There are two types of camper: those who have woken up in the middle of the night and put on every item of clothing they have in their backpack because it’s so darned chilly; and those who lie that they have never woken up in the middle of the night and put on every item of clothing they have in their rucksack because it’s so darned chilly.
Even after decades of camping it never ceases to amaze how a balmy summer evening can plummet to Arctic temperatures. One moment the doors of the tent are rolled up to maximize ventilation; the next you’re pulling on spare socks, a beanie and trying to spoon your tent companion, whether they’re your partner or not.
This selection of the best 2-season sleeping bags aims to find the sweetspot between sleeping bags that are light and compact to carry, but will also keep you comfortably warm when the mercury tumbles to single figures.
The two-season tag should be taken with a pinch of salt, depending on the line of latitude at which you’re camping. Too far north, and that “2-season sleeping bag” title really means summer only. Further south, the seasonal stretch can extend from mid-spring to mid-autumn, depending upon a number of other criteria. If you’re looking for something that packs a little more in the way of warmth, check out our best 3-season sleeping bags and best sleeping bags overall. And for help deciding which bag will be best for you, take a look at our guides on how to choose a sleeping bag and the various types of sleeping bag.
A sleeping bag liner, insulated sleeping pad and merino ‘pyjamas’ of a baselayer and long johns allied to wool socks and a bobble hat can give 2-season sleeping bags the helping hand they need to keep you pushing out contented zzzs in the small hours, rather than shivering until dawn.
The best 2-season sleeping bags you can buy today: down 2-season sleeping bags
Rab Neutrino 200
A lightweight, down filled luxury 2-season sleeping bag for mountain missions
RRP: ¢305 (US) / £250 (UK) | Weight: 579g / 20oz | Length: 215cm / 86.5in | Max height of user: 185cm/72.8in | Packed size: 17 x 32cm / 6.7 x 12.6in | Insulation Type: R.D.S. Certified European Goose Down (200g / 7.1oz) | Temperature ratings: Comfort 4°C / 39°F; Limit -1°C / 30°F; Extreme -17°C / 1°F
Down is the perfect insulator – super light and super warm. It’s flaw, however, is that if it gets wet it loses its ‘loft’, the air between feathers, which ruins the insulation. To overcome this, the Rab Neutrino 200 uses hydrophobic down, which keeps much of its loft in damp conditions. Further protection comes in the durable water repellent coating on the Pertex Quantum shell to fend off light rain. The result is a snug sleeping bag with cleverly designed baffle chambers to keep the down in place and avoid cold spots. The mummy design is particularly close fitting at the neck to trap heat, while the zip runs half the length of the bag to spill warmth on hotter evenings. Shape-wise, the Neutrino tapers from wide at the shoulders to narrow at the ankles, with an angled foot box to ease foot claustrophobia. Other neat touches include a compression sack for adventures, and a looser cotton storage sack, so the down can relax between trips.
Marmot Always Summer
A lightweight, down-filled 2-season sleeping bag that delivers welcome warmth for summer adventures
RRP: $202 (US) / £195 (UK) | Weight: Regular 760g/26.8oz; Long 850g/30oz | Length: Regular 183cm /72in; Long: 198cm / 78in | Max height of user: 198cm/78in | Packed size: 17.8 x 35.6cm / 7 x 14in | Insulation Type: 650-fill down | Temperature ratings: Comfort 6°C / 42.8°F; Limit 1°C / 33.8°F; Extreme -14°C / 6.8°F
More generous dimensions and lofty insulation make the Marmot Always Summer a serious contender for a warm-weather sleeping bag. When the mercury is high, a second, small zip opposite the main zip lets you fold down the covers to chest level, while the full-length two-way zip lets you open the bag from the foot up. But when Jack Frost nips at your toes, a drawcord at the neck traps heat inside the bag and keeps draughts out. Aware that campers first feel the cold in their feet, Marmot has designed a pouch for a heater in the footbox, which is noticeably roomier than many mummy-shaped rivals. The minimum ‘comfort’ temperature of the Always Summer is slightly higher than other sleeping bags in this review, but strategically-placed baffles keep the down in place while a draft tube stops heat escaping through the zip. Plus, if conditions do get damp, the down is treated to give it some water resistance and maintain its insulation.
