Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking in 2021

The best sleeping bags for backpacking are lightweight, warm & comfortable. Here are our favorite sleeping bags for women for a variety of budgets in 2021.

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 in 2021, 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. But, we’ll get more into that below.

You might not expect to get your best night’s sleep while camping or backpacking, but these sleeping bags sure help you come close.

Here are the best sleeping bags for backpacking in 2021 and tips to help you choose the right one for you.


The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2021

Here are the best warm, cozy, and lightweight sleeping bags for backpacking in 2021. We’ve included both men’s and women’s versions where available, and even have a few ultralight options to choose from.

Pro-tip: A good backpacking sleeping bag is one of the larger backpacking gear expenses you’ll encounter so try to catch it on sale if you can! Use the links below to shop around.

The North Face Eco Trail Synthetic 20 Sleeping Bag

Eco Friendly Option: The North Face Eco Trail Synthetic 20 is a great warm and lightweight 3-season bag that offers eco-friendly all-recycled construction (minus the zipper teeth). It has recycled synthetic insulation that will keep you warm even in wet camping conditions. This bag also has extended width in the knees and a vaulted footbed, giving you extra mobility. It’s not the lightest sleeping bag for backpacking but it’s a great eco-friendly and budget-friendly option.

Here are some of the North Face Eco Trail Synthetic 20 features: 

  • Weight: 3 lbs 14 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 20°F
  • Insulation: Recycled polyester
  • Shell: Recycled polyester
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $
North Face Eco Trail 20 is one of the best eco friendly backpacking sleeping bags ans uses recycled materials

Check price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

Nemo Disco 30

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. The men’s version of this bag can be found here.

Here are some of the NEMO Disco 30 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: $$$
NEMO Disco 30 // One of the best cozy, lightweight, sleeping bags for backpacking

Check price: NEMO / REI / Backcountry

Marmot Trestles 30 Sleeping Bag

Budget-friendly option: This is the best sleeping bag for backpacking when you’re on a budget and want to save some money. It’s available in both a men’s and women’s version for less than $100 each. You can’t beat this price for a good quality sleeping bag. It’s an excellent choice for wet conditions and summer camping because it’s insulated with synthetic materials, not down. It’s also very roomy for those of you who toss and turn. The downside of this bag is it’s heavier and it doesn’t pack down as small as some of the other choices on this list. That said, it comes with a compression sack that you can use to squeeze it down as much as it will compact. The Marmot Trestles sleeping bag is also available with a 15°F temperature rating if you’ll be backpacking in colder weather.

Here are some of the Marmot Trestles 30 features: 

  • Weight: 3 lbs 7.7 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 30°F
  • Insulation: synthetic SpiraFil LT polyester fibers
  • Shell: polyester
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $
Marmot Trestles 30 Sleeping Bag // One of the best budget friendly sleeping bags for backpacking

Check price: Backcountry / Moosejaw

REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag

Sustainable option: 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. The REI Magma 15 is available for both men and women. It comes in a 30 degree version as well.

Here are some of the REI Magma 15 features: 

  • Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 17°F
  • Insulation: 850-fill goose down (RDS certified and bluesign® approved)
  • Shell: Pertex® 15-denier ripstop nylon (bluesign® approved)
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $$
REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag // One of the best sustainable sleeping bags for backpacking

 Check price: REI

Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt

Ultralight Backpacking Quilt Option: 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. For warm nights, you can simply lay it out as a blanket and on colder nights, you can cinch the adjustable footbed closed. This design is perfect for thru-hikers and anyone who wants a bag that can be used in various temperatures and climates. Note that quilts are meant to be paired with a sleeping pad – if you’re also in the market for a sleeping pad, we’ve rounded up the best sleeping pads for backpacking as well.

Along with the other advantages, this quilt weighs well under 2 pounds (depending on temperature and fill), making it ideal for ultralight backpackers. Just make sure you order your bag in advance as they produce to order and get busier as summer approaches. 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.

