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7 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking in 2024

The best sleeping bags for backpacking are lightweight, warm, and comfortable — here’s our favorite sleeping bags for variety of budgets.

Four people sitting side-by-side bundled up in warm gear and sleeping bags on a cold weather camping trip

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A good sleeping bag is one of the best investments you can make as an outdoor enthusiast. Packability, warmth, weight, and versatility are all important factors to consider when buying the best sleeping bag for backpacking, and there’s a lot to choose from. From technology to new fabrics, a quick Google search might leave you with a dizzying amount of options, so we decided to do some of the work for you.

In this blog post, we list the best sleeping bags for backpacking, plus information on how to choose a backpacking sleeping bag. They’re some of the most popular on the market because they adhere to the standards of warmth, weight, and comfort.

Why trust us? The Bearfoot Team has more than two decades of collective hiking and camping experience and have backpacked in remote regions of Alaska, the John Muir Trail, South America, and more. We’ve tried dozens of sleeping bags and are always staying on top of the latest trends and developments in camping gear and equipment.


Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags at a Glance

Woman taking selfie in camping tent bundled up in warm clothes and sleeping bag

REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag

Best All Around Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Key Features

  • Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 17°F (also available in 30F)
  • Insulation: 850-fill goose down (RDS certified and bluesign® approved)
  • Shell: Pertex® 15-denier ripstop nylon (bluesign® approved)
  • Shape: mummy

Where to shop

  • Great for: 3-season backpacking, back sleepers
  • What we like: great value buy for comfort, weight & price, solid warmth-to-weight ratio
  • What we don’t like: snug, narrow bag fit (especially the foot box)

This is one of the best lightweight sleeping bags for backpacking on really cold nights. The REI Magma 15 has a trapezoidal footbox designed to keep your feet extra warm. It also has an anti-snag zipper so you don’t have to worry about middle-of-the-night zipper snafus and a contoured hood so it fits snug to retain warmth around your head and neck. For the price, quality, and seasonality, this is one of the best backpacking sleeping bags you can buy. You can find the men’s version here.

Sea to Summit Spark

Best Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Key Features

  • Weight: 12 oz – 1 lb 15oz
  • Temperature Ratings: 5F, 18F, 28F, 40F
  • Insulation: 850-fill UltraDry Down™
  • Shell: 10-denier nylon
  • Shape: mummy

Where to shop

  • Great for: ultralight backpacking, 1-4 season backpacking
  • What we like: most lightweight bag on our list, available in multiple temperature ratings to fit your needs, highly compressible
  • What we don’t like: doesn’t fit well in the included compression sack

The Sea to Summit Spark is the best sleeping bag option on the market for ultralight backpacking. With most Spark bags weighing well under 1lb (less than some sleeping pads!) and packing down to the size of a football, it’s perfect for saving a ton of weight and space in your backpack.

BFT’s Director Linda uses the women’s version of the Spark (Sea to Summit Flame 25F) and it’s by far the lightest and warmest backpacking sleeping bag she’s ever used. Both the Spark and Flame come in a variety of temperature ratings, so you can decide which best fits your needs.

What sets the Ember/Spark apart from a traditional down sleeping bag is that they use a water-repellent treatment on the fabric which protects the down from external moisture and condensation. Anyone whose ever dealt with a wet down bag knows that it’s not fun (and can shorten the lifespan of the bag), so this extra protection is an added bonus.

Tent set up on flat gravel campsite in forested area
Testing out the Sea To Summit Spark sleeping bag on a Southern Utah camping trip

If you prefer a quilt over a mummy bag, the Sea to Summit Ember is the quilt version of the Spark, made from the same high-quality materials and baffling system. BFT Team Member Courtney uses the Ember on backpacking trips and as a side sleeper who tosses and turns often, she prefers the quilt vs. a full-zip sleeping bag with more freedom of motion.