Mountain Equipment Glacier 300
Blissful duck down keeps you warm and snug in this sleeping bag designed for mountain expeditions
RRP: $430 (US) / £280 (UK) | Weight: Regular 820g / 28.9oz; Long 830g/29.3oz | Length: Regular 190cm/75in; Long 205cm/81in | Max height of user: Regular 185cm/6ft 1in; Long 200cm/6ft 5in | Packed size: Regular 23x18x15cm/9x7x6in; Long 24x19x15cm/9x7x6in | Insulation Type: Down-Codex approved duck down (fill power: 700) | Temperature ratings: Comfort 4°C/39°F; Limit -1°C/30°F; Extreme -16°C/3°F
Ethically-sourced duck down (Down Codex approved) with a minimum fill power of 700 means you can sleep with a clear conscience in the toasty warmth of the Mountain Equipment Glacier 300. The Drilite shell fabric does a good job of keeping the down dry, while the trapezoid-shaped baffles eliminate cold spots, adopting different designs for front and back for maximum heat retention. The full-length zip locks closed with magnets to stop drafts sneaking in during the night, and left- and right-hand zip options let you zip two Glaciers together for a more intimate evening. At the foot of the bag, Mountain Equipment’s Sharks Toe foot construction (from side profile it looks like the nose of a great white) keeps your tootsies toasty when temperatures tumble – this is a bag created for high altitude use.
Sea to Summit Ascent 1
A top quality down 2-season sleeping bag with a more relaxed, mummy shape that compresses to a small ball, and unfurls for very impressive warmth
RRP: $349 (US) / £330 (UK) | Weight: Regular 860g/30.3oz; Long 930g/32.8oz | Max height of user: Regular 183cm/6ft; Long 198cm/6ft 6in | Insulation Type: 750+ down fill | Temperature ratings: Comfort 2°C / 35°F; Limit -4°C / 25°F; Extreme -21°C / -6°F
For some campers, lying in a mummy-shaped sleeping bag feels like being wrapped in the unbearably tight bandages of an original Egyptian mummy, preventing a comfortable sleeping position. The Sea to Summit Ascent 1 avoids this by being far more generous in its dimensions – its shoulders, for example, are about 77.5cm/30.5in wide (155cm/61in circumference) compared to 70cm/27.5in for the Rab Neutrino 2, and its footbox has a circumference of 122cm/48in (about 82cm/32in for the Rab). The genius of the design is that it achieves this extra space without significantly increasing its pack size. A three-zip system offers maximum flexibility – undo the right side to fold back the top third in warm weather, unzip the full-length, two-way left zip for ease of entry and ventilation; and unzip the foot zip to create a quilt. Alternatively, cinch up the hood to trap heat, secure in the knowledge that the responsibly-sourced 750+ down fill insulation will keep you toasty warm in temperatures as low as 2°C.
The best 2-season sleeping bags you can buy today: synthetic 2-season sleeping bags
Deuter Orbit 0°
A durably built, synthetic filled sleeping bag for summer expeditions
RRP: $123 (US) / £100 (UK) | Weight: 1400g/49oz | Length: 205cm/81in | Max height of user: 200cm/6ft 5in | Packed size: 44x21cm / 17.3x8.3in | Insulation Type: Synthetic fibre | Temperature ratings: Comfort 5°C / 41°F; Limit 0°C/ 32°F; Extreme -14°C / 6.8°F
The well-built Deuter Orbit 0° is ideal for campers who want a durable, low maintenance sleeping bag. Its rustle-free shell is impregnated with a dirt and water repellent finish to help keep it clean and to keep the generous high-loft, synthetic filling dry. A full length zip means the sleeping bag can be transformed into a duvet – ideal for wrapping over shoulders as a blanket if you’re sat around a campfire, or for use in children’s sleepovers at home. But make no mistake, this is a high performing summer sleeping bag, comfortable in temperatures as low as 5°C (41°F). Welcome features include a strip to stop the zip from snagging and a compression sack that makes it easier to squeeze the sleeping bag into a rucksack. Its pack-down size is significantly bigger than down-filled rivals, but at half to one-third of the price, it’s much lighter on your wallet.
Snugpak Travelpak 2
Optimised for exotic travel, this warm, compact sleeping bag has an in-built mosquito net and anti-bacterial fabrics
RRP: $59 (US) / £45 (UK) | Weight: 1100g/39oz | Length: 220cm/87in | Max height of user: Very tall! | Packed size: 19x19cm/7x7in | Insulation Type: Travelsoft 100% Polyester | Temperature ratings: Comfort 2°C / 36°F; Extreme -3°C / 26.6°F
If the classic game of Top Trumps had a sleeping bag version it would be hard to beat the Snugpak Travelpak 2’s card. Its ultra-compact packdown dimensions, excellent warmth and bonus features would make the Travelpak 2 something of an ace in the pack. The fabric is treated with Paratex, an antimicrobial finish that combats bacteria to keep the bag clean and smelling fresh. Then there’s the mosquito net that zips in place to keep biting blighters out of the sack at night (and snakes and bugs out of the sack during the day). Just roll the net away when you don’t need it. And as for its primary function, the Travelpak 2 is rated comfortable right down to just 2°C, aided by good insulation, baffles to insulate both the two-way zip and shoulders, and a hood drawcord to trap as much heat as possible inside the bag. All in all, one of the best 2-season sleeping bags out there for buyers on a budget.
