect sleeping bag for your winter (or high-alpine) adventures? Look no further!
The Therm-a-Rest Oberon backpacking sleeping bag is a down-filled bag that packs down to 1.8lbs. It’s designed to be breathable and repel moisture while still keeping you warm. Not to mention, it will comfortably keep you warm in below-freezing temperatures (up to 0-degrees, to be exact).
Best Warmer Weather Bag: Marmot Nanowave 55
Marmot Nanowave 55 Summer Sleeping Bag ($70)
- Weight: 1 lb, 8 oz
- Temperature Rating: 55 degrees (Tested comfort: 60 degrees)
- Material: Synthetic – SpiraFil synthetic fibers
If you’re setting out on a summer adventure and really looking to save some weight, then the Marmot Nanowave 55 is the bag you need. It weighs just under 2lbs, and the synthetic fill will still keep you warm even if the environment gets a little wet.
This bag is roomy, ultra-breathable, and perfect for your warm-weather adventures. Take it pack-rafting, desert camping, or simply sleeping out under the stars!
Best Sleeping Bag for Side-Sleepers: NEMO Forte 20
- Weight: 2 lbs, 14 oz
- Temperature Rating: 20 Degrees (Tested comfort: 32 degrees)
- Material: Synthetic – PrimaLoft RISE synthetic fibers (80% recycled)
Any other side sleepers out there?! Turns out, a lot of people like to sleep on their side and often have trouble sleeping in those tight, restricting mummy bags that you think of when you think of backpacking.
But there’s good news for all of us! There are backpacking sleeping bags designed specifically for side sleepers, and the NEMO Forte 20 Sleeping Bag is one of our favorites!
The synthetic insulation is rated for 20-degree weather, so you get plenty of warmth without any added weight or rater-retention. Not to mention, this extra-roomy bag weighs in at just under 3lbs.
Best Versatile Sleeping Bag: The North Face Dolomite One Duo $200+
- Weight: 8 lbs, 13 oz
- Temperature Rating: 30 Degrees, 50, and 15 (depending on the configuration)
- Material: Recycled Polyester fibers
While a double sleeping bag isn’t the greatest choice for backpacking (weighing about 8lbs), it’s a great option for car camping or sleeping in your car road trips! The North Face Dolomite One Duo features interchangeable layers so you can be ready for whatever temps are thrown your way.
There’s a 15-degree configuration featuring two synthetic layers, a 30-degree layer configuration, and even a 50-degree layer configuration. So really, it’s like you’re getting 3 sleeping bags in one.
Best Double Sleeping Bag (2-Person): ExPed MegaSleep Duo 25/40
Exped MegaSleep Duo 25/40 ($219)
- Weight: 4 lbs, 6 oz
- Temperature Rating: 25 Degrees
- Material: Polyester
The Exped MegaSleep Duo is one of the highest-rated and best double sleeping bags for couples. The Exped may not be backpacker-friendly (that’s more for the lighter Big Agnes King Solomon, or the Big Agnes Big Creek 30 Double Sleeping Bag) but it is perfect for the front country.
Pop this in the back of your car with a camping mattress, and you’ve mastered car camping hack number one – a great night’s sleep!
A Few Extra Tips For Choosing The Best Sleeping Bags
What other considerations should you keep in mind when choosing the best sleeping bags? Here are some things to elevate your outdoor sleeping game!
Purchase a Sleeping Bag Liner
If you’re worried that your sleeping bag isn’t going to be warm enough for you, you can always get a sleeping bag liner. It goes inside your sleeping bag and acts as another insulation layer, often adding 10+ degrees to the temperature rating of your bag.
A Cold Weather Sleeping Bag + Liner Not Enough? Here’s How To Layer Clothes For Winter Adventures.
Try Before You Buy
Trying a new sleeping bag before you buy it can be the smartest way to choose the right bag. There are no “best sleeping bag brands” because it’s all about your own personal comfort! Not one bag suits all people, so it’s important to try out several bags.
You can test sleeping bags in several ways:
- Testing out sleeping bags in an outdoor retailer store. Outdoor retailers have tons of bags to try. For example, REI sleeping bags are on display to see and touch, and they are happy to have you test them out! They may not replicate the correct temperatures on those chilly nights, but you can get a sense of comfort, weight, and durability.
- Trying out a friend’s sleeping bag. If you are serious about choosing the best sleeping bag for backpacking, it may be beneficial to borrow some gear on your next trip.
- Rent it! If you are on the fence about which sleeping bag to choose, check out your local outdoor outfitter, and see if they have one to rent for your next trip. Renting is a fraction of the cost of buying, and you can be sure you are 100% happy with your purchase!
Down vs. Synthetic – Which Sleeping Bag To Choose?
If you are having a hard time deciding between down and synthetic sleeping bags, here’s a few pointers:
- Down sleeping bags are often a little lighter and can pack down a bit smaller than synthetic bags. (Like this light-as-air mountaineering sleeping bag from Western Mountaineering) However, they are usually less water-resistant and if it gets wet, it won’t keep you as warm as a synthetic bag.
- Synthetic sleeping bags are cheaper than down and a great place to start if you’re just starting out with backpacking. They’re a bit more durable and water-resistant than down bags, but don’t pack down as small or as lightweight. But, they are hypo-allergenic if down feathers are an issue for you.
The Sleeping Pad and Sleeping Bag Work Together
Remember that your sleeping bag and your sleeping pad work together to keep you as warm as possible. For maximum warmth and comfort, be sure to choose a sleeping pad that is also insulated.
Your local REI or sports store expert can help you determine which sleeping pad is best for you and your setup.
Comfort Considerations (Bag Shape, Ultralight Sleeping Bags, Temperature Ratings)
It’s important to think about what sleeping bag features work best for you: a mummy bag, semi-rectangular, or wider fit (perfect for side-sleepers).
Do you need an ultralight sleeping bag or can you spare a few extra ounces for a little more comfort? Do you sleep colder, so, therefore, need to consider the best sleeping bags for cold weather? Or do you sleep warm and need a more breathable bag?
These are all important questions to think about and may take a little trial and error to find your perfect setup.
Best Sleeping Bags Conclusion
It can feel like an incredibly overwhelming task to choose the best sleeping bag for your adventures. Cheap sleeping bags can work in a pinch, but you’ll have a more enjoyable time outdoors if you consider all the features. Knowing a little more about why they are priced this way will help you understand the awesome investment sleeping bags can be!
We hope this blog post helped with your research, gave you thoughtful tips on comfort, and helped you become more confident in your next big purchase!