Shop Sea to Summit Ember at:

The Sea to Summit Ember Quilt on a sleeping pad inside a green backpacking tent
Using the Sea to Summit Ember 25 Quilt in California

Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt

Best Backpacking Quilt

Key Features

  • Weight: 1 lbs 4 oz (20 degree regular version)
  • Temperature Rating: available in 0° – 50°F
  • Insulation: 850-fill down ethically sourced
  • Shell: ultralight nylon fabric coated with Durable Water Repellant
  • Handmade in Minnesota, USA
  • Price: $335

Where to shop

  • Great for: ultralight backpacking, 3-season backpacking, people who move around a lot while sleeping or don’t want to feel constricted in a sleeping bag
  • What we like: one of the lightest bags on our list, customizable, highly compressible, can easily be used as a blanket around the fire
  • What we don’t like: requires a proper sleeping pad for maximum warmth, custom orders can take a while to ship

If you’ve ever considered ditching the sleeping bag for a quilt, Enlightened Equipment’s Revelation quilt is the one to use. This quilt is perfect for backpackers – ultralight and ultra-versatile, and it can be customized to your height, desired fill weight, and temperature rating. For warm nights, you can simply lay it out as a blanket and on colder nights, you can cinch the adjustable footbed and neck collar closed. This design is perfect for thru-hikers and anyone who wants a bag that can be used in various temperatures and climates. The quilt comes with a set of elastic straps that allow you to attach the quilt to your sleeping pad to eliminate drafts and prevent it from shifting around during the night.

Along with the other advantages, this quilt weighs well under 2 pounds (depending on temperature and fill), making it ideal for ultralight backpackers. I’ve been using Enlightened Equipment 2-Man Accomplice Quilt and I love it. If you’re looking to snuggle up with your partner, check out our roundup of the best 2-person sleeping bags.

The downside of the Enlightened Equipment Quilts is that they don’t have a hood, a design intended to shave weight. You can either wear a beanie to bed or Enlightened Equipment also sells a separate Torrid Hood that only weighs 2 or 4 ounces depending on fill.

Enlightened Equipment two person sleeping quilt for backpacking laid out in tent
Backpacking in Stanley Idaho, using the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice Quilt, which is just like the Revelation except it’s made for 2 people.

Nemo Disco 30

Most Comfortable Backpacking Sleeping Bag for Side Sleepers

Key Features

  • Weight: 2 lbs, 5 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 30°F (also available in 15°F)
  • Insulation: Down certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Shell: 30-denier ripstop nylon
  • Shape: semi-rectangular
  • Price: $279.95

Where to shop

  • Great for: side and stomach sleepers, people who toss & turn, 3-season backpacking
  • What we like: provides maximum comfort, roomy to move around, pillow pocket, foot box is made of waterproof materials which is helpful in protecting the bag against tent condensation
  • What we don’t like: doesn’t compress down super well, roomy bags take longer to warm up, loose-fitting stuff sack

The NEMO Disco 30 is one of the most popular backpacking sleeping bags on the market with its unique Classic Spoon™ shape, which provides extra support at the elbows and knees so side sleepers can shift positions comfortably. This bag has Thermo Gills™ technology which vents body heat to help regulate temperature without letting cold drafts in.

It can also be zipped together with another NEMO bag (one right zip and one left zip bag will zip together), creating a two-person cocoon. You can find the men’s version here.

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag

Best Synthetic Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Key Features

  • Weight: 2 lbs 10.8 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 20°F
  • Insulation: Recycled polyester
  • Shell: Recycled polyester
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $169

Where to shop

  • Great for: 3-season backpacking, vegans, wet weather camping, beginner backpackers
  • What we like: budget-friendly, holds up better than down in wet weather
  • What we don’t like: one of the heaviest and least compressible sleeping bags on our list

The Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag is a great 3-season bag that offers all-synthetic construction that will keep you warm even in wet camping conditions.

This bag is made from recycled materials, making it a sustainable choice for environmentally-conscious campers. Additionally, the bag features a unique wave construction that helps to eliminate cold spots and provides excellent insulation.

However, one potential downside of synthetic insulation is that it is often heavier and bulkier than down insulation making it less ideal for those looking to minimize their pack weight.

Additionally, some users have reported that the bag’s zipper can be difficult to use, which can be frustrating when trying to get in and out of the bag. Despite these minor drawbacks, this bag remains a great choice for anyone looking for a sustainable and reliable synthetic sleeping bag.