The best budget 2-season down sleeping bags you can buy today
Vango Nitestar Alpha 225
A compelling combination of compact pack size and excellent warmth, and all for a killer price
RRP: £40 (UK) | Weight: 1550g/54.7oz | Length: 205cm/81in | Max height of user: 190cm/6ft 3in | Packed size: 27 x 22cm / 10.6 x 8.7in | Insulation Type: Synthetic ‘Alpha’ Insulation | Temperature ratings: Comfort 3°C/37°F; Limit, -3°C/26.6°F; Extreme -20°C/-4°F
The tapered, mummy-shape Vango Nitestar Alpha 225 may be recommended by the Scouts and Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes, but it would be a shame to confine its use to kids. This is one of the heaviest sleeping bags on review, but its packed size is impressively small, its temperature rating is impressively warm and its price is hard to argue with. The brushed microfiber lining is lovely and soft next to the skin, while offset seams are designed to avoid cold spots. The same thought has gone into the insulated baffle that runs the length of the zip, trapping heat within the bag, as does the adjustable shoulder baffle. The snag-free, two-way zip locks in place, so it won’t undo while you’re asleep. And in-between camping expeditions, handily placed loops make it easy to hang up on a hook to air.
What to look for when buying 2-season sleeping bags
There are myriad things to consider when choosing the best 2-season sleeping bags, with much depending on when and where exactly you intend to use it. Following are the most important factors to think about.
In Europe, sleeping bags are rigorously tested and rated according to their insulation properties. This leads to three scores – Comfort, Limit and Extreme. It’s the Comfort temperature that is most important – the minimum temperature at which the sleeping bag is deemed to remain comfortable. For more on this, see our guide to sleeping bag temperature ratings.
A number of more expensive 2-season sleeping bags come in two lengths – medium and long, tailored to the height of the user. When assessing the appropriate length of a sleeping bag, be guided by the ‘maximum height’ measure, rather than the external length of the bag. Remember, too, that a longer bag takes up more space and weighs more, so avoid buying more than you need.
The dimensions of a sleeping bag when it’s been squeezed by a compression sack make all the difference to your backpack packing, as explained in how to pack a backpack. Typically, down-filled sleeping bags compress smaller than synthetic linings.
If you’re going to carry your sleeping bag all day, the lighter it is the better. Down 2-season sleeping bags are lighter than synthetic bags, but when you have decided between the two insulators remember that a heavier bag may be a burden during the day but is likely to be warmer at night.
All of the best 2-season sleeping bags in this review are mummy shaped – wider at the shoulders than the foot, and with a hood to trap heat at night. Some are still more generous, however, so if you struggle with the claustrophobia of your feet being trapped together, pay attention to the dimensions of the footbox.
There are two choices – synthetic fibres or feather down. Gram for gram, down is lighter and warmer and packs down smaller than synthetic alternatives. However, some downs face an ethical challenge depending on where they are sourced. They are also significantly more expensive than synthetic insulation. And most importantly, they lose a lot of their effectiveness when they get damp or wet, although hydrophobic treatments do help feathers to keep their insulating loft.
To compare down fillings, look for the fill power. This represents the down’s loft (how much space it can fill and insulate). As a rule of thumb, the higher the fill power the warmer the sleeping bag, although this also depends on the weight of down used.
Synthetic 2-season sleeping bags are normally cheaper than down, will typically retain more of their insulating properties when wet, and are easier to maintain. But they are heavier and bulkier to achieve the same temperature rating as down.
How much of a weight-weenie do you want to be? A zipper adds weight and introduces potential cold spots all along its length (so look for insulating zipper baffles to avoid this). On the other hand, a zipper that runs the full length of the bag makes it easy to slide in and out and, if two-way, offers the choice of introducing some ventilation at the feet while keeping the rest of the bag closed. Some bags also have a half-length zipper on the other side to let you fold down the top third or half of the sleeping bag for summer comfort.
If there’s a choice of left or right zippers, there are two considerations: right handed people will find a left-sided zipper easier, and vice-versa; or think which side you normally sleep on and opt for the zipper to run the length of your back rather than front.
And if you’re a couple, buying left and right zipper 2-season sleeping bags means you can zip them together for cosier nights under canvas.
After spending a decade as editor of Country Walking, the UK’s biggest-selling walking magazine, Jonathan moved to edit Outdoor Fitness magazine, adding adrenaline to his adventures and expeditions. He has hiked stages or completed all of the UK's national trails, but was once overtaken by three Smurfs, a cross-dressing Little Bo Peep, and a pair of Teletubbies on an ascent of Snowdon. (Turns out they were soldiers on a fundraising mission.)
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