Here are some of the Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt 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: $$$
Enlightened Equipment Revelation // One of the best backpacking sleeping bag quilts on the market and a great ultralight option

Check price: Enlightened Equipment

Western Mountaineering Versatile Light

Best Warmth to Weight Ratio: This has been my go-to for cold weather trips, but don’t just take it from me. This 10 degree Western Mountaineering Versatile Light has some of the best online reviews from users who say this is one of the warmest and most lightweight sleeping bags for backpacking. Other accolades include a well-designed zipper, breathable material, and that it’s perfect for 3-season use. It may be at the top of your price bracket at around $500-600, understandably. But, with proper care, this sleeping bag should last you a very long time.

Here are some of the Western Mountaineering Versatile Light features: 

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Temperature Rating: 10°F
  • Insulation: 850-fill down with 6″ loft
  • Shell: ExtremeLite™
  • Shape: mummy
  • Super full collar seals in warmth around your neck
  • Available sizes between 5’6″ and 6’6″
  • Made in the USA
  • Price: $$$$
Western Mountaineering Versatile Light // Super warm, ultralight sleeping bag for backpacking

Check price: Moosejaw / Campsaver

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30

The Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30 is a great lightweight value-driven down sleeping bag for 3-season backpacking adventures. The bag’s mummy cut fits close to the body for warmth and efficiency, but leaves more wiggle room that the standard mummy bag. This bag can also be zipped to select Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags with the opposing zipper side to create a 2-person bag. The 30° bag is also available for men and a 15° bag is available for both women and men.

Here are some of the Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30 features: 

  • Weight: 1 lb 14 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 30°F
  • Insulation: 650-fill-power fluorine-free RDS down (80% down/20% feather)
  • Shell: 20-denier ripstop nylon
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $
Mountain Hardware Bishop Pass 30 // One of the best budget backpacking sleeping bags

Check price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

Kelty Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag

For less than $200, 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 lighter than the Marmot Trestles mentioned above, 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. The 0° bag is available here.

Here are some of the Kelty Cosmic 20 features: 

  • Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 25°F
  • Insulation: 600-fill DriDown
  • Shell: 20-denier nylon taffeta
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $$
Kelty Cosmic 20 // A good budget backpacking sleeping bag option

Check price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

Sea to Summit Spark SpI Sleeping Bag

Best for Warm Weather: The Sea to Summit Spark 1 is a go-to item when you need a summer sleeping bag for ultralight backpacking. Weighing a mere 12 ounces (less than some sleeping pads!) and packing down to the size of a football, it’s perfect for summer desert trips or saving a ton of space in your backpack. The downside is that it’s on the pricey side when you consider the lack of versatility, but if you only plan on backpacking in the warmest climates, you’ll appreciate this bag. For something warmer, it comes in a 28-degree version as well.

Here are some of the Sea to Summit Spark features: 

  • Weight: 12 oz
  • Temperature Rating: 40°F
  • Insulation: 850-fill UltraDry Down™
  • Shell: 10-denier nylon
  • Shape: mummy
  • Price: $$
Sea to Summit Spark 1 Sleeping Bag // One of the best warm weather sleeping bags for backpacking

Check price: REI


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 liner to your bag for an occasional winter camping trip.

Most 3-season backpacking bags will list an EN testing rating with two temperature ratings known as the “comfort rating” and the “lower-limit rating”. 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. (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 best sleeping bags for backpacking are lightweight, warm & comfortable. Here are our favorite sleeping bags for women for a variety of budgets in 2021.
Photo source: Nathalie Martin

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.

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. Be sure to check out Enlightened Equipment if you’re interested in going ultralight.

Sleeping back or quilt when backpacking? We've got options for both with our guide to the best sleeping bags for backpacking in 2021. The best sleeping bags for backpacking are lightweight, warm & comfortable.

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.

Synthetic Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Synthetic sleeping bags are usually insulated with polyester. They’re quick-drying and still hold up to their insulation power even when damp or wet. Often, synthetic bags 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.

Synthetic sleeping bags are a good option for those that live a vegan lifestyle because natural down is produced from geese or ducks.

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.


Other Important Backpacking Sleeping Bag Features

The best sleeping bags for backpacking are lightweight, warm & comfortable. Here are our favorite sleeping bags for women for a variety of budgets in 2021.

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. 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.

What’s your favorite backpacking sleeping bag? Share your comments and questions below.

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Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

2 comments on “Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking in 2021

  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!

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