Kelty Cosmic 20

Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Key Features

  • Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 25°F (also available in 0F)
  • Insulation: 600-fill DriDown
  • Shell: 20-denier nylon taffeta
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $214.95

Where to shop

  • Great for: 3-season backpacking, beginner backpackers
  • What we like: great value for price, super comfortable and warm
  • What we don’t like: delicate in the washing machine, not as compressible as other bags

For less than $210, the Kelty Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag has won many awards for being an all-around good-quality sleeping bag. Made with hydrophobic down, it’s lightweight but it will not perform as well in wet weather. Available in 0° and 20°, it’s one of the best sleeping bags for backpacking in its price range and a great option for new backpackers looking to get into the sport. It’s also available in a men’s version.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0F

Best Sleeping Bag for Sub-Freezing Temps

Key Features

  • Weight: 2 lb 10.6 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 0F
  • Insulation: 850-fill down
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $650

Where to shop

  • Great for: winter backpacking, cold weather trips, people who run cold at night
  • What we like: warmest bag on our list, fairly compact for how warm it is
  • What we don’t like: expensive investment, bag is quite narrow

The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0F Down Sleeping Bag is our choice for winter backpacking due to its high-quality insulation and efficient design. With a temperature rating of 0F, this sleeping bag is specifically designed to keep you toasty warm in cold winter conditions.

The bag is filled with high-loft down that provides excellent insulation, while the lightweight and compressible design makes it easy to pack and carry. Additionally, the bag features a draft collar and hood that help to trap heat inside and keep you comfortable throughout the night.

For temperatures down to 0 degrees, you can’t find a sleeping bag better than this one. It may be at the top of your price bracket at around $650, understandably. But, with proper care, this sleeping bag should last you a very, very long time.


Backpacking Sleeping Bags Comparison Table

See the comparison table below for a quick summary of each of the best sleeping bags for backpacking. You can click on the columns to sort by what’s most important to you.

Specifications listed are for the women’s version of the sleeping bag (if available) and the 15-20 F degree version of the sleeping bag (if available) for easy comparison. Note that many of these top backpacking sleeping bags come in both a men’s and women’s version in a variety of temperature ratings so you can pick the right size and warmth for you.

Sleeping Pad

Weight (oz)

Temp Rating (F)

Insulation

18

17

RDS down

24

18

RDS down

22.5

20

RDS down

48

17

RDS down

43

20

Synthetic

55

25

Down

42.6

0

RDS Down


How to Choose a Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Picking out a new backpacking sleeping bag for any outdoor adventure can be super overwhelming. There are so many choices and so many features to consider, not to mention the price tag. So, we’ve put together this simple guide on how to choose a backpacking sleeping bag for your next great adventure. Hopefully, this makes your gear-buying process easier.

Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating

The sleeping bag temperature rating is the first place to start when picking out a new backpacking sleeping bag. Think about when and where you plan to use it the most.

Sleeping bags can be broken down into three simple categories: summer, 3-season, and winter based on the temperature ratings shown in the table below.

Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings
Photo source: REI.com

Most people will be happy with a 3-season bag, which will keep you comfortable most of the year. Remember you can always zip down the bag for a summer camping trip or add a sleeping bag liner to your bag for an occasional winter camping trip. Most 3-season backpacking bags will list a European Norm (EN) testing rating with two temperature ratings known as the “comfort rating” and the “lower-limit rating”. EU ratings are standardized rating systems that keep temperature ratings consistent across brands.

Comfort rating is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average woman or “cold sleeper” comfortable. Lower-limit rating is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep a man or “warm sleeper” comfortable. Women tend to run colder and for women’s sleeping bag ratings that is often taken into account. Note that EN ratings are based on a sleeper wearing one long underwear layer and a hat, and sleeping on a single one-inch thick insulating pad.

The number listed with most sleeping bags (example: Nemo Disco 30) is the EN Lower Limit which is usually 10-15 degrees lower than the EN Comfort Rating. So, for most people, the Nemo Disco 30 would be comfortable in 40F sleeping temperatures.

a woman cowboy camping on a rocky summit with a grey and green sleeping bag

Sleeping Bag Shape

While the sleeping bag shape might not seem important, it is for two big reasons:

First, sleeping bags keep you warm by trapping air and holding it in a layer next to your body. Your body heats up this layer of trapped air to keep you warm. The less air space there is in the bag, the faster you warm up and stay warm! Picking a bag based on your body size and shape is important for efficiency and warmth. Roomier sleeping bags will often be heavier as well, but they will be more comfortable for side-sleepers.

We recommend selecting a semi-rectangular bag or mummy bag which is versatile and can work for backpacking as well as car camping. Semi-rectangular bags are good for backpackers with larger frames or those who don’t like the constrictive feeling of a mummy bag.

To Quilt or Not to Quilt?

Some lightweight backpackers won’t even entertain the idea of a sleeping bag, and instead, opt for a camping quilt. Quilts are a lightweight backcountry option generally designed to be paired with a sleeping pad. It’s basically a blanket with a foot box that will keep you warm without any unnecessary insulation or weight. Quilts offer a better warmth-to-weight ratio since they cut out material that’s normally compressed under your body in a traditional mummy bag.

However, quilts are more drafty than mummy bags, so in cold or windy conditions we’d opt for a mummy bag. Be sure to check out Enlightened Equipment if you’re interested in going ultralight with a sleeping quilt.

a backpacking tent set up next to the ocean with a purple 2-person backpacking quilt laid out
I personally use the Enlightened Equipment Accomplice Lightweight Two Person Quilt which weighs less than 2 separate bags

Synthetic vs. Down Sleeping Bag Insulation

Since switching to a plant-based diet and eliminating all animal products from my diet, I’ve also questioned whether or not to switch out my outdoor gear made from animals – one of the biggest culprits being down (feathers). I have outlined the key differences and pros/cons below, but you can deep dive into the ethics of buying/using down in this blog post to help you understand the ethics and sustainability behind down feathers.

Synthetic Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Synthetic sleeping bags are usually insulated with polyester. Synthetic bags are quick-drying and still hold up to their insulation power even when damp or wet. Often, they are cheaper than down, and they’re non-allergenic. One of the downsides of synthetic bags is that they don’t compress as small as down sleeping bags, and they tend to be heavier than down (but that’s not always the case as technology improves). Also, polyester is usually derived from petroleum, although recycled polyester is now being made from plastic bottles and other recycled plastics for more sustainable options.

Person compressing sleeping back into stuff sack next to tent while backpacking
Using a compression sack can help reduce the space a bulky sleeping bag will take up in your backpack

Down Backpacking Sleeping Bags

The biggest advantage of down over synthetic sleeping bags is that down bags tend to be lighter and compress smaller when packed away – key characteristics when you’re looking for the best backpacking sleeping bag. Generally down is more expensive than synthetic, and some people say it’s more durable, so it’s a long-lasting investment. The primary downside to down is that it loses its insulation power when it gets wet. So, it’s most suited for cool, dry conditions. However, many down sleeping bags are now coated with a water-repellent finish that will keep you warm and dry in damp conditions. Otherwise, down sleeping bags are a lightweight, warm, and packable choice for backpacking.

Most of the notable outdoor gear companies have instituted the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), or Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS). These standards ensure that the down and feathers used in these products came from animals that were treated well, and were not force-fed or live-plucked. All of the down sleeping bags listed here are certified to the RDS or TDS.

Woman lying in hammock next to river with blue water of Havasu Creek bundled in sleeping bag
Cozy in my REI Down Sleeping bag next to Havasu Creek

Other Important Backpacking Sleeping Bag Features

woman cowboy camping in a purple sleeping bag on the sand next to a river in a small canyon

Sleeping Bag Hood

Having a hood on your sleeping bag can make or break your sleeping comfort. It can mean the difference between being freezing at night or toasty warm. Because the rest of your body is encapsulated in your mummy bag, your body’s heat would escape through the head without a hood. And, that defeats the purpose of the sleeping bag. So, opt for a bag with a hood if you want to be warm and comfortable. Most mummy bags and semi-rectangular bags come with a hood anyway. Quilts typically don’t have a hood, but many companies sell hoods as an add-on purchase. If you plan to backpack in warm environments always, it’s not as crucial. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Pockets

Some bags come with pockets that you can stuff with clothes to create a pillow. Others come with stash pockets to keep your glasses, a watch, headlamp, or cell phone nearby.  Some bags also come with a pocket or sleeve designed to fit a sleeping pad so you don’t roll off in the middle of the night. The extra fabric might add to the total weight of the bag, but it’s a matter of personal preference and needs.

Get ready for your next backpacking adventure with the best sleeping bags on the market! Our expertly curated list features top-rated backpacking sleeping bags that will keep you warm, comfortable, and well-rested throughout your journey. From lightweight options for long treks to cozy down-filled bags for chilly nights, we've got you covered.

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2 Comments

  1. I can testify that the Sea to Summit camping/sleeping bag is a good one, just because I purchased one a few months ago. It is durable and well made for the price. Great article and also love your photos!